#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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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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I wanted to be a doctor my whole life but ended up doing BBA, and life changed

As a child, I always wanted to pursue medicine. I was the kid who would memorise the names of bones from a skeleton drawn in her book and tell her dad about this achievement. Medicine was my passion from the start. As a teenager, I wanted to do something substantial in life and my goal was to be an independent woman like my mother. Working hard had become both a passion and a liability to achieve what I always wanted to do. But last year, when the time for admissions into medical colleges came, things didn’t play out so well. And ...

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A pizza-less Naya Pakistan: Cheese, the greatest villain in Pakistan’s economic tragicomedy

In the same month that the country discriminated against one of its economists for his religious beliefs, our cheese imports appear to have come under jeopardy. Coincidence? Certainly none of us expected karma to come knocking at our kitchen door so soon. When the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) assembled a few weeks ago, cheese was not expected to be revealed as the greatest villain in this economic tragicomedy. The session was held to discuss ways on how to avoid another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. No, 15th time is not the charm! It was in this session that an economist – who ...

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