Category Archives: Human Condition

News Package: Slum Life in Winters


This is our News Package project for Online Journalism Course. Slum life for these nomads is even more difficult for in the harsh winters than usual. Already fighting with lack of food and provisions, winters wages an added battle with the cold. We entered into their world and to take a glimpse into their life.

Production Team:
Kashmala Amin Khan

Rabia Khawar

Fatima Ebadat

Sara Mahmood 

Asiya Shoaib



The Other Side of Lahore


A pictorial assignment on various street vendors in Lahore.

Quite often, amidst our menial worries and small problems, we tend to forget that there are people in the world who have bigger problems than us. While our problems concentrate around finding the perfect outfit for a birthday party or getting an A grade, there exist those who don’t even know whether they’ll have food on the table the next day. These people have a whole family to support on a measly income that ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 a month.

This post is dedicated to the street vendors in Lahore and all over Pakistan, who work tirelessly to give us delicious street food and some wonderful products that we wouldn’t be able to spend a day without.


To a Teacher’s quest, Nobody Protests!

To a Teacher’s quest, Nobody Protests!



Teacher introduces and implements a ‘five percent of the total grade’ assignment for a course in Islamic Studies that is compulsory for everybody in class. The whole class has to offer prayers at the college mosque. There are people from various sects and religions in the course. Nobody protests.

Teacher states that the military is the only institution that can  lead economic development, in terms of GDP growth, in Pakistan. In her first lecture on Macro Economics, nobody even tries to counter argue, since the teacher has an amazing reputation in the economics department. Nobody protests.

Communication skills instructor details in a half an hour long diatribe that students must watch Zakir Naik if they want the real truth in life. teacher goes ballistic on sole student who tries to question the logic behind that revelation. Student humiliated, and ostracized. Class moves on to further lecture on piety. Nobody protests.

Teachers questions why the Shia’s can’t even dare to challenge the writ of the state by protesting against the mass killing sprees all over the country. In the backdrop of the Alamdar road incident where the families did not bury their dead for four days, A professor claims that the shias should listen to the majority as the majority rules in a democracy. And yet again, nobody dares to stand up, its all about securing your grade and remaining in the good books.

Teacher feels up girls in class and calls his methodology “a spiritual reawakening of the student population”. Later he lambastes a girl for wearing a hijab who giggles and takes it in her stride. Teacher is woken up by his female teaching assistant everyday and escorted to class by girls who have to do it out of duty. Nepotism reigns supreme. Nobody protests.

Teacher mails students six hours before a mid term exam that 80 per cent marks are a prerequisite for students being able to qualify for their thesis in the final semester. Like lambs, led to slaughter, students appear in the exam next day, nobody protests.



“I am not an Island!”


It is a common phrase we hear, tucked in here and there to show that man is not self-dependent or independent, and in fact requires not only companionship but also strength in numbers in order to gain his sustenance.

If you come to think about it, even the natural order of things does not allow for me to be a complete loner. I was born as a sixth member of my family. Right when I was born I had two sets of grandparents, parents, fives uncles, an aunt, a dozen cousins and three (incredibly awesome) siblings.


As we begin to grow up, we are institutionalized, by which I mean put into academic ones. From this point forth our life is just a race through one school to another, or to a college, and then to a university and then perhaps to another university. All these years you manage to gather another web of people you begin to depend upon. Whole categories worth of people; teachers, acquaintances, school friends, college friends, and university friends. If you are lucky, you get promoted to another institution after that which is called quite aptly; work. And there you have another set of people to forge through and pick as your own; boss, colleague, project manager, you name it.


However, somewhere along the way we don’t just categorize the people according to how we know them, but also we begin to prioritize them. That uncle always gives me more Eidi on Eid so he’s the best. That school friend stole my eraser in kindergarten; she’s such a menace to society. That girl from university wear hideous clothes, does she not look at herself in the mirror before coming? I really don’t want to be seen with her.


