I think birthdays are useless. When you are a kid they seem awesome because you get to have gifts and people are celebrating but I think birthdays were invented because some guy was tired of his kids wanting stuff all the time so he brilliantly made it into an annual thing. So throughout the year the kids are looking up to this event and eventually they get something which costs significantly less than sum of all the things they could’ve gotten if they were allowed to ask for them throughout the year. It is unfair to the kids because what is actually being done to them is that they are being prepped to celebrate something in which they didn’t even have a say in, for the rest of their lives. Though I must admit that this also counts as sound fiscal training that allows them to indulge on an annual basis instead of treating themselves whenever they want like a moron, but it still feels unfair. It’s also a lot of stress because now there is an expectation to do something notable on your birthday. “What did you do on your birthday” “Nothing. Same routine.” “Oh I am so sorry”. Why? Imagine you ask this question to an astronaut whose job is to do space walks. The routine is pretty damn amazing than your miserable life but now the astronaut is stressed so he makes up things. “I did a flip when I was outside. It was pretty damn exhilarating.” What’s funnier is that as you grow old, you try to do even crazier things just so that you can answer that question. If you go to bars, you can’t do that because that’s routine so you better pass out on the street because that’s a good story to tell when some moron asks you this question. I’d like to be a spy in that case because then I can say “I can tell you but then I have to kill you, so why don’t you walk away, hmm”.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our unflinching faith in status quo

These days I have been reading “Coming back home”. It’s a collection of editorials written by Faiz while he was the editor of Pakistan Times, as well as a collection of his interviews from that time. If you want a small glimpse of what it was like during the early period of Pakistan’s existence, this would be a good start. The first observation that you will make is that our politicians haven’t changed. Not one bit. Faiz complains about the same political dynasties that still exist in our country. He talks about politicians doing whatever they can to hold onto power, their shameless pursuit of wealth and their utter disregard of political rights. Apart from a couple of editorials where he mourns the loss of Jinnah and Gandhi, every other editorial seems like it would fit into any current Pakistani newspaper if you swap a few names, and in some cases you would be swapping the name of a grandfather with a grand-daughter or grandson. The phrase “how times have changed” doesn’t echo in the annals of our political history.

Among many things that Faiz points out, the most resonating is his criticism of the “electables”. Faiz says that the concept of political parties giving party tickets to loyal politicians is the reason why change is such an elusive dream. This is synonymous to keeping the anchor down even when the ship is moving, just because it provided some sense of security when the ship was stagnant. In our current political setup, loyalty to the party is more important than loyalty to the constituents. The only thing that trumps this is another party that is in power. Then our politicians are allowed to have a crisis of faith only to find it in some other party that can help them maintain the status quo. The presence of individual-centric parties as well as dynastic parties also doesn’t help the situation; Imran Khan’s PTI, Altaf Hussain’s MQM, Shareef family’s PML-N, Bhutto family’s PPP. As a result the group of people supposedly responsible for safeguarding democracy are themselves undemocratic to their core. Ironically the only party that is somewhat democratic is the right-wing Jamaat-i-Islami. Now this is where you say FML.

In addition to this, it is our general public’s resistance to change that allows our corrupt politicians to continue to pillage our country. Any call to challenge the status quo is either met by a shrug of a shoulder or an allegation to destabilize the country. We criticize the system, yet we don’t do anything to change the pool of politicians from which we are supposed to choose our leaders. A while back I wrote an article where I suggested that the reason for our problems is our misinterpretation of “Insha Allah”. No matter how many times you say “Insha Allah”, you will still choose a corrupt person if the pool consists of corrupt politicians. “Insha Allah” doesn’t magically causes a slime ball to come clean. It just gives him more time to do more corruption.

However, the above doesn’t mean that I am supporting a scenario where the current system is replaced by an entity that is more disciplined – the army. More disciplined? Yes. Less corrupt? I don’t think so. The fact that the DHA is one of the biggest land-grabbers in the country, coupled with the fact that even though the army is going after rogue elements responsible for creating a state within the state, the army itself controls a vast area where the rule of army trumps the rule of the land, should make us a little apprehensive about the army. Add to this the fact that most of our country’s misfortunes can be traced to the evils of Yahya and Zia, and you would realize that army is hardly the solution.

