Stories about narratives

Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

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Illusions exist

If I sit here, in this room for just a moment, what would change? What would happen? Just a minute, one moment. All to myself. Would the world change if I let myself forget about it? It forgot about me. It forgot about me a long time ago. So now I sit here frozen. Frozen in time. I can’t move. I’m trying so hard, but I can’t. I sit here staring at my legs, willing them to work. I’m willing myself to move, I swear. My legs won’t work. My feet won’t move. My toes won’t wiggle. The room is so small, all I can feel are ...

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There is no genuinely liberal political party in Pakistan today

At times, the electoral landscape – which by the way is still dominated by apparently moderate parties – is cited as an example of Pakistan’s resilience against growing fundamentalism. It is often claimed that Pakistan has never voted for religious parties and this is trumped as some kind of evidence of moderation or even quasi “liberalism”. Without sounding over pessimistic or critical in a self-fledgling kind of a way, I beg to refute this perception. I think the electoral landscape is misleading. Yes, while it is true that Pakistan has not become Iran, it is by no stretch of the imagination still a ...

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End of silence: A woman’s narrative of the 1947 Partition

Many of us born to families who migrated across borders during partition grew up hearing whispers of events from that time. The end of the British Raj in India saw the subcontinent dissected into two – Pakistan and India. This led to the largest migration in history and caused widespread communal violence. My nani (maternal grandmother) narrated tragedies of madness raging the land without adequate police or troops to maintain law and order. One of my nani’s friends narrated how her father had told all the women in their family that should the train they were on be stopped and boarded by rioting mobs, they should commit ...

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Balochistan, a tale of singular narratives

My fellow journalist, Irshad Ahmed Mastoi Baloch, was killed in broad daylight at his office in Quetta. He was one, of few, brave journalists who would criticise the establishment’s unjust policies towards Balochistan. His fellow trainee reporter, Abdul Ghulam Rasool, and a serving accountant, Mohammed Younus, also lost their lives in the incident. I cannot believe or understand how an incident of this magnitude could have occurred in a sovereign, democratic country. He was doing his job, work that he was hired to do and obviously doing well. But he was, they were all, killed for merely performing their professional obligations. The ...

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The memory of partition must become invalid now

During our Aman Chaupal initiative, where we invite a representative from Pakistan to interact with students in India, this time I got the opportunity to meet Mr Aamir Nawaz. Nawaz is the president and artistic director of the MAAS Foundation, a leading theatre group of Pakistan which showcases plays on several social themes. One of their prominent themes is Indo-Pak issues. As a part of the Aman Chaupal, we showed the video of one of MAAS’s plays to students of the South Asian University (SAU), which was followed by a discussion on the theme of the play. The play, named Permasher Singh, was based on ...

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