Stories about Pakistani women

Ladies, it is not ‘cool’ or ’empowering’ to smoke

I still remember how my brothers would deftly hide their cigarettes when ammi or abba entered the room. Those were the best and worst of times – times of unawareness and lightheartedness, when I’d sit for hours in a smoke-filled room with my brothers – chatting and laughing over senseless things like one only can with siblings. All that while, I was inhaling 250 toxins and carcinogens, quite unsuspectingly. I didn’t know any better and neither did my siblings. We were secure in our belief that we, the girls, were not smoking actively. Fast-forward life. As a teenager, I started interning at a magazine and this is ...

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40 things that Pakistani men hate to hear

We need to talk Do I look fat? Umm there’s this new store at the mall… I’m not hungry hungry, but I’ll share your garlic mayo fries. Why do you have to hang out with Fahad so much? Is he your boyfriend? Oh never mind, Yasir is just a friend. But I don’t get a good vibe from Ramsha so you better not talk to her. I’m not one of those girls. You’re just like a brother to me. *On the second date* some people are coming over tomorrow for my rishta, so I thought I should just let you know. If I ask you something, would you ...

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Family day: ‘Staring male’ species not allowed — unless with a female …

This Eid, I ordered my kurta from an outlet in Park Towers and I was meant to pick it up after alterations on chand raat. When I got there, I was stopped at the gate and told quite rudely by the security guard that, “Today is a family day” He put his arm in front of me to block me from entering. “What do you mean? I can’t go inside?,” I questioned, to which he responded “No. You have to come with your family. Single men are not allowed inside today.” I even showed him the receipt for my kurta in an attempt to substantiate my ...

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Accepting domestic abuse as a part of daily life

As a Pakistani woman, I grew up understanding that the best guarantee of my life-long security is the promise of a man’s companionship. A man will back me financially, ward off awkward questions that will arise if I remain single too long and give me a ‘home’ to care for. A man will chaperone me to family gatherings, tell me how best to behave and transform me into ‘a complete woman’.  While this formula for security infuriated me on several levels, it is the things it left unsaid that horrified me the most. No one told me just how badly a ...

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What is inside a woman’s heart?

Take a peek inside a woman’s heart, A cluster of emotions, God’s masterpiece of art. It nurtures, cherishes and cares in love, Nothing else does it place before or above. Regard your mother and her affection, For she will put your happiness before her own without any condition. Have you seen inside your woman’s eyes? Your attention is all she seeks; it is for you that she sighs. Value your daughter the same way as you would your son, Educate and empower her; she too can be a big gun, For your adoration and applause, she will always love you, As a daddy’s girl, she will make you proud which shall ...

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Why do the Karachiite-type men fall for Punjabi women?

I begin with the disclaimer that this blog is not for three kinds of people: 1. Those who have an issue with the sweeping generalisations I am about to make in the spirit of fun, though parts will be definitely based on truth and years of research-based observation. 2. Ladies who are non-Punjabi and take the title as a jibe against themselves, and say to themselves “what does she mean? Don’t men like non-Punjabi women? She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! I know my husband would never be able to do with a Punjabi woman… they’re so loud!” 3. Punjabi women ...

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‘Re-virginising’ in a tube: ‘Purity’ for sale at Pakistani pharmacies

A few months ago, I noticed pharmacies in Karachi were carrying topical cures for lost virginity, “re-virginising” in a tube. These over-the-counter fixes were everywhere – counters in large supermarkets, small pharmacies acting as corner shops – hard to miss once you knew it was out there. One of the names is hard to forget, ‘B-Virgin’, the package displaying a youthful girl smiling at white flowers. I admit there is the potential for dark humour given the name; instead it just makes me very sad. This is the message we are giving our girls, our women. “Don’t be true to yourself; instead invest, medicate and ...

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Malala Yousufzai and the league of extraordinary Pakistani women

There was the face of one woman in that room that could quash all the misgivings that one has about Malala Yousufzai’s “backstory”. No, it wasn’t 16-year-old Malala’s herself, it was her mother’s. Minutes after Malala began her magnificent speech at the United Nations General Assembly this Friday, the camera cut to the face of her proud parents. Her father smiled like a man who had won a battle he had fought his entire life. Her mother, in her plain white dupatta and light green shalwar Kameez, sat next to him wiping a tear that fell out of her right eye. Since ...

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Pakistan needs more men like Mirza Ali

In 1856 when Mount Everest was definitively identified as the world’s highest mountain what began was a series of early Everest expeditions, mostly led by the British, which, in 1933, included efforts to deploy the British Union Flag on top of the mountain by flying a formation of aircraft over the peak (an expedition funding by a British millionaires, Lady Houston) Since 1921 Everest has had over 4,500 climber visitors from over eighty nations. And while the first female ascent of the mountain was in 1975 by Japanese mountain-climber, Junko Tabei and the first Pakistani to scale the Everest was a ...

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How technology in Pakistan should be used safely

The public-private debate in Pakistan is a hard creature to get a handle on. Being a Pakistani male, when I was approached by Take Back the Tech — a Bytes for All Pakistan initiative locally — to develop a set of comic strips for their campaign focused on how concepts of public and private affect ICTs and violence against women, I was initially stumped.  I was told the debate was a wide one, including right to privacy, lines between private and public in online spaces, state surveillance, sexting and more. I wanted to focus on this with an emphasis on technology, media (especially the online space) ...

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