I lived with anorexia for 15 years, and no one could help me

I developed anorexia when I was 19. I was going through heartbreak and an existential crisis. I wanted to discover God and also rebel against my liberal background. I wanted to find a purpose for my meaningless existence, and a career on which I could stand on my own two feet. But my parents didn’t understand any of this. My father was too busy with work and I never really spoke to him; my mother was also too busy with her own life and could never understand me, while my brother was studying abroad and had his own life. While ...

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It all started with a so-called wrong number

I come from an open-minded household; however, my beliefs about relationships and marriage are very traditional. I disapproved of love before wedlock and looked down upon affairs and relationships. I got married young to a man much older; he became my friend, lover and confidant. Even after having children, we are inseparable. It was only when I found out about my husband’s affair that I broke down and my whole life seemed like a lie to me. I still chose to forgive and forget considering my values did not allow for a divorce and I chose to stay with him. ...

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Remembering Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on his 201st birth anniversary: “I did not understand the value of time”

In the aftermath of the War of Independence of 1857, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) emerged as a key leader of the Indian Muslim community, being a thoroughly modern Muslim in a thoroughly pre-modern age. He is credited for originating the Two Nation Theory, founding the Aligarh Movement and being a founding father of Pakistan. Less celebrated are his achievements in providing a modern, scientific and rational interpretation of Islam and the Holy Quran, as well as his debates on culture that – in the face of stern opposition from fundamentalists and detractors – sowed the seeds of enlightenment ...

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#MeToo: I was 8 when he taught me that a woman’s body is everyone else’s but her own

“Dekh ke aahangar ki dukaan mein Tund hai shu’le, surkh hai aahan.” (See how in the blacksmith’s forge, Flames leap high and steel glows red) I was 15-years-old when I wrote a letter to my father. I was struggling at school, getting into trouble in the neighbourhood and fighting with my siblings at home. You know the usual teenage angst. I wrote, “Dad, I know what S* uncle did. I remember everything. I need help.” The week after, my father insisted that I attend a family friend’s wedding with him. At the wedding, he asked me to step outside the hall for five minutes. ...

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Why I wanted to abort my baby

The facade of life; how extraordinarily amazing yet deceiving. A dear friend, living an apparently ideal life shares her story: I had a love marriage, and since this is looked down upon in general, we faced a lot of opposition from both our families and friends. This eventually led to a lot of resentment, and my once beloved husband forgot that he fought so hard to have me in his life and let everyone mistreat me, so much so that I myself was not sure if love really existed between us anymore. Three years and two kids later, a girl and ...

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The elusive and enigmatic First Lady of Pakistan

Imran Khan’s political gusto may have weathered several storms, but his penchant of collecting various wives over the years has been a constant source of amusement to his political opponents as well as voters in Pakistan. From his playboy days of yesteryear to his days of peddling a more Islamic demeanour, Imran’s wives have adapted to his constantly evolving personas. I was merely 12-years-old when I discovered Jemima Goldsmith was marrying Imran. I was in awe of a man who happened to snag a blushing, demure and outrageously beautiful daughter of a British billionaire. From watching their first interview together when ...

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Confessions of a SAHM: Don’t compare me to Instagram-perfect, working mothers

When I was a young university student, I dreaded the idea of being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) so much that whenever I would come across one, I would be thankful that I don’t have to live her life. I would constantly reassure myself that no matter what, I will never be a lazy SAHM who spends her entire day cooking, cleaning and changing dirty diapers. However, as I grew older and the first time I locked eyes with my little boy, I turned into a new woman. I had people telling me that your life will change once you ...

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Like father, like son: The abusive and helpless sons of battered mothers

She was in her 90s and her sons had brought her in to get treatment for her depression. As her life unfolded with each therapy session, I got accustomed to her life of long-term abuse at the hands of her husband and in-laws. This was all she could talk about. As we further progressed in therapy, she narrated how her sons were terrified of watching her suffer abuse at the hands of their father. One of her sons was scarred for life with severe anger management issues, while the other had a deep sense of inferiority complex despite accomplishing so much ...

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Because smoking damages a man’s lungs and ruins a woman’s honour

While universities around the world are trying to promote freedom of expression and invest in the development of their students, in the case of Pakistan, higher education institutions are stifling debate, cracking down on any independent thought and churning out automatons by the hundreds. For instance, they are more focused on wasting paper with unoriginal research papers, as former students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were recently caught plagiarising a whole paper verbatim and almost got away with having it published. International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has stopped its students from celebrating Pakhtun culture day, while Punjab University arrested ...

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Sky is the limit: My journey from Sargodha to the University of Oxford

When I was 12-years-old, I remember hearing about an institution known as the University of Oxford, but it felt too far away to ever become a reality. While I knew that if I worked hard I could probably get in someday, I never imagined the path life would take me through to finally get here. A path filled with adventures around the globe, and a chase towards learning from some of the world’s brightest minds. I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford, and received my Master’s through a program that allowed me to live in ...

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