Stories about peace

India and Pakistan: Let’s recover our natural bond

Many stories in our lives, no matter how insignificant, leave us changed. I narrate my personal life experience, as a young child, which subconsciously broke my psychological barriers between India and Pakistan. This was long before I even decided to marry a Pakistani, and cross over to the other side. Living in a rented house in New Delhi, India, we were faced with a senior Hindu couple as our landlords, who were old workers of a radical Hindu extremist organisation. Being a very strict vegetarian couple, even the normal Hindu families wouldn’t feel comfortable renting their upper floor. My parents, being moderate ...

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Ramazan and its blessings

Living in the second biggest ‘Islamic Republic’ country of the world, we inevitably take this title for granted. Furthermore, being born in a Muslim family, we tend to neglect all opportunities to explore our religion. Since Ramazan is here, let’s examine what it’s thought of from the views of all kinds of Muslims. A 7-year old: “Mama, can I keep one fast at least? All my friends are allowed to keep two”. A 16-year old: “Mama, do I have to keep all fasts? I have sports practice after school and I get really de-hydrated”. Fitness lovers: “Can’t wait for Ramazan; it’s the ...

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Kill me, for I have spoken

Colour me red, paint me black, brush me dead, back on track, picture perfect, vivid deploy, peace stagnant, you destroy. Shoot everyone having a mind, no eyes? Everyone’s very blind, your arrogance and guns show, the laws of the land will not go. Cross the road and you will die, stand and wait, and you will die, speak your mind, and you will die, be human, yes, you still will die. Misunderstanding much? Oh please, ideologies cliched, yes very much, the land of the pure, bruised and cut, apologists, please shut the hell up. Conditional peace is always good? Your side of the deal, oh it was fate, heaven sent men, please go away, for ...

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How not to kill a crow

It was a pleasant, sunny day in Karachi and I was going about my usual everyday routine – which included thinking and fantasising about going to Amreeka. I was also expecting a few relatives to visit my place with their children. I generally enjoy people at my place. Wait, let me rephrase that. I generally enjoy people, whose children are well behaved, at my place. The relatives finally arrived and the children started playing in the backyard. It was a pleasant late afternoon and the sun was still shining, the elders sitting in the lawn enjoying chai (tea). This is when the ...

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May I speak for the accused?

The courts are to decide the Uzma Ayub case, the alleged rape victim from Karak (a southern district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and the fate of the 13 accused of being the rapists. However, being a native of the district, I think I have the right to speak for those among the accused, who did something good for my village and its people. One of them is Hakeem Khan, an assistant sub inspector (ASI) at the Takht-e-Nasrati police station (Takht-e-Nasrati is a tehsil in the district). Hakeem brought peace to my native village and arrested almost all the notorious gangsters, kidnappers, ...

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Feeling regret in the markets of Parachinar

I cautiously embarked upon my journey through the tribal area in FATA, this was my first visit to the Kurram Agency. I stayed in Parachinar for six days, an area that had succumbed to sectarian violence, and was now trying to recuperate. Although the community has inflicted much of this violence upon itself, I was impressed by what they had learnt from their trials and how they were shaping their lives now. Having heard so much about the violence that prevailed in Parachinar, I assumed a guarded pose upon reaching the disputed area. To my surprise, the Kohat-Parachinar road, once ...

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Trade with India, for a better Pakistan

If the choice facing Pakistan is abandoning its claims on the Indian side of Kashmir in exchange for free trade with India, then I see it as an automatic choice: the economic future of 180 million citizens of Pakistan is not worth sacrificing for the sake of some vague political aspirations of a fraction of the 12 million or so who live on the Indian side of Kashmir. The hyper-nationalists that populate a surprisingly large segment of Pakistani cyberspace will no doubt argue that this is “selling Kashmir down the river”. Has anyone ever thought of the fairness of it ...

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India and Pakistan: Sharing one soul

Recently, I was in India to attend a course on environmental journalism hosted by a renowned New Delhi-based NGO. One day, I was at one of Delhi’s social clubs and ran into a retired Indian general, Maj-Gen Ashok K Mehta, to be precise. We ended up having quite an interesting conversation. He said that he was in the Indian Army during the 1971 Pakistan-India war and that he had been in contact with several Pakistani prisoners of war. One of them, he said, was a senior officer, who on the day the Pakistani forces surrendered to the Indians, wrote in ...

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How many bodies will I count this year?

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether we will see a resurgence of violence in 2012 like the one we saw in Karachi during 2011. This is because of the nature of my work, which is mostly about keeping count of the dead. Although it sounds morbid, it really is not as bad as what my other colleague does, an obituary writer who earns his living by going to graveyards almost every day. Cynical journalists among our group often joke that while “one kills, the other buries (aik marta hay, dosra dafnata hay).” I’m neither a clairvoyant nor a ...

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Call me an Indian Pakistani

I recently wrote a blog post titled ‘An Indian who moved to Pakistan‘. The response I got – positive and negative – is much appreciated. It inspired me to write this piece about my dream of a world without borders and wars. Before I begin, however, I want to make clear that I do not have any desire to undermine the sovereign and political borders between India and Pakistan or between any other countries. My dream is to erase the psychological borders that are etched in our minds in the shape of prejudices and hatred towards the other. So I’ll get to ...

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