Stories published in March, 2016

Protecting women is now an act of treason, CII? Really?

Pakistan’s efforts of six years at gender equality reached a fever pitch in the past two weeks. Late February the Punjab Assembly passed its Protection of Women Against Violence Bill 2015. Then last week Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy brought home her second Oscar for Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, a documentary highlighting the horrors of honour killing. Following an at-home screening of the film, the PM’s office took the unprecedented and impressive step of promising law reform. In response, several prominent clerics openly opposed and ridiculed the new law suggesting that not only was the new law against the spirit of Shariah but what is really needed is a ...

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Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

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Can Leicester City, the underdogs, take the Premier League crown?

If there is a term that sums up the Premier League this season, it is unequivocally ‘unpredictable’. The club which currently is in pole position happens to be the very same team which improbably escaped relegation last season. While all the cynics believed they would fall-away in the race by this stage, they continue to defy the collective football world with their results week in, and week out. Will this Leicester City romance end with them winning the ultimate prize or just falling short of the elusive premier league crown? If you look at the potential qualities of previous champions, ...

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Series 3 The Little Princess Part 2 The message in my mother’s eyes

Slowly her mother rose from under the cabinet pulling Ammarah out with her. She rushed quietly to shut the drapes around the house, bolting windows and doors. Not quite understanding what was happening, Ammarah offered support by helping her. Finally her mother sank down on the living room couch, clutching her bosom and started sobbing. Ammarah put her arm around her and asked, “Mother, who were those people and where did they take everybody?” Her mother continued to cry hysterically. Ammarah stroked her shoulders but she was clueless as to what could comfort her mother right now. The sobbing diminished slowly. Her mother ...

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Remembering Shakir Ali: One of Asia’s greatest painters

Today marks the hundredth birthday of one of Pakistan’s – and according to the equally legendary Intizar Hussain, Asia’s – greatest painters, Shakir Ali (1916-1975). 2016 is deservedly being celebrated as Ali’s birth centenary year and the occasion should not only refocus attention on the enduring legacy Ali has left behind in his works inspired by modernism and the progressive tradition, but also in the form of Lahore’s National College of Arts, whom Ali single-handedly transformed into an institution of excellence. Photo: www.vaslart.org/ Ali is also singular in that, unlike his other legendary contemporaries Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Sadequain and Gulgee, his students ...

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Do you know what ingredients are used in locally made fairness creams?

On numerous occasions in the past, heavy fines have been imposed on Johnson & Johnson and other prominent pharmaceutical companies for various offences such as false labelling, poor manufacturing practices, Medicare fraud, and kickbacks. This was possible because consumer protection laws are strongly implemented around the world. Unfortunately, here, in Pakistan, we have no such laws; everyone is manufacturing and selling products without the risk of facing any trouble. It’s in our society that edible items and medical products are manufactured without any respect for the consumers’ health. Let’s look at how these businesses exploit people. Our society denies proper education or vocational training to girls, particularly those ...

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Child-abuse? Oh please, that doesn’t exist in Pakistan!

“I was too young to know at the time; all I knew was that it was uncomfortable and painful.” I froze when I heard my friend say these words. Surely not in our families? Surely not in the lives of my own friends? This was the first instance of a friend opening up about her experience of being sexually abused as a child. She blamed everyone, from her uncle who did it, to her parents who she felt did nothing to protect her, to herself for not knowing better. But how could she have known? She was only 10-years-old at the time. You might ...

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The story of Hyderabad, Sindh

Hyderabad is one of those cities where the magnetic pull of nostalgia can be felt to a maximum, owing to the ever glorious landmarks of a bygone era. It is one of those cities where the past silently trudges along with a noisy and loud present. Apart from its new face where it is adorned with high rise buildings, bustling, busy markets thronged with heavy locomotive traffic; there is another face where the past lurks behind colonial buildings, hiding under electrical wires and large hoardings. The same old face can be seen written over the aged, gnarled and wrinkled face of ...

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Fuller House was full of bad reviews, but I watched it anyway!

Last year we heard announcements of various promising new shows and movies for the upcoming year. One of the shows announced by Netflix as an original was Fuller House, with vows of reviving memories from the original, Full House. Full House saw three men raising three young girls and now, 21 years later, the same girls have turned into smart, beautiful and independent women. DJ Tanner, the first born child of Danny and deceased Pamela Tanner, is now Dr DJ Tanner-Fuller, a widowed mother and veterinarian. Stephanie Tanner, the middle child, is now a well-known DJ using the alias DJ Tanner, and the youngest daughter, Michelle, is now running her own fashion ...

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Does the company actually think people will upgrade to ‘newer’ phones just to install WhatsApp?

Nowadays, WhatsApp is the most installed app on our mobile devices. It is easier and less costly to WhatsApp message a friend than to send a text message. However, recently the brainchild of the messenger has decided to take a step which is quite alarming. As of now, all we know is that WhatsApp has decided to drop support for Blackberry and some Nokia and Android phones. The disowning will go into effect in 2017. The Facebook owned application has decided to shockingly discontinue the use to aforementioned brands in order to push its own growth. In its blog post, the company stated that the mobile ...

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