Stories about different

Doing hash? Think again

During the first week of January 2014, I was surprised to read three different news stories about marijuana – Washington became the first American state to legalise sale of marijuana for adult recreational uses, Sahiwal police seized a truck carrying hash worth 650 million rupees and Uruguay is now the first country in the world to legalise marijuana trade.  Usually, anti-narcotic laws are not strictly enforced in Pakistan when it is comes to hashish (hash) and other drugs of the same family including marijuana (charas), cannabis, weed, garda and bhang. These drugs are widely available in Pakistan and almost anyone who wants them can get them from a local ...

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Am I a ‘ganwaar’ if I speak in Punjabi?

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting children from different parts of Punjab. They ranged in age between three and five years and included children of my friends and extended family. I was pleasantly surprised to hear these kids speaking in Punjabi. Some of the phrases that I recall hearing them use are, “Kithay chalay o?” (Where are you off to?) “Aa ki aey?” (What is this?) “Ki karde paye o?” (What are you doing?) Punjabi is the most widely spoken language across Pakistan. However, from what I have seen, most of the people in Punjab – especially those living in the urban centres – do ...

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Why shouldn’t the MQM demand a separate province?

Ever since Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain demanded a separate province for the Urdu speaking population of Sindh, local media and politicians have by and large framed the debate firmly against the MQM. As has always been the case, any stance that the MQM takes is somehow twisted and presented as anti-state, and this time was no different. The demand for a separate province is never a preferred or pleasant one, as Altaf has stated himself. However, instead of focusing on the cause of such a demand, most of our media anchors, politicians and nationalist leaders pounced upon the opportunity to bash the party instead. While the ...

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The Qari Sahib who made me an unbeliever

Asad lived by the motto, “To each his own.” Although reciting the Quran was not on his to-do list, he did not judge the Book, nor did he criticise those who followed it in different ways. All he wanted was to escape a memory tainted with horror, pain and shame – a memory which had caused him to abandon all his associations with Islam and everything pertaining to it for over a decade. The last time he had read the Quran had been with the Qari Sahib. Asad did not believe in God. He had seen people dying in tragic ways, others suffering from incurable diseases and still others ...

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Pakistan, a song of love and brotherhood

History tells us that all great nations were once not great. A nation like America had been war struck for more than 100 years. Racial inequality was at its peak in America. The economy was badly affected eight years ago. England too was war ridden for many years. China was once a collection of divided people with vastly differing aims. All great nations faced a plethora of problems before they became truly great. A citizen of the great Pakistan. Photo: Salman Javed I am citizen of a country where, Every day, Earth witnesses blood, The sky witnesses injustice, The sun sees poverty, The stars see slums. And the ...

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Pangea, Cultivate our Cultures event: Uplifting Pakistan’s image in the US

Martin Scorsese, an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor and film historian once rightly said, “People have to start talking to know more about other cultures and to understand each other.” The ethnic diversity of Fargo-Moorhead, in Minnesota, USA is rapidly increasing with the influx of people from different countries and cultures. For the last couple of years, the area has been home to a festival called the Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures (PCOC) held regularly in order to bring together different communities in Fargo-Moorhead and provide them with a forum to represent their respective cultures. Although there are a number of Pakistanis living in ...

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Wearing a Sindhi topi and ajrak won’t rebuild a backward province

It is the same mayhem every year. Yes, with ear-splitting songs ricocheting in the backdrop, the clatter of a hundred different tunes which sound sweet to the ear but are ironic when their meaning dawns upon one; a mela, a festival, a frenzy of colour as a consequence of a host of ajraks with exquisite block prints and astutely crafted Sindhi topis on display – all this seems so empty in the end and so fleeting in the final assessment. A land of culture and civilisation: check. A history of Sufi traditions and humanistic thought: check. A past of resistance to oppression of the Imperialist ...

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Blocking NATO supplies: Imran Khan’s stance is for national security

Imran Khan has always been a personality admired by people. Starting from his cricketing days to his entrance into politics, people have only expected good from him. The  mercurial dynamics of politics in Pakistan have not affected his attitude and temperament much over the last 17 years; however, things seem to be experiencing a shift since his party has formed government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), earlier this year. Ideally, what we need to understand is that it is not possible to assume that a political party that has formed a government in a province is any different from the government ...

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I remember a Muharram in Quetta when we lived peacefully…

Gone are the days when Muharram was observed by nearly all Muslims belonging to different sects of Islam. Now it is observed strictly under security from law enforcement agencies. In Quetta, my neighbourhood used to be an example of religious harmony; non-Shiite Baloch, Brahvi and Pashtoon, all honoured the religious sentiments attached to the month of Muharram. Playing football, flying kites and sharing our lunches with our friends, regardless of what sect they came from, was a part of my everyday life as a child. There was no objection from my elders regarding my routine as they used to socialise with our ...

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I like Disney movies and Katy Perry, but I am not gay!

Since I was a child, I have been bullied and called names. People have always been cruel to me and it took me a few years to understand that I should not let it get to me. Growing up, nobody wanted to hang out with me; children my age hated me and I was never picked for anything – let alone being picked last. Even the mothers of these kids despised me and adults made fun of me. All this, and only because I was a boy with effeminate traits. ‘I say ‘was’ because I like to think that I have evolved ...

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