Maria Kari

Maria Kari

The author is a lawyer and freelance journalist. She tweets as @mariakari1414 (twitter.com/mariakari1414)

Is Nawaz Sharif trying to prove he is above and beyond the law?

Last year’s Panama Paper leaks not only exposed the truth behind the corrupt and swindling ways of Nawaz Sharif but also the person he really is. It turns out that behind his false facade of being a selfless father, husband and brother, Nawaz is really nothing more than a self-involved actor who took our country for a ride. Furthermore, he claims to love nothing more than his countrymen and is quick to rise from the ashes like a phoenix (despite being ousted repeatedly), when this is anything but true. Last week, in a great twist of irony, Nawaz finally decided to take us on ...

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Yes, Mashal Khan’s story is a difficult watch, but it’s a necessary watch to keep us from forgetting

In April, a deranged mob of college students murdered Mashal Khan, an intelligent, curious, and outspoken journalism student, over views and comments that some regarded as ‘blasphemous’. The mob-led murder caught the world’s attention after a shakily recorded cell phone video of the lynching went viral. Just like that, the door had been flung open, exposing the sheer inhumanity and intellectual neglect that constantly simmers below the surface of Pakistani society, even within its supposedly enlightened institutions. In these past few months, many minutes of prime-time were devoted to and much ink was spilled over Mashal and Pakistan’s notoriously inhumane and antiquated blasphemy laws. This week, the story ...

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Why Taimoor Raza’s death sentence does not come as a surprise in Pakistan

Last week, an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur gave 30-year-old Taimoor Raza a death sentence for allegedly blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on social media. The verdict left many stunned since it was the first time a death sentence has been given to someone for their actions online. Yet, despite it being a shocking legal decision, it was not a surprising one. At least not for those of us who have been keeping up with the country’s constantly evolving crackdown on its citizens’ cyberspace activities. For years now, activists, politicians, and journalists have bemoaned the many ways that Pakistan’s antiquated blasphemy laws can be abused. Whether it is ...

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Trial by force(s)

Last week a special military court approved the execution of MBA graduate, small business owner turned killer Saad Aziz who pled guilty last April after gunning down prominent rights activist Sabeen Mahmud. In the aftermath of the horrific Peshawar school attack in December 2014, military intervention into Pakistan’s ineffective civilian criminal justice system was deemed necessary. Since then, terrorism cases, like the case of Saad Aziz, fall under the purview of special military courts, which were instituted in January 2015 as a temporary fix with a two-year expiry period. As of this month, the two-year trial period of special military courts ...

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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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Just like George Bush, Obama’s mistakes, broken promises and war-crimes will also be forgotten

Following his yearlong campaign of racism, sexism, and sheer bigotry, Donald Trump’s victory has become a summons to reflect on the eight-year tenure of President Barack Obama. Indeed, in the shocking aftermath of the election, most of us have set our default mode to ardent fans ready to jump on every chance at glorifying the outgoing Obama administration.  Opinions on any outgoing politician are always polarising. In Obama’s case, many questions and promises remain. Was he able to strengthen the American resolve to fight the threat of global terrorism, or were his detractors right all along about his foreign policy being ...

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Will Pakistan be able to #SaveNabeel?

In September, Nabeel Masih, a sixteen-year-old Christian boy was charged under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. His crime was ‘liking’ a post that allegedly ‘defamed and disrespected’ the Kaaba. Over a month later the police have yet to submit an initial investigation report to the courts. This means Nabeel is currently languishing in jail. His family has been forced into hiding and, fearing for their safety, many of his Christian neighbours have fled the area. Fair trials are uncommon in blasphemy law cases. Should Nabeel have a proper and fair day in court he’d likely be found not guilty for two reasons. First, there is ...

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October 3, 2016
TOPICS

Give up Modi, the US will never be on your side

Last month, a US petition to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism gained serious momentum. Having crossed the 100,000 signature threshold, the issue now awaits addressing by the Obama administration. The question then begs to be answered: is or has Pakistan been a state sponsor of terrorism in its checkered past? With all due respect and within all my patriotic sensibilities, I believe the answer to be possibly – nay, probably – yes. For as long as I can remember covering South Asian politics, Pakistan has been on the hook for spending nights in bed with the Americans with quickie afternoon siestas with home grown extremist groups. ...

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September 10, 2016
TOPICS

Do you know what ghag is?

For the Pakhtun people, the unwritten ethical code of Pashtunwali, dating to the pre-Islamic era, is as central to their lives as Islam. This can leave the Pakhtun people torn between religion and the culture of their people. One of the more deplorable ways in which this cultural-religious disconnect manifests is through the centuries old custom of ghag. Ghag, which roughly translates as ‘avaaz lagana’ or ‘to make something known’, is when a man announces his intention to marry a particular woman. The announcement can be done in many ways. Often a messenger is sent to the house of the ...

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Big Brother is watching

Nowadays recording devices, hidden cameras, satellites, and web giants like Facebook and Google collect all sorts of information on tech-users. But, historically, a state of surveillance has always existed. Long before CCTV cameras, bugging devices, and online data collection became the century’s norm, societies were dealing with purloined letters opened before delivery, spies from foreign lands, and good ol’ fashioned eavesdroppers behind closed doors. Historian David Kahn, writing on human privacy (or the lack thereof), notes how, “…centuries ago, people in England, France and German states fought for the right to send letters without their being opened by the ‘black chambers’ ...

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