15 things we hope for Pakistani sports in 2016

Given the action-packed events of the yesteryear in the sports scenario of Pakistan many of us have high hopes with what 2016 has in store for the sports fanatics. We are unable to curb our enthusiasm at the prospect of the following 15 things coming true in 2016.

1. Pakistan Cricket to stay clear of controversies

Mohammad Amir. Photo: Facebook – Mohammad Amir

The Mohammad Amir saga, television squabbles, failed doping tests, contentious selections, and non-selections dominated the news in 2015. Hopefully the worst is behind us and the cricket will take centre stage again.

No team responded better to adversity than the Pakistan Cricket Team. If there is a silver lining then it is the hope that our players play like cornered tigers in the 2016 T20 World Cup. God knows the team needs this victory.

2. More Kaleemullahs

In 2003, Zesh Rehman became the first British-Asian to start a Premier League match. In the last 12 years Football’s popularity has exponentially grown in the country. All major cities now boast a professional, or semi-professional, football academy in Pakistan.

Kaleemullah. Photo: Kaleemullah

Last summer, Kaleemullah became the first Pakistani to sign a contract with a US Club. With PTV Sports regularly airing matches from the top European league, the hope is soon we will be cheering on more Pakistani players playing the magnificent game.

3.  One Final Hurray for Aisam ul Haq

At 35, Aisam ul Haq is in the twilight of his career, which has been in a downward trajectory for the past couple of years. 2015 was a largely forgettable year for Aisam-ul-Haq.

Aisam ul Haq. Photo: AFP

As the biggest tennis player Pakistan has ever produced, and seemingly little talent to take the mantle from him anytime soon, the nation needs to get behind the superstar and push him towards glory in 2016.

Ushna Suhail. Photo: AFP

Also keep an eye on Ushna Suhail. She is on her way to becoming Pakistan’s next big tennis star. One hopes she realises her potential on the international stage.

4. Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be a resounding success

There are bound to be teething problems in Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s venture into the lucrative T20 league format but despite all the off-field disputes and disagreements, we would like the league to be a spectacular, putting Pakistan cricket on the map for the right reasons.

Photo: Zahoorul Haq/ Express

Hopefully Pakistan will be able to gain enough goodwill from the competition to host future versions of the league in the country. The biggest hope for all Pakistani cricket fans would be for quality competitive international cricket to return to Pakistan.

5. The female teams to get institutional support

Despite the Pakistan female football and cricket teams achieving success, and ironically doing better than their male counterparts, there is little institutional and financial support afforded to the teams.

Photo: AFP

Our female teams are not taken as seriously as they should be, they get little coverage and few minutes of airtime.

Many players pay the costs for equipment from their own pockets, and athletes are not given central year-long contracts by the federations.

We would love to see the gender disparity come to an end in the sports scene starting from 2016.

6. Palwasha Bashir and Maria Toorpakay Wazir to get recognition

You cannot talk about female athletes in Pakistan, and not mention Palwasha Bashir or Maria Toorpakay. What Sania Mirza is to tennis in India, Palwasha is to badminton and the Maria is to squash in Pakistan.

Maria Toorpakay Wazir. Photo: Nashcup.com

Despite being a world class talent, Palwasha’s opportunities to play in international competitions have been few and far between. Maria Toorpakay on the other hand made the nation proud winning the Nash cup title for the second time in 2015.

Palwasha Bashir. Photo: Arif Soomro

It was heartening to see Pepsi recognise Palwasha Bashir as a national hero in the Chand Sitara campaign. One hopes they both get a chance to make the nation proud on the international stage in 2016.

7. Rio 2016

Pakistan’s record at the Olympics has been abysmal. The country has only ever won 10 Olympic medals, and eight of those were in hockey. We have not won a single medal for 14 years, ending up as the most populated country to not win a single medal in the last five Olympics.

Photo: Reuters

Let’s hope we end our winless streak, and our boys and girls bring back some gold this time!

8. Bodybuilders to get state patronage

Pakistani body builders have been setting the world stage alight in the past couple of years. Atif Anwar won the Arnold Classic Body Building competition and Salman Ahmad won the title of Mr Musclemania in 2015.

Atif Anwar. Photo: Getty

Salman Ahmad. Photo: Facebook – Salman Ahmad Official

Both athletes were able to achieve global success despite receiving little to no state support. The hard work and perseverance of our sporting heroes need to be recognised officially and the body builders need to be given all the tools necessary to compete at the very top.

9. PSL style ventures extended to other sports

Photo: AFP/ Reuters

In our cricket fuelled nation, other sports often get ignored. Fans of other sports hope that the PSL style ventures are also replicated for more sports. The hope is that all respective federations are able to bring together all media, advertising and financial stakeholders to create popular events for all sports in Pakistan, which are lucrative to both the sponsors and the athletes.

10. Pakistan Hockey to rise like a phoenix

Our national sport is in tatters, the only silver lining is that it cannot possibly go any lower than this; Pakistan hockey has officially hit rock bottom, failing to qualify for both the World Cup and the Olympics. A new management has been put in place in hopes to revive the sport, and the nation hopes that field hockey in Pakistan is able to rise from the ashes and soar again.

Photo: File

It will only take one victory against India for the entire nation to get into the groove to support the hockey team again!

11. We find our next big squash star

Pakistan is ranked a respectable eighth place in the World Squash rankings but for a country that has been spoiled by the talents of Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, the nation yearns for the number one ranking.

Jahangir Khan. Photo: Express

Jansher Khan. Photo: PPI


Despite producing two of the best talents the game has ever seen, Pakistan has been unable to produce a steady stream of squash champions. The hope is that 2016 will see a talent emerge that will reclaim the coveted number one spot for Pakistan in the world of squash.

