Stories about Pashtun

Dear Ayesha Gulalai, instead of honouring our roots and culture, you have disgraced every single Pakhtun woman of Pakistan

Dear Ayesha Gulalai, I am neither a political worker nor do I support any political party. What’s even more interesting is that I am not a fan of Imran Khan either. I am a young Pakhtun woman who has been following the Pakhtun tradition and culture since I was a little girl. My parents have always guided me to stand up for my rights and speak up against any kind of harassment in the male-dominated society we live in. Brought up in a conservative traditional family, I have always been reminded to uphold the respect of my family and most importantly, ...

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Trump’s ban on Muslims is just as offensive as Pakistan’s racial profiling of Pakhtuns

Not every Muslim is a terrorist but a significant number of terrorist incidents are conducted by Muslims. This statement is controversial and yet, deep down we all know that there is some sort of evidence for it. At least the terrorist incidents which are indiscriminate and use suicide bombings are overwhelmingly committed by Muslims. Of course, as already mentioned, this does not mean that every Muslim is a terrorist and in fact thinking in such terms would be overstretching and overgeneralisation, resulting in bigotry if endorsed by the general populace and institutionalised discrimination if incorporated into laws by the state. Donald ...

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Our minorities have found a voice in Pakistani cinema

I still remember when I was first introduced to The Mindy Project by a friend while sitting in her apartment in DC back in 2014. We started binge-watching it for a few nights after dinner during my brief stay with her. When I returned to my internship in Vancouver, I heard one of my colleagues (an Indian-Canadian woman) raving about it. Mindy Kaling is undoubtedly a talented lady and the show has been quite popular – on a separate note, there was something about it that made all the brown girls go crazy. They finally got to see a brown woman in ...

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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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An ‘Islamic Halloween costume’? Really, Walmart?

Dear Walmart, I liked you. I really did. Your prices are decent and I occasionally made a run to you when other stores in the area were closed, because of your late hours of operation. You were convenient and I really liked that about you. However, it came to my attention a couple of days ago that you tried to sell a Halloween costume depicting an ‘old Pashtun Papa’, full with a beige-coloured parthog and kameez, turban and a long fake, grey beard. Photo: Walmart.com Really, Walmart? Tasteless much? I’ve realised that you have now taken down that ‘costume’, apologised, and tried to ...

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Za Pakhtoon Yum: A mind-altering foray into Pukhtun life and culture

So far, our dramas have revolved around the vicious circle of poverty, a miserable daughter-in-law suffering at the hands of her evil in-laws, societal customs, dowry issues, giving birth to a male child or the perfect ‘rishta’ (proposal). Indeed these are issues which need to be addressed in dramas or movies, but there are other issues that require our attention as well. With the passage of time, we, Pakistanis, have come across many complex issues segregating our society into small groups, each intolerable for the other. We have issues ranging from the Shia-Sunni to the Punjabi-Pukhtun, anti-women empowerment to pro-women empowerment, even from the pro-Malala ...

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“Har kala rasha”: Hujra, a fading Pakhtun tradition

There are many characteristics of Pakhtun culture and a hujra is one of them. In fact, it is considered to be the most important part of Pakhtun culture. A hujra can be loosely translated as a social club. From the western mountainous terrains of Pakistan to the heart of Afghanistan to anywhere in the world where Pakhtuns live, there exists the hujra. Exclusively for the male population, a hujra plays host to various aspects of the social life of Pakhtun society – from resolving community disputes to wedding ceremonies. However, the very existence of this age-old tradition is now threatened due to modernisation and Western democracy. Purpose of a hujra A typical hujra is owned and run ...

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Does Afghanistan really need a Pashtun leader?

As I am writing this, the people of Afghanistan have already casted their votes in what is arguably the most important election in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The whole world’s eyes are fixated on the upcoming results, which will be announced on April 24 and finalised on May 9. So I also asked a friend from Afghanistan which candidate his family voted for and he replied, “Of course, they voted for a Pashtun because we need a Pashtun leader. After all, Pashtuns constitute the majority of the Afghan population.” In fact, all eight candidates in this presidential run are from ...

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Jehangir Aziz Hayat and the Pashtun rock scene, finally uncovered!

A few of the bands that I grew up listening to were U2, Nirvana, Matchbox Twenty and Lifehouse, among others. The genres of these bands included rock, alternative rock, post-grunge and elements of metal in their songs. I remember attending rock fests that were held in Lahore during 2002 and 2003. They featured some rocking underground bands that were quite awesome, to say the least. Bands like EP, Aaroh and Call are some that I recall playing live at these fests, before they achieved mainstream success in Pakistan. However, almost all the songs sung by the bands that went on to receiving ...

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What did the US accomplish from the invasion of Afghanistan?

The year 2014 has marked the start of NATO’s withdrawal of its combat troops from Afghanistan, 12 years after the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban began, in the autumn of 2001. Many explanations were given as to why the invasion of Afghanistan was vital – from the necessity of finding and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11, to liberating Afghan women and eradicating the opium trade. Time and again, politicians and the media tried to legitimise the war in the eyes of the public. We were told in the weeks following 9/11 that the invasion was an act of self-defence, by former US president George W ...

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