Stories about freedom

If India supports freedom in Crimea, why not in Kashmir?

Over the past week after the Russian annexation of Crimea, global politics have completely changed. The annexation which took place after a controversial ‘referendum’ shows that the aspirations of people are more powerful than politically drawn borders. Yet, many political observers see the Russian backing of the referendum as damage control after Moscow lost its ally in former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych after many weeks of protests. India which is an important and old time ally of Russia, faces a new predicament and a new set of worries after the Crimean annexation, the dilemma being, do they back Russia – their oldest friend – or oppose it? ...

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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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The 67 Kashmiri students were wrong, period

The news that 67 Kashmiri students were suspended in India after the recent Pakistan-India cricket match has generated quite a buzz. Social media is inundated with posts in favour of these students and people have tried to link it to fundamental human rights whilst describing the incident as a violation of freedom of expression. The only reason, it seemed, that Pakistan spoke out against the incident was because the students had been cheering for Pakistan’s cricket team. We wanted to see it in the light of a person being persecuted in India simply because he or she spoke in favour of Pakistan. ...

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The Korean borders: Another version of Wagah border?

I have always wanted to go to Imjingak, located near Seoul, in South Korea. Being a media professional, my wish was granted when I got to travel to the Freedom Bridge for a news feature I was doing for Madang Live. Having woken up to rain, we made it to Imjingak where the Freedom Bridge lies. Photography was prohibited, except where we were given explicit permission. We were not allowed to point at anyone or anything. If a North Korean waved at us, we were not allowed to wave back. Freedom Bridge, with its striking ribbons conveying the hope of millions for ...

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Maqbool Butt: Kashmir doesn’t want any of it, no Indian rulers and no Pakistani generals!

Kashmir is the epicentre of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the region. The state of Pakistan continues to take pride in portraying itself as the most prolific advocator of the freedom for Kashmiri people.  But the harsh reality is that the establishment of Pakistan is very selective and biased in portraying the freedom movement of Kashmir to the Pakistani masses. If you belong to the right-wing militia and equate freedom of Kashmir to annexation with Pakistan, only then will you be projected as a ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘hero’ of Kashmir in Pakistan. Otherwise, your struggle and sacrifices for the freedom of Kashmir are going to ...

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I stand with Hanif: Jinnah is not a ‘hero’

No sooner had I finished reading Mohammad Hanif’s full interview with The News, that I dragged a carton of canned food into my basement and braced myself for a storm of nationalism that I knew would inevitably follow. And when, pray tell, have I ever been wrong? A blog appeared recently, as scathing as one would expect it to be, blasting Hanif’s audacity to think that Jinnah really isn’t anyone’s hero. Mr Waqas bluntly implies that freedom of speech is limited to those who speak favourably of Quaid-e-Azam and the other heroes we have been assigned. Indeed, if you have nothing nice to say ...

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Can a woman only choose one – hijab or a successful career?

Not too long ago, the hijab was considered a choice; a woman’s right if she wanted it to be. Today, not only is it a source of contention and a consistently hot topic of debate, it is considered a form of subjugation. In all honesty, I cannot comprehend how or why the hijab seems like such a hindrance, especially when only some women wear it in our country. Whether these hijab arguments stem from abhorrence, fear or just narrow-mindedness, I do not know. What I do know is that we argue about it behind a very subjective definition of ‘liberalism’. These ‘liberals’ ...

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The Netherlands-Belgium border: Can Pakistan have similar relations with its neighbours?

It was a hot day, by European standards at least. I took the bus and embarked on a journey of about an hour. I had a book to read but the company on my bus seemed far more interesting. I looked around and saw a couple that appeared to be Muslim, as the woman was wearing the typical headscarf. They were middle-aged and had a calmness about them. A young man entered the bus, headphones on, busy on his phone. He was cheerful and energetic and appeared to be from a Middle Eastern origin. The couple and this man knew ...

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Democracy cannot work in Pakistan, not yet

In 2015, we will celebrate our 68th year of independence. In these 68 years, the world around us has changed a lot. For better or for worse, we too have changed as a country. The only thing that has remained constant for us over time is the ever prevalent outcry for a democratic political system. To put it in the simplest of terms, a democratic system is one in which a government is elected by a voting process where every eligible citizen is entitled to vote. It is not however ‘majority rules‘ as many of us assume it is — that is a fallacy. ...

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10 reasons why Malala is Pakistan’s very own Katniss Everdeen

Most of us Pakistanis who have seen Hunger Games had the same question in their mind. What if we had a Katniss Everdeen of our own? Who would it be? Well, for those who don’t already know, we do. We have Malala Yousafzai and here is how I view their similarities: 1. People think they’re both ‘pretentious’ A lot of people think Malala is fake and pretentious. A lot of people thought Katniss was fake too, until the passion shone through. Like Katniss won the hearts of Panem, Malala won the hearts of people across the world. When Katniss showed up in Panem with an innocent personality and a shy, ...

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