Stories published in February, 2017

An open letter to Zara and Zoya Khan

More than 80% of women in Pakistan face sexual harassment on a daily basis. Harassment has become one of the most common issues of our society today. In most cases, the perpetrator takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerability and helplessness. Because women are taught to keep such incidents private, the fact that women will seldom come out to raise their voices against injustice, strengthens the perpetrators’ determination to touch whoever they like.  I applaud you, Zara and Zoya Khan, for standing up to the atrocious and sexually deprived man, who, like many others, assumed he had the right to touch you without your consent; ...

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Should Pakistan accept the criminally degenerate from other countries?

News emerged last week that a group of men convicted of committing horrific child sex abuse against underage girls in Rochdale, UK, were denied their appeals against deportation to Pakistan. The accused in question had dual British-Pakistani citizenship, and acquired their British passports through naturalisation.  The purpose behind the deportation is to punish those who pursue vile criminal acts in the UK and then hide behind the human rights guaranteed to them through their British nationality. Although the case will still be protracted and significant time will pass before they return to Pakistan, it is still an embarrassing prospect to deal with. Let’s not ...

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Sindri da sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar

Three years ago, I had a dream; I dreamt of being at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalander. While I am no clairvoyant, and my experience of going to mazaars and shrines has been close to non-existent, the dream was vivid and it was stirring. Whether it was symbolic of listening to ‘Ho Lal meri pat’ too many times, or seeing pictures of where Lal Shahbaz Qalander is buried, or something more, I do not know, but because I was curious and I had never been to this hub of folk-lore and Sufism I decided to finally go and see ...

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Can learning Arabic really prevent terrorist attacks? PML-N surely thinks so

I suppose it is reasonable to assume that the men and women in our National Assembly are mentally fit – people who think and act rationally. We elect them every five years, hoping that they will solve our problems and make us proud of being citizens of Pakistan. But then, one of them says something completely absurd which makes me want to bang my head against the nearest wall and regret not going abroad after I graduated (those were the days when it was very easy to get a US visa). I am referring to a female member of the ...

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Sherlock – Season 4: “The game is afoot”

After the success of the first three seasons, Sherlock came back with a fourth season. For those of us who have been living under a rock these past few seasons, the highly anticipated and popular British Broadcasting Company Television (BBC TV) drama series is based on the character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s series of crime-fiction novels. It accounts the peculiar yet ingenious investigation techniques of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. In the previous three seasons, his erratic yet ‘high functioning sociopath’ behaviour has earned him quite the reputation, one that is both positive and notorious, and this fourth season is no different. This time around, both Sherlock Holmes (Benedict ...

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Russia will never sabotage its alliance with Iran for Donald Trump

As I write these lines, Washington is abuzz with the news of Donald Trump’s top security advisor, Michael Flynn’s resignation. The White House is trying to clean up the mess Flynn’s rather over-zealously erratic act created, ending up in critics looking at the election victory in a whole new light.  Ironically, Trump saw in Flynn the capability to penetrate the Russian iron curtain by virtue of his connections with Moscow. Ironically also, it was Flynn who had put Iran on an unexplained and unelaborated ‘notice’ early February – an ill-conceived, rhetoric ridden, flash in the pan type of a half-step that really just reiterated Washington’s unsavoury ...

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I found magic

Unlike most dramatic beginnings, this one was a humble take-off. There were no signs that I was about to undertake the journey of my life. No early-morning itches, no accidents, no drums rolling and no divine calls. It was as if God wanted to take me by surprise. Mama had to visit Sehwan for some office work and I tagged along, simply for the sake of obliging her and out of my own curiosity. After a road trip of three hours, we finally reached our destination. At first, I felt no magic in the domes, the mausoleum or the city ...

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Hina Shahnawaz was powerful and financially independent, so patriarchy killed her

News of honour killings, or karo-kari, is not new to Pakistan. Almost a thousand women are killed in Pakistan every year for allegedly bringing “shame” to their families. In a society that feeds off hyper masculinity, a woman’s autonomy and independence of any sort is seen as a threat to the Pakistani culture as a whole. Last year, a renowned social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in the name of honour, because of her financial and social independence gained from practicing what she preached – self-love and personal power. Although honour killings were (and still are) very common, this incident in particular is what led the government ...

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Terrorist attacks? Sectarian violence? Civil strife? Maybe if we arrest Nasir Khanjan and ban Valentine’s Day everything will be okay…

As a writer of some notoriety, I received a message yesterday including some choice expletives. When pressed about the reason as to why I deserved such “kindness”, I was told that I targeted our Pakistani values with one of my posts. After questioning this person for 20 minutes, my assailant could not name a single value I was targeting.

That is the beauty of blaming somebody over something as intangible as values, honour or image – you do not have to prove anything. You can mask your dislike for something under the pretence of national concerns. My popularity is nothing compared to that of Nasir ...

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Chalay Thay Saath: Refreshing, scenic, and lots of eye candy

The most endearing element of Chalay Thay Saath’s teaser is its originality. Refreshing, different and low key, the trailer advertises a film that seems to be very different from all the other Pakistani films so far and borrows little, if anything, from Bollywood movies. The trailer features a number of scenic views of Northern Pakistan, shot prudently with both confidence and skill. Hunza forms the backdrop of the coming-of-age story of six young friends who embark on what ends up becoming a journey of self-discovery, liberation, growing up, intellectual awareness, and spiritual awakening. The film features the brewing of romance between a young, adventurous Pakistani doctor, Resham ...

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