Stories about poverty

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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Red

This piece is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The air smelled of rich extravagance as her heart pounded in her chest and banged away like a hammer. Her eyes, heavy with kajal, glanced sideways as the butler came towards her to escort her upstairs. She smiled, stood up, hoping nobody would notice her trembling fingers, and walked upstairs. Unconsciously, her fingers rose to her lips and she started biting her finger nails to calm her nerves. The butler was moving ahead of her and she had to take long strides to keep up with him, while her ...

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Pakistan needs a revolution

‘Allama doctor Tahirul Qadri Canadian’ For many, the word ‘Canadian’ might seem unpleasant here, but I am sure no one will object to the word ‘Allama’. That is how Pakistanis are; they only see what they like. However, who am I to conceal that fact? Everyone knows that Qadri has a dual nationality. Therefore, the word Canadian does not sting as much. Two years ago, 50% of Pakistanis – nay, 80% of Pakistanis – were not familiar with the term ‘Revolution Baba’. But suddenly, on the bright and sunny morning of January 14, 2013, Qadri became famous; not only in Pakistan but ...

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‘Metronomics’ in Lahore: We may be heading for an ‘F’

What brings economic progress to a country? Social scientists have argued for good institutions, trade-suited geographical placement, favourable climatic conditions, cultural homogeneity among a country’s peoples, and – lo and behold – even their superior genetic makeup. Yet, no sociologist has suggested relegating the laws of economics to history’s waste bin. Endowments of nature (such as those listed above) are important indeed, but their apt utilisation (good economics) is much more important. Fiscally speaking, any new project a public official decides to pursue needs a thorough pre-evaluation by experts. Economists have tools to compare a given project’s usefulness to other potential ones. ...

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Sleeping with the enemy

Today, on June 10, 2014, Pakistan has officially become the biggest joke in the world. This is the second attack to have taken place, one at and one near the largest airports in the country. It came after an emotional morning in which the world was informed that bodies of seven people, remnants of the first attack, who were stuck inside the cold storage area, were retrieved. This, of course, only happened when the media boxed the eardrums of every politician it could reach. Before that… well before that we were asleep. We did wake up though. For a few ...

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Let’s tell our children the truth for once

Let’s not keep sitting on a throne like flawless Gods and Goddesses in front of our children inside the iron fort of self-appraisal and narcissism. Let’s not be deluded by thinking that we all have heaven under our feet no matter what. Let’s not get carried away by the grandiosity associated with the parent role, as a role done doesn’t mean a role well done. So let’s muster up some courage and speak the truth for once at last. Let’s tell our kids that mothers not only bring new lives to earth, they also suffocate many before they can even ...

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Agriculture is our golden goose; don’t kill her, my dear Industrialists

The projection of economic growth as something evil, that benefits only the rich, is wrong. Even so, equally erroneous is taking the GDP number for a sacrosanct symbol of sure-fire prosperity for all. Praise is due to the government’s economic team for various improvements in the macro-economy: five per cent growth in first quarter (Q1), about 10 per cent appreciation in the rupee within three months, and excellent performance of the stock market – all reflect recovery. Yet, how these gains are shared with the neediest of the needy remains to be seen – and only this should be taken as being an encompassing yardstick of success. Historically, Pakistan’s ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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Shhh… my kids are sleeping… I killed them both

As I write this, my little boy sits next to me with a mango juice box in one hand and the iPad in another. I glance at him and think of how wonderful childhood is. Cartoons of five monkeys jumping on a bed drive you into a fit of laughter. Hugs and kisses are aplenty. He sleeps on a warm, comfortable bed every night. When he’s sick, his mother wastes no time in giving him the medication he needs. When his father comes home from work, he hugs his little boy and kisses his booboos. He’s a lucky, lucky kid. He’s lucky ...

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