Stories about Pakistani culture

#TherapistDiaries: Anxiety, depression and suicide – the realities of forced marriages

She was barely 19 at the time. She sat on a silver throne decorated with floral arrangements with a posture similar to that of a sacrificial being. My emotions in this moment were as artificial as the floral arrangements. I looked over at the 50-year-old man sitting beside her, and could no longer pretend to be happy. Because that’s when it registered – she was getting married to this man. All of a sudden, my conversations with this girl, with whom I had played games throughout my childhood, came rushing to my mind. I also recalled what she had told me just a ...

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For Muslims in Pakistan, providing food for guests at funerals is a cultural obligation, not an Islamic one

Recently, my friend attended the funeral of her grandfather, the former Federal Minister Khalid Kharal. During the funeral, she realised the immense pressure on the family of the deceased to provide food for the mourners and the people attending. When she came back home and discussed this with me, we both concluded that the idea of providing food for the guests at funerals is more of a growing cultural obligation for Muslims in Pakistan rather than an Islamic one. The death of a loved one in the family or close friends is already the cause of severe grief and pain. Adding another responsibility of ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy?

As I waited outside the Head of Department’s office at my university for the sixth time in a week, I started thinking. I wondered what made someone attach so much importance to themselves that they felt the need to berate others in order to recognise their authority. This made me speculate; is Pakistan still a colony ruled by the white man’s supremacy? Have we honestly never recovered from the imperialistic practices of the West? Does the ordinary Pakistani citizen try to exert the ‘white man’s burden’, knowing fully well that he is of colour? The answer is yes! You see ...

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Pakistan may be poor, but it has a rich culture – much richer than any country in the west

As I grew up in the 90s, every couple of months I would see my mom and dad pack up their bags and go on official tours around the world; America, Europe, you name it. My sister and I would eagerly await their return, not because we wanted to see our parents, but because we wanted to open up their suitcases full of goodies. They would be stuffed with clothes, toys, chocolates and things that we apparently couldn’t buy in Pakistan. We would wear these international clothes with pride and we felt “better” than everyone else, because we had ...

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Hina Shahnawaz was powerful and financially independent, so patriarchy killed her

News of honour killings, or karo-kari, is not new to Pakistan. Almost a thousand women are killed in Pakistan every year for allegedly bringing “shame” to their families. In a society that feeds off hyper masculinity, a woman’s autonomy and independence of any sort is seen as a threat to the Pakistani culture as a whole. Last year, a renowned social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered by her brother in the name of honour, because of her financial and social independence gained from practicing what she preached – self-love and personal power. Although honour killings were (and still are) very common, this incident in particular is what led the government ...

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Our actors are wasting their talent on Pakistani dramas like Sanam

Does anyone miss Fifty Fifty? Studio Dhai and Ponay Teen? It’s the age of Snapstories going viral and two second GIFs primarily providing the fodder for comedy. I have often tried to watch some comedy serials on television but it’s difficult to tolerate them for more than five (10, if you’re really that starved for entertainment) minutes. That’s all the more reason why I feel terrible when I see a talented comedian like Osman Khalid Butt playing regressive, emotional, and clearly messy roles like Haarib in Sanam. In the recent episode of Sanam, Haarib berates Aan (Maya Ali) for not picking up her phone because her mother just had ...

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From jahaiz to chuchak: The burden of having a daughter in the Subcontinent

“A female was burnt for not bringing adequate dowry.” “My three sisters and I are still unmarried because our father cannot afford to provide us sufficient dowry.” “My father died of a heart attack because my sister’s in-laws broke off a three-year engagement when my parents could not fulfil their dowry demands.” Dowry, jahaiz in Urdu, is a tradition in Pakistan and India that has ruined numerous relationships and marriages. Parents borrow staggering amounts of loans just to satisfy the greed of their daughter’s in-laws and to ensure that she is not taunted after marriage. As evil as this tradition may be, almost all families, irrespective of ...

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Why are Lahore Fort’s walls being used as urinals?

Nations, tribes and even individuals have claims to heritage. Heritage helps us define our place in the multitude of ideas that surround us. This view, however, is simplistic and uni-directional to say the least. The notion of a collective heritage and what we hold onto in the present day and age is an iterative one. It means that along with the mighty forts, castles, mosques, literature and practices of the past, we as present day inhabitants of a place can build on the legacy from the past. This building on the past is yet another dangerous term. The experiments in this ...

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The women of Kalash are a tale of colours, simplicity and struggle

Traveling is like an escape from the usual hustle bustle of the urban life. But this escape turns into an experience if you witness a culture very different from your own. We all have a lot of pre-conceived notions about every person we meet, every place we visit and every set of beliefs we encounter, but to look beyond these preconceptions is the essence of what traveling is all about. This sheer thought has provoked me to explore the world, beyond the realms of prejudices and artificiality. I’m not a photographer; rather I just try to capture this reality through my ...

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