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In the Name of God بسم الله


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Everything posted by Marbles

  1. Yair Lapid: Lo, even our enemies who don't officially recognise us had done a deal with us. That is a huge victory. Netanyahu: How can Israel make a deal with a country that doesn't even recognise us. That's illegal.
  2. Sorry to barge in, but I want to point out that the above can happen purely on the basis of a combination of historical socio-economic and political factors, which doesn't have anything to do with biological wiring or anything like that. To take just the example of European Jews, for much of history they were barred from taking part in public life feely. At the same time the Church prohibited Christian faithfuls from engaging in moneylending that involved any kind of usurious practices but allowed the Jews to get their hands dirty, so to speak, because by popular belief they were destined to hell anyway. Since there was no competition, European Jews over the centuries perfected the one thing they were allowed to do, especially in a rapidly changing times that had begun in the 16th C. And this was a kind of business for which there were (and are) a lot of willing customers. This led to the development of a subset of very wealthy European Jews whom people resented for their money and material success. This did not happen with the Mizrahi Jews who lived in the Eastern countries for centuries because of the absence of the conditions mentioned above. Although they found their niche in moneylending in the East too, but that was because their religious law permits them to engage in usurious practices with the gentiles, which was a factor also in play in Europe.
  3. Yes, I have made use of this facility and visited Azerbaijan a year before the covid breakout. Baku is a nice city to explore for 3/4 days maximum. The government has poured a lot of money into refurbishing the old city and other sites of historical significance. Visiting some places it felt like they trying very hard to reinvent their Zoroastrian heritage. They rebuilt a Zoroastrian temple outside Baku on the nearly vanished ruins of an old one that had stood there eons ago. Plus the design of the Flame towers in downtown Baku isn't purely aesthetical. The development is pretty uneven and outside of a couple of big cities it felt like a wasteland with a lot of poverty, in spite of oil and gas revenues. I digress. One way to make a Pakistani passport relatively stronger is to obtain long term visas of countries like the US, UK, Schengen states etc. A lot of countries let us visit them without visa if we have one of the valid visas listed above. Some that still require it make it quite easy to obtain one. Eg; Turkey is pretty documentation heavy and often refused (as the country falls on the illegal migration route and many Pakistanis use it). But armed with any Western country visa, we can just purchase a Turkish e-visa and fly in without issue. There are several other examples. As for Turkmenistan, it has the toughest visa in the entire -stans cluster. Even citizens of developed countries need one before departure and it isn't a piece of cake. I doubt they would have let you in on a Brit passport without a pre-arranged visa.
  4. Plus, the costs of visiting Qatar this time round is going to be very high. Airfares are already touching the exorbitant range and on top of that all hotels in Qatar are already showing hundreds of USDs a night hotel stay during the WC dates. The rates aren't just high or very high. They are ridiculous. I managed to find cheap accommodations in Russia in 2018 by staying a few metro stations away from the city centres. But there isn't anything resembling a cheap accommodation anywhere in the non-sandy square footage in the entire state of Qatar. Qatar has copied the Russian FAN ID system and named it Hayya card. One of the requirements of Hayya is to have a confirmed, possibly paid, hotel booking for the dates for which the applicants holds the match ticket. Russians did not ask for these things for their FAN IDs. One attraction of Hayya card is that several neighbouring states have said that they would allow visa free entry to on the basis of Hayya card. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, Jordan and possibly Kuwait. Some of my compatriots are excited about this opportunity to visit various countries without having to go through the hassle of applying for and obtaining the visas, like they did in the case of Russia. I reminded them that this time our hosts are Arabs not the Russians who let in everyone without discrimination. I am looking forward to a caveat which might not even be announced but quietly put into practice: "ALL nationalities allowed except XYZ countries." We Pakis have always belonged to the XYZ category. So when my friends buzzed me about purchasing a ticket and going on a grand Middle East tour I said NO.
  5. During the last World cup held in Russia, I took the opportunity Russia offered to all nationalities by purchasing a cheapest ticket of the most useless match, which made me eligible to apply for the so-called FAN ID issued by the government of Russia. Anyone with a single valid ticket could obtain FAN ID and use it to enter the Russian Federation without obtaining a prior visa. This was of huge significance to me because as a citizen of a country with the second worst passport in the world (according to Henley's Passport Index), I saved a lot of money and avoided the red tape around obtaining a Russian visit visa just by making a small purchase online. I'm one of those people who have zero interest in football. Zero. I didn't go to the stadium to watch the match. I just followed a tourist itinerary and covered the must-see places during the two weeks I was there. And I loved every bit of it. Remarkable country. Remarkable people. Thank you Russia. Now the WC is being held in Qatar of all places. And I can't seem to control my yawning. An opportunity to visit a proper country has been missed.
  6. Isn't it ironic that, according to the BBC, a minimum of 17 people have been killed in the riotous protests over one girl's unfortunate death.
  7. A country's politics is part of its larger culture, not separate from it. People tend to limit Westernisation only to music, telly, food and how people dress up. That is a very narrow and limited view of Westernisation. By the way, Tiktok is a Chinese company.
