Stories published in January, 2020

How Pakistan’s fashion industry is polluting the environment

Modern day fashion retailers have adopted the phenomenon of ‘fast fashion,’ which is characterised by the quick turnover of designs that move at breakneck speed from the ramp to the stores and eventually, into the garbage bin. Retailers aim to increase profits by focusing on key elements of the supply chain with an emphasis on increased manufacturing speed at lower costs. The concept of fast fashion has resulted in a changing industry dynamic that boasts a quick response ideology that has inculcated the capacity and ability of retail brands to generate quick merchandise turnover. A popular Spanish retailer that has ...

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Revisiting Mohammad Khalid Akhtar’s writings on his 100th birthday

Today marks the 100th birth anniversary of one of the great Urdu satirists and novelists, Mohammad Khalid Akhtar (1920-2002). Ideally, his birthday should have been celebrated and acknowledged across the nation, perhaps even commemorated in the form of a Google doodle. Nonetheless, here I have humbly presented this original translation of his Informational Primer for Children, with an accompanying audio recitation, as my own small tribute to this great writer. A series of Akhtar’s comic writings were published in the 1950s in literary journals under the title of Maloomati Qaeda (Informational Primer). Two essays of series were also published in his ...

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How long will Pakistan continue to ignore forced conversions?

The news of young non-Muslim girls being made to convert to Islam seems to have become a daily occurrence in Pakistan. Just last week, a young Hindu girl was kidnapped in Jacobabad and her family stated that this was done in an attempt to convert her to Islam. Yet, quite often these cases simply slip between the cracks and into the abyss which houses the various human rights abuses that plague Pakistan. One incident which grabbed the media headlines last year was that of two sisters from Ghotki, who were reportedly abducted and forced to convert to Islam. However, later ...

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Time does not make science obsolete, rote learning does

“How shameful is it that the world has reached the moon and we’re still teaching the same 300-year-old physics to our children in schools!” The gentleman on the phone – a learned and well-known educationist of Pakistan – was hoping that I would agree with his standpoint. He believed that we are teaching obsolete science to our children. But my answer, surely, disappointed him as he ran long arguments in favour of what he was already convinced about. My counter-arguments – though equally long and simple – weren’t satisfactory for him either. The 300-year-old physics of Sir Isaac Newton – better known as Newtonian ...

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Why is the world embracing right wing politics?

In 2019, Modi’s re-election in India alongside Bolsonaro in Brazil added to the growing list of right-wing populist leaders around the world. With Trump serving as the president of the United States, Israel’s Netanyahu becoming the country’s longest-serving prime minister and a resurgent European far-right, the rise of populist strongmen as leaders in several countries has become a subject of intense scrutiny especially focused on why these changes are taking place. In order to understand the issue at hand, I shall look at studies from the 90s to the 2000s, which will also be complemented by current research and then applied to political ...

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Sustainable development goals have to take centre stage for Pakistan at Davos

As world leaders prepare to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, it seems that the issue of building a sustainable future will take centre stage at the summit. This year’s theme for the WEF is “Stakeholders for a cohesive and sustainable world”, hence emphasising the urgency with which leaders across the globe need to address one of the most pressing issues the planet is currently facing. After the bush fires in Australia, volcanic eruptions in the Philippines, floods in Jakarta, mass burning of the Amazon rain-forest, famine in Zambia, water scarcity in Mexico and dangerous weather patterns in North America; leaders ...

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Should Faisal Vawda be given the boot for his eccentric antics?

Just when you think Pakistan’s politics could not get any more embarrassing, some politician will decide to surprise you by stooping to a new low. Recently, Faisal Vawda, the federal minister for water resources decided to place a military style boot on the table during a political talk show in an attempt to theatrically mock the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Admittedly, politics does involve a certain degree of theatrics the world over, but in Pakistan, it is purely melodramatic. Issues of genuine significance are rarely discussed and most politicians do little more than point fingers, accusing each other of being ...

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How locusts and water scarcity are destroying Sindh’s crops

In the village of Lass, located in Tharparkar, Muhammad Essa Lund and his family reach their agricultural land at dawn. They bring their kitchenware along with them, which they use to drive locusts out of their fields. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and represents the tragic tale of almost everyone who owns a piece of agricultural land in this region. Due to the locust invasion, the only primary school in the area has been closed down, labourers have been unable to travel to nearby cities for work, patients have had to postpone their visits to the local dispensaries, and shepherds have been unable to ...

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Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 2

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 1 here.  ~ Fifth letter In his fifth letter, Manto brilliantly exposes America’s pretensions about maintaining world peace even after acquiring the capability to make hydrogen bombs: “I have heard that you have made the hydrogen bomb just so that there should be absolute world peace. Although God knows better, but I am sure of what you say because I have eaten your wheat and, after all, I’m your nephew. Although the young should readily obey the elderly, but I ask ...

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Is being a lawyer in Pakistan contingent upon one’s faith?

As Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we treat non-Muslims residing in Pakistan fairly and with dignity and respect. It is therefore imperative that we safeguard the rights granted and guaranteed to them by both Islam and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Unfortunately, we have collectively continued to do the very opposite of this, thereby actively violating not only the injunctions of Islam, but also the vision of our founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. However, before divulging on the disservice we are doing to Jinnah’s legacy, we must reflect upon the important role our ...

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