Thursday, December 31, 2009

Links For Thursday

Stuff to read:

Two great pieces on the Ashura bombing in Karachi, and the violent aftermath. Here's Nadeem Paracha on some of the political ramifications; in particular, he discusses the constellation of political parties (MQM, PPP, ANP) in power in Karachi and the common anti-Taliban stance they have. I have to say that this is a prime opportunity for the MQM to demonstrate that they are merely anti-Taliban in their outlook and not anti-Pashtun as their detractors claim. If they can show some meaningful cooperation and amity with the ANP, I think that will go a long way in showing people they've grown up from the 1980s and 1990s. (Random aside: a friend's Facebook update elicited a comment from another person, in which he latter claimed the Taliban could not be responsible for the bombing; instead it had to be...wait for it...the MQM. This despite the Taliban actually claiming responsibility for the bombing in order to "protect the honour of the companions of the holy prophet").

Anyway, here's the second piece, a very well-written and heart-felt piece from Tazeen, on what the city means to her.

A hilarious piece in the Huffinton Post on some dude whose 12 year-old daughter is on a no-fly list because she shares her name with a notorious IRA terrorist.

Kalsoom rounds up the ten best Pakistan-related quotes of 2009. My favorite didn't make it to this list. It was Younis Khan during the Champions Trophy, saying, "If you want to play only fun cricket, play Twenty20. You cannot have one guy taking all the fun from all formats. You can't get married and have six girlfriends as well, because you will get stuck somewhere." My favorite non-Pakistan quote was Bristol Palin saying, "If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody." Clearly neither Younis nor Bristol ever talked to Tiger Woods.

A truly unbelievable (and immensely sad) story from India. I'm not going to try to summarize it. Just read the whole thing.

Gail Collins sums up the year in American politics and society. As usual, she's really funny. She and Frank Rich are the only two NYT columnists to bang out quality every time they write. Brooks is a neocon, Krugman is hyper-partisan and sanctimonious, Dowd is a gossip columnist, Friedman is just stupid, Herbert is boring and Kristof writes about things way too depressing (not his fault, mind, but still).

If you like comparing America's options in Afghanistan to a game of poker, this article is for you. I never got into the whole poker thing to be honest. Pretty much all my other friends play it pretty regularly.

Nate Silver crunches some pretty basic numbers on airline terrorist attacks and finds that in the 2000s, there is one terrorist attack (attempted) for every 11,569,297,667 miles flown (basically the equivalent of almost 25,000 round trips to the moon). But of course this is America, so people are losing their shit. Well let me join in the fun: take the War on Terror to Yemen, I say. Yglesias makes some good points too. And the airlines are now in trouble too; I'd feel sorry for them if they actually did anything for their customers.

Steve Walt worries that America is just making China's job in the world easier with respect to influence in Afghanistan. I'm actually beginning to think that Afghanistan will no longer be a playground for India and Pakistan to fight their squabbles, but in fact the arena for regional power competition between China and India. And nothing would give me more pleasure if that happens; almost every single foreign policy problem (and many domestic ones as well) have been caused by our meddling in Afghanistan.

If you didn't think Pakistani selectors and team management couldn't get dumber, I give you this.

So it turns out that Maggie Thatcher used to write in the margins of her ministers' reports the same way I grade my undergrads: tersely and strictly (some choice phrases: "thoroughly deficient in content", "this will not do" and my personal favorite, "no" heavily underlined).

Cricket fans should go and contribute to Newsline's test team of the decade survey (hurry up, it closes soon). I went with Sehwag, Hayden, Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar, Kallis, Gilchrist, Warne, Ntini, McGrath, Muralitharan. I gave this about five minutes of thought without looking up figures, and just going with my gut. Two thoughts: first, it's depressing that there are no Pakistanis there, but honestly, Inzi, Yousuf and Younis (the only real contenders) are nowhere near the Ponting-Lara-Tendulkar trifecta. The toughest omissions in the batting were Dravid and Sangakkara (in the Gilchrist role at 7). Second, look at the quick bowling options...aren't they pathetic? Can you really say I've missed someone obvious? God, I miss the 90s; this is the list of top-class quick bowlers who played at least eight years in the 1990s: Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose. How do you go about choosing two of those? And when you consider Pollock and McGrath came in halfway through the 90s...yikes. Hell, I remember even Heath Streak could bowl, and he played for friggin Zimbabwe!


Nabeel said...

well,i'd put in graeme smith and freddie flintoff and vettori over sehwag,kallis,and murali...although i don't particularly like smith...but he has grit and guts. also,if this team were to be picked across all three formats,i'd go with dhoni over gilchrist,not because of skill,but because of,again,grit and what i think is an excellent cricketing brain.

Ahsan said...


