When your son asks you “what is a mango”

While flipping through a book of fruits that I brought for him yesterday, my three-year-old son stopped on a particular page. Curiously, he gazed at the picture for some time. He tilted the little book, first left then right, and even gave it at a full upside down rotation in hopes that this thing would look familiar once he sees it with the right angle. As I was watching him making these attempts and inwardly feeling excited on actually witnessing my toddler’s cognitive process (yes, parents have these weird, rather creepy moments of exhilaration), out of frustrated curiosity, my son asked ...

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Make matriculation/high school compulsory to vote

On July 25th, Pakistan’s fate, at least for the next five years, will be in its own hands. The future will come down to all of us as we make certain choices in that polling booth. Some of us will still be thinking, weighing pros and cons, measuring the benefits, and calculating the risks. But most of us would have likely made up our minds on who to vote for before judgement day. The next day, Pakistan, a sovereign state since 1947, will see only the second successive transition in democratic power. But I have a question: are all people informed enough to ...

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If Lahore couldn’t handle the rains, what hope does Karachi have?

Karachi has a love-hate relationship with the monsoon season. While Karachiites long for rain throughout the year, we shudder at the very thought of prolonged downpour, flooding, destruction and power outages that are inevitably associated with it. The last time this city truly got to enjoy the rainy season was during Mustafa Kamal’s tenure, when despite drains heavily clogged with rainwater – especially the Gujjar Nala and Neher-e-Khayyam – alternate drainage arrangements were made and the citizens were spared the entire rain-related trauma. Things are much, much different now. With monsoon rains that are imminent and expected any day now, infrastructure ...

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Hero versus Pakistan’s villains

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality”― Arthur Schopenhauer. This is the story of Hero, a donkey that remains in critical condition after violent abuse. Every time I think our morality and apathy has hit rock bottom, I am proven wrong by another heinous incident that brutally violates norms of human decency and shreds any form of animal welfare. The more animal welfare is highlighted and the more awareness we all raise, ...

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I wanted to change the lives of underprivileged school kids, but they changed mine

While growing up in Karachi in the turbulent 90s, my neighbourhood used to be a perpetual warzone. Acting tough was the only way of surviving. Our future outlook used to be so bleak that career orientation was not even a fleeting thought in my mind. As time passed by and I was faced with the prospect of monetary meltdown at the domestic front, I used to wonder why no one ever extended a helping hand to me and to numerous others who stood at the brink of an abyss that had already consumed hundreds, if not thousands, from our generation due to ...

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When Pakistan’s political drama overshadowed its tragedy, again

The anti-climactic landing of deposed premier Nawaz Sharif in Lahore stood in strong contrast to the scores of supporters usurping the provincial capital in order to welcome him. Funnily enough, none of the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) made it to the airport, or even near it. Their entire show of power to ‘welcome’ Nawaz was solely to flaunt their supporters and exhibit to the country that PML-N still holds strength in Punjab. Nawaz and daughter Maryam Nawaz both arrived in Lahore at around 8:48pm last night, and videos from fellow passengers were being played on repeat on ...

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Are internships a waste of time in Pakistan?

“Mind the gap.” This is a warning familiar to anyone who has ever taken the tube in London. It refers to the gap that exists between the platform and the train itself. It is also a warning delivered to all of us at university before we step into “the real world” – the platform being college and the bullet train being the corporate sector. What is this ‘real world’ we hear so much about? And why does every working professional refer to it as a world that every student is completely oblivious to and unprepared for? Did we not just spend ...

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Smoking kills, but so does patriarchy

What is the duty of a good brown woman? For most of our society, it’s ‘upholding traditional values’ – whether it’s the ideal bahu (daughter-in-law) in most TV dramas, desirable conservatism in Bollywood dynamics, or unsolicited advice from politicians. A 2017 Ipsos Global Trends report even reveals that 64% of Indians believe that a woman’s primary role is to be ‘a good mother and wife’. This burden of sanskar (values) and dutifulness then become a tool of oppression, of restriction. On the other hand, men have no such shackles, and end up having a monopoly on the social acceptability of ‘having fun’. There is a systematic curbing of women’s freedom to experience ...

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An open letter to CJP Saqib Nisar: If a prime minister can be put behind bars, why not Rao Anwar?

Respected Mr Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Supreme Court, During the last few years, the Supreme Court has sprouted as the only ray of hope for the people of Pakistan. The dismal state of daily affairs has been going unnoticed for decades but the current Supreme Court’s swift responses have truly won people over and given all of us hope. Suo moto action taken in cases that were not heading anywhere or taken when something truly important happened is an indication of our justice system improving. There are a number of instances that are truly worth mentioning and deserve massive ...

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Tête-a-tête with Beenish Afreen: A rebel reclaiming her public space, one bike at a time

In this technology-saturated modern biosphere, women motorcycling are still not a welcome sight. In a conservative society like Pakistan, it is unfortunate that people are more vocal and contemptuous about women riding bikes than they are about the harassment they face in their commutes generally. In a traditionalist patriarchal society where domination is believed to be a masculine realm, the general perception still is that women riding bikes and claiming public spaces or independence are against the orthodox status quo. The ill-norms, taboos and misogynistic expectations ballooned in society are holding women back from empowering themselves. Not many women dare to ...

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