Abu Bakr Agha

Abu Bakr Agha

A software engineer, musician, writer and activist from Islamabad, currently based in Chicago. He tweets @AB_Agha (twitter.com/AB_Agha)

In Pakistan, men make decisions and women make dinner

Inequality between men and women is not something exclusive to the subcontinent or the Middle East. For instance, while allowed to participate in the army, women are still not permitted to serve in frontline combat in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Slovakia. In the United States, and other developed nations, women are consistently overlooked for promotions and paid less for doing the same work their male counterparts do. In this part of the world, however, we make a clear distinction. Gender inequality is far from over in the developed world but at least mainstream statements that promote equality and denounce ...

Read Full Post

Why can’t we have Pakistani bands, DJs, and solo artists with massive fan bases in our own country?

Pakistan is home to a large population. It is harbouring so many talented musicians, some who we may never hear of, and Coke Studio hits. Then why is our music-loving population either humming Bollywood hits or songs from the Billboard Top 40 chart? This is because there is a lack of opportunities and exposure for local artists. Pakistan only has a handful of record labels that are famous for not promoting “unknown artists” and for taking away all creative control from the performer. One prime example of this is the now discontinued Fire Records that at one point managed every mainstream Pakistani artist with any notable fame. ...

Read Full Post

It is time we stop glorifying Shahid Afridi

On Monday, during the Pakistan versus UAE game, Shahid Afridi became the fourth Pakistani and the 27th cricketer overall to score 8000 runs in ODIs. Photo: Reuters Among the 27 batsmen, Afridi has the highest strike rate of 116.86. He is the second player to have completed the double of 8000 runs and 300 wickets, joining Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya. Without a doubt, Afridi is considered a national hero all over Pakistan. No batsman gets a louder roar from the crowd as he does while walking from the dressing room to the pitch. He has managed to garner the love and adoration of ...

Read Full Post

Khan, paan and Pakistan

The streets of Islamabad are filled with an extremely diverse collection of people. There are people on the street who can’t afford a meal, but on the very same street you could find a multi-millionaire. Politicians can be spotted in hotels and local cafes, and so can journalists who, in Pakistan, are as popular as any celebrity. In terms of progress as a country, Pakistan has been on a downward spiral for most part of the last two decades. A lot of people point fingers at political leaders, military dictators and even religious ‘scholars’ but many believe that this is also because ...

Read Full Post

The US at the G20 summit: Selling a strike on Syria

The G20 leaders met in St Petersburg where Obama’s drive to strike Syria was on the top of the agenda. However, his ‘coalition of the willing’ is rather weak and much divided with Vladimir Putin resolutely against any military intervention without a resolution from the United Nations Security Council.   My fear is that this summit could be the final step before another disastrous involvement by the West in the Arab world. The similarities of 2013 and 2003 are startling. Just like 10 years ago, with regards to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, John Kerry reassured the congress that the Assad regime is the ...

Read Full Post

What Imran Khan and the March 23 rally will bring us

The importance of the coming elections cannot be overstated. Pakistan today stands on the point of implosion and the kind of leadership that is elected to take the country forward could make or break it. My loyalties in this matter lie with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and I’m writing this to present my reasons for handing the party my vote and what I think you should expect tomorrow at Minar-e-Pakistan. Internal democracy. When a party is democratic then it is full of elected position holders. This means the leadership has integrity and mandate. More importantly it means they have more pressure to deliver ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan is not ‘only for Muslims’

In my freshman year of college I wanted to set up a Pakistani students association to network and interact with other Pakistani students in the area and also to promote and share our rich culture with the diverse student body in the United States. As I finished writing the constitution and prepared to launch the organisation, I was approached by another Pakistani student who was thinking of relaunching the Muslim Students Association. She met with me and suggested that we merge our organisations and simply call it the ‘Muslim Students Association’. I asked her why and how that made any ...

Read Full Post

Columnists vs burger babies: And the winner is…

Imran Khan and the PTI’s ‘tsunami’ are both ever present in today’s online, print and social media society in Pakistan. Views vary but it is two groups in particular that I will speak about in my post today. On one hand, you have Pakistan’s regular columnists who heavily criticise the Tehreek-e-Insaf, and on the other, you have PTI Facebook fans and Twitterati – the newly politicised urban youth or famously titled ‘burger-baby revolutionaries’ that support and defend the party. I don’t want to generalise, so just to be clear when I say columnists, it includes a newspaper regular who has ...

Read Full Post

‘Just call me Muslim’

This year there have been a number of reports that what were clearly acts of sectarian violence, hatred and discrimination. In January, three lawyers – a father, his son and nephew-  were gunned down. They were Muslims who belonged to the Shia sect. On the same day, three other professionals from the Shia community were killed in Quetta. This all follows the year of 2011 where hundreds of Shias were murdered – and it seems as if nothing has, or will change. The Shia community is not the only minority sect that is being targeted. For a couple of weeks, attempts were made to ...

Read Full Post

Deconstructing the PTI troll

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is the talk of the town. Naysayers have several objections – some which are fair, some not quite. One particular complaint, however, is a unique piece of criticism leveled against the party: that of the PTI troll, someone we all know and despise. When criticising the PTI on public forums, especially Twitter, a commenter is often subjected to harsh language and offensive speech by ‘supporters’ of the party. Instead of presenting arguments against criticism, these trolls subject the critic to intense cyber abuse. While I agree that this behaviour is not in the party’s interests, criticising the ...

Read Full Post