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EMI, Amjad Sabri to sue Bajrangi Bhaijan makers over ‘Bhar do jholi’

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:52

Salman Khan may have expressed his desire to be part of Bajrangi Bhajain’s Pakistan premier but it seems like not all on this side of the border will be welcoming the film – specifically in terms of its use of Bhar De Jholi.

The qawwali was revamped with the voice of Adnan Sami Khan for the Salman Khan-starrer and went viral soon after its release. However, it received mixed reviews, with many finding it bland owing to the incompatibility of Adnan’s sweet vocal texture for something as raw as a qawaali. But a legal battle by the qawaali’s original producers that has followed its release makes the quality of the soundtrack a rather trivial matter.

Pakistan’s biggest record label EMI Pakistan and Amjad Sabri qawwal, heir to the famous Sabri brothers, have called for legal action against the producers of the film and the qawwali in separate instances.

“Revamping the qawwali without my permission or consent is simply unethical and inappropriate,” Amjad Sabri told Roznama Express. “This is not an ordinary Kalaam; it’s the property of my family and will continue to be so for the coming seven generations.  This is an asset of my father Ghulam Farid Sabri and my uncle Maqbool Sabri.”

Read: If there’s a premiere of Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Pakistan, I’ll definitely go: Salman Khan

The version used in the film has been reworked by well-known composer Pritam Chakarborty and the film is being produced by Salman Khan Films and Kabir Khan Films.

Amjad is not only unhappy by the work ethics of the Indian producers but is also disappointed at the quality of the Bollywood version of the qawwali.  “They have not done justice to the heritage of our elders and I have hired a lawyer to sort out this matter,” he said.

EMI Pakistan, on the other hand, are all set to send separate legal notices to Salman Khan Films and Kabir Khan Films, Media Concepts (the company responsible for airing the film’s music in Pakistan) and also to 8xM and Jalwa music channels, which are subsidiaries of Media Concepts.

Read: Atif Aslam to sing for Salman Khan in ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’

“The Qawwali Bhar do Jholi is an EMI product which was not only released by EMI Pakistan but also recorded and produced under our banner. None of the authorities involved in the making of Bajrangi Bhaijan approached us to acquire the rights to the qawwali and as a result, we have sent them legal notices,” Zeeshan Chaudary, the general manager of EMI Pakistan, told The Express Tribune.

As per the details shared by the record label, the “original” qawwali was written by Purnam Allahbadi, composed by Maqbool Sabri and performed by Sabri Brothers for the purpose of recording a soundtrack in 1975.

“We have the rights to the complete recording of the original qawwali and its derivatives and neither Adnan Sami Khan nor the producer of the music or anyone else has acquired rights from us,” he said.

If both EMI’s and Amjad Sabri’s claims of possible copyright infringement are to be believed, it would benefit both parties to sort out the actual ownership of the qawwali before spiraling into a blame game.

Read: Raees-Sultan clash: ‘Salman and I will do everything together’ says Shah Rukh

“Amjad Sabri cannot claim the ownership of the Qawwali and we have the legal documents to prove that,” said Chaudary.

“He can only do that either by showing us the last will of his father, which ensures the inheritance of Ghulam Fareed Sabri’s intellectual property to his son or he will have to get a succession certificate as per the laws of the country. If he is able to do that, then he will also receive the royalties, as per the agreement with the original artist,” he added.

Chaudhry further elaborated that this applies to all cases wherein the children of any artists wish to claim rights to the artist’s intellectual property.

As for now Bajrangi Bhaijan is all set to release along with Bin Roye in Pakistan on Eid.

The post EMI, Amjad Sabri to sue Bajrangi Bhaijan makers over ‘Bhar do jholi’ appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Raees can wait: Mahira Khan’s film will release in India this Eid!

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:51

KARACHI: There’s too much happening in Lollywood and Bollywood these days. While Bin Roye and Wrong No. are creating waves in Pakistan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan has Salman Khan fans super excited on both sides of the border. And while these films are yet to release this Eid, there is already talk about Shah Rukh-Mahira-starrer Raees and Salman’s Sultan clashing on Eid next year.

Read: Raees-Sultan clash: ‘Salman and I will do everything together’ says Shah Rukh

With the fate of Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s release in Pakistan still undecided (rumour has it the film’s release will be delayed to make room for local films), it is now confirmed that Bin Roye will in fact release simultaneously in India as well as at least eight other countries along with its release in Pakistan this Eid.

Bin Roye’s distributor HUM Network has inked a deal with international film distributor B4U Motion Pictures to secure the release of their film in the UK, USA, India, Canada, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Sweden. The film is also expected to release in Denmark and Norway and two other countries which will soon be revealed. Also, the film’s music album is going to be available worldwide on July 6.

B4U to release Pakistani film #BinRoye this Eid in India, USA, Canada, UK. Stars Humayun Saeed, Mahira Khan, Javed Sheikh, Zeba Bakhtiyar.

— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) June 29, 2015

First look of Pakistani film #BinRoye. Releases this Eid in India, USA, Canada, UK by B4U. pic.twitter.com/cApR5vzSZG

— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) June 29, 2015

Read: How five directors helmed Bin Roye

CEO of B4U, Ishan Saxena, said, “We are delighted to collaborate for Bin Roye as international distributors.

“As a business, we are always looking at connecting different Asian communities to their regional cinema. With our strong international foothold we hope to give Bin Roye a wide release in the key international markets.” he added.

BIN ROYE THEATRICAL TRAILER |Releasing on 17th July 2015|: http://t.co/EVjcCDXHEV via @YouTube

— B4U Motion Pictures (@B4UMotionPics) July 1, 2015

Duraid Qureshi, CEO of HUM Network also shared his opinion on this collaboration. “B4U is one of the most credible international distributors for Asian films, and we are thrilled that through this collaboration Bin Roye will reach to audiences worldwide.”

Bin Roye is based on popular novel Bin Roye Ansoo and features Humayun Saeed, Mahira Khan and Armeena Khan in lead roles. Co-directed by Momina Duraid alongside Shahzad Kahsmiri, the film will also be broadcast later as a television serial.

Read: Box office khichri: Is ‘Bhaijaan’s’ arrival being delayed to accommodate ‘Bin Roye’?

Although Mahira is set to make her Bollywood debut alongside Shah Rukh in 2016′s most awaited film Raees, her Indians fans are certainly in for a treat as they will get to see her on the big screen a year earlier. However, as surprising as it may be to some, this isn’t Mahira’s first film to release in India. In 2011, Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol was released in India to a fairly positive response which featured Mahira in a small albeit prominent role.

