Stories about poverty

Does the death penalty target criminals or the poor?

A damning report places Pakistan as third in the list of countries where the most number of executions took place in 2015, after China and Iran and before Saudi Arabia and the United States. In other compelling statistics, in 2014, the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan ranked third in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe. In 2012, we had the most number of people (28 million) affected by war and conflict. Along with other South Asian countries, Pakistan ranks high in hunger and malnutrition statistics, with about 41 million people undernourished in the period 2014-16, a whopping 22 per ...

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How do you stop a man who wants to kill children so much he is willing to die for it?

In a broken down house in some sleepy part of Lahore, a man woke up knowing it was the very last time he was ever doing so. Perhaps he watched the sun rise one final time, perhaps overwhelmed by its beauty for a few seconds he doubted himself. Perhaps he wondered how many people will miss him, perhaps he looked forward to what he was promised after death, perhaps he was just tired. We don’t know anything about him, not his identity nor his dreams, ambitions, fears and above all his demons. We don’t know who he left behind; a ...

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Terrorism doesn’t care if you are non-Muslim or Muslim, Brussels and Turkey are proof of that

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Brussels. This could be a revenge attack in response to the Paris terror suspect Salah Abdeslam’s arrest in the city, last Friday. This could also be a symbolic attack against the European Union. Or it could just be another venue for a terror attack after Turkey, as the world watches in horror. It would be an oversimplification to suggest that ISIS is a group of overzealous Muslims working towards the ‘holy’ cause of establishing an Islamic Caliphate; they kill innocent civilians, both Muslims and non-Muslims. They work carefully to draw a wedge between ethnicities within a country to ...

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Why do Pakistanis cheer Brandon Stanton, but attack Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy?

Like so many in Pakistan, I was pleased when American photo-blogger Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, visited the country to tell the stories of every day Pakistanis. As with his other excellent work, Brandon shared some moving tales, creating empathy as only he can. At the end of his Pakistan series, Brandon moved on to a despicable social ill of Pakistan: Bonded Labour, which is used to victimise thousands of Pakistanis and has been described as modern day slavery by the United Nations. Like any good journalist, Brandon highlighted the issue by sharing several heart-breaking stories alongside striking photos while relating some ...

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Why is diversity at the Oscars even a topic of discussion?

It’s nearing the time of the Oscars again where actors gear up to receive their awards based on their acting skills. Only this time around, on February 28, many of the African American actors will be boycotting the event. The leading boycotter in front of the line is none other than Jada Pinkett Smith who has been pretty much doing all the talking for her usually very outspoken husband, Will Smith. She claims that far too many ‘white’ folks get awards, while the African Americans stay behind. Thus she urges (read: intimidates) black Americans to boycott the Oscars this year. [fbvideo ...

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We invited our maid’s family for a Diwali dinner and this is what we learnt

Inspired by her friends, my mother started a new tradition in our home last night – she invited the family of our maid, Madina to come to our home for dinner. Earlier, she had sent dad and me to buy all the groceries to prepare some special food for our guests. We all ate together and had a lovely conversation as well. This is the first time we have ever done anything like this in our family. It felt surreal to see Madina’s whole family sitting on our couch and eating with us on our dining table. This was especially significant for ...

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Do beggars deserve our sympathy or indifference?

I cringe at the sight of the decaying face of a desolate poor individual; yet my mind goes blank when I think of how to help them. Even if I help them financially, I can never cure their gloomy and emotional state of mind, their unhappiness and the woes they try to hide. An expression of agony is written all over their faces. Their ragged, coarse and wrinkled faces are enough to prove how miserable they are. Their skin is tightly woven on their facial structure which clearly indicates starvation. We are so busy in our daily routine that we fail ...

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Pakistan should put its own house in order before jumping into an arms race

I’m a peacenik and I’m happy in my skin. As an active journalist, I have covered enough wars, had my fair share of good and bad fortune, experienced torture and witnessed people maimed, lamed and face the ultimate fate of death. I got emotionally drained and ultimately decided that it was time to say goodbye to the action and adventure. In my quest to understand life better, I used spirituality as my crutch. I realised that all we need is to counter hatred with love, aggression with passion and hostility with peace. I learnt that the beast of vice is ...

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The sin of being a widow in this world

We live in a country where, when a journalist calls the Chief Minister House and asks if they have any special events for International Widows’ Day, the reply you get from the concerned person is, “Widows’ Day? Is there one?” But then, considering two things, Pakistan might not be the only country. Firstly, it was just four years ago that the United Nations General Assembly declared June 23, 2011, as the first-ever International Widows’ Day, so it is a relatively new event. Secondly, the women being celebrated are on the lowest tier of the social pyramid, and their problems are not given the ...

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150,000 dead and counting: When will Af-Pak’s killing spree end?

Wars are a nasty killing business, the culmination of a failure of diplomacy or resolution of conflicts in a peaceful manner. Like religious fanaticism, where reason and logic stop and aggression gives way to hostility, mankind and nations often take refuge in manoeuvring and manipulating to go one up and control situations by non-peaceful methods. For the lack of a better expression, wars are the awakening of the animal instinct in human beings. The effects and repercussions that armed confrontations leave behind are far reaching. Scars of sorrowfulness and grief that wars bring to the teeming millions are virtually an irremovable ...

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