12. The Shandur Polo Festival to happen

The Shandur Polo Festival is truly one of the world’s most unique sporting events; a polo match on the ‘roof of the world’.

Shandur hosts the world’s highest polo ground, and the annual summer Shandur Polo Festival is a time for celebration for the entire region but recent political differences and national calamities in the region have put the festival in contention.

Photo: Gilgit-Baltistan.com

The hope is not only that the festival happens but it receives massive national, and international, coverage so the entire world is able to see the beauty and talent of the north in Pakistan.

13. The South Asian Federation (SAF) games

The SAF games are South Asia’s answer to the Olympics. Traditionally, Pakistan has done well at the games, and with the 2016 version set to take place in India there is added incentive for the Pakistan delegation to bring back some gold from the home turf of the traditional rival.

14. India – Pakistan kabaddi to resume

The 2015 kabaddi world cup in India was called off due to massive protests. India and Pakistan may face each other in the SAF games scheduled to take place in February 2016 but one hopes for regular kabaddi matches between the two countries.

Photo: Express

The sport is massively popular in Punjab and it is part of the tradition of both countries. It may also allow many Pakistanis and Indians to blow off some steam by taking part in some competitive jostling.

15. The obvious

Saving the biggest one for last, reading through the previous two conclusions you might already have inkling about what I am building up towards; it tops the list of every sports fan in Pakistan, the hope for India-Pakistan bilateral cricket series to resume.

Pakistan versus India Photo: AFP

Ideally, it would take place in Pakistan but even a series in India or a neutral venue will equally have all of us pulsating at the prospect of these cricket giants going head to head. India versus Pakistan cricket matches have the potential to bring the world to a standstill and the entire nation is balanced at knife-edge for the next chance to see them go head-to-head.

There is nothing more I would like to see than Pakistan beat India in cricket in 2016!

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31232/15-things-we-hope-for-pakistani-sports-in-2016/

11 Pakistani WTH moments from 2015

1. The one-of-a-kind fashion show

At the top of the list, it has to be the one-of-a-kind fashion show that took place at cow mandi, Lahore. ‘Qurban hojana’ took a literal turn when models took to the ramp. Ok, perhaps, there was no ramp but rather sand and a little mud with questionable manure thrown about here and there as decor. This was when both fully accessorised women and cattle walked together, limb to limb accentuating their… I actually don’t know what. 

2. Corporate Trolling

An ad with a sprawled Nargis Fakhri appeared on the front page of an Urdu newspaper. Some hated it, few were shocked, while others spent their whole time licking the newspaper page that whole week. The turn was when Faisal Qureshi appeared in the exact pose (though a tad bit challenged in the gluts area) on the same paper and the term ‘Corporate Trolling’ was introduced. Rumors are that Nargis has been calling up Faisal to learn how to pose in a way where people don’t objectify her and pay attention just to the product she is selling.

3. The now infamous Sapphire Lawn sale.

No guard, no Ranger, no tank, no drone, no one could have stopped those determined ladies from acquiring what they had come for. Even the Taliban touched their ears to do “Tauba” saying,

“These ladies are too vicious even for us. Malala hi achi thi bhai.”

Five legal milestones from 2015 that Pakistan should take pride in

With the Pakistan Protection Act, cybercrime bills and the 21st Amendment, it’s been a tough year for human rights. Yet our courts have been actively making progressive human rights decisions which require a more in depth consideration. 

Here are five cases which represent good law:

1) Mumtaz Qadri versus The State
Judgment by Asif Saeed Khan Khosa
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Mumtaz Qadri’s case held that statements made by Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, though unsubstantiated, were criticisms of the blasphemy law, which is not blasphemy itself. Taseer had made allusions to it being a “Black Law” amended by an unrepresentative military dictator that had become vehicle of oppression for minorities.

Presenting a paradox wrapped in an enigma, the court posited that Qadri is guilty of the very offence he accuses Taseer of. If criticism of blasphemy law (introduced into law as a section of colonial era legislation and not divine sanction) were blasphemy, then Qadri too has blasphemed as he criticised blasphemy law – which in his indirect opinion does not adequately penalise critiques against it. The court supported criticism of laws with a view towards its evolution, and pointed to amendments in Zina law that retained the offence, but codified procedural safeguards for women accused of Zina.

The court also rejected Qadri’s argument that Taseer “gravely and suddenly provoked” him with words right before he shot him. The court interpreted Section 121 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to find that proving this defence was Qadri’s onus which he had not satisfied. Perhaps, here the court could have added some constitutional safeguards for defence by saying that once (Qadri) has shown “existence of circumstances” that give rise to the defence of loss of self-control under provocation, the prosecution must disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt – an easy ask for the state in this case.

In addition, Qadri argued that he was justified in killing Taseer under PPC Section 79. The court refuted this by explaining the two tiered section – that Qadri had not cited any law that justified his acts, nor did he show any mistaken fact that justified the killing under law. In other words, even if Qadri mistakenly believed that Taseer had blasphemed (which he had not), he was not justified in law to kill him. The court emphasised, in light of defence’s religious arguments, that killings based on “unverified and unsubstantiated” statements are unlawful. What they leave unanswered, perhaps prudently, is what if such statements are verified and substantiated – but later, they are clear that if Qadri suspected Taseer had committed blasphemy he should have followed legal course.

