Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

Why marriage is not for everyone

There are more routes to happiness than those identified by the social majority. It is time we acknowledge that not all of these routes transit through the terminal of marriage. Any discussion on whether a certain custom is right for you, must begin with an honest recognition of your primary goal. The goal is your happiness and prosperity, and nothing that any parent, uncle, aunty, friend has to say about it has any agency over your own awareness of what brings you contentment. Their counsel may be wise and worthy, but they have the disadvantage of not knowing you the way you might ...

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“People are dying” because of the bad healthcare system, not the YDA protests

You may put your mind at ease, because I will be singing no undue odes to the greatness of the ‘noble profession’ and all those who are a part of it. But there are more than a few reasons to empathise with the protesting doctors, a few of which I feel compelled to state. A recent blog on this site passionately listed the reasons for the author having no sympathy for the Young Doctors Association (YDA) doctors and their recent activities in Lahore. As a person who is closely linked with the medical community, I find it necessary to revisit some ...

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In Pakistan, mental illness is diagnosed by a legal expert not a doctor

Every psych unit in the world teems with patients who confess a desire to do the morally unthinkable, or legally dubious. What separates them from the garden-variety criminal is their lack of control over their own thoughts and behaviours. Imdad Ali, a 50-year-old citizen convicted of murdering a cleric many years ago, is a known schizophrenic. His condition has been verified by a government psychiatrist, Dr Tahir Feroze, among others – who, reportedly, has also demanded pardon for Mr Ali on medical grounds. Schizophrenia is a condition characterised by hallucinations, illogical thoughts, and bizarre or even aggressive behaviour. The sub-type of ‘paranoid ...

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Would you accept blood from a gay donor?

More than a month has passed since the Orlando shooting revealed an exploitable defect in American gun laws. What it also exposed, was a structural bias against a peaceful community that has existed for a long time. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen – later identified as a young Muslim who was troubled by his own homosexual orientation – opened fire inside a nightclub, killing 49 innocent people. In the wake of this devastating attack, we’ve heard survivor accounts that challenge what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe regarding the alleged inhumanity of gay individuals. We’ve learned of ‘deviants’ who threw their bodies in ...

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Dear Facebook, stop censoring Kashmir

As a Pakistani writer of Kashmiri descent, it may not be entirely possible for me to speak without prejudice; but what’s one humble blogger’s bias against an iron curtain drawn over Kashmir by powers barely within my comprehension? If you’re outside Pakistan, and not politically motivated to draw your attention towards the gruesome events unfolding in Indian-administered Kashmir, it’s likely that you’re unaware of the gravity of this matter. And you’re not entirely to blame for your ignorance. You could be a hearing-impaired, computer-illiterate villager in Irkutsk, Russia, and you haven’t managed to keep yourself from finding out about a deadly rampage ...

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Just another open letter to male rights activists

I regret commencing my response to Ms Umnia Shahid’s article in a manner that sounds as bitter and sardonic as the original, but I beg your pardon and hope that you bear with me. I want to acknowledge your efforts on behalf of my brethren. Really, I do. Your concern for the welfare of men like me is appreciated, but your version of male rights activism has validated my stance regarding the immense importance of ‘modern’ feminism. Ideally, I shouldn’t be writing this letter at all. I claim no authority over the subject of women’s issues, and this response may almost certainly have been better ...

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Did Aamir Liaquat accidentally defend secular democracy?

Controversial scholar, entertainer and televangelist, Aamir Liaquat, offers a liberal feminist virtually no reason to smile and nod politely. On March 16, 2016, Mr Liaquat may have finally broken that tradition. On an episode of NewsEye, Mehr Abbasi raised the subject of the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act and the controversy surrounding it. Senator Hafiz Abdullah, of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), rebuked the act as any viewer acquainted with Pakistani political dynamics may have anticipated. It was the identity of the act’s defender, which came as a pleasant surprise. Mr Aamir Liaquat was visibly bitter, missing one burning cigarette clamped casually between ...

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In Pakistan, if you support the Indian cricket team, you will be arrested

I’ve long protested the Indian state’s stern actions against Kashmiri activists and other citizens for hoisting the Pakistani flag or singing the Pakistani anthem. Then something happened in Okara, Pakistan, that left me feeling oddly hypocritical, badly disarmed, and somewhat embarrassed. A few days ago, a 22-year-old Pakistani tailor raised an Indian flag over the roof of his house in a small Punjabi village. Umar Daraz, a cricket enthusiast, sewed the tricolour banner in his own little shop, ostensibly as a symbol of admiration for the Indian cricket team – particularly, Virat Kohli. His patriotic neighbours were displeased. Umar refused to remove ...

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In solidarity with the human umbrellas of Kolachi

Yet another grainy illustration of wealth inequality in Pakistan has left many Pakistanis on the internet shaking their heads in disappointment, if not shaking their fists in full outrage. A viral photograph on social media shows the diligent waiters of Kolachi taking ‘customer service’ to a new level. The servers are seen forming a short cordon around a table, holding umbrellas over the seated patrons on a rainy evening. For some reason, this modern re-enactment of a scene from Mughal-e-Azam is being praised by some on the internet as a sign of dedication to the customer. Kolachi was ‘prepared’ for the ...

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Is Charlie Hebdo’s most recent Aylan Kurdi cartoon genuinely racist?

Outrage is a natural response to a magazine cover that seemingly mocks a deceased 3-year-old Syrian boy. Yet, there may be more to these cartoons than what meets the eye. Charlie Hebdo has produced another cartoon every bit as tasteless as that which we’ve learned to expect from this French magazine. It features the drowned Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, and suggests that if the refugee child had survived and grown up, he would have been sexually harassing women in Germany like the other immigrants. The cartoon refers to the wave of attacks carried out by immigrants in the German city of ...

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