Stories about illiteracy

No water, no electricity, no education – When living in rural Sindh is worse than a death sentence

Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. This is the thought the residents of Tharparkar comfort themselves with every day. They console each other by hoping that after all their hardship will come some ease. Out of a small number of nine countries, Pakistan has succeeded in becoming a nuclear power. Who would have thought in a country with so much power, there would be so little for the common people? It is appalling to even think that the residents of rural Sindh still transport water with the help of donkeys. I often find ...

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11 years later, both Pakistan and PPP are suffering the loss of Benazir Bhutto

I still remember the date. It was October 18, 2007, the day Benazir Bhutto returned from self-exile. I was posted in Karachi at the time, and it seemed as if an electric vibe was going through the entire city. As I returned from the office, I could see cars and buses full of people, many of whom were waving the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) flag. I was with a colleague who, after seeing those PPP supporters, could not hide his disgust and remarked: “Jahil qaum hai. Itni corrupt aurat ko welcome kar rahi hai. Yeh Bhuttos mulk loot ker kha gaye. Tab ...

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“Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai”: To pee or not to pee?

The traffic, temperature and the pressure is at its peak, with one hand on his bladder Ritesh Kumar stands between a locked public washroom and a mosque. Karachi: Each no-go area is a safe house for another; welcome to Karachi, a city of 16 million people where public lavatories have become equally restricted for the militant, khaki or a civilian. “Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai.” Whoever urinates here is a donkey. These warnings are painted on many walls in Karachi. The only option people have is to accept the compliments written on the walls and keep on going. According to UNICEF, “There are ...

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How do you stop a man who wants to kill children so much he is willing to die for it?

In a broken down house in some sleepy part of Lahore, a man woke up knowing it was the very last time he was ever doing so. Perhaps he watched the sun rise one final time, perhaps overwhelmed by its beauty for a few seconds he doubted himself. Perhaps he wondered how many people will miss him, perhaps he looked forward to what he was promised after death, perhaps he was just tired. We don’t know anything about him, not his identity nor his dreams, ambitions, fears and above all his demons. We don’t know who he left behind; a ...

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Why is India denying women protection from marital rape?

In India, marriage is often regarded as a license to have sex; and that’s not entirely in jest. In a country where public attitudes towards sex are typically very conservative, marriage provides a socially sanctioned outlet for their sexual energy. In addition to being conservative, India is also a male dominated society where in vast swathes of the population, women have very little say in the direction their lives take. Men are responsible for most major decisions and women are expected to meekly cooperate. The combination of deeply ingrained patriarchy and unsympathetic state machinery puts Indian women at a severe disadvantage. However, education, economic progress, ...

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What Pakistani dramas can learn from Pyare Afzal

Pakistani dramas are famous for their practical take on people’s everyday life and its complexities rather than an empty glamorous portrayal. This is why they have gained massive popularity in our homeland as well as across the border. Pakistani dramas have succeeded in portraying family life in Pakistan quite aptly except recently, these dramas have been revolving around marriage and family politics. A helpless daughter-in-law, a heartless mother-in-law and an obedient son: With these three characters, a Pakistani drama can possess reasonable viewership. A number of additional characters can also be included to add more mirch masala, but these three are the main protagonists. A helpless daughter-in-law, ...

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My bleeding heart for my bleeding Pakistan

Before I introduce myself, I would like to add a quote by one of my favourite human beings, Maya Angelou: “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” I am a visually impaired citizen of my beloved country, Pakistan, and this quote has a strong influence on me. I try to do good as much as possible and try to spread love and harmony by my actions. I have a ...

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Dear Aasia Bibi, today I have no apology for you

Dear Aasia, I have so much to tell you. I have so much to talk to you about. I don’t know where to begin. Perhaps the best way is to start off by saying that I would never dare say such a callous thing like I know what you must be going through. I don’t. I have no idea what is going on in your head. I can’t even imagine how disgusted you must be feeling with life right now. However, I do know that you have every reason to feel disgusted. Aasia, you need to understand a few things about the ...

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Cheaper by the dozen and fasting for two this Ramazan

If you remember in the book ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ (the movie was awful), Mr Gilbraith had the entire family’s (he had 12 kids) tonsils removed on the same day because it was ‘cheaper by the dozen’. The temptation to get the most out of one’s money has always been present; you see the yearning everywhere. Recognising this very fact, market gurus have come up with ‘two for one’ deals which everyone loves, for good reason. I do too myself. You can get useful things like two cartons of diapers for the price of one, two boxes of cereal for the price of ...

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What makes Pakistan a great country

Flip through our TV channels, skim through our newspapers and scan through a dozen latest international reports on indicators of some sort and they will all give you only a few reasons to be happy about our country. In fact, if you do this long enough, you’ll probably start noticing initial symptoms of prolonged depression. Are there any problems of the world that this nation has been spared off? Floods, drought, earthquakes, terrorism, corruption, infant mortality, diseases, illiteracy, sectarian conflicts, ethnic disputes, border disputes, domestic violence, water scarcity, electricity shortages, gang wars and what not. It’s tragic and scary. But there is a flip ...

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