Hence democracy seems to be our only option. But in the presence of corrupt politicians, lethargic and corrupt political parties and a partial judicial system, how do we actually get to a better place? I believe devolution of power should be the first step. Local body elections are necessary and more powers should be devolved to lower levels to empower people. I also believe that legislation should be in place that obstructs career politicians. All parties should be mandated to have primaries/ elections and the party chairpersons should be replaced after 10 years. A political party is supposed to represent people that believe in its manifesto. As time goes on, it is natural for people to change their attitudes about things. How is it possible for the party to truly facilitate this process if the leadership isn’t replaced with fresh blood and new ideas? Having one person indefinitely rule a political party forces the political party and its followers to be stubborn and insensitive to change. I also believe that the central investigative agency should be merged with NAB and IB thus combining the resources of the government and army and the overseeing committee should have representation from NAB, FIA, IB, Police and a representative from the Superme Court. Unrestricted access to rule of law and its impartial application is the corner stone of every successful society.

The problems that we face as a nation are grim. Parts of our country are still lawless. We are one of the few countries where polio still thrives. We are 2nd in the world for the number of out of school children and we are battling insurgencies, power outages and political incompetency on a regular basis. But after my recent trip to Pakistan, where I saw thriving cities and hopeful people, I realize that even though we have been battling the same battles for the past 50 years, we still manage to pull through. If we can just manage to do a little bit more, if we can hold our leaders a little bit more accountable, if we can focus our priorities on things that matter, we should be able to, as Faiz said, find the “sehar” (morning) which we were promised.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ban the mullahs

[In this article, the author doesn’t suggest that all mullahs should be banned. The headline was clearly meant to be a click bait for which the author profusely apologizes]

Suppose you go to a university. You wander in the science department and find yourself in the classroom of a physics teacher. You are sitting at the back and the teacher comes in and starts talking about Newton and how he ‘discovered’ gravity – the quotes were added by the teacher. He then proceeds to proclaim that the reason the apple fell on Newton’s head was primarily because it was the destiny of the apple to do so. The apple was chosen by God to fall on Newton’s head so that he can discover the principle of gravity. What would be your reaction to this? Clearly you would want to report the teacher and get him banned from teaching Physics simply because the teacher was clearly teaching against the fundamental principles of Physics.

Why can’t the same principle be applied to religion? If our religion is this religion of peace and harmony, why can’t we ban the mullahs who preach otherwise. Their sermons are about singling out who is the enemy simply because of their beliefs. They spew hatred and ignorance. Yet any talk of regulating the mosques and madarsahs is met with fierce resistance. It’s as if God, who is omnipresent, is restricted to these mosques and madarsahs and any outside intervention is basically an act against God. Doesn’t it say in Quran that those who benefit materially from religion are destined to be in hell? Doesn’t this mean that anyone who has made it his business to direct the religious lives of people, is destined to be in hell and hence shouldn’t be followed?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CII : Council of Islamic Idiots

CII board taking an afternoon nap 

 A quick clarification first. CII is not Council of Islamic Idiots. It is a council, yes. It compromises of people who identify themselves with the Islamic faith, yes. And all of them are, predominantly, and we are being conservative here, idiots. But, sadly when they were naming the council, they decided that putting in the “Idiots” word would not leave anything for imagination and therefore they chose “Council of Islamic Ideology”. Hence, in addition to determining the ideology of Pakistan for all eternity, we now had a council to determine the ideology of Islam. This itself, goes against their Islam-has-no-borders mentality. Surely, if there are no borders then the self proclaimed protectors of faith – the Saudis – should have the council. Surely, the council can’t exist in Pakistan. In theory this is correct but there a couple of issues. Firstly, the people who are part of CII can’t really speak Arabic. I mean they can quote you the Quran perfectly, but if they are, say in Jeddah, they can’t go to a Halwa shop owned by a Saudi national and order 20 grams of Halwa. You will say that surely, the Halwa shop will be owned by a Saudi but the shopkeeper would be from India or Pakistan, but that’s besides the point. Secondly, it’s quite possible that almost all of the members will be put in jail if they try to do anything remotely similar to what they do in Pakistan; for example, question the government.  