There is much to discuss in this vibrant and upbeat decision with a ring of righteousness, desire for reform, and a disapproval of the discriminatory application of blasphemy law running through it. While one should disagree on principle against the death penalty in Pakistan and advocate for its abolition, and hope for forgiveness and pardon for even Qadri, one can appreciate the court’s strong message against blasphemy vigilantism and for semblance of rule of law:

“If the asserted religious motivation of [Qadri] for the murder committed by him by taking the law in his own hands is to be accepted as a valid mitigating circumstance in this case then a door shall become open for religious vigilantism which may deal a mortal blow to the rule of law in this country where divergent religious interpretations abound and tolerance stands depleted to an alarming level.”

2) Asma Javaid versus The Government of Punjab
Judgement by Ayesha A Malik
Lahore High Court

In 2014, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) secretly decided to end open merit for entrants to their colleges and to impose a 50-50 quota for men and women. They claimed that even though there are more women admitted to colleges because they perform better on entrance exams (62 per cent in 2011-12 and 68 per cent in 2014), their numbers are fewer than men in the field as many do not go onto practice and specialise. To support their decision, the PMDC cited a research done three years ago by Ms Shaista Faisal that found fewer female than male doctors and dentists went onwards for training, research and specialisation. Ms Faisal concluded that measures were needed that would allow women to stay in the professions and go on to specialised fields and acquire leadership positions.

The court ruled against the PMDC stating that the 50-50 quota violated Article 25 banning discrimination on the basis of gender, extrapolating that Article 25(3), however, does not prevent the state from taking affirmative action to protect women and children – by perhaps increasing women’s representation in fields where they are invisible or minimally represented. This in turn means that minimum quotas for women are okay as a protective measure and to enhance women’s participation, but not maximum.

In the court’s emphatic and forthright judgement that sets fortified precedent for women’s constitutional rights, the court dismisses all of PMDC’s bogus arguments supporting 50 per cent maximum quota for women. The entirely male PMDC board’s half-half quota was unscientific and did not guarantee that more women will progress in medical dental careers, that they cited to a study by a female as support for their position, but did not in fact take pains to implement any constructive measures she recommended to encourage more women to practice and specialise, and that they decided this in February and disclosed it in September just days before the entrance exam, unsettling expectations of female candidates.

Unequivocally, the court was in no mood to dismiss true merit – in other words we can’t waste merit by shutting out potentially smart doctors, and open doors to substandard ones who may never have made it into medical/dental school but for a discriminatory quota. Of course if one wants to debate entrance exams as unfair criteria for medical school entry and modify the nature of the test that would be another debate for another day in court.

Judge Ayesha A Malik makes several strides for women in public life, and if law can mould attitudes, this decision may pave the way for society to stop blaming women for not joining professions but instead incentivise them to work, and eliminate social hurdles that prevent them from doing so. Quotable quote:

“[I]t is alarming that merit has been wasted and compromised, which ultimately means that the quality of doctors in the medical and dental profession has also been compromised. This affects the public at large. Furthermore it goes against the very spirit and purpose of the mandate of the regulator PMDC whose job is to ensure optimum results from medical and dental colleges as well as the medical profession. In the very least they should have conducted a study to ascertain the problems and their reasons and then worked on solutions and improvements.”

3) Zubair Ahmed Khaskheli versus the Federation of Pakistan
Judgement by Shaukat Ali Memon
Sindh High Court

In a progressive, though general, decision the Sindh High Court emphasised the importance of a holistic education for students at primary and secondary level that incorporates fundamental and human rights as enshrined in Chapter 1 of the Pakistan Constitution as a compulsory subject. Of course, the real onus lies with the government, in particular, the Department of Education, that will need to enhance the syllabus in line with the court’s ruling.

In a short judgement, the court discusses interconnected constitutional provisions. These include: Article 25A – that the state must guarantee free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of five and 16; Article 37 – the state must promote the educational and economic interests of backward classes, remove illiteracy, and enable people through education and other means to fully participate in national activities and employment; and Article 38 – the state must promote the social and economic wellbeing of people.

The court acknowledged that such changes in curriculum were necessary for people to have raised awareness and to be able to fight for their basic rights such as food, clothing, shelter, housing, health, and education regardless of sex, race and caste and alluded to Article 9 right to life and its expansive judicial interpretation. Although the Sindh government responded by saying that fundamental rights are already part of various subjects in the primary and secondary education, the court did not scrutinise this stipulation or examine the curriculum and how exactly the court imagines it be implemented with a critical assessment of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2013.

Since human rights and the law are within the courts’ bundle of expertise, a more engaging discussion may have ensued had the court laid bare the current curriculum and where it falls short in providing students with an understanding of human rights, or violates constitutional imperatives, in order to enable them to enforce their rights. But no one will disagree that,

“Right to life is no longer considered as merely a right to physical existence or a right not be deprived of life without due process of the law. It means … to enjoy a dignified existence. A dignified existence may not possible without a certain level of education.”

4) Imrana Tiwana versus the Province of Punjab
Judgement by Syed Mansoor Ali Shah
Lahore High Court

In this judicially robust decision, prefaced by Pablo Neruda’s optimistic verse – you can cut all the flowers, but you can’t stop spring from coming – the court speaks up for environmental justice and democracy in two concrete ways:

1. The people must decide on projects such as new roads through their elected local government with more real power at the grassroots of government.

2. An autonomous Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must find competent leadership, provide scrutiny over projects and refrain from fraud reviews.

It held that the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), a provincial government department headed by the chief minister of Punjab, cannot ignore processes required under the Environmental Protection Act – which include the production of an EIA report, meaningful participation by the public and the government, and a review by an independent committee of experts before a project commences. It describes the regulatory capture of the EPA that serves the interests of industries, and is beholden to the provincial government, rather than being a truly independent body acting as a watchdog and check post over public projects.

