Why is Autism considered taboo or a byproduct of supernatural forces in Pakistan?

I finally understood the truth behind the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child” when I started raising my own son. Raising a child of any age can be a whirlwind and this struggle intensifies when one is raising a child with a disability. This year, during my trip to Pakistan, I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful middle-class Pakistani family. On the outside, they looked like your typical Pakistani family – working father, stay-at-home mother and three beautiful school-going children. However, the inner workings of their family were far from average. Mr and Mrs Ahmed’s* youngest son, Ali*, was ...

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Is the NA-120 by-election a preview of PTI’s prospects in the upcoming 2018 elections?

The voters of NA-120 have given their verdict and have elected Kulsoom Nawaz by a healthy, though reduced, margin of around 14,000 votes. Although I have been following elections for decades now, I don’t recall any election of an individual seat in which the stakes were so high. Normally by-elections are predictable and frankly boring affairs. This by-election, however, was anything but boring or even predictable. It is said that all politics is local and one should exercise a lot of caution in extrapolating the results of one seat to predict the future general elections. Like all constituencies, NA-120 has its own local ...

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For Muslims in Pakistan, providing food for guests at funerals is a cultural obligation, not an Islamic one

Recently, my friend attended the funeral of her grandfather, the former Federal Minister Khalid Kharal. During the funeral, she realised the immense pressure on the family of the deceased to provide food for the mourners and the people attending. When she came back home and discussed this with me, we both concluded that the idea of providing food for the guests at funerals is more of a growing cultural obligation for Muslims in Pakistan rather than an Islamic one. The death of a loved one in the family or close friends is already the cause of severe grief and pain. Adding another responsibility of ...

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Why is Pakistan assumed to be the only saviour of the entire Islamic world?

Many individuals have been crying hoarse over how the Pakistan Army should be sent to Myanmar to help out the Rohingya Muslims that are being brutally massacred. I would like to ask the said individuals to reconsider their stance. Yes, we are truly upset and shocked at what is happening in Myanmar, but we already have enough going on in our own country and we have to protect our people first. Our soldiers are constantly on their feet on the Line of Control (LoC) as well as the Durrand Line, especially given the recent skirmishes. Moreover, our soldiers are valiantly fighting against militants in North ...

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Our curriculum may be out-dated, but it surely does not brainwash students into committing acts of terrorism

Pakistan is going through an extremely difficult phase concerning its current security situation. In my opinion, what is worrying about this scenario is that the numerous terrorists recently captured by law enforcement agencies are highly qualified individuals and are a part of the country’s prestigious academic institutions. Whenever we hear of students involved in terrorism plots and acts, our politicians and government, instead of finding the reason behind students committing terrorist attacks, start blaming the curriculum of educational institutions. Personally, I feel that our curriculum is perfectly fine. It may be out-dated and may lack discussions about recent scientific issues, but it surely does not glorify terrorists or terrorism. ...

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Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was carefully planned, politically motivated and amply funded – but who did it?

Every movie buff has their favourite action movie star – mine is Mark Wahlberg. He has acted in several high octane, action-packed and successful movies. For our purpose, I’d like to remind my readers of one of his more subdued films, Shooter. The film follows the story of a sniper living in exile who is coaxed back into action to prevent a plot to kill the president of the US. Unbeknownst to him, the people who brought him in to help them are the ones who were involved in the whole conspiracy to begin with. If you haven’t seen the ...

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Destroy what destroys you: While blood feuds flourish, justice takes a back seat in Pakistan

Suffering in a living hell due to the state’s failure to deliver justice, widows, orphans, bereft parents, brothers and sisters are the living victims of Pakistan’s blood feuds. Regrettably, blood that is shed to fulfil a primeval need for justice when it is late or denied does not inspire organised outrage. It is lethal vigilantism dressed in chivalric semantics that would leave the ghost in Hamlet decrying “murder most foul”. The unending bloodshed is perceived as murder rather than a murder condoning cultural practice worth challenging. Tragedies languish in solitude in the absence of a dedicated social movement. Prisons are filled with self-righteous murderers upholding ...

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India couldn’t beat us in 1965, can’t beat the stronger Pakistan of today either

In the early hours of September 6, 1965, India initiated an unannounced military offensive against Pakistan. General Jayanto Nath Chaudhry’s self-confidence had gone a “peg” too far. His famous dream of “drinking at Lahore Gymkhana” that evening was soon shattered by brave Pakistani troops. India did gain some territory, but ended up losing a lot more. Pakistan’s unexpected response and India’s heavy losses of men, material and territory brought the Indian confidence-plus-ambition down several notches and suddenly, negotiations became an option. The Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities and the (mis)adventure came to an end. It wasn’t the first misadventure and it certainly wasn’t to be ...

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A single cowhide can fetch around $50 in the open market, but where does that money go?

Eidul Azha is finally here. Just the mere thought of it fills my mind with vivid images of beef and lamb stews, korma and pulao. But let’s not forget Eidul Azha also means rejoicing with our family and friends and understanding the concept of sacrifice. Though let’s be honest, that is secondary in the face of the scrumptious food we get to enjoy. Growing up in Pakistan, Eidul Azha also meant spending time at the bakra mandi (cattle market), picking out the best sacrificial animal. It also involved spending Eid morning with the butcher in the yard as he slaughtered, skinned and ...

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When did Eidul Azha turn into a vicious spending competition?

Every year, Muslims all over the world observe the festival of Eidul Azha to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s (pbuh) submission to the will of Allah (swt). By obeying His order to sacrifice his only son, Hazrat Ismail (AS), he proved that he was a true servant of Allah, and it is this spirit of sacrifice that is to be observed by Muslims every year. Unfortunately, instead of realising that they have to be ready to sacrifice every precious possession in the way of Allah, Eidul Azha is now observed only as a ritual. And with the exception of a few, most Muslims do ...

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