Stories about stereotypes

‘Punish’ the eunuchs, because they are ‘vulgar’

We are most likely to get angry and excited in our opposition to some idea when we ourselves are not quite certain of our own position, and are inwardly tempted to take the other side. Apt words by Thomas Mann. Life is hard for most Pakistani’s but for those of us who are different – whether by accident or by choice – survival is certainly an achievement. The transgender community of Multan realised this recently when the ASWJ demanded that their members be punished for spreading vulgarity in society. So now, an entire community is to be ‘punished’ for the sins, ...

Read Full Post

Hypocrisy thy name is Humsafar, Umme Kulsoom, Durr-e-shahwar

With the surging number of private television channels and the freedom given to the media, the Pakistani entertainment industry has progressed tremendously in providing entertainment to its viewers through dramas, talk shows and even trendy morning shows. However, after watching numerous Pakistani dramas for a final paper for my Gender Studies course at Mount Holyoke College, I was sickened by the cynical stereotypes about religion and gender roles being enforced in sugar-coated ways through most of these dramas to a society that’s still  seeped in conservative dogmas. Most of these dramas objectify women as weak and helpless. Not only are women continuously illustrated ...

Read Full Post

Why British Pakistanis should visit their motherland

Back home, the vast majority of second generation British nationals of Pakistani origin wouldn’t dream about visiting their parent’s homeland – unless it was for shopping, or a wedding of course.  Unfortunately, the topic of Pakistan is followed by mockery, ridicule and stereotypes, which consist of uneducated, toothless villagers driving rickshaws and eating paan. People in Britain don’t realise that Pakistan is a country full of colour, culture and a talented young generation that is truly aiming for change. I don’t understand why so few of my young generation would like to visit the country of their parent’s origin. Of course, there is a ...

Read Full Post

What’s with the South Asian inferiority complex?

As a Pakistani who has lived most of his life in Canada, I have had many experiences in which I have observed the often bizarre and complex ways of the South Asian (Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh) community. One of the most prominent of these is their ability to deny any connection with their background.  Now, keeping in mind that this does not apply to all the people in the group mentioned earlier, it certainly does cover several of them. Once, when I had just entered my teenage years, I had a Pakistani girl tell me that all the people who lived ...

Read Full Post

10 ways to put on a good TV show

Switching on the television these days is anything but uplifting. For one, you get transported back to an endless cycle of births, shaadis (marriages) and deaths.  Is this all that our audience is interested in? Are we really that laid-back about the content being aired? Do we actually take our masses to be that silly? These are the same masses that watched “Ankahi” and “Tanhaiyan” and enabled these shows to get the critical acclaim they deserved. Why are we then so afraid to experiment with new themes and plots? Times are changing and people are evolving rapidly. But what about our dramas? Most are still stuck ...

Read Full Post

Steal a baby, sell a baby

Fact is stranger than fiction. At least with fiction, you can chew out the author for writing a predictable ending or for using outlandish plot twists. Sadly, some stories in life seem to be built entirely on outlandish plot twists. On the 22nd of March, the police in Bhara Kahu, right outside Islamabad, busted a couple who stand accused of conducting illegal abortions, including dangerous late-stage ones, and selling the babies that survived. Sounds a lot like Hell’s version of the sustainable development model. To top it off, the couple shares a bond of blood with one of the accused in ...

Read Full Post

Danke Deutschland, for the love

Stereotypes have always existed; while modern pluralistic societies do condemn them, certain events leave marks that often lead to prejudice and bigotry. There was a time that Jews  were associated with ‘Bolshevik’. Today, the word ‘Muslim’ is unfortunately associated with ‘terrorist’. So before I left for Germany on a study trip, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and arranged by the German Academic Exchange Services (Daad), I had a preconceived idea about the country.  While my perceptions about Germans were varied and complex, during my two week journey from Munich to Berlin, with the breathtaking scenery of Heidelberg and the Cologne ...

Read Full Post

LUMUN: Students learn the truth in a language they can’t debate in

What’s the point of debating if the person opposite you can’t understand a word you’re saying? In my previous piece, how at model United Nations (MUN) some kids were shaken by the sheer scale of competitiveness – a rampant obsession with coming first across the country. This is why events like these, which bring together such a diverse group of people from across the country, are so useful. You can glean so much from the way people interact, or in this case, don’t. I’m going to talk about the Lahore University of Management Sciences model United National (LUMUN) again, because this ...

Read Full Post

Musings of a ‘Westernised’ Pakistani

We often blame “the West” for constructing and perpetuating unjust stereotypes about Muslims and Pakistanis, while not realising that we’re constantly returning the favour without even knowing it! So, on behalf of the “burger-society,” I’d like to speak a little in defense of “the West.”  Ready your rotten eggs if you must. Let me start by saying that “the West” does not exist. If it does, could someone please delineate it for me? Is Japan included in your definition of the West, despite being a Far-Eastern nation? What about Russia, industrialised China or Romania? When radicals make blunt statements like, “the West is waging a ...

Read Full Post

Stereotypes: Burning flags is easier than talking

From Islamabad to Washington DC, the cacophony of jarring voices chokes reasoned discourse. Much has been said and written about Pakistan in America after Osama Bin Laden’s death, most of it demonstrating an inherent inability to understand the country’s complexity or paradoxes. Not that journalists, wannabe pundits, some NYT columnists and Middle East experts masquerading as South Asian ones can be blamed entirely. Pakistani voices are unbelievably diverse and inherently contradictory, making representation harder. To illustrate, Aaron Bady, a graduate student and teacher at the University of Berkeley performed an experiment in which he asked his class to produce a “Pakistan ...

Read Full Post