Tagged with " International"
Jun 27, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

How is that for a grand gesture?

Who says chivalry and grand romantic gestures died with the bard? Recently, a love struck Ukranian tycoon hired an entire theatre company so he could star in a play and give his girlfriend a proposal she’d never forget.

Gennady Zaleskiy, 38, paid £10,000 to have the play The Romantics staged in Zaporozhie, Ukraine, with him as the leading man.

He then arranged for his theatre-fan girlfriend to have a seat at the show on a girls’ night out with friends.

He appeared on stage in a mask where he was supposed to declare his love for his leading lady.

Instead, he turned to face his girlfriend in the audience and said: “No, the woman I love is called Victoria and she is in the sixth row. Will you marry me Victoria?”

Now – for a fitting finale – the couple are planning to wed.

“It was the most romantic thing I have ever seen. After this I know I will never need anyone else in my life,” said Victoria.

Sweet, isn’t it?

Jun 25, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Forsake lipstick to avoid rape

As reported in Guardian, women in a northern Malaysian city ruled by conservative Islamists are being urged by the city’s authorities to forsake bright lipstick and noisy high-heels “to preserve their dignity and avoid rape”.

Pamphlets have been distributed recommending that Muslim women shun heavy makeup and loud shoes. The municipal officials in Kota Bharu, capital of Kelantan state, which is run by the Pan-Malaysian Islamic party, stressed that the code was merely advice for women who wish to follow the “Islamic way”.

The party’s brand of Islam – mocked by Malaysian liberals as “Taliban lite” – has already decreed that supermarkets must have separate checkout lines for men and women. Couples caught sitting too close together on park benches are hunted down by the city’s moral enforcers and fined up to £285 in the city’s sharia courts.

A directive on dress a decade ago decreed that Muslim women must wear non-transparent headscarves that cover the chest, along with loose-fitting, long-sleeved blouses. There are fines of up to £75 and as many as 20 women are punished for breaking the rule every month.

Azman Mohamad Daham, a spokesman for the municipality, said: “Our minimum guideline is they must wear headscarves.” The goal of the modesty drive was to prevent rape and safeguard the women’s dignity, he said.

Just a couple of questions: Where in the God’s land has purdah stopped or even resulted in lower rape incidents? I have never heard a man saying, oh i so wanted to rape that woman but i did not because she is purdah observing woman. Most of the rape victims that have come out, at least in Pakistan, are purdah clad women. Be it Sonia, who was raped by policemen when she went to them to complain about her husband’s absence or Sabra who was raped to avenge a land feud. Secondly, how can a woman wearing lipstick be responsible for criminal actions (rape) of another human being, or is this too much to ask?

Jun 20, 2008 - USA    No Comments

When it comes to war…America means business

Those who are not familiar with the politics and economics (not to mention the discomfort) of buying pirated movies would not understand it but last week, when I bought the dvd of a film called “Meet Bill,” the dvd cover actually contained another film, “War Inc.”

I was a little miffed about it but when I started watching it, I kind of enjoyed it. It is a dark political satire which mocks everything from pop starlets to American idol to government agencies to war profiteering to reality tv to the mercenary armies and what not. The story is partly inspired by Naomi Klein’s article “Baghdad Year Zero.”

The film opens in future with Dan Aykroyd playing an ex US vice president (Dick Cheney) who owns a company called Tamerlane which first bombed a country called Turaqistan (A cross between a bombed Afghanistan and Iraq) with its mercenary army and is now planning to rebuild it (does the name Halliburton ring any bells). Dialogues like “Our precision attacks killed only 11 people, had they been carried out by other missiles, the casualty count would have been higher” are crackers. Turaqistan has huge oil reserves and the only person stopping complete capitulation of Turaqistan to Tamerlane is their oil minister. Dan Aykroyd issues order to CIA hit man Brand Hauser (John Cusack who also produced and co wrote the film) to assassinate that oil minister who was named Omar Sharif (I wonder why).

