Stories about unity

What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

Read Full Post

In Hangu, are teachers a specie quickly going extinct?

A few days ago when I was going home, I received a text message from Abdullah Khan, a journalist working in Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). It said that three primary school teachers had been killed in Kach Bandha, Hangu in a drive-by shooting. I immediately called him to confirm the news. I felt goose bumps as he told me that three teachers – Muhammad Khan, Syed Khalil and Faqir Hussain – had been killed and two of them had been targeted because of their sectarian affiliation. These teachers had left their homes in the morning with prayers from their families and were killed that same ...

Read Full Post

White: celebrating unity and more

Dull, meaningless and unnecessary is how the colour white is generally described. Some even go as far as to negate its status as a colour. Opinions about the colour are each individual’s personal choice, but the importance of white is so immense that it can hardly be dismissed as a waste of space. Contrary to popular belief, white is not the absence of colour; rather it is the amalgamation of all the colours and theirs hues that we come across in a lifetime. Perhaps, it is the result of rote learning prevalent in our system of education, but we seem to ...

Read Full Post

What war does to women

There is so much going on in the world. The clouds of war and violence seem to hover around the globe and there seems to be no end to this mayhem and chaos. Billions of military troops march out in the name of war and conflict every day. They fight against each other under the shadows of cannons, tanks, nuclear warfare, chemicals, gunfire and smoke. The fight goes on and on and when it ultimately ends (which it never does), we find them buried deep under the ground. They take cities, culture and heritage down with them, like they never existed. And ...

Read Full Post

Unity — a vision foresighted

Most of us remember and casually reiterate Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s formula for a better nation: unity, faith and discipline. The three words have been overused (often in the wrong order), and they are slowly losing their meaning. Nevertheless, the patriotic romanticism associated with them only grows stronger. If we evaluate how far we’ve gone in actually implementing the father of the nation’s formula, we cannot help but notice how the three elements of high importance are not being taken as equals. Perhaps, expecting Pakistan to employ anything that has to do with discipline is a vision too foresighted. Faith has boldly overshadowed discipline, but ...

Read Full Post

My dream for Pakistan

A couple of months ago I witnessed an elderly man, approximately 70 years old, being violently shoved off the side of the road by a policeman who was clearing the way for a 10-car protocol of a federal minister. Incidents like these are not rare and it seems as though we have grown accustomed to them. But that doesn’t mean we don’t think they are wrong. You often hear people arguing about ‘which hidden arm’ is behind specific problems in our country; whether it’s the politicians, RAW, or the army – it’s an endless debate. But in truth, the average Pakistani just wants to ...

Read Full Post

‘Just call me Muslim’

This year there have been a number of reports that what were clearly acts of sectarian violence, hatred and discrimination. In January, three lawyers – a father, his son and nephew–  were gunned down. They were Muslims who belonged to the Shia sect. On the same day, three other professionals from the Shia community were killed in Quetta. This all follows the year of 2011 where hundreds of Shias were murdered – and it seems as if nothing has, or will change. The Shia community is not the only minority sect that is being targeted. For a couple of weeks, attempts were made to ...

Read Full Post

On being Pakistani

With 14th of August around the corner, festive fever is on the rise. Civic organizations, student groups, and social, electronic and print media are joining the swelling ranks of celebratory brigades. And that’s where some of the problems with ill-informed, obsessive nationalism begin. Have you been confused by invitations to ‘no ethnic identities welcome’ events? If yes, read on.   This past week, I received a few invitations for Independence Day walks and seminars. The proposition, ‘No Sindhi, No Punjabi, No Pathan, and No Balochi – Only Pakistani Welcome’ made them distasteful. Honestly, who’s left then? With the exception of a few citizens ...

Read Full Post

You think cricket isn’t sexy?

My lack of exposure to “American” sports while growing up is never more apparent than when I’m at work. I’m surrounded by hardcore football, baseball, and basketball fans. Now, to be clear, I’m a sports fan.  I no longer call it “American football”, and have had my heart broken by the Bears offensive line time and time again.  I’ve cheered on the Bulls since I was a kid (D Rose for MVP!), but my sports of choice have always been soccer and cricket. So, while my colleagues are all about their brackets for March Madness, I’m streaming the cricket World Cup on my ...

Read Full Post

Don’t put a label on it

Islamic centre or mosque? Obama, Muslim or Christian? Flood aid, Indian or not? Why exactly does it matter? In the twenty-first century, labels still define us and somehow they seem to be more important than the ‘bigger picture’. As individual groups, Muslims and Pakistanis have allowed labels to divide themselves, creating disunity which allows for instability. In the case of Pakistanis, a society that acts so quickly and effectively to help fellow citizens in a time of crisis, it doesn’t make sense that Pakistanis would let labels divide themselves to the extent that they have. Pakistanis have a multi-layered and faceted society, and ...

Read Full Post