The project under dispute was the construction of a seven-kilometre signal-free highway in Lahore. The court noted with chagrin that Rs60 million of the public exchequer (of an expected Rs1.5 billion) had already been spent on this project without first obtaining proper EIA clearance. The petitioners, a body of concerned citizens, had argued that this project ignored the socio-economic reality of most people who walk or use public transport in favour of perhaps eight per cent of motorists who would benefit from a fast-speed road. Without assessing the merits of the project, the court set aside the flawed EIA approval for the project as violation of many constitutional provisions (Article 4, 10A) and conducted by a compromised and beleaguered EPA.

Next the court addresses Article 140A, devolution, and the role of local governments in a vibrant democratic society. Citing a diverse body of literature, giving examples of Indian punchayats and South African municipalities and their core responsibilities, the court found local governments are constitutionally empowered under Article 140A and are not meant to be underlings or agents of provincial governments. Devolution necessitates a process of true political, administrative and financial decentralisation to the local level on most devolved matters including this one (but for certain projects that have spill-over effects into provincial territory or involve economies of scale).

For the constitutional and environmental enthusiasts, there is much to celebrate about this decision and its earnest and cerebral discussion of federalism, vertical separation of powers, and subsidiarity and the significance of environmental impact assessments as articulated in the Rio Summit 1992 – but ultimately this delightful decision, appeals notwithstanding, is not only a win-win for social, economic and political justice, it also restores faith in the judiciary and its spirited ode to local governments.

“The logic behind decentralisation is not just about weakening the central authority, nor is it about preferring local elites to central authority, but it is fundamentally about making governance at the local level more responsive to the felt needs of the large majority of the population.”

5) Mohamad Anwar versus the Government of Punjab
Lahore High Court, Multan Bench

This important and positive case pending before the Multan High Court is indicative of the procedural tribulations of death row convicts and how through the appeals process convicts serve sentences longer than average murder sentences in the UK for example, and much harsher in nature. Perhaps this will be cause for empathy for some, that in this case, 17-year-old Mohammad Anwar spent more than two decades in jail, serving a rigorous sentence, before finally getting a favourable decision from the High Court (still not final) to reverse his capital punishment.

In 1998, Anwar was convicted under Section 302B of the PPC for an offence he committed in 1993 at the age of 17. The High and the Supreme Court had earlier dismissed his appeals. Yet, according to a 2001 notification issued by the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics, all those who were juveniles and condemned to death on or before November 17, 2001, must have their capital punishment commuted to life in prison in line with Article 45 of the constitution. He submitted an application to the Home Secretary, and the medical board confirmed in 2002 that indeed Anwar was a juvenile when he offended. Somehow, the Supreme Court was never notified about the age certification. The petitioner later withdrew a review petition he filed before the Supreme Court in 2009, as he pursed administrative options and filed a new petition before the High Court asking that the Home Secretary make a determination in this case.

In the meanwhile, the Supreme Court had ruled in Ziaullah versus Najeebullah, and in light of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (2000), that cases of juveniles whose death sentences had been confirmed by the Supreme Court, the proper jurisdiction for reversing such sentences was the Sessions Court.  Anwar then approached the Sessions Court that his sentence be commuted under the Juvenile Justice Ordinance and the 2001 notification. He has now challenged the Sessions Court before the Lahore High Court (Multan Bench) in December 2015; his death warrant is temporarily stayed in a commendable order and gives us hope for 2016.

Author thanks lawyers Asad Jamal, Shahzad Akbar, Sara Malkani and Allahdadyar for help in identifying an eclectic mix of human rights cases of the year.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31206/five-legal-milestones-from-2015-that-pakistan-should-take-pride-in/

Dear Allah Mian, in 2050 I wish…

“Baba, what’s a beheading?”

“Hmmm?” my father asked from behind the newspaper he was reading.

I knew he wasn’t listening.

“A beheading.” I repeated.

Baba hastily put the paper down and looked at me.

“Where did you hear that word?” he asked incredulously.

“In the news. ‘Beheading of a girl in Afghanistan’. She was in my class, I mean, the same class as me. Class three.”

“Mahnoor, I’ve told you to change the channel when such news appears, haven’t I?” Baba asked sternly.

His face looked strange. He looked angry yet worried at the same time.

“It wasn’t on TV Baba. It was on Facebook. I read the headline but I didn’t click the link as you’ve told me to never click on such links. What does beheading mean, Baba?”

Baba scratched his beard as he thought.

“It’s a form of punishment,” Baba finally managed to say.

“What was she punished for? Did she do something wrong?”

Baba sighed and shook his head.

“She didn’t do anything wrong, Mano. Nothing at all. She was just born in the wrong place, with terrible people.”

“She was beheaded for being born?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes. The community she belongs to has been a victim of such violence since a very long time. Mano, why don’t you go do your homework now?”

I could tell Baba no longer wanted to talk about it.

“Can I write about her in my essay Baba?”

“What essay?”

“We have to write an essay about how we think the year 2050 will be like.”

“You can if you want to, Mano,” said Baba with a sad smile.

I quickly Googled the meaning of beheading as I pretended to switch off the laptop. I felt squeamish at what Google showed me:

“be·head

bəˈhed/

verb

gerund or present participle: beheading

cut off the head of (someone), typically as a form of execution.”

In my room, I opened my notebook and thought about what 2050 would be like. But all I could think about was what I wanted 2050 to not be like. I sharpened my pencil and wrote:

Dear Allah Mian,

I hope you are listening, I hope you listen to us in the year 2050 too. I’ll probably be around 43-years-old then. That’s quite old! I’ll probably have lots of children, which is why I’m afraid to be in the year 2050. Right now, it is the year 2015, almost at its end, and Allah, it has not been a good year for children all over the world.