When Hauser arrives in the country of Turaqistan, he finds warfare raging everywhere, except within a protected area known as the EmeraldCity – a clear reference to Baghdad’s Green Zone. Other stuff that was mocked in the film was reality TV – Hauser had to shoot and produce the televised wedding of Middle Eastern pop superstar Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff), embedded journalist who ride on a ride called “Combat-O-Rama” which was a satiric version of a Disney World virtual reality thrill ride allowing journalists to experience battle through “virtual embedding”, Tanks with sponsors’ logos and US soldiers delivering laundry to the CIA assassin’s Humvee, killing a few hundered innocent Turaqistnis in the process.

Let me confess, War Inc. is probably not the greatest war satire ever, but it is a film with a lot of heart and courage and it should be seen because someone had the guts to make a film about it, it must have been a very difficult film to finance.

Jun 19, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

Electing dead officials

Romanian villagers re-elected a dead man as their mayor because they preferred him to his living opponent.

Neculai Ivascu, 57, had run the village of Voinesti since 1990, but died from liver disease just after voting began.

But he still won the election by a margin of 23 votes, reports the Daily Telegraph.

“I know he died but I don’t want change,” one resident told Romanian TV.

The Central Election Bureau kept the poll open because “the law does not foresee such a situation”, a spokesman said.

Ultimately, election authorities awarded the post to runner-up Mr Dobrescu, of the ruling National Liberal Party.

Considering the lack of decent political options in most countries where there is severe voter fatigue with corrupt politicians, voting dead people might be an option. We in Pakistan have been doing it for quite some time, the only difference is that we do not elect dead people, we elect the living breathing ones in the name of the dead ones.

Jun 16, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Fly on the wall

Saw this excerpt at Ali Jafri’s blog about how former President Clinton literally blew his top at Nawaz Sharif during a meeting 1999 after the Kargil fiasco. This is from the book, Engaging India – Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb, published in 2006, written by Strobe Talbot, the former senior U.S. Department of State official, who was in the room with Bill Clinton when the U.S. president received Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the then Pakistani prime minister, who came to see Clinton regarding the war in Kargil:

“Kargil War between India and Pakistan took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir. According to India the cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the Line of Control, which serves as the de facto border between the two states. During and directly after the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces. The Indian Army, supported by the Indian Air Force, attacked the Pakistani positions and, with international diplomatic support, eventually forced a Pakistani withdrawal across the Line of Control (LoC).

At the height of the Kargil conflict, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is said to have told then US President Bill Clinton that he was prepared to help resolve the crisis if India committed to settle the ‘larger issue’ of Kashmir in a specific time-frame, but the American leader snubbed him saying it would amount to a ‘nuclear blackmail.’ When Sharif visited Washington in 1999 to discuss Kargil with Clinton, he insisted, ‘I am prepared to help resolve the current crisis in Kargil but India must commit to resolve the larger issue in a specific time-frame,’ former US deputy secretary of State Strobe Talbot writes in his new book Engaging India – Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb.

Clinton came as close as I had ever seen to blowing up in a meeting with a foreign leader,’ and told Sharif, ‘If I were the Indian Prime Minister, I would never do that. I would be crazy to do it. It would be nuclear blackmail. If you proceed with this line, I will have no leverage with them. If I tell you what you think you want me to say, I will be stripped of all influence with the Indians.’ ‘I am not – and the Indians are not – going to let you get away with blackmail, and I will not permit any characterization of this meeting that suggests I am giving in to blackmail,’ Talbot writes, adding, Clinton also refuted Sharif’s accusation that the Indians were the instigators of the crisis and intransigents in the ongoing standoff. When Sharif insisted he had to have something to show for his trip to the US beyond unconditional surrender over Kargil, Clinton pointed to the dangers of nuclear war if Pakistan did not return to its previous positions. Seeing they were getting nowhere, Clinton told Sharif he had a statement ready to release to press that would lay all the blame for the crisis on Pakistan. ‘Sharif was ashen.’

‘Clinton had worked himself back into real anger – his face flushed, eyes narrowed, lips pursed, cheek muscles pulsing, fists clenched. He said it was crazy enough for Sharif to have let his military violate the Line of Control, start a border war with India, and now prepare nuclear forces (U.S. had received intelligence Pakistan was preparing nuclear forces for attack against India) for action,’ Talbot says in his book. ‘Sharif seemed beaten, physically and emotionally’ and denied he had given any order with regard to nuclear weaponry. Taking a break, Clinton spoke to then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee over phone and told him what had happened until then. ‘What do you want me to say?’ Vajpayee asked. ‘Nothing,’ Clinton replied, he just wanted to show he was holding.”

