Stories about Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Thank you, Pakistan: 70 years later, the good in this great country still trumps the bad

On Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day, I would like for us to take a moment to remember all those who have lost their lives in fighting for our motherland. We owe our freedom, gratitude and respect to them. Had it not been for their ultimate sacrifice, we may not have had a country to call home. To all those who currently serve in our armed forces, the police force, the Rangers, the Frontier Constabulary, the Levies force, the intelligence agencies and more – we are thankful to you for your services and grateful to you for your continued commitment towards our country. It is ...

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Pakistani documentary makers are getting nominated for Emmys, but their own country does not give them any recognition

In Pakistan, documentary films are to cinema what hockey is to sports. We don’t see a lot of hockey on TV, just like we don’t get to see any documentaries screened across the country. Even if our documentaries or hockey make it big, they don’t get as much recognition as popular genres of entertainment or sports do. To me, this phenomenon seems like the proverbial case of the child who cries the most and gets the most toys. If the Oscars are anything to go by, Pakistan has a couple of them, and that too in documentary filmmaking and by the same filmmaker. Deep ...

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#ETBlogsPicks 21 amazing women this International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, let’s remind our little girls that it’s not about being princesses, and damsels in distress. Let’s tell them instead that they should foster to be literary legends, doctors, lawyers, painters, and dreamers. Let’s teach them to be believers in themselves as opposed to believers in happily ever afters. And to show them how they can achieve their dreams, we will show them all the beautiful, inspirational women Pakistan has: Today, we want to honour the following ...

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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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When Pakistan took one step forward and two steps back

In my living memory, I have seen many years in which Pakistan faced terrible setbacks. Memories of 2007, when former President General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency and then Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, are still fresh in my mind. Likewise, all of us have neither forgotten nor forgiven what happened on December 16, 2014, a day which will continue to live in our collective memories. As this year comes to an end, let’s recap what the year had to offer. There were highs and there were lows, but unfortunately, the latter outweigh the former and by a considerable margin. There ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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Will Pakistan continue to fail its non-Muslim men and women?

Every year in Pakistan over a thousand non-Muslim women are forced to convert to Islam. The stories of forced conversions tend to have a similar pattern. First, the girls are abducted. Once taken away from the safety of their homes and communities they are raped and then, usually, married off to their assailants who sneakily shield their non-consensual sexual assault behind the veil of a nikkahnama. Sometimes they are sold into the sex trade. These girls rarely ever return to their families. Help from the police and local clerics is pretty much unheard of. Both parties are either in on the ...

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Women, the stuff maulvi nightmares are made of

Pakistanis are extremely resourceful people. We work with what we get. When life gave us the proverbial lemons in the guise of terrorism and religious extremism, we rose to the occasion by coining the term ‘liberal extremists’ to protect our social fabric from the menace of tolerance, human rights, and other Jewish conspiracies. The ‘liberal extremist’ is the right-wing’s brilliant attempt at tapping into the powerful global constituency against violence and extremism in a post 9/11 world. Someone recently said that ‘when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression’. In the case of Pakistan, when you have political ...

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“They started beating Aapi. Then they burnt her, right in front of my eyes”

A few days ago, I overheard my cousin talking to someone and saying, “Have you seen the news? Even CNN and BBC reported on the instances of violence that our women endure. Clearly it’s more serious than I thought.” I felt disgusted, not just at her remark, but at our mentality and reflection. It’s not news for us unless it reaches an international forum. It’s impossible to feel even a fraction of the pain Maria had suffered at the hands of her tormentors, but turning a blind eye to the incident is not just an insult to the victim but to humanity as well. This is still a ...

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Dancing to the tunes of the Song of Lahore is pure joy

Prepare to be mesmerised by the Song of Lahore, a lovely documentary directed by twice Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Andy Shocken. Be ready to be hypnotised, to clap along, hum along and to fall madly in love with the Sachal-Jazz ensemble and their mission to make, according to founder Izzat Majeed “global music that is rooted in Lahore.” In order to preserve Pakistan’s fading musical roots, Majeed established the Sachal recording studio in Lahore and gathered the best of Pakistan’s classically trained instrumentalists, mostly aging men from extremely humble backgrounds, to revive the music he had grown up on. ...

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