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To Kangana, with love from Pakistan

“Perhaps, your understanding of boundaries and political growth still hangs in the times of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi.”



Dear Kangana Ranaut,

Hope this finds you in the best of health. I had been wanting to write to you earlier, but in case you are not aware, we Pakistanis were a bit caught up in the frenzy of MBS’s visit here. I’m sure you would agree that it was by no means a small occasion for Pakistan.

I won’t take much of your time, especially since these days you are reaping in the success and basking in glory of your latest flick Manikarnika. A box office hit, the movie indeed deserves praise, but sadly or rather shockingly, some of your utterances prove otherwise.

India suffered a deadly blow last week. The day Pulwama attack happened was highly inappropriate: 14th of February, is otherwise, celebrated for love. I and my entire nation condemn the cowardly act and the loss of precious lives. But what we don’t accept or agree to, is the vicious back lash India spurns on us, each time a tragedy occurs.

Your country holds mine responsible for the act. At a time when Pakistan is focusing on improving its economic ties, what benefit would an adventure like this or worse, a military attack on its neighbour give? On the other hand, India is preparing to elect a new government, with its existing one struggling to retain its vote bank. The odds and evens, political gains and losses are quite evident here, for any layman to understand.

Believing in the mantra your media churns each time a violent incident takes place in India, that is, shift the blame to Pakistan, is the practice an average Indian has adopted. You are no exception, but what made you think that you could choose any word to express your anger and hurt? Here, I’m referring to a sentence in your interview to an Indian entertainment website, where you say, “Pakistan ban is not the focus, Pakistan destruction is”.

Dear Kangana, do you understand the meaning and impact of these words? In today’s era of heightened diplomacy as well as military strength, no country, irrespective of its size of population or economy, years of independence and strategic location, can be wiped out by an external force. And when it comes to Pakistan, your knowledge of our military strength seems lacking. The size of our military budget and forces may be smaller in comparison to yours, but do you know that Pakistan’s army is the 17th strongest military in the world?

Do you know, that China – a neighbour of yours as well as mine, is busy completing the major portion of its One Belt One Road initiative in Pakistan. Are you so naïve that you don’t understand, an emerging power like China would never allow any force to come in the way of its future plans?

Are you aware of the close ties Pakistan has with Saudi Arabia? It is a Pakistani national and not Indian who is heading the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, a 39-nation alliance of Muslim countries there. And yes, MBS is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia who came to Pakistan and pledged many investment projects here. Religious ties do matter some times.

Have you ever heard, that Pakistan is a nuclear power, just like yours and also the only Muslim nation to be one? Have you forgotten, that just like your motherland India, Pakistan has also celebrated seven decades of independence? Yes, we have suffered a tragedy of breaking up with our eastern wing, partly because of our own differences and partly due to your mischief, but if you think that it may happen again, think again. Khalistan, Assam and Kashmir in India are real burning issues.

In your suffering, you struck a blow to your own native Indian, to your own fellow artiste from Bollywood, that also your senior, Shabana Azmi. You blasted her decision to join a literary event in Karachi and questioned her patriotism. “Why did they organise an event in Karachi in the first place?”, you had asked. Let me ask you: if this is how you feel about Pakistan, how could you allow the screening of Manikarnika in our country? How could you bear that your own production be allowed to run in cinemas of the country you hate? Perhaps, you don’t mind the business coming in from Pakistan, although you are quick to condemn other cultural exchanges.

Perhaps, your understanding of boundaries and political growth still hangs in the times of Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi, for which no doubt, you must have conducted great research. Ms. Manikarnika aka Kangana Ranaut, the independence movement which Rani of Jhansi shared with her contemporaries like Tipu Sultan, climaxed in 1947 with the creation of Pakistan and India. Pakistan is a reality and will remain, whether you like it or not.

Your demand for a ban on activities and exchanges between the two countries is nothing new; its already in place since the last two years. Pakistani artistes are banned to work in India, Pakistani patients – especially of heart and liver diseases, are suffering but not being allowed to travel to India, Pakistani women who have married Indian men out of love cannot travel to India. I believe for you this is all fair; for ‘all is fair in love and war’.