With Bin Roye’s release in India now confirmed, it is to be seen if Bajrangi Bhaijaan too will make its way to Pakistan on Eid. Whether or not Salman’s film releases here along with Bin Roye and Wrong No., what’s certain is that Mahira will compete against the Bollywood megastar, not just this year but next year as well!

Watch Bin Roye‘s trailer here:

The post Raees can wait: Mahira Khan’s film will release in India this Eid! appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Woman sues police over headscarf removal

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:47

A Muslim woman who was ordered to remove her hijab  after being arrested in Michigan due to an unpaid parking violation has filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Dearborn.

Maha Aldhalimi of Wayne County was parked in a no-parking zone outside the local Wal-Mart when a police officer arrested her for the violation.

Fatina Abdrabboh, ADC Michigan director, stated that Aldhalimi was ”arrested in a public place in a local Walmart and she presented no threat except perhaps for her frantic crying and begging to not have her head scarf removed.”

Aldhalimi was bound by her religious beliefs and tried to explain this to the male officers but they ordered her to take off her hijab at which point she felt humiliated and started crying and shaking.

Read:American Muslim woman sues Abercrombie over hijab

The police officers disregarded Aldhalimi’s religious beliefs even though she explained that Muslim women who wear hijab do not believe in exposing their hair to men outside of their close relatives. Aldhamlimi’s son was present as well and tried to reason with the police officers.

Troy attorney Shereef Akeel, Fatina Abdrabboh and Reem Subei, attorneys with the Michigan chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Detroit regarding Muslim women who are forced to remove their headscarves by the Dearborn Police. There have been other cases of Muslim women being forced to remove their headscarf by the police due to which separate lawsuits were filed this year.

Read: US justices show support for Muslim woman denied job due to hijab

Dearborn Heights Police stated in an earlier court filing this year that the removal of a headscarf is done for security purposes. ”This is not about officer safety,” Abdrabboh said. “She could have been fully identified with her head scarf.”

The Dearborn Heights Police have not yet commented on their policies. There has been no comment by the Dearborn police as the lawsuit has not been served but ADC says they will keep working towards attaining greater religious freedom.

This article originally appeared on Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press.

The post Woman sues police over headscarf removal appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

IS attacks kill at least 15 soldiers in Egypt’s Sinai

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:40

CAIRO: A wave of attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 15 soldiers Wednesday, with the toll expected to rise as troops fought a running battle with militants.

The terrorists launched simultaneous attacks against military checkpoints in the region, one with a powerful car bomb, the authorities said. ”It’s war. The battle is ongoing,” a senior military official told AFP.

Other security and medical officials said ambulances could not get to the scene of the attacks because of heavy fighting in which the military brought in Apache helicopters.

“Ambulances are waiting in front of the hospital. They can’t leave. People are bring in the casualties,” a health official told AFP. At least 15 soldiers have been confirmed dead, they said.

Troops regularly come under attack in the Sinai, where militants linked to the Islamic State group are waging a bloody insurgency.

Security officials said the attacks took place in Sheikh Zuweid, east of the provincial capital El-Arish where a car bomb, mortar shells, and rocket propelled grenades were used.

A security official said the militants had mined the exits from the Sheikh Zuweid police station to block reinforcements.

In a statement released online, IS said it carried out the multi-pronged assault. ”In a blessed raid enabled by God, the lions of the caliphate have simultaneously attacked more than 15 checkpoints belonging to the apostate army,” the group said.

It said the attacks involved three suicide bombers. It came two days after the country’s state prosecutor Hisham Barakat was killed in a Cairo bombing targeting his convoy.

Barakat was the most senior government official killed since militants launched an insurgency following the military’s overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

The authorities designated Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist group” in December 2013 as part of a crackdown on the opposition that has left hundreds of his supporters dead and thousands in jail.

Courts have sentenced hundreds to death, including Morsi himself, who was convicted of involvement in attacks on police stations. Morsi’s sentence is being appealed.

The government often blames his group for attacks, but the deadliest have been claimed by the IS affiliate in Sinai.

Wednesday’s attack was similar to a series of ambushes on April 2 in which dozens of militants attacked several checkpoints, killing 15 soldiers. The militants kidnapped a soldier and later executed him, and made off with military weapons.

In January, a combined rocket and car bomb attack on a military base, a nearby police headquarters and a residential complex for army and police officers killed at least 24 people, most of them soldiers.

The attacks have come despite stringent security measures imposed by the army in the Sinai, including a night-time curfew and the creation of a buffer zone along the Gaza border to prevent militants infiltrating from the Palestinian territory.

The dominant militant group in the Sinai, previously known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Partisans of Jerusalem in English, pledged allegiance to the IS group in Iraq and Syria last November.

The group is believed to be led by a mysterious Egyptian cleric, Abu Osama al-Masry, and has recruited at least one former special forces officer who had left the military. The militants have mostly focused their attacks on soldiers and police, killing hundreds since Morsi’s overthrow.

They previously said they avoided targeting civilians but claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a tourist coach in February 2014 that killed three South Koreans and their driver.

Police foiled an attack at a pharaonic temple crowded with tourists in Luxor earlier this month. On Tuesday, gunmen shot dead a policeman outside a small museum south of Cairo, and three suspected militants died in an accidental car explosion in the capital, police said.

The post IS attacks kill at least 15 soldiers in Egypt’s Sinai appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Emergency law fuels army abuses in Indian Kashmir: Amnesty International

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:33

NEW DELHI: A controversial law giving Indian soldiers legal impunity in restive Kashmir is fuelling grave human rights abuses including the killing of innocent civilians, a major rights group said Wednesday.

Amnesty International said the national government had refused to prosecute any soldiers accused by local police of rights abuses in the region since the draconian law was introduced in 1990.

“This lack of accountability has in turn facilitated other serious abuses,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty’s senior director of global operations.

The London-based group released a report on the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in insurgency-hit Indian Kashmir.

Accountability still missing for human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir https://t.co/MvDJAOkc5j #JusticeDenied pic.twitter.com/B7NSQHtaDS

— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) July 1, 2015

Read: Indian kashmir: AJK premier slams police atrocities

The emergency law gives thousands of soldiers and paramilitary forces sweeping powers to shoot on sight, detain suspects without trial and seize property.

