Stories about Peshawar

In Pakistan, we tackle gun violence by banning… art?

‘Art on wheels’ has become a normal sight for locals in Pakistan. The exterior of our trucks and rickshaws are covered with colourfully-ornamented calligraphy, prose and paintings. Due to its popularity, this particular art has expanded from vehicles to almost everything else; the interior of restaurants, clothing, bags, accessories, souvenirs, and crockery, amongst other things. On one hand, the art depicts our beautiful valleys and literature, and promotes patriotism as well. On the other, it depicts the not-so-beautiful, yet honest aspect of our society. Photo: Facebook/ Truck Art of Pakistan Art, whether in the form of our murals or ...

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Happy Children’s Day, Pakistan! BTW, child sexual abuse increased by 10% since 2016

Child abuse is one of the most prevalent social issues in Pakistan. A 2017 report suggests that there has been a 10% increase in cases since last year alone. The issue is only made worse by the fact that neither do we talk about its prevalence, nor do we take any preventive or rehabilitative measures to deal with it. Topics of importance, such as child abuse, rape, sexual assault, honour killing, forced marriage or mental illness, all are considered taboo and often brushed under the rug. The fear of being shunned by society and victim-shamed is perhaps what keeps some of the victims from speaking up about the issue ...

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Rights over respect?: “Madam, this is the Red Zone and ‘khusray’ are not allowed here”

To be transgender means being unsafe across the globe, mainly because the masses have neither the understanding of gender diversity nor the awareness that a gender non-binary exists. Specifically in Pakistan, an almost outright denial of the existence of transgender people has led to their marginalisation as well as a lack of respect from society at large. They face threats, harassment and humiliation on a daily basis, and are only seen as sex workers, dancers or beggars. The disrespect and discrimination reserved for them is across the board, as in my many years I have seen no exceptions to this, not even from ...

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It all comes down to PTI vs PPP: Will Imran Khan win the 2018 elections?

Due to a fairly recent conflict between Babar Awan (read the main pillar of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)) and co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, Awan left PPP to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The end of a two decade-long association with PPP was a shocking piece of news for the opposition in the National Assembly. Furthermore, Awan is not the only individual parting ways with PPP, as a couple of others have decided to do the same as well. The Member of the Pakistan National Assembly (MNA) Noor Alam Khan also joined the PTI, whereas former state minister Imtiaz Safdar Warraich from Gujranwala has decided to quit PPP and is set to join ...

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O’ Parachinar, your loyalty is not enough for Pakistan

Addey, my grandmother, would reminisce about memories of her father with pride in her eyes and say, “I was a little girl of seven and the memory of him sitting in a room and sewing green coloured clothes and the flag of Pakistan with his own hands before the Partition is still afresh in my eyes. He used to write letters to Mohammad Ali Jinnah on behalf of the people of Parachinar to express his willingness to join Pakistan. He received directions by him in return for the Pakistan Movement in this tribal region. He travelled on horses along with other companions from Parachinar to Delhi to meet Jinnah ...

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Roads and religion: How CPEC will pit Pakistan against itself

‘Exclusive: CPEC Master Plan Revealed’, read a headline this week in Pakistan’s daily newspaper, Dawn. Instantly, news outlets from across the world scrambled to analyse the text of the now-viral article and provided their own respective analyses of this said master plan. The two words themselves seem especially ominous, harkening to the devious plots hatched by cunning antagonists in the spy movies of old. The words, however, in many ways do justice to what was revealed. The plan includes details of leasing large tracts of land to Chinese companies for ‘demonstration projects’ in agriculture with similar concessions in land granted for the construction of ...

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Moving towards a trans-friendly Pakistan, finally

What a feeling it is when you just be yourself without having to be self-conscious about it. There’s not an iota of concern there. “I am who I am, I wear whatever I please and I express myself however I chose to,” thinks the person. I am not going to be shamed or persecuted by anyone, or entertain any fears about that happening. For many, a transgender, man or woman, it is but an idealised notion that is not always realised but is perhaps trending in the right direction now. In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a birthday party for a 40-year-old transgender woman by the ...

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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 ...

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An open letter of gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Dear most reverend archbishop, Justin Welby, I am not sure how I am supposed to address you; may I call you the reverend father? This seems more appropriate considering the impression you’ve left behind after your visit to Pakistan. Reverend father, you are the head of a worldwide Anglican community which includes Pakistan. You landed in our country last Friday night and, despite the protocol, you did not attend many meetings with the high and the mighty. One official courtesy call to the Foreign Office Minister, Mr Sartaj Aziz was necessary. The purpose behind your visit to Pakistan becomes evident when ...

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As a Muslim American, I will abstain from voting this November

I am an American Muslim with one vote, and no person for whom to cast it. I became a citizen less than a year ago. This is my first election and yet, I won’t be joining the millions of other Americans going to the polls. How could I squander such privilege, particularly when so many Muslim women in the world never get to vote? Voting my conscience – by abstaining – is a painful decision. Friends are astonished by my dilemma. Yet Clinton, for some Muslims, remains a problematic choice, and one I am not able to embrace. Clinton’s complicity in entrenching and ...

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