Stories about minorities

The neglected and forgotten residents of Youhanabad, Lahore

My foot got stuck in the sewage, and closing my eyes I half prayed that it doesn’t consist of human waste. The groan from a friend watching from across the road, though, was enough to warrant a shudder from me. I had slipped and now was standing, ankle deep, in two days’ worth of rain water and human sewage. The terrifying part regarding this story is the repeated variation of this occurrence. My favourite part (yes, there was one) about these streets though, was covering our heads and making our way down the road to the rairiwala, the man who ...

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Pakistan, I am of you, from you, and no matter where I am, inseparable from you

Once when I was six years old I sneaked out of my grandmother’s house in Lahore’s old Mozang neighbourhood and headed for the nearby Mozang Bazaar, a large market of red-brick shops over a hundred years old. The shops there fascinated me to no end and I was determined to discover kites – my main attraction – of every shape and size. Getting there was no problem as my grandmother’s laane ended in the bazaar itself. Once there though, I lost track of time and my curiosity led me to explore the entire bazaar. At some point I realised I was lost. ...

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Series 5 Finding salvation Part 3 ‘I am free’

“I am Parvinder Kor! I boarded this train when partition was announced in 1947! I never reached my destination. Our entire train didn’t. Ours was a small village near this station. As partition was declared, my village people decided to move quickly. I was going to be married that night, but our village was under attack and so we left for the station in a hurry. All the areas surrounding our village were Muslim majority areas. They started killing our people in retaliation of their own kin dying on the other side of the country. So we fled for our lives. Our father hurried us ...

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Mian Iftikharuddin: The stranger in the house

On March 29, 1953, Mian Iftikharuddin said that it was regretful that the Army had stepped in to control the anti-Ahmadi riots, that the government had “shown a way to coup d’ etat” and hoped that “the Army will (sic) be relieved of its extramarital functions” A statement made by a person with clear vision of a democratic future for his country, which appeared on the map of this world with name of Pakistan. One man who stood out more than the others in his quest to transform the newly formed state into a modern, democratic and secular society was Mian Iftikharuddin. He was ...

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This word can get me thrown off planes and land me in jail

I identify as a Muslim in America. And it’s not always easy. Recently, my home country has seen a rise in Islamophobia. Thanks to right-wing political players like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the fear of Muslims being nurtured over the last decade has now entered the mainstream. We have seen our community centres vandalised, Hijabi women assaulted, Muslim boys bullied at school etc. The latest and probably most bizarre episode of Islamophobia reported in the media is of an Arab-speaking college student thrown off a plane for saying Insha’Allah. Khairuldeen Makhzoomi – a 26-year-old Iraqi refugee – was reportedly having a phone conversation with his uncle in Baghdad, when a woman who understood Arabic thought she heard him ...

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Congratulations, Pakistan!

There are certain positive developments in Pakistan that I wished to extend my solidarity with as a liberal from across the Indo-Pak border. But as I set out to write this piece, we had the news of the arrest of an Indian on espionage charges in Balochistan, fanning hatred in both Pakistan and India. Apart from this, we had some sad news coming in at the global level from Brussels,  Ivory Coast, and the blasts in Lahore on Easter. However, negativity has to be fought with positivity. We, the liberals, have to move forward with our actions to defeat the agenda of those coming in our way rather ...

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The acceptance of one religion’s festival is not an affront on the sanctity of another

His five-year-old clutched the window of the passenger seat as he eagerly looked out the window of the taxi. The church towers loomed up as the taxi turned the corner. Kissing the top of his head, Yusuf shifted his son towards him and patted his hair down. Thick silence emanated from the back of the rather dilapidated cab where his mother and young wife sat huddled together. He stole a glance at his fuming mother who sat in disapproving silence. Sighing, Yusuf shifted his gaze to his doe-eyed wife. She sat as precariously on the car seat as a ...

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Would they have arrested Maulana Abdul Aziz had he been a Virat Kohli fan?

Al Jazeera claims he is possibly the most hated man in Pakistan. Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz; a fiery cleric; said to be the torchbearer of sprawling madrassas, 5000 pupils and 550 teachers strong; co-owner of the militia powered seminary Jamia Hafsa; accused of using religion to serve his politics; allegedly a sympathiser of notorious organisations such as Al-Qaeda, Pakistan Taliban and ISIS. In the late 00s, his Lal Masjid disciples began frighteningly violent acts of arson, vandalism, and kidnapping. In response, security forces hit back with a military operation. Scores died. Eventually, Maulana Mohammad Abdul Aziz became the subject of a meme when he tried to escape wearing a burqa. In ...

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Stories from 2015 that could only have made headlines in Pakistan

It is the first day of January of 2016. Yes, the New Year has begun. We are all a bit older, wiser, and sadly, a little closer to death. Naturally, this is the perfect time to look back at some of the news stories that made headlines in Pakistan and across the world. Girls at Dhabas: For Pakistanis worn down by the taxing life of the big city, nothing quite reignites the brain cells like a good cup of doodh pati (tea). Sold at dhabas (roadside restaurants), these delicious cups of hot tea brewed in milk are consumed by the ...

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Why do over 17 million Pakistanis hold a ‘favourable’ view of ISIS?

At first glance, it looks like an overenthusiastic Black Friday sale by Q-Mobile and Huawei, but a closer look at the unmistakably grim faces next to the long banners reveal that this group was involved in Pakistan’s favourite pastime – a protest. Photo: Kashif N Chaudhry Photo: Kashif N Chaudhry Photo: Mohammad Jibran Nasir – Official Yes, we love a good protest, don’t we? We gleefully demonstrate against the sentencing of murderer Mumtaz Qadri, who incidentally threatened to commit the anti-Islamic act of suicide after being hailed as the ideal Muslim and says he isn’t ...

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