The Qandeel Baloch story: Using the law of forgiveness as a license to kill

In some surreal news, Qandeel Baloch’s parents have taken steps to essentially cancel her case. Should they be successful, Qandeel’s story will most likely take the same disappointing direction as those of countless other innocent women who fell victim to a deafening patriarchy. According to an affidavit filed with the Multan courts, Qandeel’s parents have asked the court to not only dismiss the murder charges against their sons, Waseem and Aslam Shaheen, but have also requested to the court to wrap up the case as soon as possible. This is because not only have they forgiven him, but they also believe ...

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Preserving Takht-i-Bahi: why the old and the new must walk hand in hand

Before arriving at the historic ruins of Takht-i-Bahi (also called Takh’ Bahi), a former Buddhist monastic complex and an Indo-Parthian archaeological site, one passes through its namesake village. A narrow and fractured two-way road snakes through, with shops on either side, offering consumer and plastic goods. Quite unfortunately, there are no hints or traces of the village’s shared history, pride or even association to the neighbouring site’s religious, historic and cultural significance. Instead, open drains, unregulated parking, hanging wires, peeled paint strips and half-torn posters on buildings are a common sight that greet visitors. Photo: Tayeba ...

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Are we carrying out Eidul Azha rituals the right way?

Emaciated bodies, their remains everywhere, blood flowing on already dirty streets across the city and the smell of freshly cut flesh – this is a glimpse of Karachi on the first day of Eidul Azha, aka Bakra Eid. I’ve heard that amongst sacrificial animals, this day is known as D-Day. The effects of Eidul Azha are already felt a week or so prior to the event itself. It starts when you step out one fine day and your nostrils are greeted with the oddest of stenches, until you suddenly detect the actual source of the smell: the goat your neighbour bought a ...

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How are we supposed to carry out qurbani considering the rising prices of livestock?

I am an Eidul Azha enthusiast. When I was a child, the moment the Zil Hajj moon would be seen, my excitement for having sacrificial animals in my courtyard would escalate. My father always made sure to buy animals in the first few days of Zil Hajj. He often said, “I buy animals in advance for Khurram as I cannot see his sad face.” In the year 1989, my father had to leave for the US for his open-heart surgery two weeks before Eidul Azha. A few days before his departure for this life threatening surgery, he took me to the cattle market to ...

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First the dam fund, now the ‘Lets Clean Karachi’ fund – what do we pay taxes for?

Two teenagers were riding a donkey cart full of garbage they had collected from houses towards a garbage dump located behind a ground known as Eid Gah in Karachi’s Gulberg Town. After reaching the spot, the boys emptied the garbage and the horrid smell forces passers-by’s to cover their noses.  Every month, representatives from a local governing body collect Rs100 from each house in Gulberg Town for the facilitation of garbage disposal. However, the waste material is neither disposed of nor is it recycled properly. Ultimately, no one knows where the money that had been collected from the pockets of ...

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Police Martyrs Day: Remembering Safwat Ghayur, Pakistan’s Man of Steel

While undergoing training at the Civil Services Academy (CSA) in 1998, we, the officers of Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), received a congratulatory letter from Safwat Ghayur. This was our first formal introduction to the officer who was the then Course Commander of National Police Academy (NPA).  I had heard his name before but met him only when we reported to the NPA. A thorough and professional police officer, Ghayur was an equally outstanding trainer. He would spend the entire day with us in training; from the morning mile run till the last activity of the day at around 7pm, ...

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Does Karachi have anything else to offer other than food?

As a Karachiite, not even a day goes by without hearing about the launch of a new eatery in the city. On some days, it’s a fine-dining restaurant presenting an unusual variety of a relatively unexplored cuisine. On other days, it’s a café with a new vibe, interior or facilities. Or on most days, it’s our favourite go-to spot – a chai dhaba. Almost all renowned areas of Karachi are famous for not just food outlets but entire food streets that are insanely popular. Boat Basin in Clifton, Zamzama in Defence, Burns Road in Saddar, Bukhari commercial and Port ...

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Lesson for Pakistan: “It is not about how much water you have, but how you manage it”

Before Prime Minister Imran Khan touched down in Washington, I landed in America’s capital, invited by the State Department for a foreign press tour titled ‘Creating a More Water Secure World’. I was curious to learn how the US was dealing with droughts, floods and warmer temperatures given that the country is pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Donald Trump recently dismissed a study produced by his own administration warning of the potentially catastrophic impact of climate change, saying, “I don’t believe it.” While I was there on the 10-day tour along with journalists from other developing countries, the northern hemisphere ...

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Pakistan’s education crisis: enrolled in schools, unable to learn

It is no secret that Pakistan’s education sector is in dire straits. The Wilson Center report, titled ‘Why Can’t Pakistani Children Read? The Inside Story of Education Reform Efforts Gone Wrong,’ talks about Pakistan’s ‘education emergency’. It talks at length about the misdiagnosed education crisis of Pakistan which has resulted from decades of well-meaning but majorly-flawed internal and international reforms. Maina Gathinjaga WaGîokõ, a fellow educationist from Kenya, once said, “I am not worried about the 850,000 who are out of school. I am more worried about the 12 million who are in school.” The current level of enrollment in kindergarten at ...

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Karachi, a story of neglect since time immemorial

Karachi has been a story of neglect since time immemorial. Perhaps the only sincere effort that was done to improve the infrastructure of this great city was during General Pervez Musharraf’s time when the then mayor of Karachi, Naimatullah Khan, and later on Mustafa Kamal, had tried to restore the glory of Karachi. For the first time, the denizens of Karachi watched their city beginning to evolve into a thriving metropolis. The ‘I own Karachi’ initiative, conceived by Kamal and his team, was a brilliant idea aimed at encouraging citizens to be more active and responsible members of the ...

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