Stories about Sabeen Mahmud

An open letter to Pakistan’s leaders: One more nail to the coffin

Sabeen Mahmud was brutally murdered yesterday, and with her, yet another flame in the vast darkness of our land extinguished. For those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her, she was genuine, warm, and always open to dialogue and everything we wish Pakistan would be known for globally. She died shortly after hosting an open forum on Balochistan with, among others, a voice the government did not allow to speak at LUMS. With her death on your watch, we continue to be known instead for all the illiterate brutality, intolerance and narrow-mindedness that exemplifies the short-sighted policies of politico-religio-military convenience/expediency of ...

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#IAmSabeen: “This is the time to say Bismillah and march forward”

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” – Banksy Sabeen, the person, is no longer with us. Sabeen, the idea, will live on. Sabeen will never die twice. Sabeen is dead, long live Sabeen. Every society has people an entire generation looks up to; these pillars of society make it what it is. Sabeen was an institution. Her contributions to the country are monumental, and they will never be forgotten. In a country that does not even have words for the concept of a public ...

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Sabeen Mahmud, shine on you crazy diamond

When we think about death we often wonder what kind of eulogy we’ll receive. We wonder how we’ll be missed, if at all. How people will remember us, and if we’ve left anything behind that will survive our existence. We hope that we appreciated our friends and family, impacted the world through our work, and inspired someone in some way. Sabeen Mahmud’s work and impact pays the greatest tribute to her beautiful and indomitable spirit. I don’t want to list her many, many accomplishments but instead echo a message I believe she passionately championed. The times we live in have a ...

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Video Blog: Voices from Pakistan

The international media has always shown Pakistani people reacting and protesting on TV screens, with the opinions of these people expressed in minimal headlines, skimmed and forgotten. Behind each of these headlines, are real people, with real issues and perspectives. This documentary explores the diverse spectrum of perspectives among Pakistanis, up close and personal, detailing the conflicts of opinions between them over various issues, in particular, the Facebook related blasphemy incident (also known as Draw Prophet Muhammad Day) which resulted in Pakistan’s authorities blocking major websites. The documentary goes beyond just that incident and touches other international issues too that cause ...

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Revival of baithak culture

Those lamenting the loss of the Pak Tea House in Lahore, look around you. The baithak culture is back. Baithak: a place to sit, eat, share ideas, create change, and most importantly, a place to just be. The trend is not just to have a restaurant, a cinema or a book store, but to have an amalgam of these under one roof. They are not exclusive clubs but open houses, requiring no membership, nominal, if any, entrance fees and operating on a first come first serve basis. Designer outlets like Melange now house cafes on the side, as do art galleries like Nomad; similarly, ...

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T2F: A pursuit of the heart

I first saw Sabeen Mahmud in 2000 at the TIE-Indus seminar, their first in Pakistan at the Sheraton, Karachi. She was bubbling with enthusiasm. Dressed in trousers with short cropped hair and holding a folder in her arms she had struck me as the “yuppie” breed, a fashionable term used to define young people who were entering the work force. Ten years later, she is the president of TIE and her heart’s endeavour,  The Second Floor cafe (T2F) is booming. She seats herself in the cafe’s tiny but cosy balcony for a very brief interview – a look into her heart. Sabeen’s inspiration was ...

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