Stories about extremism

Our reliance on Maulvis has made religion a business

On December 16, 2015, the nation observed the first death anniversary of the APS attack victims. Right now, the country is reeling from the attack on Bacha Khan University. We have suffered multiple disastrous assaults, yet the government remains unconcerned. It still has not taken any concrete steps to implement the National Action Plan. Various measures had been taken to combat the likelihood of another attack. Security had been beefed up, children had been trained on how to react, school timings had been changed and special instructions were delivered. But these were interim and private measures. Has the government taken any long-term measures to address ...

Read Full Post

Pakistanis pushing boundaries – An ode to my people!

I was invited to speak at the opening ceremony of Khayaal Arts Festival 2014 as one of four keynote speakers. The theme of the festival was ‘Pushing Boundaries’ and I was asked to discuss how I attempt to push boundaries in my life. However, I’m of the view that enough has been written and said about my work. It is unfair that we develop a habit of only recognising a select few as people doing good work in the country. I, myself, have benefited from the contributions of countless Pakistanis who have made this country prosper and become better for me to live, grow, ...

Read Full Post

“Is there any Shia here?”

Being a minority and living amidst a majority that is largely ignorant of your beliefs, you tend to become used to living around whispers. You pretend to not hear them sometimes and sometimes you speak up. But they haunt your consciousness, always. “Did you know she’s Shia?” “Shias aren’t really Muslims.” “Why are Shias into self-harm?” “Did you know they say bad things about Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA)?” In a gathering, when an ignorant question is flung into the air like a loose arrow, when the tongue waggles without restraint or understanding, caution fills the air and a problematic question follows, “Oops. Are there any Shias here?” The ...

Read Full Post

Reza Aslan versus Bill Maher: Learning the crucial difference between culture and religion

Responsible schooling, governance, international diplomacy, accountability and conscientious citizens are the demands of modern society. However, popular media despite its presence in every home, remains the most ignorant, irresponsible and manipulative aspect of modern life. With its capacity to communicate instantly, the world with its current atmosphere of extremism, global stress and social and political upheavals is more open to suggestions in a way it was never before. Therefore, manipulation by entities with access to an audience has wider influence than before. Labels are among the pithiest vehicles of language. They appeal most strongly to unthinking individuals, starting with those of all faiths in the pulpit ...

Read Full Post

Should Afghanistan, India and Iran always blame Pakistan for their own mistakes?

It’s nothing but ironical that I’m writing this blog on the latest (if not the greatest), all intensive, simmering hot issue of yet another AfPak entanglement right around the time when one of the chief architects of Pakistan’s Afghan’s policy of the 80s-90s, General Hamid Gul, bade farewell to the world. The general, a villain to some and a hero to others, was by all means a controversial figure, one who left a deep impact on the regional politics for years to come. So when I hear the current crop of Afghan leadership screaming their lungs out with ferociously unsavoury, emotion-laden statements pointing fingers at the Pakistanis for ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan should put its own house in order before jumping into an arms race

I’m a peacenik and I’m happy in my skin. As an active journalist, I have covered enough wars, had my fair share of good and bad fortune, experienced torture and witnessed people maimed, lamed and face the ultimate fate of death. I got emotionally drained and ultimately decided that it was time to say goodbye to the action and adventure. In my quest to understand life better, I used spirituality as my crutch. I realised that all we need is to counter hatred with love, aggression with passion and hostility with peace. I learnt that the beast of vice is ...

Read Full Post

After five years, will justice finally prevail for Aasia Bibi?

Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death approximately five years ago, an incident that added to the miseries of the already-marginalised Christian minority within Pakistan. At the time, very few had the mental capacity to question the Lahore High Court’s verdict to sentence an innocent woman to death, and for those who did, the chickens came home to roost. Salman Taseer paid his price for speaking against the heinous blasphemy law with 27 bullets in his body and blood splattered all across Kohsar Market, with his words drenched in blood, “My resolve is so strong that I do not fear the flames from without, I fear ...

Read Full Post

Can I give charity to a thief, a prostitute or a rich man during Ramazan?

Pakistan is internationally known for many things; the surge of extremism, the footballs we supplied to the World Cup; for an often exaggerated emphasis on the miseries of its people. But it is lesser known for being one of the most charitable nations in the world. It is amazing how much the people of this country give and share. The sense of giving back to one’s community is deeply ingrained in our system. We give whether we are rich or poor. We share whether we ourselves have enough or not. If you are in Pakistan in Ramazan especially, on every signal you will be handed over boxes of dates and ...

Read Full Post

150,000 dead and counting: When will Af-Pak’s killing spree end?

Wars are a nasty killing business, the culmination of a failure of diplomacy or resolution of conflicts in a peaceful manner. Like religious fanaticism, where reason and logic stop and aggression gives way to hostility, mankind and nations often take refuge in manoeuvring and manipulating to go one up and control situations by non-peaceful methods. For the lack of a better expression, wars are the awakening of the animal instinct in human beings. The effects and repercussions that armed confrontations leave behind are far reaching. Scars of sorrowfulness and grief that wars bring to the teeming millions are virtually an irremovable ...

Read Full Post

When the media becomes the judge, the jury and the executioner

“Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was the suspect.”- Steven Wright The chief minister revealed his name as he was arrested as a suspect. Free and fair media pulled out his photographs and life details from social media and the news spread like wild fire. Today, he is the poster child for a new debate and sad reality; the well-educated radicalised extremist. In present day Pakistan, peace and calm refers to the short uneasy intervals between the continual series of horrific terrorist attacks. Uneasy because each incident emphasises our vulnerabilities, dramatically plays out our insecurities and triggers many ...

Read Full Post