Stories about T2F

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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Why were Karachi University girls beaten up for playing cricket?

News of young women playing cricket at Karachi University being beaten by religious thugs is not a great way to start your day. Members of the Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) had warned the cricket-playing women days ago, then came and broke up a mixed-gender game, and beat up both the men and women, members of the Punjabi Students Association, with batons. University officials seem to be passing this off as a clash between two student groups, but the IJT outright denies they beat up any of the young women. Campus violence involving political groups and religious groups has long plagued Pakistani universities, especially ...

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Balochistan 1: The nature and extent of State abuse

Sabeen Mahmud, a peace activist and founder of The Second Floor (T2F), was shot dead on Friday, April 25, 2015, after hosting a talk on Balochistan. Her guests included the now infamous Mama Qadeer, who was also the most prominent invitee at an earlier talk at LUMS. That talk was cancelled after intervention by the state. The subject she highlighted right before her death, and the manner of it, suggests unusual bravery. It also puts an onus on the rest of us to discuss it more. Obviously, Balochistan is too complex an issue to encompass in its entirety, especially for outsiders. We ...

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Save the youth from disillusionment, Mr PM – give Sabeen’s cause a voice!

Dear Mr Sharif, There is no doubt that you have heard about the murder of Sabeen Mahmud. Other members of parliament and politicians have extended their grievances. And I’m sure that even as I write this, your PA is vigorously typing out your official response; one that will attempt to soothe the flaring tempers of the people who knew her and those that didn’t. But Sir, haven’t we been here before? Someone beloved and irreplaceable gunned down because they said something that upset someone more powerful than them, and everyone condemns their murder via an official channel. What more will you do Sir, ...

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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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Shocking, funny and likeable experiences of Pakistan

My friends and family were concerned about my health when I told them that I would be fasting during Ramazan, but my Pakistani friends all assured me that I would go back home “fatter than ever”. Food coma The tables are set up and the feast includes biryani, samosas, pakoras, jalebi, gulab jamun, naan, paratha, daal, chicken, yoghurt, dates and much more. It is a spread fit for a king and we all stand around looking at the food, then our watches, waiting for the clock to tick over to iftar time with our mouths salivating. The call to prayer is heard and ...

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Concerts in Karachi: Bring back fun to this city!

I was at a Strings concert a few days ago. It was one of those fancy sit down affairs, with hideous white sofas and people taking selfies of each other to upload on social media. Bilal Maqsood began singing “mera bichra yaar” and the LCD screens behind him played a very old video from the 1990s. It was then that it hit me. Suddenly I wasn’t nodding and smiling politely to the music, but in a half built amphitheatre, I was screaming as the crème de la crème of the urban rock phenomena in Pakistan belted out their numbers. Coming up… ...

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Imran Khan through the eyes of an artist

While the Jumma Hafta Art Bazaar that recently took place at a local cafe in Karachi, called The Second Floor (T2F), was a melting pot of compelling art pieces and vibrant canvases, the most eye-catching of all the displays around was probably the portrait of Imran Khan that Shanzay Subzwari was painting on the spot. The artist’s inspiration behind choosing that particular piece was pretty basic — the appreciation of Pakistani heroes. All of us are used to seeing objects, particularly politicians, in binaries; either one is Darth Vader or one is Batman. There’s no in-between. No one accepts them ...

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The man on a black horse: Supporting theatre in Pakistan

To the neighsayers (warning: some awful horse puns) who claim that Pakistani plays can’t stay the course, I give you The Man on a Black Horse.  Running at T2F, formerly known as The Second Floor, in Karachi, Pakistan, The Man on a Black Horse is a highly energetic piece of theatre which accomplishes what few other live performances in Pakistan have: it doesn’t suck. Written and directed by Rouvan Mahmud and Ali Junejo (the duo are also two of the three performers in the play), the performance tells the tale of two soldiers, Sal (Rouvan) and Rumi (Ali). These characters, through the memories of an enigmatic woman they ...

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