The heightened emotions of your country is understandable. After all, who wouldn’t understand better? We, the Pakistanis, have suffered violence for great lengths of time and even greater frequency. Did you hear of the horrific deaths of nearly 150 students in an army-run public school, an incident four years old but still shocking us to the core? In 2017, two back-to-back blasts hit the Parachinar city near the Afghan border, in which 100 people were killed and more than 200 others were injured.Only last year, a bomb blast killed 31 people during elections in a pollingstation of Quetta.

There have been mentions of Indian involvement. We also have a self declared Indian spy in custody, waiting to be hanged to death. But Pakistan never imposed any ban on trade, health or cultural exchange, except screening of Indian content on mainstream television and radio. In fact, I’m surprised at the civility shown by my otherwise equally emotional native Pakistanis, who may have spewed anger and boycott at your movie after your venomous comments, but they didn’t.

Your emotions are charged, to say the least. But for now, my sincere advise to you would be to concentrate on your spat with co-director Krish Jagalamudi for Manikarnika’s directorial credit, the controversy you have stirred with Shabana Azmi, criticism by Mishti Chakrvarty who is not happy with her role chopped off in your film, your heartless comments on Alia Bhatt, to say the least. Your hands are full, Kangana. Improving ties with peers may improve the prospect of your career. Broken ties between nations will heal with time, provided a concerned leadership.


Yours Sincerely,


A Pakistani.

The writer is a broadcast journalist and freelance writer. She has keen interest in issues concerning women, religion and foreign affairs.


The Mystery Colour Pink Beholds

Colour stereotype is creation of our own societal values



Pink has long been associated with girls, so where does this association come from?

Everything for a girl is pink, or will have at least a hint of pink. Starting from her nursery, toys, dresses to lunch box, school bag, pink is bombarded on girls.

There are a number of ways through which colours are imposed upon children. It begins when the baby is not even born. The phenomenal advancement in technology and prenatal testing, now makes it possible for parents to find out the sex of their still-not-born babies. This allows parents to decorate the nurseries in colours that they think are best suited with their newborn’s gender. It is the first step towards colour imposition.

It won’t be wrong to say that a baby girl is born in a pink world. It is this colour that she would find all around her after she opens her eyes for the first time. The room shading, dresses that she wears, toys she plays with and even birthday cakes she gets, are all pink. It’s not the parents only, this colour specification has become so real that new born gifts also comply with it. Visit a store for newborn accessories and the first question that is asked is about the gender of the baby. Even story books and children’s cartoons do their best to teach individuals gender specific behaviour . Barbie, Hello Kitty, My Little Pony n Friend are all girls’ favourite cartoons, painted in pink. Even the adventurous Dora wears a pink tee. Watching them, young girls associate themselves with the colour.

Marketing strategies that brands use further establish the colour identification for gender. It’s a psychological factor that brands exploit to leap their sales. They strictly follow with ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’ rule and make sure their customers comply.

Studies show that after the age of two, children begin to understand gender specific roles and girls choose pink over other colours to identify theirs. Professor of Gender and Culture at the UK’s Leeds University, Ruth Holliday, states that “Even very young girls understand that pink things are for them. In experiments where guns were painted pink and My Little Ponies were painted black and made to look spiky, three-year-old children assumed the gun was a girls’ toy and the pony a boys’ one. The colour rather than the function determined gender appeal.”

Colour preference isn’t biological, it’s more of a human made marvel. Girls and boys are both born with the similar arrangement of biological composition, the only difference being X & Y chromosomes. It’s not that girls have a pink chromosome or a pink strand of DNA that compels them to like pink more. And if we look at historical perspective, the findings are interesting.

History suggests that before the 1900s, babies were usually dressed in white regardless of gender. There were no differentiation amongst them on the basis of their colour preferences. If there was any, it was quite opposite from what it is today. An article in the 1918 issue of Ladies Home Journal reads that “the generally accepted rule is pink for boys and blue for girls; the reason is that pink being a decided and stronger colour is more suitable for boys, while blue which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girls”. Then what brought the switch over?