I have heard adults say 2015 has been a horrible year with many bad people doing bad things. Most of these bad things affect children, I’ve heard. I have also read some very scary things Allah. Baba says I shouldn’t listen to the news and read these posts on Facebook but I can’t help it. (I’m sorry about that Allah.) Things are quite bad, I read we can’t visit Disneyland because we are Muslim. But that’s not important…

In the year 2050, Allah Mian, I wish there are no terrorists. Last year in December, when it was 2014, something terrible happened. Terrorists entered a school in my country and shot kids, around my age. It was a very sad day. Our school was closed for two weeks. Oh Allah, it was a scary time. Ever since then, we have drills in our school. When we’re in class, the bell rings and the teacher switches off the lights and locks the door. The bell rings again and we have to hide under our desks till the drill is over. It’s for security purposes, we’re told, in case terrorists show up to kill us.

Why would a terrorist want to kill me, Allah Mian? Whatever the reason might be, please, please, please Allah let there be no terrorists in 2050!

Can you make them go away?

In the year 2050, Allah Mian, I wish there are no wars. I couldn’t sleep all night the day I saw the picture of Aylan Kurdi on Facebook. I know he is with you now Allah, I know he is in heaven, but he deserved to be here. He deserved to live to see 2050. Did you see that picture, Allah Mian? Of little Aylan curled up by the sea. Baba told me he was trying to leave his homeland with his family, because of a war that isn’t theirs. A war that has caused countless people to leave their homes and caused deaths of so many.

Can you stop these wars?

In the year 2050, Allah Mian, I wish there are no drones. I read about how big countries fire drones and air strikes on smaller countries to kill terrorists but actually end up killing normal people. Children like me and their families. This happens in my country too. Can’t the big countries come up with other ways to stop terrorists?

Can you stop them from killing my people?

In the year 2050, Allah Mian, I wish children are safe from bad people. This year, too many children were hurt by people with bad intention. Baba scolded me a lot when I asked about what happened to those kids in Kasur. Something terrible and unimaginable happened to them. To almost 400 kids.  

Many such incidents have happened in 2015. Be it at the hands of terrorists, rapists, world leaders, religious scholars, politicians or family members, children have been bearing the brunt of all forms of violence, hate and negligence. Just a few weeks ago, an eight-month-old girl Bisma died in Karachi because a beloved politician’s life was way more important than hers. Did you create him to be more special than that little girl? I don’t think so, Allah Mian.

And today, I read about Shukria. A little girl in Afghanistan, from grade three, who was on her way to visit her grandmother in Pakistan, but was beheaded for being born a Hazara. I don’t know who Hazaras are, but I know she did not deserve to die. She was the smartest girl in her class, I read, and she deserved to live to see 2050.

Whenever a certain part of the world’s population is oppressed or denied of their rights, they are termed ‘children of a lesser god’. How can god be lesser? It is not you who is less Allah, it is people themselves who are less and low. We are children of lesser people, not of a lesser god.

So dear Allah Mian, I pray to you and ask you that in the year 2050, can you please stop them from hurting children? Can you do that for us, Allah Mian?

Much Love, 

Mahnoor

A child of lesser people in 2015

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31229/dear-allah-mian-in-2050-i-wish/

Presenting the 10 best films from Tinseltown in 2015

2015 has been a great year for Hollywood films. I personally can’t think of the last time there was as much anticipation for the movie calendar as there was this year. We saw the return of beloved 70’s and 80’s icons like Rocky Balboa, Han Solo, Max Rockatansky, The Terminator (for better or worse), a 70-year-old director, George Miller redefine the action genre and the most beloved movie franchises – Star Wars and Rocky – got rejuvenated. So naturally with the year coming to an end it’s only fair that we talk about the films that we loved the most, but I’m not just going to talk about the films that were popular at the Box Office and made a lot of money, but also the films that weren’t watched by most people but are great nonetheless and deserve your time.

5. Creed

Ryan Coogler’s Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky franchise feels both fresh, nostalgic (with subsequent nods to the originals) and is arguably the best one since the original. Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone gave knockout performances, with Stallone in top-form reprising the role that made him what he is today, while Ryan Coogler’s vision gave the film a uniquely visceral and gritty feel allowing the camera to make sure we feel every single blow. But while the literal punches certainly make an impact, it’s the figurative ones that really leave a mark.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/132287948

4. Steve Jobs

After 2013’s abysmal Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher it was evident that we needed a movie that did justice to the legacy of one of the most influential personalities of our time and director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin did just that with this year’s Steve Jobs. Sorkin’s spitfire script is undoubtedly the main attraction and makes the film move like a bullet, but Michael Fassbender’s layered and commanding presence as the Apple founder is also mesmerising to watch.

Add to that: Danny Boyle’s solid direction and a trio of great supporting performances from Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen and you’ve got a biopic that engrosses and electrifies in equal amounts.

