#SayNoToWar: Airstrikes, blackouts and bunkers – that was my childhood

Learning new vocabulary and songs on the first day of school is a part of growing up; it’s a part of childhood memories. When I recall my memories, they are a little unusual. They are of war; the war of 1971 when East Pakistan was attacked. The lyrics of some of the ‘askari naghme’ (patriotic songs) sung by Madam Noor Jehan, such as Ay watan ke sajeeley jawanon (O brave men of the country) were the first to be embedded in my mind. Words like anti-aircraft, missile, trenches and blackouts were some of the first ones I learned in the English ...

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6 reasons why you need to distance yourself from that ‘friend’ of yours

When you hear the word abuse, what do you think of? A man physically abusing a woman or a person who isolates and belittles their romantic partner? What needs to be discussed more is how friendships can also become abusive. An ‘abusive friend’ may seem like an oxymoron because we are taught that our friends mean well and do what’s in our best interest. Like abusive romantic relationships, abusive friendships start out looking great on paper. You meet a new friend, who compliments you a lot and is eager to hang out with you. The same person who said that ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Unmasking the paedophile

What would you call an adult who abuses children for sexual and/or romantic gratification? A paedophile. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a child is a human being less than 18 years of age. Going by the CRC’s definition, the global authority for all mental health practitioners, the American Psychiatric Association, has set a particular criteria to diagnose someone as a paedophile. Paedophiles can be exclusive or non-exclusive. Exclusive paedophiles are the ones with sole preference for children for romantic and/or sexual relationships, while non-exclusive paedophiles have a preference for adults as well. The perpetrators ...

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As a person who was almost radicalised, I urge Britain to accept Shamima Begum

The events of 9/11 were not restricted towards the US only; they changed the whole world, including the thoughts of my generation. I was merely an 18-year-old who had recently finished college back then and was looking forward to pursuing journalism. This was not the era of electronic media in Pakistan, so the only way we could get updated was by relying on cheap newspapers. With the kind of content I went through during the first couple of years of the Afghan war, anyone my age would have easily fallen prey to the menace of extremism and militancy. And ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Unrequited love, a choice or a consequence?

South Asian culture, particularly India and Pakistan, romanticises the notion of suffering in unrequited love. This emotionally-draining, one-sided road is deemed as a higher form of love and is attributed to purity. No wonder harassment is so common in our culture. “Sacha ishq wohi hai jo kabhi mil na paey.” (True love is that which can never meet.) The aforementioned sentence is sort of a slogan for these one-sided lovers. Since Sufism is one of the most dominant philosophies followed in Indo-Pak culture, the masochism involved in unrequited love – ishq-e-majazi – is held as a necessary stage towards attaining a divine form of ...

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Ladies, if you think your man is #goals, you definitely need to raise the bar!

Ladies, have you ever been told that you have ‘really high standards’ when it comes to men? That you need to lower the threshold a bit, otherwise you will never ‘find anyone’? Or that you need to make some ‘compromises’ to be in a relationship? When it comes to dating or finding a husband, women are constantly told they cannot find a ‘perfect guy’, which is why they should just be happy and settle for a man who seems to be a reasonably okay person. If the ‘boys will be boys’ trope wasn’t enough, it has been made very clear to women ...

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#TherapistDiaries: How to move on from divorce and why it’s harder for women

Is there a good time to end a marriage?  Is it better to wait and let things pile on in hopes of a better future?  The possibilities are endless.  A lot of couples seek help from therapists not knowing whether they want a divorce or have just given up trying to make the marriage work. Most of these couples hope that the therapist would make the decision for them, but that’s not how it works. A marriage counsellor or a marital therapist may not be the answer to these questions because at the end of the day, it is the couple’s choice and decision. However, a therapist ...

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It’s time to stop poking the bear, India

Our national identity, stemming from the word ‘Pakistani’, represents far more than just our citizenship. It runs in our blood, it is our life and we are willing to die for it. Twitter and Facebook are full of patriots who are at the frontlines of our social media war with India, but are we prepared to face the consequences of a real war which is imminent on both sides? Of course it is easy for us to say we can beat India, while sitting in front of television screens in the comfort of our homes. But war implies the death of ...

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Dear India, here are 7 enlightening lessons to end the blame game. Sincerely, Pakistan!

The Pulwama attack was an unfortunate tragedy and an act of terrorism; one that should be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. However, it seems that India is more concerned with upholding its anti-Pakistan narrative for a political agenda than actually trying to get justice or finding a solution for the Kashmir issue.  The already tense dynamic between the two countries has escalated quickly and relations seem worse than they have been in a long time. But while Pakistan tries to use diplomacy and backchannels to call for peace, India seems to be too busy beating the drums of war. ...

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#TherapistDiaries: Do you think you’re in an abusive marriage?

Her family thought that “she liked being abused by her spouse”. In fact, those were the actual words of her own mother. Her friends and co-workers thought the same. She kept on going back to the husband who embarrassed her in front of people over her appearance and body weight. She kept going back to the husband who used to beat her black and blue, and she had to go to work with bruises on her face. Eventually, he made her leave her job too and the abuse stopped for a while, only to trigger the worst physical and sexual abuse phase ...

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