Stories about liberty

Liberty must trump security

How safe is safe enough? As terrorist attacks have hit nearly every major city in the country over the last four years, this is a question that almost nobody has asked. We now accept random police checkpoints, and intrusive security measures at places that were once significantly more open. A small price to pay for security, some might argue, but I only have one question: for how long? Exactly when will it be safe enough to take them all down? When there are zero bomb attacks in the country? We have had several months of those. A whole year, maybe? What ...

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Musings of a ‘Westernised’ Pakistani

We often blame “the West” for constructing and perpetuating unjust stereotypes about Muslims and Pakistanis, while not realising that we’re constantly returning the favour without even knowing it! So, on behalf of the “burger-society,” I’d like to speak a little in defense of “the West.”  Ready your rotten eggs if you must. Let me start by saying that “the West” does not exist. If it does, could someone please delineate it for me? Is Japan included in your definition of the West, despite being a Far-Eastern nation? What about Russia, industrialised China or Romania? When radicals make blunt statements like, “the West is waging a ...

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Optimism, and the liberty to be free

Salman Taseer’s first birthday since his assassination, unsurprisingly brought back memories of a very dark day. Still ensnared in those thoughts, that quiet day turned on its head when news of the kidnapped journalist, Saleem Shahzad’s killing broke out. The investigative reporter was tortured and killed brutally. The feelings I felt put a sense of déjà vu in my conscience. Anger, disgust, fear and sadness all made their simultaneous entries into my mind, but felt strangely familiar. Soon I realised that these feelings actually hadn’t just entered my head, they were already there. I was already feeling all these emotions ...

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Pak-India semi-final: Life, liberty and the pursuit of sadness

April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. T S Eliot The Wasteland, 1922 Desire and hope can be painful, especially when hope is thwarted. Yet in sports defeat for either one of the sides is inevitable; I believe it can even lead to good things in life later on, like land turned fertile after a volcanic eruption. But I’d still want my side to win. In the wake of the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan, what I am finding particularly, annoyingly, unendingly painful is the reactions that the defeat ...

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A Liberian story of liberation

Martin Luther King Jr was not the only dreamer, there are others too; people who turn their dreams into reality. One such woman is Leymah Gbowee, who led the women of Liberia to end war in a thoroughly non-conventional but highly replicable way. The war in Liberia was vicious, far worse than even we – living in a land of suicide bombers – can imagine. Even the women of Liberia had taken up arms to fight in the civil war, killing sporadically, and it was Leymah who united them against their dictator Charles Taylor. Dressed in white, the women gathered to besiege ...

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Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

When I was at university, the one person I would have difficulty saying ‘hi’ to on campus was a junior who kept her face hidden by a thick black veil. As is the case with cursory greetings in the passing, so much is gauged with facial expressions that I could never make out her response. Then, in my last year, a close friend made the decision to start wearing the niqab and subsequently almost completely dropped off the social radar. I felt her decision was extreme and unnecessary and I felt a lot of hostility towards the piece of ...

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