When did Malala become a geo-political and defence expert?

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl who was shot last year by the Taliban gained international fame for her memoir – a multi-million dollar book titled I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. However, in Pakistan, a large proportion of the populace has labelled it to be a controversial book as well as a disgrace to the country. Co-authored with British journalist Christina Lamb, I am Malala, has propelled its readers to talk either in favour of it or against it. Although many of her fans were excited to read it, the book ended up disappointing a major section ...

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Deconstructing a dangerous narrative

In an angry speech in the National Assembly on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan urged all political parties to unite and stand up to the perceived American pressure to put an end to the drone strikes in Pakistan. Earlier, reacting emotionally to the US drone strike that reportedly killed Hakimullah Mehsud, Imran took to task his critics on the issue of dialogue with the Taliban. Dubbing them “American mouthpieces” in a rather laymanish way, Imran seemed frustrated with the liberal intelligentsia for not appreciating his quest for the noble cause of peace. While Imran’s intentions may be genuinely benign, it is his misinformed, drone-centric ...

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Pregnant and tired? Don’t induce labour till you read this!

The minute I began showing with my first child, I was subject to horror stories about labour. I don’t know why, but there is something about a swelling belly that triggers an impulse in every woman to share crazy, sometimes obscene and often exceedingly horrific labour stories. I still remember going out for lunch with friends and leaving my meal untouched, as ugly tales involving forceps and vacuums unfolded. At my baby shower, the hottest topic of discussion was lengthy labour, and although I later encountered opposition to the epidural, some friends at the shower made it seem as if the pain-killing injection ...

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Ladies, it is not ‘cool’ or ‘empowering’ to smoke

I still remember how my brothers would deftly hide their cigarettes when ammi or abba entered the room. Those were the best and worst of times – times of unawareness and lightheartedness, when I’d sit for hours in a smoke-filled room with my brothers – chatting and laughing over senseless things like one only can with siblings. All that while, I was inhaling 250 toxins and carcinogens, quite unsuspectingly. I didn’t know any better and neither did my siblings. We were secure in our belief that we, the girls, were not smoking actively. Fast-forward life. As a teenager, I started interning at a magazine and this is ...

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Shooting Malala – again

Though Malala survived the Taliban’s bullets last year, she is now again under attack in Pakistan by the very same ideology. They attacked her physically then, and now they are out to get her soul. Right-wing anchors and self-proclaimed intellectuals have taken to disrepute her book by claiming that it reeks of a ‘Western agenda’. If a young Pakistani girl in dupatta, standing up for education and speaking against radicalisation, demanding an end to the drone war, advocating peaceful resolution to the terrorist menace which Pakistan is plagued with and speaking of hope in a progressive Pakistan, is what constitutes ...

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Pir Sahab’s orders: Don’t breast-feed your child or eat meat

Recently, a two-month old boy, Faizan, was brought to the hospital where I work, by his grandmother. She complained that he suffered from severe diarrhoea. I immediately asked her to bring Faizan’s mother so that we could establish breast-feed for the baby. We are currently in the process of educating mothers about the importance of breast-feeding at our malnutrition stabilization centre, and are trying to help them establish or re-establish breast feeding. In reply to my request, she answered, “Who tou nahi ayegi kyunke uska perhaiz hai.” (She won’t come because she is on abstinence.) Seeing my perplexed expression, she told me ...

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8 hours of school and then tuition: Is your child learning anything?

I was quite disturbed to hear that Haroon Tariq - the student who secured 38 As in IGCSE – has opened up a tuition centre where he intends to offer paid tuition for O’ and A’ level subjects. It is indeed sad that such a brilliant mind is encouraging a trend like after school classes. This article by no means serves to undermine the accomplishments of the aforementioned student, but to highlight the implications of the overall growing trend of private tuition in Pakistan, whose endorsement by Haroon is pitiful. In my opinion, after-school tuition are a handicap, or put it more appropriately, an addiction for students. ...

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Diary of a gap-toothed girl

I must have been in fourth grade when I first visited the dentist. My front teeth had begun to protrude and wide gaps between my teeth began to show. Until then, I had never realised that it was something unpleasant since my parents had never spoken to me about it. Perhaps, they considered me too young to be hounded by insecurities. However, now when I see my fourth grade pictures I guess they knew what they were doing before my teeth could get any worse. I was the first one in my class to get braces and it bothered me ...

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Want to marry your cousin? Think again!

Cousin marriages have been very common in the subcontinent and this may be one reason why quite a large number of people in our rural areas are so unhealthy. I personally know two families whose members are the products of many generations of inbreeding. In one family – distant relatives of mine – many children are deaf and consequently unable to talk. The head of the family reacted with amazement when told that his children and grand-children suffered from various birth defects because of cousin marriages in his household. In fact, many doctors advised him to stop arranging marriages of his ...

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Nawaz Sharif visits Obama, but the US is a ‘master’, not a ‘friend’

The title, as many would have noticed, is one inspired by Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s book, Friends not Masters. However, with the passage of time the Pak-US friendship has deteriorated and unfortunately, we are no more their equals. A stark comparison can be seen between Ayub’s era and the present. In 1961, when the president of Pakistan landed in Washington, the US military forces were lined up to receive him. There was fanfare and the Pakistani flag waved in all its glory above them. The American public was present at the airport alongside the legendary President Kennedy and the First Lady to ...

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