My life with the fire-tipped devil

At what point does one call oneself a non-smoker? I myself have been guilty of premature declaration. I was told that I must publicise my attempts to quit smoking, thereby putting my reputation at stake. My ego would then kick in and do the needful. So I was told. That’s why, the last 14 times I tried to quit, I told the world about it – initially via email. And then, as social media took over our lives, I posted and tweeted my way into shame and ignominy. However, this time feels different; because it is different. Today, I reach my thousandth un-smoked ...

Read Full Post

Agriculture is our golden goose; don’t kill her, my dear Industrialists

The projection of economic growth as something evil, that benefits only the rich, is wrong. Even so, equally erroneous is taking the GDP number for a sacrosanct symbol of sure-fire prosperity for all. Praise is due to the government’s economic team for various improvements in the macro-economy: five per cent growth in first quarter (Q1), about 10 per cent appreciation in the rupee within three months, and excellent performance of the stock market – all reflect recovery. Yet, how these gains are shared with the neediest of the needy remains to be seen – and only this should be taken as being an encompassing yardstick of success. Historically, Pakistan’s ...

Read Full Post

Mother’s Day: Why can’t I meet my children?

They won’t let me see my kids. Failing at marriage is an excruciating affair, but not a punishable crime. So why do we witness so many families suffering endlessly when there are four guardian courts working in Lahore alone? Is it the workload, absence of supporting law or mere lack of implementation that keeps a child from meeting one of the parents? None of the people I meet understand why I cannot see my kids. Even a sick-minded killer, an abuser or an addict has a right to meet his children under supervision. The law governing custody issues does need amendments, but it’s the ...

Read Full Post

Blasphemous Punjab in blasphemous Pakistan

This morning when I woke up, I did the first thing any sane human being would do; I checked the traffic on my page. After that, I opened Twitter and Facebook to see what I had missed throughout the night and one particular status caught my attention. A human rights advocate was shot dead in Multan. He was to defend a university lecturer who had been accused by a student group of having committed blasphemy. In days that I went to school, we could not have accused our professors of breathing too hard, out of respect. Today, academicians are scared to ...

Read Full Post

I have ADHD and I love it!

Sitting in the backseat of my class, I somehow couldn’t bring myself to focus on the teacher’s lecture. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to focus; I was actually trying my best to do so. I kicked myself every day for not being able to focus properly. But the stories popping up in my head were far more amusing and interesting than the boring lectures on dog training sessions. When there were no stories popping up in my head, I would look outside the window and my mind would make private jokes about people roaming around outside in the school ...

Read Full Post

Feminism will never work in Pakistan

Rebecca West, a famous author, once said, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” These are powerful words, indeed. Everyone has a different perception of what feminism entails but, universally, it espouses equality and freedom from discrimination, degradation and sexual violence. However, feminism is a concept that sits at odds with a fiercely patriarchal, deeply religious and culture-obsessed society like Pakistan. This is not to say that feminism doesn’t exist in Pakistan; it’s just not given much emphasis or is ...

Read Full Post

Remove the ban on alcohol in Pakistan

Fermented drinks have been running through the subcontinent’s veins since as early as 1200 BC in the form of a beverage called Soma. The history of distilled spirits began in the subcontinent in the geographical area that is modern day Pakistan and until 1977 alcohol consumption was legal in the country. The prohibition on alcohol took place under the rule of an otherwise liberal man – Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. A big fan of whiskey himself, he finally gave in to the whims of the religious factions in 1977. And as the law stands in the country today, it is illegal for Muslims to ...

Read Full Post

Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level. As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not ...

Read Full Post

Forget polio, Pakistan is ‘BIGGER’ than India and size is all that matters!

A few days ago, a leading British newspaper carried a news story that stated: “The World Health Organisation certified the south-east Asian region – which includes India but excludes Afghanistan and Pakistan – polio-free after three years without a single new case being reported. The WHO said this meant 80% of the world’s population lived in polio-free regions, an important step towards global eradication of the crippling disease.” It is a massive coup for the people of India, for the people of those other countries now free of polio and for the world in general, for achieving an 80% eradication of the disease. ...

Read Full Post

Does anyone in Pakistan know how to save money?

While I was visiting a friend, I came across something very peculiar. His domestic help, who was serving us tea and refreshments, had headphones plugged into his ears and kept chatting away to someone over his phone. His behaviour remained consistent during my four-hour-long stay and I wondered how he was able to talk so long without his mobile balance running out.  Giving in to my curiosity, I asked my friend about his servant’s excessive phone calls, to which he explained that of the Rs10,000 that he received as salary, a major chunk of it went either to buying a new phone ...

Read Full Post