Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

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30 years of pop and patriotism: How ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ became Pakistan’s unofficial national anthem

In June 1987, an obscure Pakistani pop band, the Vital Signs were contacted by the then 36-year-old TV producer, Shoaib Mansoor. Mansoor had already made a name for himself for conceiving and producing a social satire ‘skit show’ for the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV), Fifty Fifty. He had launched it in 1978 and it was an immediate hit with the viewers, running for eight seasons till Mansoor shut it down in 1984. Mansoor was teaching at the PTV Academy when one of his students, Rana Kanwal, drew his attention towards a pop band that had been playing at ‘college functions’ (mainly in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area). They ...

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Dear sexist men, your privileged gender is not an outcome of your “biological” qualities, but of social conditioning

Recently, I wrote an article based on two recent videos which went viral. The main idea behind the article was to showcase two outstanding individuals who challenged gender stereotypes instead of conforming to society’s prescribed gender roles, going on to live their individual dreams. For me, these individuals are heroes and, in fact, trailblazers as they have challenged socially constructed stereotypes. These stereotypes play a large role in determining what is expected of men and women from society. By spelling out these expectations and enforcing them through upbringing and cultural norms, men and women are often regimented into different roles and hence, destinies. These different roles also largely account ...

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Comparing a Muslim name to Hitler is not only factually wrong but also boorish

Gone are the days when naming a baby was a simple task. However, the millennial city-bred parents are different. Their babies names are no longer about sounding meaningful, cute or easy to pronounce. In fact, the more difficult the name is to remember, the better. This is the reason why we have names ranging from Viviaan, Aarav, Riyan to Niarra, instead of Amit, Sumit, Rohit and/or Neha. Talking about the celebrity class, well, they are a step ahead of thinking outside the box. This is inherently why they all have babies with such unique names – no cattle class would even dare ...

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Love at first Careem? Uh, no thanks, but perhaps Careem should focus on improving their existing services

There are two things Pakistani’s are unabashedly and unapologetically obsessed with – discounts and shaadi (marriage). By combining these two, I have to admit that Careem’s new rishta aunty service is quite genius. Or is it? No, I did not want to be woken up on a Wednesday morning (Wednesday being the most annoying day of the week) to Careem telling me my “rishta has arrived”. I honestly thought maybe I accidentally ordered a cab and the driver’s name is Rishta, Rishta Khan or something? My brain did not have the energy to solve this mystery, especially not on a Wednesday. When I got to work, ...

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Can Baaghi aptly and fairly portray the layered, complicated and uncovered truths of Qandeel Baloch’s life and death?

The year 1994 saw the release of the biographical film, Bandit Queen, based on the life and times of India’s famous dacoit who went by the name of Phoolan Devi. The director and producer of the film proudly claimed it to be a ‘true story’. However, it was only a matter of time before critical acclaim and raving reviews started pouring in from all quarters. It was then that the Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy picked bones with the movie. She said that making such a movie was trespassing of the vilest degree. Devi was alive when the film was released and yet she was ...

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See Qandeel, all you had to do was die in order for us to stop hating you

Kohl-ridden eyes, polished nails, puckered up lips covered in the defying shade of rebellion; she rapidly rose to fame from the platform of social media. Writhing to the beat of self-promotion, dressed up in the daring fabric of ‘baring it all’, Qandeel Baloch launched herself as an actress, singer and social media starlet (the puritans rhymed it with ‘harlot’). Let us establish one thing before the comment section fills up with accusatory fingers and self-righteous sermons. This is an opinion piece, not a verdict of virtue and sin. All of us first heard about Qandeel through one friend or another, mostly urging us to hate-watch ...

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Get Lit vs Donald Trump: When art becomes resistance

“Where does the truth begin?”  he asked, his tone urgent but composed. He went on, demanding honesty, transparency, or at least sanity, from the man of the hour: Donald Trump. The individual in question is a young poet by the name of Gordon Ip. He is one of the many members of Get Lit, a social justice poetry troupe on the rise. For the past six months, they have tirelessly been creating and performing slam poetry, using today’s divisive and highly charged political climate as inspiration for their work. We live in the Trump Era, a time where news comes in at a lightning pace. ...

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My crime, you ask? Being a fan girl and expressing my love for Chris Martin

This is a message for all those people out there who have been frowned upon for having a difference of opinion; for the people who raised their voices and were brave enough to take a stand against a social evil, but were shunned by the benighted individuals of society. Here’s an honest piece of advice – fight for your cause and do not back down. Most of you must have read the article about me being harassed by a man for expressing my love for my favourite band, Coldplay. My crime, you ask? Being a fan girl and expressing my love and affection for Chris Martin. My fan ...

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#IStandWithEdhi: Making a video defaming the Edhi Centre is easy, but can you be as selfless as Edhi?

I recently came across a distressing video on Facebook where a woman with perfect makeup and a dupatta pinned to her head was going on about something she felt strongly about. I wasn’t bothered by her appearance as such; I was actually concerned about what she was saying and who she was saying it about. The woman was standing outside the Edhi Centre and talking about the filth and cruelty she had witnessed there. She said it was better to kill people rather than keep them in such conditions. After giving an emotional speech for around three minutes, she showed a room with inadequate bedding and some children sitting inside. ...

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