Stories about unity

Pakistan and India: Friends abroad always, enemies at home always always

As someone who had been raised in the United States by Pakistani immigrants, I have always found it difficult to fathom the animosity between Pakistanis and Indians living in South Asia. All the aspects of life that bring the two groups together – from music and food, to values and mannerisms – get clouded out by the venomous politics between the countries’ governments. During this time of celebration for the 69th year of independence of Pakistan and India, I strongly believe that the only way forward is for the citizens of both these countries to recognise their shared experiences ...

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Unity, faith and discipline

Unity, faith, discipline. These three basics I knew, I loved, and I respected. Etched into my heart from Independence Days of the past. These were the principles I’d thrive upon. I didn’t know a lot, and maybe I didn’t know enough but I knew unity and faith and discipline. This year, let’s celebrate our country’s independence. This day is about us, our land, our self-determination, our freedom and everything else we wanted almost seven decades ago. Ever since I was a little girl, my grandparents have been telling me about the struggle they went through to get to this “Independence day”; for themselves, and for ...

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Business-class tickets for a stale bun – A fair compensation?

It seems as if we lose all our values as we grow up. What is taught to us as children ebbs away as we hit adulthood. Unity, faith and discipline turn into mere words instead of values. The word Pakistan should hold immense importance and respect in our hearts and therefore, all the establishments being operated in association with Pakistan deserve equal respect.   People of Pakistan or should I say ‘citizens of this great nation’ have a duty to uphold the integrity and honour of the state. By defaming a national establishment, we inevitably end up defaming our state. Recently, Pakistan International ...

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Iqbal: Relevant yesterday but not today

An airport, university, countless schools and roads – the list of places and institutions bearing the name of Allama Iqbal goes on and on. If Pakistan was a religion, Iqbal would be a prophet. Iqbal came to prominence in a time when the Muslim World was in apparent decline. Spain was long gone. The Mughal Empire was dead. For Muslims in his native British India, Iqbal’s poetry was a rallying call to rise; extremely relevant for his times on a socio-political level. 76 years after his death, however, his relevance needs to revisited. Iqbal was not a capitalist. He wasn’t a socialist. He criticised ...

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Unity, not uniformity

We tend to accept unity as one of the fundamental guiding principles of Pakistan, without questioning what it means. The oft repeated, and clichéd, political slogan is that we need to unify the country. We all need to come together for Pakistan, but come together to what? Unify to become what? The acceptance of the need for unity as a given truth, without questioning the very meaning of the word itself has led to a perverted understanding of the word. Unity seems to be understood to mean uniformity; a society where dissent is not accepted, any person holding an opinion ...

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What would Iqbal think?

On the southern bank of the River Neckar in Heidelberg, Germany, is the Iqbal-Ufer. This street, running parallel to the river, was named in honour of Allama Iqbal, the poet-philosopher from India. It was here that the poet was granted his PhD in philosophy. As I glance at the images of this breathtaking city, I can understand Iqbal’s appreciation for beauty. What amazes me, however, is the depth his poetry plunges into when describing the despairing state of Muslims in India. An eye that is accustomed to beauty, a voice that thrills with eloquence, would shun despair and disillusionment. Yet these ...

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Congratulations, Pakistan

The 16th Annual All Pakistan Inter-University Bilingual Declamation Contest for the Allama Iqbal Shield award concluded on April 29, 2014. It is an annual exercise that the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HEC) conducts, in order to promote a better understanding of socio-economic and political issues, critical thinking and communication skills among under and post-graduate students. The contest comprises three rounds. Students from various departments within a university compete in the first round. One top scorer from each university qualifies for the second round, where students from various institutions within an administrative division compete. In the third round, three top scorers (Urdu ...

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An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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I live in Iraq and I am not afraid

I was at Karbala when Sheikh Abd al-Mahdi Karbala’i, representative of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, gave his fiery Friday sermon in which he delivered the message of Sistani to the people, asking Iraqis to register as volunteers in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), whom he called “takfiris”. The atmosphere became extremely spirited during the speech. Perhaps it was because of the nature of the event during which this speech was made that everyone felt connected to each other. It was the eve of the birth of the twelfth imam of the Shiite sect, Imam Mehdi, and this ...

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What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

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