With all due respect, you're off your rocker. Sehwag averages 52 at a strike rate of 80. I've lost count the number of times he's beaten a team into submission by himself. Smith is no match. It's not even close. If you want Smith in your team, drop Hayden. Sehwag is the best opener in test cricket since Gavaskar/Haynes/Greenidge.

Kallis over Flintoff because (a) he's been more durable (Flintoff really only had 2 really good years as an all-rounder, 04-06) and (b) I want a batting all-rounder more than a bowling all-rounder.

And Vettori over Murali? Dude has 800 wickets. EIGHT HUNDRED. Come on dude.

zeyd said...

I guess you gotta go with Kallis at 6 as the all-rounder, especially with the two spinners, but it's tough to leave Inzi out as he's one of the greatest match winners ever, let alone in the noughties.

Hold it, I just did the Cricinfo filter thingy and Inzi averages 55 with 17 100's in the 2000's. To compare, Sachin averages 53, Lara's at 54, Punter at 58, and Kallis at 58 as well.

So, Inzi over Sachin then. That should add a few more replies eh?

And surely there's someone better than Ntini? Tough to include Akhtar when he's only played 33 games and taken 144 wickets during the decade, but that average of 22 is hard to ignore.

Ahsan said...


Thanks for looking up the numbers on Inzi. As I said, I didn't do any research, but you're right, that's pretty compelling for Inzi (also when you consider that, until 2005, he was our only top class player...Sachin had Dravid, Sehwag, Ganguly and Laxman around him; Inzi had no one). I think I would probably put him in there, based on the number of matches he won with his batting.

And on Ntini, dude, I honestly thought about it for a long time, and there's no one else. He's there by default. You need someone to have played cricket for at least 7-8 years, 3-4 of them at a very high level, if you're giving them a spot in the team of the decade. None of the English guys did it for more than three years, Lee is crap, Gillespie was done in 05, Shoaib is a nut case who never played, Vaas is boring and not threatening, Steyn came up too late, Bond was always injured, the Windies never had one consistently...who's left?

Indophile said...

Ntini !! Seriously Lee could be a better candidate than him, he is crap now, but had a few very good outings in this decade.

Regarding Inzi, his average against Austalia and South Africa are 31.40 and 32.27 respectively with one century in 17 test matches and 50 innings. But of course this is his overall career summary as Pakistan has hardly played Australia this decade, also his excellent average in winning causes makes the comparison with Sachin even more interesting. Eventually all five of them including Dravid, Inzi with the your three selections are almost at par with very little difference among them.

ayesha said...

A recent follower of your blog - I think it is an insightful addition to the Pakistani blogsphere. I do wonder when you manage to find any time for your PhD. Though, no complaints here. :P

Nabeel said...

I look at it as a team and not collection of individuals with the most achievements. Kallis tilts the balance towards batting, whereas the team really needs a better bowler than a better batsman. I mean, McGrath,Ntini,and Flintoff is so much more threatening than McGrath, Ntini, and Kallis. Flintoff the batsman is also more threatening as a potential matchwinner than Kallis,in my opinion. but you're right about the durability.

ah,well,i respect your opinion about sehwag but i can't agree with opener in tests since those greats? his technique doesn't even come close to comparison. he's been able to consistently take risks because of the batting juggernaut and partly because cricket has been tilted heavily towards batsmen and partly because bowlers nowadays pretty much suck, he has succeeded. but he's not too reliable and predominantly succeeds when things are going his or the team's way. maybe i'm wrong, and maybe i don't like him because he reminds me of a pig,but i'd trust smith more than sehwag.

murali,well,500 of those wickest are on tailor-made pitches against bangladesh,windies,new zealand,zimbabwe,and south africa. vettori has succeeded everywhere and against all sorts of opposition, plus he can bat. again, maybe it's just personal bias,but oh well.

perhaps you're right about removing hayden,and i don't have any fears about a weakened batting lineup where ponting,lara,and tendulkar are playing...

let's twist the question a little bit to make it more interesting:

if you take the best test players in the past decade based on purple patches and not consistent success,what's the team like then? assuming that the players in the team represent their top form at any point during the 2000s,wouldn't someone like akhtar be a shoo-in?

Indophile said...

Not to prove my credential as an Indian cricket team supporter, but still Nabeel, Sehwag is an opener, so usually nothing is going anywhere for the team when he starts his innings.

Nabeel said...

let's put it this way - i have grudging respect for his capabilities and achievements,but i don't rank him too highly.

Sadia said...

As the Army confronts the militants we as responsible citizens should confront the Taliban apologists, for we cannot let them fool the people in the name of conspiracy theories and generalized assumption.

takhalus said...

here is agood link for you ab..happy new year too

Anonymous said...

enjoyable read....

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Butters said...

You seem like a nasty TA. I wouldn't want to give you any paper of mine...