Maria Kari

Maria Kari

The author is a lawyer and freelance journalist. She tweets as @mariakari1414 (twitter.com/mariakari1414)

Today the blissful innocence of the Ramazans of my youth is far gone

Growing up, my family treated the start of Ramazan like the start of a new year. From an early age we were told not to view the thirty days as deprivation from food, water, and basic human vices like gossiping. Instead we were taught to view Ramazan as a sublime and peaceful month which would heighten our spiritual growth and instil in us forgiveness, patience, resilience, and compassion for the less fortunate. I remember these early years of Ramazan as a time of simplicity, safety and fun. As our prayers increased, so did our post-iftar socialising. As we retreated inwards spiritually we ...

Read Full Post

Will Pakistan continue to fail its non-Muslim men and women?

Every year in Pakistan over a thousand non-Muslim women are forced to convert to Islam. The stories of forced conversions tend to have a similar pattern. First, the girls are abducted. Once taken away from the safety of their homes and communities they are raped and then, usually, married off to their assailants who sneakily shield their non-consensual sexual assault behind the veil of a nikkahnama. Sometimes they are sold into the sex trade. These girls rarely ever return to their families. Help from the police and local clerics is pretty much unheard of. Both parties are either in on the ...

Read Full Post

Is Uber the Saudi woman’s closest taste of freedom?

I was 10-years-old when I saw something I had never seen before: one night, in a dark corner of the desert on the outskirts of Riyadh, my mom switched seats with my dad and got behind the steering wheel. My sister and I watched in awe as she began to cautiously accelerate. But, as the novelty of the situation coursed through her veins, with the sound of police sirens behind us, all excitement quickly abated turning into dread. My dad nervously rationalised why he was sitting in the passenger seat with a woman behind the wheel in a country that, ...

Read Full Post

Nawaz Sharif underwent serious surgery: Should a deputy PM have been appointed?

Amidst heated demands of resignation following his family’s deep involvement in offshore tax activity coming to light with the Panama Paper reveals Prime Minister Sharif hastily left for London last week. Jumping where they saw opportunity, his political detractors, in a game of ‘I told you so’ accused the country’s leader for having fled for good until news surfaced, from within the PM’s family camp, that he had in fact gone for a necessary, emergency open heart surgery – a risky yet routine procedure and the PM’s second such surgery in recent years. At 66 years of age, the prime minister of Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Will Nawaz Sharif be so easily NAB(bed)?

On one hand is the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan (NAB) whose very name belies a sense of security and reassurance. On the other hand is the nation’s self-chosen symbol of democratic hope, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected by the people, for the people. Problem is, neither have proven to be very trustworthy. Sharif, as always, is deeply embroiled in several scandals including the high-profile Panama Papers leak. NAB is facing a litany of its own problems. A recently filed FIR alleges that NAB tortures its detained suspects, that it is bought out by the very criminals it is supposedly prosecuting, that it is a lazy, inefficient ...

Read Full Post

A test case for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, a chance to do right

A place where the head is held high and the mind is without fear – Rabrindranath Tagore Last week in Chichawatni, following an argument between employees of a bus company and travellers, a scuffle ensued and passenger Mahinder Paal Singh had his turban, a strict requirement of the Sikh faith, ripped off his head and thrown to the ground. Chichawatni police took the unprecedented step and booked the five employees – all Muslim – under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law in what is now seen by analysts as a test case. Singh is a Pakistani citizen. This is his home, the only home he ...

Read Full Post

You’re looking at Nawaz Sharif, but do you pay your taxes?

It is no secret that Panama, with its strictest financial secrecy rules on the planet, has been a long-time friend to crooks, dictators, corporations and the ridiculously rich. Turned into a tax and money-laundering haven in the 70s with the help of American banks, Panama’s financial laws remain extremely lax and welcoming. As a Panamanian lawyer put it in his 2014 VICE News interview, “When it comes to money laundering, we offer full service: rinse, wash, and dry. You can go to any law firm in the city, from the smallest to the biggest, and open up a shell company with no questions asked.” To ...

Read Full Post

Nawaz Sharif’s speech: It’s time the PM stops talking the talk and starts walking the walk

Following the March 27th Easter Day massacre of 72 people – mostly women and children – Sunni militant group Jamaatul Ahrar proudly claimed responsibility via this ominous tweet, “Let Nawaz Sharif know that this war has now come to the threshold of his home. The winners of this war will, God willing, be the righteous Mujahideen.” In turn, the PM appeared on live television with a comeback to remind these terrorists, “…that we are keeping count of every drop of blood of our martyrs (and) this account is being settled, and we will not rest till it is paid.” Within hours, reports poured in of the launch of an ...

Read Full Post

Protecting women is now an act of treason, CII? Really?

Pakistan’s efforts of six years at gender equality reached a fever pitch in the past two weeks. Late February the Punjab Assembly passed its Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015. Then last week Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy brought home her second Oscar for Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, a documentary highlighting the horrors of honour killing. Following an at-home screening of the film, the PM’s office took the unprecedented and impressive step of promising law reform. In response, several prominent clerics openly opposed and ridiculed the new law suggesting that not only was the new law against the spirit of Shariah but what is really needed is a ...

Read Full Post

The tale of our globetrotting PM: Are we getting our money’s worth?

Since coming into power in 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has spent 185 days of his 940 days in office outside of the country. In other words, between June 2013 and February 2016, the PM has made 65 trips abroad. This is in laughably stark contrast to the number of times PM Sharif has visited the country’s sovereign legislative body, the National Assembly: a miserly 35 times. While a cash-strapped Pakistan continues on the path of bailouts and loans from international lenders, the PM’s foreign gallivanting has cost the national exchequer upwards of an eye-popping 63.82 crore rupees. One could argue that ...

Read Full Post