Erum Shaikh

The writer is a News Editor at The Express Tribune and has an Undergraduate Degree in Law from the University of London. She tweets @shaikherum (

Christmas and Boxing Day: Celebrations in pictures around the world!

Christmas- a day of celebration for most of the world and Boxing Day – the perfect cherry on top. Besides Eid, Christmas takes priority in my life as well. My grandmother, a Czech national, Christian who converted to Islam long long ago still celebrates Christmas with the same zeal as she does Eid. Secretly, I believe Santa Claus still exists too. Many argue that being a Muslim I should not be celebrating a Christian tradition– however, being brought up in the family that I have, I believe that life is way too short and we need all the occasions we can ...

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Is smoking banned for women in Pakistan?

“Isn’t smoking for women banned in Islam?” asked a friend from the UK. “Are you allowed to smoke in Pakistan, being a woman?” Many times, women in this great nation come across such questions. Having attempted to clear these misconceptions a number of times, it was only pragmatic, if not necessary, to search for the root cause of these misgivings. Is Islam being hijacked by our cultures, traditions and social norms? My answer, plainly, was, “No, smoking is not banned for women in Pakistan.” With his flabbergasted look, I realised that my answer did not pacify the curiosity of this media-influenced gentleman. Smoking in ...

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G-B massacre: When will Pakistan really win independence?

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is a natural splendour which Pakistan boasts as a tourist attraction for foreigners and expats. This mountainous terrain is adorned with snow capped  peaks, lush valleys and rivers that could revitalise your very soul. This place was heaven on earth; this place exists no more. G-B, which once stood as the most appealing attraction for tourists now stands amongst one of the most neglected regions of the world. Eaten away by sectarianism, extremism and militancy, our lush valleys of the North are embedded with fear and vulnerability. The presence of militant factions and clashes between rival sects have become ...

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London Olympics 2012 closing ceremony: The razzle that dazzled

And that’s a wrap! Spectacular- the first word that comes to mind when describing the closing ceremony of the most anticipated event of the year. In these past 17 days, London has given the world something to talk about, raised the bar of expectations, satisfied the world’s insatiable appetite for entertainment and they did it with style and pride. But the climax was reached with the smashing success of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics 2012. Featuring more than 4,100 performers, including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren, the ceremony showcased talent, artistes and creativity with attention to detail, sparing ...

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Please save me, Doctor

So, the doctors are protesting. What else is new in Pakistan? It’s just one endless protest after the other, is it not? Guilty as charged; I have become desensitised to the violence and injustice my poor country sees every single day. However, this particular protest did not go unnoticed by me for one simple reason. Innocent children died. The gravity of the YDA protest really hit me when my driver narrated a story to me this morning on my way to work. Very casually he asked me: Baji agar doctor apney mareez ko chor ke challa jata hai aur woh mar jata hai toh ...

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Don’t vote (but don’t complain)

As a young Pakistani I often feel patriotism is a virtue deficient in the Pakistani youth. To us, the phrase, ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ is a suitable misfortune. We dwell upon how to escape – to a different country, a country more ‘suitable’ for the development of our skills or a country swelling with appreciation for individuals from other nations; those individuals being us. We, who didn’t like the working of the corrupt government in our country and didn’t bother making it suitable. Us, who didn’t vote and chose the ‘corrupt’ government by default. ...

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Down with Valentine’s Day!

It’s that dreaded day of the year again, unknown to none, prohibited by many and celebrated by most; Valentine’s Day. Pagan rituals and worshipping “Christianized” idols are probably at their peak right now. A commercial excuse for public displays of affection and then the hateful price hike in the market on ultimate necessities like flowers and chocolates? I’m so glad there are groups on Facebook that addressed this rising concern like: Sorry, Valentines Day I am Muslim Let’s boycott Valentine’s Day and Jihad against Biddah. A post on Jihad against Biddah asks pertinent questions like: Will u b my valentine on d DAY OF JUDGEMENT ...

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