“The media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit!”

Remember the time when Donald Trump’s chances of winning the elections were as promising as minorities in Pakistan gaining equal rights? A year ago, no one could have imagined that Trump would win the 2016 Presidential Elections. But win he did and I believe the media, in its quest for ratings, played a crucial part in mainstreaming him. I used to be an avid reader of  The New York Times, and during election season, all I would see were stories either covering one of his many erroneous claims (in a bid for ratings), or magnanimous praises for Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatic” politics over the “idealised” politics of Bernie Sanders. Bernie was ...

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Do Pakistan’s leaders care more about extravagant weddings than the well-being of their own citizens?

Imagine this: The lights danced on the ceiling and in her eyes. There was silk, chiffon, satin, velvet… all of it – their touch as light as water. Scores of boxes arrived from the jewellers filled with bright diamonds, gold as shiny as the sun, ocean-blue sapphires, scarlet rubies and emeralds as green as lush green leaves of an oak tree. There were glittering shoes, wafting smells of sumptuous food samples beckoning, piles of gift bags sharply wrapped up and more. Saleha hid behind her mother, staring at everything in pure awe. Her mother Jannat was an old cleaning lady who was a trusted servant of this ...

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Is Islam the most feminist religion?

I’ve been reading about Australian youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied (we appeared on an Australian show once together) and her words to Jacqui Lambie on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television show that Islam is (to her) the most feminist religion. Yassmin got pilloried in the Australian press for this statement. With the state of affairs for women in many Muslim countries today, it’s easy to see how it might not sit well with a cynical and non-Muslim-friendly audience. It would have gone down great with an audience full of Muslims, but we should probably unpack the statement a little bit to come somewhere between the optimism of Yassmin’s assertion and the rest of ...

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An open letter to Zara and Zoya Khan

More than 80% of women in Pakistan face sexual harassment on a daily basis. Harassment has become one of the most common issues of our society today. In most cases, the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerability and helplessness. Because women are taught to keep such incidents private, the fact that women will seldom come out to raise their voices against injustice, strengthens the perpetrators’ determination to touch whoever they like.  I applaud you, Zara and Zoya Khan, for standing up to the atrocious and sexually deprived man, who, like many others, assumed he had the right to touch you without your consent; ...

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Terrorist attacks? Sectarian violence? Civil strife? Maybe if we arrest Nasir Khanjan and ban Valentine’s Day everything will be okay…

As a writer of some notoriety, I received a message yesterday including some choice expletives. When pressed about the reason as to why I deserved such “kindness”, I was told that I targeted our Pakistani values with one of my posts. After questioning this person for 20 minutes, my assailant could not name a single value I was targeting.

That is the beauty of blaming somebody over something as intangible as values, honour or image – you do not have to prove anything. You can mask your dislike for something under the pretence of national concerns. My popularity is nothing compared to that of Nasir ...

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Of the Lahore blast and PTI’s real “achievements”

The city of my birth, Lahore, is bleeding again. Many are shocked and have condemned it in strong words, while some have reiterated their pledge that the fight against extremism would go on – both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa made strong statements of condemnation. With respect to fight against extremism, military and civilian leadership seems to be on the same page. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has very strongly condemned the blast that occurred at Charing Cross Lahore. — PML(N) (@pmln_org) February 13, 2017 However, reactions from some quarters were unfortunately petty. One of ...

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Balu Mahi brought the Pakistani out in me

Recently, Pakistan’s movie industry has been going through the process of transforming and restructuring itself. Primarily related to this change is an alteration in movie production. The era of the “gandasa” (a wooden pole) and “horse-riding dhoti-wearing heroes” is over or at least diluted to some extent. This is the time to fill the big screen with colours, fun, and relationships backed by practical stories that resonate with our society. Balu Mahi offers an assortment of feel-good moments, comic relief, and songs along with heart-warming moments between Bilal (Osman Khalid Butt) and Mahi (Ainy Jaffri). It started off slowly, and ...

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Why, in Pakistan, being a full-time beauty blogger will never count as an actual career

It’s been four months since I started blogging. I’m a doctor by profession and even though it’s been a while, I still haven’t found the courage to tell anyone (apart from a handful of people) that I’ve taken up full-time blogging in another profession. It’s because I know what they all will say. I spend hours writing, editing, and finalising my blogs, yet somehow no one actually takes what I do seriously. I literally put my heart and soul into every post I put up. I hate answering the question, ‘How much do you earn?’ I earn nothing; I can’t because I’m a blogger ...

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Is there a second amorous affair brewing in Saanp Seerhi?

For an average serial, one of the most vital moments is when cupid strikes. However, it is hard to establish such a plot in certain dramas where power and politics form the backdrop. So seems to be the case with Saanp Seerhi. With loud, ruthless socio-political commentary in the background, the love story of Mohid and Sophia is a faint thump.  Politicians stepping into puddles for footage (no points for guessing the inspiration behind this), and enforcing their progeny upon their voters as future masters and their complicated relationship with the media indicates the focus of the drama quite clearly. ...

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Why I think the PTV anchors were right to go public with their accusations

Currently, the issue of workplace sexual harassment seems to be in the national spotlight due to an on-going investigation at Pakistan Television (PTV). According to the available details, two prominent anchors had accused PTV’s current affairs director for sexual harassment. In response, the channel had initiated an inquiry to look into the matter. However, during the investigation, the two anchors decided to use other media platforms (electronic and social) to spread awareness of their case, which resulted in the PTV management imposing a ban on the involved anchors. The PTV management was of the opinion that the anchors were issuing ...

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