Was it a djinn or genetics that was responsible for his strange behaviour?

A common misconception exists in Pakistan that if someone starts behaving oddly, the cause is usually attributed to djinns. Spiritual healers are consulted to resolve the issue while doctors and medicines are usually ignored. This thought is not restricted to the uneducated class; even the privileged strongly believe in the supernatural as it can be witnessed from the wall chalking in Karachi that advertises one aamil after another. However, a recent incident provided a more realistic and holistic insight. About two years ago, my relative’s six-year-old son started behaving oddly. He was a young and energetic boy who would go to school and behave just ...

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In Pakistan, men make decisions and women make dinner

Inequality between men and women is not something exclusive to the subcontinent or the Middle East. For instance, while allowed to participate in the army, women are still not permitted to serve in frontline combat in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Slovakia. In the United States, and other developed nations, women are consistently overlooked for promotions and paid less for doing the same work their male counterparts do. In this part of the world, however, we make a clear distinction. Gender inequality is far from over in the developed world but at least mainstream statements that promote equality and denounce ...

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Why is Sana Safinaz plagiarising and giving copy-right notices at the same time?

Ever look at those expensive designer dresses in the display windows and felt sad? Ever felt left out because you couldn’t possibly afford to buy a Dior or a Balenciaga dress? Fret not, for Pakistani designers have a genius way of saving you of this misery.  No, no, I’m not talking about cheap knockoffs. Oh no. This is a strangely real deal. You’ll still be wearing designer clothes, probably might even cost an organ, but you’ll be halfway there on the social ladder. One of Pakistan’s leading fashion houses, Sana Safinaz is under the spot light once again and for the same ...

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You think you’re cool because you smoke?

Picture this: Brad Pitt puts a cigarette between his lips; he takes a puff and blows smoke out of his mouth. Tom Cruise takes out a pack of cigarettes, lights one up and for a moment, his face stands illuminated behind the flame of his lighter. Heartbroken Shah Rukh Khan smokes a cigarette one after the other, the ashtray on his side full of cigarette butts as he sits thinking about his beloved. Or better yet, Robert De Niro throws a cigarette butt on the floor and crushes it aggressively. How appealing does that sound? Now imagine this: a skeleton lying on a death bed, frail and ferociously coughing, ...

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As a Muslim, I strongly support the right to ban the veil

I was raised as an observant Muslim in a British family. Women, I was taught, determine their own conduct — including their ‘veiling’. We’d cover our hair only if we freely chose to do so. That’s why I’m baffled by the notion that all good Muslim women should cover their hair or face. My entire family is puzzled by it too, as are millions like us. Not until recent years has the idea taken root that Muslim women are obliged by their faith to wear a veil. It’s a sign, I think, not of assertive Islam, but of what happens ...

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Why would CAA break down the beautiful mural created by the Italian artist?

I was absolutely devastated to see what the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has done to Italian artist Maurizio Boscheri’s beautiful markhor mural at the Karachi Airport. Pakistan is seen as a dangerous, brutal country, but lately, we’ve been working on softening our image through art and culture. We get excited when a Pakistani artist is chosen to show her work in New York or London or Tokyo. We want grants and fellowships to support Pakistani artists around the world. We want international attention for projects like the Lahore Biennale and the Pakistani Chowk renovation. We think that this humanises us ...

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When patients get poorer and sicker but doctors get richer

Pakistan’s leaking public sector – led by politicians and a non-innovative bureaucracy –seem to be skimming the national kitty through dismal governance and service delivery. The private health sector too appears to be focused on skinning poor patients, with no fear of accountability. This sector thrives off the inefficiency of and collusion with the state health institutions, which are best equipped but non-functional. Recently, my 80-year-old father-in-law visited a neurologist for advice. He is currently in very good shape; no hypertension, no diabetes, gets up at five in the morning for his morning walk and sleeps soundly. He also scored 80% in his ...

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Do the right thing, Nawaz Sharif, expel Javed Latif from your party

I watched in shock and horror the comments made by Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Javed Latif about the moral character of the sisters of MNA Murad Saeed in a press conference. Earlier, he had called Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan a ‘traitor’, which had provoked PTI MNA Saeed into punching him.

It was, of course, unlawful for Saeed to react so violently, as it has become perfectly acceptable for our politicians to label those who oppose them as traitors. In fact, I have lost count of the number of politicians who have been called ‘ghaddar’ ...

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Dear Ms Fiza Ali, how can you say Karachi has no culture?

They say the best way to discover a settlement’s “culture” is on foot. Try walking around on a busy street of my city (and yes, I say the “my” with a sense of unapologetic pride and ownership). Try sitting in a bustling chai dhaba here. Try taking a walk on one of its beaches on a crowded Sunday. Try experiencing the sights and sounds and smells of Karachi. Try and shun stereotypes and just enjoy the Karachi experience…. Karachi is the dream of a writer and a photographer and an anthropologist and of anyone who has an eye for detail ...

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He asked me why I never “act like a woman” – what does that mean?

Earlier this week, I went bursting into the courtroom to show my fellow colleague the new book I was reading. I exclaimed, “Oh my god. You have to see this!” Although no one was alerted by my vivacious excitement, he was completely mortified. He exclaimed, “What is wrong with you? Why do you never act like a woman? They are supposed to be quiet and elegant”. As annoyed as I was with his remark, I had to admit he revealed an unearthing reality of our society. Women are expected to be clones of the typical damsel in distress – quiet, shy, dignified – ...

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