Stories about freedom

Wait for me… till then, the heart of Lahore will keep you safe

*Breaking news flashes* Nine people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Fifteen people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Twenty-two people killed in Lahore. *Five minutes later* Twenty-six people killed in Lahore. Twenty-six lives. 26 innocent lives. 26 families. 26 sets of dreams. 26 sets of memories. 26 sets of wishes. All gone, just gone. Washed away with a hose, left to dry and soaked by the heart of Lahore. Lahore, the city of bright colours, hungrily feeds on the blood of the dead, fearing the precious minutes to be over before this blood becomes food for the heartless. When the domino effect starts and these 26 set of dreams just become a mere number, ...

Read Full Post

Moving towards a trans-friendly Pakistan, finally

What a feeling it is when you just be yourself without having to be self-conscious about it. There’s not an iota of concern there. “I am who I am, I wear whatever I please and I express myself however I chose to,” thinks the person. I am not going to be shamed or persecuted by anyone, or entertain any fears about that happening. For many, a transgender, man or woman, it is but an idealised notion that is not always realised but is perhaps trending in the right direction now. In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a birthday party for a 40-year-old transgender woman by the ...

Read Full Post

An open letter to Benazir Bhutto

Bibi, It has been almost a decade since you met your untimely demise on December 27, 2007. It has been almost a decade since the day the country lost one of its greatest leaders. The state that Pakistan finds itself in today may not surprise you. Unlike the others, you had the foresight to see the storm we were heading towards when you spoke of secular values. The state your party finds itself in today, however, will crush you. Your party has always represented the best of Pakistan. From your iconic father, to people of unparalleled substance, brilliance and integrity like Meraj Muhammad Khan, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman and Malik ...

Read Full Post

Tooti, saari ki saari mein

“She sat there, a queen on her heavenly throne, radiating beauty that I had never witnessed before. She seemed flawless, perfect, an embodiment of purity yet powerful enough to evoke awe and wonder. Her hair is a rich shade of black, short but swaying because of the light breeze coming through a slightly ajar window. Those luscious locks complimented her beaming skin. Her straight-edged nose made her look regal, as if any moment she’d place a tiara on her head and walk around with authority. She commands respect; there is an aura of sensuality about her. I can smell her; I can feel her and ...

Read Full Post

The dark hope of freedom

They could clearly hear the sound of wailing from their neighbour’s house. Another suspected freedom fighter was dead at the hands of the Indian army. Guilty or not, it didn’t really matter and guilty of what? Ayaan thought. Of trying to free themselves from the evil tyrants? He glanced at his mother and saw her praying. Obviously praying for the safety of her family and for peace in Kashmir. His mother was a dreamer despite the hell she had been through but Ayaan himself had given up on hopes and dreams, all he focused on was blending in with ...

Read Full Post

National Accountability Bureau: Accountable to nobody

On August 11, 1947, the father of our nation , called corruption “poison” in his speech to the constituent assembly. He said, “One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering, I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is worse – is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand.” He went on to say, “Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived the great evil – the evil of nepotism and jobbery.” Unfortunately, we all have to agree, that in our country, corruption and bribery is ...

Read Full Post

Karachi, you used to be home

I walk out of the plane and I’m hit with humidity, heat, and a smell that I can’t even describe with words. This is home. The airport is packed as I trudge my way to get my overweight, large suitcases. My eyes are watering, my hair is in a state, and my clothes that seemed so loose back in Rome are suddenly sticking to me as the gaze of almost every male present follows me in a carnal manner.  This is home. I try and relax as I look at the out-dated conveyor belt slowly moving bag after bag until I finally see my own. I push ...

Read Full Post

Why are Indian and Pakistani men hell-bent on perpetuating sexual terrorism?

Another day, another news report about a horrific rape that once again highlights the distance India has to travel to ensure true equality, freedom, and justice for its women. In this latest incident, a 21-year-old was gang raped again by the same five men who had raped her three years ago. This incident is beyond outrageous and is a measure of the abject failure of the law and order machinery in ensuring that justice is served and all perpetrators of sexual crimes are punished appropriately. Out of the five original rapists, two were apparently out on bail and three had never ...

Read Full Post

America’s race against itself

The United States has a long history of emphasising the value of personal freedom, liberty, and equality. It has also positioned itself as the champion of these values globally. There’s also good reason why the world largely accepts America as the leader of the free world. The American dream has promised its citizens social mobility, freedom from old world hierarchies, and a climate of innovation, all of which have combined to create tremendous economic opportunity. To say that the US has been a magnet, an El Dorado, for generations would not be an exaggeration. Wave after wave of immigrants have landed on its ...

Read Full Post

Is Uber the Saudi woman’s closest taste of freedom?

I was 10-years-old when I saw something I had never seen before: one night, in a dark corner of the desert on the outskirts of Riyadh, my mom switched seats with my dad and got behind the steering wheel. My sister and I watched in awe as she began to cautiously accelerate. But, as the novelty of the situation coursed through her veins, with the sound of police sirens behind us, all excitement quickly abated turning into dread. My dad nervously rationalised why he was sitting in the passenger seat with a woman behind the wheel in a country that, ...

Read Full Post