Stories about discrimination

“Nothing changes here! Pakistan was, is, and will always be the same”

In 2015, I left to pursue my Fulbright scholarship aspiring to conquer the world and change the landscape of research in Pakistan. I have always found the general pessimism that prevails in our country to be severely problematic. For instance, how we as a country lack unity amongst ourselves and can never rise above gender differences, religious discrimination amongst the people and the innate negativity against the government. Two years of Fulbright gave me a whole new perspective on life. I discovered a world where things such as age, race, colour, gender and other such superficial constructs were irrelevant and ...

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Born in between, without honour

A loud cry echoed throughout the silent room, followed by the hustle and bustle of nurses. Sighs of relief were let out along with cries of joy as smiles crept across everyone’s faces. The long-awaited guest had finally arrived. The father swirled in ecstasy as he leapt forward to take the little bundle of joy into his arms. However, this feeling of joy was quick to fade as the nurse brought forth the baby with her head bowed down in dismay. She walked past the joyous father and placed the small human wrapped cosily in a blanket into the mother’s ...

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A blue House and a red Senate with an orange President – where does America go from here?

The November 6th midterm elections was perhaps the most contentious and bitterly contested event in modern US history. As BBC aptly put it: “Though his name is not on the ballot anywhere across the US, make no mistake – these elections are ALL about Donald Trump.” The outrageous and mind-boggling campaign run by the Republicans essentially put everything at stake including America’s pride, status as a global power, and standing as the beacon of hope for millions of people around the globe. Trump’s one-man show tried its best to poison his mostly ‘white’ base against people of colour. His unhinged messaging ...

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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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A dark conversation in the city of lights: “If you don’t listen to your parents, you’ll end up like this (transgender)”

Wandering across the city of lights without a clue about your destination has a certain edge to it. When it comes to digging up possible stories hidden somewhere within this metropolitan, the best possible course of action is always to take a walk in this crowded coastal expanse. Carrying the burden of writer’s block, I decided to journey through this city in search of inspiration.   It took a significant part of the day for my restlessness to triumph over my determination, and with a sense of certain defeat, I paused for a cigarette at the nearest cabin I could ...

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From Zahid to Bubbly

“So you have decided to keep humiliating us in front of people,” he said with a roaring voice. His beloved Baba had slapped Zahid on wearing red lipstick again. “You are a boy, a man! The only waris (successor) of our hundreds of acres of land. I will beat you black and blue if I ever find you doing anything girly again.” Zahid had tightly clenched a broken red lipstick in his hands. Baba was continuously lecturing him about masculinity but surprisingly, all this scolding was appearing so rhythmical to him. Baba was admonishing him but he was dancing in his mind, wrapping red dupatta and responding ...

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“If I score, I’m French; If I don’t, I’m Arab”: Why France needs to recognise its “others”

As a Muslim French woman, my feelings regarding France’s victory in the 2018 FIFA World Cup are quite divided. They are not divided about the game per se – the players undoubtedly demonstrated their brilliance on the field, and I do not see how I could be unhappy about winning the title again after 20 long years. Rather, I am sceptical about what changes this win will bring to individuals belonging to certain ethnic groups in this country, and to the Muslim faith in particular. Nothing major, I fear. Dear France, Congratulations on winning the #WorldCup. 80% of your team ...

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India’s awakening: The end of Article 377 and the last shred of colonialism

One of the most glaring anomalies in the Indian legal landscape is Article 377, the 1861 law that criminalises gay sex. This law, inspired by Victorian era prudishness, should have no place in the India of 2018. The British, who created this law based on their values of that time, have now adopted much more liberal and progressive outlooks. Meanwhile, the Indian state has refused to move on. In fact, it has appropriated those archaic values and keeps them entrenched and alive in the country’s legal code. This is ironic, and perhaps tragic, because through the course of history, the Indic ...

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We, the 99% non-VIP population, are important too

The Sindh High Court (SHC) Judge is a very important person. You can tell that he’s very important because he has a nice car that travels at disruptively high speed among a convoy of other large vehicles. It’s very important for us, the ordinary people, to acknowledge that the SHC Judge is an important man who makes important decisions for this country; for which we should all be grateful. My reaction to the menacing approach of a security protocol is the same as countless of my docile countrymen. We sigh, and give way to the baraat (crowd) of armed men as ...

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Being bipolar in Pakistan has not been easy, especially when people call you “pagal”

The squeaky voice of a trolley passing by woke me up. I was on a hospital bed. I slowly tried to get up while still trying to remember what brought me here. I was alone in the room, and the bed next to mine was neatly made up, with fruits and snacks lined up on the edge of the wall. ‘I had to be somewhere really important’ was all that I could remember. But where exactly? Nowhere! It was all just an illusion, a very dangerous one. I later learned that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or maybe it was ...

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