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)

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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Condemning Trump’s bigotry does not make you any less of a bigot, Netanyahu

When Benjamin Netanyahu wags his finger at Donald Trump for his bigoted remarks against Muslims, a simple eye roll should suffice as political commentary. But it’s not difficult to explain exactly why we’re dumbstruck by the irony of the Israeli prime minister’s statement. Joining a chorus of condemnations from world leaders, Netanyahu decried Trump’s call to shut down entry of all Muslims to the United States, adding: “The state of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens.” Having wiped off the coffee we’d accidentally sprayed upon our computer screens, liberals around the world marvelled at such straight-faced ...

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There can be no “war on terror” without “war on drugs”

Few have witnessed the senseless barbarity of ISIS without rhetorically asking what these brutes have been smoking recently. As it happens, this question is not only pertinent, but strategically impossible to ignore. Captagon, although swallowed and not smoked, is a powerful amphetamine that’s historically landed Saudi Princes into massive scandals. The illicit drug is popular in the Middle East as it’s relatively cheap and easy to manufacture, and serves as an effective stimulant for, say, a militant who has to stay up all night looking out for incoming Russian fighter planes. Turkish authorities have recently seized nearly 11 million Captagon pills near the Syrian border. The similar ...

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The scariest costume you can wear this Halloween is ‘racism’

A fake ‘Sheikh’ nose, blackface, and a Mexican sombrero? Let me guess: you’re going to that Halloween party tonight as a ‘Howling Racist’. Halloween has little relevance to the lives of most Pakistani people. It is celebrated in certain elite quarters, while the rest of us wonder what scarcity of spookiness there is in this country that needs to be compensated for with a few extra zombie masks. For those who participate, I may have a Gullu Butt costume to lend out, if you ask nicely. But it is an important tradition in much of the Western world, particularly the United ...

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Did you ban cow-slaughter in Kashmir right before Eid to offend Muslim sensibilities?

As soon as the Indian authorities are done congratulating themselves over the arrest of the Kashmiri anti-nationalist figurehead, Asiya Andrabi, they can start explaining how they intend to win Kashmiri hearts and minds through an expanding list of despotic restrictions being imposed upon the people. The firebrand chief of the all-female separatist group, Dukhtaran-e-Millat or “Daughters of Faith”, was recently arrested from her Soura resident over a bizarre list of charges. These include the crime of waving the Pakistani national flag and singing the Pakistani national anthem, as well as slaughtering a cow in stark protest of the newly-revisited law against banning of cow ...

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Aamir Khan sometimes cries – Get over it

In a rational universe, no man would ever be turned into an internet meme for doing what psychologically healthy humans are naturally predisposed to do – cry. Aamir Khan was widely forgiven for his first weeping offense after watching Bajrangi Bhaijan in July. The episode was popularly attributed to the film’s earnest portrayal of a man’s conquest of inter-religious strife, capable of making even grown men cry. A second tear-sighting within a month, was ostensibly too much for the public to shrug at. In an interview with NDTV, director Nikhil Advani revealed that Khan cried profusely during the screening of ‘Katti Batti’. Photo: Express Tribune  “The last 22 minutes and ...

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