One year on: It only took a moment for one abominable act to alter Sehwan Sharif’s surrealism and serenity

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi Dhum, dhum, dhum… The drumbeat started plaintively at dusk. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. As I turned around, the sights were to behold – orange, purple, yellow, green and blue fairy lights adorned the tomb, creating a riot of colours. The chadors (cloth) being handed out for draping around our necks were lal (red), the colour attributed to the Saint. It wasn’t just the sights and sounds that were captivating; incense sticks generated a pleasant aroma. Typically, I would’ve ...

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NA-154 was a litmus test for PTI – perhaps Imran Khan should stop relying on patronage politics

While the fraudulent Sharif clan haven’t recovered from the aftermath of the Panama verdict and are still facing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases, the battle of NA-154 by-poll has ended in a mammoth victory for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). To some extent, this result is not surprising. The trend of previous by-polls suggests that people typically prefer to vote for the ruling party. However, victory of a new candidate against Ali Tareen is a major setback for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). This election was a litmus test for PTI, particularly for Jahangir Khan Tareen, whose politics was on stake after disqualification from the apex court. After disqualification, many ...

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There could only be one Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s valiant moral compass

Last year, I wrote an article praising a person who I consider to be my most favourite Pakistani, Ms Asma Jahangir. In that article, I wrote how courageous she was and how she had taken principled liberal stances throughout her life. Due to this, her support for any political party or institution was not constant. She supported the judiciary during the lawyers’ movement and was its fiercest critics later on when she found out that judiciary under former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry was overstepping its constitutional authority. She supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) point of view ...

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#PashtunLongMarch: How many more Naqeebullahs have to die before we stop marginalising the Pashtun community?

Nobody could have guessed that the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud – an aspiring and flamboyant model hailing from South Waziristan – would result in an unprecedented and unyielding protest by the Pashtuns in the federal capital. What had begun as a demand for the arrest of former Malir SSP, Rao Anwar, has now turned into a protest to relay the comprehensive set of grievances of a marginalised people. The participants of this long march, who are mostly from the tribal areas, are now calling for all cases of extrajudicial killings of Pashtuns to be exhaustively investigated in a judicial ...

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Is suo motu action the only way to get justice in a country like Pakistan?

The concept of justice is the bedrock of Islam and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In this regard, the recent suo motu actions taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, should be greatly applauded for the simple reason that he stood up for justice. The power to take suo motu action stems from Article 184(3) of the Constitution regarding original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court which states as follows: “Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights ...

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Boundlessly beautiful and magical, Gorakh is much more than just the ‘Murree of Sindh’

Despite travelling during the winters being a rarity in Pakistan, Gorakh, a hill station near the city of Dadu, has emerged as a popular destination to travel to during the cold season. Perhaps the most exciting factor about Gorakh is that the temperature is always close to zero degrees. Even in the summer, when the temperature in the nearest city of Dadu is touching 50 degrees, Gorakh is chilly, with a temperature of about three to four degrees at night. As Gorakh had unexpectedly received a small amount of snowfall back in 2014, we decided to visit it earlier in January, ...

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Rules and laws apply to all but Imran Khan, PTI members and K-P police

There are times when I almost feel sorry for Imran Khan. Every time he makes a statement blaming Nawaz Sharif or some other opposition leader, something similar ends up happening to make him eat humble pie. For instance, when he proclaimed that he didn’t believe in dynasty politics like the Sharifs and the Bhuttos, but then gave a party ticket to the son of the disqualified Jehangir Tareen, despite there being hundreds of other honest workers in his party who deserved it more. Or when he defended Rao Anwar upon his sacking by Nawaz, but then had to eat his words after ...

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For a nation surviving on dharnas, Pakistan does not know how, when or what to protest

On January 17th, with the attendance and acceptance of Imran Khan and Asif Ali Zardari, two of the most powerful men in Pakistani politics, Tahirul Qadri boldly declared the collective opposition push towards ‘an end of the Sharif Sultanate’. Before the protest demonstration of thousands amassed in Lahore, the Pakistani news cycle had been dominated by the abduction, rape and murder of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl from Kasur. Zainab did come up in the speeches at the protest. It is perhaps retrospectively a good thing that she often only came up as a side-note, for when she was discussed, she was weaponised by the leaders to call ...

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The jury and the executioner: Misusing the blasphemy law for personal vengeance

A few days ago, I came across a headline that shook me to the core. A student killed his principal in Charsadda, on the pretext that the man had committed blasphemy by merely reprimanding him for his absence from school. The student had skipped school to attend the infamous Faizabad sit-in. The fact that the dharna was supposedly conducted for the protection of the finality of prophethood, and his principal indirectly rebuking him for attending it, was enough for the student to justify killing him. Over the past several years, I have witnessed several incidents in which blasphemy was used as a pretext for framing and killing individuals. There ...

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Did we catch the right man in Zainab’s murder?

After weeks of hoping, praying and demanding justice, we have finally been presented with a man being deemed the main culprit in the Zainab rape case. However, in light of all the information that was revealed to us earlier, along with the hurried nature of this capture, I remain unconvinced that Imran Ali Arshad is the man who not only raped and killed Zainab, but also seven other little girls since 2015. What is certain is that if the Supreme Court (SC) had not ordered the police to find the killer within 72 hours, the police would never have acted ...

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