Stories about civil society

Corruption in Pakistan is not limited to politicians

In our society, corruption is commonly understood to be the giving or taking of money to commit an illegal act which furthers the interests of the payer and lines the pockets of the payee. It is also usually implicit that such interests are furthered at the expense of someone else’s or the state’s benefit. The bribe can be conveyed in the form of cash or an object of significant monetary value. Another generally accepted feature of financial corruption is that the recipients of bribes are persons in authority such as government functionaries or office bearers in non-government organisations or ...

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The plight of Balochistan’s differently abled

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd annually. According to a fact sheet issued by the United Nations (UN), differently abled people account for 15 percent of the world’s population and despite 18 million people living with either a physical or intellectual disability in Pakistan, it is not a very inclusive country. Balochistan is no different especially since it is also suffering from dismal conditions with barely any focus on literacy and many living under the poverty line. In such conditions, it is no surprise that differently abled people are marginalised in the province. According to ...

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In trying to humanise the police, Delhi Crime loses focus of Jyoti Singh’s harrowing story

If Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings and the opinion of my favourite funny woman, Twinkle Khanna, are anything to go by, I might be the only person on this planet who didn’t love India’s latest Netflix offering, Delhi Crime. I went into it really wanting to love the show because it’s based on actual police files from the Jyoti Singh case investigation, a case I followed closely since December 16, 2012; the day the world found out about the absolutely abhorrent way Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, was brutally gang-raped by six men on a bus. Photo: Screenshot Since Singh’s story ...

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Balochistan is thirsty for a drop of water – what will it take for Pakistan to notice?

It is no secret that Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is facing a chronic water shortage issue and has been experiencing severe droughts for decades. Water is one of the basic necessities of life, fundamental for the existence of life to begin with, and without it we will all cease to exist. And yet the province is moving closer towards becoming a land without water. At least seven small and large rivers flow across Balochistan, from which the Hingol River (the longest river in the province) covers a length of 560 kilometres. Despite the flow of these seven rivers, Balochistan is in ...

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But who will stand up for Balochistan’s Jibran Jogezai?

Muhammad Jibran Khan Jogezai first came to our house in Karachi somewhere in 2006, courtesy of his classmate and my brother, Muhammad Saad. He had a heart of gold, a handsome countenance, a million dollar smile, and laughter encompassed him. He was an instant hit across three generations of our family (the only one to achieve that) and we loved him. Today, he is no more. He was martyred in Qilla Saifullah, mainland Balochistan, over property disputes involving ancestral property. It was a gun attack, they say. Three bullets, furthered by a dilapidated road and hospital infrastructure, ensured that he was no more. Jibran was one ...

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Of dirty politics, Cyril Almeida, Lal Masjid and Asia Bibi

The Supreme Court’s adjournment of Asia Bibi’s final hearing, the Lal Masjid warning of dire consequences of her release and Cyril Almeida, Dawn’s prominent columnist and purported inheritor of Ardeshir Cowasjee’s mantle, figuring on the Exit Control List, have all converged to test Pakistan’s status as a civil society based on the rule of law, equal protection of minorities, free speech and an independent press. The issue of Asia Bibi has no doubt inserted the government of Pakistan between a rock and a hard place, but it is precisely from where the present government can emerge with credibility or merely ...

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Women only watch football to check men out, yup, the secret is out!

Another fatwa about women has emerged from the glorious Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a fatwa that declares the innocent enjoyment of a football match to be haram for women. After all, with the infamous wife-beating bill courtesy of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Pakistan, KSA could hardly stand to be left behind. Of course they’ve graduated from wife-beating to wife-eating so now it’s on to figuratively invading the privacy of people’s homes and telling them what to watch on TV. Of course, it’s not okay for the civil society or legal bodies to figuratively invade homes, or work-places, or ...

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Why did PML-N let Musharraf go?

Those who had anticipated the former military dictator lingering behind bars, for monopolising power through unlawful acts for nearly a decade, are reminded of Manto’s masterpiece, Naya Qanoon. The story was written during the British rule in India in the midst of the promise of limited government under the Indian Act of 1935. Ustad Mangu, an ordinary, disillusioned tonga driver in Lahore attempted to test the new law by responding to racial discrimination. Mangu was arrested for beating an English man but kept screaming, “New constitution, Naya Qanoon!” The police retorted, “What nonsense are you talking? What Naya Qanoon? It’s the same old constitution, you fool.” Mangu was ...

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The story of Hyderabad, Sindh

Hyderabad is one of those cities where the magnetic pull of nostalgia can be felt to a maximum, owing to the ever glorious landmarks of a bygone era. It is one of those cities where the past silently trudges along with a noisy and loud present. Apart from its new face where it is adorned with high rise buildings, bustling, busy markets thronged with heavy locomotive traffic; there is another face where the past lurks behind colonial buildings, hiding under electrical wires and large hoardings. The same old face can be seen written over the aged, gnarled and wrinkled face of ...

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Why I will not celebrate Mumtaz Qadri’s execution

The rumours had been floating around since the beginning of the year, but not many outside a close-knit group really knew when it would happen, if at all. Then, before his crusaders could get a whiff of what was on the cards, his family was called in one last time, and at some ungodly hour before dawn on Monday, the patron saint of religious violence – Mumtaz Qadri – was hung at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. As a recap for those of you who don’t know (and I suspect there will not be many): the man in question killed Salmaan Taseer – the Governor of ...

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