Stories about Rawalpindi

There will be no Eid for the families of the APS victims this year

This past Monday, my mother asked me for the third time,  “What colour kurta do you want for Eid?” By now, between two aunts and a friend, I have already been gifted three new kurtas. My response to my mother was same as it was to my aunts and my friend that I am not celebrating Eid. My mother of course wasn’t amused. This is the second year in a row I am not celebrating Eid. My friends look at me as this perpetually grim personality who needs to lighten up, and what better excuse than Eid. Eidul Fitr, or as we know it in ...

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In defence of Centaurus Mall – Why the hullabaloo?

“Rs100 just to enter? How dare they? It’s a public mall! I’m boycotting the mall!”  The level of offence that some have taken to the recent decision by Centaurus Mall’s administration to charge Rs100 for entering the building is surprising, and largely misdirected. First up, the fee can be adjusted against purchases made in the mall, so entry essentially remains free if you buy anything inside. Second, the mall is private property, and businesses have a right to refuse entry. Don’t believe me? Try hanging around inside any random shop for a few days, buying nothing and just ogling at customers. If you’re ...

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Naran and Shogran, a winter wonderland

Recently, with the help of Royal Tourism Pakistan, I got the chance to visit one of the most popular and beautiful vacation spots in northern Pakistan – Naran and Kaghan. Considering it was May, and peak summers were around the corner, I expected it to be as hot as it is here down in Karachi. However, it is interesting to note that May is actually the tail end of winter in northern areas. We were travelling by bus and started from Rawalpindi passing through Mansehra and Abbotabad before reaching Naran. Since the journey was long, we decided to stay a night in a ...

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Dear Imran Sahib, as a PTI supporter, I think you need to take a step back

Dear Sir, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters across the country celebrated the party’s 19th foundation day a few days ago. Indeed PTI has come a long way since then, through your sheer perseverance and determination. Today, PTI stands as the second largest party in the country and has positioned itself as a challenger to the status quo. You yourself have said that, “PTI is an idea whose time has come.” However, going from number two to number one is perhaps the most difficult step. As they say, the last mile is the hardest. And the way PTI is going right now, I am afraid that it may not make it. Being ...

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When six single women travelled from Karachi to Skardu

It was our Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) moment. Six single women, in their 20s, boarded the Business Train to Lahore – the first destination of our trip from Karachi to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). Karachi Cantt Station. As we settled in to our cabin, we revelled over our triumph of coaxing our parents into saying: “Ja Simran ja, ji le apni zindagi.” (Go Simran go, live your life) But we were scared too. After all this was no Euro-rail. The afternoon was bright and sunny, and after taking in the cabin amenities, we were content. The cabin door, with a stable, iron lock and ...

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Perhaps Pakistan can learn from Austria’s madrassas

A year before a mosque in Kanpur (pre-partition India) was razed by our British overlords to pave way for a road, and while a Jinnah-less Muslim League was yet to overhaul its objectives – which until then asserted that ‘the party shall work towards manifesting a sense of loyalty to Britain’ – to work towards creation of a Muslim majority state (Pakistan was still a very distant idea), Austria passed a remarkably inclusive law, setting an example for the rest of the European countries. In 1912, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph passed an act guaranteeing its small minority of Muslims royal patronage by making Islam ...

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Remembering Anwer Sultana with some Baisani roti and Afghani chuttney

Dill always reminds me of my Nani (maternal grandmother), Anwer Sultana. A couple of decades earlier, during winter vacations, all of us cousins would come down to Rawalpindi to spend winter breaks with our grandparents. Nani had a huge herb and vegetable garden at the back of the house. The garden always had one particular herb every winter – soy/dill. The shrub always grew taller than me, an eight-year-old back then, making me disappear in the dill patch while trying to catch ladybirds. The ladybirds too loved the perfumed dill as much as I did. Nani loved getting baisani (gram/chickpea floured) roti made at the tandoor (cylindrical clay oven) situated close by. ...

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We are solely to be blamed for the water crisis in Pakistan

The average person uses over 300 litres of water to wash their car at home. The average car wash uses half that amount. Some automated systems use barely a 10th of it, when accounting for water recycling. But why would people spend hundreds of rupees to wash their cars when they can get it done for ‘free’ by the household help? Isn’t that what they’re paid for? Well here’s the problem. In an area with 100,000 cars, one wash a week would end up using 30 million litres per week, or almost eight million gallons. That is over a million gallons. There ...

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Remember, remember, the fourth of December!

I remember that day. It was December 4, 2009. The residents of Rawalpindi were in shock. How could a mosque right next to the military headquarters, surrounded by military bungalows with a busy local market nearby be attacked in broad daylight? There were frantic calls made; mothers called their children’s schools, fathers held their sons by their hands in the mosques and brothers who had not spoken for years hysterically reached out to each other. First the family, then friends, then colleagues… was everyone we knew fine? They weren’t. Rawalpindi is a small city. A family member, a friend, a colleague, a friend of ...

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Diwali in Pakistan, through pictures

The first day of Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights – was celebrated at Krishna temple in Rawalpindi yesterday. As a budding photojournalist and having many friends who belong to minority sects, I feel passionately about the state of affairs of the Pakistani minorities. I was, therefore, thrilled to be part of the annual Diwali celebrations for the first time. The warm, friendly and hospitable atmosphere at the temple made my stay extremely exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed covering this colourful celebration. Here are a few highlights of my unique experience: 1) A girl performs the ‘pooja’ ritual before the Hindu deity Lord Krishna. ...

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