With this prioritization of the people in our life, we begin also to alienate the people in our life. Sometimes we do it to a single person out of some grudge we have or a bad past experience. But other times we do it as a group; someone who doesn’t fit our perception of a friend and hence cannot be included in our confidantes.

The truth is though that by prioritizing the people in our life, we begin to treat them like commodities. We label them; pervert, druggie, psycho, loser etc. And with these labels we begin to shed these labelled commodities from our lives, very much the same way we label our old clothes when cleaning out our closets as garbage, give away, hopelessly old etc and then continue to dump them.

What we need to realize is the difference between not being an island and reducing someone to an island. Where yes it is wise to have some level of prioritizing in the people you love and trust, there we must also be careful to not make someone feel excluded. So your group of friends does not like a person, it does not mean that you must dislike them as well. In fact, befriend them and show your friends what a great person that person really is; or at least try to be polite to them.

Reaching out to other people and accepting the fact that we are all not islands drifting in the sea is key to human existence. You are not alone if you are with the right persons and then you realize the sense in never letting anyone feel that way either.

And if you are among the few who have been made to feel lonely and commoditized, don’t be shy to say it aloud, “I’m not an island!”





By Asiya Shoaib Ismail


People expect most of those around them to be concerned and sympathetic to the troubles that others face, and it is, I guess, the most natural and humane response to incidents of violence or hurt. But what does one do if they stop giving the normally expected response?

Clearly that is, what I appear to be going through. As a child and a teenager, I was rather impassioned, full of patriotism and this hope that I could fix things, fix my society of its ills and evils. I had grown up expose to many realities of my country but still viewed them in a very idealistic light. The mere fact that I have given up even before I have graduated is a shame, and I am truly embarrassed to admit that I am, in fact, apathetic.


It’s worth addressing why I have become so. Being exposed to a society that is reeking with evils and vices, along with a very blatant display of them everywhere, from classrooms to the media, I have stopped feeling much concern about alleviating and resolving the problems. It is not something that a single person can do alone and there is no way that the status quo of this country is going to stand for and support anything that is for the benefit of the society. Only benefit for the individual works, and this trait makes the entire society uniform, thus negating the need for anything that would lift and support the masses. Secondly, the masses also go ahead and reinforce that which is uniform by their choice of leadership and administrators. Thus, every attempt for change is left futile and useless.

I feel like I have turned into a cynical, jaded and hopeless girl who doesn’t represent the youth or her country. I bear a banner all on my own without feeling the need to associate with one of the many labels that our society is broadly placed under. I have expressed the need to move away from the uniformity prevalent in our society and adopt a more individualist approach and I feel like I have come to own individuality as a trait within me. But, this country, and the people within it; I feel no element of sympathy or concern for them. I am, apathetic.


The writer is self-studying the Korean language and Hangul script at the  moment and possesses a keen interest in learning as much about the Korean culture as is possible.


The Sparrow Sings


A poem about the social evils and crimes against humanity, committed not only in Pakistan,  but in other developing nations with male dominated societies. The metaphor of the sparrow has been incorporated to indicate how the world rarely notices how brutal and painful these crimes really are.

Far away,
A place where no one dares to travel,
Somewhere along the empty trail,
A young girl loses her innocence,
She wails and screams,
While the sparrow sings.










In the neighborhood,
In a place called home,
A tattered and broken abode,
A wife, a mother, lies on the floor,
Abused and marred,
And the sparrow sings.

In a field,
A barren and hollow piece,
A man sets his blood on fire,
Simply because she chose to,
Fulfill her desires,
Still the sparrow sings.

Round the corner,
In a desolate village,
The epitome of purity and innocence,
A female infant,
Meets her demise,
But the sparrow sings.

In front of me,
The people I know,
Disrespect and shoot down,
The ones who gave them life,
Yet the sparrow sings.









Thousands cry,
While millions die,
Torment knows no bounds,
As everyone watches the world burn,
Havoc, unrest and anarchy,
Then why does the sparrow sing?


