Stories about honour

Dear people of Pakistan, our politicians may be corrupt looters, but you’re far worse

Election season is never pretty in any part of the world, and Pakistan is no exception. Sleazy comments, tell-all books, personal attacks, we have seemingly witnessed it all in a span of months. They say all is fair in love and war, and elections can count as modern-day warfare, which is why some leeway is sort of acceptable for the nastiness that precedes an election. However, even wars have rules, and certain events have transpired that – no matter what side you find yourself on – are completely unforgivable. Not only are we getting to witness the true face of ...

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Two years and two bills later, Qandeel Baloch and honour continue to turn in their graves

It has been two years since social media sensation Qandeel Baloch was brutally murdered by her brother in the name of honour on July 15, 2016. Her death – much like her life – attracted wide publicity in Pakistan and abroad. It galvanised legislators to make superficial changes to the honour killing legislation in Pakistan. In reality, these changes have had little (to no) impact on the number of honour killings in Pakistan. Six days after Qandeel’s death, a parliamentary committee approved an honour killing bill that sought to bridge the gap in the existing honour killing legislation in Pakistan. ...

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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 ...

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Miscarriage of justice: For Khadija Siddiqui, justice was delayed and denied

Shah Hussain’s May 25th ‘acquittal’ in the Khadija Siddiqui case has led to public outrage. People’s faith in the criminal justice system seems to be shattered yet again. In 2016, Khadija was attacked by a helmet adorned assailant multiple times, 23 times to be precise, with a knife. On July 29, 2017, a magistrates’ court convicted Shah, her classmate at law school, of attempted murder and criminal hurt (Sections 324 and 337 of the Pakistan Penal Code) and sentenced him to seven years in prison. In March, 2018, a session’s court reduced the sentence to five years, and last week, the Lahore ...

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“Apna ghar khud sambhalo” – When parents throw their married daughters under the bus

Recently, a discussion was going on at a relative’s house amongst some aunties and uncles regarding parents’ support to their daughters after marriage, and its consequences. Unsurprisingly, most of them were of the view that a girl can never become a successful homemaker if her parents keep backing her after her marriage. They were of the view that parents should never assist their daughter after getting her hitched. No matter what the circumstances she goes through, they should push her to compromise as if she has no other option left. Some of the ladies were proudly narrating such instances from ...

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Battling for votes: Mud-slinging and the maa-behen dilemma

I walked into my house on a very crisp and warm evening this week, only to find that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had passed disgusting comments about the women who attended the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Lahore jalsa, on their apparent ‘character’. The crude statements targeted women who participated in the PTI rally and Member National Assembly (MNA) Shireen Mazari. Where Sanaullah raised ‘concerns’ over the ‘character’ of PTI’s women supporters, Abid Sher Ali’s tirade elaborated the scuffle between him and MNA Murad Saeed during the parliament’s budget session on April 27. Unsurprisingly, the comments received severe backlash from all ...

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“Dua karo iss dafa beta ho” – Is being a ‘beti’ really the curse it’s made out to be?

Being the fourth daughter my parents were blessed with, I always used to ask them if they had ever wished I had been born a boy. I spent a lot of time wondering if, after having three girls, they were disappointed to see yet another daughter instead of a son. To my relief, my parents always responded to this question with a resounding ‘no’. Rather, they would get surprised and question me instead on the kind of nonsense that fills up my brain with questions such as these.   It is true that I have never felt loved any less by ...

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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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Verna: A story powerful and lucrative on paper but fails at its execution on screen

Rape is a serious issue that is prevalent in the society. Even talking about rape openly takes a lot of courage, let alone making a movie about it. Shoaib Mansoor is known for making thought-provoking movies on social issues that turn out to be a cinematic delight. His previous movies have been pieces of art for movie-lovers and film students. Verna is his third and recent instalment, so expectations obviously had to be soaring high. His previous movies starred big names like Shaan Shahid, Fawad Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Imaan Ali, Atif Aslam and Humaima Malick. However, this time, Mansoor does not ...

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Nusrat and her dupatta

Nusrat loved to watch the sun come up in the morning, see its rising hues and its foes in the sky that wanted it to go back down – down, down, down, to the abyss of darkness, where there was no light, no hope. So, Nusrat would wake up at 5am. At 4am. At 3:30am. All to see the sun that rose so elegantly into the dewy mornings of October. But she never could. She never could stay tuned to the games of the sun, for the sun was a hopeful deity, and Nusrat’s hope was nonexistent now. So every morning, Nusrat would run with urgent ...

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