Stories about intolerance

Hrithik Roshan and Suzanne Khan split: Get your nose out of my business!

Remember the last argument that you had with your husband? The one in which you were both on the way to a party and you had to hurriedly blink back your tears and wipe away the mascara streaks running down your face? You had almost reached the venue and you had both been arguing the entire way. But what happened as you made your way into your friend’s house? Your husband put his arm around your waist, you both donned your ‘we-are-so-happy smiles’ and you made the rounds as if there was not a wrinkle in your seemingly perfect married ...

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Thoughts on leaving Pakistan

The last time I put thoughts to paper was a year and a half ago, when my husband and I moved back to Pakistan from the US. It happened very suddenly, under very sad circumstances, and there we were – thrust into a disorienting new life, filling roles we had never anticipated, never wanted, inhabiting, once again, the cloistered, uninspiring world of Lahore’s privileged class. Much elapsed during the past 18 months in Lahore – much to rejoice and remember. Engagements, bridal showers, weddings. Baby showers, and babies! Farewell parties and welcome-back parties, birthday parties and Pictionary parties. PTI fever, elections, and Pakistan’s ...

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Going to school during Ziaul Haq’s time

I was born almost a year after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to an Air Force family. Hence, my entire schooling was done in schools run by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) during General Ziaul Haq’s regime. My first school was the PAF school in Sargodha and my English teacher resembled Shaista Zaid, the English news anchor on Pakistan Television (PTV), the only channel aired in the country at the time. Although most people remember General Zia’s regime as oppressive and restrictive, my memories of school years are somewhat different. I studied in a co-education school, where boys and girls ...

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Is it fair to blame Imran Khan for the Peshawar Church Blast?

The church blast in Peshawer took away more than 80 innocent lives. People had gone there to pray, not knowing their funeral prayers would follow soon. As always, the shock had subsided the day after the blast, but there was sadness – a constant dull ache that refused to recede. A recurring realisation existed that so many had lost their lives just because they prayed differently. Nothing seemed to help. Tweeting and facebooking allowed people to vent and rave temporarily, but frankly, social media acts as temporary anaesthesia. It numbs the pain for a bit, but the pain and anger ...

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My brother has Down Syndrome, not a contagious disease

Coming from a closely knit family, it was a tradition for all of us to personally go and receive any relative coming to Karachi, at the airport. My aunt was expected and all of us including my youngest brother, who is a special child, suffering from Down Syndrome, went down to receive her. On our way back from the airport, we decided to stop at a restaurant to enjoy some family time. The restaurant was jam packed with people, as it was a weekend. Mostly families from the colonies nearby were there with their kids. We led my brother to ...

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This is an ‘Islamic’ republic: You can’t sit next to your wife!

If you thought that of all the places to eat in Pakistan, McDonalds would be relatively safe from extreme behaviour, falsely made in the name of religion, sadly, you would be quite wrong. Unfortunately, I just found this out the hard way, and in an incident that left a worse taste in my mouth than the culinary abortions the burger joint had on offer. Just yesterday, a little after midnight on Sunday, my wife and I, coming back from a friend’s birthday party, decided to stop at Karachi’s newest McDonald’s restaurant at Defence Phase 1 for some Diet Coke. Rather ...

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A reminder: Sanitation workers are human beings

It is World Coconut Day on September 2, a day to, “Propagate the importance of this tree and to make people aware about the benefits of the fruit”. While the day is also meant to remind people about people whose livelihoods depend on the fruit, rising salary demands from fruit pickers have left much of the global industry looking at alternative farming methods. In India and Thailand, monkeys are a popular alternative. They work cheap (mostly for bananas), don’t need uniforms (or any clothes for that matter), and according to studies, are five times as effective as human pickers. The monkeys ...

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Blasphemy: Intolerance prevails from Russia to Pakistan

For the majority of us tolerance is not something we are born with. Intolerance, on the other hand, seems to come to us naturally, like aggression or desire, and manifests against that which is different or against our vested interests. To Pakistan, the story of intolerance is not new – we persecute any one whose beliefs are differentness from the mainstream ones. However, recently I stumbled upon a story from Russia, which reminded me starkly of my own country, Pakistan. Russia, hardly a bastion for modern western democracy, is currently facing its own challenges in dealing with intolerance in the shape of a ...

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I am a victim of liberal fascism

It was about three years ago when the infamous tableeghi jamaat (missionary faction) rang my door bell and humbly invited me to join them in congregation.Without pondering too much on the possible implications of my actions, I decided to give it a try. They inspired me, and I started spending more and more time with them, and soon, I fully ‘converted’. Since I come from a so-called ‘moderate’ family background, my conversion was greeted with sheer hostility. According to my uncle, I now look like a part of the Taliban, as I now sport a beard. To these ‘liberals’, my conversion ...

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‘Punishable by death’ needs to die

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah’s recent statement, inciting violence against fellow politician Babar Awan amazes and disgusts me. A law minister is supposed to uphold the law, not the other way around. In most countries,  such a bizarre statement from a public official would instantly result in a prompt resignation. Political discourse and difference of opinion do not mean anyone has the right to put someone’s life in danger. Healthy societies thrive on differences and emerge stronger, based on dialogue and mutual respect. Ours unfortunately, is still struggling to understand the basic meaning of freedom of speech. There is a saying that ...

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