Stories about minorities

Pakistan should become a secular state, but how realistic is that?

In one of my articles last year, I tried to make a normative case for secularism in Muslim countries. I argued that given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and growing sectarianism, there is a case of secularism in Muslim countries. Since a secular state is religiously neutral, therefore it would allow various sects in Islam, as well as non-Muslim minorities, to practice their faith freely. Moreover, it would delink the religion with legal code and therefore laws would start reflecting contemporary realities. In my opinion, the idea should at least be entertained in our discourse as it merits serious deliberation. My own country, Pakistan, perhaps is ...

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Hazaras: The Rohingyas of Pakistan?

Last week, when I was planning a trip to Quetta for training, Mujeeb Hashmi, a friend from work, asked me to wear shalwar kameez, not only to the airport but also whenever I went out and about in the city. Hashmi, being a veteran filmmaker, has been to almost every habitable area of Pakistan – so I had to pay heed. He also warned me to be wary of certain localities within the city such as Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, given the violence witnessed by the city in the past. He was right. Quetta made a great first impression on me – ...

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Donald Trump’s America is awfully racist and discriminatory, but is Pakistan any different?

Q: Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest racist of them all? A: The human race Recently, I came across a video which showed a young Palestinian-American Muslim mother talking about the struggle of handling her young daughters. This was in reference to race and religion in the current political climate raging in the US. Her talk made me ponder about the truth of raising my kids in the US. And for a moment, it made me second guess my decision of moving to the American shores some 20 years ago.  Welcome to the American world of Donald Trump. A world where race is an issue, where ...

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Get Lit vs Donald Trump: When art becomes resistance

“Where does the truth begin?”  he asked, his tone urgent but composed. He went on, demanding honesty, transparency, or at least sanity, from the man of the hour: Donald Trump. The individual in question is a young poet by the name of Gordon Ip. He is one of the many members of Get Lit, a social justice poetry troupe on the rise. For the past six months, they have tirelessly been creating and performing slam poetry, using today’s divisive and highly charged political climate as inspiration for their work. We live in the Trump Era, a time where news comes in at a lightning pace. ...

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When the pot met the kettle: How Modi made India a lackey to the US

Finally, the pot and the kettle met, shook hands and hugged each other. Analysts world over are still debating possible gains and losses of a meeting between two unique characters of world politics today – Donald Trump and Narendra Modi. They represent two very vibrant democracies of the world but they are not recognised as the real faces of their multi-cultural nations. They are treated more as aberrations of history, a mistake of time rather than a true face of the era and people they got their mandate from. They both defy the norms of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. Their past sins and acts are not holding them back from achieving ...

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Refusing to treat sweepers in Ramazan only highlights our doctors’ unethical unprofessionalism

“Primum non nocere” is Latin for “first, do no harm”. Although not overtly found in the text of the original Hippocratic Oath, the message in that Latin phrase holds firm for students making the transition from medical apprenticeship to medical practice. Scholars have widely attributed the oath to Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. As their rite of passage, young doctors graduating from medical schools the world over take some modern version or another of the oath, several in their own languages. Medical schools in Pakistan follow suit in terms of the oath being taken by students prior to practicing as independent doctors, with valid medical licenses ...

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Is America just a glorified third world country?

I slept the night Donald Trump was elected president of the United States (US). Not out of a sense of peace, but a resigned knowledge that nothing I did now would stop the waves and currents of history. I didn’t know the outcome, and I almost didn’t care; because whatever happened, ordinary Americans would have to deal with it. I was one of them, whether I liked it or not. My friends had stayed up after midnight, watching the election coverage on their laptops. “Look at how many states are red!” my friend Amina exclaimed, horrified. “The Republicans are leading the House (of Representatives).” She was worried and ...

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Jinnah was not Iqbal’s first choice to lead the Muslims

To say Allama Muhammad Iqbal was an extremely complex individual is an understatement. The poet, philosopher and political thinker that Allama Iqbal was, he constantly evolved, or some might argue, regressed in his approach to the idea of a Muslim political identity and how it translated politically. Iqbal was, at various times, a Muslim modernist (he endorsed the founding of secular Turkish republic as a seminal event in Islamic history), a Muslim reformer (his lectures compiled as the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam show the breadth of his reformist vision) and an uncompromising Islamist believing in theological unity and ...

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Let us return to March 23, 1940, and start over, Pakistan

On March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted a historic resolution in the city of Lahore. This resolution has since come to be known as the Pakistan Resolution as it became the forerunner to the formal demand for an independent nation state for the Muslims of India. The following is an extract that provides the essence of this resolution: “Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle, namely, that geographically ...

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Gilgit Baltistan: That part of Pakistan where coexistance is a reality

Gilgit Baltistan is one of the most bestowed and beautiful places on our planet. And its people: equally marvellous. I had heard about the tolerance and religious harmony in Gilgit but until recently, I hadn’t seen a practical example of this coexistence that Gilgitis so often boast about. I am sharing this beautiful story for the rest of the Pakistanis, it is one we must all learn from and emulate. In Sunni majority Pakistan, the picturesque territory of Gilgit Baltistan is the only province of Shia majority. As such, the sacred month of Muharram has a special place in the region’s annual calendar. Just days ago, during the commemoration ...

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