For all intents and purposes, CII’s opinions dont really matter. According to the constitution, their rulings are not mandatory on the government. To understand what CII truly should be, imagine a group of rowdy 5 year olds who want the world to run according to their rules. They want the world to eat sand, treat them as kings and follow their commands. Now imagine that you have created a small corner in the house and told them that they are the rulers of that corner. They can do whatever they want there as long as they don’t bother the adults or try to force other kids to come to their corner and be their subjects. The 5 year olds will love this. They will embrace it with open hearts. And then eventually they would grow up. CII are these 5 year olds who, sadly, haven’t been able to grow up. Some say that CII was the inspiration behind Benjamin Button but that’s just horse manure.

Any news about CII riles me up. Their ruling about disqualifying DNA use in rape cases was idiotic. CII ruled that DNA is not the right way to determine if a rape had occurred and instead there should be a witness to corroborate the accusation.

what the reaction gif
Normal people’s reaction to CII rape ruling

The notion of having a witness for rape cases is an example of truly believing in the good nature of human beings; expecting one of the rapists to find religion and come forward as the savior to exonerate the woman. By doing so, the man will be absolved from all his sins and can happily reclaim his promised stash of 70 virgins.

Recently, CII caused another controversy when they argued against organ transplants. There was a conference held recently where people from different backgrounds came together and discussed the legality of organ transplant. Everyone agreed that organ transplant is perfectly legal in Islamic law – everyone except CII folks. One of the arguments put forward by CII representatives was that the scholars need to determine if Muslim organs can be given to a non-Muslim. Their reasoning was that since it’s written that on the day of judgment, every man and woman would be raised from their graves as they were in their lives, the organ transplant will mess up the process. This is from the group of people who believe that life is a miracle, that man was born from a grain of sand. Are they telling us that, God, as we believe Him, was able to create humans but won’t be able to figure out which organs belong to which human? How about we bury the list of donors with the body so that on the day of judgment, when angels come to pick us up, they can use the list to make the necessary swaps. In that case, we might also need to figure out the goat that was used to create Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani’s beard because, quite frankly, those beard hairs don’t look at all like human beard hair.

The chief idiot

the alleged goat

Posted in Rant | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Emotions in an online world

We live in a world where the number of people we interact with online is more than the number of people we see in our day to day lives. Therefore, we gradually change our sharing behaviors based on the people we don’t see. Profile pics, status messages and tweets become our default outlet for emotional release. In such a world, how does one express sorrow, channel grief and share misery? I feel that unlike happiness, sorrow is a more genuine human emotion. To really experience and recover from sorrow, the human mind needs time and a particular setting that allows it to develop the understanding that it needs to go through this sorrow. Sometimes you need the input of others but to really recover, you have to go through the process all by yourself with people leaving you alone because they see that you clearly need some time to recover. But how do you do that in the current world of social networking? It is our innate desire to let the world know how we are feeling but the tools that we have for expression are too shallow; too… inhuman. Does changing a profile picture have the same effect of shedding a tear? Absolutely not. Instead of processing our thoughts internally and walking through the forest of confusion into some sort of clarity, we post our thoughts and let other people – who have no idea what the background is and might even be suffering from some sort of mental disorder themselves – come and take us to some distorted form of clarity. Instead of arguing with our inner self, we argue with others and instead of answering our own questions, we end up being more angry at others. After sometime the act of changing your profile picture, which in the beginning seemed like a profound way to share other people’s misery, starts to appear as an insignificant gesture and now you are confused whether you are healed enough to go back to normality or not.