Mr. Sharif may cry to death saying that he had nothing to do with Kargil and if we believe that he had nothing to do with Kargil despite his “heavy mandate,” then he should retire as a failed politician and head of government and do not seek a place in the parliament. What kind of PM would let his army chief run amok like this? As Ali Jafri has rightly pointed out: If Nawaz Sharif didn’t know about Kargil, why was he negotiating on Kashmir in such a confident way with Clinton?

Honestly I can soooo picture this meeting. Clinton red with rage, Mian Sahab red with shame and people like Talbot red with worry(Or is it the wrong color for worry), thinking about ways of ending the meeting before something really ghastly happened. I would have given anything to be a fly on the wall that day, really.

Jun 12, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

My right to protest is still sacrosanct – a response to Phill’s comments

I am writing it in response to Phil’s comment on my previous post. Honestly, I was expecting more people to comment along the same lines but somehow I only got 2 such comments. Perhaps I over estimated the popularity of my blog 🙂.

He very rightly commented that we, Pakistanis, do break the traffic signals, rob the nation and rape the women in broad day light and get away with because of faulty system. We are hypocritical and authoritarian and all the things that are perhaps not included in the post. My reason for writing the previous post was just that. Iran is as flawed as any other country in the region, if not more. I have met with so many people who have never even set foot in that country and are so enamored with it that it is not even funny. A lot of Pakistanis romanticize the revolution of 1979 and want something similar to take place in Pakistan. The reality of that country is a lot different.

How many of these proud defenders of state of Iran have actually gone to the country and saw it for what it is, and here, I am not talking about touristy visit to the museums and ruins in Persepolis. How many of you have gone to the University of Tehran and tried speaking with the students there about their civil liberties and found out that they were not even allowed to study the subjects they want to and it is the state that determines their education and the course of future? How many of you have been expelled from their universities in various parts of the world for holding slightly more liberal political views than your government? Irani students face this every day. How many of you are professors and are sacked because you refused to indoctrinate your students with the directives that come from the holy council and government? Irani academics have been subject to that. How many of you are women who have been publicly chastised by the moral police in the cities of Qom and Mashhad because you were showing three hair and wearing lipstick? I have been subjected to that along with millions of women who live and visit Iran. How many of you had their asses pinched in the bazaars of Tehran, Esfahan, Rasht, Tabriz, Sheeraz and Yazd? How many of you are women who wanted to become judges but cannot because the state does not recognize your right to be part of judiciary on grounds of your gender – something which is pre determined and you have absolutely no control over it? How many of you are women and are interested in sports but are banned from watching any of the sporting events where men play in your countries? Irani women are; they cannot even go to the stadium with their families.

They have the same problems of corruption and nepotism like any other country and it is not something that I am saying, it what Iranians say. Not everyone is interested in becoming a nuclear power, not even radicals. Like all of us, Iranians too want access to better employment and better health care.

If military service is mandatory in democratic countries, that does not make it perfectly adaptable for everyone else. At least in democratic countries, a person is allowed to travel outside the country without performing the military service (they put it on hold). I have had several friends and class mates from Greece, another country with mandatory military service, who were attending university in England without performing the mandatory duty. Iranians do not have that liberty.

Pakistani men break into bhangra at the drop of the hat at every occasion, bet it a political rally or the New Year’s night yearly sojourn to the beach in Karachi. Irani men are not even allowed to dance in public. The moral police can arrest them for this offence and can keep them in custody for a week or two. I prefer to live in a country where personal expression is not curbed to this level. I may not agree with the politics of people’s party but every time during elections when I heard the party’s anthem Jeeay Jeeay Jeeay Bhutto Benazeer blaring out of cars in the streets of Karachi, it made me smile a little.

As far my lack of interest in Iranian food is concerned, well that’s personal. Anyone who has had to survive on chilo kebab and jujeh kebab for 45 days straight will probably not be too fond of that kind of food. The fact that I prefer vegetarian food may also contribute to that.

