Making Pakistan proud: In conversation with interdisciplinary designer Wajiha Pervez

Pakistan has an abundance of talent, and young Pakistanis continue to make their homeland proud internationally. One such Pakistani is Wajiha Pervez, a Pakistani artist, interdisciplinary designer, materials enthusiast and traveler. Qatar Foundation (QF), a conglomerate of academic institutions including campuses of many international universities, houses the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Arts (VCUQ). The university hosts a high-profile event, Tasmeem Doha, which hosts renowned artists and speakers from all over the world. Up until now, the board of the event only consisted of either key faculty members from the parent campus in Richmond or top local faculty. However, this year, ...

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Fed up of your high electricity bills and constant load-shedding? Go solar!

Last week in Lahore, when temperatures were touching 45 degrees Celsius, everywhere I went the conversation revolved around not load-shedding but high electricity bills – rich and poor were reeling from their June electricity bills. The recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has resulted in subsidies being removed from electricity and gas, and citizens are now left to cope with huge bills. “The only option is to go solar – we have our elderly mother in the house who needs her air conditioner (AC) running 24/7 all summer long, plus our room and my brother’s room and guestroom. We ...

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The return of Fayyaz Chohan: Is tolerance no longer the ‘first and foremost pillar’ of Pakistan?

When Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power, Fayyaz Chohan was given charge of the Punjab Information Ministry. During his stint as Punjab’s information minister, Chohan not only used derogatory language against his political opponents, but he also passed disrespectful, misogynistic remarks about a stage actress, accusing her of spreading vulgarity in society. His statements soon became an embarrassment for the PTI government and it seemed that every time Chohan spoke, PTI had to clean up the mess after him. However, when Chohan spoke against the Hindu community in an offensive and bigoted manner, it seemed that he had finally crossed the line. ...

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Once a neighbourhood of gang wars, Lyari’s Girls Café is helping women reclaim the streets

Among poorly-designed, bullet-riddled houses, there stands an immensely eye-catching building right in the heart of Lyari. This three-story residential building painted in striking shades of blue, pink and green is not a sight that can go unnoticed. The street, once most widely known for its vacant houses and gang war tussles, now hosts a place that welcomes hundreds of young girls and women from every nook and cranny of the area. This place, inaugurated around three years ago, is known as the Lyari’s Girls Cafe (LGC) where girls and women gather daily to learn, teach and share ideas, both long-standing and innovative. ...

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Is increasing the retirement age a good idea?

Due to its current inefficient governance, Pakistan is currently facing issues on all fronts and unfortunately, the problems are expected to worsen in the near future. Because Pakistan didn’t have enough problems already, a new problem of pension payments has surfaced. The government is currently struggling to process pension payments to its retired employees or their families in a timely manner. Many factors contribute to this issue, including presence of ghost employees in various departments. If drastic measures are not taken to eradicate the concerned problem on immediate basis, it will certainly worsen the country’s economic woes in the near future. One major hiccup is that in some ...

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Pakistan’s dangerous melting glaciers and why we should be concerned

Shishper glacier, located above Hassanabad village adjacent to the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Hunza district, has been in the news lately as it is an unusual glacier – unlike many other large glaciers in the region that are melting and receding, this glacier is advancing and surging. The 15km long Shishper Glacier that was surging until a week ago This towering black wall of ice has been pushing forward into Hassanabad and heading towards the village and the KKH since last July. I visited the glacier this past May and I have to say it was a fascinating ...

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Carbon pricing: the solution to Pakistan’s smog and economic woes

Air pollution has been a growing concern for many in Pakistan. With rapid population growth and urbanisation, Pakistan is facing the worst air quality it has experienced since in its existence. AirVisual, an air quality monitor, ranks the major cities of Pakistan like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar among the most polluted cities in the world. Another major problem that has emerged in the past few years is smog, which is a result of extreme air pollution. Smog, quite literally, is formed when smoke merges with fog; a hazy, grey air which is produced when heat from the sunlight reacts with fine particles ...

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Remembering Amjad Sabri: You can’t dim the light of a star

His recitation was eerily reminiscent of how his father, Ghulam Farid Sabri performed his signature qawwali tracks. It was the exact same way his uncle, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri also performed. This style of qawwali can probably be traced to how his ancestors had performed, right back to the time of Mian Tansen, a favourite musician of the Mughal court. Perhaps because theirs was a proverbial  ‘qawwal gharana’ (a family of qawwals), was why in my mind,  Sabri’s Karachi household eternally vibrated to the combined music from harmoniums, tablas, dholaks and sarangis used to produce a qawwali. All of us know that qawwali is no ...

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Zardari’s arrest: Separating facts from PPP’s fiction

Let me steal a phrase from the The Shining: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” After Asif Ali Zardari’s arrest, the party rhetoric, the media noise and the social media trolling which ensued, have all made one thing very clear: all fiction and no fact makes Zardari a good boy. However, if we could attempt to achieve the insurmountable task of separating fact from fiction, our future generations, if not us, may live in a different and much better Pakistan. Pakistan is a strange country. In other countries, when public officials or aspiring office holders face ...

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Taking from the poor, giving to the stock brokers – who is PTI’s priority?

The incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has just increased the price of petrol by Rs4.26 per litre and it intends to introduce more indirect taxes in the upcoming budget in order to minimise the deficit in the budget. However, surprisingly, recently the PTI government approved a package of around Rs20 billion for stock exchange brokers and it was termed as a package to end the uncertainty in the Pakistan Stock Exchange and give confidence to the stock market. However, since the package is actually being given to the wealthier stock brokers, it begs the question that at a time when ...

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