Stories about poverty

What good is the Shaheen1A Missile?

“Pakistan successfully test-fires Hatf-IV ballistic missile” This was the headline that greeted me a few days ago as I logged into my Facebook account. Instinctively, I clicked on it and began reading. The story discussed the launch of a new ballistic missile called the ‘Shaheen1A Missile’ which has the capacity to carry nuclear warheads to a distance of 900 kilometres (km). After skimming through the main news, and skipping the parts of what the naval chief had to say about this, I moved towards the comments section. As expected, patriots, nationalists, and whatever other jingoistic euphemism we use to explain such kind of people, ...

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Ten reasons why Pakistanis do what they do

Pakistan, ever since its inception, but even more so after the rule of Hazrat General Ziaul Haq, has been under the axe of western propagandists and bigots. The precipitous progress that the country is displaying and the threat that this presents to the developed world has them grinding their teeth. Thus they target us rather unfairly and portray to their public an image of ours which cannot be far from truth. It is to undo their nefarious designs that I, perhaps for the very first time in history, yearn to exhibit a picture of Pakistan like it really is. To this effect, a list of ...

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My Eid in a different Pakistan

I hold the bills and hard earned cash Mentally calculating if I have any left For the new shoes my two sons want For Eid-ul-Adha. But I know I don’t.   My husband had told me quietly in the morning, “Get some good shoe polish. I’ll make the old shoes new. They won’t mind”. But I know they will.   Eid is no longer cheery and blithe, The celebration it used to be For the middle-classes. It has become an ordeal; A trial for the common man. A supreme, exhausting test of nerves, Agonising over where corners to cut, In order to salvage some percentage of festivity In the two Eids At least for our children.   It had never been this ...

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The Islamabad Pir-volution?

Take a country of 180 million people where nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line and a growing percentage becomes vulnerable to it every year and what do you have? An open stage for people like Dr Tahirul Qadri (TuQ) to waltz in and prey upon the psychological disadvantages that poverty invariably creates – the most outstanding ones being depression and hopelessness. In a state of utter despondency, man just wants to believe, even if it’s in empty promises and false pledges. In our society, the pirs, the self-proclaimed saints, take the cake when handing out hope to the ...

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7 types of Pakistani immigrants you’re likely to come across in Canada

It’s been a little over a year since my immigrant status got confirmed in Canada and I have met some interesting kinds of Pakistanis. Immigrants who tend to fall in a certain ‘type’. Even I fit in there somewhere. This is based solely on my observation and interaction. At the risk of over-generalisation, here goes: 1. Perpetual Complainers Inc. (PCI): ‘I complained in Pakistan. I’ll complain here. Stop me if you can.’ In Pakistan, they complained about the skin-sizzling heat. In Canada, they complain about the mind-numbing cold. Back home the hoard of house helpers was too much to handle. Now, they whine ...

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Not her fault

I saw her eyes as she begged, I said forgive me and she left, I wondered what her life was like, Why she begged, where she slept at night. Because her feet were bare, Her clothes were torn, But was it her fault that she was born? In a family that can’t give her, All the things a child may want? *** Five-years-old when they came, Broke her innocence, broke her to shame, But why should she feel this way? Was the pain not enough, and now the shredded name? She was found somewhere in a ditch alone, Her clothes were torn, Her smile was gone. But was it her fault that she was born? In a world that gives men, All ...

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Book Review: ‘Servants of the Goddess, the modern-day devadasis’

Imagine being paraded in a procession of singing men and women on a high slab with nothing on your body except neem leaves as soon as you hit puberty, and being ‘deflowered’ when you don’t even know the reality of what just happened to you. Photo: Catherine Rubin Kermorgant, taken from official website of the author. Imagine being dedicated to a temple at the age of six years and wearing a beaded necklace for the rest of your life. Imagine being a mother of two at the age of 15 (or even less). Imagine never being able ...

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Humans of poverty

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. “Hello, I have this page, where I take pictures of people and share something about them, a thought, a quote, an opinion, an anecdote, whatever you are willing to offer.” “Okay, so…” “So can I take a picture and ask you a question?” “Sure, go ahead, but make it quick.” “Cool… hmm… so I was wondering, what is your saddest memory?” “Haha, I see you are pretty clever for your age. You know which will sell more – and a eunuch’s saddest memory will definitely have more depth to it than any happy moments, ...

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For IDPs, the light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train coming their way

The much-awaited operation to clean the north western part of the country has finally started. It will hopefully rid us of the disease that has infected our country and as a result, the locals will hopefully be able to live without the constant fear of militants and hovering drones. However, due to the intensity of the operation, residents have been forced to leave their homes and live as refugees in camps in their own country; camps that are merely making ends meet for them. Hussein Khan, once a resident of Mir Ali in North Waziristan and now living in the Bannu refugee ...

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Just a maasi

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The child looked at me with utter guilt on her face while I smiled at her. She had spilt water all around the toilet. She felt bad about me having to clean it up. It had been a long time since someone sympathised with me. So I smiled at her to put her at ease. She flashed a shy smile towards me and hurried out, leaving me all alone in the three cubicle restroom. I looked at my cell phone to check the time. It was 3pm and ...

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