Stories about activist

Fahmida Riaz’s departing present opens up ‘A World of Possibilities’

Today marks the 73rd birthday of Pakistan’s arch-feminist poetess and activist Fahmida Riaz, who left us rather too soon last November. But even during her last days, she gave us two remarkable books as departing presents: Tum Kabeer, her last collection of poetry; and a novella titled Qila-e-Faramoshi, a fictional rendition of the life and times of the first-ever socialist Mazdak, the scourge of Zoroastrian Persia. According to her sister, Najma Manzoor, she also left us with her last unpublished poem Daftar-e-Imkaan (A World of Possibility). This was written during her bed-ridden days in Karachi, just days before she moved to her daughter’s house in Lahore in 2018, on her final ...

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I am one of the ‘entitled millennials’ whose conscience got pricked by Mohammad Jibran Nasir

There was a post making its rounds on Facebook that caught my attention, which said, “If you were to meet your eight-year-old self today, what advice would you give?” And then a slightly more chilling question, “What would your eight-year-old self say about you?” I remember myself at eight, naïve and highly impressionable, living in a world of make-believe, convinced that life was as simple as being one of the good guys and standing up against all forces of evil. But with time and growth came the realisation that things aren’t so simple. This is a blog I may perhaps be better off not writing. ...

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NA-247: A dictator, a mayor, an activist – who deserves Karachi’s hot seat?

With elections looming a mere 44 days from now, political parties have pitched their best candidates in the most powerful constituencies. With Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan standing from five different seats (how insecure?) in three provinces for the National Assembly (NA), the power show for the General Election of 2018 will be unforgettable. For Karachi, though, the one NA seat that wreaked havoc and chaos in 2013 was the NA-250 (now NA-247). Being part of the NA-250 constituency myself, I remember the painful series of events that took place in the last elections. Dr Arif Alvi won the ...

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Lessons from Nelson Mandela

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” This historic roadmap  refers to the most celebrated statesman and visionary leader of the preceding century – Nelson Mandela. He is recognised both nationally and globally as an archetype of the utmost endurance and a man who showed unprecedented ...

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Are Jibran Nasir and his friends game changers in today’s Pakistan?

One cold Karachi night On the night of February 1st, Jibran Nasir – Pakistan’s leading activist – and a handful of peaceful protesters sat on a road in Karachi near the Sindh chief minister’s house for more than 24 hours, demanding the arrest of terrorists responsible for the January 30th, 2015, Shikarpur attack which killed 65 Shias during Friday prayers, and demanding action against banned sectarian organisations. There were only 20 protesters, their average age 25, outnumbered it seemed by riot police with water cannon and batons at the ready. Protest in Karachi against terrorism and secterian violence. Photo: Kafila Karachi is ...

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Gandhiji would have been proud of you, Kailash Satyarthi

Mr Kailash Satyarthi has come a long way since his engineering days at Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, literally. My father, who was one year senior to this electrical engineering student, vividly remembers him as that shy, reticent, modest young man, from a middle-class background, who would come to the college in his staple kurta-payjama with a muffler tied around his neck. “Simple living, high thinking,” was his philosophy, recalls my father, a civil engineering student in 1970, adding that “he was different”. Mr Satyarthi would be aloof and would rarely mingle with others. One thing was clear to ...

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Happy Birthday, Malala

In a recent social media diatribe (the ones where everyone’s faith is fired up or as a friend once put it, ‘angrily typing curses and calls for Jihad from their mothers’ basements in Bradford’, and anyone against these noble agendas is a spawn of the devil), an old friend descended to defend the ‘good Taliban’, opposing drone strikes and how liberalisation is ruining Pakistani people. It’s almost mathematical; the kind of arguments that pile up in this side of the spectrum. Aafia Siddiqui is the daughter of the nation. Kashmir is ours. Taliban don’t really exist – it’s all a smokescreen because America wants to ...

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The ‘frandship’ caller conundrum

It might be odd for many but a guy like me has also gotten frandship calls over the years. Partly because my voice didn’t break for the longest time and the pervert on the other end didn’t believe that he was, in fact, talking to a guy. Similarly, I had to pretend to be my sister when the pizza delivery guy called confirming the address. Pizza guy: Aap Mr Ali kay ghar say baat kar rahi hain? Me: Jee, main Ali ki behen hoon. However, though the history of my former voice seems interesting, it is not the point of this blog. It is in fact, about the annoyance of frandship calls that ...

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Egyptian verdict: They gave her 11 years in prison, she gave them a beautiful, victorious smile

As I scroll down my Twitter feed, a smile captivates me. The face had thousands of words, endless thoughts and most importantly tranquillity of soul. She isn’t a celebrity or a popular activist rather a girl next door, who wouldn’t be noticed in normal surroundings. Caged in an Egyptian courtroom with 20 others like her, she received an 11 years sentence for her crimes. The gravity of their offense lay in treading the forbidden path – ‘challenging dictatorship’ – a much greater sin than eating the apple. These young women, all in their teens and tweens, rounded up late last month were ...

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I’m a liberal, deal with it!

Our political arena is strictly a battleground between the hard conservatives and the centrists. On the other end of the field, amidst rolling tumbleweeds and sprawling spider webs, stand a grand total of four liberals, one of whom almost got shot a few days ago. Déjà vu, anyone? When we suggest that the “liberal extremists are as bad as the right-wing fundamentalists”, we assert a symmetrical distribution of lunatics and miscreants. This proposition is entirely ludicrous. I cannot recall the last time an outspoken liberal like Hoodbhoy garlanded a killer, or if Asma Jahangir placed a bounty on someone’s head. I wonder how many ...

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