Successive governments and the army have staunchly resisted calls for repeal of the law, arguing it is needed to quell insurgencies and track down militants.

But Amnesty and other groups have repeatedly said the law, also in force in India’s restive and remote northeast, was breeding further violence and alienation.

The report includes interviews with families whose relatives have allegedly been killed, sexually assaulted or tortured by soldiers and is based in part on the examination of court, police and other official records.

“I have lost faith in police and the courts, but I have faith in Allah,” said Munawara Sultana, 43, who has been fighting for justice since 1993 when her husband was killed during a search by paramilitaries in Srinagar.

Read: Funeral held for Pakistani prisoner killed in Indian Kashmir

Police were reluctant to file cases against soldiers accused of wrongdoing, and the army was unwilling to cooperate even if police did decide to investigate, the report said.

Since 1990 the government has not agreed to any of the 44 requests from local authorities to prosecute accused troops, a requirement under AFSPA, it said.

Although the army has declared “zero tolerance” for abuses, it has dismissed as “false or baseless” 96 per cent of the more than 1,500 complaints of military wrongdoing between 1993 and 2011, the report said.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since 1947. Both countries claim the disputed territory in its entirety.

Since 1989 groups have been fighting India for independence or a merger of the Himalayan territory with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died, but violence has steadily declined since the countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003.

The post Emergency law fuels army abuses in Indian Kashmir: Amnesty International appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Record 137,000 refugees, migrants crossed Mediterranean this year: UN

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:31

GENEVA: A record 137,000 people made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe in the first half of 2015, most of them fleeing war, conflict and persecution, the United Nations said Wednesday.

“Europe is living through a maritime refugee crisis of historic proportions,” the UN refugee agency warned in a report.

The numbers flooding across the Mediterranean, often in rickety boats and at the mercy of human traffickers, have swelled 83 percent compared to the first six months of 2014, when 75,000 people made the journey, it said.

The situation is expected to deteriorate further as more clement summer weather allows ruthless people smugglers to dispatch more people.

Arrivals in the second half of 2014 were for instance nearly double those of the first half, UNHCR pointed out.

The immigration crisis is a burning issue for the EU, where member states have been wrangling over the best ways to tackle human trafficking and arguing over how to share the burden of helping new arrivals, many of them ill, starving and destitute.

Read: UNHCR chief praises K-P govt for hosting Afghan refugees

The soaring numbers arriving in Italy and Greece, before moving on to other northern European states in the hope of finding jobs, has sparked outcry and growing anti-foreigner rhetoric in many countries.

The report hailed Brussel’s decision to distribute 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers who have already arrived in Europe among EU members but called for greater solidarity between countries — to help both the migrants and the states worst affected by the crisis.

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres stressed most of those attempting the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean are not economic migrants.

“Most of the people arriving by sea in Europe are refugees, seeking protection from war and persecution,” he said in a statement.

A third of those who have arrived by sea in Italy or Greece this year came from war-ravaged Syria, while people fleeing violence in Afghanistan and Eritrea’s repressive regime each made up 12 percent of arrivals.

Other top countries of origin include conflict-wracked Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq and Sudan, the report said.

This year has also seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people dying as they try to cross the Mediterranean. So far 1,867 have been killed — 1,308 of them in April alone.

The unprecedented number of deaths that month spurred European leaders to significantly broaden search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, cutting fatalities to 68 in May and 12 in June.

“With the right policy, backed by an effective operational response, it is possible to save more lives at sea,” Guterres said.

Read: Hearth-less: Plight of refugees re-examined

Still, “for the thousands of refugees and migrants who continue to cross the Mediterranean every week, the risk remains very real,” he added.

Many of those fleeing to Europe first seek safety in overburdened neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, where a quarter of inhabitants are now Syrian refugees, the report said.

The UN also noted a shift in migration patterns, with the number of people travelling the eastern Mediterranean route from Turkey to Greece now surpassing the route from north Africa to Italy.

Italy, which last year had 170,000 people land on its shores — more than three quarters of all maritime arrivals in Europe — saw that slump in the first half of 2015 to 67,500.

In Greece, however, arrivals have more than doubled to 68,000 so far this year compared to 43,500 in all of 2014, the report said.

Greece has fewer than 2,000 reception places, and many refugees and migrants push on, aiming often for northern and Western Europe, particularly Sweden and Germany, which are seen as offering better protection and support.

But getting there often requires a long and dangerous journey, often at the hands of smugglers who route migrants through the Balkans and onwards through Hungary.

Every day, an average of 1,000 people enter Macedonia from Greece, up from 200 just a few weeks ago, UNHCR said.

Broad European cooperation is needed to face the challenge, the report said, warning that controversial anti-migration policies like Hungary’s planned four-metre (13-foot) high border fence, will not halt the influx.

“In times of conflict, fences and borders will not stop people fleeing for their lives,” the report said.

The post Record 137,000 refugees, migrants crossed Mediterranean this year: UN appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

China’s military on mission to bring ‘modern civilisation’ to Xinjiang

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:31

BEIJING: China’s military must bring “modern civilization” to the restive southern areas of the Xinjiang region, where Muslim ethnic Uighurs are in majority, and help develop its economy, two senior army officers wrote in an influential journal.

Hundreds have died in violence in Xinjiang in the past few years. The government blames the unrest on separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

Writing in the latest edition of the bimonthly Communist Party magazine Qiushi, the commander of the southern Xinjiang military region Li Haiyang and its military commissar Miao Wenjiang said that soldiers must “ardently love” the area.

Read: Displaced dreams: Uighur families have no place to call home in G-B

“We must cherish ethnic unity like we take care of our eyes and … nestle together with people of all ethnic groups as close as pomegranate seeds,” they wrote.

Experts say employment discrimination, fueled by an influx of ethnic majority Han Chinese taking up jobs, has fueled resentment and unrest among Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Beijing has begun to pay more attention to the region’s development, particularly in the southern areas dominated by Uighurs and religious conservatives.

The article said soldiers must help develop the economy in southern Xinjiang, and encourage the people to “move toward modern civilization and move away from religious extremism”, by providing villagers access to science, culture, law and health.

Read: Chinese academic defends beer festival in Muslim region

Every year all military units must contribute funds to help resolve problems like a lack of drinking water or difficulty in seeing doctors, the article said.

The article also called for greater emphasis on education, saying children should “study, live and grow up” in schools.

