Rasm over rights: Why is the nikkahnama woven with inequality towards women?

Shaadi (marriage) is perhaps the most cherished tradition in Pakistani culture, a gathering of levity and simultaneous importance and an event which many deem to be the most significant in their lives. For women in Pakistan, the latter is often the case since marriage bounds them to a contract that is deliberately created to disadvantage them. The institution of marriage has been weaponised by the male-dominated religious lobby in Pakistan to systematically disenfranchise women into a life that is decided by their significant other. The most integral part of this system is the nikkahnama (marriage certificate). For many married couples, the nikkahnama is at best an afterthought in the marriage festivities, ...

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If it’s unfair to believe an allegation, it is also unfair to doubt Ayesha Gulalai and call her names

A few months ago, I wrote an article where I pointed out that both the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were promoting a misogynist culture. In the said article, I criticised PML-N leaders like Khawaja Asif and Javed Latif for spewing filthy language against women in rival political parties. I further argued that PTI was also indulging in the same practice as an overwhelming number of its supporters have repeatedly abused prominent women politicians and also public figures. I cited examples of Malala Yousafzai, Asma Jahangir, Reham Khan and Maryam Nawaz. I also wrote about how Dr Shireen ...

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Was Nawaz Sharif dishonest by virtue of not declaring something he could not know he was supposed to declare?

On July 28th, a three member special bench of the Supreme Court announced their judgment. This judgment was followed by a final order of the five-member larger bench, in the infamous Panama Papers case. Nawaz Sharif, the recently ousted prime minister of Pakistan, was declared dishonest and was disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly under Article 62(1)f of the Constitution. The judgment was always politically controversial even before it was authored and announced. Unfortunately, it has also become a legal controversy at the centre of which lies the all mighty and all powerful Article 62(1)(f). The late General Ziaul Haq, in his attempted ...

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#KhadijaTheFighter: Democracy may have won yesterday but justice continues to lose

Khadija Siddiqi’s case and her bravery amidst all the chaos has continued to serve as a lesson for women to hold their heads up high and fight against injustice. A year later, her case is still going strong with the accused bringing forth the most absurd arguments out of desperation to win the case. Clearly, the only thing working in his favour is the power his father holds in the legal fraternity. Siddiqi, a law student at a local college, was stabbed 23 times in broad daylight on May 3, 2016 by 21-year-old Shah Hussain, the son of an influential lawyer, when she had ...

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Shehbaz Sharif can buy himself a helicopter, but it’s too costly to provide adequate medical facilities in Punjab?

The aftermath of the Bahawalpur tragedy is a harrowing tale of gross incompetence and disregard for human life. Before this, little emphasis has been placed on how the massive loss of life could have been avoided. For instance, Army helicopters had to be called in for transporting the burn victims to the hospital since the rescue services didn’t own one. But here’s a little fact – just three months ago, a Rs2.25 billion Russian helicopter was bought by Shehbaz Sharif for personal use. The question that should be asked here is, whether it was bought with public funds that could have been utilised elsewhere. Numerous lives could have been ...

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Anti-honour killing and acid attacks bills: More laws to be buried in the graveyard of good intentions?

This past week, the Sindh Assembly passed two laws against honour killing and acid attacks. It is a commendable initiative and the first such act against honour killings in all four provinces and territories. The laws are adequately severe with stipulations such as no blood money is allowed to be granted, acid attacks are unbailable offences and suggesting that the capital offence may be given to those killing in the name of honour. Furthermore, they are reflective of a humanistic mind-set and the architects of it will have to do far more than merely draft it and push it through the red tape of senates and assemblies to receive accolades ...

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Saudi Arabia, India or the US – who is conspiring against Nawaz Sharif and why?

At the beginning of this month, the government found itself in something of a pickle. Regardless of a dubious WhatsApp call fiasco and alleged political proclivities of the joint investigation team (JIT) members, the Sharifs had failed miserably in elucidating a tangible money trail for their opulent assets abroad. To truly offset the velocity of the storm they faced, they would have to counter attack with something far more potent and invidious – something powerful enough to offset the damning reality of their inconclusive money trial – a global conspiracy. A conspiracy that was hatched in collusion with the venal folks in the General Headquarters (GHQ), ...

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Religion? Kinship? Personal affinity? Money? – A conceptual understanding of how Pakistanis choose their leaders

Pakistan’s democratic fabric has been majorly impaired due to four military generals who systemised their totalitarian rule for over 40 years. This resulted in the corrosion of citizens’ civil and political liberties and rights and more so, to the deterioration of public institutions. Since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, state institutions have been meddling in governing processes and this involvement has raised serious questions about electoral competition, rule of law, the judiciary’s independence and accountability mechanisms. Military interventions and a lack of political organisations have majorly influenced the elections and citizens’ voting behaviour in the past as well. However, according to the limited election related scholarly work, there are a sundry of other social, cultural and political determinants that ...

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Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s Justice March a tacit reminder and refractory reaction to last year’s attempted coup?

The streets of Ankara still reek of punctured patriotism and vehemence. Today, Turkey finds itself stumbling upon an all too vivid memory of the July 15th coup attempt that marks a momentous yet troubled first anniversary. Observing the aftermath of last year’s events, it is still not safe to say whether the new chapter opened up by the coup will be as promising as it was perceived to be from atop a vanquished military tank. And now, with wounds barely healed, Turkey finds itself hurled into yet another political endeavour. Thousands of restless citizens are taking to the streets behind the opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to embark on a Justice March from Ankara to Istanbul. The dynamic opposition ...

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Could Nawaz Sharif’s fate determine the future of Pakistan’s stock market as well?

The latest discussion engulfing the whole country has been Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s joint investigation team (JIT) imbroglio and the stock market’s rapid decline. In one of my previous blogs, we highlighted how the stock market should be utilised as an investment vehicle. For the record, Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) 100 Index went up by +50% from that day and stayed the same for the next 24 months. While sceptics have resurfaced – and so have the bears in the market (which is down +15% from the peak levels) – to criticise the vulnerability of the economy amidst political impasse, it is crucial to holistically view the changing political and economic landscape ...

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