I read so you don't have to: A week free of cliches
Was this the week that the world stopped writing about Pakistan as if it were a cliché? Almost, but not quite.
It is a truth universally understood that there is now only one sport in Pakistan. Sure, when the Olympics rolls around we suddenly recall that hockey is our national sport. But on the average day, Shahid Afridi’s latest shenanigans will always get top billing above whatever other sport we might happen to be excelling in. Let this be the week when our success in cards and the spirited display of our special Olympians changed all that.
Let this also be the week that the rest of the world stops writing about Pakistan as if it were a cliché. Sure, there’s more chance of Ijaz Butt finally making a right decision than that happening, but in a week where our sportsmen showed that they can achieve the impossible, you can’t blame one for dreaming.
Best of the week
1. Owais Ahmed wins World Series of Poker bracelet (ESPN)
There are those who consider poker a form of gambling when, in fact, the card game requires as much skill and study as chess or bridge. Hopefully Owais Ahmed, who picked up a bracelet – and lots of cash – at the World Series of Poker, can change that misconception.
2. Special Olympics: A medal shower for Pakistan (The Express Tribune)
Pakistan excels yet again at sports no one at home watches or even pays attention to until we start winning. Then all the weekend warriors show up and jump on the bandwagon. Can we now resolve to actually follow our sportspersons or else never brag about them when they win?
3. Khushwant Singh – How to live and die (Outlook)
While not technically related to Pakistan, this extract from Khushwant Singh’s upcoming memoir is so poignant, hilarious and lyrical that it must be read by everyone.
4. Why is truck art cool? (Karachi Khatmal)
Here’s the difference between writing something constructive and whatever it is I do on this blog every week: instead of merely complaining about how the Western media incessantly writes about our ‘exotic’ truck art, the writer actually makes an effort to explain why truck art is so appealing. That is argument is brilliantly presented without a hint of off-putting academic language makes this an even greater read.
Worst of the week
1. Jeanette Khan – Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about sex in Pakistan (Huffington Post)
This essay opens with, “I'm a red-blooded woman. I'm comfortable talking about sex and all aspects regarding it. As a full-fledged member of the Millennials, I'm accustomed to asking people "Are you a virgin?" Well, I’m a red-blooded man. I’m comfortable talking about sex and all aspects regarding it. As a full-fledged member of the Millennials, I will NEVER ask anyone about their virginity. No matter what Khan might think, that doesn’t make me a prude, it just means I have better things to talk about at the dinner table.
2. Bilal Baloch - Karachi’s violence and the war in Afghanistan (Foreign Policy)
You know how the MQM refused entry to flood victims from Khyber-Pakhtunwa? Here’s the intellectual justification for keeping Pakhtuns out of Karachi by raising the Taliban spectre.
3. Pakistan’s spies tied to slaying of a journalist (New York Times)
When a Pakistani journalist produces a story based on nothing but unnamed sources with a clear agenda we say that the story has been planted. When an American does it we consider it investigative reporting.
4. Trucking in Technicolor on Pakistan’s highways (New York Times)
Please see the entry on “Why is truck art cool?” to understand how much of a hack I am. Even though I now understand the appeal of truck art thanks to that blog post, I am unable to contain myself from viewing this piece, which contains all the clichés about truck art that we are so familiar with, with utter disdain.