Stories about freedom

Malala vs APS survivors: Do our children have to compete to be our heroes?

It was in 2014 – while I was studying for my Masters in Europe – that a German classmate of mine, upon getting to know I am from Pakistan, showed me a picture of Malala Yousafzai receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I can recall chatter in the classroom of European students about Malala’s bravery, and the hardships she faced as she pursued an education in Pakistan. This was one of the rare moments of my life when I took great pride in belonging to the same country as Malala, and for all the activism that I do, including this very piece, I believe ...

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She was found in a pool of dried blood

The light blue sky hung over Najeeba as she rushed on the wet, slippery streets of her city. The city was lit by neon lights emerging from clubs and bars around every other corner, and nightfall meant the noise of blaring car horns was so loud, she couldn’t even hear herself think. Terror clouded her mind, her eyes darting from one corner to another, fearing the longing gazes of street hawkers and lazy drivers, each of them with a disgusting smile plastered onto his face. She knew she would have to bear her father’s anger once she got home. She ...

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Pakistan celebrates Kashmir Solidarity Day but does it really want Kashmir to be independent?

The day, February 5th, is a national holiday in Pakistan every year – the Kashmir Solidarity Day. It is to remind the people of Pakistan and the world of Kashmir, of the promises made to the Kashmiri people, which remain to be fulfilled till today. It is to stand with a people whose recent history has been that of a brutal subjugation, one that has brought misery to its young and old.  It is to convey a collective support, to remind the Kashmiri people that the ensemble of nations might have turned a blind eye to some of the worst crimes ...

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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, ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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