Stories about peace

Li Keqiang’s first visit to Pakistan and confusing plans for peace

Excitement is abuzz as the Chinese Premier begins his visit to Pakistan today. Mobile services have been suspended in Rawalpindi and Islamabad as a preemptive security measure and the Pakistan Army has assumed the responsibility to provide security for Li Keqiang’s first visit to Pakistan. The newly elected Chinese Premier had been in India before where he couldn’t escape India’s objections and had to offer explanations about the Chinese interest in development activities in Pakistan. Additionally, he spoke of about ways to improve Sino-India relations over border disputes. Li’s visit to Pakistan, however, is significant in many ways. Not only has he received the prestigious award of Nishan-e-Pakistan, he will be addressing ...

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The politician’s manifesto

Vote for me vote for me, the beacon of peace am I, Your vote for me will make this land, rise above the sky.   To me your troubles are well-defined, They shall be solved with haste, For my upbringing was well-refined, Giving me a lovely taste.   But this is not about me, It is about the people of my land, For all the miseries that they have suffered, I extend my courteous hand.   I want to tell them urgently, Your saviour has now arrived, To put everything in place, A fine plan has he devised.   The power shortages will end, As dams will be built in a day, And for the rains to fall from above, In ...

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What war does to women

There is so much going on in the world. The clouds of war and violence seem to hover around the globe and there seems to be no end to this mayhem and chaos. Billions of military troops march out in the name of war and conflict every day. They fight against each other under the shadows of cannons, tanks, nuclear warfare, chemicals, gunfire and smoke. The fight goes on and on and when it ultimately ends (which it never does), we find them buried deep under the ground. They take cities, culture and heritage down with them, like they never existed. And ...

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Tahirul Qadri’s increasing popularity

It’s amazing how quickly a leader or an ideology can win over the country’s youth. As I headed to office one fine day, I confronted an excited youth from our neighbourhood who said, “I am going to Lahore to attend a jalsa on December 23!” I was startled. Knowing that the young man had exams coming up, I asked him how he’ll manage the trip. His reply was, “I’ll skip exams. This public gathering by Dr Tahirul Qadri is so much more important.” I drowned into thought. The young man’s enthusiasm reflected that of thousands of people across the country. Several young people ...

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What is it we can’t do as a nation?

After a long tiring day, all I was looking forward to was a good night’s sleep. Life is really challenging here, I thought to myself. I wish I could do something about this country. I wish things could change for us. Breathing a sigh of  resignation, I finally closed my eyes and thought, some day I will… Suddenly, there I was looking down on him with the whole UN General Assembly standing and applauding. As happens in such cases, I could not tell the time or date, it was sort of surreal. I wanted to get down there and talk to ...

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Imran Khan can bring peace to FATA

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ‘Peace March’ has been widely criticised by many but the fact remains that the liberal Imran Khan had taken a brave initiative to march towards the militancy-struck Waziristan – the headquarters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. But being a divided nation, we happen to be pessimistic. Criticism is in our nature and is mainly the reason why we have remained an underdeveloped state even after 65 years of independence. After detaching Fata from Afghanistan in 1893, we were revealed to the world as a land of wild animals, leading people to believe that once you enter this region, there ...

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Malala Yousufzai: My ‘small video star’ fights for her life

I had the privilege of following Malala Yousafzai, on and off, for six months in 2009, documenting some of the most critical days of her life for a two-part documentary. We filmed her final school day before the Taliban closed down her school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley; the summer when war displaced and separated her family; the day she pleaded with President Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, to intervene; and the uncertain afternoon she returned to discover the fate of her home, school and her two pet chickens. A year after my two-part documentary on her family ...

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Violent protests: Islam taught us better

Sir, it was 1995, North Medical Ward of Lahore’s Mayo Hospital, where you famously said in your English-Punjabi accent, “Putter ji, batti uthay balo, jithay hanaira howay” (Son, light a candle where it’s dark). You didn’t want your students to go abroad after completing medical school. You wondered what difference we will make in America, where, compared to Pakistan, there were abundant doctors; where there was so much light. I left, however, as I had no choice, sir. Yet you had a point ─ a point that haunted me whenever I earned a new degree, another publication, or an accolade. For years, the ...

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Hues of peace in Kashmiri tea

Some time back, I was watching an interview of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik on a local news chanel. The host kept probing the Kashmiri leader about his new ‘non-violence freedom movement’ in Kashmir despite Yasin Malik’s violent past history. Will this movement work and why did it become non-violent now after almost 18 years of being so active? My personal interest in the programme came from being indoctrinated since childhood (from Zia’s state media) that ‘Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan’ and that ‘Kashmir will one day become Pakistan’ (because it was always ‘meant’ to be). ...

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Lahore, how I love thee

I may not have seen the whole world yet, But I have seen a lot of it. Sure, I left my heart in Paris, Yes I lost my self, Wandering the sloping streets of San Francisco True, my mind found solace at the top of Mont Blanc Yet, my soul will always belong to Lahore The city that still captivates me, like no other Maybe I’m biased; maybe it is nostalgia, But when I am in Lahore, my soul is alive, The whole city pulsates with unabashed life The sounds of New York, The lights of Hollywood, Even the grandiose of Las Vegas, Nothing, Nothing compares to this city of my childhood, The city where my soul ...

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