  8. @GreenTree North Korea is very Westernised. Nothing more Western than following a political ideology devised by two German intellectuals like it is divine law.
  9. Dear Brits, Could you please bury the fossil and be done with it? It's become impossible to watch or read any media from your country without being bombarded with the state-sanctioned mournography.
  10. 1. This is clearly a misuse of istikhara. Please give it a rest and don't indulge anymore. 2. Long courtship period, for want of better word, is usually harmful for marriage. Things that may mean nothing seem like a big deal when you aren't living together. 3. Lastly, if you are still unable to address your doubts then it's better to end the matter now and move on rather than after the marriage has been consummated.
  11. Not surprising. Among South Asian Muslims every other boy has Muhammad as a prefix to his name even if he's not called by that name. My first name is also Muhammad on legal documents but I won't respond to a call of Muhammad in a crowd. But I'm surprised there's no Ali in the top ten. Prolly because Ali typically takes the second place in a name. Jaffar Ali.
  12. I don't think that is true. He got nearly 50% of the popular vote both times he ran for office. Plus, most Republican politicians have thrown their weight behind him, regardless of what he said or did. Only a handful of his own party politicians went against him. The failures of the democratic party and their shambolic handling of everything the US electorate cares about would bring Trump back. Or someone like him.
  13. Too late. Sanders is too old for this circus. The democrats rejected him twice when he still had juice left. The next president of the US will be Donald Trump. Mark my words.
  14. Personally, I'm sick of being bombarded with LGBT stuff every day in the news and entertainment media. It's as though half of the world's problems revolve around gender issues. Read a contemporary book of literature or watch a film or a TV show and it seems over half the world's population has suddenly gone homosexual all of a sudden. I'm glad I don't live in the West and it remains a non-issue here where I live, but it is difficult to escape the constant cycle of news and controversies that has become a mainstay of Western media productions - and what's more, being the cultural imperialists that they are, they want the entire world to emulate them or else... As for the parade in particular, I find this whole spectacle of almost-naked people with crazy makeup doing even crazier dances completely ridiculous and extremely cringe-worthy. That's just my personal gut reaction to it. It goes completely against the values of decency and modesty taught to me, and that before I factor in the religious angle into the equation. Shameful.
  15. Ah I see. I should have known. Segregation in the States refers by default to the racial segregation.
  16. I have never seen a segregated church. Not in real life, not in films. But I like that mosques are segregated. It helps to maintain the purdah between the sexes. The nature of Islamic prayer is such that it may breach the code of modesty if non-mahram men watch women in the act of prayer.
  17. I predicted this back in 2014 before Modi first came to power. But some Indian Shia friends in here and people sympathetic to the Indian polity claimed faith in the Nehruvian secularism and dismissed my concerns as ravings of a bitter Pakistani.
  18. This seems pretty representative of the public mood. If there's one thing that'll drown Imran Khan's govt it is the double-digit inflation of the last at least two years. But, with how things are going, the generals might drown him before the electorate has a chance to drown him in the next ballot. Yes, the covid pandemic is partially responsible for inflation but people don't want to hear that excuse. They only care about the prices they have to pay on the checkout. Edit: Thanks God PK didn't rely so much on tourism for its income. Otherwise we'd just be a bigger version of Sri lanka. The collapse of the economy and the imminence of default is causing some serious problems there and might eventually lead to large scale civil unrest.
  19. The damage to the standing wheat crop has been done already, especially in the southern plains of the Saraiki Belt where my fields are. Last week the mercury rose as high as 42 C. This kind of temp in mid March is devastating for the crop that still needs time to grow and ripen. The grains have stopped growing and become dry. I am predicting a drop in yield of 10-15%. There is already a national shortage of around 15% this year. Add to it the effects of the current heatwave (caused by irregular weather patterns more common due to the global warming), and we over here in PK have a crisis on our hands. Once the generals and their selected government stop fighting each other they'd probably pay attention to the problems on the ground.
  20. I thought democratic process and democracy were sacrosanct? Suddenly the "people" wanted the democratically elected president out by any means, including large scale violence, with foreign funds aplenty, led by ultranationalist skinheads. It is not hard to see who should have been hung for treason in this case. Except they were the real Nazis, leading the coup from the front. They were the ones who fired the first shots and blamed the government for firing on the protestors. They were the ones who shaped the outcome of the "revolution." They were the ones who later forced the lawmakers to enact anti-Russian laws effectively banning Russian language. They were the ones who were later incorporated into the Ukrainian army (Azov battalion) It's all on record. But looking it up may damage your securely-held views about the whole thing. So let's call Putin mad and wonder about his mental health and even compare him with Hitler (which encompasses the entirety of Western critical assessment of the man and his policies) than look for the root cause and address it in good faith.
  21. ....overthrow of the democratically elected president, whose election the EU monitors certified as free and fair. If people wanted to join EU and NATO they should have voted in a president who promised them both. But instead they voted a pro-Russian president, who was then overthrown in an illegal coup led by the bald-headed armed Nazis and and funded by the US embassy in Kyiv. There is enough evidence for those who want to see. But those fed on a diet of mainstream Western media wouldn't know a thing, because for journous to report that and to put this conflict into context means career suicide.
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