Stories about discrimination

My father divorced my mother because she gave birth to me, a girl

A few days ago, a newborn baby girl was dumped in a garbage heap by an unidentified woman in Faisalabad. No one realised there was a baby until the heap was set on fire and the cries of the baby girl alerted the garbage collector. She was taken to hospital with more than three-fourth of her body burnt. Unfortunately, the doctors could not save her. Female infanticide is still very common in Pakistan. It is sad to see that even in the 21st century the birth of a female is considered a stigma. When my eldest sister Tena* was born (we are three sisters ...

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What is Balochistan like?

With every day we believe, through the media, that we are coming closer to one another. In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We see only what the media wants us to see. That being said, along with many realities, there is much more to each city than our eyes can see. Hopes, dreams and aspirations have always been a part of Balochistan, but we haven’t ever really looked to be able to recognise these. “Balochistan” When you read this word, what is the first image that pops into your mind? Flashes of violence? Target killing? Poverty, discrimination ...

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Was the creation of Pakistan a mistake?

Over the years, I have come across many people who believed that Pakistan should never have been created. Keeping today’s lawlessness and corruption in mind, I often feel that they are indeed right. However, amongst the many reasons given to me by such individuals for Pakistan being a mistake, one of the most prominent is that had India not been divided then, Muslims today would have been the largest religious group in the subcontinent. Such statements are misguiding as these people are misinformed. Currently the population of Muslims in the subcontinent is 510 million, with roughly 180 million each in Pakistan and ...

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Pakistan must learn from India: Dark skin doesn’t make you ugly

I recently came across an online movement called ‘Dark is Beautiful‘, a campaign that has drawn attention towards the unjust effects of skin colour discrimination in India. The campaign features famous Indian actress Nandita Das who has urged women to throw out their fairness creams and abandon the belief that dark skin is ugly.  I was quite surprised to find that Nandita is perhaps the only actress to have resolutely decided to keep her dusky skin tone, despite the demands of the ruthless entertainment industry where there is an explicit preference for light skinned actors. The same stands true about Pakistani society ...

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Want to move abroad? Think again!

The life of a middle class Pakistani immigrant overseas is gravely misunderstood by both the people in the immigrant’s homeland and the people in the country to which the immigrant has emigrated. There are a couple of (read: many) things that are immediately dismissed once it is mentioned that a person is a Pakistani living abroad. For one, it is often forgotten that moving abroad means starting over– from scratch. From waiting at the airport for eight hours because of a miscalculation in hotel costs, to renting a basement for immediate accommodation, to living in the basement for approximately six years until you can afford ...

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People who ride motorcycles are not sub-human

Progress comes at a price they say, but when it comes to Karachi, motorcyclists seem to be the ones paying this price most often, if not always. From entry into state-of-the-art shopping malls and luxury hotels to snap checking by the police, motorcyclists face discrimination in most situations. This is about the rights of two million motorcyclists — sales agents, delivery staff, factory workers and other corporate as well as public sector employees — who serve the city in one way or the other. If you are on a motorcycle, the security at a five-star hotel will not let you in, nor will they treat ...

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What happened to being just ‘Pakistani’?

Today, my country, Pakistan is more divided than the subcontinent was in the 1960s amongst Hindus and Muslims. Today, people call themselves Balochis, Punjabis, Pashtuns and Sindhis instead of just Pakistanis; they put their provincial ethnicity before their nationality. People consider people from other provinces – who speak different languages -as their enemies; they forget that they all belong to the same country! Pakistanis blame the government for all their problems, but they refuse to consider their own wrong doings. They litter and then they complain about how dirty the city is. They bribe the police officers and then complain about the police force being corrupt. They carry guns and ...

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Homesick: I miss home, I miss Pakistan

I knew I was going to miss Pakistan; I had a feeling I’d crave the food, yearn for cricket, mope after the people and just generally be homesick after spending some time abroad. Coming to the US for college was, however, my personal choice and being here has been nothing short of amazing. The homesickness kicked in, but it is very different from what I thought it would be. It is hard to explain the ways in which I miss Pakistan. I miss the daily drive to and from school and the topsy-turvy hills I would stare at along the ...

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My American experience

Before going to the US, I thought that US citizens hate Muslims and Pakistanis and, therefore, considered all of us terrorists. Consequently, I prepared my mind for all the security nightmares that I might have to endure on US soil. However, at the immigration counter of the Washington DC airport, I was amazed when the officer there asked me where I was from and for what purpose I had come to the US. I told him that I was a journalist from Pakistan and was attending a fellowship. “Oh really, you are from Pakistan, Good luck!” he said, while requesting me ...

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Discrimination is not funny

This past year has been a year of travelling. I have been to three countries in Europe, two in the Middle East and two in Asia. The hardest part about travelling? It is not getting accustomed to different kinds of foods or customs that are so alien to my own. In fact, it has nothing to do with getting to know other cultures. The hardest part about travelling is seeing how people view my own race, culture and nationality. I am sure many Pakistanis can relate to this. In fact, on all my trips this year, I travelled with Pakistani friends. ...

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