International Day of Persons with Disabilities: A special thanks to the hands that rock the cradle

Every year the third day of December is marked as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, exclusively reserved to pay tribute to people with disabilities and acknowledge their contributions and achievements. On this prestigious occasion, conventionally, accomplishments of disabled persons are highlighted and cherished: seminars are organised on governmental level as well as by private organisations, television channels air special programs and conduct interviews of distinguished individuals and print media publishes editorials and success stories in recognition of people with disabilities. However, despite suffering from visual impairment and being a vocal proponent of rights of disabled community, I wish to address ...

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Reclaiming public space: Can it be a (wo)man’s world, too?

It was a Saturday night when it rained cats and dogs in Lahore. Cool breeze finally taking over the scorching heat made for an excuse to go out and enjoy to the fullest. With such a spectacular change in weather, it was compulsory for my husband and I to drive out into the city around midnight and be amused by the pleasant ambience. Even at that hour, roads were full of traffic. Trees were swirling in the gusty wind. Eateries along the road were jam-packed with people; after all, Lahoris are known to enjoy food like none other. Boys in groups ...

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Another life lost to depression and yet we don’t consider mental health a grave issue?

Mental health should now be the top priority of every person wanting to function fully and maintain a healthy life. However, most of the world does not take this need seriously, and Pakistan is no exception. The country at large remains unaware of the importance of sound mental health, and while certain campaigns do address such issues, they mainly cater to a particular class. Bullying, depression, anxiety, and hundreds of other psychological conditions aren’t taken seriously here, as people believe they will disappear on their own or by prayer, or else the person will be treated harshly or ...

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Lights, camera, action: Faisal Vawda, the ‘hero’ we did not need

The heinous attack on the Chinese consulate brought many brave women and men of the police to the forefront, all earning well-deserved national admiration. However, Mr Faisal Vawda was not one of them. There is no reason that a tragedy like this should ever be eclipsed by a satirical side-show, but that is something with which we must now cope. Amidst the chaos at the consulate, appeared a hero that nobody had asked for, and nobody quite needed. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA, Vawda, arrived at the scene with a gun and a bulletproof vest. While media reporting on the Karachi terror ...

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Travelling the world amongst the roaring sea: Memories of a Pakistani sailor

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Aspiring for a career and finally achieving employment is a blessing for anyone. When I was young, my dream, like many other kids, was to roam around the world, to see far off places and to experience different cultures. One practical way to achieve my goal was to join the Merchant Marine. At a young age of 17, when one is full of hope and ambition, I finally had the selection letter tucked gleefully in my pocket after a gruelling selection process. It was a pleasant February afternoon in 1974 when I joined the ...

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Dhaba vs fine dining: A $60 meal at a Michelin star restaurant or a $2 meal fit for a Mughal emperor?

Known for the fresh sub-continental food they serve in an open air atmosphere, dhabas can be dubbed as local fast food joints that offer patrons tasty, traditional dishes at an affordable price. The word ‘dhaba’ has become so popular in fact, that both Indian and Pakistani restaurants abroad have adopted it as a part of their name. I grossly undervalued the economical and cheerful appeal of a dhaba until a few months ago, when visiting the land of gold souks and skyscrapers otherwise known as Dubai. I decided to go for dinner at a posh restaurant called Guilt. This of course ...

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Understanding encroachment and why its end will be a breath of fresh air for Karachi

The city of Karachi is left with a handful of neighbourhoods where encroachment is not an issue yet, namely the Defence Housing Authority, Malir Cantt and few other housing societies. Rest of the city is plagued with encroachments involving roadside restaurants, car showrooms, push cart vendors, illegal settlements and so on. Sometimes hard decisions need to be taken in order to address an issue that was hard to approach earlier. People will be displaced, businesses will be shutdown and many will go jobless but in the longer run, malpractices and violations will come down significantly. Rule of law can only ...

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Therapist diaries: Three great lessons I have learnt from kids with autism

Spending time with kids and adults with autism covers most of my time, and it is the best part of my day. Being a therapist, it shouldn’t be my motivation to look forward to spiritual or emotional gain from the people in treatment – it’s alright if this happens naturally. Those who work around people with autism know how a person’s rigidity and conventional thinking can be challenged by them, and the same happened to me. I had to push my boundaries and set conventional thinking aside for a while, leading to a journey of immense inner growth. Our pop ...

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Future of Pakistan Conference 2018: Where the youth fearlessly engage with Pakistan’s political leadership

“Judges, like all other officers of the state of Pakistan, are public servants and are accountable to the people.”  This was a comment by Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa at the London School of Economics (LSE) on November 3rd, in front of a packed audience consisting of Pakistani and non-Pakistani students across the UK. Other speakers of note, ranging from the Prime Minister’s Special Economic Adviser Dr Ishrat Hussain to former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, echoed this sentiment. The narrative of public accountability in Pakistan – both a goal and an ideal – is one we must aspire towards domestically and project internationally. ...

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“They hired a Pathan?! I thought it was for smart people”: Pakhtun stereotyping is not ‘just jokes’

I recently moved to the United States for my graduate studies. At the Denver International Airport, a large poster of Malala Yousafzai welcomed me. I wished this would not be the only time I felt at home, but I remained sceptical. Only recently had I read a news article about the increase in race and religion-based violence in America. I decided to reserve my judgement for later. Inadvertently though, this brought back memories of another relocation I experienced three years ago. On June 10, 2015, a week before I graduated from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIK), I received a ...

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