Aids is a real disease, get out of your ‘conservative’ bubble and believe it!

Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) is transmitted primarily via unprotected sexual intercourse including anal and even oral sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and prevention is the key strategy to control the spread of the disease, primarily through safe sex and needle-exchange programs. However, anti-retroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease. Raising awareness about AIDS is a big issue, especially in Pakistan, because this is still considered one of the biggest social taboos in the country. I remember just last year the media reported that 15 blood ...

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Pakistan beyond Bin Laden

In her most recent article in The New York Times, Carlotta Gall, has shunned the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military establishment of Pakistan in an attempt at assessing the troublesome relationship between Pakistani institutions and Islamic extremists. The article titled “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden” explicitly accuses the ISI of harbouring Islamic extremists for its own selfish reasons, with a special mention of Osama bin Laden who she believes had been under the protection of the ISI until he was killed during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad in 2011. Considering the blatancy with which Gall points fingers ...

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What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

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Sheikh Rasheed: A political enigma

Farzand-e-Rawalpindi (Son of Rawalpindi), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, is the apple of the eye for many TV anchors. Ratings sky-rocket when he is the guest on a show. His blunt comments, revolutionary slogans and political predictions are loved by the public. He talks about the problems of the common man, in the language of the common man and is always well informed of what’s cooking in the circles of the Pakistani ruling elite – both, civil and military. But Sheikh Rasheed has a past which he has either conveniently chosen to forget or is compelled by circumstances to simply ignore. Today, he may ...

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On death-row: The living dead men of Pakistan

Eight feet by six feet – that’s how big most prison cells are for anyone who is sentenced to death in Pakistan. An inmate on death-row is kept in this cell until his execution takes place which, because of the 2008 moratorium on the death penalty, cannot lawfully happen anymore.  Although the moratorium ended in July 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to reinstate it indefinitely. His government had initially stated that: “The present government does not plan to extend it (the moratorium)” However, mainly because of European pressure, the moratorium was reinstated till a point when the president and the prime minister can have a ...

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PTI just keeps disappointing: Mr CM, that wasn’t insulting enough

If one more person tells me that Pakistan has a better record on women’s political representation than the ‘developed nations’ (meaning the US) because we have twice had a female head of state, I will use my very female and very strong hand to slap them across the face. The Women in Politics Maps 2014 released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women recently ranked Pakistan 72nd among 189 countries in terms of female representation in the parliament. We could have been ranked even lower – there is no woman on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s handpicked cabinet, for instance. But one does not even ...

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They said they would take care of our children in their manifestos, did they lie?

The majority of us, particularly those in the power corridors, may not remember that 2013 was declared the ‘Year of Child Rights’ in Pakistan on November 20, 2012 by the then prime minister of Pakistan while speaking at a function to commemorate Universal Children’s Day. Unfortunately, however, his government couldn’t take any tangible steps in the first two and half months of the year. 2013 was also the year of elections in Pakistan and we heard political parties share their programmes and manifestos with the masses and make commitments related to improving health, education, social protection and other social indicators. This blog is an attempt to ...

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Bahria Town project and it’s invisible hands

It was back in October last year, when I first noticed the crowd around the Bahria Town Karachi office at Shahre Firdousi. Having physically witnessed the extravagance of Bahria Town (BT) projects in the country, I was excited about their expansion in Karachi and across Sindh. The masses in Karachi too, were delighted by the launch. What pushed me to pen this piece was the chaos and, somewhat, surreptitious mechanism that the BT adapted for the launch of these projects, specifically the Bahria Town Karachi (BTK). It was initially launched with an undisclosed location, which triggered heavy subscription, reflecting the unshaken confidence ...

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“Ask for ‘permission’ before taking a second wife? That is out of the question!”

Suddenly the head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has claimed that it’s against the tenets of Islam for a man to seek permission from his wife before taking another one. The question that arises is why now, after more than 53 years? When the law was enacted, Islamic scholars like Maududi, Noorani and Mufti Mahmud were active politicians. None of them objected. Therefore, it was assumed that the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 was in accordance with the teachings of Islam. So, what made the current head honcho of CII claim that there is no need to ask your wife if you want ...

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Thar famine: Bilawal Bhutto, your incompetence is unpardonable

Dear lord Bilawal, The recent calamity that has hit the Thar Desert is nothing less than heart-wrenching. As I pen these words, thousands stand precariously at the cusp of death. However, the purpose of this write-up is not to vent my sentiments but to bring to your Lordship’s attention the truth of his existence and the seemingly obvious realities that hitherto remain unrealised. My lord, your people are starving and at moments like these true leaders stand amongst their people. You ought to be here; not thousands of miles away in the plush cosiness of your foreign apartments. That’s not the Quaid-e-Awam’s legacy; that’s not ‘Bhuttoism’ – in ...

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