Stories about target killings

Because I own Karachi

Standing somewhere in the middle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, I guess my attire gave it away and they all greeted me with a seemingly customary “jeevay, jeevay Pakistan!” Towards the end of my trip, the salutation actually became comical – until this random shopkeeper asked me where I was from and what I felt my city represented. Before travelling to Turkey last month, I was told about Turkish hospitality and I got to witness their warmth towards desi tourists for myself. But for a total stranger to ask me what Karachi means to me, was something entirely new – I’ve ...

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I can sing today because Amjad bhai told me I can

I never knew it would come down to this; me writing about how Amjad Sabri changed me. What sort of a man was he? Everyone has pictures with him. Everyone seems to know him personally. Every second politician has something to say. His death has made even those talk who were never fans; those who never considered him an A-lister. As a boy who grew up in the cultural milieu of Sadaat-e-Amroha, I would go to our community centre every year to witness Amjad Sabri perform for the Urs of Hussain Sharafuddin Shahwilayat. I had never been exposed to qawwali this ...

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Has Quetta’s charm been lost forever?

While travelling on the Regional Cooperation for Development Highway (RCD) and the National Highway under the moonlight, which shone so bright that one could clearly see the crossing, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. It made me reminisce about how Quetta used to be a peaceful, calm, and content valley – once upon a time. Photo: Ijaz Younus Baloch Over the past few years, Quetta has lost its charm of tranquillity and serenity. Gone are the days when roaming on Prince Road to find the right eatery for dinner and queuing in front of Flora for ...

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Will the Budget 2015-16 be merciful to the common man?

Zeenat Bibi lives in a small city in interior Sindh; she works as a housemaid to make ends meet. Every year she works harder and secretly hopes that her life will get better this time around. She hopes she can earn enough money to purchase sufficient food for her children, send them to school, and buy new clothes for them on Eid. But she is disappointed each time, because the harder she works, the higher the inflation rates soar, making life even more difficult for her than what it was in the past year. The life of a common man in ...

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Tables turning: Is Ali Enterprise looking for an ‘escape route’ from the Baldia inferno?

It is great to see a political leader like Imran Khan come out loud and clear against the activities of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a party which, without a doubt, runs Karachi. The allegation of MQM’s involvement in targeted killings and extortion is common knowledge. But having said that, it is very important to understand that even if it is accepted that MQM was involved in the Baldia factory arson, the employers, that is Ali Enterprises, cannot (and should not) be absolved of  their responsibility towards the factory workers. Their negligence in providing a fool-proof work environment to the workers, eventually leading to such a huge loss of human ...

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Grey

Grey road Shit! The fidgety son of a… Slowly breathes out, repeats, repeats… don’t stop. *Grunts* On a scale of one to 10, the pain I felt was a solid madar… But as my blood rushed out, diluting my consciousness with it, my body involuntarily limped and my selfish soul decided to dissociate itself from the physical pain. My body went numb soon after being shot. My brain decided that this wasn’t real, this cannot be real and my soul, in a final desperate attempt to distinguish itself from the physicality of all this, lurched out and propped up on the bonnet of the car. I ...

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Jinnah’s Pakistan does exist

“Terrorism, target killings, rape, corruption and dishonesty – what else is there in Pakistan?” Comments like these are not new to Pakistanis. Coming across tragedy and despair almost every day, it becomes hard for people to see anything but negativity here. A large number of people have already fled the country and most have started believing that the conception of Pakistan itself was a big mistake. Many are of the view that staying here would mean jeopardising the future of their coming generations as well. While some of it might be true, this is not what Pakistan is all about. In order to set the record ...

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The South Korean president did not ‘condemn’ the ferry accident, she apologised for it

About a month and a half ago, a group of students and teachers left their school for a field trip; hundreds of excited students were part of this trip, they were headed to a popular island resort at Jeju. However, when they returned, the group was short of 300 people, mostly students – students who had drowned at sea. Yes, I am talking about the South Korean ferry accident that took place on April 16, 2014, when a 6,825-tonne Sewol, with 476 people on board, sank near the country’s southern coast. Can you even imagine the loss the parents of those children must ...

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A numbness to murder

The murder on a mundane Monday morning was as meaningless as the murder on a tedious Tuesday morning. The details, however, differ in terms of bullet count. Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, an Ahmadi cardiologist based in the United States was visiting Pakistan to carry out voluntary work at a local hospital. On Monday morning, May 26, 2014, he was shot 11 times while he was visiting a cemetery in the town of Chenab Nagar. On the other hand, Professor Shabbir Hussain Shah was a student service director at the University of Gujrat and a Shia by sect. On Tuesday morning, November 19, 2013, the bullets ...

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Welcome to Hypocristan

“Feudalism is the root of all evil in our country, baita,” Ms Naheed, who runs a renowned non-government organisation (NGO), explains to Saleem, a friend of her son. “The worsening moral, social, economic and political crisis Pakistan is going through is due to the elitist mentality of the powerful feudal lords. They deny children the right to education and treat them like slaves.” Saleem jots down the key points of the discussion. He has to submit an article on ‘Feudalism in Pakistan’ for the campus magazine next week. As soon as she finishes her sentence, they hear the sound of breaking glass. Ms Naheed gets ...

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