Uighurs have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam but many have begun adopting practices more commonly seen in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, such as full-face veils for women, as China has intensified a security crackdown in recent years.

The article promised an even greater zeal in fighting terror.

“The struggle against terror and to maintain stability is severe and complex. It is a real war with knives and guns, a life and death war,” it said. “Strike early, strike at the small and strike at the roots.”

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

US students help design sportswear for Muslim girls

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 06:22

MINNEAPOLIS: All female basketball team Lady Warriors in Minneapolis held a fashion show to showcase sportswear for Muslim girls.

AP

The travelling basketball team helped designers from the University of Minnesota and sports researchers craft uniforms for the team. The uniform covers the girls head arms and legs enabling them to freely participate in sports.

The traditional Muslim attire prevented girls from participating in sports such as basketball, soccer and swimming as the long dresses and Hijab hindered performance and presented a risk of injury.

The designs which are suited to all sports will help Muslim girls participate in sports in not just Minnesota but female Muslim athletes everywhere.

Read:Buddhist monks propose ban on hijabs for Muslim schoolgirls in Burma

The Lady Warriors basketball team which includes girls from Somalia and other East African countries, showcased their uniforms on the runway carrying lacrosse sticks and boxing gloves.

PHOTO: AP

Chelsey Thul, a lecturer in kinesiology at the University of Minnesota who helped lead the project said that: “The girls for years have been telling us, ‘We would like clothing. We would like clothing.’”

The idea dates back to 2008, when a college student Fatima formed a girls-only sports league – which now includes Lady warriors – and began utilising the gym in the Somali neighborhood of Minneapolis. The girls soon realised the traditional dress and basketball don’t mix.

PHOTO: AP

The answer, Thul said, was a functional yet modest uniform “so they could do that between-the-legs dribble, make that three-pointer, and not have clothing be a barrier.”

Sertac Sehlikoglu, a social anthropologist working on leisure, sports and the Muslim communities at the University of Cambridge, said in an email that having culturally sensitive sportswear would have a positive impact and agreed that the designs may catch on in other cities in the US that have large Muslim populations. She also noted that Iran has been developing culturally suitable sportswear for many years.

Style was important, said Amira Ali, 12, who helped with the design.

PHOTO: AP

“I want to look good,” she said.

The girls began attending major sporting events in 2013 to observe how sportswear works and put their ideas on paper with the help of university designers. The basketball teams Red uniform covers the arms and legs and includes a headpiece that covers the hair and neck.

The article originally appeared on ABCNEWS

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Video shows Syria rebel group executing 18 IS fighters

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 05:51

BEIRUT: A Syrian rebel group operating around Damascus has executed 18 alleged members of the Islamic State group in a video mimicking the extremist organisation’s own productions.

The video, which emerged overnight, shows fighters from Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) wearing the orange prison clothes that IS victims often sport.

The IS prisoners however are wearing black clothes and chained together wearing ankle and hand shackles with metal balls attached.

Read: Islamic State fighters caught fleeing battlefield dressed as women

The nearly 20-minute production mimics many aspects of IS’s own execution videos, with similar sound effects and visuals.

Jaysh al-Islam fighters in the video say the IS forces are being executed in part as revenge for the deaths of at least three of the rebel group’s members who were beheaded by IS.

The rebel group also refers to a major battle it fought with IS in February.

It accuses IS of being allied with President Bashar al Assad’s regime against its fighters and those of other militant rebel groups.

The video includes starkly sectarian language, accusing IS of betraying Sunni’s and allying with Shia’s and “Nusayris,” a derogatory terms for the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs.

It contains lengthy “confessions” from IS fighters who claim that they did not fight against the Syrian army while with IS.

Read: IS fighters intensify attack on Syria border town

The interrogations appear intended to show that IS has focused its fight on other opposition forces, rather than the Syrian government.

The last part of the video shows the 18 IS fighters in black, kneeling before Jaysh al-Islam executioners who shoot them in the head.

The shots are filmed from multiple angles and include gruesome close-up shots.

The Islamic State group emerged in Syria in 2013, when it sought to merge with al Qaeda’s local affiliate al Nusra Front.

But al Nusra refused the merger, and IS has since been at odds with the group as well as militant and moderate rebels.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

A comedy of errors

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 05:49

Many times, our knee-jerk reaction to criticism is that it’s just a joke.  Unfortunately, not all jokes are meaningless.

No matter what kind of emotions we are experiencing, everyone resorts to some, mood-uplifting comedy, regardless of their age and gender. It doesn’t matter what we are watching or listening to, be it entertaining conversations between Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood on Loose Talk or the comfortable laughter of the hit American sitcom Friends, comedy provides a temporary fail-safe method of forgetting our worries.

But the thing with comedy is that it doesn’t just seek to entertain, it perpetrates some effects on our day-to-day lives. While on the surface, jokes and laughter seem to exert a momentary influence, it’s important to question if there are any other consequences, seeing as how many of the jokes relate to issues in our private lives. One such pertinent topic — a recurrent theme in many comedies —  is the concept of weight and how people react to different shapes and body sizes of those they interact with.

Using looks for jest is one of the oldest tricks in the book, with a number of famous clowns and jesters from various stages of literature, art and history, gaining fame via their ability to joke about abnormal weight, height or facial features. From the below average height of the fool in Shakespeare’s King Lear to the more recent Marx brothers and Charlie Chaplin (who used tight-fitting or oversized clothes), jokes regarding appearances have always drawn laughter from the audience. This method of using physical features as props is acknowledged by stand-up comedian Ali Gul Pir, who believes that comedy indeed requires certain body types. “One of Hollywood’s greatest comedians, Chris Farley, was very large and often used his looks to add to his comedy,” says Ali. “Even though your looks don’t really matter, being overweight can be funny. Take Laurel and Hardy as an example. In all of these cases, imperfection is funny.”

Ali, who’s first single Waderai Ka Beta, a satire about the political set-up of Pakistan, achieved great success back in 2012, understands different forms of comedy and how they deal with weight respectively. “There are different sub genres of comedy,” he explains. “There’s satire which is a reflection of reality in a witty way but there are also slapstick pieces which are only intend to make others laugh. Stand up includes observational comedy and then there’s political comedy. Some of these genres have a message and are meant to make you realise something, but others only aim for laughter.”

