Stories about honour

Our damaging obsession with F-16s

While there seem to be fewer reasons to honour our national holidays with each passing year, it’s always heartening to watch patriotic songs being played on every TV channel upon these days. The heart-warming lyrics and mesmerising tunes make us feel proud to be part of this great nation and remind us of the huge sacrifices made by our forefathers. Yet, these songs also bring to the forefront a certain kind of sadness along with feelings of desperation and hopelessness, like a loved one has tragically passed away. The videos of many of these patriotic melodies seem to be made with ...

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In the name of honour, a woman can be a breadwinner but cannot vote?

Women’s suffrage is the right of women to vote. In primitive societies, women have always been denied basic rights, however, the struggle to snatch what is theirs has never ceased. The movement for women’s suffrage started in France around the end of the eighteenth century and by the twenty-first century, there is no part of the world where women were barred from voting – except, of course, Pakistan. Yesterday, much was happening in the country because of the by-polls, not only socially but also politically, as women from various areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were not permitted to go out and cast their ...

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I am not your sister, mother or wife; I carry my own identity

Ripley’s believe it or not (the Pakistani version) A woman physically attacked a man in a restaurant because he intruded her personal space. She tried to make him back down. There was a sense of injustice that spurred this violence because she wanted to drive home the fact that she has the same claim to her personal space as he did to his, both in public and private domains. She too is a human being and her claim to her space remains valid regardless of her gender. It turns out the concept of being human is elusive, almost faded beyond ...

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Chakravyuh: Prakash Jha stuns again!

Prakash Jha, the acclaimed Bollywood director of films like Rajneeti and Gangaajal had the honour of showcasing his latest offering at the BFI London Film festival underway at the moment. Chakravyuh stars Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol in the lead roles and is a tale of two friends in the backdrop of the Naxalite uprising in some parts of India. “I am extremely happy that the London Film Festival wanted to choose a popular Bollywood film for the festival and they decided to choose mine, which is in the popular genre, but is not really a populist Bollywood film,” said ...

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The great ghairat debate

In the past week, two articles have appeared in this very newspaper on the subject of ghairat. The first, penned by nuclear physicist and prominent progressive Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy and the second by a journalist, Miss Maria Waqar. Dr Hoodbhoy is of the view that ghairat (honour) and “fake nationalism” (the one that can be witnessed by our chest-thumping TV anchors and Baloongras on Twitter) was one of the cornerstones of fascist societies like Nazi Germany and that as societies moved from tribalism to modernism and now post-modernism, the notions of “ghairat” are anachronistic and will not do us much ...

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Killed twice: Marrying the man who raped her

A young girl lay dead across the bedroom floor, and a small open bottle lay just mere inches from her hand with the words ‘rat poison’ printed across the label. She had just committed suicide – an act forbidden by the laws of God and nature. Her reason? She was ordered by a judge to marry the very man who had raped her. Amina Filali was just 16 when she ended her life. Only last year, Amina’s parents filed charges against their daughter’s rapist who was 10 years older than the teenager. The judge, in the Moroccan city of Tangier, concluded that rather than punishing him, the ...

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Misogyny in Haripur

It’s been almost one-and-a-half months since SB, the victim of a local jirga’s so-called justice, was made to flee from her village Neelor Bala near Haripur, after suffering the unbearable humiliation of being stripped and paraded naked. The woman was punished in this most horrific manner by four armed men, all brothers and wielding considerable influence locally, because her son and a relative were accused of sexually assaulting the wife of one of the perpetrators. The matter was taken to a local jirga which decided that the woman who had been raped – and apparently become pregnant — was now “haram” ...

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Urdu, English, and our collective inferiority complex

When I was eight years old, my family returned to Pakistan from the United States and a lot of things in the world suddenly changed for me.   I remember (and my relatives won’t ever let me forget) that one of my very first statements was: “Why is everything broken?” I’m pretty sure I was referring to the buildings and streets at the time but today, I believe many other things are broken too. I remember thinking about the prospects of going to Pakistan; a place my parents taught me was home. I remember being worried about whether I was going to be easily ...

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Samina is waiting for a miracle

Samina, my maid’s daughter, is being forced to get engaged to a boy, who she has never seen or spoken to. When she asked her mother about him, she found out that the boy was a 12-year-old child. Frustrated, Samina tried to cut her wrist with a blade, but all in vain – she will be engaged on the coming weekend. I could sense the remorse in her voice, when she told me about this, as she was not prepared to face such a responsibility. Samina’s dreams were to go to school, read the Holy Quran and learn English – all ...

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