Iran has superior economy because of oil. I am not so sure about their education and information systems. Irani students do not perform extra ordinarily well in western universities like other Asian students do. It’s a closeted society and the information that is fed to its people is extremely limited. Let me cite an example. Pakistan shares a long border with Iran and faced a catastrophic earth quake in fall 2005, when I visited Iran in 2006, no one, including our guide and translator who was the protocol officer with Iranian state television company knew anything about that earth quake. We have had volunteers from lands as far and remote as Cuba but our next door neighbours were unaware of that; such is the level of information in that country.

We are all busy arguing stuff in the cyber world but in Iran, harmless social networking sites like orkut are banned because they promote promiscuous attitudes in the youth, or so the government says. A lot of blogs are banned for the same reasons. The government in Pakistan blocked youtube for a few hours and people took to streets and ridiculed it to no end on all the 70 private television channels, which is why I like living in Pakistan. At least my right to protest is still sacrosanct.

Jun 11, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

Get married, or get fired

I know a lot of Pakistani men have a deep affection for all things Iran in general, and Mr Ahmedinijad in particular. I have traveled pretty extensively in Iran and quite like the country but it is not the egalitarian utopia that a lot of Pakistanis believe it to be. It is as flawed, if not more, a society as Pakistan is, and given a choice I would chose to live in Pakistan a million times over than in Iran. For one, we have much better food in Pakistan and for another Pakistani men do not pinch asses as frequently in bazaars as they do in Iran. But the most important thing is that there is something called civil liberty that still exist in Pakistan (at least in the urban centres) and state does not get to tell me what do I wear (the burqa clause), what do I study (Only a small percentage of people are allowed to study English in state universities), when can I leave the country (Irani men do not get passports unless they serve two years in army) and when do I get married. Yes, you got that right, the government is now interfering in that as well.

Some recent developments made me appreciate my country a little more, no matter how much we whine, we still have a lot more civil liberties that our neighbours on the west. According to AFP, a major Iranian state-owned company has told its single employees to get married by September or face losing their jobs.

“One of the economic entities in the south of the country has asked its single employees to start creating a family,” the hardline Kayhan daily reported.

The paper did not mention the name of the company but the reformist Etemad newspaper said that the firm is the Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company — which covers Iran‘s giant gas and petrochemical facilities on the shores of the Gulf.

“Unfortunately some of our colleagues did not fulfill their commitments and are still single,” Etemad quoted the company’s directive as saying.

“As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all the female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty.”

The country is in the midst of an unprecedented moral crackdown which has seen tens of thousands of women warned by the police for dress deemed to be unIslamic.

However officials have lamented the relatively low numbers marrying in recent years, a trend encouraged by a difficult economic situation where newly-weds struggle to pay for weddings, let alone buy a home.

In a similar warning, the governor of the eastern province of North Khorasan has said only married civil servants will be allowed to take up official posts in the region.

“Officials who are single must marry before being authorised to take up their posts,” the student ISNA news agency quoted Mohammad Hossein Jahanbakhsh as saying.

“A mayor can only take up their responsibilities in a town in the region if they are married,” he added.

What’s next, I ask. You cannot eat what you want; you cannot drink what you want; now you cannot even decide when you want to get married, if at all. What’s next, moral police entering the house and checking if you are sleeping in the prescribed way? I so thank my lucky stars that I do not live under Mehmood Ahmedinijad. No matter how flawed Musharraf-Gilani-Zardari combo is, they don’t get to determine when I marry, if I do marry at all.

Jun 10, 2008 - quirky    No Comments

mummy, daddy or …

I read about Thomas Beatie in March as the world’s first male who is gonna give birth to a baby. I later discovered that he was born female, named Tracy Lagondino, but had gender reassignment surgery and is now legally male and married to a woman. The world’s first pregnant man says he and his wife may have more children in the future.

Thomas Beatie, who is due to give birth to a girl in four weeks, said that he was “on top of the world”.

“I feel fantastic,” he said in his most revealing interview since falling pregnant. “I cannot wait to see my baby’s face.”

Mr Beatie also disclosed that he was inseminated using a syringe supplied by a vet, and that an earlier attempt to get pregnant resulted in a miscarriage.

He said the love and support he and his wife Nancy received from friends and families prompted the decision to have more kids in the future.

“All the people who really know us and love us, our friends and family, have been incredibly supportive,” Mr Beatie told the News of the World.

