ayesha.umar

Ayesha Umar

Interested in current affairs, cultural and gender-based issues Ayesha religiously tweets @ayeshaesque. In her free time she blogs at Fifth Junction and indulges in random photography.

The domino effect of terrorism

While the dictionary defines it as the “use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims there is no unanimous legal definition of ‘terrorism’ If it was up to me, I would define it as a continual dose of fear that creates uncertainty, distrust and melancholy. That melancholy triggers depression, which in turn gives birth to numerous psychological ailments. Recently, a noted psychiatrist from Peshawar, Dr Khalid Mufti, released a survey report, conducted under his supervision by an NGO called Horizon. According to the survey, 80 per cent of South and North Waziristan residents are suffering from mental illness while ...

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No, it is not time for gay rights in Pakistan

In the wake of the same-sex marriage bill passed by the New York Senate, a few people are supporting similar kind of rights for the (still closeted) gay community in Pakistan. In my view, it is disastrous to even think of it at this moment, for the following reasons: The gay community in the United States (US) achieved their current rights after decades of continuous social, political and legal struggle. Yet even today, several states including the US federal government do not recognise civil union/partnership. Some states permit civil unions but they don’t equalise those to marriage. According to public wishes, ...

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Kill, in the name of religion

According to a recent news report, an organisation called All-Pakistan Students Khatam-e-Nabuwwat is disseminating pamphlets declaring Ahmadis as wajibul qatl (liable to be murdered) for their religious beliefs. The local police authorities, in their usual style, have swept the issue under the carpet. Pakistan is a boiling pot of sectarian strife. A history of hate Sectarian discord escalated in the 1980s and Pakistan became a proxy battle ground for the Sunni and Shia organisations, heavily funded by Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan goes back to the days of its inception. 1953: When Pakistan was still trying to ...

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Judge Khalida Rashid: A Pakistani to be proud of

She was a regular girl from  Peshawar who grew up to be appointed  president of an international tribunal for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Khalida Rashid, who was recently appointed as the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is a source of pride. Rashid was born in 1949 in Peshawar. She obtained her LLB degree from Khyber Law College, Peshawar in 1969 and her Masters in Political Science degree from Peshawar University in 1971. She was inducted in the NWFP (now Khyber-Pukhtunkhuwa) judiciary in 1974 as the first female Civil Judge. In 1979, she was promoted ...

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Not everyone who dies tragically is a ‘shaheed’

In Pakistan the suffix shaheed is frequently used for politicians, scholars, journalists, armed forces personnel and even militants depending upon how people or the media conceives that person. The use of the word shaheed is indeed another gift of Zia’s era when martyrdom was glorified during the Afghan war. Our armed forces have been engaged in conflict against militants since 2004. These militants claim that the killing of innocent Muslims, mostly women and children, doesn’t make soldiers  martyrs and, that in fact they are wajib-ul-qatal (punishable by murder) for this offence. So a militant is considered a shaheed among his ...

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Saeed Book Bank: Another casualty in KP

It’s not that I never anticipated the closure of one of Peshawar’s largest and oldest bookstores, Saeed Book Bank, yet that news still broke my heart. I can’t exactly recall my first visit to the store but I do know it was the best book store in the province. Saeed Book Bank has been regarded as a site worth mentioning to tourists in Peshawar. It has served the literary and educational needs of the people of KP for over five decades. Saeed Book Bank was established in 1955 by Saeed Jan Qureshi. His sons took over the family business in 1985. ...

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The paradox of the female suicide bomber

The Taliban’s claims of the presence of female suicide bombers in their ranks remain paradoxical. In the past, they have asserted that they do not target women (hence they denied involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination) nor use women as tools in war. However, both these claims seem to be false. Using female bombers The Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat chapter has been involved in the rampant killing of women. One of their well known victims was the former member of Swat district council Bakht Zeba. She vehemently criticised the Taliban for preventing girls from attending school. As a result the Taliban unleashed their wrath. They dragged ...

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Diplomatic criminal: Will Raymond Davis go unpunished?

On January 27, when American national Raymond Davis was arrested for shooting and killing two Pakistani civilians on a busy road in Lahore, he identified himself as a diplomat. Following this lead, the media initially dubbed Davis as a diplomat; he was then called a consular employee and finally, some reports claimed he was a civilian visiting Pakistan on a business visa. The US State Department has not divulged much information regarding his identity. On the day of the incident, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J Crowley refused to discuss Davis’ identity and only referred to him an employee at the ...

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Leave Veena Malik alone!

When Pakistani film and television personality Veena Malik went to India to participate in popular reality show “Big Boss 4” she was doing a job – as an actress not an ambassador. According to Malik one of her tasks on the show was adding melodrama to the program – which she did. She was also, apparently requested to display a certain degree of intimacy with Indian model and actor Ashmit Patel.  This was where it all went wrong. The Pakistani public’s moral barometer hit the roof at the sight of a “quom ki beti” cuddling in the arms of ...

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Dr Farooq: The loss of an intellectual

The assassination of religious scholar, intellectual and author of several books, Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan, reminded us once again that anyone who dares to challenge extremist and militant forces will meet with a tragic end. Dr Farooq, a psychiatrist, was killed along with his assistant while he was taking a lunch break in his Mardan clinic. According to reports, two bearded men entered the clinic and wished to see the doctor. Dr Farooq’s assistant was killed upon resistance. One of them fatally shot Dr Farooq while his accomplice stood guard at the door. The perpetrators fled after committing the ...

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