Anya Helbert, a researcher at University of Newcastle, proposed that women prefer hues of red more because traditionally they have been more exposed to the colour by gathering fruits. Other studies regarding this topic cite some events that gave rise to the present colour enforcement. One such event is World War II, where due to the blue coloured uniform worn by soldiers, blue colour became associated with masculinity.

Similarly, in the 1940s, Think Movement tried to convince girls to embrace their feminism. This movement urged women to embrace their womanhood, with the name tag with pink, the colour naturally corresponding to women.

This colour coding creates a stereotype that stays entrenched in the minds of children even after they grow. They identify themselves with specific colour that not only limits their freedom but also bounds them to act in the ways society tells them to. This kills their imagination and creativity and limits their choices. One of the disastrous implications of this colour stereotyping is that it affects self-esteem. The very basic attributes of pink colour are that it’s pretty, polite, catchy and sensitive. When a girl is told throughout her lifetime that she has to be the manifestation of this colour to look more ‘girl like’, she tries to incorporate these attributes into her personality. The same is for boys, the tormenting and bullying that accompanies wearing pink is staggering to the point that boys, mostly avoid the colour even if they like it.

Angela Weyers, Style and Colour consultant comments that, pink is assumed as a sign of “weakness and a lack of intellectual rigour” and advises women to actually not wear it to work in the corporate world, as they are less likely to be taken seriously. This, along with other stigmas surrounding the color, make it a cliché.

Now when we have understood that colour stereotype is creation of our own societal values, we have to understand this as a societal issue. There is no such thing as real-man or real-woman. And pink has literally nothing to do with a woman. Both men and women are humans with no supernatural specifications and they should be treated that way. Parents, educational institutes and media can play their role in this regard. Rather than fabricating pink and blue norms they need to be responsible in raising individuals. Let pink and blue be treated as colours only.

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The delights of reading!

Reading in print VS e-reading



When nestled in a couch near a window, with a favourite book in one hand and an expresso in the other, there is a heavenly feeling that all book lovers can connect themselves with. And there is a likelihood that this moment is amongst their best minutes ever. But does it feel the same with words blinking on a screen?

With the coming of the advanced world, the notion of reading has greatly changed. There have been various discussions with respect to print reading and digital reading, and it has not been distinguished as yet since both have plenty of reasons to motivate their roles.

The traditional reading, that is, reading from the print, takes the crown for readers of the old school of thought, for a number of reasons. The first relates to the physical feature. Holding a book, turning the crispy pages, inhaling the smell of the book and actually seeing the reading progress with pages remaining less to the right-side are all possible with a printed book only. And for some this smell is no less than an intoxication, as American author Ray Bradbury has appropriately expressed in one of his axioms:

“A computer does not smell … if a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better… And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.”

Secondly, reading isn’t merely a recreation moment if you ask a book freak. It’s an addiction, that involves cautiously crafted steps. The giddy feeling of stepping into a bookshop, sensing the musty scent of paper, running hands over the beautifully decorated bookshelves, glancing at the titles and carrying books back into your room to add to your collection, is a happiness that a bookworm looks forward to constantly. E-reading, on the other hand, would leave one deprived of this ecstasy.

‘Books are a great companion’, isn’t just a phrase. One is never alone if he or she has a book in hand. One can turn a page and immerse oneself into a tirade of emotions, adventures and perspectives. That’s how books have the power to keep the reader hostage for hours. Reading digital, on the other hand, is an alienated experience. Tell me if a screen can be hugged tightly after a good read with the feeling as intense as that of a paper book.

The list doesn’t end here, printed books have been considered to be friendly on eyes and give a genuine feeling of serenity. Digital reading only adds strains to the already drained mind with burning eyes. It has also been proved that looking at a gleaming screen before bed takes away sleep. If one reads for the sake of relaxation, digital reading surely doesn’t serve that purpose.

There is yet another custom in the worlds of bookworms. There is no doubt that books make the perfect present, and easily affordable to be more specific. So the next time readers are hit with an unplanned invitation, they don’t doubt to snag one good book from the nearest store. You can’t say this about e-book, however.

