Stories published in May, 2015

APS attack: Love can move mountains, part rivers and change Pakistan

I used to hear about a condition often faced by writers called ‘writer’s block’, which entails the writer losing the ability to produce new work or experiencing a creative slowdown. Not that I can call myself a writer but I have certainly had some sort of a block for nearly six years, when it came to penning something down. It coincides almost precisely with the time I left my beloved Pakistan, and I couldn’t quite understand why. I used to wonder whether it was because I had left all the richness of my beautiful country and its people behind which was fuel ...

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Six questions to ask after the #SafooraBusAttack

A couple of days ago, Karachi witnessed an unprecedented act of barbarism when a bus full of Ismailis – one of the most peaceful community in Pakistan – was targeted and shot at, resulting in the deaths of 45 people, with numerous injured. My heart goes out to the victims and their families in their difficult time. As soon as the attack took place, commiserations, condolences and compensations began to pour in from all over the country. However, I feel that it is useless now to even listen to what our leaders have to say, since they repeat the same message ...

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My heart bleeds for thee, little cherubs of Peshawar

O little cherubs of Peshawar, I am sorry for thee: thou departed from this world too soon, To thy heavenly abode. But I am content, for thou shalt at least be safe in heaven, That is bereft of earthly demons.   I am sorry for thee, thou must have gone through immense pain, And suffering at the hands of mindless beasts, Who came to thy school on a bloody feast, Inflicting gaping wounds on thy little, fragile bodies.   What was thy fault, thou must have wondered? Thou were good at studies; thou wouldst do homework on time, Thou were disciplined and punctual too, Besides being messengers of peace.   Thou were no children of a lesser ...

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“Stop encouraging the idea of education within these children”

I recently got into an argument over class, status and ranks – the superficial boundaries that divide our society. And the greatest regret coming from it was the fact that even the most educated minds are still so deeply woven into these concepts that it provokes the irrationale amidst me. I grew up with four kids who did not belong to my class; they were children of my ‘maid’ who I lovingly call my second mom. When I was growing up, the word ‘maid’ and ‘nokar’ was prohibited in my household. She was known as ‘Baji’, who helped us around ...

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From APS victims to Sabeen Mahmud: Honouring all who have been taken away from us

I write this from the #IamSabeen vigil at Do Talwar. It has been 17 days since I have been present here daily from 8pm to 9pm. I come to celebrate Sabeen, to grieve her death, to find comfort in fellow protesters and to tell the world that I have not forgotten her. Photo: Nadra Huma Quraishi/Karachi Heart Beats #IamSabeen Facebook page Perhaps all that they gather, the people who stream by, is that I lost someone that meant a great deal to me; enough that myself and others are compelled to come here every day. No, she meant even more than ...

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Zimbabwe’s trip to Pakistan must not be taken lightly

There was a time when Pakistani fans could see their fast-bowling maestros – like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar – pierce through the wind and attack the opposition with all their mighty force, live, in front of them, in their own stadium. There was a time when people could witness Shahid Afridi’s magnificent sixes or Javed Miandad’s stunning innings on Pakistani grounds. Unfortunately, over the past six year, no international team has come to Pakistan to play a series with our national team. And as such, Pakistani cricket fans have been deprived of this chance to ...

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Pakistan’s Sabeen Mahmud is India’s Narendra Dabholkar

Throughout history, there have been numerous attacks on voices of reason and rationality. The dark ages of Europe led to inquisition and mass persecution of critical thinkers and voices of dissent. One of the greatest laments of the 20th century has been the partition of India in 1947 – which in half a century later led to the formation of three nations. Today, the subcontinent is vetted with stories of hate crimes and savagery attributed to faith. The tradition of collective dialogue and social responsibility has been ripped apart into pieces; the new age youth are hungry for blood. In ...

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Breaking the Curfew since 1989

“Respect for law is dying. The whole system of justice is breaking down… nobody wants a good police force as then, they would become subject to the law”. This is Karachi in the 1980s, as described by a senior police official in the book, Breaking the Curfew, published in 1989. It was written by Emma Duncan, a journalist for The Economist, during her escapade to Pakistan in the late ‘80s. The Karachi sketched in the book, when compared to the Karachi of today, sounds more like Zurich, as our elders recall. The saddest part is that the symptoms were there for all to see even then, ...

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Are we not ‘Pakistani’ enough for them or are we not ‘Muslim’ enough?

I got to work and checked my phone; there were a dozen missed calls and messages from my friends and family – all in a span of 30 minutes. Being a Karachiite, I instantly knew something was wrong. As soon as I read my father’s message, I froze. I was stunned at the words before me. An attack had taken place and this time it was our community. 45 of our people. We were no longer the silent observers. We were the victims. When I reached my cubicle, I could hear news of the attack blaring from multiple TV screens. I sat and watched news ...

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It is time to give back to the Ismaili community

“If people have made mistakes, forgive their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges, do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam” – The Aga Khan IV “I have lost friends. I don’t know how I should react. Words are not enough to define this tragedy. People who were part of our lives are no more with us but their memories will keep haunting us,” laments Shafiq*. He is a member of the Ismaili community – a community which lost 45 of its ...

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