“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Can Pakistan ever be a minority-friendly country?

Both January 11th news items were almost conjoined. Or like reading the mirror-written ecnalubma (mirror image of the word ‘ambulance’ written in front of ambulances) and getting it right as ambulance in the rear-view mirror. The Guardian carried a report, titled ‘Christians in India increasingly under attack, study shows’, in which Pakistan ranks fourth on the list of the 50 countries where persecution is worst for Christians. APP reported that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached out to minorities in a speech at the sacred 900-year-old Katas Raj Hindu temples in Pakistan where he said: “The day is not far when Pakistan ...

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Pakistan’s missing freedom

Salman Haider. Ahmad Waqas Goraya. Asim Saeed. Ahmed Raza Naseer. Samar Abbas. Five of Pakistan’s brightest and most outspoken social activists have disappeared.  Waqas and Asim have been missing for a week, Salman for five days, Ahmad Raza for three days and Samar Abbas went missing today. Other than CCTV footage in the case of Salman, possibly showing his kidnapping, no leads are reported on any of the other men. While journalists, human rights lawyers and activists have been kidnapped and assassinated in the past, this is the first time multiple abductions at different locations have occurred within a span of ...

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And they will say, ‘Remember what happened to Naila’

She hailed from Qambar Shahdadkot, where the literacy rate is 44%, according to a report published in 2012. She came from an area where only 33% of the female population has completed higher education. Against all odds, she left her hometown and enrolled herself in the Sindhi Department at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, to continue her studies. Currently in her final year, Naila Rind was not just an average student; she was an award winning student in her Masters class. Naila had returned early from her hometown during her winter vacations in order to work on her final year thesis, which was due on ...

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Is the jirga system truly just?

A report was published in The Washington Post on December 17, 2016, titled, “In Pakistan, five girls were killed for having fun. Then the story took an even darker twist”. It covered the investigation of an incident that took place in Kohistan in 2012, where five girls were murdered ruthlessly for singing and dancing at a wedding on the commandment of a jirga. The report divulged the abominable treatment and egregious injustices women are subjected to at the hands of influential jirgas. It further explained how this council of leaders conceals their wrongdoings by intimidating uneducated people and manipulating evidence. The jirgas are so powerful that ...

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Is PML-N the most liberal regime Pakistan has seen in recent times?

A single click on Google reveals liberal to mean someone who is willing to respect or accept the behaviour and opinions of others that might be different from one’s own. It might come as a shock to many if one was to claim that the regime of Nawaz Sharif might be the most liberal Pakistani regime in contemporary times, and perhaps second only to the great Quaid himself. I don’t claim this because I support Nawaz Sharif or Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N); on the contrary I spent Election Day sleeping, because I had no hopes from any political party to ...

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Asif Ali Zardari vs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Round 1

Finally, Asif Ali Zardari, after a self-exile of 18 months, is back in Pakistan. His self-exile, at that time, was motivated by the Karachi operation which had started to target some of his close associates and also by his own rather uncharacteristic outburst against the military in which he threatened the institution with “grave consequences”. His return has also coincided with Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) deadline given to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regarding the former’s four demands. Just to reiterate that, PPP had threatened a long march to Islamabad if PML-N did not adhere to its demands. However, on December 27th, ...

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Are you ready for what awaits you in 2017, Pakistan?

The year 2016 has been a rollercoaster for the world over. From Brexit to Trump, there have been setbacks aplenty. But while the world has gone topsy-turvy this year, I feel that 2016 has been a better year for Pakistan. Due to the operations taking place in various areas of the country, crime rate has decreased exponentially; terrorism attacks have been fewer and far between and Pakistan has established itself as a growing nation, both in terms of international relations as well as economics. Keeping this in mind, I cannot help but feel positive about the year ahead. Here are the top 10 things Pakistanis can look forward to in 2017: 1. The ...

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This is how women made Pakistan proud in 2016

Many of 2016’s most notable moments were mostly unfortunate, unchecked events of toxic masculinity. From the horrifying tragedy that was Qandeel Baloch’s senseless murder, to Donald Trump’s self-described ‘locker room talk’, and the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) absurd suggestion that ‘lightly beating’ one’s wife ‘as needed’ is permissible, most of us are happy to be saying goodbye to a year riddled with examples of the negative impact rigid gender roles can have on culture. But 2016 also happens to have been quite the year for some Pakistani women. Below is just a handful of a large number of Pakistani women ...

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Dear Imran Khan, you’re no better than Nawaz Sharif or Asif Ali Zardari

Those who consider Imran Khan to be a paragon of virtue say that he has never been known to misuse public funds. If you mention the discrepancy in his statements that the Bani Gala house was gifted by his first wife, then his about-turn on the issue, they say, “Oh, that was his own money, not filched from his hospital or from the government, like other well-known politicians are supposed to have done”. Even when you tell them that he ignored the findings of his own commission on the 2013 internal party elections, they say, no, no, nothing’s wrong, such things happen in other parties as well. But ...

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