Stories published in August, 2013

‘Re-virginising’ in a tube: ‘Purity’ for sale at Pakistani pharmacies

A few months ago, I noticed pharmacies in Karachi were carrying topical cures for lost virginity, “re-virginising” in a tube. These over-the-counter fixes were everywhere – counters in large supermarkets, small pharmacies acting as corner shops – hard to miss once you knew it was out there. One of the names is hard to forget, ‘B-Virgin’, the package displaying a youthful girl smiling at white flowers. I admit there is the potential for dark humour given the name; instead it just makes me very sad. This is the message we are giving our girls, our women. “Don’t be true to yourself; instead invest, medicate and ...

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Red Ant Dream: A documentary on naxalism, Moaists and the Punjab revolution

A few years ago, I watched a documentary film. I watched it till the very end. Once finished, I played it again – for I searched for meaning; the meaning of ‘azaadi’ (freedom), which to me, before watching this documentary had an altogether different connotation. The film inspired me. It made me believe in the significance of the word azaadi. It turned my life towards a different dimension. For the first time, I understood that occupation is not only about tyranny, killings and oppression. Something more perilous was hidden beneath – capitalism and foreign investment, just to fulfil some neo-liberal aspirations. ...

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DSP Qasim Ali Khan Ghouri: He was my baba and he died serving Pakistan

I’m writing this article in the memory of my khalu (maternal uncle), Shaheed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Qasim Ali Khan Ghouri, who was martyred at 8:30am on August 15, 2013. This is not meant to be a eulogy because no words are sufficient to express my affection and regard for khalu. I’d just like to share some very special experiences and lessons from my his life. Lessons from a martyr Khalu often used to express his deepest sympathies for the frequent martyrdom of policemen, but I never thought that, one day, he’d sacrifice his life for a policeman. I believed that ...

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Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray, who will win the US Open?

As the tennis season nears its conclusion, attention turns to the boisterous city of New York, home to one the most unpredictable Grand Slam events – the US open Championships. Rapper Jay Z called New York the concrete jungle where dreams come true. For the tennis elite, the two weeks of the US open in New York is indeed all about chasing their dreams. The big four players of the tennis world, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are the usual suspects for this year’s US open crown. However the dynamics inside the big four are changing. Djokovic has hung on ...

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About a time when friends were real and life was simple

One of the most vivid memories from my early teen years is of my best friend at that time and me, sitting outside his building near the pavement, drinking  Coke and eating sandwiches. I used to take a cab from my house to his and then we would sit outside on our usual spot and talk. We used to talk about nothing in particular and yet, we had so much to say; so many ambitions, dreams, goals, small and big challenges, love affairs, infatuations and yes, personal philosophies and beliefs (even at that age) to share with each other. We were ...

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Being a woman: Why does marriage equal lifetime security?

“You’ll be left alone, to rot in a corner of the house owned by your brothers and their families.” “There’s a time when you’re wanted, and it doesn’t last long.” “People will ask questions like why our ‘peghla lur’ (young daughter)’ is still not taken!” Are you familiar with such statements? No? Unfortunately I am.  And so is every other girl of my area who is in her mid-twenties, educated …. but still not ‘taken.’ I remember the time when I passed my Matric exam. I had aimed to study at the best college of the province and I somehow managed to fulfil this ...

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Egypt: Does the West change the definition of democracy when it comes to Muslims?

While the Egyptian army is busy massacring Morsi supporters in Egypt, the west and local liberals both have turned mute and silent. Hundreds have been killed and it is feared that the violence will escalate once the Egyptian army resumes its standard operating procedure of ‘find-torture-kill’; something it has mastered for a number of years. Champions of freedom and democracy, the US and the West, have once again shown their true colours of deceit, deception and hypocrisy as they fully support the Al-Sisi led coup without once thinking of the impact this could have on a ‘democratically elected’ government; ...

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What Pakistan can learn from the world to protect its rape victims

All of us sat before our computers and our TV screens in the past year to see the different cases (the high-profile Stuebenville, Ohio rape trial, the India gang rape case in December) that had grabbed headlines all over the world. This brought back into action public discussion about rape and the corresponding legal protection for its victims. Recently, in what was perhaps a very positive move against sexual violence, the British police arrested a man due to his online threats against a feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado Perez, after she succeeded in her campaign to get Jane Austen’s picture on a ...

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My sacrifice to God

It was an ordinary day, like any morning when I would wake up – wake the children, send them off to the washroom and lay their clothes out so they won’t have to shout for every vest or sock they could not find. And yes, I called them both children – my husband, Raza and my son Hussain. They both act the same. Sometimes Hussain seemed like he was the adult in our house, not Raza. Then I would sleepily make my way to the kitchen to make breakfast – something ordinary for Raza and myself; and for Hussain, I’d ...

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Zamarud Khan, I will not thank you for jeopardising peoples’ lives

It was downhill from the start. The weak security that enabled Sikandar, a man armed to the teeth to gain entry into the most sensitive area in the country, the Red Zone in Islamabad. They allowed him and his family to hang around for hours in a bizarre stand-off with the entire police and security of the area.  Casually smoking cigarettes and firing occasional shots into the air, Sikandar sauntered around easily, while his black clad wife trotted between her husband and the authorities delivering messages from one to the other. Meantime those in charge of security just stood there. There are several ...

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