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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Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?

As I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I started thinking. I wondered what made someone attach so much importance to themselves that they felt the need to berate others in order to recognise their authority. This made me speculate; is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy? Have we honestly never recovered from the imperialistic practices of the West? Does the ordinary Pakistani citizen try to exert the ‘white man’s burden’, knowing fully well that he is of colour? The answer is yes! You see ...

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An open letter to AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia

Respected AJK Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Zia, According to newspaper reports, you have announced that the annual salary increments of those working in your court will be based on “how regularly they offer their prayers”. You also declared that you would lead some of the prayers yourself, ostensibly to observe which of the court’s officers offer prayers and to secretly check whether they are complying with your order or not. Your honour, do you realise that your order violates Islam’s injunction which clearly states that there ‘should be no compulsion in Islam’ (Surah Baqarah, verse 256)? Since those who do not ...

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The best way to backpack in Pakistan, through the eyes of a foreigner

Backpacking in Pakistan is a one of a kind adventure; this is a country which will raise many an eyebrow and steal many a heart. The only danger with backpacking in Pakistan is not wanting to leave. Before I went backpacking in Pakistan, I was unsure what to expect. Pakistan travel advice from my government is basically one gigantic red X. The media has painted the country in an unfortunate light, a fact most Pakistanis are painfully aware of. Wherever I went, I was greeted by friendly faces and incredibly helpful people. Combine that with relatively cheap travel costs, plentiful treks ...

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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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