Stories about Shia

(Not) ‘All Pakistanis suffer equally’

In the wake of the recent heart-rending tragedy that befell the Hazaras of Hazarganji, a number of prominent media personalities such as Asad Rahim Khan, Pervez Hoodbhoy, and the relentless political activist Jibran Nasir, came out in vocal support of the highly persecuted minority ethnic group. They openly spoke about the real motivation behind why the community continues to be preferentially targeted by a now annual onslaught of militant attacks, and why its predicament is still met with a rabid form of popular indifference that is nauseating to even consider, let alone make sense of. Tomorrow morning a few friends and I will be ...

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According to this “scholar”, ‘sins such as murder and rape will be ignored as long as you pray’

The dilemma of the contemporary age is the excess of unsorted information masquerading as knowledge and the most abundantly distorted type of ‘knowledge’ these days is ‘religious’ in nature. A certain breed of such so-called scholars exists among us, disseminating a message that is far from truth. Their half-baked ideas about religious norms, practices and forms of punishment aren’t based on logic or humanity. Such religious quacks probably existed before our time too but the ubiquity of social media brings them to our phone screens whether we want them to or not. Recently, I came across one such ‘religious cleric’ ...

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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Pakistan’s brain drain: 11 exceptional Pakistanis unrecognised by their own country, until they leave

Pakistan is a land of diverse culture and boundless talent. However, what we lack here in abundance is acceptance, while denouncement and hatred are quite easy to come by. We push away anything or anyone who is even slightly diverse when compared to the hordes of our mediocre mainstream, choosing monotony over innovation. As a consequence, those who are truly gifted are forced to leave the country and follow their dreams elsewhere. And why shouldn’t they? Those with bigger dreams need bigger horizons, and instead of broadening ours, we cast them out. Then we have the audacity to comment on how ...

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The Pakistan Army and Iran: A new dawn or a message for the Saudis?

The Pakistan Army has been drawing closer to Iran under its new chief, General Qamar Bajwa. Is Pakistan moving out from under Saudi Arabia’s orbit? Something quite remarkable happened with regards to Pakistan’s defence diplomacy recently – Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made an official trip to Iran. It was the first visit by a Pakistani army chief in almost three decades. General Pervez Musharraf visited; not in his capacity as head of the armed forces, but rather as a president attending a regional summit. Similarly, General Raheel Sharif visited in January 2016, but it was just for a couple of ...

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The Pakistani male conundrum: If you date a girl, don’t marry her

“Yaar ab aisi larki se shaadi thori karsaktay hain!” (One cannot possibly marry such a girl!) “Yaar wo Sunni hai or mein Shia; meray ghar walay kabhi nahi manein gay.” (She is a Sunni and I am a Shia; my family will never agree.) “Aisi larkian toh sirf time pass hoti hain; shaadi thori kartay hain in say.” (Such girls are there for fun, to pass the time only; you are not supposed to marry them.) “Ammi abbu nahi manein gay. Wo hamari zaat ki nahi hai.” (My mom and dad won’t agree. She doesn’t belong to our caste.) These comments, unsurprisingly, came from some of my very ...

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Hazaras: The Rohingyas of Pakistan?

Last week, when I was planning a trip to Quetta for training, Mujeeb Hashmi, a friend from work, asked me to wear shalwar kameez, not only to the airport but also whenever I went out and about in the city. Hashmi, being a veteran filmmaker, has been to almost every habitable area of Pakistan – so I had to pay heed. He also warned me to be wary of certain localities within the city such as Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, given the violence witnessed by the city in the past. He was right. Quetta made a great first impression on me – ...

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Justin Trudeau, Mohammad Bin Salman and Kim Jong Un: Three leaders with the potential to either make or break the world

In today’s global political scene, we can see three young world leaders from three very different countries, political systems and cultures for which the term ‘Greenhorn’ could be used. The three leaders I am referring to are Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, newly appointed crown prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), and the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un. Trudeau, MBS and Kim have each been at the centre of the world stage in recent days, but each for very different reasons. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Photo: AFP Justin Pierre James Trudeau Born on December 25, 1971, Trudeau is the 23rd and current PM of Canada and ...

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Who is committing the worst atrocities against, us, Muslims?

Who is responsible for the greatest numbers of deaths against Muslims today? Who commits the worst atrocities against Muslims? It is not the West that claims the highest headcount nor is it Israel. The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010, more than 100,000 have been killed. Many of these deaths were in Syria, where thousands more languish in prisons expecting similarly grim fates. And with the rise of ISIS and the threat that it poses to regional stability, many more are expected to ...

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I found peace between Sunnis and Shias in a foreign land

I am a strong proponent of secular democracy; a system which rejects faith based politics and prioritises merit over clan, cast or creed. Living in a country which has been officially atheist for the past six decades has compelled me to ponder over the importance of religion in our private lives. I do not endorse a collective representation of religion. Beliefs are cloned and individuals start idolising practices that don’t do justice to religion. Realism is suppressed which leads to the acceptance of a system that is theocratic in spirit but claims to take people to the highest abode by trampling over people ...

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