Stories about culture

Suno Chanda makes the choice for women yet again – marriage trumps education and career

Pakistan’s drama industry has recently been making eye-opening TV shows. We get to see many societal flaws and are made aware of issues people face in their everyday lives. But then there are light-hearted shows as well, made for the purpose of entertaining the audience. One such show is the recently popular Suno Chanda. The adorable couple Arsal (Farhan Saeed) and Ajiya (Iqra Aziz) finally tied the knot in the last episode of this Ramazan special series. The story begins with a betrothed couple’s desire to call off their wedding while the whole family is preparing for it. Arsal and ...

Read Full Post

The Breadwinner: A story unafraid of uncomfortable truths

The women and children of Afghanistan have perhaps paid the price of war most heavily. The ongoing conflict leaves nearly half of the children in Afghanistan out of school, while 87% of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence during their lifetime. It is against this backdrop of war and devastation that we find the heartfelt film, The Breadwinner. Based on the book of the same name by Deborah Ellis and produced by Angelina Jolie, the film follows the story of 11-year-old Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who navigates her life disguised as a boy, and attempts to survive ...

Read Full Post

5 reasons why every Pakistani family will love and relate to ‘Aangan’

Pakistan’s flourishing drama industry is touching on a lot of stereotypical and taboo topics lately, proving that it is making strides in the right direction. We have produced dramas such as Kankar, Udaari, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Khaani and Baaghi to give centre stage to issues that remain hidden behind closed doors. However, stories depicting traditional joint family system were missing from our TV screens for quite some time. Writer Faiza Iftekhar noticed this fact and tried to fill the void by scripting the drama serial Aangan. Though Aangan is just an ordinary story of a traditional joint family, but the way it is portrayed is what gives it ...

Read Full Post

Why your husband might be gay

Allow me to get straight to the point. Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted ...

Read Full Post

No, you may not call me a ‘Paki’

There was a strange time when I was growing up, where I didn’t fully understand the dual identity I had as a Pakistani-Canadian. I thought I was just like everyone else, until I was nine-years-old. At school, a notice was given to students with information about how to keep hair clean to avoid lice. A young white boy scoffed at the notice, and announced that the only people who needed this reminder were the “Paki” kids. This was my first taste of prejudice, but it became all too familiar as I continued to grow up in a diverse, yet inharmonious society. Fast ...

Read Full Post

Mohammed bin Salman is breaking the chains of a ‘regressive’ society – will the rest of the Muslim world follow?

During his recent visit to the US, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), sat down with CBS news for what can only be termed as a remarkable interview. Many interesting statements were made, but what was most shocking was undoubtedly his criticism of the law in Saudi Arabia. According to him, the unisectarian implementation of Shariah in Saudi Arabia since 1979 is to blame for what the country has become over the years, and its radical laws are the reason his generation has suffered the most. He further elaborated that according to Shariah, there are no pre-defined garments for ...

Read Full Post

We all know what divides India and Pakistan, but do you know what unites them?

When it comes to India and Pakistan, one comes across an array of academicians and scholars in western campuses with piles of research on the Kashmir problem, Siachen and Sir Creek. But one hardly comes across any serious initiative to explore what unites India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan are inheritors of a common civilisation and hence we have an ocean of shared heritage in literature, philosophy, music, food, and mysticism. These days, it seems we have completely forgotten the days when we regaled ourselves over the melodies of Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali and Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi. Even the days ...

Read Full Post

I wanted a son but we had a daughter

Growing up as a person of Indian descent, it is ingrained in you that when it comes to having a child – a boy is better than having a girl. Deeply rooted in cultural beliefs, the context for this line of reasoning is purely archaic and comes from long-established religious and cultural practices in India. Where having a daughter is considered to be a burden in low-income segments of the population, specifically when young girls come of age and are to marry. Parents of daughters are then confronted with a slew of financial implications like paying for a wedding and ...

Read Full Post

Bujayote: The future of Pakistan’s musical valley may be bright, but the future of their music is dark

In the extreme north of Pakistan, a small area located in Yasin Valley known as Bujayote, is the home of traditional musicians. According to these artists, this name is associated with one of the very early musicians named ‘Bujaye’, a professional, whose generation pursued this profession. The area is also locally known as “Ustadishoo Deh” which literally means the neighbourhood of the musicians. Yasin Valley is one of the many mountain-locked valleys in the extreme north of Gilgit-Baltistan. The instrumentalists of Yasin perform in a set group of more than three. One of them plays a pair of kettle drums locally called ...

Read Full Post

Dear NADRA, your failure to recognise Pakistan’s undervalued regional languages is not surprising

I recently came across a disheartening news article which stated that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) failed to recognise a degree attained in a regional language. This applied to all the areas and provinces of Pakistan and not just Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Now, let us take in the severity of this statement. In effect, this means that those who have done their Bachelors or Masters in Pashto or any other regional language cannot enter their education data for their national identity cards (NIC) at NADRA. The premier regulatory authority’s online forms only contain and recognise a master’s degree or Doctorate in English, Urdu and Persian. But ...

Read Full Post