Stories published in April, 2018

Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

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With ‘Motorcycle Girl’ and #GirlsOnBikes, Pakistani women take a spin at reclaiming public spaces

Adnan Sarwar, the famed director cum musician of the biographical sports film Shah (2015), is back to mesmerise filmgoers with another biopic – Motorcycle Girl. This time, he dramatises the life of a young Pakistani woman whose real life motorcycle adventures were highlighted across the globe, and played a significant role in breaking the stereotypes surrounding women in a conservative society. Although, Sarwar’s directorial debut Shah, based on life-story of Olympian boxer, Hussain Shah, who won the bronze medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics, received mixed reviews upon its release in Pakistan, his latest venture has been much anticipated. Produced by Jami, ...

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Malala vs APS survivors: Do our children have to compete to be our heroes?

It was in 2014 – while I was studying for my Masters in Europe – that a German classmate of mine, upon getting to know I am from Pakistan, showed me a picture of Malala Yousafzai receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I can recall chatter in the classroom of European students about Malala’s bravery, and the hardships she faced as she pursued an education in Pakistan. This was one of the rare moments of my life when I took great pride in belonging to the same country as Malala, and for all the activism that I do, including this very piece, I believe ...

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Israel and US are ‘champions’ of human rights, but not when it comes to Palestine

Almost a month ago, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted to show solidarity with the Iranian women protesting against Iran’s hijab laws, mentioning that he stands by those who stand for ‘freedom’. As we counter Iran’s aggression, we should always remember the brave people of Iran: their suffering, their hopes, their courage. Women are jailed for removing their hijabs. Students are tortured and shot for advocating freedom. We stand with those in Iran who stand for freedom. — Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 6, 2018 Nikki Haley, Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN, also said something similar in January of this year when ...

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Amir’s punishment was justified, but has the world been too harsh on Smith and Warner?

The recent ball tampering scandal – SandpaperGate, as it is being colloquially referred to – continues to emanate shockwaves in the cricketing world. Both Steve Smith and David Warner have ended up losing their leadership roles, and have also been banned for one year each. Further, Smith has been declared ineligible for captaining Australia for two years, whereas Warner has been declared the same for life. In addition, both have also been banned from playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which will literally burn a hole worth millions in their pockets. While young Cameron Bancroft has also been banned ...

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Dear West Indies, you took a chance on us, and we are eternally grateful! Love, Karachi

It’s slowly creeping in, one match at a time. Flags are being rolled out. Hats, paint and whistles are being bought. There are inconceivable traffic jams, and mercifully long ticket lines. You’re afraid to be excited, for fear of it being taken away. You silently pray everything goes smoothly. Putting on your green jerseys, you wear your flashiest smile and plead with the cameras, convincing every foreigner that you are safe, and they will be too. You look around at the sea of green around you, and fight back the tears as, after almost a decade, you once again hear ...

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Charismatic and heartwarming, ‘Cake’ is a dessert Pakistani cinema has never tried before

Admittedly, the trailer of the film Cake had a very Kapoor & Sons vibe. In the film itself, this vibe continues for the first 15 minutes or so. However, the resemblance soon fizzles out, and Cake presents itself as a dessert you have never tried before; an original recipe with perfect ingredients, making it a dish to savour. Cake is all about people fighting inner demons in the milieu of relationships, emotional dependencies, empathy, sacrifices and loss. Death, or a discussion about death, circles around the events in this deceptively intricate film, as it did in the case of Kapoor & ...

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Has Farooq Sattar and Amir Khan’s “leadership” ended MQM-P for good?

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) recently removed Farooq Sattar from the convenership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P). Interestingly, the petition was not filed by any rival party; rather, it was filed by the Rabita Committee of MQM-P. They also challenged the intra-party election held by the Sattar group. Sattar decided to challenge the decision of the ECP in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and subsequently, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) restored him back to his position. The damage, however, has been done, and it is deep. Back in the day, the MQM used to have a unique attraction for the youth of Karachi, and ...

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My birth was an ill-fated ugliness

The kiss from the scorching sun was now a routine, For there was no shelter that could block it from me; Ugliness not just defined my face, As my birth was no less than an ugly fate.   Amidst the chaotic environment, I was trained, And repeatedly told that it was no shame, Because survival on your own is something only the bold can do, And if I resist, then society would crumple me, like a toy of play dough.   The countless tears I hid silently, Were considered useless and unworthy. The smile I gave with a one clap gesture, Had unknowingly become my unique signature.   A thick coat of red ...

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‘Revenge rapes’: Why are Pakistani women constantly paying for the sins of their men?

Toba Tek Singh is one part of the country that makes headlines quite often. So often, in fact, that I’ve become inclined to reading its name in print. This time, however, I didn’t skim over the content, as I typically do. This headline, after all, was not like the others. Ten people were taken into police custody for ordering the rape of a woman as revenge. Yes, that’s right. They gave an explicit order for a woman to be raped; for her ‘dignity’ to be snatched away from her. All for the price of revenge. We live in a society that thrives off of ...

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