Stories about peace

I met a Jew who didn’t judge me for being a Muslim or a Pakistani

We believe we live in a connected world today, but is that really true? A few days ago, I asked my friend what she thought of it and she said, “We can connect to any part of the world with one click. We can access any information in the spur of a moment. What else is connectivity?” I partially agreed with what my friend had to say but I still wondered if we really are living in a connected world. We live in a world where we are limited within our own small worlds, which are usually only as big as our mind-sets. And the ...

Read Full Post

An open letter to Indians

Dear Indians, As someone whose recent family history is very much a consequence of partition, I am no stranger to the divisiveness of Pak-India politics. Despite a shared history and culture, we stand today as two nuclear armed nations that have fought three wars against each other. Hatred for the other is fostered in both countries – neither India nor Pakistan is innocent as far as propagating hyper-nationalist aggression is concerned, but this time around, it feels slightly different. This time around, your government, sections of your media, and sections of your civil society (in concert with the government) are behaving in an exceptionally immature and dangerous manner. They ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan and India: Friends abroad always, enemies at home always always

As someone who had been raised in the United States by Pakistani immigrants, I have always found it difficult to fathom the animosity between Pakistanis and Indians living in South Asia. All the aspects of life that bring the two groups together – from music and food, to values and mannerisms – get clouded out by the venomous politics between the countries’ governments. During this time of celebration for the 69th year of independence of Pakistan and India, I strongly believe that the only way forward is for the citizens of both these countries to recognise their shared experiences ...

Read Full Post

Is it really ‘shirk’ to wish someone a Merry Christmas?

As Christmas is nearing, I am starting to see the occasional anti-Christmas messages on the internet that say that greeting on the occasion of Christmas is haram (forbidden) according to scholarly consensus. Some are claiming that saying “Merry Christmas” is tantamount to committing “shirk” or associating partners with Allah. Of the many clerics that push this view, Dr Zakir Naik is a prominent one. He says, “What people don’t realise is that when you are wishing Merry Christmas, you are agreeing that Jesus Christ was born on the December 25th and… he is the son of God… which is shirk.” True, Islam is based on ...

Read Full Post

I was at APS on December 16, 2014 and now I know what hell will look like

On December 15, 2015, I received a text from my daughter’s school stating that, in order to commemorate the APS Peshawar tragedy, December 16, 2015 would be a holiday. It was then that that harrowing Tuesday morning came back to hit me in the face. Hard. And then it began. I started reliving every moment of it again. That fateful Tuesday morning, at 10:52am my phone buzzed. The briefing was short and to the point. I didn’t have the time to think about the magnitude of what was being said to me. All I knew was that I was on duty. Whilst ...

Read Full Post

I am not saying other terrorist attacks should have less recognition but that Pakistan did not receive enough

On December 16, 2014, Pakistan experienced the darkest day in its history. Barbaric monsters from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) massacred over 144 people, out of which 132 were children, at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar. The youngest of victims were six-years-old. Many young children saw friends, teachers and staff from their school slaughtered in front of their eyes. Many lay amongst dead bodies, pretending to be dead themselves. The horrors of that day are too unbearable to think about and too graphic to mention. The world watched and turned its eyes away. One hundred and twenty two dead children and no ...

Read Full Post

Explaining Bakra Eid to a foreigner: “Why do you people sacrifice animals?”

Bakra Eid and ‘bari’  Eid are the two loving nicknames I used while referring to the feast of sacrifice all of my childhood that I spent in Pakistan, until I moved to the West and realised that people mostly referred to it to as Eidul Azha in this part of the world. I have often been asked by Americans and people from other faiths about the significance of both the Eids, and while Eidul Fitr has been naturally easy to explain, Eidul Azha not so much. Most of us growing up in liberal Muslim households do not educate ourselves, cerebrally, on the philosophy behind the Islamic rituals and practices ...

Read Full Post

Paying homage to the heroics and prowess of Pakhtuns

On July 10, 2015, some of the most illustrious and high achieving Pakhtuns were given a grand tribute by Twitteratis. People on twitter, like minstrels, were praising the heroics and prowess of Pakhtuns as they trended the hashtag #FakhrePakhtoon. It was heartening to see the amalgamation of tradition, bravado, and literature meeting technology, peace and education. Young technology and education activists received as much praise similar to the likes of Bacha Khan, Khushal Khan Khattak, Ghani Khan and Rehman Baba. It turned out to be a refreshing break from the myopic depiction of Pakhtuns in both national and international media. Young Pakhtuns posted updates showing that Pakhtuns are not just about guns and violence but love, peace, poetry, technology, innovation and art as ...

Read Full Post

Is World War III round the corner?

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” – Albert Einstein The world is far from complex. While presenting it as such certainly puts food on the table for many people, the solutions to the contemporary world’s problems are generally quite obvious. The basic formula behind them is no different to that of Europe in 1939, or even that at the time of the Ancient Rome – powerful leaders and the citizens of powerful nations, overtaken by the urge for establishing their hegemony. But we all strive ...

Read Full Post

What does the IS have in common with the US?

After 9/11, the US administration decided to go on a mass “witch hunt” to locate and exterminate culprits whom they believed were behind the attacks on the World Trade Centre. The ultimate culpability and responsibility for the attacks was placed on Osama bin Laden, the then head of al Qaeda. Although the prime suspects for the 9/11 attacks were led to be of Arab descent, the location where it was believed that Bin Laden and his associates were residing was Afghanistan. Afghanistan, at the time, had gone through a series of internal struggles during their war with the USSR, in which Afghan Mujahideen had fought ...

Read Full Post