I am not a huge fan of social networking. I believe it’s not genuine and it’s trying – and pretty much succeeding – to replace genuine human interactions. I see husbands and wives living in the same house posting things in public to each other’s walls, which should be said in private – and in person. I’ve seen people declaring that it’s their 2 year old son’s birthday, which doesn’t make sense since the kid doesn’t really care who liked this amazing news since he or she is more concerned about things that really matter at that age. Like getting fed. I see wall posts replacing phone calls and likes replacing genuine affection.

So in this context, how do I grieve the loss of 141 lives? Do I change my picture, write an angry post, argue with people who don’t share my views, like the status messages that reflect my views, block people who anger me or look for content that keeps me grieving? And believe me, I tried to use all this to process my emotions. Initially I thought it was a reporting error, that it’t not possible to lose 132 children in one incident. Then, when it was certain that it was true, that such barbarity has happened, I skimmed Facebook and wrote comments expressing my grief and liked statuses. But then I couldn’t go on. I had to stop because there was only one way that I can actually grieve. I cried.

It’s been a couple of days now since 12/16. My online world is full of demands for justice and calling for heads. It’s full of people spreading false information and overly dramatic posts. It’s full of people making fun of and defending the mullahs. It’s full of hopeful and hopeless sentiments. And I don’t care about any of it anymore.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


A smudge on train floor that looks like a squeezed out heart. Blackened. All the love squeezed out of it so now it only functions as an organ. If I squint, it looks like a batman symbol, which is I guess appropriate. A guy sitting staring at his phone with ear phones on, jack not plugged in, desperately trying not hear anything. Far away, a girl looks at her reflection in the blackened windows as the train goes into a tunnel; lights illuminating all her features and she notices a misplaced hair. I am surrounded by 9 people, 8 of them are on their phones. The girl infront of me is watching something on her phone. Seems like an interesting show since she hasn’t looked up for a while now. Suddenly she smiles, then casts an embarrassed glance to see if anyone saw her smiling. I avert my eyes and look out of the window. It’s still raining outside. I look back inside and someone is now standing on the smudge.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The clone

(Background: The year is 2021. The newest fad are clone clubs, where visitors can spend up to 12 hours with a clone of any person whose DNA they provide. The clones are disposed afterwards.)

Sirens. I hate sirens. Ever since the crash, that’s the only thing that I hear. Sirens.
And her scream.
They told me that I was lucky. Being “lucky” is as subjective as it can get. I can’t walk, I can’t talk. I guess I am lucky to be born in this age where I can be a better version of Stephen Hawking but I wouldn’t call being able to select my accent as “lucky”. But, I guess I can go and burn a few things in the church to show my gratitude. The church at the corner is holding a midnight burn on Halloween night. Maybe I’ll go.

Fast cars. I have always loved fast cars. I hated when electric cars became mandatory. There was no engine sound. I was a proud petrol-head but the crash of ’19 forced me to sell my corvette and trade it in for the government issued e-vehicle. That’s when the industry of racing vintage cars picked up. I used to save $999 every month to get a chance to drive a petrol car. The track could’ve been better but I didn’t complain. God, I loved that sound. Driving was my second most prized possession. I was a great driver. Everyone said so. Even Shelly said so.


I met Shelly when I was working as a mechanic in Los Angeles. I was very successful and was making a lot of money. There were a few girls that I spent time with but I didn’t like them. And then one day, Shelly walked in. From the moment I saw her, I knew. We got married a year later. Shelly loved to go fast. Fast car. Fast life. Always asking me to drive faster.

Going to the track was our favorite pass-time. It turned us on. The only reason I would drive an RV to the race track was because I knew that we were going to have sex as soon as our lap is done. It was our weekend getaway. It kept us sane. It kept us together.

Until that day.

I don’t remember how it happened. They told me afterwards that I lost control. I don’t think so. I could never lose control. There was something wrong with the car. I tried to sue them but I didn’t have enough money to buy justice. So all that I am left with is a crippled body.

A year back, I read about this technology that could clone someone for 12 hours using that person’s DNA. The procedure wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t that expensive either. I missed Shelly so I got Miguel to go through her stuff to get something that could give me her DNA. And then I saw it. In the mirror.

My crippled body.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment