Stories about Sabeen Mahmud

Will we ever be able to fill in the gaps in Pakistan’s social fabric?

A recent poll done by BBC World Service, found that people are more likely than ever to identify as ‘global citizens’. According to Globescan, which conducted the poll and interviewed more than 20,000 people, over 56 per cent of Pakistanis identify as global citizens. While 27 per cent identify as Pakistanis first, and 43 per cent say their religion comes before their nationality. Is the nation failing its citizens or has globalisation made borders so meaningless that people need new political orders to anchor them? Or is it just stating the obvious; Muslims are always Muslims first, nationals second? The caliphates ...

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To Sabeen with Love: A human platform for dreams and aspirations

In 2013, only a few people knew me other than my friends and family. Like almost every other young person, I wanted to do something for Pakistan but had no platform to do it from. So, without telling my parents, I submitted nomination papers to run for the 2013 general elections. When my parents did find out, they weren’t particularly happy or supportive. There were two reasons for this. First: I was risking a stable job at a top law firm. Also, given Karachi’s volatile and security environment in 2013, I was most likely risking my life as well. Second: Perhaps my ...

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There is no freedom of speech in India, it’s a myth

During one of his court hearings, legendary writer Saadat Hasan Manto told a judge, “A writer picks up his pen only when his sensibility is hurt.”  I am appalled by the senseless murder of one of the most noted and progressive thinkers and scholars of Kannada, MM Kalburgi. Verily, as I write this, my heart bleeds and tears trickle down my cheeks, for yet another sane voice has been silenced by the religious fascist forces in the world’s largest democracy. Yet another rationalist and good human being has been gunned down for speaking his mind. Septuagenarian Kalburgi was shot dead by two na maloom afrad (unidentified men) at ...

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Setting the record straight: 6 stereotypes overseas Pakistanis face

A Pakistani living abroad has to battle with numerous stereotypes. It has been a year since I moved to Australia and I still get heckled by people’s pre-conceived notions about where I’m from. It is not just because I am from Pakistan, a country plagued by terrorism and corrupt regressive regimes, but also because Pakistan is considered to be a religiously extremist country. There is a distinct need to set the record straight and inform the international community that Pakistan is a lot more than what they have assumed it to be. I want to address some of the questions that were ...

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Can a journalist in India write against Modi or the RSS?

A few days ago, a journalist friend of mine was laconically told by his editor that he would not be allowed to write against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), apparently because “we should allow the BJP government to enjoy its honeymoon for a while”. Ironically, the very next day, I was told that the very same editor wrote a pro-Modi article, eulogising the Hindu nationalist leader to the extent that would make the bhakts (admirers) explode with delight. When he protested and entreated the powers-that-be to vent his views on critical issues plaguing the ...

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Sabeen Mahmud, Jibran Nasir and Shaan Taseer are all cut out from the same fabric

In May 2013, just a little over two years from now, there was a wave of change which brought with it new possibilities and ‘hope’. Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) tenure had come to an end and elections were going to take place. We had various political parties competing against one another for the win. In the entire hullabaloo that was taking place, there was one young man, about 26-years-old who ran for the NA-250 constituency. Jibran Nasir ran his campaign actively on social media and other forums, and gained many followers, however he lost the political end game. Shaan Taseer, very well-known ...

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We all have a Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in us

It happens like clockwork whenever Bilawal Bhutto Zardari makes the news on social media. Invariably, the top Facebook/Twitter comment on any story regarding BBZ is a joke about his supposedly effeminate demeanour. Those who wouldn’t mock someone for other variations in physical characteristics such as skin colour, height, and weight, also join in. It’s an issue with many cultures, but it rears its ugly head often in one as throbbingly pseudo masculine as ours. The jests aren’t only limited to top Facebook comments; Pakistani creators of internet comics often find BBZ’s mannerisms an easy source of entertainment for their easily amused readers. These comics are ...

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Blind the Kashmiri protesters: A new tactic employed by India

This is the story of a teenager. His face is disfigured. One eye is lost forever. I have not spoken to him in person since he is lying in a bed in New Delhi, while I sit and write this in Islamabad. But if you see his face the way I saw it when his story broke, you will not be able to forget it. And you will begin following his story updates more vehemently. He should not have lost his eye. Who loses an eye for carrying a placard, shouting slogans, and partaking in a peaceful protest for a political cause? I often ...

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From Lahore to London – From Karachi to Kensington

London held a host of activities highlighting Pakistan and the cultural vibrancy it has to offer to the world. This weekend saw the launch of Suzali, a platform showcasing Pakistan’s most well-renowned designers which included Mehreen Noorani, Nida Azwer, Naureen Arbab, Lalarukh, Shirin Hassan, and Sarah Anees.  Although these designers are well-established in Pakistan and Dubai, they are not so accessible to Pakistanis living in London. Suzali aims to provide a bridge between renowned Pakistani designers and potential customers in England who have limited access to high-quality Pakistani clothes. Sana Habib, the brainchild of Suzali, was inspired to create the name using the ...

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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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