Stories about diversity

Give Pakistan a chance

There are quite a few times in the day that I find myself in the comfort of my living room hearing people excoriate the way things are running in this country. The source of the criticism is either a guest whining on a talk show on TV or a companion grumbling about the prevalent paucity of gas and electricity in the country. I come across numerous people around me, analysing and commenting on the many problems of our country. Some would say, “It is the exigency for a solid leadership.” Others devise a fancy conspiracy theory about it all being an orchestrated play, scripted by the ...

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Once upon a time, in the land of the pure, I was a religious fundamentalist

I have a mantra on life which I wish to share with all of you – ignorance restricts and breeds hatred and extremism, while knowledge liberates and breeds compassion and understanding. Fundamentalism stems from ignorance and thus, only breeds negativity. It is a venomous disease that kills positivity and growth. It needs to be identified and cured, on a very personal level. As a Muslim, who had adopted a fundamentalist approach in his earlier days, I have come a long way by internalising a basic yet painful truth – I do not have all the answers, hence different points of view are not ...

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What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

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Don’t cheer for Pakistan’s cricket team if you are in India, you may be suspended or stabbed!

In a bizarre demonstration of overbearing nationalism, a university in Uttar Pradesh suspended 67 Kashmiri students for cheering for the Pakistani cricket team. This may be a clinical sign that the sore-loser syndrome has reached its terminal stage. I don’t watch cricket. All I really know about the sport is that Pakistan won the match because Shakil Afridi, incidentally the same guy who found Osama, scored a last-minute goal (also called a ‘touchdown’). I do know, though, that every India-Pakistan cricket match sends the neighbouring nations into a state of frenzy, which is quite natural. It doesn’t matter. As long as their skirmishes and battles are confined ...

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There is a secret in Lahore, a mystery we can never decipher…

There is something about Lahore. Something in the streets of this city that is a secret. However, just when you think you have it figured out, there is something missing again. We often try to figure it out. What is it about Lahore that keeps us so intrigued? The Lahore I’ve deciphered in the past six years is one that has everything to offer – from the tolerance and beauty of its people, to all its imperfections. I made it a point to explore the city in and out, and have often resorted to using any form of transport available. There is something ...

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The people of Karachi: Everyone has a story

When in Pakistan, do as the Pakistanis do. Decoding our culture is difficult due to the diversity Pakistanis are blessed with. You’ll always meet people here with a story; they all have a story to tell. And so do I. After having breakfast and reading the Smoker’s Corner on Sunday, I went to a butcher shop. Traditional butcher shops are not a place to visit for the fainthearted in Karachi. They have an acquired smell, resulting from carcasses of goats hanging right above the butcher’s counter and an even row of chickens lined across, with feathers plucked and skin removed. The ...

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Hijab, Santa and the Christmas spirit

Earlier this month my class mates and I were given an assignment on interfaith awareness between Muslims and Christians. Over the past decade the two communities have not had very warm relations especially since after 9/11. My friends and I felt nervous about this task as we had never interacted with a member of the Christian faith before. We were oblivious to what their traditions were and how they would react to us. I was particularly panicky because I wear a veil and hijaab. Will they even talk to me, I wondered. Our project required that we take photographs of ...

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