Indeed, this type of comedy may be part of a comedian’s self-deprecating sense of humour but what happens when the humour is aimed at others, namely those with a body shape or size that is not considered ideal by society? Research regarding body image and its reinforcement in the media by scholars like Miriam Rachel Lowe and Gregory Fouts provides a clearer look at the risk of resulting physical and psychological damage, especially among young adults. Numerous studies have stated that the depiction of extreme slenderness and the overall portrayal of bodies in the media could be causing a rise in eating disorders, especially among young women who wish to lose weight. They further imply that onscreen exposure to such stereotypes, through funny, dramatic or intense depictions, reinforces the association between being thin and physical attractiveness, personal self-worth and success.

Based on these findings, it is evident that promoting an ideal body image ultimately leads to dissatisfaction amongst the audience, be it male or female. According to Pakistani actress Hina Dilpazir, there is much more to the situation than what meets the eye. “What kind of jokes affect the audience depends upon how a character has been written,” she elaborates. “It doesn’t matter if someone is short or tall. What is more important is the situation and how the joke is carried. In this case, the greatest control is with the writer of the character and the story.”

Hina, known for lending her excellent comic timing to roles like Momo in Bulbulay, Mitthu in Mitthu and Shakooran in Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah, has extensive knowledge of the genre. According to her, the most important thing in understanding comedy and its relationship to weight is maintaing a good sense of humour. “Creating good comedy is hard work,” she admits. “In most cases, how weight is dealt with changes from character to character. Each character has its own demands, some require more slapstick humour while others don’t. But a good sense of humour is always welcome.”

Nonetheless, the extent to which comedy can influence the psyche of viewers still remains unanswered. While most of us are happily laughing away at the expense of excess chub, dwarf heights or dark skin, will our perspectives ever change? Amna Saleem Khan, an avid fan of comedy, understands how some jokes can have adverse effects in the real world. “There are definitely a lot of jokes about fat, short and dark-skinned people,” she says. Amna highlights India’s most popular show Comedy Nights with Kapil as an example, saying “the show is huge and one of the lead characters is constantly made fun of for being fat. Words like ‘moti’ and ‘ugly’ are used together quite regularly.” Another example can be found in one of the show’s most loved character, Palak — a male actor posing as an overweight female. The many jokes cracked regarding Palak include comparisons to bulldozers, water tankers, drums, etcetera, on top of which, Palak is also mocked for being ambitious and flirting with other actors.

Hence, it appears that the idealisation of slender and fair women is something comedy often promotes, directly or indirectly. Interestingly, this is not a phenomenon restricted to just our part of the world as jokes about weight, body shapes and complexions are common worldwide. Shows in the West are just as culpable for trying to generate laughter over failed diets, breaking balances and tight clothing as their counterparts from the East. “Even in Friends, people laughed at Monica because of her weight although one can argue that their portrayal was  less derogatory,” says Amna. Perhaps this is due to greater awareness regarding obesity in the West than other parts of the world.

Nonetheless, physical comedy can exert a direct influence on anyone, particularly the younger generations. “If a comedy show is portraying the fact that making fun of a fat person is okay then people will think it is okay,” explains Amna. “Ultimately, this increases bullying amongst children as well.” In her opinion, the lack of media regulation and limited dialogue on the matter are to blame.

With such obvious and dangerous ideas being promoted, do those involved in the health business benefit? According to Syed Kamran Ahmed, the head of executives at Shapes, a health and fitness club located in Karachi, there are various reasons why people join the gym but few would admit to worrying about their weight because of the negative portrayal on media. Kamran explains that different people have different goals when it comes to fitness. “While some are aiming for weight loss, a fair number simply want to maintain their weight or reduce fat from certain areas of the body,” he says.

Research on the benefits of laughter often ends with the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine.’ From lowering blood pressure to stress hormones, it is not only a cure for physical ailments but also helps promote a general sense of well-being and a positive outlook in life. But when this laughter is at the expense of others, propagating ideas that may be harmful, perhaps one should take a closer look at the message that is being sent out through comedy.

Anum Shaharyar is a freelance writer. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mass Communication.

Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, June 28th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Gaga feels unaccomplished

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:56

LOS ANGELES: Lady Gaga feels “extremely unaccomplished” as a songwriter despite having a string of hits to her name. While accepting the Contemporary Icon Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame 46th Annual Induction and Awards gala on Thursday, Gaga said, “I feel that I’ve a lot of work to do, as personally, I feel extremely unaccomplished as a songwriter.”

“As my heroes have done some things that I can only dream of, I feel very in my infancy as a writer, and I thank you for just … at this point in my career, I’ve had some ups, I’ve had some downs, I’ve had some in-betweens — that you’ve chosen to honour me for the only thing I know I’ve, which is my heartbeat, which is that I write songs.”

The 29-year-old star also thanked her close friend and collaborator Tony Bennett as well as Hall of Fame inductee Linda Perry, who performed a slowed-down version of her track Bad Romance as she took to the stage, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

She added, “I’m so grateful because (Tony is) always looking out for me. And I’m very honoured that he was here tonight to present this award to me.”

“And I’m very honoured that Linda Perry was here, and I consider them to be true and two huge influences in my life that I hope anyone that’s here that a true dream has been made come true because these artists supported another artist, and I’m very grateful that I’m here.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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The organic journey of Nargis Fakhri

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:53
NEW DELHI: 

Nargis Fakhri has embarked on a journey to the larger-than-life terrain of Hollywood with film Spy. The New York-born Bollywood actor says that among the dissimilarities that widen the gap between the Hindi silver screen and the West, there is one similarity that weaves them together — the pool of talent.

Nargis, who ventured into Bollywood opposite Ranbir Kapoor in film Rockstar in 2011, added that Hindi filmdom and Hollywood — two of the most prominent film industries of the world — can achieve more success by learning from each other.

“At the end of the day, the one commonality that both Hindi cinema and Hollywood share is that they are full of talented and inspirational people. Outside of this, there are many differences from the scheduling and rehearsals to promotion and directing techniques,” said Nargis in an email interaction from New York.

Most often, words like ‘bigger, grander, louder’ are used to define Bollywood films, which are painted on a big screen canvas filled with myriad hues of feelings along with music and dance, whereas Hollywood films are devoid of the music hoopla and considered more subtle in their live action dramas.

Nargis has crossed borders with a mission in mind — not to fade away, but leave a lasting impression.