A more fascinating reason to champion paper books is the retention capability that scores high with printed books. As reported by The Guardian, a study by lead researcher Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University found that stories read on e-readers were not remembered as well as when they were read on a more traditional medium. In the same way, print reading is a more in-depth experience. Ziming Liu of San Jose State University conducted a study in the year 2005 where he found out that when people read using screens they spent more time scanning and jumping around to look for keywords and get as much information as they could in the least amount of time. This provided the evidence which proved that reading on screens was a less immersive experience as compared to reading print.

On the contrary, there are many reasons that have made digital reading a reality today. The most agreed reason would be that of accessibility. One can open up an e-book anywhere at any time, be it delay of a flight or waiting for friends in a restaurant. Unlike paper book, it doesn’t have to be carried along. Likewise, it spares readers from deciding which book to take on a trip. One can take a library long with no weight at all. Similarly, there comes a time when your favourite book isn’t available in stores. E-book can save you from that agony as you can download one in literally seconds. This point holds water for a country like Pakistan where about 97 percent of the population doesn’t have access to library.

In addition, digital reading is cost effective. Paper books are pricey, given the cost of publishing and distribution. E-books are affordable in comparison and can be obtained free of cost from various online platforms.

We cannot also ignore the fact that digital reading is eco-accommodating. Reading online saves the environment of the cost of papers that are overwhelmingly used to print books. According to statistics, global consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. Now nearly 4 billion trees or 35 percent of the total trees cut around the world are used in paper industries on every continent. That equates to about 2.47 million trees cut down every day. With global warming soaring and our planet at the brink of destruction, digital reading provides an applauding option.

Undeniably, reading now has become more interesting and with different platforms like Good Reads, readers can connect to a network, where they can discuss their favourite books and authors. There are apps that can help one keep track of the number of books one reads. These consequently add some flavour to the reading experience.

During a time when technology is inescapable, adhering purely to print would be naive. A balance between both could be the right option. Nonetheless, both hardcore and digital books have noticeable dominance in the realm of reading. What matters most is a reader’s preference. Whether you like the convenience that comes with digital reading or are obsessed with printed book, never give up the habit of reading because it’s one of the few things that make this world beautiful.

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Michael Jackson’s estate sues HBO for $100m over child abuse claims

Jackson, who died on June 25, 2009 after being given an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, faced multiple allegations of child sex abuse during his lifetime.



Michael Jackson’s estate filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO on Thursday over plans to air a documentary that alleges the singer sexually abused two young boys.

The 53-page suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims HBO was violating a “non-disparagement” agreement by airing Leaving Neverland, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

“Michael Jackson is innocent. Period,” the suit says.

“In 2005, Michael Jackson was subjected to a trial – where rules of evidence and law were applied before a neutral judge and jury and where both sides were heard – and he was exonerated by a sophisticated jury. Ten years after his passing, there are still those out to profit from his enormous worldwide success and take advantage of his eccentricities,” it adds.

The four-hour, two-part documentary that is set to air next month includes the testimonies of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say the King of Pop sexually abused them when they were seven and 10.
In a statement, HBO said it planned to broadcast the documentary as scheduled.

“Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged,” the statement sent to AFP reads. “HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”

The lawsuit contends that HBO in 1992 aired a concert in Bucharest from Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ world tour and at the time signed non-disparagement provisions that prevent the streaming service from harming Jackson’s reputation.

“In violation of both basic norms of documentary journalism and the explicit terms of the agreement, HBO has disparaged Jackson’s legacy by airing a one-sided hit piece against Jackson based exclusively on the false accounts of two proven, serial perjurers,” the suit states.

It asks the court to compel HBO to take part in a non-confidential arbitration that could cost the company $100 million if found liable.

Jackson, who died on June 25, 2009 after being given an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, faced multiple allegations of child sex abuse during his lifetime.

In addition to his 2005 acquittal the performer paid a $15 million court settlement in 1994 over allegations involving another child.

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