Why is there a religion column in advertisements for sweepers anyway?

Whenever a local body like a municipal or town committee advertises for jobs involving ‘dirty work’ (like sweeping floors or cleaning bathrooms), the religion of those applying for the job is also specified. And the advertisement usually mentions that the applicants should be Christians or Hindus (Dalits). Though why sweepers and cleaners have to be non-Muslims is not clear. Who does the dirty work in countries where there are few, or no, Christians or Hindus (like Saudi Arabia for instance)? One such advertisement went viral recently. But this time the advertisement stated that applicants for the job should be “Shia, Hindu/Balmikis or ...

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Why is Sindh’s population data being manipulated in the census?

The census teams told our guards to get the forms filled in two days, after which they will come to collect them. The on-going census exercise in Karachi seems to be all over the place, raising questions on the validity and reliability of the entire exercise. The above-mentioned scenario was reported from District East in Karachi, while many others were reported from different parts of Karachi. The significance of census can be gauged from the fact that as per the Constitution, it provides basis for political representation in the national and provincial assemblies, delimitation of constituencies for national and provincial assemblies and distribution of funds ...

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Will Operation Raddul Fasaad be effective?

February 17, 2017: Within hours of the Sehwan attack, terrorist hideouts are magically discovered all over the country and over a hundred “militants” are killed across Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the tribal belt. Yet another military operation, by the name of “Raddul Fasaad” (“elimination of discord/violence/mischief”) is announced. I don’t know about you but I’ll tell you what I’m feeling; it’s called deja vu, the feeling that this has all happened before. And that might just be because it has. Flashback to June 15, 2014: Following the attack on Jinnah International Airport, the military launched Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” (“cutting strike”). This operation targeted militant hideouts in North Waziristan and along the Afghan border. Within a week, ...

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The untold story of the water that Sindh drinks

It is a hot, dusty day. You grab a glass from your kitchen shelf, walk over to the mineral water dispenser, and pour clear and fresh water into it. The coolness satiates your thirst quickly and you leave it on the table partially full, in a hurry to continue the day’s chores. There is one reality lost in this mundane action: The water you wasted in one minute, some could stretch for one entire day. Not very far away in fact, there are people like you and I who satiate their thirst with water that is slightly better than sewage water. ...

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One month later, sifting through the sands of Sehwan

“May the curse of God be on the enemies of Qalandar. May the enemies of Ahle Bait (the family of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)) be always cursed”. It is 5am. After paying my respects at the shrine of Bodla Bahar, the disciple of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, as per tradition, I head to the shrine of his murshid (spiritual master). The vehement tabarra (cursing) mentioned above is the first thing I witness as I stand outside the closed gates of Qalandar’s shrine. A malang attired in black beats his fists into his chest as he mourns the blast that happened on February 16, 2017, one month ago, at ...

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Drug addicts are born, not made

He brushed off the litter of ash from his clothes, pursed the filter between his nicotine stained lips, and inhaled another deep drag of chemically-infused smoke. He allowed the sensation of the hit to take over his entire body, feeling his head spin and his body go numb. It was like the doors of a dam opening, as a whirlwind of thoughts rushed through his head in chaos. His thoughts rested at their favourite home track where his train of thought often took him – why did he continue to do the same things over and over again, expecting different results each ...

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Madiha’s only crime was that she was unable to bring a motorbike in her dowry

Madiha was a 22-year-old girl in Gujranwala who had just gotten married. You know how it is for newly-wed girls; the apprehension, the stress of adjusting to a new home, the worries about making everyone like you and leaving your family behind. For Madiha, these worries became small compared to the horror she ended up facing. Her husband, Amir, would beat her regularly. Madiha’s crime? She was unable to bring a motorbike for Amir in her dowry. Two months or so after the wedding, Amir and his family doused Madiha with petrol and set her on fire. She died within ...

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No, Imran Khan’s “phateechar” comment was not racist

Prejudice has flown through Pakistani society across generations. We have held open biases against ethnicities that aren’t our own, against women, against religious minorities, against those of a different sexual orientation, and of course, against people with darker skin tones. The latter is especially common, even today. For example, our film, advertising, and modelling industry features very few artists who don’t have light skin. In fact, there is so much pressure in Pakistan that skin whitening creams are advertised and sold to reinforce every other stupid potential mother-in-law’s view that their son, regardless of his skin tone, should marry ...

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#ETBlogsPicks 21 amazing women this International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, let’s remind our little girls that it’s not about being princesses, and damsels in distress. Let’s tell them instead that they should foster to be literary legends, doctors, lawyers, painters, and dreamers. Let’s teach them to be believers in themselves as opposed to believers in happily ever afters. And to show them how they can achieve their dreams, we will show them all the beautiful, inspirational women Pakistan has: Today, we want to honour the following ...

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Pakistan, the pistachio to my kulfi

And so my friend, my point was – what is so awesome about Pakistan? I’m a bloke who thrives on chaos but answering this question before buggering off on a new adventure would have resulted in a droopy, “I don’t know mate, cricket?” Personally, I can’t bear a game of ball and sticks any more than a warm drink on a hot summer’s day. What a contrast Pakistan is, and here’s why. The terrorists will kill me By all the unglamorous artworks the armchair experts of the world were painting of Pakistan, I was in line for a beheading, a bombing or a ...

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