“I’m hopeful to be another person to be able to reinforce that we [Indian actors] are not just there to make up numbers, but to influence, add and inspire Hollywood,” she said in support of the several Indian actors like Irrfan Khan and Priyanka Chopra, who are making their mark in the West.

For her first Hollywood outing, Nargis has picked Spy, an action-comedy film, which is directed by Paul Feig and has a star-studded cast including Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law and Miranda Hart.

Nargis essays a character with evil intentions as she comes into the picture to buy a nuke for a terrorist organisation. She mentions that the Hollywood film steers away from the “outdated stereotyping of female” in spy films, which show women as a distraction prop.

“The old school, misrepresentation and outdated stereotyping has been flipped wonderfully by the mind of Paul Feig, who in my opinion is a maverick in modern cinema. His vision created a female spy which Melissa plays amazingly and by the end of the movie you’ll wonder why it took so long for there to be an awesome female spy who saves the world,” she said.

Nargis took the first step towards the world of glamour with modelling in 2005. After Rockstar, she did films on a wide variety of topics ranging from serious to fun like Main Tera Hero and Madras Cafe. The actor says her journey in showbiz was “unplanned and organic”, adding that she “has always been a go-with-the-flow type of person”.

“I’m really excited about furthering my film career in Bollywood and Hollywood. In Bollywood, I have three upcoming films. I’m also looking to becoming more vocal on many issues outside of the studio.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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Lala collaborates with Sonya Battla

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:52

KARACHI: Initially introduced to celebrate the 65 years’ experience, the textile brand LALA aims to collaborate with complementary brands to create, manufacture and retail specific collections throughout the year with its Signature Series platform. The brand has made its debut of LALA Signature Series by launching an Eid collection in collaboration with designer Sonya Battla on June 11, according to a press release.

The team of two has worked together to bring out classic prints with a contemporary touch. The range consists of ten designs in fresh pastels that feature summer bursts of bright colour and are available in fun kurtas and three-piece suits. These designs incorporate embellishments with embroidered patches and satin finish on luxurious lawn, chiffon, silk and satin.

On the launch of this collection and the first collaboration with Sonya Battla, Pervez Lala, CEO LALA, said, “It’s an exciting step in a new direction for us, as we build upon our brand through the strength of mutually beneficial collaborations. With this concept, our resolve is to build a commitment to cross brand synergies, whereby we work with leading Pakistani talent in coming years to introduce new, dynamic cross-collaborative initiatives through long term and ongoing collections and lines.”

“Keeping this in mind, we are delighted to bring Sonya’s design vision to our retail sensibility,” he added.

In recent years, the brand has expanded with seven diverse retail brands providing accessible summer; midsummer and winter fabric ranges within Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the Middle East and the UK.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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Broadening the HSY family

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:46

KARACHI: Hasan Sheheryar Yasin (HSY) — or Sheroo, as he is commonly called within the fashion fraternity — has recently taken a break from his exclusive clientele to launch HSY Limited, a unique, budget-friendly clothing line meant for the masses. The new collection comes within weeks of the launch of HSY’s ready-to-wear online store, hsystudio.com.

In an interview with The Express Tribune, the acclaimed designer shared that he hopes to propel his brand on to a global scale via the e-studio. “We want to make our brand more accessible worldwide and make it easy for people to shop with us,” he said. “My clients from as far as the US, Norway and France can now place their orders online, completely hassle-free. E-commerce has become an essential part of every business these days and made our lives as a brand much easier,” he added.

What sets the studio apart is the incorporation of HSY Limited, which aims to bring the quintessential HSY aesthetic to every household. “It is a sub-brand which caters to women of all ages, from capricious teenagers to ambitious working women. The price has been set to start from Rs 3,000 so it is affordable for the masses.” The inspirations behind this are HSY’s fashion-savvy followers who are unfortunately, unable to own their own HSY outfits due to their exorbitant prices. “I want to make these people part of the HSY family by offering the same quality and aesthetic with a more appealing price tag.”

HSY lent his talents to the Telenor Bridal Couture Week (TBCW) earlier this month, where he not only showcased his latest bridal collection but also helped organise the grand three-day event. “It is always a great experience showcasing at TBCW,” he said. “Since we (HSY Events) also handle stage design, lighting and choreography, we have much freedom to play with our imaginations and stage the mood and ambiance for the entire event.” He has, evidently, had a whirlwind of a year, what with the launch of HSY Limited, his online and flagship stores and TBCW, but HSY bares no intentions of slowing down. “There are a lot more projects in the pipeline, some collaborations and some expansion of retail networks, etc. We will update all our fans as things develop.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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Anwar Maqsood’s ‘Siachen’ to kickstart August 14

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:45

KARACHI: Known for his work in comedy made-for-stage productions of late, such as Pawnay 14 August and Sawa 14 August, Anwar Maqsood is set to return to the stage with yet another play titled Siachen, reported Roznama Express.

The play that will be directed by Anwar Maqsood’s frequent collaborator Dawar Mehmood, who has previously helmed Pawnay 14 August and Sawa 14 August, is expected to get a houseful on its opening night on Independence Day.

According to the publication, Siachen is set to feature a vast cast of 24 people which will mostly include actors who have done an impressive job in previous Anwar Maqsood-written plays , like the stage reboots of Angan Terha and Half Plate.

The veteran playwright said that, “There is a high percentage of people in Karachi who want to watch theatre but they want to watch good quality theatre. When I started writing plays I did not expect people to turn up in such large numbers.”

The play explores the resentment caused by Pakistani soldiers slaughtering the Gau Mata in front of Indian soldiers who hold the animal sacred in Anwar Maqsood’s sharp and witty style.

In an earlier interview with The Express Tribune, Dawar Mehmood was full of praise for Anwar Maqsood saying, “Anwar Maqsood has once again written an unsullied spoof exploring what happens when instead of a goat a cow is sent to soldiers at Siachen for slaughter on the occasion of Eid.”

Talking about another Sarhay 14 August, the highly-anticipated sequel to Sawa 14 August, which had been announced earlier in 2013 but has not yet materialised, Dawar said that they had not been able to garner enough resources to produce that play.

Sawa 14 August series was our milestone achievement, nothing like that has been done as yet,” said Dawar. “It’s quite an expensive theatre and costs us more than any of these movies being made in the country. I don’t want to start working on it and not be able to reach the standard it deserves,” he added.