3. The Martian

I can’t think of the last time I had more fun watching a movie than I had watching The Martian. Ridley Scott finally made a comeback after nearly a decade of making one dud after another but this isn’t just a Ridley Scott movie because he’s offered great support in all departments. Matt Damon’s outstanding central performance drives the film, the visuals are stunning, the entire cast did a great job and Drew Goddard’s superb and surprisingly smart screenplay made the film both thoroughly enjoyable and uproariously funny. The Martian is a celebration of the human spirit and the most feel-good movie of the year.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/131809849

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It would be wrong to say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was anything less than the most anticipated movie of all time and riding on these unimaginably high expectations, JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasden forged an alloy between the old and the new and delivered a film that was both nostalgic and wonderfully fresh. The stunning visuals, great new characters and a story with genuine heart and emotion ensured that Star Wars was finally back and this one was truly a force to be reckoned with.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

We get action movies every year, but rarely does one even come close to Mad Max: Fury Road. The over-the-top stunts, eccentric characters and gonzo designs all come together to create a cinematic tour de force, a film that strives to be something more than just another action movie. George Miller orchestrates a breathtaking spectacle of high-octane, exhilarating and gut-wrenching action that is as beautiful as it is chaotic. Charlize Theron gives us the most badass female protagonist since Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley and Tom Hardy brings new life to the role of the strong, silent and tortured hero that is Max.

5. Spotlight

Tom McCarthy had the honour of making one of the year’s best and worst films this year, The Cobbler starring Adam Sandler being one of the worst, but from the other end of the spectrum, Spotlight emerged as one of the year’s most important and engrossing films. McCarthy’s ode to investigative journalism is based on the true story of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team that nailed the Catholic Church for its legacy of child abuse and cover-ups back in 2002. The ensemble cast comprising of, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Liev Schreiber all do stellar work but it’s how profoundly hard-hitting this film is that makes it so great.

4. The Lobster

Rarely do you see a film as original and surreal as Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, but if you saw his previous film Dogtooth, you’d had some idea what to expect from this. The Lobster is an utterly bizarre, darkly funny and satirical on society itself. It is a film with layers of strangeness and is definitely hard to take in all at once but once the strangeness comes together you have yourself a rich and incredibly rewarding cinematic experience that is not to be missed.

3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

In a year that was full of big budget blockbusters, it was nice to see a film that was so understated in its ambition yet so powerful in its impact that it moved me without even giving much of a spectacle; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is that movie. It’s a movie that may remind you of The Fault in Our Stars because it plays on a similar premise, only it isn’t sappy, overly melodramatic and unlike The Fault in Our Stars, it’s actually good. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is easily one of the most beautiful, charming, heart-breaking and emotionally resonant films I saw this year and in a long time.

 

2. The Hateful Eight

Tarantino’s latest film, his second western in a row is arguably his densest and most important film yet. Shot on glorious 70 mm film (as referenced by the film’s posters), the movie unfolds almost like a stage play and is extremely entertaining despite its three hour run-time because the trademark Tarantino dialogue, crazy over-the-top violence and colourful characters never let it get boring. It’s also wickedly funny with a fantastic cast and an intricately woven, jigsaw puzzle plot that keeps you guessing right up to the bloody, brilliant end.

1. The Revenant

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu astounded us all with Birdman, last year; this time around he astounded us with a completely different film, a beautiful, haunting, sometimes jaw-dropping epic of the frontier. The Revenant is a breathtakingly shot examination of what a person can do to survive. It’s an immersive experience that is both poetic and lyrical while also being brutal and exceedingly intense to sit through. The Best Actor Oscar may finally have Leonardo DiCaprio’s name on it as he nails one of the most challenging roles of his career, and there’s Tom Hardy ripping up the screen as one of the more intriguing villains you’re ever likely to see.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/141966402

You, what do you think? Are there any movies you thought should have made the list? Sound off in the comments section below.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31175/presenting-the-10-best-films-from-tinseltown-in-2015/

Ayesha Sana, behind the scenes!

With her glamorous attire, overdone makeup, and studio lights shining bright on her face, we see a lady sitting on a couch, speaking in a soft, polite tone, getting ready to appear on television and give a lecture on morality, etiquettes and civility. The show host believes that she, much like her morning show fraternity, is the only person capable of saving Pakistan from its moral failures.

In this particular segment of her show, the topic of discussion revolves around the treatment of people belonging to a lower socio-economic class in Pakistan. Her guest on the show belongs to the very same class. The host exhibits grace and poise, and shows her utmost interest in the poor man’s life. She helps her audience understand and sympathise with the poor man’s plight, all the while seeming disheartened. Soon the segment comes to an end, and one cannot help but feel sad at our world’s reality and praise the host for her work.

This wonderful host is none other than our very own Ayesha Sana.

As I opened my laptop to watch something lighter, something to make me feel good, I came across a video shared by my friend on his Facebook timeline, a video unmasking the ugly and dark side of the host who I couldn’t stop praising just a few moments ago. The perception of humbleness, modesty and softness shatters and a screaming hulk is unleashed, throwing abuses and insults at fellow subordinates. A lady who was seen lecturing on morals and civility a few moments ago had now turned into something that can be an apt definition of the word ‘philistine’.

Giving her the benefit of doubt, I assumed she had probably had a really bad day and hence the hulk-like outburst, but I was proven wrong… again and again. A new video seems to be making rounds on Facebook where Ms Sana is seen being, well… herself. This time, the recipients are her hair stylists, who have apparently ‘further ruined’ her hair. But we wouldn’t even have imagined such behaviour because once she gets on that stage and the camera starts rolling, she turns into a fairy with a magical twist in her tongue, spilling nothing but humble and sweet words.

This hallmark hypocrisy runs deep in our society. From Hamza Ali Abbasi’s religious fervour to Aamir Liaquat’s saintly outlook and cheap shenanigans, there is a certain hypocrisy we see between what is said and what is done in reality.

Ayesha Sana is a representative of each one of us. Take a moment and reflect on how we behave with our servants, maids, workers and subordinates? We all lecture on morals and ethics but how many of us actually follow what we preach?

Her videos should not be taken as a source of amusement. Laughing over it only proves our collective moral bankruptcy. Instead of sharing the videos with your friends, we should boycott her and her show. We don’t need such blatantly hypocritical and pretentious people in our TV fraternity, let alone our society.

