Stories about UK

My Pure Land: One of the finest independent films of Pakistan, yet forbidden in its own country

In Pakistan, it is uncommon to watch a well-made film that is not only based on true events, but also dedicated to our real life heroes. For instance, films like Gulab Gang, Bandit Queen and Mary Kom have been made in India to relay the sacrifices made and challenges faced by its women. In Pakistan, however, we can hardly recall a film or two on the same. This is why Sarmad Masud’s venture, titled My Pure Land, which showcases the story of Nazo Dharejo, came as such a surprise to me. The film does not feature big names or superstars, ...

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Has the United Nations outlived its utility?

The United Nations (UN) was formed in 1945 in the wake of World War II, and aimed to bring together all nations of the world at a single table to avoid another world war. Though the organisation was a successor to the League of Nations (LoN), it was formed not only to act as a mediator between member countries, but also to promote harmony amongst them. In addition, it would promote social development and justice across the globe, and take action if a consensus was reached and approved by the all-powerful Security Council (SC). However, as it nears 75 years, debate ...

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16 years after 9/11: Its tragic memory, surreal aftermath and the insecure world it left behind

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, young men like me who had posed as ‘Marxists’ across the 80s were overwhelmed by a sense of both sadness and dread. And yet we knew that things in our beloved Soviet Union were not quite like what we had imagined – a socialist Utopia in which the working classes (the proletariat) had risen above economic, religious and social biases to consolidate their own rule according to the noble dictates of Marxist-Leninism. I was 22 in 1988 and about to head out to a university in Moscow on a scholarship. The plan was ...

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Are acid attacks becoming a commonality in the UK because they are treated as a minor offence?

Picture the following domestic scene: A woman hovering over a tawwa (stove), folding dough balls whilst the gas flame flickers gently under the cast iron. Behind her, a shadowy figure, wanting no blame and careful to hide their presence, opens up the cylindrical lever on the gas supply. Barely an instant passes before the light hits her eyes; eyes which will never be able to see themselves in a reflection in quite the same way. This was the old way, my mother tells me. This punishment for women, for what was perceived to be a social crime (normally domestic), would result in a woman becoming ...

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It is about time British Muslims proved their loyalty to Britain

In the wake of the recent London attack, nearly 500 imams refused to offer funeral prayers for the terrorists responsible for the atrocity that took numerous innocent lives. While the British public was coming to terms with the tragedy in Manchester, only a couple of weeks ago, they woke up to another inhumane attack. And sadly enough, it was done in the name of Islam once again. The Muslim community in Britain has long been facing struggles in the name of culture and religion; they have been facing ethnic divides within the community itself, identity dilemmas and growing levels of anti-social behaviour amongst their youth. The two tragic events that ...

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India’s absence from the OBOR forum is testimony of Modi’s failed foreign policy

China hosted a massive two-day international event between May 14 and 15 in Beijing to formally launch its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which plans to connect Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. More than 65 countries participated in the summit and nearly half of them were represented by their heads of state and government. World powers such as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and even Japan too were in Beijing. Apart from Bhutan, which does not have any diplomatic ties with China, all other South Asian countries took part. However, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government decided to give it a miss in spite of China’s repeated overtures. Nothing can explain this self-inflicted isolation of India except PM Modi’s ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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Netanyahu bans the Azaan and Pakistan bans Christian channels

Religion is once again being dragged into the profane world of politics as a deflective show of force while people choose other avenues to preserve what is sacred. On November 13, The Times of Israel quoted Prime Minister Netanyahu: “…excessive noise …from prayer house announcement…in many European cities… (and consequently) in the Muslim world… they limit(ed) the volume of the calls out of consideration for the general public.” The following day, The Independent reported that citing: “noise pollution, representatives of Israel’s Knesset have given their approval to what is known as the ‘muezzin bill’ banning religious leaders from using loudspeakers or public address systems to summon worshippers for prayers.” A ...

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“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?”

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?” Those are the words of Filzah Sumartono from AWARE – a group dedicated to women’s rights – when she tries to talk about the taboo subject with members of her community. It is astounding that people avoid this topic with a wave of the hand, branding it as a “small cut” especially when the effects of such a procedure can be damaging – both physically and mentally. According to Orchid Project, girls and women can suffer from emotional distress throughout their lives, not to mention having feelings of fear, helplessness, ...

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Churchill’s face on the new £5 note is an insult to the Commonwealth

Like 2.5 million others from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal and millions more from Africa and South East Asia, my grandfather fought with the British military in World War II. Tens of millions of others across the old British Empire gave precious resources to aid the war effort, many millions losing their lives in the process. They accepted the call to join the Allied forces to help defeat the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Germany at the door step of the United Kingdom. Winston Churchill, the war time prime minister, told them to ‘brace themselves for their duties’ and this would ...

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