#PakVsIre or the #LahoreChurchBlast – which caught your attention?

One wonders if the National Action Plan (NAP) was actually implemented beyond the Punjab police’s wide arrests of clerics who tried using loudspeakers. After all, Maulana Abdul Aziz and his devotedly-radical wife Umm-e-Hassan still use a state-recognised mosque to propagate a narrative that insists the actions of groups like ISIS or the Afghan Taliban are all justified – commendable even. Add this to the fact that the most high-profile raid to happen in mainstream news recently was not a madrassah sending jihadists to Kashmir or a mosque being operated by the rabidly anti-Shia Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) (which still holds ...

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A female taxi driver? Beysharam!

Do you remember the first time you drove? The very first time? When you had the ability to control a vehicle, the possibility of understanding the gears and the speeds and the various knobs and buttons that propel a collection of steel and bolts, and transport you from one place to another? I remember that well – it gave me a sense of independence. It gave me the feeling of having control. But that’s me. I was privileged enough to learn how to drive, not because I had mouths to feed. No one stopped me from driving, no one told me I ...

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I decided to find another wife for my husband

“If I had another wife, she’d have the house clean and a fancy dinner ready every time I came home,” he said, only half-joking and not for the first time. “Maybe I should just marry another woman. A proper Arab wife.” I looked up at him. “Maybe you should.” That night, I sent a message to several women I knew, asking them to find a second wife for my husband. And then I lay in bed and imagined what this woman would be like, the woman who would make my husband happy, who would be everything I was not, who would be ...

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The flaw in Punjab’s child marriage law

Justice Muhammad Imman Ali has served in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh as well as other high ranking positions as a law practitioner. He is famous for his work on child rights; he has drafted the much known comprehensive law Shishu Ain 2013 Children Act in Bangladesh, and has played a vital role in promulgation of the same. In December 2014, he received the International Juvenile Justice without Borders Award for his untiring efforts towards the protection of children’s rights and juvenile justice. A source of inspiration for me, Honourable Justice Imman Ali has articulated very clearly that the two problems – child marriages ...

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What happened when 20 men in Afghanistan wore burqas?

Yesterday, March 8th marked the 104th anniversary of International Women’s Day as people all over the world found unique and creative ways to raise awareness about the rights, or lack thereof, of women, calling for gender equality and celebrating the achievements of women worldwide. These were done through social media, local and international events, educational seminars, political functions, etcetera. When it comes to commemorating global events like International Women’s Day, the sky is the limit.  However, the event that stood out the most for me, and even made headlines last week, was that of a group of 20 Afghan men, fully clad in blue shuttlecock burqas, marching ...

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No, Jyoti Singh is not India’s daughter

India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the brutal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012, was aired last night in the UK on BBC Four. It’s a hard documentary to watch, because it’s a terrible story to tell: A young woman gets brutally raped and tortured to death by six men. It’s horrifying enough without adding the details and the film has plenty. Her dreams of being a doctor, paid for by her parent’s small savings and by her nights at the call centre. The rapists’ hatred of the fact that she was a woman and she was out, with ...

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When polygamy is allowed in Islam

Of the various core tenets of Islam which, since the birth of the said Abrahamic religion, have continued to attract heated criticism from a large variety of non-believers in the faith, as well as some adherents who claim an ancestral kinship to it by way of inheritance alone – whilst harbouring no affinity to it by virtue of any rigorous practice, whatsoever, on their part – the institution of polygamy certainly emerges as a focus for much targeted scrutiny and vitriolic debate. The notion that a Muslim male, by virtue of his sex and position, in a world which has only ever been ...

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“Practicing Islam in Short Shorts”: A passionate response to its critics

If you haven’t already read “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts” by Thanaa El-Naggar that went viral last week, now would be a good time to do so. The article is so well written and so meaningful that it was nothing short of a breath of fresh air; it was like her voice was speaking directly to my soul, almost as if applying cold balm to my wounds. Here was a young Muslim woman narrating her spiritual journey of how she transcended hollow religiosity, liberating herself from the chains of organised religion. Previously being a conservative minded Muslim myself, I felt ...

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‘Maid’ is not a synonym for ‘Slave’, Pakistan!

I came across the picture given above on a blog called People of Pakistan and it left me dumbfounded. I have seen many real-life incidents like these in Pakistan, but none have had a similar effect. The photograph shouts out everything that is wrong with our social fabric today and it makes me absolutely furious. Here are a few reasons this photograph disturbed me: 1. The family in the said picture brought their maids to the restaurant with them to take care of their kids so that they could, I suppose, enjoy a ‘peaceful meal’. My guess is that the maids were either ...

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‘Sharing’ rape

The plight of women in Pakistan is a grotesque reality; so shameful that even in today’s day and age most aspects of their suppressed lives are considered taboo for public debate. One such area is the crime of rape, and marital rape in particular, where the latter is still not considered an offence or a wrong-doing in this land of the pure. The Sughra Imam Report which was recently presented before the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice revealed that there has been a zero conviction rate for rape in the past five years and the main reason behind this is the ...

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