At world’s end


At world’s end (Azal Zahir)Image

At world’s end,
How far back can we really bend?
Clinging to reality, a foot to escape,
Hanging above a world of dreams,
Mouth agape.

Below, we can put together our thoughts that fleet,
Create a world void of sin,
A world of fantasy, a haven we may call our lair,
With streams, hills, bowers and flowers,
Budding in their beds.

Yet to climb back up is where many path and errands meet,
Where the light brightens and dims,
Our hearts find love and despair,
More love and then repair,
Where many known and wise footsteps,
Have still tread.

So in wonder,
Steady gone under.
Is it the light ways that are so frightening?
Or that the rock could be struck by lightning?
How long can we remain afloat?
To let go or not?
How much longer can we remain so taut?



Injustices towards men of the 21st century



By Ahmad Akmal

Everyone knows about the troubles women have faced. But the largely ignored & in my opinion, the more important aspect is the hardships and absolute cruelty men face today.

Women in Pakistan always receive special treatment no matter what. People are likely to move aside and make way for you when you’re walking through a crowded shopping mall but us men have to force and squeeze our way through the hoard. People will gladly give up their seat for a woman if there are none available but men will have to stand and endure. Say, your car breaks down in the middle of the road or you get a flat tyre. It won’t take long for a stranger to come to the rescue and help out the lady in distress. What about poor guys like me who don’t know how to change a flat tyre? No stranger was nice enough to help me out. (Thank God my dad came to get me or I was stranded for good)

Personal experiences of my friends are testimony to what I’m trying to say here. A friend of mine once bought a product from an online shopping company, which provided some false information by mistake. Disgruntled by the lack of professionalism, she decided to vent in an e-mail and really let them know how disappointed she was.  Miraculously, the company replied the very next day. After that, they called her not once, but twice, to apologize once more. But wait, that’s not the end of it. They even offered her a free discount on the next product she purchases from them. I would’ve loved to receive such special treatment but unfortunately, that’s not how things work here.  I mean, I’ve never been able to get the people in Subway making your sandwich to put in more than 5 olives, ever.  But, I’ve seen a girl say “Olives zyada daalna please” and the guy literally threw in a fistful. Heck, they even agreed to deliver for free to an area where they don’t normally deliver to. Just imagine the kind of double standards at play here.

One thing that I never really understood is about how women get so angry when guys look at them. Okay, I understand that in Pakistan the staring has been taken to a whole new level but still, when a guy “checks out” a girl it means that they look nice and are attractive. I mean, I would be absolutely flattered if random women on the street were ogling over me and turning their heads to get one more glimpse of the incredibly attractive man their eyes are feasting upon. Talk about an ego boost. Instead, women get disgusted and complain about how men are so desperate and always staring. I just don’t get it. Although, I would love to see how women would react if one day, they show off themselves, as usual, and no one even bothers acknowledging their existence. Now that would be interesting. Ungrateful, that’s what women are.

Us poor men crumble under the burden of expectations and stereotypes of what a “real man” is supposed to be. Not all of us are tall and muscular, have plenty of chest hair and coarse voices and have a thick, carpetlike beard. It’s not our fault our DNA made us this way! There’s only so much you have control over. The majority thinks men need to be rough and tough and should not cry. But obviously, it’s okay for women to let the waterworks run. I’ve seen guys been made fun of for wearing pink shirts. Fine, I agree it’s a rather feminine colour but let the poor guy wear whatever he likes! Some guys get their eyebrows made and wax their arms and chests. Instead of calling them metro-sexuals, just let them be! They just want to look nice and pretty, like the ladies do. But no, women won’t be called names for doing the same.

Life is very hard for some men out there. Women just like to steal the spotlight with a bunch of made-up problems. All of this might be a part of a grand scheme, who knows. These women are evil & manipulative creatures. One can only imagine the kind of horror and injustice us poor men face everyday around the world.

To all the oppressed men around the world, stay strong. You’re not alone.