bina.shah

Bina Shah

Author of A Season For Martyrs. She tweets @BinaShah (twitter.com/BinaShah)

Understanding rape through the Game of Thrones

Warning: For those of you, who have yet to watch the new season of Game of Thrones, be prepared for spoilers. Or stop reading.   ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————- I’ve been following the controversy about the Game of Thrones rape scene, which troubled a lot of women when it was aired this past Sunday. In the scene, Sansa Stark is raped by the sadistic psychopath Ramsey Bolton, while Theon Greyjoy is invited to watch. You don’t see Sansa or Ramsey, but you hear everything, while the camera focuses on Theon as he weeps. This, women have said, is unacceptable. Rape should not be used as a plot point. It’s gratuitous. ...

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Why are we as a nation so obsessed with Imran Khan’s marriage?

The New Year has begun, and by all indications, Pakistan is going to be as messed up in 2015 as it was in 2014, 2013, 2012… you get the idea. Things don’t look good for this beloved banana republic of ours, with terrorists breathing down our neck, military courts and death penalties, economic woes, and foreign policy Gordian knots that just keep tying themselves up again the moment someone brings a sword this way. Yet the one matter of greatest importance on everyone’s minds (and tongues) is the marriage of Imran Khan. “Did he or didn’t he?” has surpassed “To ...

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Pakistan celebrates Anti-Malala Day

An exclusive interview with the brains behind the anti-Malala day. Two days ago, the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation headed by Mirza Kashif Ali, celebrated ‘I Am Not Malala day’. It’s said that the association, which represents a network of some 150,000,000 private schools in Pakistan, is planning a ‘Pro-Polio day’ for its next stunt, followed by a ‘Flat Earth day’ in solidarity with the members of the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States. After chairing a panel consisting of six middle-aged men at the Islamabad Press Club, where not a single woman was present in the audience, Ali told The New York Times, “We are all ...

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‘Dishonourable’ love – You should be stoned to death

This story about a pregnant 25-year-old woman, Farzana Parveen, being bashed to death with bricks by her brothers and uncles because she dared to marry of her own choice, is the kind of news that makes your heart drop and your stomach churn.  It’s being called an ‘honour killing’ in the press but it is murder – in fact, we should call it an execution. Farzana was going to court in Lahore to testify that she had married her husband out of choice, in response to a fake kidnapping case brought about by her family who were enraged that she ...

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A FRESH! prespective at the Amin Gulgee Gallery

This evening I attended the launch of an unusual art exhibition in Karachi at the Amin Gulgee Gallery. It was called ‘Fresh!’ – 64 artists under 30, and showcased the art of yes, you guessed it, 64 young Pakistani artists from all across the country. Source: AminGulgee.com John McCarry, coordinator of the gallery, told me that Amin had attended an exhibition in New York at the New Museum called ‘Younger than Jesus’, which showcased artists all under the age of 34. “Why not do something like that here?” wondered Amin. So he found two co-curators, Raania Azam Khan Durrani, founder of the Commune Artist ...

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Paul Smith shoes and cultural appropriation

Paul Smith has come up with a fabulous new design for shoes, check them out. They call them the ‘Robert Sandals’ and you can buy them here online for GBP 300. Source: Paul Smith website Except oops, wait a second, this isn’t an original design by Paul Smith! They are in fact Peshawari chappals (slippers) that have been made and sold in Pakistan for the last, oh, 200 years? Here is a fine example of the Peshawari chappal from Zalmay, a Peshawar shoe store. They make these shoes to sell abroad, given the price in GBP, 27 pounds. Zalmay doesn’t have a monopoly on this design ...

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Dr Javaid Laghari: Plagiarist or political victim?

In the last few days a report surfaced in The Express Tribune that Dr Javaid Laghari, former Head of HEC and former Vice-Chancellor of SZABIST, was found ‘guilty’ of plagiarism by a three-member HEC committee. By virtue of a paper Dr Laghari was said to have co-authored in 2003 with Mohammed Nadeem, a member of the Faculty of the Computer Science Departmet at SZABIST, the committee used plagiarism software to check the contents of the paper and found that it was 30 per cent plagiarised from a European Union report, although a previous report in the Dawn from August 2013 ...

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist at the cinema

So last night I watched The Reluctant Fundamentalist at the cinema in Karachi (yes! we have cinemas!). I’d been looking forward to watching this for some time; the first feature film based on a contemporary Pakistani novel certainly deserved a viewing, to see how Mira Nair brought the whole story to life. What would she include, what would she leave out? I’d heard that the movie differed from the book in significant ways, adding a thriller twist that wasn’t in the novel. This could make the movie or ruin it.   For me as a writer, it was exciting to see ...

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Karachi Literature Festival 2013: With tolerance and respect for all

So the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) is over. Three jam-packed days devoted to writing, to literature and to everything else in between. A festival not just of books, but of thoughts and ideas, with the space for diverse opinions to be held and expressed, and respected by all. I would have to say that this year’s festival, the fourth, was the most mature and powerful it has ever been. This festival has really come into its own, from its first time at the Carlton Hotel. This year’s festival was held at the Beach Luxury Hotel, which revitalised and renenergised the ...

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How do you live in a country that’s killing you?

I’m not in Pakistan at the moment, but whenever I travel I leave my heart behind in its hands for safekeeping. I keep thinking about it, like a woman thinks about her beloved, talking to people about it, looking for news about its well-being. So it was with horror that I learned about the bombing in Quetta on January 10 that killed nearly a hundred Shias as they were at a religious gathering. On the same day, bombs went off in Swat and Karachi, killing yet more innocent people. We lost a wonderful human rights activist, Irfan Ali, who had attended last year’s ...

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