Is Pakistan ready for mock drills in malls and hospitals?

Imagine you are a cardiac patient lying on a hospital bed, waiting for a specialist to decide whether you are fit enough to undergo triple bypass surgery. All of a sudden there’s commotion and you see people running around and someone shouts, “Bomb, bomb! Run outside!” There is pandemonium everywhere. You see patients being taken away by hospital attendants, and you almost have a heart attack, waiting for someone to carry you to safety. You pass out and when you come back to your senses, you find out it was just a mock drill, carried out by “experts” to find out how the hospital ...

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Trump’s ban on Muslims is just as offensive as Pakistan’s racial profiling of Pakhtuns

Not every Muslim is a terrorist but a significant number of terrorist incidents are conducted by Muslims. This statement is controversial and yet, deep down we all know that there is some sort of evidence for it. At least the terrorist incidents which are indiscriminate and use suicide bombings are overwhelmingly committed by Muslims. Of course, as already mentioned, this does not mean that every Muslim is a terrorist and in fact thinking in such terms would be overstretching and overgeneralisation, resulting in bigotry if endorsed by the general populace and institutionalised discrimination if incorporated into laws by the state. Donald ...

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“They thought I have a ‘foreign agenda’ because I teach children free of cost”

I was volunteering at a makeshift school for nomads and slum children when one day, a young student of mine, not older than 10-years-old, approached me and said, “God’s anger does not work on me.” This was the first time in my life that I had been exposed to the slum life, aside from what I saw in movies and read in books. This young soul has suffered so much and yet he still lives every day with resilience. To him and so many others like him, life is a manifestation of every day survival. Indeed, some people consider it an unchangeable fate as ...

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In Pakistan, tolerant Islamic voices are being silenced

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world. The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of the ISIS and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. ISIS now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country. The suicide bombing of the ...

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A letter to Muniba Mazari, my inspiration

Dear Muniba Mazari, You don’t know me like you don’t know the other hundreds of people who you inspire every day. I am Amna Raheel, a 25-year-old, differently-abled girl living in Karachi. I’ve always wondered how many fan messages you get every day and if you respond to them personally. I don’t know if you’ll reply to my letter and to what I have to say because you probably have heard it a million times already. But I’m going to say it anyway. There are people in your life who guide you and instil certain beliefs that you carry through life, even though you’ve never met them. For me, you’re ...

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Sindri da sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar

Three years ago, I had a dream; I dreamt of being at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. While I am no clairvoyant, and my experience of going to mazaars and shrines has been close to non-existent, the dream was vivid and it was stirring. Whether it was symbolic of listening to ‘Ho Lal meri pat’ too many times, or seeing pictures of where Lal Shahbaz Qalander is buried, or something more, I do not know, but because I was curious and I had never been to this hub of folk-lore and Sufism I decided to finally go and see ...

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I was stabbed 23 times, and yet he walks around a free man

About 10 months ago, on May 3, 2016, I experienced an inconceivable and petrifying incident that changed my life forever. It sends shivers down my spine every time the fateful scene replays in my mind. It was an act beyond the wildest contemplation of any normal being. That one brief moment is etched in my mind like a nightmare I just can’t wake up from. The telephone rang and the voice on the other end of the line delivered a hammer blow. His ears buzzed, his pulse fluttered and he fell to the ground upon hearing what the man said: “Your daughter has ...

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From Dagh Dehlvi to Ghalib: My journey towards understanding Atta Shad

A few days after his death, I came across the news in an old newspaper: “Renowned poet and writer Atta Shad passed away last night”.  It was not news for me. Anyone could die, so did Shad. I didn’t even bother to read the news piece in detail and instead put the newspaper aside. At that time, I was a teenager and had recently developed a taste for poetry. And if you expect Shad to strike the chord of a teenager, you would be terribly wrong. And if somehow a teenager did manage to read his poetry, his words would disappoint you, as ...

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In four years, PTI did more to restore faith in democracy than PML-N or PPP did in decades

Whether Imran Khan wins the 2018 General Elections or not, he has given to our democracy what he gave to his down-and-out team during the World Cup of 1992, and to millions of despairing cancer patients across Pakistan – hope. If we move the clocks back to the last quarter of 2011, we can distinctly recall the sense of utter frustration that was prevalent in the country. People had voted for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with great expectations to get the nation back on its democratic footing. Unfortunately, Asif Ali Zardari and company wasted this golden opportunity to strengthen the transition to democracy. In fact, they made a mockery of the ...

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What’s aiding Pakistan

I was recently in Pakistan after a long gap and observed first-hand how the country functions. After years of learning about Pakistan through electronic media and personal accounts of recent immigrants in North America, I was a bit guarded when it came to what I would find in the country. Most of the experiences I heard about from people returning from Pakistan ranged from bad to catastrophic. What I found was a country that was crazy and chaotic yet chugging along. Below are some things that I walked away with: 1. In all the companies that I have worked for in ...

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