How much should we celebrate the Supreme Court’s verdict on Mumtaz Qadri?

There is a Chris Rock quote I like sharing whenever someone seeks positive strokes for completing a responsibility they believe is a grand achievement. In his standup, the comedian speaks of fathers who are proud of sending their kids to school or staying out of jail, “You’re supposed to, you dumb m*****f*****! What kind of ignorant s*** is that? ‘I ain’t never been to jail!’ What do you want, a cookie?! You’re not supposed to go to jail, you low-expectation-having m*****f*****!” Well, Chris, as it turns out, after years of disappointment, the good people of Pakistan now carry desperately low expectations. Today, ...

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Why progressive Muslims and atheists should work together

Can progressive Muslims and atheists actually find ways to work together? Some of my atheist comrades may disagree with me, but I think so. Of course we may diverge on whether a God exists, or if there is an afterlife, but when it comes to this world and the problems humans face, our tribes have much we agree on. Our agreements are not petty or tangential. They are sources of energy that can be harnessed for a much needed change. So what do we agree on? Well besides opposing theocracy, blasphemy laws, and Bronze-age ethics, we promote human rights, freedom of conscience, separation of mosque and state, education, and compassion. You could imagine how ...

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145 school shooting cases and lax gun control laws – When will the US learn?

Thursday, October 1st was a horrific day in the US as it witnessed its 145th educational campus shooting of 2015. In the worst of the 17 college campus shootings of the year, 26-year-old Chris Mercer shot and killed 10 students and wounded nine others of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. In the ensuing police shootout, Mercer himself was killed. As the country scrambled, yet again, to figure out who exactly is accountable, President Barack Obama not only placed the blame squarely on ineffectual gun control laws but also expressed his frustration at being hand-tied in a GOP-run congress that leaves him unable to take firmer measures. The ...

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Should Nepal be declared a Hindu state in the new constitution?

Nepal’s new constitution is one step forward but two steps backwards. Although, it took the Himalayan state an estimate of eight years to build this constitution, but unfortunately, the document prepared by the representatives does not live up to their status. Hence, here lies the crux of the conflict that the Nepalese society has been witnessing for the last month.  Three sections of the society – Madhesis, Janajatis (indigenous people) and women – feel neglected due to the new constitution and they have been very vocal against this matter. Among them, Madhesis  inhabit Nepal’s southern plains and share the border with India. Under the leadership of ...

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Modi’s visit to the US is not as warm as it looks

From holding the title of the first person to be denied US visa and prohibited from entering US soil for nearly 10 years for his deliberate inaction in stopping the Gujarat massacre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly come a long way, judging by the warm welcome awarded by the Obama administration. His previous record of being a ‘severe violator of religious freedom’ has been conveniently shrouded with diplomatic immunity as he conducts flurry of meetings with American statesmen, prominent Indian Americans, and heads of Fortune 500 companies and tech corporations. Pakistani anchor Dr Shahid Masood hit the nail on the head when he compared Modi ...

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Is your bakra a terrorist?

A week ago or so you were perhaps meandering in the bakra mandi; looking for the perfect specimen to take home. You inspected 20 plus bakras, clutched each animal’s jaw to find out if your bakra-to-be has two or four teeth and sturdy horns – sharp enough to butcher other bakras in the mandi. You inquired about the weight of half a dozen cows, and went to check out that one camel in the neighbourhood also. After loitering around, you finally got down to business, put on your crafty airs and negotiated a deal. You walked out of the mandi with a strong looking, cinnamon dusted bakra. As you ...

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Chronicling Safia Manto’s support for a man who courted controversy

Chronicling Safia Manto, my grandmother, would be no mean feat. A woman who lived in the shadow of her beloved husband and renowned short-story writer, Saadat Hassan Manto, her story went largely untold till the recent release of Manto, the film. She has only lived in the folklore of my dreams; I being born 6 years after her untimely demise in November 1977. As much I have heard from familial sources about her magnanimity, humility as a human being besotted with a kindred heart and soul, I cannot even fathom what I missed out on. Sometimes fate and destiny are so closely intertwined, that we ...

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Perhaps Pakistan can learn a lesson or two from India’s judicial system

A tree along the Jantar Mantar road in New Delhi, India – a place which resembles London’s Hyde Park for being a way too busy place to protest – is a stark reminder of a judicial revolution; a judicial revolution for the justice of women to be precise. This is the same place where a massive campaign started off back in December 2012 in order to seek justice for the 23-year-old psychotherapy intern, Jyoti Singh Pandey who was gang-raped and brutally physically abused in a bus. Thirteen days after she was raped, she succumbed to her injuries and died at a hospital ...

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He was just a kid who made a clock, America

It has been 14 years since the Twin Towers in New York City were attacked – 2977 Americans died that day and thousands were injured. Soon after, the United States of America launched a full-scale offensive against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, under the name of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. That operation lasted 13 years. American forces invaded Iraq as well, for around a decade.  Twenty thousand civilians and 6,000 security personnel have perished since 2003 in Pakistan. A grand total of 210,000 civilians have died, once you include the staggering numbers from Afghanistan and Iraq. Women, children, and unarmed men. What number is enough to stop calling it ‘collateral damage’? But ...

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Why is Aylan Kurdi’s tragic death satire worthy, Charlie Hebdo?

Writers, journalists, thinkers, authors, poets, the blessed few in the seven billion and counting, are passionate about their opinions. They have commented on the society, its underbelly and the universe that surrounds it, with the global media as their audience. Needless to say, they have been persecuted for it, killed for it, awarded for it, famed for it, but most importantly misunderstood for it, in their passionate zeal and zest to be heard, they have at times crossed all boundaries of right and wrong. Earlier this year, there was an attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris; it was a barbaric and ...

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