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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5 reasons why good teachers quit within 5 years

Often a good teacher will decide to leave his or her job after just a few years. A federal study states that up to 20% of certified pedagogues of both public and private schools begin to change their minds about devoting their lives to teaching by the fifth year of their career. According to Richard Ingersoll, Professor of Education and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, the number is actually much higher. He claims that about 50% of young experts quit teaching during the first five years because they are sick of the profession. While the exact number remains to be ...

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Promiscuous hypocrisy: “Yaar, she has already slept with me. How can I marry her?”

I casually asked my friend when we met at a coffee shop last week, “So, when are you going to marry her?”   “What do you mean?” My friend was probably not ready for this question. “I mean, when will you marry your girlfriend?” I clarified. He broke into laughter and looked at me as if I had cracked a joke. “Have you gone mad?” He said while controlling his laughter. “But what’s wrong? She is a nice, educated girl and you must also settle down and have a family life now,” I emphasised. “You are probably right about settling down, but it’s not going to be with ...

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From honouring our martyrs to a mere date on the calendar – have we forgotten the importance of Defence Day?

It was August 14th a few weeks ago, and with the newly elected government, Independence Day was fervently anticipated this year. People rejoiced over Naya Pakistan and await the change that was promised. A little over three weeks later, Pakistan commemorates Defence Day ─ now just another day, for so many of us across the country. Just over two decades ago, Defence Day used to be an annual public holiday. It ceased being so, when the then government categorised September 6th as a counterproductive day off; I believe this was circa March 1997. As we speak, the only sign of the importance of ...

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How an extra-school program changed the way a seventh-grader looked at society

Beyond the Classroom Education is a program teaching school students all across Pakistan the ability to think for themselves, rather than being taught what to think. Students are exposed to several problematic societal issues through a number of behavioural activities that give them the ability to decipher between right and wrong. It teaches them how to cope with the issues at hand, and also explains ways they can make society a better and more accepting place for all types of people, using the best of their abilities. When the program was introduced to students of the Mama Parsi Girls’ Secondary ...

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