Stories about poverty

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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Children’s Day: They belong in schools, not factories

Some of us are liberals while others are conservatives; some of us are righteous Muslims while others are humanists. We have created labels and have given birth to unnecessary clashes, but what most of us have failed at doing is work. We are ready to speak but we are not ready to act upon our words. As John F Kennedy once said, “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future”. This quote perhaps sums up not only the importance of children, but also the need to turn them into such individuals that our future may be secured, because it ...

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APS attack: Love can move mountains, part rivers and change Pakistan

I used to hear about a condition often faced by writers called ‘writer’s block’, which entails the writer losing the ability to produce new work or experiencing a creative slowdown. Not that I can call myself a writer but I have certainly had some sort of a block for nearly six years, when it came to penning something down. It coincides almost precisely with the time I left my beloved Pakistan, and I couldn’t quite understand why. I used to wonder whether it was because I had left all the richness of my beautiful country and its people behind which was fuel ...

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The children of Mazin Academy need your help – Will you save them?

It was a distress call for the future of the children under his care. “I don’t know what to do to save the school. I think we should post a note on our Facebook page asking for financial help. It seems like I will have to close the school.” This was a call from my brother, a philanthropist by nature, who was always thinking of doing something more than his studies or career for the welfare of people around him. Thirteen-years older than me, I have always seen him helping people, be it relieving the sweeper from hefty interest loans, giving weekly tuitions ...

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Caught in Islamabad with sex toys and an abortion clinic – Uh Oh

Around 1,000 Pakistani women die every year because of abortion-related complications, and the procedure is often used as a primary family-planning method, rather than a last resort. This is because of a combination between low contraceptive prevalence, low sexual health awareness, unqualified or illegal medical practitioners and social taboos about topics related to sexuality. So when a story comes along that allows broader debate on quack abortionists, it is worrying that the approach taken to covering it is one of religious and moral outrage at the ‘unusual’ sexual elements of the story, rather than the life-preserving element. A recent story about an alleged fake abortion clinic in Islamabad was given ...

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