ayesha.jehangir

Ayesha Hasan

A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.

‘Naya Pakistan’ rally: Where were the women?

Claims regarding the strength of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) March 23 jalsa range from some 100,000 to 1.2 million. From what I roughly calculated from above one of the containers placed especially for the media, there were at least 250,000 people out there. While I might be mistaken about the overall turnout, I am quite sure the number of women was disappointingly low. I literally had to search for them. I finally found a group of women, not more than 500 or so, sitting in the centre-front and scattered here and there. Some of those whom I talked to said they had come ...

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Between provocative and proactive

Governments around the world have had their moments of absurd fantasies. Some realise it, most do not. Unfortunately, Delhi had its moment this month. While tensions at the border between Pakistan and India have somehow de-escalated, an advisory recently issued by the Indian civil defence officials in the Indian-occupied Kashmir recommending citizens to prepare for nuclear war by building underground shelters – stocked with food, water and candles enough for a fortnight – has certainly triggered pre-emptive contemplation on the Pakistani side. Leaving Islamabad in a fix about what the bomb shelters beyond its borders portend, India is playing its role ...

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From brainwashing to target killing

On Tuesday, target killing incidents in Karachi and Peshawar halted the anti-polio drive in Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It didn’t end there, as Wednesday saw another attack on a polio health worker. The victims’ ‘felony’  immunising children against polio. While extremists might deem them as ‘traitors’, I think these health workers are martyrs. To the great contentment of extremists who have opposed the anti-polio drive for years now, no children will be immunised against polio in Karachi and Peshawar at least during this drive.  These hostile elements were probably encouraged by Dr Shakil Afridi’s confession of involvement in espionage using a ...

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For the sake of women

Last week Shazia Bibi, a resident of Lahore, was taken to the Mayo Hospital with severe burn injuries. According to what her husband told the police, his other wife had thrown boiling water on her. It was not until a day later that she told the police that the culprits were her husband and his brother, after she had refused to ask her parents for Rs100,000 as asked by her in-laws. Unfortunately, Shazia did not survive to fight against this violence, but then how many who survive do? Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. No less ...

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Recognising journalists: Only an international trait?

On October 31, the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) Pakistan was awarded a human rights award by a German organisation in a ceremony held in Berlin. The union president, Safdar Dawar, a native of Miramshah, North Waziristan, accepted the award on behalf of the union, his fellow journalists in Fata and all his colleagues who were killed while on duty. When I first met him, he shared with me the story of his abduction by the intelligence agencies in Khost, Afghanistan in early 2000. He was released nine hours later following intervention by some influential people, and after he was ...

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What exactly are we teaching our children?

I opened The Express Tribune’s online edition this morning and read a news report saying that an eighth grader shot himself. Out of habit, I then opened the online news version of Deutsche Welle, a German national radio channel and found a report on how an increasing number of juveniles in India were being implicated in cases as serious as murder. With instances where there have been juvenile terrorists, and in a time when children decorate the first rows of protests and young ones attack cars and burn tyres, there is little hope for these kids to grow into sane human ...

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Be kind to your teachers

I wonder if women are given presents on Women’s Day. Whatever the case, the Election Commission of Pakistan has definitely given Presiding Officer Habiba Memon and Assistant Presiding Officer Shagufta Memon the best Women’s Day present ever: restoration of their self-respect, which took a battering when Waheeda Shah slapped them during the by-elections recently in Tando Muhammad Khan. I am really happy about the way things are finally changing for women in the country. First Maya Khan got sacked for unethical journalism, and now Shah, who has been disqualified by the Election Commission for two years. Too much of power ...

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Where is Shahnila Naz?

Soon after my return to Pakistan from Germany, one of the most progressive nations holding on firm to human rights and anti-violence policies, and where I worked extensively on women issues, I was confronted with one good piece of news and one bad. The good news was that a Belgian court had sentenced 20-year-old Sadia Sheikh’s family on charges of killing her for ‘honour’ in 2007. Her brother, who had shot her dead while she had returned to pacify her parents over her decision to marry a Belgian, was sentenced to 15 years. The court also sentenced her father and ...

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I pledge not to travel in the pink bus

This week the Punjab government inaugurated the first three ‘pink buses’, which are meant for female passengers only. With enough seats, affordable fares and smiling women conductors, this bus is not less than a dream come true for women tired of travelling in the jam-packed, wee ladies’ compartment in public buses. For Pakistani women, no doubt the trepidation of unexpected hands, nasty ogling and irksome comments in public transport is reason enough to want a separate compartment in public transport vehicles. At least, it was for me. Throughout my university years, I travelled in all sorts of public transport on ...

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Another women’s bill passed – so what?

So another bill was passed in the National Assembly for taking women rights forward. As a woman, and an ardent advocate of women rights, I should be happy and celebrating. But, seriously, I am not. In fact, what does this Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment) Act 2011 have to offer that the Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act, 2006 or the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010 did not offer anyway? Women are still raped, killed for ‘honour’, thrown acid on and harassed at the workplace. Does passing a bill and making it into a ...

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