Social isolation is nothing new for Pakistan’s transgender community

About a third of the world is experiencing a lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic. My current country of residence, the United States, is in extensive lockdown including my home state of New York, which also happens to be the hardest hit area in America. These are extraordinary circumstances, and it is only during such time that we start taking notice of many things which we may have taken for granted in the past. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the world is currently collectively reflecting upon and reassessing their lives. For example, this crisis has made many realise that ...

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How Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is coping with COVID-19

The rapid increase in cases of COVID-19 forced the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) to declare a health emergency and order a provincial lockdown, while citizens were ordered to self-quarantine and observe social distancing, much like the rest of Pakistan. The sudden declaration, followed by an immediate lockdown, coupled with media reports that update figures by the hour, the amount of panic and fear among the people is palpable. But the reason behind the panic can differ from person to person, depending on the financial stability of their household. For some, just accessing basic necessities has become a problem, as when ...

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The psychology behind the denial of the coronavirus

When speaking about community psychology, the health and wellbeing of the society are major themes. When these two are threatened, like today by a pandemic, the psychological response of a community trickles down to form the dominant narrative for individuals.  Sociologist Philip Strong has termed this collective response to a health related crisis epidemic psychology and says that such responses can be observed throughout history’s major outbreaks. He further says that not only the effects of the epidemic or pandemic in this case, spread among the populace but so do the emotional reactions. People can be traumatised by the outbreak ...

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How to tackle increased domestic abuse during COVID-19

The fact that I am able to write this has a lot to do with my privilege to do so. As I write this, I sit on my dining table in the living room at home with my family members scattered in different corners; everyone is busy doing something or the other, without necessarily fearing nor contemplating whether our lives are at risk of domestic abuse. For some people, however, their home is not as safe of a place as it is for others. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an unwavering impact on the increasing rate of domestic violence. ...

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Should Pakistan ask for free internet during the coronavirus pandemic?

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic? There are chances that by now you have been frustrated by the speed of your internet at one point or the other. Maybe your co-worker’s face froze during a Skype meeting, or maybe you were trying to watch a YouTube video that kept buffering or maybe a 5MB picture took more than 10 minutes to download.  These are revealing signs that the internet in Pakistan might be struggling to support the unprecedented surge in use from millions of homebound computer and smartphone users. Since the local governments have imposed lockdowns across the country, ...

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What we can do to help the government during COVID-19

Life is full of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. But some surprises are more of a shock than anything else. A rude awakening of sorts.  Just a few days ago, life was normal. You were perhaps planning a family holiday, maybe thinking of what needs to be done around the house and making a grocery list for the next month. And suddenly, everything changed. China was under attack from a very different kind of enemy, a virus. One that rapidly spread across the globe and shut down economies. In a few short weeks, it forced various governments to shut borders, ...

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What someone with a disability wants Fayyaz Chohan to know

Savoyard philosopher, Joseph de Maistre has been quoted, saying, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” Indeed, leaders do mirror the qualities of a nation. The intellect, gestures and mannerisms of men and women in power reflect a nation’s character and so, the civility of Pakistani society may be judged by the problematic mindset of a spokesperson that is supposed to represent the country’s most populous province. The subsequent apathetic response by the state also speaks volumes about the polluted ethos that characterises certain sections of our society. Thus, in light of the aforementioned sad state of affairs, I felt obliged to express ...

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Sindh coronavirus lockdown: The unfamiliar sight of leaders, leading

We often see the chicken and the egg problem in political systems; chronically bad leaders and a cynical populace coexist in mutual contempt. In this scenario, if a leader tries to do good, the population is ill-equipped to recognise it because, like a snarling, abused street dog, it has known only ill treatment and neglect. Such has been the case in Karachi during the recent weeks. Unused to leaders leading or, indeed, fulfilling even the basic requirements of governance, Karachiites have been treated to the unfamiliar sight of the Sindh government taking proactive measures against the COVID-19 menace. From the prescient decision ...

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How a Pakistani is weathering the COVID-19 lock down in Denmark

It was late January and I had just returned from a packed month of travel across Europe and South Asia. Novel coronavirus cases had just begun to emerge in Wuhan, China, the then epicenter of the virus. Sitting all the way in Scandinavia, the coronavirus at first appeared to be a pneumonia-like disease that would remain limited to China but then it started rapidly spreading to other East Asian countries and penetrated all of Europe courtesy borderless travelling. The seriousness of the situation first struck me when a hotel in Santa Cruz, Spain, was shut down as cases had surged in ...

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Lessons Pakistan should learn from America amidst the coronavirus panic buying

A few weeks ago, when the coronavirus was largely affecting mainland China, a friend of mine called me from Pakistan and complained about the sudden shortage of face-masks in Pakistan. He said, “We are a completely uncivilised society with no regard for any ethics or morals. You are lucky that you live in a morally upright nation (America).” At the time, I agreed with his assertion and thought that I could easily compare the two societies since I have spent a considerable amount of time in both the countries. Most of my personal as well as professional life was spent in ...

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