Stories published in September, 2014

Undoing religious intolerance – undoing the second amendment

Religious clerics in Pakistan celebrate September 7th as a day of victory for Islam and Pakistan. Officially dubbed the “Khatme Nubuwwat Day” or “Finality of Prophethood Day,” many mosques come alive with celebrations this day, sweets are distributed and intense speeches are made in large religious gatherings.  Forty years ago this day, Pakistan passed the second amendment to its Constitution, forcibly declaring the Ahmadis non-Muslim. With the stroke of a pen, the Ahmadis had been snatched of their basic right to self-identity at the insistence of the very clerics who had opposed Jinnah in his rightful struggle. It was this day that Pakistan started drifting away from ...

Read Full Post

How deep-rooted is religious intolerance in Pakistan?

Statistics have labelled Pakistan one of the world’s premier terrorism affected nations. However the one silver lining in the cloud of an extremist attack is a unified chant of ‘yeh hum naheen’ (this is not who we are). But when a beloved young athlete displays religious bias, can we really comfort ourselves with the same philosophy? Footage showing Pakistani opener, Ahmed Shehzad, making religious comments to Sri Lanka’s player, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has caused a media frenzy and propelled an official Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) probe into the matter. In the video Shehzad is heard saying, “If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no ...

Read Full Post

Cut from the same cloth: Of Javed Hashmi and Imran Khan

“The army is behind Imran Khan”, said Makhdoom Javed Hashmi – one of Pakistan’s most celebrated politicians and a living saint to thousands of his followers. On September 2, Hashmi came out with startling revelations that Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf (PTI), was allegedly acting on the military’s behalf. The proclamation sent shockwaves across the country as the realisation set in that one of Pakistan’s most popular politicians’ is an army errand boy. Hashmi became an unlikely saviour for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s deeply flawed democratic system, currently being challenged by Khan. Protests against the government have rocked ...

Read Full Post

Celebrity photo leaks: Drop the drama, everyone loves a story!

The ‘nude celebrities’ pictures’ leak last week on the internet’s various social media sites has created an unwarranted, but nevertheless expected, level of hoopla. The truth is, in this day and age, any educated and avid internet user, with a plethora of passwords for a multitude of accounts and, who watches thrillers is well aware of the universal do-no-gooders called hackers, trolls, and cyberpunks. If the CIA can subject governments of entire countries to hacking, spying, and needlessly-putting-your-nose-where-it-definitely-does-not-belong, then you’d have the common sense to realise that once you put your images, messages, trivial and/or important personal information into any ...

Read Full Post

Been there, done that: How ‘Naya’ will Naya Pakistan be anyway?

Can big names and old faces bring a revolution and change the system or are they just another step towards decadence? This question needs to be asked about the leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) trying to win ‘freedom’ for the people of Pakistan and who are also, directly or indirectly, equally responsible for the current condition the people are in. PTI’s top leadership is notorious for jumping parties, and loyalties, but the party has yet to deliver what it has promised to the masses – even after governing a province for the past 14 months. Most people lost hope when many old ...

Read Full Post

Bring back shows we want to watch, bring ‘Ringer’ back!

I am not a TV geek, there are only very few television shows that I follow. The kinds that I tend to keep an eye on are those with wicked, devious themes and those that are full of secrets. Nowadays, it’s all about shows like The Big Bang Theory or the Game of Thrones. But in all honesty, such shows have never enticed me as a viewer. They are quite overrated, if you ask me. The unfortunate thing, however, is that a show, such as the Ringer, was not appreciated or given any credit; despite the fact that it had a riveting storyline and great cast to ...

Read Full Post

Value their lives, honour their deaths, Pakistan

The day after the legendary Mehdi Hassan died, I was at a restaurant where live ghazals were being sung by a budding singer. He was entertaining requests and invariably all the requests being made were of the ghazals sung by Mehdi Hassan. It was as if the people could not think of a better singer. I sat pleased for a moment that the star has truly been recognised. But then it ached deep down, wasn’t it too late? For weeks Mehdi Hassan had laid bedridden and yet, there had been no calls for prayer, no fans thronging his premises and no government officials ensuring ...

Read Full Post

Remembering those in Kashmir who exist but are missing

For hundreds of Kashmiri families whose relatives – mostly sons or husbands – have been subjected to custodial disappearances, the struggle for justice is, in many ways, a battle between memory and forgetfulness. They insist they won’t give up their fight; they won’t forget; and they won’t forgive. Among many other serious crimes committed against humanity in disputed Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government forces are also accused of subjecting between 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiris to enforced custodial disappearance since the eruption of popular armed uprising against Indian rule in restive Himalayan region in 1989. During a press conference in 2008, the state government led by ...

Read Full Post

Preaching Islam on the pitch

What was Ahmed Shehzad thinking? One blogger in Pakistan quipped perhaps the cricketer was trying to secure the sports ministry in a future Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)-led government. But retorts aside, what is most troubling about the incident is that it hasn’t seemed to result in any trouble for Shehzad, who is clearly unfazed by the entire episode. Coupled with Tillakaratne Dilshan’s casual response and his decision to remain silent over Shehzad’s completely needless evangelism, Shehzad may easily get away for what he shouldn’t. Whether the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will choose to impose any sort of penalty on the ...

Read Full Post

Aitzaz Ahsan, I used to believe in you

Dear Sir, I am writing this letter to request you to reconsider your role in the current political crisis and to be on the right side of history. I, being a member of the educated middle class of Pakistan, see you as a man who has always stood up against injustice. I see you as a man whose political life spanning half a century gives testimony that my country still has educated, brave and faithful fighters who would do whatever it takes to defend Pakistan. I know that you were a college student like me when you campaigned against the dictatorship of Ayub Khan. I ...

Read Full Post