Stories about discrimination

You poor, oppressed hijabi!

I started wearing a headscarf in grade two. I was six years old, and while many may find this difficult to believe, the decision was entirely my own. Yes, I was raised in a family that was in tune with its religious identity, and my mother covered her hair. No, I was not forced/blackmailed into wearing a scarf. My father didn’t do anything either, for those who are thinking he probably pressurised my mom behind the scenes, since the stereotype says all Muslim men oppress their women. I was raised in the US. Until grade three, I went to a public school, ...

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Are Pakistani Ahmadis loyal to their homeland?

Consider this before buying your next Umra package: Jabbar sahib can grab your shoulder, beam you to the Kaaba from anywhere in the world, where you can offer prayers and return back home in no time. The idea is laughable on many accounts. It rejects physical laws, discards scientific evidence, and makes a mockery of Islamic practices too. Add to the giggles that it was not an illiterate mullah, but Pakistan’s star scientist, AQ Khan, who made this assertion. Please watch the following video clip from 37:30 minute onwards. That’s where the laughter ...

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‘Punish’ the eunuchs, because they are ‘vulgar’

We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side. Apt words by Thomas Mann. Life is hard for most Pakistani’s but for those of us who are different – whether by accident or by choice – survival is certainly an achievement. The transgender community of Multan realised this recently when the ASWJ demanded that their members be punished for spreading vulgarity in society. So now, an entire community is to be ‘punished’ for the sins, ...

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Power crisis in Larkana

The menace of loadshedding is experienced across the country. Surprisingly however, irrespective of this alarming power shortage, the elite still enjoy uninterrupted power supply. Twelve to fifteen hours of loadshedding occurs in Larkana alone which is the centre of trade and industry. It’s also the stronghold of the PPP and the hometown of former prime ministers, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, Benazir Bhutto. Irked with this step-motherly treatment, Larkana’s traders and industrialists observed a shutter-down strike, carried out a protest rally and staged a sit-in on June 12. The traders protested against discriminatory loadshedding because according to them, the ...

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The day I wore a niqab

Books have been written about it, feminists have insulted it, Muslim feminists, however, have defended it, and international laws are being passed against it. While there are some extreme cases where women are forced to wear a niqab (veil), most of the niqab-wearing women I know in Toronto and Karachi wear it due to a personal choice.  I have some experience with the performing arts and expression, whereby one uses the body and it’s form as a canvas to initiate reaction and to enable visual dialogue between the performance artist and the viewer. Therefore, as a social and creative experiment, I decided to ...

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Why the silence for persecuted Hindus?

The debate over whether Mohammad Ali Jinnah wanted the country he founded to be a secular or an Islamic one has been going on ever since Pakistan’s inception. This debate is a highly contentious one and shows no signs of abating or even mellowing down despite the passage of time. Here, I will not ponder on the question regarding the vision that Jinnah really had for Pakistan. However, what no one can deny is that Jinnah was an individual who stood firmly for the generous and fair treatment of everyone, especially the minority communities. Over the past six decades, Pakistanis have ...

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Trick question: God, Zardari, Gilani or the masses?

In the last week of May 1998, I took my final exams for grade 10. In those days, India had just carried out Operation Shakti, which was a continuation of their ‘Smiling Buddha’ nuclear test in Rajasthan. These tests had, undoubtedly, put Pakistan under extreme pressure, and their heat was visibly felt in Pakistani politics and everyday life. Finally, Nawaz Sharif, succumbing to the pressure India had put the nation under, pushed the button for our first nuclear test. The mountains of Chaghi turned yellowish grey and Pakistanis all over the world were ecstatic, completely oblivious to the actual consequences of this test. One ...

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Will I ever be a Pakistani?

During the cricket World Cup in 2011, many who knew that I am a Hindu, including some of my colleagues, asked me who I would support; India or Pakistan. The question was very irritating and annoyed me to the point that I would lose my temper. I didn’t understand why on earth they would ask me such a stupid question – just because I’m Hindu? Why isn’t the same question asked of a Christian when Pakistan plays against Australia, England or New Zealand? Despite the fact that this state was created with a pledge by the father of the nation for ...

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To ban or not to ban …Shezan juice

A couple of weeks back, the Jamaatud Dawa held a well-attended rally in Rawalpindi to remove an Ahmadi religious centre from Satellite Town. Even though neighbours claimed to have no issues with its presence, the assault on this myopically-perceived menace seems far from over. Just take the little-reported effort to ban a local cell phone company due to its ‘questionable ownership’. Although proven to be non-Ahmadi owned, the company still raises suspicion because it starts with the same letter that a derogatory term for Ahmadis does. Apparently, a flaw in their phones’ Urdu dictionary which made it impossible to type the ...

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Household help and hypocrisy

It’s safe to say that most of us are guilty of taking for granted our privileges. I was reminded of this unspoken understanding that has been neatly folded into what we call our social structure when I recently watched The Help, a movie based on a novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Set in 1962 in America, as the civil-rights movement is boiling over, the film follows a privileged white woman, Skeeter, who interviews African-American maids seen as the lowly help, who are not even allowed to use the toilet ...

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