Stories about poor

Edhi: “I’m not God, just a humanist”

This video shows a discussion with the philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. The viewer is shown an ordinary day in his life and taken in to his office. One observes the incredibly humble life-style lived by this humanist.  Edhi states humanity is the essence of all religions. The Holy Quran, too, he says teaches Muslims to feel for other human beings. However, it is a trait that most people have forgotten. He is critical of Muslims in Pakistan and states that he has yet to come across a single true Muslim in his entire life. Capitalists, according to him, indulge in ...

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In Okara: Why Twitter is not enough

I had joined Twitter sometime ago, and was truly disgusted by the so-called thinkers sitting in the luxuries of their air-conditioned rooms, tweeting about how Pakistan is in dire need of help. Tweets about which city they are in, or which coffee house they are in will not help the situation of the people who need our help. “Why don’t they go out and do something?” I wondered.  Thus, I decided to be proactive. It has been a year since I started working as the PPP president for Okara district, Punjab. Growing up in a political family, I witnessed my father ...

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Slavery: constitutionally forbidden, socially accepted

On Friday, 11 bonded labourers were freed from a brick kiln in the outskirts of Islamabad. They had been crowded into squalid pens and were forced to live in inhuman conditions which earned them a princely sum of Rs 300 per week. That’s Rs43 per day. That’s less than many of us spend to get to work.  That’s less than the price of a plate of daal chawal. That’s less than a human being needs to survive. Slavery is abhorable, but in Pakistan, it is also an unavoidable fact of life. Or is it? How often do you hear anyone praising slavery? ...

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Karachi’s crime malaise

Karachi, with a population of nearly 20 million, has its fair share of problems like all other major metropolitans. Its weary residents have had to put up with a multitude of problems, including  a huge slum population, frequent power cuts and poor infrastructure. However, few cities have as bad a reputation for crime, particularly street crime, as Karachi. Be it mobile snatching, car theft, robberies at ATMs or traffic signals, there will be few Karachiites who do not have some sort of a story to tell of their or their acquaintances’ encounters with street crime. Many will be quick to attribute ...

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Fasting in times of load shedding

Past Shab-e-Barat, brace yourself for the month of fasting. Actually, Shab-e-Barat is a festival in name only. Its real significance is to usher in Ramazan. The halvas you are treated to, point to the imminence of thirty testing days followed by thirty rewarding evenings. The mandatory fast, requiring that one neither eat a morsel nor take a sip of drink for a whole day, is a test in itself. It’s a vivid reminder of the nature of hunger and thirst. It is only at the end of a day of fasting that one fully appreciates food and drink as God’s great ...

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Chocolates for slum children

“So we want to distribute these chocolates among kids before we leave,” my family friends said excitedly. Born and brought up in England, they were living in Dubai now and were on a visit to Pakistan. In the last couple of days, during their visit, they told us about the chocolates that they had brought with them for the underprivileged children. In order to fulfill my kind guests’ noble request, I asked my brother who knew of a slum that was cocooned in the middle of one of Islamabad’s posh sectors. Further investigation revealed that our cleaner Basheer Lala also came from ...

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Who cares? Not me

I am a Pakistani. Don’t confuse me for an illiterate, poverty-stricken person. Or a displaced one in that case. Not at all! I can assure you, I live quite comfortably. I did my schooling from one of the best institutes in the country. I speak English very well, and I only wear branded clothes. I buy them from the US or Europe during my annual visits abroad. It’s annoying how people assume I’m needy just because I’m from Pakistan. Oh no! I’m a first-grade citizen, albeit of a third world country. Apparently the fact that our power generation is less ...

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Riaz wanted to learn English

It was almost 11 years ago when I stopped my car at the Teen Talwar traffic light to be greeted by the usual herd of beggars, windscreen cleaners and newspaper sellers. One of the newspaper sellers, Riaz, a total of four feet in height, asked me for a lift to the Marriot signal. Irritated by the commotion around me, I chose to ignore him. Rather than moving on, he boldly walked in front of my car, locked eyes with me, stuck his teeth out like President Asif Zardari would, if he stared at the sun, and performed a mini-break dance ...

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For the love of books: One woman’s battle

We are not always the monstrous creatures depicted in newspapers. There are people around us who are working for the betterment of society. These are people who keep hope alive when everything around us is falling apart and crumbling into disorder. The idea was simple: to help. While most of us were fixated on how the last game of Manchester United turned out or busy posting videos of a pleading man being mercilessly shot dead by the law itself I felt hope because of a young woman I have never met. She is one person who is bent on changing the lives of ...

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‘Thank you guys’ said the robbers

Incidents of armed robberies, mugging, mobile phone snatching and rape etcetera aren’t new in Karachi. The recent robbery at The Second Floor (T2F) Café did garner attention however, with people discussing security measures in place, while others even mocked the exhibition entitled “Art Loot Maar” (ironically means theft/robbery) which was taking place at the time of the incident. The café, T2F which karachisnob.com lists as one of the “coolest” cafes in town “is an alternative space” says Bina Shah, Karachi-based author and former editor of the Internet magazine SPIDER. Opened in 2007, T2F, operated by a non-profit organisation, quickly became ...

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