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)

Why Lahore is the best get away for a Karachiite

I am a Karachiite to the core. I love my city’s hustle bustle. I adore the variety of culture Karachi offers, especially as it is not a unilingual city. I know its sights and sounds by heart. Karachi, for me, is perfect despite its imperfections. Yet, Lahore is not lagging far behind Karachi when I think of my choicest places in Pakistan. In fact, in some ways, it even has an edge over Karachi. Here are five reasons why: Safety The traffic at Kalma Chowk is sluggish and heavy. As we get off the Daewoo coach that got us there from Islamabad and head towards the city, Lahore ...

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What if Bilawal Bhutto actually joins PML-N?

The reports of Mark Twain’s death were greatly exaggerated. So were the reports of Imran Khan’s marriage. But as they say, there’s no smoke without at least some fire. Are the reports of the prodigal Bhutto son – yet to return fully – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joining PML-N true? PML-F would be outrageous enough. But PML-N would be even more outrageous. Or would it? Not really. Reality remains that the present day PPP and PML-N may be different in terms of inherent ideology, but what they do to Pakistan remains essentially the same. One may be on the right and the other on the left, but ...

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So what if Reham Khan is divorced?

There are occasions when the misogyny and gender-bias that exists in Pakistan becomes more obvious than ever. Imran Khan’s wedding to Reham Khan has been one such occasion that has brought to light the underlying and inherent concept that an “honourable woman” needs to have certain pre-requisites. On the top of that list is this: she must not be a divorcee. For most men of Pakistan, even the so-called educated ones, the only women of honour are their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. Any other woman’s repute, especially that of a divorced woman, is something they can plunder, especially if she ...

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Ghalib, with angels as his muses

Mirza Asadullah Khan chose possibly the most apt pen name for himself – Ghalib – meaning dominant. He rules the world of poetry of the Indian subcontinent to date. Greats like Faiz have taken pride in looking up to him. Centuries later, he continues to be the muse for millions. “Koi ummeed barr naheen aati   Koi soorat nazar naheen aati…” (There is no hope to be found, There is no way out to be sought) A Long Play (LP), or a 33 1⁄3 rpm vinyl record, that my father had bought from a trip to London was titled “Lata sings Ghalib”. Often, Abba would play ...

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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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