By macleans.ca - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 0 Comments
Pragaash, an all-girl rock band made up of high school students in Indian-run Kashmir,…
Pragaash, an all-girl rock band made up of high school students in Indian-run Kashmir, has disbanded after their performance was declared “un-Islamic.” The girls—base guitarist Aneeqa Khalid, singer Noma Nazir and drummer Farah Deeba—had played in a battle-of-the-bands competition, winning fans but triggering threats and condemnation by a Muslim leader. “When girls and young women stray from the rightful path…this kind of non-serious activity can become the first step toward our destruction,” Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad said in a statement.
“We respect their opinion and we have quit,” an unnamed member of Pragaash told BBC Hindi. “But I don’t know why we are being stopped.” Meantime, the government will hunt down and arrest those who posted threats on the band’s Facebook page, pledged Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
By Cynthia Reynolds - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM - 0 Comments
The new foreign minister is young, female and stylish—cause for celebration and controversy
The appointment of Pakistan’s new foreign minister is dividing opinion across the conservative nation. Hina Rabbani Khar is the first woman to ever hold the position in that country and, at 34, she’s also the youngest. While some argue her selection is a sign of hope for a new, more moderate direction for the hardline nation, others see the appointment of the wealthy businesswoman—and a member of a powerful Punjabi family—as business as usual. Some also consider her vastly inexperienced. Khar, who’s held mostly junior portfolios, slipped into government after a 2002 ruling required politicians to have a college degree; she ran for office after the rule disqualiﬁed her veteran politician father. Pakistan’s archrival India, meanwhile, is offering its own take on Khar: for the moment, it appears to have settled on style icon.
During her first official visit to Delhi last month, part of the new efforts to revive relations between the long-time foes, the press had little to say about Khar’s political skills. Instead, the media gushed over her black Hermès Birkin bag, Roberto Cavalli sunglasses, and classic strand of pearls, comparing her to Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni, even Kate Middleton. One columnist referred to her as Pakistan’s “weapon of mass distraction.” It’s not the first time the press has seized upon her image; pictures of her in trendy slim-fitting jeans have raised eyebrows throughout Pakistan, prompting traditionalists to question whether the co-owner of Polo Lounge, a trendy restaurant on downtown Lahore’s polo grounds, is out of touch with the conservative—and poor—country. Regardless, she now helms one of the most volatile relationships in world politics.
By Adnan R. Khan - Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
For those displaced by Pakistan’s fighting, the camps are a cauldron of despair, corruption, and extremist recruiting
It’s a scene of confusion: weeping children and distraught mothers, gangs of men aimlessly wandering the dusty footpaths of what is supposed to be a place of refuge. The occasional military helicopter circles in a wide arc over the sprawling Sheik Yasin camp for Pakistan’s displaced in Mardan, 110 km northwest of the capital Islamabad. Checkpoints at the camp’s entrance are a stern warning that this is no ordinary refugee facility—there is danger here.
Further north, in the Swat Valley, war of a kind most Pakistanis have never seen before is raging on the streets of Mingora. It’s the largest city in Swat, and the epicentre of the battle between Taliban militants and the Pakistani army to win control of the picturesque valley and, potentially, Pakistan’s future. This is brutal urban warfare—street by street, house by house—with the city now fractured into areas controlled by the Taliban and areas taken by the military. Caught in-between are civilians, as many as 20,000 left in Mingora, with no chance to escape and basic supplies like food and water running out.