Pakistan budget 101: How comfortable does the future look?

Each family manages its affairs by assessing the financial health and consequently, deciding the expenditures correspondingly. Striving to balance between the present and future lifestyle, we all inadvertently end up ‘budgeting’ our lives to the best of our understanding. While we fail to criticise our individual budgeting misnomers, nonetheless, we anxiously wait for the honourable finance ministers to present the country’s financial outlay and shape our future every year. After all, the government bears the (ir) responsibility of our well-being, doesn’t it? Let us break the budget for the Fiscal Year 2014-15 in a crystallised form for us to pin-point the eventual impact ...

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A pilot’s perspective on the security lapse at Karachi airport

As a pilot, I’m often quizzed endlessly in great depth, particularly by those fearful of flying about how safe it really is to fly. My answer is always the same – you are the safest after take-off, having had already traversed the most dangerous part of your journey, that is from your home to the airport and onto the aircraft. Nowhere does this statement hold truer than in the terrorist metropolis of Karachi. My sole apprehension on every flight, in and out of Karachi, pertains to getting from Defence to the airport, and vice versa. And Sunday night, my ultimate fear ...

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Please God, kill my children before they are born

The midwife handed her the baby. She took the tiny thing in her arms and stared at him. He was beautiful. For a fleeting moment, she felt unbound joy. He was a part of her. He was… her focus shifted. He was nothing but a hungry mouth to feed like the eight others that awaited her at the house. Or if one could even call it a house. Two shabby rooms with a makeshift stove and a bathroom next to them was home sweet home. The ceiling leaked, the doors creaked while the paint was in tatters. Her husband had ...

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When will this society stop victimising women?

The recent incident of ‘honour killing’ has raised much criticism from activist groups both at home and abroad. The fact that this incident took place right outside the court of law (ironically the institution that promises to legally protect us all) and that too in front of an unwavering audience; truly shatters ones faith in humanity. What kills its last tether though is the very alert and apt police force present during this incident who refused to budge to the aid of this poor woman. Such a disgraceful act demonstrated by our own police force should be severely punished by the court ...

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Why are women overweight anyway?

I am writing this article in response to a blog I read titled ‘Why are Pakistani women obsessed with their weight?’ Let me clear this misconception. Women aren’t obsessed with their weight; they are obsessed with obsessing about their weight. If this wasn’t the case, there would actually be less overweight women in the world. Before you take out your kolhapuri chappal or stiletto to beat the hell out of me, have a look at the facts first. Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that women are far more likely to be obese than men. And this situation isn’t any better in Pakistan. ...

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If she can walk around in skin-tight clothes, why can’t I wear my veil?

Many people believe that the Islamic veil represents extremism, that it is a symbol of oppressing women. In April 2011, we saw France becoming the first European nation to ban the wearing of the veil in public. Several other countries, like Germany, Italy and Belgium among others, took inspiration from France and passed legislations banning the ‘hijab’. The irony is that even in the so-called Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a few schools forbid the wearing of the veil. Ayman Mobin, a straight A’s student in O/A Levels and now a medicine student at Dow Medical College recalled, “The director of Karachi Grammar School ...

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‘Dishonourable’ love – You should be stoned to death

This story about a pregnant 25-year-old woman, Farzana Parveen, being bashed to death with bricks by her brothers and uncles because she dared to marry of her own choice, is the kind of news that makes your heart drop and your stomach churn.  It’s being called an ‘honour killing’ in the press but it is murder – in fact, we should call it an execution. Farzana was going to court in Lahore to testify that she had married her husband out of choice, in response to a fake kidnapping case brought about by her family who were enraged that she ...

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Copy culture: Degree holders who can’t read or write

The youth, of any country, is always considered its greatest strength and an educated youth is an even stronger pillar for the state. However, these pillars cannot remain strong if young students start looking for shortcuts in their educational life. If such a situation does occur, a decline in a nation’s progress will be the inevitable result. Sadly, this process of decline is already in motion in Pakistan. Cheating culture is increasingly prevalent in our education system and it has become a pervasive phenomenon over here. Despite high claims and solemn promises, respective authorities have failed to curb the rampant and blatant cheating culture ...

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Just because she’s saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean she’s doing ‘nakhras’!

Sheryl Sandberg makes an impressive argument against the use of the word ‘bossy’, which is often used pejoratively to describe assertive women with ‘executive leadership skills’. In Indo-Pak vernacular, there’s another word far worthier of being thrown before the social media’s firing squad. The word ‘nakhra’ is more formally used for ‘coquetry’, but in common usage it refers to a stubborn refusal to submit. In each sense, it is used almost exclusively for women, who are referred to as nakhraybaaz. There are many scenarios I can describe where this word is used as a cudgel against women, but I’ll make use of a ...

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Khan sahib and the PTI cheer leading squad

In the political rhetoric of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), analyses of class and institutions are conspicuous by their absence. PTI has simplified the complex political-economic debate into the good-guys-versus-bad-guys anecdote.  In PTI’s dictionary, good guys are those who are ‘honest’ and bad guys are those who do ‘corruption’ as pastime; all the trouble in which Pakistan finds itself today is because ‘bad’ guys rule the country. And PTI is very clear on this – bad guys are either from PML-N or PPP, period. PTI loves to note that the hereditary chain of command in the power structure of the major political parties’ namely, the PPP ...

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