Stories about prison

Will Islam be judged if Aasia Bibi is executed?

Aasia Bibi, mother of five, sits in prison hoping one last appeal will save her from death row. If she is executed, as with the lynching of Shahzad and Shama Masih and the assassination of Salman Taseer, Islam will be judged. In such cases involving religion, to believe that ‘all of’ or ‘none of’ Islam supports blasphemy laws or the ideology of the Taliban, Daesh, Boko Haram, etcetera, suggests intellectual laziness at best and bigotry at worst. But it’s reasonable to examine some of Islam. The questions become those of quantification – how many Muslims subscribe to blasphemy laws, honour killings, suicide bombings, and ...

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An open letter to anti-PTI trolls

Am I a member of a cult or some secret society? No. Have I recently been released from prison for murder? No. Then why do I have to cringe every time I show my support for the Azadi March and why am I made to feel like a deviant? If you follow your leanings and happen to side with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as an effort to get rid of this putrid system of government, get ready to be torn apart by a new breed of trolls. Our government and our systems have failed us. We have been disillusioned and indifferent for far too long. Now that ...

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On death-row: The living dead men of Pakistan

Eight feet by six feet – that’s how big most prison cells are for anyone who is sentenced to death in Pakistan. An inmate on death-row is kept in this cell until his execution takes place which, because of the 2008 moratorium on the death penalty, cannot lawfully happen anymore.  Although the moratorium ended in July 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to reinstate it indefinitely. His government had initially stated that: “The present government does not plan to extend it (the moratorium)” However, mainly because of European pressure, the moratorium was reinstated till a point when the president and the prime minister can have a ...

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If Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was Pakistani, she would be doomed

Devyani Khobragade is one lucky, lucky lady.  To say that about someone who is possibly facing 10 years in prison and was arrested publicly in front of her daughter’s school over visa fraud, is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.  Khobragade, 39, is an Indian diplomat living in the United States. She is the deputy consul general in New York and currently out on bail. She is someone Pakistani diplomats should be jealous of. Not because she allegedly made USD100, 000 per year. Not because she gets to live in New York. But because as soon as she was publicly humiliated ...

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Egyptian verdict: They gave her 11 years in prison, she gave them a beautiful, victorious smile

As I scroll down my Twitter feed, a smile captivates me. The face had thousands of words, endless thoughts and most importantly tranquillity of soul. She isn’t a celebrity or a popular activist rather a girl next door, who wouldn’t be noticed in normal surroundings. Caged in an Egyptian courtroom with 20 others like her, she received an 11 years sentence for her crimes. The gravity of their offense lay in treading the forbidden path – ‘challenging dictatorship’ – a much greater sin than eating the apple. These young women, all in their teens and tweens, rounded up late last month were ...

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I am Bradley Manning and you should be too!

As the sentencing hearing gets underway for Bradley Manning, who faces 136 years in prison after being convicted of 20 charges including espionage and theft, it’s hard not to feel that a travesty of justice is taking place. Here is a person who had made a commitment to serve his country and was put in a difficult situation of deciding whether to follow protocol and turn a blind eye to abuses and war crimes being carried out in his country’s name, or to do the morally right thing and bring the atrocities to light. Bradley Manning chose to follow his conscience, knowing ...

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When the Okara police made a father and son rape each other

It was one of those foreboding nights; the power had gone out and I was sitting on the roof on my charpai. With the atmosphere already grim from stories of jinn possessions and cannibal witches, my cousin launched into a narrative about the increasing number of violent crimes in the area and the complete and utter ineffectiveness of the police, who seemed more and more interested in exacting bribes and satisfying their sadistic tendencies. As the discussion grew heated, I discovered the true extent of the latter. Police in our area had become notorious for brutalising their captives no matter what the crime or proof of ...

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Celebrating 95 years: Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – Nelson Mandela. Having lived in Zimbabwe as part of larger Southern African community for more than a year or so, I have found that you cannot remain untouched by the magic of Madiba. Probably one of the most influential icons of African history and a sparkling star of our times, Nelson Mandela is fighting the ultimate battle for his life today, physically. However, his legacy will remain as ...

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Dr Shakil Afridi’s verdict: A can of worms

Dr Shakil Afridi recently got sentenced to a virtual life-imprisonment, courtesy of the Jirga that decided his fate. Putting all emotions aside along with issues that surround the debacle of what remains of the US-Pakistani relationship, this case has raised some very pertinent and challenging questions, all of which stimulate yet more controversies.  First things first – Afridi ran a fake vaccination campaign. This is totally, irrefutably unethical on every level. The trust and bridges that international aid organisations have built over decades were swept away by one vain action of a doctor. People in Pakistan already look upon vaccination efforts as ...

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A lesson from Thaer Halahla’s hunger strike

This week, a Palestinian prisoner ended the 77th day of his peaceful hunger strike after Israeli authorities agreed to release him on June 5. Thaer Halahla was on the brink of death as the deal was secured. The father of one had been detained without charge for two years and has never even met his daughter – her existence is only known to him through a few pictures. Ironically, an Israeli spokesperson had stated: This is about hard-core activists, from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who through this protest are trying to instigate violence. Clearly this representative hasn’t heard of the term ‘non-violent resistance’ ...

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