Rehearsals for the Siachen are expected to begin after Eidul Fitr.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Music and Momin Durrani go hand-in-hand

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:45
KARACHI: 

Going through Momin Durrani’s Coke Studio profile, you’ll realise he has a vast body of work in singing for television commercials. With over eight years of jingles to his credit, it didn’t take much for the artist to make an impression. Unwilling to settle for less than what he deserves, he continues to aim for the stars. So, when the opportunity to sing alongside Indian playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj for the upcoming Pakistani romantic-drama Bin Roye came along, he made sure to avail it to his full potential.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Durrani shared the chain of events that landed him the chance to sing the song Chan Chariya opposite Bhardwaj of Namak Ishq Ka fame. “When the film’s producer Momina Duraid heard the song, she asked music composer Shani to get a male voice that can counter Bhardwaj’s style of singing,” he said.

As the Pakistani film industry gradually picks up pace, there are multiple possibilities for playback singers to prove their mettle. And with years of work experience in jingles, Durrani is confident that he’s well-placed. Having extensively worked with former music-producer duo Kami and Shani, Durrani said he was the latter’s first choice for the song, as his voice ticked all the boxes he was looking for. “They wanted the male singer’s voice to be on the same frequency as that of Rekha jee, but that it should also have its own tone, texture and identity. Fortunately for me, my voice fit the bill.”

On how challenging it was for him to work with someone as established as Bhardwaj, he said that more than anything else, it was about getting the right tone for the actors in the film. “When I was approached to sing for the movie, I had little information about its cast,” he stated. “It was only when Shani told me that Mahira Khan is the main lead that I got an idea about what sort of tone my character should sing for her in,” he added.

For Durrani, who served as backing vocalist for a host of renowned artists in Coke Studio season 7, the opportunity to work with the Bollywood singing maestro is, inarguably, one of his career’s highlights. “It doesn’t get any bigger than singing for the same song as her. She’s a legend,” he said.

Although the Filmfare Award-winning singer didn’t visit Pakistan for the recording sessions, Durrani got the opportunity to interact with her. The real icing on the cake for him was that she commended his work on the track.

Referring to his work on OSTs for TV dramas Dayar-e-Dil and Mera Aashiyana, he feels it has been easy for him to make a transition into film music. “My work for TVCs and OSTs would benefit me greatly in the long run, as I’m used to doing more commercial music as compared to other singers.” He cited the example of Bollywood singers, such as Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan and Kunal Ganjawala, he said the past few years have seen them become more successful than classic singers, such as Udit Narayan, as they’ve been singing jingles.

Currently, Durrani only aims at making the most of the opportunities he gets. Without divulging details, he said he’s also in talks for a few major upcoming projects.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd,  2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

With heavy police presence, Charleston mourns after church massacre

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:38

Hundreds of people packed a sweltering Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Sunday as it reopened to worshipers after a gunman, identified by authorities as a 21-year-old white man, shot dead nine black church members.

A mostly black congregation swelled to about 400 people for a memorial service remembering those killed on Wednesday in the latest US mass shooting, some wiping away tears and praying as the organ began to play. Outside the church, a large, mostly white crowd gathered to express solidarity with those inside.

Read: Police arrest man who shot 9 people at US African-American church

Armed police searched bags at the door of the church, home to the oldest African-American congregation in the southern United States, and officers stood at intervals inside the church along the side of the nave and in the gallery. Those attending the service used hand fans to try to keep cool in the heat.

The church massacre has again trained a spotlight on the country’s pervasive and divisive issues of race relations and gun crime.

People take part in a ‘Black Lives Matter’ march around Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

The suspect, Dylann Roof, was arrested on Thursday and has been charged with nine counts of murder. Authorities say he spent an hour in an evening Bible study group at the church, nicknamed “Mother Emanuel” for its key role in US black history, before opening fire.

Federal investigators were examining a racist manifesto apparently written by Roof that surfaced on a website on Saturday. The site featured photos and white supremacist writings, as well as an “explanation” by the author for taking some unspecified action.

“I have no choice … I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country,” it said.

Gun control

The massacre was the latest in a series of mass shootings that have reignited a debate over gun control in a country where the right to own firearms is constitutionally protected.

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, on the CNN program “State of the Union,” made a pitch for stricter gun control laws.

“It is insane the number of guns and the ease of getting guns in America,” Riley said. “It’s not that people should not carry guns and all of that, it’s just that there are so many of them and the ease of them and there is no accountability.”

Read: Clinton backs stiffer gun laws after US church bloodbath

President Barack Obama, in an interview taped on Friday, blamed the powerful gun-rights lobby group the National Rifle Association and an apathetic American public for the failure to implement new gun control measures.

After a school shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, Obama proposed more background checks for gun sales and pushed to ban more types of military-style assault weapons and limit the capacity of ammunition magazines. But the measures failed to win passage in the US Congress.

The church shootings were the main topic at other Sunday services in Charleston, a city sometimes dubbed “The Holy City” because of its multitude of historic churches.

At the predominantly white-membership St Michael’s Church, founded in the 17th century, the Reverend Alfred Zadig Jr said he did not know any of the victims and asked for forgiveness “for failing to be a pastor who reaches out beyond my world.”

“You and I are so good at compartmentalizing grief,” Zadig told his congregation about a mile from massacre site. “Today I’m asking you to feel the unthinkable pain … This is not God’s will. God did not ordain this event to happen to make a point about racism.”

Outside the Emanuel AME church, bouquets, teddy bears and balloons covered the sidewalk while hundreds of people lined up to mourn, sing hymns and leave memorials.

A father carries his son on his back as they listen to gospel music being sung during a vigil outside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 20, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Thousands of hand-written messages covered white banners at the church’s entrance, reading “God Bless,” or “Thank you Sen. Rev. Clementa Pinckney. You will 4ever be an inspiration,” referring to the church’s pastor, a state senator who was one of the victims.

The victims’ names, written on white ribbons adorned with roses, bedecked one of the church’s gates. Another gate held a black shirt that read: “Do you believe us now.”

Joseph Kovas, 19, was hoping to make it inside the church for Sunday’s service.

“We wanted to come to show our presence and prayers to the community. The way they have been affected is tremendous,” he said. “The people have come together in Charleston and that is great testament to this city.”

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Federer rules Halle for eighth time with win over Seppi

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 09:45

HALLE: Roger Federer won the Halle Open for a record-extending eighth time on Sunday by beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6(1) 6-4 in a successful dress rehearsal on grass ahead of Wimbledon.

