Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

The writer works as a Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune, and has a focus on human rights, gender and peace-building. She blogs at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (twitter.com/FarahnazZahidi)

Do human rights activists hate Imran Khan because he is not a leftist?

The young girl who works as domestic help for me said, “Baji, do you know why our men don’t want Imran Khan to come into power? It is because they are scared that women in the villages will gain strength if he becomes our prime minister. Already, he supports women standing up for their rights. The jalsas are a proof of this. But we will make sure he wins. We are by his side.” This was the morning after Imran gave an inspiring and honest talk from his container as PTI celebrated “Justice for Women Day”. I had heard that Pakistan ...

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Real men do(n’t) cry

He was sharing some of his deepest secrets about his childhood; his fears, his regrets, his loss – of a loved one, of dreams, of time lost that could have been utilised better, of a life that could have been. I witnessed this man break some barriers in those moments as he dared to bare his soul, something men in our society are not taught to do. But most importantly, this man dared to cry, that too in front of a woman. In those moments, I saw bravery. Because he kept saying, “See? I’m crying. I didn’t even know I could cry ...

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Muslim denominations: Are you Shia or Sunni?

It started quite early. I was seven-years-old. That’s when I first realised that there was something called a “Shia”, and people thought I was one; because in Pakistan, certain surnames are associated with being a Shia. ‘Zaidi’, one of them, sounds similar to the surname ‘Zahidi’, so I was and am often asked this question – “are you a Shia?”. So I came home and asked my father, to which Abba replied in a very matter-of-factly that by faith, Shias and Sunnis are both Muslims. He explained to me that it’s like two brothers from the same family, we all love Prophet ...

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What is Abdul Sattar Edhi going to do now?

There’s something about Abdul Sattar Edhi that makes Pakistanis feel safe… almost protected, like a child feels with a parent around. He is old and frail and sickly. But he is there. He is alive. And till he is alive, we have hope. We have hope that goodness prevails, and that there exist those we can look up to. With Edhi around, we have an elder. This August 14th, I happened to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day with children from the Edhi home who were attending an event held for them. “Edhi abbu got us these clothes for Youm-e-Azadi,” said a 14 year ...

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When one starts questioning the rituals of Eidul Azha

Eidul Azha in a rural set-up has jarring differences when compared to how we celebrate this Eid in cities. I live and celebrate my Eid in Karachi, but if I celebrate it in my ancestral village in Khairpur, Sindh, this is what would be different. The animals would be much less expensive, much more readily available, and the sense of community in sharing the meat would be the focus. Less affluent neighbours and relatives will casually come to the house where an animal is sacrificed and ask candidly for a share of the meat. The ones giving it out will not look ...

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The Goodwill Ambassadors – Shining brighter than ever

For a moment, I felt star-struck, as Alicia Keys entered the room bustling with journalists from world over. We, a varied group of journalists, had been invited by the United Nations Foundation (UNF) to report on and learn from the experience of being in the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York for the UN General Assembly and the Climate Summit 2014. All of us are fans of the many celebrities that we saw all around us in those few days. But once done with the initial gushing and surreal feeling of being in the presence of “stars”, we not ...

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September 10, 2014
TOPICS

“I was raped hundreds of times, by the man I was married to”

That phase of her life ended three years ago with her divorce, but 35-year-old Naila* will never be healed of what she went through during the nine years of her marriage. This is a true story; the true story of a woman who suffered a plight faced by so many women. Sadly, the crime committed against them is not even considered a crime. “Every time my husband approached me, it was sheer torture. Sometimes physical, and forever mental and emotional torture. He was physically brutal and wanted me to indulge in behaviour I was not okay with. He never cared about ...

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Can an older woman marry a younger man in Pakistan?

“I got a very nice proposal,” said a friend who was at a stage in life where she wanted to settle down in marriage. “But there is an issue. I am 31. And he is 26. I am five years older. I really like him but my mom says that in another five years mein uski maa lagoon gi (I will look like his mother). I will have to say no,” she said with resigned acceptance. But fate had other plans. The “boy” liked the “woman” very seriously it seemed. He pursued her. Her heart relented. They got married and are now in the seventh ...

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5 reasons I still support Imran Khan

At least once a day, I am asked, “You support Imran Khan? Seriously?” It is mainly because I do not fit the stereotypical image people have about PTI people. Emotional, young, immature and what we call “trolls”. I like to think I am none of these. Very few in my field of work are open about their political tilts, if any. Maybe because there is a remote chance it may interfere with journalistic objectivity. However, I have been very clear since day one. Anything I report will say the truth and nothing but the truth. Even if it goes against the ...

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Mr Prime Minister, is your government really the emblem of economic progress?

Forget, for a moment, that your panic and desperation resulted in the nation giving unnecessary attention to Tahirul Qadri. Forget the fact that once again the law enforcers in Punjab, under the umbrella term of law and order, put behind bars thousands of workers of the political parties that were giving you a tough time. Forget, for now, about the fact that what would have been just another march or protest became even bigger because you dug a hole for your own government’s future by over-reacting. Let us even forget for a moment that this political mayhem has us wondering whether democracy will ...

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