Stories about human

From Palestine to Chitral: Miracles do happen

In an age in which reading or watching the news is enough to turn any normal human being into a raging lunatic or a hardened cynic, the smallest piece of good news is often like a breath of fresh air and can do wonders for restoring a positive outlook on life. Rooftops near North Jerusalem. Photo: Abdullah Saad I am originally a Palestinian from Jerusalem, and like many Palestinians, I suffer (or perhaps benefit) from a severe case of Wanderlust. Dome of the Rock. Photo: Abdullah Saad This means that we have to remain on the move ...

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Will Pakistan be able to handle possible failure at nuclear plants?

On March 11, 2011, something stirred within the earth’s surface, deep under the waters of the North Pacific Ocean. The people who were preparing for their weekend on Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island, had no idea that they were about to be hit by one of the biggest earthquakes ever to be recorded in human history. The calamity, now known as the Tohoku undersea megathrust earthquake, struck at 2:15 p.m. Japan Standard Time. Its hypocenter was 70 kilometres off-shore and it registered a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. A few moments later, a tsunami followed the earthquake. With wave heights ...

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Pakistan hates its LGBTs but loves its LGBT porn

Pakistan hates its LGBTs (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) but loves its LGBT porn. That was the hypothesis of Alex Park’s piece in Mother Jones magazine, “Why Is Gay Porn So Popular in Pakistan?” The story came soon after the findings of a Pew Research Centre poll on global acceptance of homosexuality were released — findings which showed only two per cent of Pakistanis feel homosexuality should be accepted by society, placing the motherland second behind Nigeria. The openly-gay British actor and journalist Stephen Fry said last year, “At least 260 species of animal have been noted exhibiting homosexual behaviour but only one ...

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Have you been exorcised by Baba Welfare?

What is being witnessed in the video above? Is it an exorcism, or is it a terrifying, arcane ritual devoid of any notion of modern medicine (leave alone human and social cost)? Imagine yourself to be the girl being exorcised. What would you feel? Terror? Helplessness? Would you play along just to appease your family who has put you in this position and this big bearded man calling you a devil? Would you fight back, and to what end, given that your struggle will be called further proof of the presence of a jinn? Now try to imagine that you are actually ...

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Don’t drag Islam into every debate

A wife: Not an adversary, not a subordinate, not a superior, but a companion – an equal, with a role that may be different, but equal. A marriage: A coveted relationship based on mutual respect, companionship, love, and joy. This is how it is supposed to be; this is how Islam sees it. Is that always the case in reality? No. In a disturbing percentage of cases, it is not. Is Islam to be blamed for this, or any religion for that matter? No. Are patriarchal cultural tendencies responsible for it? Often, yes. Why is it then that in almost every article, blog, documentary, book, or piece ...

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We’re here, we’re queer, deal with it!

In 2003, Brazil brought the case for homosexual rights on the United Nations table, only to be derailed at the last minute by Muslim and African countries. Instead, amendments were introduced and approved for the removal of any reference to discrimination based on sexual orientation. My country, Pakistan, was the captain of Team Homophobe. It distributed a memo to the member states declaring that the approval of the recommendation would be: “A direct insult to 1.2 billion Muslims around the world.” This year, thanks to three abstentions, China being absent, Libya’s suspension and the efforts of South Africa to table the resolution again, it was ...

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Peshawar: City of death and hope

There was a blast in Peshawar Khyber Supermarket on June 11, 2011 at approximately 11:45 pm, killing 40 and injuring around 100. It was supposed to be one of those peaceful weekends when I’d be chatting with family over a meal or engrossed in an inconclusive talk-show on television. I recall sitting at home, watching television with my family when the sudden sound of an explosion shook us all. It was terrifying and distressing at the same time. Who was at the blast site? How many lives might have perished away in this blast? Many questions rose in my mind but were silenced by ...

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Why should feudals apologize?

I have grown up hearing all the stereotypes on television in newspapers. Feudals drive big jeeps (who cares how many books they read?). Feudals are the reason the country can’t prosper. Feudals abuse people in the name of tradition. But this ‘wadera’ boogeyman image is not accurate. I’m not saying that exploitation of the poor does not exist in rural Pakistan, but the facts that are often ignored are: Exploitation is not exclusive to the agricultural community. For every landlord who mistreats the people who depend on him for a livelihood, there are at least three who are actively working to provide services (services that every ...

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Is it time for gay rights in Pakistan?

Earlier this month, for the first time in its history, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to protect and uphold gay rights universally. The US Department of State successfully lobbied to bring under the banner of universal declaration of human rights, equal rights for lesbians, gays, and transgender people. The resolution was passed with 23 affirmations against 19 disavowals. While some of us celebrate this momentous turn in attitudes, it is sobering to note that it took the UN this long to recognise the oppressive violence faced by homosexuals everybody and to finally declare that yes, gays are human ...

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Animal cruelty does not make for good entertainment

It’s quite the norm in Pakistan to come across monkey-trainers putting on a show or hearing about a rooster fight taking place in a certain village, or even going to the beach and witnessing people paying to watch a snake and a mongoose fight it out – all in the name of harmless fun. It is quite disturbing, however, to see the media take this form of entertainment – if you can call it that – to the next level. Channel surfing one morning, I chanced upon a TV show where a trainer tried to coax his goat to stand on ...

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