Stories published in April, 2017

Of Halala marriages and the sexual exploitation of Muslim women

According to a BBC undercover investigation, some Muslim women in South Asian diasporic communities in England are facing exploitation, blackmail and sexual abuse via various online accounts. These accounts provide services for divorced women to fulfil the requirement of a so-called Halala marriage, in order to remarry their former spouse after they have been divorced through the ‘triple talaq’ process. Triple talaq takes place when a man says ‘talaq’ (divorce) three times in a row to his wife, convincing many Muslims that this ends an Islamic marriage immediately. These online services let women pay to marry strangers, consummate the marriage with them and then divorce them, after which they are ...

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Is violence following accusations of blasphemy becoming a familiar phenomenon in Pakistan?

This month, the spirit of Cain appears to possess the nation. Within a span of 11 days, there have been two incidents of vigilante mobs responding to ostensible accusations of blasphemy. In the first such occurrence in Mardan, the blood lust was satisfied by murdering and disfiguring Mashal Khan, a bright and principled young man. In the second incident, a man accused of standing up in a mosque after Friday prayers and making ‘offensive’ statements was brutally beaten by a crowd. His life was saved by the mosque’s cleric intervening and facilitating his transfer to the police. The fact is that violence following accusations of blasphemy is becoming a distressingly familiar Pakistani phenomenon, ...

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Dear Pakistani selectors, why do you keep picking the same old, tried and failed players?

In sporting terms, as with perhaps all aspects of national life, Pakistan is probably amongst the few unfortunate nations that have regressed, not progressed, with time. There was a time in the 1992, when Pakistan was the World Champion in not one, but four different sports – cricket, hockey, squash and billiard. But as merit started taking a backseat, and mediocrity, incompetence and favouritism reigned supreme, today we see the former champions finding it hard to even directly qualify for the cricket World Cup. Oh what a fall! Pakistan lost the first ODI against West Indies, raising a lot of questions about our nonsensical selection policies. You ...

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Of Pakistan’s strategic position and progressing economy

Pakistan’s geostrategic location is a major attraction for developed economies to invest in for lucrative returns. The country is strategically located in the crossroads of Asia with China as its neighbour in the north, India in the east, and Iran and Afghanistan in the west.  The country lies in a region which has great political, economic and military importance. Being in the same vicinity as two major powers, China and Russia, adds to its position. Similarly, Pakistan has an access to the six Muslim central Asian states through Afghanistan. These states are landlocked and Pakistan can provide a link between the Gulf States as well as African, European and Central Asian ...

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A lament for Mashal Khan

The trees begin to cry and plead, The vultures touch the inevitable deed, Blood in the bare naked streets, A bullet with the heart meets. The barren walls drown in blood, The teardrops gushing like a flood, The soul still void of all disease, The eyes begin to cry, “Please”. The sticks now mere knives cutting the morning bud, The head, with all its power, begins to climb but is stopped with a single thud, The skull, born from dust, caved in back, The skin trampled, the wounds in life lack. As the wolves begin to deflower the body, Of all dignity, His name surrounds the valley air from the dust to ...

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Dear Indians, why are we so unfair towards ‘dark’ girls?

Every day you’ll see tonnes of confessions by India’s dark girls (savli, tan, dusky or whatever you would like to call us in the milder version!) on different opinion blogs where they simply blurt out their deepest frustrations. Some have been rejected by their crush/lover, some were shamed by their potential in-laws, and some were even rejected during interviews only because of their colour. And India is not a racist country? Oh please! ‘Dusky beauty’ is something that my ears have been bombarded with ever since I was a teenager. Yeah, not just beauty but dusky beauty! And this is the reason why most of the ...

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These mac and cheese balls are little bites of deep-fried cheese heaven

Now if there is one dish I have never been able to get right, it’s macaroni and cheese (yes collective gasp I know). After successive failures, a friend (who I shall call ‘lion’) suggested mac and cheese balls, Chaye Khana style. Since I have never had them but had this dimagi keera (bug in my head) to conqueror this elusive dish one way or another, I decided to give them a try. After plenty of search engines, I finally decided to mash together not the usual (roll the leftover mac and cheese into balls and deep fry them) recipes, but to execute a slightly spicier version. Even though ...

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The 126 innocent lives lost were mere collateral damage to them, nothing less and nothing more

Beads of perspiration glistened on his forehead. Wiping it clean with the back of his hand, he stared around. “It is overloaded,” he thought to himself as he pulled his five-year-old up on his lap. His wife had fallen into a slumber. After days of abject disappointment, the call for rescue had finally come. They were being sent outside Aleppo to safer refugee camps. He felt sad to be leaving his village but the gory streets made it easier to do so. It didn’t look like his home anymore. It was like a page out of a war-torn story with red blood anguish and ...

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Dear Murad Ali Shah, why have you suddenly taken interest in the gas situation now?

The normally calm and composed Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, surprised everyone recently by losing his cool and shouting at the top of his voice in the Sindh Assembly. The reason for his outburst was that a power plant in Nooriabad is not being supplied natural gas, as a result of which the said power plant was not able to produce electricity. He threatened to stop the supply of natural gas from Sindh to other parts of the country if the Nooriabad power plant is not immediately supplied natural gas. Are you serious, Mr Shah? Apart from the fact that your ...

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Benazir Bhutto International Airport: A nightmare that doesn’t end

Alas, it was only a matter of time before the “Worst Airport in the World-2014” would crawl back into news headlines by having female passengers assaulted on its premises. Are we dismayed? Yes. Surprised? Not at all. A hair-raising video has gone viral recently showing a woman passenger – a Norwegian national – being beaten up by a female Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad. The video begins with what appears to be the person behind the camera arguing with the security personnel on why they aren’t helping a woman being beaten behind a screen. As screams continue in the background, a male ...

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