Stories about minority rights

A pizza-less Naya Pakistan: Cheese, the greatest villain in Pakistan’s economic tragicomedy

In the same month that the country discriminated against one of its economists for his religious beliefs, our cheese imports appear to have come under jeopardy. Coincidence? Certainly none of us expected karma to come knocking at our kitchen door so soon. When the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) assembled a few weeks ago, cheese was not expected to be revealed as the greatest villain in this economic tragicomedy. The session was held to discuss ways on how to avoid another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. No, 15th time is not the charm! It was in this session that an economist – who ...

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I am one of the ‘entitled millennials’ whose conscience got pricked by Mohammad Jibran Nasir

There was a post making its rounds on Facebook that caught my attention, which said, “If you were to meet your eight-year-old self today, what advice would you give?” And then a slightly more chilling question, “What would your eight-year-old self say about you?” I remember myself at eight, naïve and highly impressionable, living in a world of make-believe, convinced that life was as simple as being one of the good guys and standing up against all forces of evil. But with time and growth came the realisation that things aren’t so simple. This is a blog I may perhaps be better off not writing. ...

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Can Islam and democracy coexist in today’s world?

Germany has given its verdict and elected Angela Merkel for the fourth consecutive term. Her victory has relieved many as her popularity took a nosedive after her brave decision to take in refugees in 2015. However, at the same time, the reduced margin of her victory has also raised alarms. The German far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has accumulated 13% of the total votes, becoming the first such party to win so many seats in more than 50 years. The improvement in its vote tally is remarkable, given the fact that it only won 4.7% of the total votes in the 2013 elections, narrowly missing the ...

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Hello, I am an Iftarholic and I have a few confessions to make

When Ramazan began, I told myself that I am going to use this opportunity to secure a place in heaven, to achieve a significant share of 72 hooris (nymphs) – the halal way of course – and lose some pounds off my protruding belly. Sadly, my pre-Ramazan resolutions faced the same fate as my new year resolutions do each year. Come Ramazan, the first roza to be precise, I found this insatiable, almost corrupting desire inside me to go crazy on the iftars. No matter who it was arranged by, no matter what the menu was, and no matter how tough the days were, I was thrown into this ‘hunger games’ type of a competition. ...

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Why can’t Muslims celebrate Christmas?

Moderating BBC Asian Network phone-ins, the DJ’s energetic voice brusquely interrupted my overlapping memories of Christmas and Eid. Coarse cotton straight from the forty-yard tha’an bolt. Shimmering saris, suits, and achkans. Coriander, jasmine and mustard seed hair oil. Old spice, khas attar, and shalimar. Narcissus and roses surrounding individually wrapped fruits in da’ali gift baskets. Desi ghee from mithais scintillating with gold and silver leaves. Gota, glitter, and glitz. Teeth shining from a walnut bark rub, lips red, eyes sparkling. Cakes decorated with ‘Happy Christmas’, ‘Happy Eid’, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Eid Mubarak’. And then British Asians hyper-ventilating on BBC with their glottal stops and vowel shifts in top gear, breathing hard over ...

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There is no place in Pakistan for men who do not consider women their equals

The acrimonious display of chauvinism by Hafiz Hamdullah in a talk show is rightfully being condemned in all quarters of the media. However, we need to go a little further in examining this overt manifestation of a rot that is deeply entrenched in our midst. To start off, Hafiz Hamdullah’s failed attempts at intimidating and shouting down Marvi Sermid are a continuation of his past behaviour during televised debates. It also seems the pious senator reserves the worst of his bullying for the fairer sex. And this is the crux of the issue – I believe the honourable Hafiz was apoplectic ...

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“We will beat them, we will lynch them”, they chanted, before setting fire to the Ahmadi factory

With the recent rise of Islamophobia in the United States, most Pakistanis have suddenly become experts on minority rights. My social media timelines are filled with Pakistanis urging the West to accommodate Syrian refugees escaping persecution, and be more accepting of pluralism. I also see my countrymen condemning the Western media for having double standards, and not giving enough airtime to aggrieved Muslims. Many have also erupted in fury over Donald Trump’s recent Islamophobic comments.  All these grievances in far-off lands are justified, but an incident here at home on Friday has put our uprightness on these same issues in question ...

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The Cult of Sarfraz Ahmed – Doing more harm than good

It started during the World Cup 2015. What was first a dialogue from an extremely popular and recent Indian movie, took over nearly all Pakistani TV stations. It was simply inescapable. Any news channel you surfed through, you would hear it, “Sarfraz dhoka nahin day ga!” (Sarfraz won’t betray you!) Photo: Reuters In the midst of an inauspicious start to the World Cup campaign and the team management’s baffling decision to persist with the woefully out of form Nasir Jamshed, a state of frenzy engulfed the nation over the perceived injustice done with Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s hero of the previous ...

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Are we not ‘Pakistani’ enough for them or are we not ‘Muslim’ enough?

I got to work and checked my phone; there were a dozen missed calls and messages from my friends and family – all in a span of 30 minutes. Being a Karachiite, I instantly knew something was wrong. As soon as I read my father’s message, I froze. I was stunned at the words before me. An attack had taken place and this time it was our community. 45 of our people. We were no longer the silent observers. We were the victims. When I reached my cubicle, I could hear news of the attack blaring from multiple TV screens. I sat and watched news ...

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Is a secular Pakistan the answer to our problems?

And now, since they have nothing better to do, the powers that be have fired another tester round in the sky out of the lame notion of keeping themselves busy in the business. A 17-judges bench headed by chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Nasirul Mulk, contemplated vigorously on Monday as to how Pakistan can be declared a secular state. Some suggested getting it done through the constituent assembly, while others advised to hold a referendum. Going with the definition of secularism, it is defined as, “The separation of government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions ...

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