Sibtain Naqvi

Sibtain Naqvi

A writer and social commentator who has written extensively for various Pakistani English dailies. An art critic accredited by the AICA and the Royal College of Art, London, he dabbles in music and sports writing and tweets @Sibtain_N (twitter.com/Sibtain_N)

Under attack again: When will our government stop tolerating banned outfits?

Another day, another tragedy in Quetta. The city has seen too many to be listed but the attack on Balochistan Police College that took at least 61 lives, is the third time in less than three months that terrorists have been successful. On August 8th, Quetta’s legal community was wiped out in a devastating bomb blast. Two months later, on October 5th, four Hazara Shia women were dragged from a public bus and shot dead on the road. Today we mourn the police cadets that were killed. Calling them martyrs will not help. They are dead. Dead like many, ...

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This Muharram, I realised that my father’s childhood is still alive

The beggar who did his beat in my old neighbourhood knew his audience well. The whole year he would beg by lamenting his misfortune with mixed results, but from the first day of Muharram he would change his tactic. In his high pitched but sonorous voice he would invoke the names of the Prophet’s (pbuh) family and the martyrs of Karbala. At some point he had come to the conclusion that the street my house was on was populated by Shias who would be moved to give charity when he called out the names of Hussain (ra), Abbas (ra) and ...

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Religion meets realpolitik

Centuries ago a group of people made their way towards Mecca. They were unarmed and wanted to go to the Kaaba for pilgrimage. In spite of a dispute between them and the citizens of Mecca, they hoped that the party controlling the Kaaba would allow honour the centuries old tradition and allow them and their sacrificial animals’ entry into the holy sanctuary. However, the tribe controlling the Kaaba had no such intention and using their hegemony for political gains they denied the pilgrims of their right to enter. This incident took place in 628 AD and the pilgrims comprised of ...

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Remembering Edhi Sahab

The banks of Neelum River, surrounded by the mountains of Kashmir Valley, may seem like an incongruous place to mourn Abdul Sattar Edhi – but I had little choice. That is where I received the news of his demise thanks to a lady who, after finding out that I am from Karachi, immediately asked me if I was going to his funeral. Shocked, I retired to a lonely spot and then the location didn’t seem so strange after all. Like the eternally flowing waters and high mountains Edhi Sahab was inspiring. His life, like these living natural monuments was gigantic, deep and ...

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When The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, came to my mohalla

Block 13 in Federal B Area is a settled neighbourhood, a place where the word neighbour still carries meaning. Part of the city’s district central, it became inhabited with people of my clan who first lived in Nizamabad and other places where Urdu speakers from India had formed their enclave. As the 70s started they moved from these places and built homes here creating a sort of “Little Amroha.”   I grew up there surrounded by folks at whose place you could drop in unannounced at lunch and be led straight to the table. Indeed, the general saying was that you ...

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A curious Muslim boy’s love for Christmas in Karachi

As a first grader, there are a few things that cause wonderment and excitement, and for me, the sight of a huge green decorated tree was right up there. It was just before the winter break and as I walked into the corridor in front of the classes, I saw it. To a six-year-old, the six feet tree looked impossibly large and beautiful bedecked with colourful balls, luminescent stars, tiny boxes that promised much and what looked to be real snow. And goodness, was that candy cane on the branches! I looked back at my father who smiled and quickly slipped ...

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Why do I have to tell anyone if I am Shia or not?

The natural course of policies made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has always had a negative tilt towards the Shia Muslims of the world. Having the privilege of hosting Islam’s most sacred place of worship, they have monopolised the Islamic faith and exploited the concept of pilgrimage as much as possible. After years of exporting its ideology to Pakistan, and many other countries across the Middle-East, and creating fissures in society, the kingdom took it up an ante – since proxy wars may not always be feasible – they have created divisions even in the unifying act of ...

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For love of the printed word

In the summer of 2010, a colleague brought a new newspaper to work. The workplace had a number of publications coming in but this one made an immediate impact. The type face was bold, the pictures vibrant with colour and the stories were fresh. It was sassy without being saucy and with enough hard hitting content to make me read it cover to cover in one go. The newspaper was The Express Tribune (ET) and fast becoming the young reader’s choice. The reasons were obvious. Compared to the staid fare ladled out by competing newspapers, The Express Tribune was talking about issues prevalent but ...

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This is NOT sectarian violence, it is Shia genocide

Another imambargah attacked in Islamabad leaving several Shias dead and injured. In the last two weeks, this is the third such incident, fourth overall in 2015 and it is only February. This is only the latest attack in a long line of attacks that have taken place. From 2001 to now, thousands of Shias have been killed in terrorist attacks across Pakistan. Through it all, governments continued to tolerate extremist groups and even gave them space in mainstream politics. The pace of these frightening attacks has picked up. One would have thought that the regular attacks would have pricked social conscience into recognising the on-going Shia genocide, ...

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Pakistan cricket’s comic side, explained in Pak-India matches

There are two ways of approaching an India-Pakistan cricket match being played in the World Cup. You can lose yourself in unbridled passion and get set up for either rapturous joy or deep gloom. Or you can see the funny side and embrace the hilariousness. From 1951, since the first India-Pakistan Test match, much has been made of their rivalry in cricket. Australia Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks in rugby? Brazil and Argentina in football? Ali and Frazier? India and Pakistan’s cricket encounters put them all in the shade with the background of four wars, numerous skirmishes, disputed borders ...

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