Stories published in September, 2014

Scotland referendum: Is the glass half full or half empty for the Scots?

History will remember this simmering September with shimmering words, as the world witnessed Scotland choosing to remain a part of the United Kingdom (UK) on September 18, 2014; where the two letter word ‘No’ subjugated the three letter word ‘Yes’ in the referendum; where a clear majority of 55% to 45% decided to continue the 307-year-old affiliation with UK. No one can flout the historical fact that Scotland’s three centuries old odyssey with UK is one of the strongest political unions in European history this world has ever seen. However, a simple question springs in many minds that why this ...

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Imran Khan versus Saad Rafique: In defence of Sheru

While surfing the net I stumbled on Saad Rafique’s harangue in the Parliament, berating Imran Khan for owning a dog called Sheru.  He seemed rather upset at the animal’s domestic privileges and rebuked Imran for allowing Sheru to sit on a drawing room sofa while showering heaps of affection on him. In his tirade against his political opponent, Rafique emphasised how keeping dogs and being affectionate towards them is against our cultural/religious values. Now, I happen to be a staunch supporter of animal rights, with a special place in my heart for dogs. Hence, I do not take kindly to ...

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Why was Dr Shakil Auj shot?

A year ago, I began working on a small report about various Islamic Studies syllabi at public universities (which, unfortunately, never made it to print owing to some editorial bottlenecks). I rang up Dr Shakil Auj, the dean of the Islamic Learning department of Karachi University, and asked if I could bring some questions to him. “No beta, I am very busy these days, maybe next week.” “Please, it won’t take long.” He agreed. I reached the Karachi University’s Islamic Learning department on a Friday morning. Not many classes are scheduled for Fridays. Girls, most of them heavily veiled, were perched on benches, ...

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Dukhtar: A mother’s plight against child marriage

Rarely do movies of such calibre come along that transcend generations and provoke our greater thought process, not because of impressive visuals, A-list actors, extravagant set pieces and locales but because of its strong story-driven narrative – narrative that is deeply entrenched into the harsh realities of life, as opposed to a work of fiction.  Dukhtar too has a potential to lay claim to all of that and then some, thanks to its excellent subject matter. Dukhtar means ‘daughter’ in Farsi and Urdu dialects. The movie is predominately a story about the plights, miseries and ultimately the bravery exhibited by the principal protagonist ...

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Will Canada be held responsible for Jamila Bibi’s death?

This is not the story of a helpless woman who fled from her country, Pakistan, because of accusations of adultery and attempts on her life. It’s not about how 65-year-old Jamila Bibi just could not put her trust in the legal system in Pakistan. This is the story of how even after she escaped certain, violent, retribution for allegedly committing adultery, her narrative was lost in the complexity of laws which first protected her and then threw her back to the wolves. Jamila Bibi sought asylum in Canada in 2007 because her life was in danger after her husband accused her ...

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Scotland referendum: If they can have it, why can’t Kashmir?

Today, on September 18, Scots will decide whether they want to stay with the Great Britain or opt for independence. This is a big day, not only for Scotland but for the entire world as this referendum will seal the fate of the United Kingdom. It’ll be a great setback for UK if they lose in the referendum, as David Cameron expressed on Twitter: On Thursday, Scotland votes – and the future of the UK is at stake. Please help keep our family of nations together: https://t.co/j0JkdjiK7f — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) September 15, 2014 The Scots are very happy about this step, as people are seen waiting excitedly ...

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Religious discrimination: Plaguing the educated class

My heart wept when a house in Gujranwala was set ablaze, in July this year, just because it belonged to an Ahmadi family. At the time, I attributed this wave of extreme religious attitudes across the country to the lack of education in most of its parts. I was successful in finding solace in the thought that once educated, our society would be able to traverse such petty differences and the majority would learn to live in harmony with the minorities. On September 10, 2014, the day the society elections at IBA-Karachi took place, my utopian ideas were shattered. That day, I could see ...

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Series 1: “Dreams of Lunacy” Part 4 Identity

“I’m going for a sleepover at Salman’s house.” “What?” “Sleepover, ammi.” “Now? At mid-night?” she exclaimed. “Jee, everyone is getting together right now, please, midterms just ended today.” “Okay, but this is never happening again,” she said, as she shook her head. Ghaffar gave her a hug, and got the keys from Zameer, who was awake, watching a Bollywood movie in the servant quarters. He headed towards his Corolla and was soon on the road. There was no sleepover. He just wanted some time for himself and what better than a drive around Lahore, with nowhere to reach and no one to check upon him. He opened the ...

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First execution in 6 years: Government plays with Shoaib’s life

Pakistan ranks sixth in the total number of people it executes after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the United States. According to Amnesty International estimates, there are more than 8,500 prisoners on death row in Pakistan. The only legal method of killing a condemned prisoner is hanging them till their neck breaks.  According to the International Commission of Jurists, Pakistan is ‘part of a dwindling minority among states which have retained the death penalty and carry out executions’. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s policy on the execution of death sentences is still at best – unclear. An order issued by former president Asif Ali ...

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Namkeen Mutton Karhai: A reminder of authentic Peshawari food

For those who don’t know, Peshawar is famous for its Namakmandi. Contradictory to the name, it does not have anything to do with salt but is known for its cuisine, particularly its karhai and tikka. What sets their food apart from the rest is the lack of spices in it, without which they still manage to create scrumptious dishes for their customers. One such dish, their namkeen karhai, is a simple and special one. A few days ago, my family and I decided to visit the Habibi Restaurant located in I-8, Islamabad. They offer some of the most delicious and ...

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