Defending champion Federer, who has now won Halle more times than any other tournament, captured his fourth title of the year after victories in Istanbul, Dubai and Brisbane to take his career haul to 86.

“It is a special moment for me, to win this tournament an eighth time,” the 17-times grand slam winner said courtside. “I have always enjoyed amazing support here all these year.”

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns a ball to Italy’s Andreas Seppi during their final match at the ATP Gerry Weber Open in Halle, western Germany on June 21, 2015. PHOTO AFP

“I always enjoy it here and it is one of my favourite events. 2013 was difficult, 2014 was better and now 2015 after this week is even better and I hope I can keep it up,” he said with Wimbledon starting on June 29.

The Swiss top seed, who has won Wimbledon and Dubai seven times, saved two set points on his serve when he trailed 5-4 in the first set. He dug deep to level for 5-5 in his 10th final appearance in Halle. He then crushed the Italian in the tiebreak, losing only one point, to take the first set.

Italy’s Andreas Seppi returns a ball to Switzerland’s Roger Federer during their final match at the ATP Gerry Weber Open in Halle, western Germany on June 21, 2015. PHOTO AFP

Seppi, who reached his second final of the year after Gael Monfils and second seed Kei Nishikori retired in his two previous matches, earned another break opportunity at 2-2 but he sent a backhand into the net. World number two Federer then squandered three breakpoints at 4-3, allowing Seppi to hold on and win the 10-minute game.

He did everything right, however, two games later to earn two match points and finished off the contest with a spectacular overhead smash. “I will be here next year,” Federer told the crowd. “I will work had and hopefully I will stay fit and be back.”

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan and their uninhibited aggression

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 09:06

January 20, 2014. A pleasant Sharjah afternoon. Final day of the third Test. A target of 302 to draw the series. 59 overs remain.

Forced to go after the target, Pakistan come out of their shell. They win by five wickets. That was the day Pakistan, and more importantly Misbahul Haq, realised that they have the ability to attack teams out of games.

Something snapped that day, and a new Pakistan emerged — as new as a new Pakistan can be. A Pakistan that has been aggressive, a Pakistan that has shown intent, a Pakistan that has not been afraid of taking on the opposition.

The game plan is clear. Score as many runs and as quickly as possible in the first-innings and then choke the opposition batsmen. Only Australia (3.67) and New Zealand (3.5) have a better run-rate than Pakistan’s 3.46 since January 2014, and no team has a better economy than Pakistan’s 3.15.

While Sarfraz Ahmed’s 109 off 105 balls and Misbah’s record-fastest 57-ball 101 against Australia stand out, other players have also been visibly busier in the middle. In fact, all 10 Pakistani players bar none who featured in the first Test against Sri Lanka have improved on their strike-rates since that January, 2014 Test (Yasir Shah never played before that). The top seven’s average strike-rate has improved by more than 13, with those two men — Misbah and Sarfraz — again being the most prominent in this regard, improving upon their strike-rates by 14.83 and 28.86 respectively.

This carefree approach has served Pakistan well in recent times. For starters it has led to fewer draws — Pakistan have drawn only two matches since that fateful Test, no team has had fewer in the same timeframe.

Along with that, Pakistan have managed to take a stranglehold over the series from a position of serious trouble twice in their past four series. First, it had been Sarfraz’s counter-attacking century that took the first Test away from Australia, who had sent both Pakistani openers back in the pavilion at 7-2. Now again it was Sarfraz who took the attack to Sri Lanka and dragged Pakistan back; this time around it was even more special than his record century against the Australians, where most of the rebuilding work had already been done by those before him.

It took the tourists just three-and-a-half days in Galle to achieve the only result that had looked impossible at the end of days two and three. At 96-5, Pakistan trailed by 204 and needed 54 more runs to avoid the follow-on (four-day rules applied). Their best batsmen were back in the pavilion and there was little shame in going for the draw at that point.

But Sarfraz had other ideas. A remarkable 96 off 86 balls, reckless, unconventional and dismissive in its nature, set the tone for the rest of the action.

Sarfraz’s dismissal — when he somehow conspired to fetch a ball way outside off onto the top of his off-stump trying to paddle-sweep a fast-bowler through fine leg — summed up the sheer audacity of his effort.

Zulfiqar Babar then followed that up with a 60-ball 56 as Asad Shafiq also upped the ante to make 131 before falling to Dilruwan Perera — whose four wickets all came against batsmen coming down the track to him, an event confined to a rarity with the Pakistan of old.

With a 117-run lead, it was time to go for the kill. And go for the kill Pakistan did, especially on day five when as many as six men stood catching around the bat.

Against such uninhibited aggression, the Sri Lankans folded and Pakistan were left with a simple target of chasing down 90 in 30 or so overs.

But why forego the tactics that have served you so well so far, especially when the last time they did so they ended up drawing a series that they could and should have won against New Zealand. The openers continued from where the bowlers had left off and decided to finish off the match as quickly as possible; making 92 in 11.2 overs at a run-rate of over eight-an-over. In the grand scheme of things it mattered not but it was telling to see Pakistan’s openers play with such gay abandon in the last session of the fifth day.

Teams have shown in the past that such aggression is sustainable and Pakistan seem to be relishing their new approach as the side continues to flourish in Tests. Now the challenge is to implement this in the limited-over formats — Azhar Ali and Shahid Afridi will do well to learn from Misbah.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Islamic State militants plant mines and bombs in Palmyra – monitoring group

Sun, 06/21/2015 - 09:01

BEIRUT: Islamic State has planted mines and bombs in the ancient part of the central Syrian city of Palmyra, home to Roman-era ruins, a group monitoring the war said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was not immediately clear whether the group was preparing to destroy the ancient ruins or planted the mines to deter government forces from advancing towards the city, also known as Tadmur.

“They have planted it yesterday. They also planted some around the Roman theater, we still do not know the real reason,” Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Observatory, told Reuters.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s head of antiquities, told Reuters that the reports of Islamic State planting bombs in Palmyra “seems true”.

“The city is a hostage in their hands, the situation is dangerous.”

Read: IS in full control of Syria’s ancient city Palmyra: monitor

The ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group in May seized the city of 50,000 people, site of some of the world’s most extensive and best-preserved ancient Roman ruins.

Islamic State has proclaimed a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory it holds in both Syria and Iraq. Its militants have a history of carrying out mass killings in towns and cities they capture and of destroying ancient monuments which they consider evidence of paganism.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News