Ayesha Baig, one of the hair stylists, took to social media, sharing her side of the story, stating that the whole fiasco was merely an attention-seeking rant.

I, for one, demand Ayesha Sana to publically apologise to all the people she insulted and disrespected. No one deserves to be treated like Ms Sana treated her subordinates. Just because she is a famous TV show host does not mean she has the liberty to scornfully abuse people who she may think are beneath her.

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/31228/ayesha-sana-behind-the-scenes/

24 sports moments from 2015 we will not forget

The sports fraternity has been very eventful throughout the year. The following are some of the highlights of the key occurrences worth mentioning:

1) AB de Villiers gave it all

The South African captain scored the fastest century off only 31 balls against West Indies, and eventually scored 149 runs off 44 balls. De Villiers delivered stand-out performances throughout 2015, as evidently, he managed to carry his national side to the semi-finals of Club World Cup (CWC) 2015, and also raked in the following records: fastest 50, 100 and 150 in One Day International (ODI) history, fastest player to reach 8000 runs in ODI and equalled the record of most sixes (16) in ODI, versus West Indies in Johannesburg.

Photo: Reuters

2) Tim Southee’s seven wicket haul

Tim Southee’s match-winning spell obliterated England when he bowled out seven off nine overs at Wellington Regional Stadium. The clueless England side lumbered for 123 runs in just 33.2 overs. There had not been a better New Zealand World Cup spell, and Southee’s magnificent record haul of 7-33 goes down as a hallmark of the same.

Photo: Reuters

3) ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 winners: Australia

This tournament saw the Australian cricket team be crowned World Champions for the fifth time in history. After a memorable semi-final against former champions India, the Australians faced the inspired team of New Zealand. New Zealand’s ardent campaign against Australia came crashing down when the last seven wickets fell for just 33 runs.

Photo: AFP

4) Gone in 38 seconds

After his awkward slip last season, the former Liverpool captain again faced a disconcerting moment after he stomped on Ander Herrera’s leg at the Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Anfield. Referee Martin Atkinson barely hesitated and brandished a red card. Steven Gerrard only lasted 38 seconds on the pitch in his last face-off against arch-rivals United.

Photo: Reuters

5) Seth Rollins steals the show

Wrestlemania 31 bloomed in a series of exciting WWE superstars’ appearances and results, yet the main event between, defending WWE World Heavy Weight Champion, Brock Lesnar versus, 2015 Royal Rumble winner, Roman Reigns had all eyes focused. The main event ensued Lesnar’s victory against Reigns in a jaw-dropping face-off. Lesnar retained his title until Seth Rollins, made a shocking appearance to cast his Money In The Bank opportunity. Despite a raucous RKO by Randy Orton earlier in the evening, Rollins had the nerve to steal the show, taking advantage of maimed Lesnar and Reigns. Rollins eventually emerged victorious and stunned viewers.

6) Mayweather versus Pacquiao

The long awaited fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao caused quite a lot of havoc, especially at McCarran airport, Las Vegas, when people could not find spots to park their multimillion dollar jets. Perhaps not, but a new 4.4 million PPV record of US buys previewed the fight as the best sports moment of the year. The copiously adverted fight, unlike its expectations, was an utter disappoint, completely lack luster and boring as witnessed by audiences from around the world. Mayweather, however, won 49-0 at MGM Grand Arena, earning a staggering $300 million.

Photo: AFP

7) FIFA scandal

The global governing body of football, FIFA, is tainted by the conviction of officials and associates in corruption cases as disclosed by US federal prosecutors. This year, FIFA officials were accused of money laundering, illegal television rights and payments. Current President Sepp Blatter resigned amid the calamity, nonetheless, remains in charge until February; while top corporate sponsors call for his resignation. The demands of Visa, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch InBev were rejected. During a FIFA press conference, Blatter’s image took another blow when comedian Simon Brodkin showered him with fake dollar bills to model him a corporate felon.

Photo: AFP

8) FC Barcelona winning the treble

FC Barcelona’s abounding number of titles and honours claimed another treble as the Catalans beat Juventus 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League final at Olympic Stadium, Berlin on June 6th. Neymar Jr and Luis Suárez bagged their first European feat; whereas defeated Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final on May 30th. Domestically, Barcelona astounded the tenacity of arch-rivals Real Madrid after winning the Spanish Primera Division by only two points.

Photo: AFP

9) Stanislas Wawrinka shocks world’s number one

The riveting rivalry in a stunning French Open final saw the world’s number one seeing-off his 28th winning streak at the hands of Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka. The Stade Roland Garros rose in intrigue and grunting moments as Wawrinka wore down Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4 to win his second Grand Slam title. Djokovic emerged stunned in defeat and will have to wait another 12 months in hope to become the eighth man to accumulate the set of all major titles.

Photo: AFP

10) Sad departures of players and managers in football

The football world has seen notable stars making history. The managerial merry-go-round saw Carlo Ancelotti, Jürgen Klopp, Brendan Rodgers depart in honour of tributes, while Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernandez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Steven Gerrard left after spending a decade plus in their boyhood clubs.

11) Wimbledon 2015 final

Novak Djokovic was reborn in the his prime career when he broke the tenacity of Roger Federer amid dry and rain-threatened match conditions in the finals of the world famous Wimbledon. The compelling theatre between two fan-favourites lasted five minutes short of three hours, where Djokovic won 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, and 6-3. Tennis’ grandest stage featured two antagonists performing plenty in the most intriguing closing moments of the game.

