Hina Shahnawaz was powerful and financially independent, so patriarchy killed her

News of honour killings, or karo-kari, is not new to Pakistan. Almost a thousand women are killed in Pakistan every year for allegedly bringing “shame” to their families. In a society that feeds off hyper masculinity, a woman’s autonomy and independence of any sort is seen as a threat to the Pakistani culture as a whole. Last year, a renowned social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in the name of honour, because of her financial and social independence gained from practicing what she preached – self-love and personal power. Although honour killings were (and still are) very common, this incident in particular is what led the government ...

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Is this martyrdom? No, it’s massacre

Oh our land of pure, How much shall you endure? How many shall you allure? To your depths so demure, When will your thirst be quenched? Of blood and sweat and gore. Jamaatul Ahrar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for a deadly bomb attack that shook the cultural capital of the country yesterday. The senseless killing of 15 people, including decorated police officials DIG Capt (retd) Ahmad Mubeen and SSP Zahid Ikram Godal, has left the nation in mourning. How many more such attacks shall we mourn as a nation? The reverberating sound of explosions, shrapnel-ridden limbs scattered on roads and the air thick ...

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Why does the state structure and narrative unfairly favour Punjab?

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at the time of the country’s creation, there were two large movements which were sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping. The first was primarily centred on the Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims but did not have a strong separatist thrust, at least in the beginning. However, the Islamic identity itself was not the only identity taken up by the Muslims as strong ethnic nationalist tendencies existed particularly in ...

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Does post-crime insanity have any legal value in Shariah?

Recently, the Supreme Court of Pakistan maintained the death sentence awarded by lower courts to Imdad Ali – a schizophrenic man placed under trial for murder. This decision sparked controversy among civil society members. In their view, to punish an offender with a severe mental disorder is an extremely unjust decision. Although the court has agreed to revisit the verdict and many have presented their views on the issue, no one has yet approached the problem from the Islamic law perspective despite the significant role it plays in our legal system. Indeed, the case of post-crime insanity has been greatly debated and discussed in ...

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Why are our children brain washed to become “followers” instead of “thinkers”?

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”  ― Charles William Eliot In the wake of the critical crisis that literacy and education suffers in Pakistan, it is imperative to understand that education and the enlightenment of the mind cannot necessarily be instilled within the caged walls of a classroom. Although degrees and grades can produce suited versions of empty minds vying for jobs in an already saturated market but they can hardly broaden the vistas of learning or enrich young brains with insight and ...

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The conundrum that is Hafiz Saeed

Is Pakistan trying to assert itself against non-state actors by putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest? Is this what the government in Islamabad wants the world to believe? Whatever the case may be, the timing of Saeed’s house arrest questions the government’s assertion. Media reports both in Pakistan and outside feel that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regime in Islamabad acted either under the influence and fear of the new ruler in Washington or it buckled under Beijing’s pressure. #BREAKING: Terrorist Hafiz Saeed releases video after he was put in house arrest, claims Modi-Trump friendship led to action against him. pic.twitter.com/V5qYI4FTWC — ...

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Trump’s #MuslimBan: A realist’s take

Recently, the UAE foreign minister defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, claiming that it’s not Islamophobic. The unconvincing statement, perhaps given in relief or gratitude for the UAE having avoided the ban itself, only goes to highlight the unscrupulous foundations of the ban. Rich, influential Muslim countries that are financial or strategic allies like the Gulf States and Pakistan have been spared, whereas those with little utility to the US have conveniently been scapegoated to appease Trump’s right-wing populism. Perhaps Abdullah Bin Zayed’s words have some truth to them after all. Perhaps the ban isn’t merely a coup against Muslim countries, but ...

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Moving towards a trans-friendly Pakistan, finally

What a feeling it is when you just be yourself without having to be self-conscious about it. There’s not an iota of concern there. “I am who I am, I wear whatever I please and I express myself however I chose to,” thinks the person. I am not going to be shamed or persecuted by anyone, or entertain any fears about that happening. For many, a transgender, man or woman, it is but an idealised notion that is not always realised but is perhaps trending in the right direction now. In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a birthday party for a 40-year-old transgender woman by the ...

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Imran’s misguided brain-drain solution

Most things that come out of Imran Khan’s mouth are emotional statements bereft of nuanced thought or judgment. This one was no exception. Like most things Imran Khan, the intention and underlying thought might well have been good, but the execution came out looking all kinds of dumb. Imran Khan stated he was praying that Trump bans Pakistanis from travelling/immigrating to the US. The reason: It would prevent the brain drain and compel people to travel back to Pakistan to fix the country. Now let’s be fair, the intention here is good. Pakistan definitely has a brain drain problem. The ...

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Is PML-N trying to fool everyone under its centrist garb?

Away from the racket of the Panama proceedings at the Supreme Court, the past couple of months have seen Nawaz Sharif take emboldened steps to reconcile with some of the most marginalised segments of society. Firstly, in the beginning of December, the prime minster gave directions to rename the National Physics Centre in Quaid-e-Azam University as The Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics, honouring the late Nobel Prize winner from the Ahmadi community. Followed by that was the premier’s inauguration of the restoration of the ancient Katas Raj Hindu temple complex in Punjab. Speaking at the event, he claimed that Pakistan will soon be recognised as a minority-friendly ...

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