You know your state is failing if the poor pay taxes and the rich don’t

Skimming through the newspaper a few days ago, I read a front page news piece which shocked me. The piece stated that the elites are not paying taxes and that our tax system favours the rich. The shock was not at the findings of the Tax Reforms Commission (TRC) rather it was at the fact that it took the TRC a year and a half, and millions of rupees in research, to report something everyone knew from the beginning. When we already live in a system which promotes elitism and rewards it, why are we so surprised at the economic endorsements of this ...

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Today I have been recognised, not as a Hindu in Pakistan, but as a Pakistani Hindu

The delayed Hindu Marriage Bill has passed and as anticipated it will bring a shelter of lee and glimmer of hope for many Hindu couples confronted by matrimonial issues. In its absence young, innocent women have been forcibly converted to Islam, widows have led unprivileged lives and there is no way of proving their marriage to claim their inheritance, married couples have faced harassment since they have no certificate proving their nuptials, and newly wedded couples have endured separation waiting for difficult documentation required to apply for immigration. Why is the registration of Hindu marriages important? First and foremost it establishes that Hindus enjoy ...

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If you think the niqab is a choice, think again

In my recent article, ‘Our national dress is the shalwar kameez, not the niqab’, while examining countries in and around the geographical vicinity of the Middle East, I lamented the loss of cultural riches such as art, music, various religious festivities, as well as heritage sites like ancient temples and monasteries to a single fast-spreading inflexible ideology. To drive the point home, between a dozen countries, I compared various cultural garments with the full single-colour veil called the niqab, also known as the abaya or the burqa. The contrast was startling. On one end were 12 aesthetically delightful national dresses varying ...

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Why is Pakistan’s affluent class so ashamed of getting extra food packed at a restaurant?

“You are embarrassing me!” Said the husband, upset over the fact that his wife asked the restaurant staff to pack the left overs which included one kabab, three-fourths of a naan and a bit of chicken karhai. “But it will be wasted,” She smiled and even carried the large mineral water bottle that was almost untouched with resolve. It was a delightful dinner my family and I were invited to and this conversation between our host couple was all too familiar. There is the “what will people think” attitude associated with carrying home leftovers and in doing so we forget that edible, clean ...

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Is Valentine’s Day really something to get so worked up about?

There have been reports making rounds on social media that the federal capital, on the instructions of Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar, had banned Valentine’s Day in Islamabad. What followed was a mix of condemnation and congratulations from the two different sides of the coin; each one adamant that theirs was the right one. As a result, this reaction was followed by the Islamabad Deputy Commissioner denying that such an order had even taken place. Valentine’s Day will go ahead with full furor like it does every year; each restaurant, gift, flower and chocolate shop milking and capitalising it to the nth ...

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Islamabad is NOT a city you would like to move to, trust me

To millions of Pakistanis, Islamabad is a city they would like to move to. The assumption is, it being the nation’s capital, it will naturally be blessed with luxuries their lives have been spent dreaming about; such as uninterrupted supply of basic utilities such as water, gas, and electricity. Most importantly, a peaceful environment. In the past 10 years, successive governments have tried to make up for the disparity. No, not by lifting the standard of living of people in the rest of the country up, but by letting the capital residents down too. Even in the posh areas of the federal ...

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Will Uzair Baloch be treated as a political ally or gangster?

After the arrest of Uzair Baloch, numerous questions have arisen which must be answered by those relevant to his political and armed existence in Lyari. I have personally been a part of various meetings which hosted Uzair Baloch as chief guest. These meetings included audiences with the likes of political individuals and renowned journalists. Surprisingly, these individuals have great relations with the gangster from Lyari. In a strange twist of fate, I had a personal encounter with this infamous man. I, along with a few of my friends were attending a Baloch cultural day in Lyari. During the event, I received a ...

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Does homosexuality exist in the Urdu ghazal tradition?

The term homosexual was coined in 19th century Europe but its categorisation for the people in the Indian subcontinent had existed long before. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism emerged in South Asia in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the 1996 Indian-Canadian film Fire, written and directed by Deepa Mehta which starred Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. This film argued in favour of the legitimacy of lesbian representation in cinema and subsequently, in public discourse. Following this contention, Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai presented an outstanding array of writings on same-sex relationships drawn from two thousand years of Indian literature to highlight the ...

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Why are we holding the Pak Army accountable for things the government should be doing?

On December 16, 2014 seven men entered the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar and killed 141 people including 139 children. On January 20, 2016 several gunmen entered, and killed 22 students of the Bacha Khan University Peshawar. These aren’t the only mass shootings to have taken place at educational institutions around the globe. Since the 1960s, thousands of students have been killed in mass shootings at schools in countries including Canada, Germany, England, France, Finland, Israel, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Brazil and Pakistan. Some, not all, of these attacks were terrorism related. Each nation has reacted according to the nature, intensity and motives of these ...

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What do our reactions to a 13-year-old’s false allegations of gang-rape say about us?

The 13-year-old Berlin based German-Russian girl’s allegations of being kidnapped and gang-raped by men of Arabic and African origin quickly snowballed into a storm. Her claim was the men had forced her into their vehicle and attacked her. Reports of the girl’s harrowing tale were shared across Russian social media and even made it to local television. They were met with demonstrations by an anti-migrant national right-wing political party, as well as people from the Russian community in Germany who were backed by the Pegida-related Bärgida movement. The matter soon turned into an international incident. While the German police rightly kept ...

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