Stories about independence

Partition 1947: Their worlds suddenly changed, never to be the same again

Partition. A simple word used to refer to the extremely traumatic events of August 1947. A word that seems devoid of any emotion whatsoever; concealing the atrocities committed and the thousands slaughtered in the name of religion. As boundaries were rashly drawn by the British and their colonial country was left ravaged by war, how aware were these higher orders that communities, families and friendships would be so ruthlessly ripped apart? Everyone from both sides of the border have their own tales of Partition. My own daadi and naani (paternal and maternal grandmother respectively) often narrate their accounts of pre-Partition India, Partition, and ...

Read Full Post

#TherapistDiaries: Deep affection or just toxic possessiveness?

She was the prettiest one in her big family. The most eligible bachelors of the family had animosity between them because of her. Each of them felt possessive towards her and did not like other contenders approaching her. The two strongest candidates among them even ended up in a physical brawl due to their jealousy. Sounds familiar? This was a story on National Geographic about a certain species of monkeys. Humans aren’t much different, are they? Recently, I was watching the Indian drama film, Kabir Singh, and noticed that a huge number of people praised it for its portrayal of affection. However, what the ...

Read Full Post

The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

Read Full Post

Tête-a-tête with Beenish Afreen: A rebel reclaiming her public space, one bike at a time

In this technology-saturated modern biosphere, women motorcycling are still not a welcome sight. In a conservative society like Pakistan, it is unfortunate that people are more vocal and contemptuous about women riding bikes than they are about the harassment they face in their commutes generally. In a traditionalist patriarchal society where domination is believed to be a masculine realm, the general perception still is that women riding bikes and claiming public spaces or independence are against the orthodox status quo. The ill-norms, taboos and misogynistic expectations ballooned in society are holding women back from empowering themselves. Not many women dare to ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan celebrates Kashmir Solidarity Day but does it really want Kashmir to be independent?

The day, February 5th, is a national holiday in Pakistan every year – the Kashmir Solidarity Day. It is to remind the people of Pakistan and the world of Kashmir, of the promises made to the Kashmiri people, which remain to be fulfilled till today. It is to stand with a people whose recent history has been that of a brutal subjugation, one that has brought misery to its young and old.  It is to convey a collective support, to remind the Kashmiri people that the ensemble of nations might have turned a blind eye to some of the worst crimes ...

Read Full Post

India couldn’t beat us in 1965, can’t beat the stronger Pakistan of today either

In the early hours of September 6, 1965, India initiated an unannounced military offensive against Pakistan. General Jayanto Nath Chaudhry’s self-confidence had gone a “peg” too far. His famous dream of “drinking at Lahore Gymkhana” that evening was soon shattered by brave Pakistani troops. India did gain some territory, but ended up losing a lot more. Pakistan’s unexpected response and India’s heavy losses of men, material and territory brought the Indian confidence-plus-ambition down several notches and suddenly, negotiations became an option. The Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities and the (mis)adventure came to an end. It wasn’t the first misadventure and it certainly wasn’t to be ...

Read Full Post

Dear adult, please just stop. Love, the child

Meet me, I am a child. I have been living on this Earth since the time human beings inhabited the planet. I have inhabited all parts of the world and have been part of all cultures, all races and all nations. Yet, I am considered a different specie altogether. Who am I? I am a psychic embryo, a psychic nymph, rich with dynamic powers of intellect. Believe me, I have the power to teach myself. Have you not noticed that I grow up speaking my parents’ language when no one teaches me? I learn to walk and climb, I learn to hold and transfer from hand ...

Read Full Post

Society is no longer women’s worst enemy – other women are

I know that there is a plethora of worthy issues in Pakistan right now to write about, but this particular one has a special place in my heart. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that loved and nurtured me, and was able to give me everything I’ve ever asked for and more. At a fundamental level, I have nothing to complain about, and neither do most of my friends. We live in our own bubble of top of the list universities, expensive restaurants and excessive social media posts. We consider ourselves to be progressive, modern and ‘with the times’. Which is why it ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have always been much better off without the British

In 1944, Beverley Nichols’ sensational Verdict on India came out with a slap in the face of what we know today as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan — or BIP, to duck a mouthful. Nichols thoughtlessly trashed BIP’s society and culture, out-doing Churchill’s well-known: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” The religion might have been Hinduism, but the cigar-puffing fat man’s book, The River War, reveals as much contempt for Muslims. Nichols’ vitriol, though, stands in a class of its own. BIP’s classical music was a “… shattering onslaught of sheer Bedlam … hullabaloo … pandemonium.” He dismissed Ayurveda, ...

Read Full Post

A common Pakistani’s response to Happy Bhag Jayegi director’s open letter

Mr Mudassir Aziz, Proud Indian, Director of Happy Bhag Jayegi. Dear Mr Mudassir Aziz, I just read your open letter to Pakistan on The Quint regarding the unfortunate ban on your film Happy Bhag Jayegi in Pakistan. I am not the person in charge but merely a common Pakistani, for whose benefit you want to get the film unbanned. Let me say at the outset, that having successfully fought against the YouTube ban as a lawyer in the Lahore High Court, I am absolutely opposed to censorship of any kind. I believe any speech, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unconditionally. I recognise that this ...

Read Full Post