Photo: Reuters

12) Can’t pass him by…

A moment of blinding light in Beijing featured Usain Bolt notching victory against rival Justin Gatlin in the World Athletics Championship 2015. Cometh the moment, cometh Usain Bolt, putting behind notorious Gatlin by the narrowest of margins in a massively thrilling 100m sprint race. Bolt emerged as the world’s fastest and continues to outshine on massive platforms.

Photo: Reuters

13) David De Gea’s failed transfer

Momentous speculations surrounded Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper David De Gea, linking a transfer to Real Madrid. The moment could have finally come alive if only documents and paperwork were processed at the Santiago Bernabéu before midnight when the transfer window still remained open. Consequently, De Gea’s transfer’s failure up-roared all over media, and the Spaniard eventually came to signing a new four-year contract with United. United chief executive, Ed Woodward, and Madrid club President, Florentino Perez, released statements, blaming either side for the failure of De Gea’s transfer.

Photo: Reuters

14) He goes by the name – Wayne Rooney…

England international and Captain, Wayne Rooney, fired home from a spotkick in UEFA Euro’16 qualifiers versus Switzerland on September 8th, surpassing Sir Bobby Chartlon’s record as National top-scorer with his 50th. Rooney remains top-scorer with 51 goals in 109 appearances for England.

Photo: AFP

15) Oh, Anthony Martial

After the departure of prolific strikers Robin van Persie, Javier Hernández and, loaned-young talent, James Wilson from the Manchester United dressing room, the club was in search of a striker. Ensuing summer spendings, the club landed 19-year-old French, Anthony Martial in a lucrative sum of £36 million from AS Monaco. Critiques ushered and momentous fan reaction doubted the credibility of the club management in signing of Martial, until coming on in his debut at the 70th minute, against rivals Liverpool, Martial dribbled past three players and netted home. The scoring moment and following upheaval by United supporters at Old Trafford remains a memory like none other. 

Photo: AFP

16) Younus Khan – another milestone

The National cricketer took the limelight when he broke Javaid Miandad’s 22-year-old national record – a tally of 8832 runs in Test cricket. The emphatic feat came off as a relieving pleasure for Younus, who has accumulated replete records in his career, and once again, took the stage to outshine. Fans have found Younus’ record a delight amid chronological ups-and-downs of Pakistani cricket in 2015. 

Photo: AFP

17) Lewis Hamilton crowned Champion ahead of three races

Lewis Hamilton continues to make history by winning the Drivers’ Championship again in 2015, his fourth in his career with Mercedes AMG Petronas. Sitting on top of the F1 point table with 381 points, Hamilton earns the title of being the most successful of his era. While many notable F1 figures put him second to legend Michael Schumacher, it is still a wonder how big his career is going to emerge ahead. 2015 crowned Hamilton the Champion, thanks to his victories as number one in 10 difference races.

Photo: Reuters

18) Rugby World Cup final 2015

A dominant era prevails for New Zealand when they capped their tenacity against Australia in the Rugby World Cup final. The All Blacks won 34-17, sealed an unprecedented third global title. It was a major haul by Dan Carter who driven his national side by a goal, another right-footed effort and penalty from halfway in the closing 10 minutes at Twickenham, London.

Photo: Reuters

19) Ronda Rousey thrashed by defeat

The two fighters sat at opposite extremes: limelight and obscurity; but as it happened, Holly Holm stormed world headlines, defeating women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, in a record attendance during the main event of UFC 13 on November 14th. Holm, regardless of being the underdog defeated Rousey giving the world a good hard jolt.

Photo: Reuters

20) Celebrating 25 years of Undertaker

November’s Survivor Series, PPV, staged Undertaker’s 25 years in WWE, underlining the thrilling moments of his career and how it all shaped up to form today’s legacy. The wrestling legend served entertaining fans profoundly with his unique style of entrances and persona throughout his career. Although, his undefeated streak in Wrestlemania was broken by Brock Lesnar, Taker is one of the most decorated WWE superstars to ever walk the show.

Photo: Wrestling.org.in

21) Kobe Bryant announces retirement
One of the most decorated careers in the National Basketball Association (NBA) history will come to an end as Kobe Bryant, bids farewell to the Lakers in his 20th NBA season. A magnificent career, named to 17 All-Star teams, holds five NBA titles and two Olympic gold medals. He ranks third on the NBA’s career top scorers list. Bryant’s legacy shall be remembered by every NBA fan.

Photo: Reuters

22) Real Madrid 0-4 Barcelona

The mega event took place at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, documenting the biggest rivalry in football, as Real Madrid manager, Rafa Benítez, witnessed a guttural defeat in his El Clásico debut. This raucous score line at fultime caused massive uproar amongst critics and fans.

Photo: Reuters

23) The surreal rise of Conor McGregor

On December 12th, all audacious assertions about Conor McGregor’s accomplishments were proven after he defeated Aldo by knockout in UFC 194. With precision, timing and the gifted 13 seconds the fight lasted, McGregor’s haul broke Aldo’s power, earning him the title of the fastest fight in any UFC title. He now faces similar countenance in future challenges of his career.

Photo: Reuters

24) The languishing Premier League champions Chelsea

Ex-manager José Mourinho bagged his fourth league title with Chelsea. Many eminent figures shined throughout the season, and hence, played a vital role in the West London side’s victory. However, the reigning champions are edging towards relegation in the year to come. Chelsea’s nosedive turned away supporters and hence chairman, Roman Abramovich, pursued Mourinho’s resignation with immediate effect. The Portugese is the seventh Chelsea manager to get sacked under Abramovich.

Photo: Reuters

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/30998/24-sports-moments-from-2015-we-will-not-forget/