Stories about law

No, it is not time for gay rights in Pakistan

In the wake of the same-sex marriage bill passed by the New York Senate, a few people are supporting similar kind of rights for the (still closeted) gay community in Pakistan. In my view, it is disastrous to even think of it at this moment, for the following reasons: The gay community in the United States (US) achieved their current rights after decades of continuous social, political and legal struggle. Yet even today, several states including the US federal government do not recognise civil union/partnership. Some states permit civil unions but they don’t equalise those to marriage. According to public wishes, ...

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Let them wear bangles

Has life for women in Pakistan improved or deteriorated over the past decade? This question is being hotly debated in the wake of a report that listed Pakistan as the ‘third-worst country in the world for women’. Now, I am not one to say that some Pakistani women have not made great strides in the past ten years or so. When critics of reports like the one I mentioned above rattle off names of prominent women politicians, educationalists, intellectuals and social workers as proof of women’s success in Pakistan, I agree wholeheartedly that these women have effectively contributed to society, ...

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‘How could you serve breakfast to a Hindu?’

Early one morning, a few days ago, I left my hometown Umerkot for Mirpurkhas with some friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. What followed was an incident that left me shaken, although it involved no violence. While we were eating, a man with a long beard approached the café owner. We could clearly hear the conversation. He was telling the owner off for having served breakfast to us: “Tum Hinduon ko bhi nashta karwate ho?” (So, you serve breakfast to Hindus too?) The owner responded: “Kisi ke maathay pe likha hua nahi hota ki koi Hindu hai ya ...

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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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All that’s wrong

What do you do when the very people who vow to guard your life end up being the ones taking it? On Wednesday, a horrific incident unfolded when some Rangers personnel shot dead a young man at Benazir Bhutto Park in Karachi. Initially, the police and Rangers claimed they were informed that a dacoit had held a family hostage in the park. According to the security personnel, they went inside the park and asked the man to surrender, and when he refused, he was shot “in retaliation”. However, video footage of the incident shot by a cameraman shed new light on the ...

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Rangers shooting: Lust for blood

The video of Sarfaraz Shah’s last traumatic moments imploded on to cyber space with some enthusiasm and a profusion of expletives. Messages like “check kar yeh video” (check out this video), “here’s the full video, yaar,”  “sharing the HD version,” “uncut footage” and “exclusive video” pepper the Facebook newsfeed. Bloodied and battered thumbnails accompany the excited posts. Lust for blood, it seems, is not exclusive to criminals. Slowly, steadily and grimly, Sarfaraz Shah’s life was extinguished on tape. His blood was squeezed out drop by drop, fanning out in a wider and wider crimson circle around his wiry frame, as ...

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An open letter to the Chief Justice, from a granddaughter

Did you know your grandfather Mr Chief Justice? I knew mine rather well for a man with 21 grandchildren. His name was Nasir Ahmed Chaudhry. He lived to be 90-years-old and was a retired Major-General. He was killed on May 28, 2010 in the attack on the Model Town Ahmadi “place of worship” – first wounded by a grenade and then shot repeatedly by a terrorist. These are the facts; you can read them in any number of newspaper articles. Let me tell you what the papers don’t know. My nana used to pick me up from kindergarten while I lived in ...

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Working from home: Basic rights denied

Contrary to popular perception, most women work in Pakistan, and often inside the home in the informal economy. Sixty-five per cent of the female workforce works at home, and a 2009 survey estimated their number to be 8.52 million, although activists suggest it may be as high as 12 million. These workers are not protected by formal labour laws and suffer the legal and social disabilities that are typically associated with this form of work – no rights to minimum wage, no social security benefits, inability to organise in unions and lawfully challenge violations of occupational health and safety (OSH) ...

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Why I prefer to be cruel sometimes…

So another International Children’s Day has passed and while it has been celebrated in some countries and some segments of ours, the state of children in Pakistan remains pathetic. Child labour – that persistent, malignant tumour unleashed upon our country during times of apparent prosperity — simply refuses to go away. The media was flooded with much of the same institutional blame-game and vague identification of problems areas that we see regurgitated every year. Politicians are blaming natural disasters for the rampant child labour in their jurisdictions while the Ministry of Labour and Manpower is still deliberating the use of ...

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Manal al-Sharif: The caged bird also sings

“It is not a revolution, it is not a plot, it is not a gathering and it is not a protest — we are only requesting to drive our cars.” The above message was posted on one of the many groups which have sprouted on Facebook supporting Manal al-Sharif’s brave initiative. An IT security consultant at ARAMCO, the biggest oil company in Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif is a brilliant, sophisticated woman asking for something that should have been a given: driving her own car. The House of Saud Saudi Arabia has largely been immune to the revolutions sweeping the region. The discontented Shia minority in ...

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