“So much so we might even have more children. We will just see what the experience is like with our daughter’s arrival first and then give it some thought.”

As sterilisation is not a requirement for sex reassignment, he had chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept his reproductive organs intact. “Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire but a human desire,” he writes. The couple, who have been together for ten years, run a custom screenprinting business in Bend, Oregon, where neighbours do not know that Mr Beatie was once a woman.

The Beaties admit their situation is out of the ordinary but insist their daughter will be raised in a household with traditional mother and father roles. Nancy Beatie said she’ll act as the child’s mother, while Thomas Beatie assumes the father role.

According to anthropologists, this pair behaves like a man and a woman in a very traditional marriage and will probably bring those roles to the family, and their little girl will grow up like all little girls grow up, with a daddy and a mommy.

I cant help but wonder how will children of such parents behave when they grow up, dysfunctional parents and families look cool in sitcoms but living with one can be trying, especially for young ones.

Jun 5, 2008 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Bambi and wife

For a very good looking man with charm and flashy white teeth, Bambi’s wife is seriously scary.

May 15, 2008 - quirky, romance    No Comments

The memoirs from hell, yikes!!!

Get ready to laugh your lungs out or cringe with horror (depends on how you see it). Cherie Blair is out with biography which has hysterical romantic details about her life with good ol’ Tony. Here is what a Guardian blog says about it.

“Perhaps it was the smell of his skin … the penetrating blue eyes, penetrating because they seemed to see right through me, to the extent that I could feel a blush rise up from some unchartered part of me …”

This is not, as you could be forgiven for thinking, an extract from a Mills and Boon novel, but the latest snippet from Cherie Blair’s autobiography. And, yes, she is talking about Tony.

The former prime minister’s wife has been dishing the dirt on life at No 10 all week as her memoir is serialised in the ‘Times’ and ‘the Sun’. We’ve learned that Tony used her miscarriage to detract from public panic over Iraq, how she didn’t get on with some of the royals, the extent of her rift with Alastair Campbell and how Tony’s “heart sank” when the two of them learned that George Bush had been elected US president.

But the latest revelations that she had the hots for her husband when they first met have lifted a lid on an area of political life that many of us would rather she had kept shut. It is almost as bad as hearing your own mother discussing her sex life with Dad – we know it goes on, but really, we don’t need to know the details.

“I began to realise that he was a very good-looking young man, tall and slim, yet broad in the shoulders. A really strong body,” she gushes. Breathlessly, no doubt, with a heaving bosom.

Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now: Cherie goes on to tell us that they’ve “done it”, although whether this is on the top deck of a bus unclear.

“Tony and I took the bus … It was a double-decker and we went upstairs. It was completely empty and by the time we got off we knew each other better than when we’d got on. And even better the next morning.”

The words “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” are missing at the end of the last sentence, but we get the idea.

Mrs Blair is unlikely to win the upcoming Orange Prize for her autobiography, but we’d like to suggest she enters for another literary gong: the Bad Sex award.

The Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award is given every winter to the author who produces the worst description of a sex scene in a novel.

Surely Cherie’s a shoo-in with her spreading blushes from unchartered territory? Uncharted, that is, until she jumps on the number 74 with Tony.

Unfortunately, the former PM’s lust-crazed wife doesn’t grow out of her consuming passion as she ages: “I fancied him rotten and still do,” she insists on telling us. But thankfully she has become slightly more demure in her later years.

Her description of Leo’s conception at Balmoral on a royal visit is positively prudish compared to the torrid Tony she describes earlier. “As usual up there, it had been bitterly cold, and what with one thing and another … ”

What? No strong-bodied, slim-hipped night of abandon? Cherie, this is not going to win you the Bad Sex award. No wonder WHSmith is already selling your autobiography at half price only hours after it has gone on sale.

Although for the same price, you could pick up a couple of Mills and Boon novels. Would we really be able to tell the difference?


Well, if you ask me, one would be able to tell the difference, at least the hero and heroine in Mills and Boon would certainly be better looking and younger than Tony and Cherie. I shudder and cringe and scream for mercy; first it was details of naked younus khan on nadia khan show and now I am regaled with stories of how a slim hipped blue-eyed Tony made Cherie’s knee’s weak? This is definitely the end of the world as we know it.

I shudder some more.