In my earlier column, “Pathankot Villains”, I mentioned that Pakistan needs to take stringent action against home-grown terrorists if it wishes to show the world that it is a victim of terror and not the perpetrator. Now with the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists speaking out on the Pathankot attack and the US secretary of state putting pressure to come out with the truth, it remains to be seen whether Pakistan will deny involvement in the attack of elements within the country in keeping with its historical approach, or rise to the occasion and do what it takes to successfully shed the adverse global perception that plagues it. To give Narendra Modi credit, his government has avoided anti-Pakistan vitriol so far and has taken a risk by aligning itself with the peace process. There has been a marked silence from his tribe. To give Nawaz Sharif credit, he has initiated a probe on the basis of the detailed evidence provided by India; an achievement considering Pakistan’s refusal to even accept that Ajmal Kasab was its citizen. It is important for the actions of militants not to cause the bonhomie generated by Modi’s supposedly impromptu Lahore visit to evaporate. At no cost should the ongoing India-Pakistan talks get derailed by any future terror attack against India. That, if it were to happen, would be the biggest victory of the cynics and miscreants who will flourish while the establishments wrestle.
1) The video doing the rounds these days is of Leo Di Caprio’s reaction to Lady Gaga as she barged past him to collect the Globe. If one were to watch the clip carefully, Leo was actually sharing a laugh with someone at his table when Gaga ploughed her way past Leo’s protruding elbow evoking a hilarious reaction from The Revenant star. Mischief-mongers would have liked to see a war wage between the two, but the stars displayed class. Both were winners that night and not just in the literal sense. The otherwise trashy-dressed Gaga was almost unrecognisable as she wore a classic off-shoulder gown by Atelier Versace and exhibited poise. Leo’s winning speech, presumably learnt by rote, was articulate and confident. I loved that he thanked and named his entire team (including the make-up artist) whom stars in our part of the world invariably fail to acknowledge.
2) Fifty Shades Of Grey actress Dakota Johnson is outraged that her mother, Melanie Griffith, can no longer find work in a Hollywood that is, she claims, ageist and sexist. Considering that the likes of Helen Mirren, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith have never been busier, Dakota might want to think about Griffith’s talent (or the lack of it) having something to do with her dull career.
3) I read about law-enforcement officials raiding the house of journalist Salman Masood in Islamabad under the pretext that a terrorist search operation was underway. What’s worrying is not that he was raided but that he was raided without a warrant. State bullying is bad news for a democracy. Pakistani media persons have become prone to extreme threat in recent years. Neither the government nor associations of the media sector have been able to protect scribes who report under threat even though they are the guardians of public interest. It is more than a coincidence that Masood is the Pakistan correspondent of The New York Times, and years back, Declan Walsh, the then NYT bureau chief, was black-listed and made to leave Pakistan.
4) Britain’s first red light district has been given the green light in Leeds. An area has been designated to allow the girls and punters to make their deal without any threat of arrest. It’s the oldest profession in the world and isn’t going to stop, so pragmatic approach I say!
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2016.
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