Stories about freedom

The system of government in Pakistan: democracy or hypocrisy?

From theocracy to monarchy, from monarchy to imperialism, from imperialism to nation states, the methods of governance have been transformed several times. They have passed multiple stages in an attempt to find the way of governance best suited for the interests of people. However, due to selfishness and the ever-present lust of power, none of these methods proved to be successful. In fact, these systems went from religious to hardliner, monarchy to oligarchy and imperialism to colonialism. After the failure of numerous government systems, nation states emerged. They arose with the slogan of democracy as a global system of government; ...

Read Full Post

Ladies, if you think your man is #goals, you definitely need to raise the bar!

Ladies, have you ever been told that you have ‘really high standards’ when it comes to men? That you need to lower the threshold a bit, otherwise you will never ‘find anyone’? Or that you need to make some ‘compromises’ to be in a relationship? When it comes to dating or finding a husband, women are constantly told they cannot find a ‘perfect guy’, which is why they should just be happy and settle for a man who seems to be a reasonably okay person. If the ‘boys will be boys’ trope wasn’t enough, it has been made very clear to women ...

Read Full Post

Kashmir: Don’t ever call this valley a ‘paradise’

Let me tell you a tale, a story filled with reality. Kashmir destroyed by tyrants and their cruelty. Where women are assaulted and children are not spared. The rulers are the murderers and the ‘security’ men feared. Pellets to blind, tear gas shells to choke you. Jails to languish, bullets to kill you. They’ve empty hearts, their blood is cold. Some among us are theirs, their faith is sold. The children of ours, tormented and in trauma. Then they’ll try to fox you and do all the drama. A little boy, they inserted needles into his eyes. Slapped, tortured him and then came up with lies. India, the most tolerant is what they call themselves. But tales ...

Read Full Post

What if there really is no end?

It was a dark night, there were no stars or moon in the sky. A little boy was lost in a labyrinth of little streets. He ran from one street to another, and then to another, and then to another— there was no end. But there has to be an end. There’s always an end. He was unfaltering in his pursuit of finding an end. He was out of breath and felt sparks of searing pain in his legs, but he still ran. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.  His body screamed. He had been running for a long time. What if I had been wrong all along? ...

Read Full Post

No peace under occupation: My parents are alive, but the conflict in IoK has ‘orphaned’ me

A few days ago, I celebrated my 19th birthday without my parents. No, I am not an orphan. But the conflict in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) has ensured I live like one.  I was born in Srinagar. My father, Dr Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, spent nine years in prison before I was born. He was briefly released and then arrested within months of my birth. It has now been 19 years that I have not seen him under the open sky. He is one of Kashmir’s longest-serving political prisoners, having languished in jail for 25 years now. Sometimes I want to tear the prison down and carry ...

Read Full Post

Manikarnika: Only Bollywood’s real ‘Queen’ can play Jhansi ki Rani with such valour and brilliance!

Gone are the days when Bollywood was associated with movies that only portrayed the valour and gallantry of male protagonists. Filmmakers are now finally shifting their focus from male-oriented films to powerful women-centric movies. Successful films such as English Vinglish (2012), Queen (2014), Dangal (2016), Neerja (2016), Pink (2016), and Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) are just a few names that kept filmgoers spellbound with their feminist storylines and audacious leading ladies. The Queen-famed Kangana Ranaut’s highly anticipated biographical film, Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi, is one more addition to these powerful women-centric flicks. These movies that revolve around ...

Read Full Post

The silence that kills us

Perhaps it isn’t the discomfort of the narrow streets which makes liberty unbearable for us, It isn’t the sharp scents of sweat which disgust us, It isn’t the crowd which suffocates us, In fact, it isn’t the noise, the crowd or the obvious lack of quality in products, It’s the silence.   The unsaid hush when I turn to speak up to the unwanted hands up my clothes, The constant background whistles of frustrated middle-aged men, It’s the toxic masculinity which suffocates us, The vulnerability when your body turns into a canvas, Painted by obnoxious stares, Held by unholy hands.   It’s the desensitisation, the normalisation, the silence, The echoes of shameless name ...

Read Full Post

What independence are we celebrating?

Some 71 years ago, people from all over subcontinent left their homes and took roads laced with perils to reach the ‘land of pure’. What made them leave their lives behind to move to an unknown land where all that awaited them was a promise? No tangible shelter but only a promise; the promise of freedom. What is meant by this ‘freedom’ that caused the greatest migration of the century? Freedom or independence means the availability of the opportunity to exercise one’s rights, powers, desires and even faith. Yes, I put emphasis on faith because any country where any ...

Read Full Post

Smoking kills, but so does patriarchy

What is the duty of a good brown woman? For most of our society, it’s ‘upholding traditional values’ – whether it’s the ideal bahu (daughter-in-law) in most TV dramas, desirable conservatism in Bollywood dynamics, or unsolicited advice from politicians. A 2017 Ipsos Global Trends report even reveals that 64% of Indians believe that a woman’s primary role is to be ‘a good mother and wife’. This burden of sanskar (values) and dutifulness then become a tool of oppression, of restriction. On the other hand, men have no such shackles, and end up having a monopoly on the social acceptability of ‘having fun’. There is a systematic curbing of women’s freedom to experience ...

Read Full Post

Tête-a-tête with Beenish Afreen: A rebel reclaiming her public space, one bike at a time

In this technology-saturated modern biosphere, women motorcycling are still not a welcome sight. In a conservative society like Pakistan, it is unfortunate that people are more vocal and contemptuous about women riding bikes than they are about the harassment they face in their commutes generally. In a traditionalist patriarchal society where domination is believed to be a masculine realm, the general perception still is that women riding bikes and claiming public spaces or independence are against the orthodox status quo. The ill-norms, taboos and misogynistic expectations ballooned in society are holding women back from empowering themselves. Not many women dare to ...

Read Full Post