Stories about discrimination

Can’t a woman ask for her property share?

A few days ago, I was at a get together with friends and the usual small talk somehow turned to the ‘controversial’ topic of women and their property rights. One of them dramatically sighed and told her sympathisers how her ‘atrocious’ sister-in-law had the audacity to ask for her share of the family’s property. That opened up a Pandora’s Box as she was joined in by the other women who started sharing anecdotes of girls who had the audacity to ask for their share of their family’s property. I did not, and could not, understand what was so reprehensible about a ...

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This is not what Jinnah wanted for Pakistan

On August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave a speech at the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan where he mentioned that in this country, there will be no discrimination based on religious grounds. “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle, that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State… You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place ...

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Stop ridiculing the mentally ill

Individuals with mental health disorders are often the victims of violence and there is wide-spread discrimination directed towards them, whether by intent, ignorance or insensitivity. They are often the victim of jokes or are ridiculed for their behaviour. This attitude can make life difficult for them and present major obstacles to recovery. It is hard for them to find stable employment, living arrangements and relationships because of diminished self-esteem and weak social support. I came across two instances recently of major discrimination against people with mental health disabilities in Pakistan. In the first instance, a TV host, on a recent Ramazan ...

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Raja Naeem, you don’t need to wear a shalwar kameez to be able to pray

A few days ago, I came across a story of a US-based Pakistani driver, Raja Naeem, who was seen protesting against the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, outside City Hall in St Louis, US, along with two dozen other taxi drivers. The reason being; he felt that he was being deprived of his right to wear his ‘religious dress’ during work hours. Naeem has also filed a case against the taxi commission for discriminating against him and not letting him fulfil his ‘religious obligations’. Although I believe Naeem has all the right in the world to protest and follow his religion, what I failed to understand ...

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Don’t worry Pakistani immigrant, the West will not treat you the way you treat your minorities

Migrating to a Western country has many perks. Considering Pakistan’s current situation, it’s quite natural for people to look for opportunities elsewhere, and migrating to a more developed country is usually one of the most sought-after solutions. Those who can avail it, almost always take the opportunity as soon as it presents itself. So, it is disheartening to see some of those very people crying wolf on the smallest of issues and basing it on the religion they belong to or the country they originate from. Here is an instance where I experienced such behaviour first-hand. One fine evening, I bumped into an acquaintance ...

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I am an Indian and I strongly condemn the attack on Ali Hassan Raza

There is an ancient Hindu saying, ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam’, which means that the entire world is one family. This saying needs to be revisited, keeping in mind recent events that have taken place in our subcontinent. Sure, there may be antagonism between countries at a political level but that is no justification for attacking innocent civilians on the basis of their nationality, or for that matter, their race, religion or the likes. We, Indians and Pakistanis, undoubtedly have a lot in common with each other. We are ethnically the same, we speak the same languages, have similar attire and cuisine and have a long, ...

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Feminism will never work in Pakistan

Rebecca West, a famous author, once said, “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” These are powerful words, indeed. Everyone has a different perception of what feminism entails but, universally, it espouses equality and freedom from discrimination, degradation and sexual violence. However, feminism is a concept that sits at odds with a fiercely patriarchal, deeply religious and culture-obsessed society like Pakistan. This is not to say that feminism doesn’t exist in Pakistan; it’s just not given much emphasis or is ...

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At LUMS I was not allowed to enter the library

Ray Bradbury, a well-known American author says, “There’s no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.”  I endorse the same idea; any kind of studying is incomplete without having access to a library where one can explore and read about relevant material. The reason why I feel the need to highlight the importance of a library is because of something that I had experienced while I was studying a management course at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS), one of the top-ranked private universities in Pakistan. To my surprise, during the entire duration of my course, none of the ...

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Who decides who is a beggar and who is an imposter?

Sameer is returning home from New York for the first time in six years. He passes the immigration counter, gets his luggage and comes out of the airport, relieved that he is finally through with all the hassle. Then, he squints around for a familiar face, anticipating a relative who’d be there to pick him up. Suddenly, he feels a tug on his shirt and peering down, he sees two mud-ridden little girls looking up at him, hand outstretched and wide-eyes brimming with expectation. He hesitates and tries to find some Pakistani coins in his pocket to give to them. While ...

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Was he a human or a donkey?

For the past few days now, every night on my way home from work, I’ve been seeing an injured donkey lying in the corner of a dirty street near my house. One of its front legs is broken and I am sure it cannot move. Every night I plan to do something to help it but in the morning, it completely slips my mind. I feel the helplessness of the donkey – if, God forbid, one of my own legs were injured or broken, I wouldn’t be able to survive keeping in mind the ample amount of work I have to do. My heart ...

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