Tag Archives: pakistan

News Package: Slum Life in Winters

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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

 

Mob mentality

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Another temple was burned down, this time in Larkana, by a mob that lost control over yet another fake blasphemy charge against a Hindu. Imagine being constantly scared and feeling vulnerable and alien in your own country, in a sea of people that have nothing but disdain for what you stand for. Imagine an eid, or any other day of festivity where you cannot celebrate for fear of being attacked by an ignorant mob over some trumped up charges that have nothing to do with you. This is how the religious minorities in Pakistan feel on a daily basis. The blasphemy laws are to blame once more, being used for all the wrong reasons to take advantage of the inferior status ascribed to being part of a religious minority.

How is an organized mob created anyway? In a mob, there is no responsibility, no reprisal for any atrocities committed. There are no faces. There is bravery in numbers. Pitchforks and fire is the only image that comes to mind. The mob does not need facts, only allegations. The mob functions on the basis of outlining an ‘us’ with an opposing ‘them’. Those that are left out are easier to dehumanize and subsequently attack, if needed.

The biggest problem with any democracy is that it can potentially establish a tyranny of the majority and oppress those that do not identify themselves with the biggest group. Our country though divided along many lines, still calls itself an Islamic nation. Everybody else, those that have different beliefs and even those who are perceived as deviating from the ‘norms’ (what these are is debatable) are second-class citizens. This is not the first incident, and nor will it be the last. When minorities are left completely unprotected by the government, the people are free to exploit them in any way they see fit.

The only way Pakistan can begin to improve the status of minorities is through repealing a law designed to oppress the freedom of expression. Can a law really stop people from committing blasphemy? There is no real way to assess when blasphemy has been committed. And a mob can never pronounce judgments, let alone on something this subjective. All religions inherently contradict each other. Those that believe that their religion is the one true religion should be secure in their own knowledge and should attempt to rise above anything they perceive as insulting. We are no longer in the dark ages, and a law made to facilitate elaborate witch hunts has no place in the modern world.

Never give up on your dreams, keep sleeping.

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Never give up on your dreams, keep sleeping  – Saira Ansari

 

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Until the 12th grade i remember waking up for school with sounds of news channels growing louder in the other room, where my parents would have their breakfast while watching TV. These channels not only provided the 7 am latest but also, there were these morning shows where the host would appear in extra overdone make-up and heavy dresses to talk about everything that was pointless and unimportant. During my 10th grade i remember ‘Good Morning Pakistan‘ being one of these shows.
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They had Dr.Shaista Wahidi hosting with new guests, asking them ‘deep’ questions about their lifestyle, personal relationships etc. The show usually ended with Shahista Wahidi dancing to a hip desi song with the invited guest. All of this happened live; and that too at 7 in the morning. On one of these shows i remember Sahista Wahidi attempted to kiss a cobra with an action/thriller background playing in the studios. To spice things up and make it more tense for the audience, her father called her on the show and begged her not to kiss the snake. But of course she did. And then it just kept on getting worse.
By the time i was ending my 12th grade i remember every single channel airing morning shows with the same script outline which included different segments like the cooking corner, morning exercise corner, horoscopes, beauty tips, live calls and even a special segment dedicated to birthday wishing only. Nadia Khan from ‘Mornings with Nadia‘ on ARY was very popular for her special birthday dance which personally shocked me. These ladies did anything and almost everything to get better ratings. Now i see the morning media situation has continued to worsen. We have theme weeks now!
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There is the wedding week where the host gets hold of an ordinary to-be married girl, provides her with designer clothes and expensive make up packages. The studio set is turned into a shaadi stage and you even see models pretending to be at a wedding, sitting and chatting around on the set. Then there is the valentines day theme which obviously every single channel MUST follow. Whatever news or drama channel you switch over to on this day, you see red. Then comes the women’s day theme and the eid day special (this continues for 4 days. It just has to) . And if they have nothing to talk about, they bring in a maulvi ghost hunter or astrologist who takes live calls and ‘helps’ the audience with their personal problems. If that doesn’t work either, the hosts bring their families on the show and talks about themselves while their kids run around in the studio or start crying on live television..
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There isn’t much left to say because I’m sure everyone else has witnessed such morning show cheapness as well. At the same time i see why no one bothers to change or make such shows better because this is what the audience want to see. And believe it or not, they want to see all of  it as soon as they wake up. Aunties and sometimes even very decent uncles just give in and watch these shows because that’s just all there is to watch during certain times of the day. Such overly done segments get the channels their ratings and make the hosts more popular too.
God bless Pakistan.

 

Pakistan kay funkaar

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Pakistan is an absolutely wonderful country where you are bound to find something interesting and entertaining in one form or the other. If you are having a dull day, be sure to check you are in the right country because every day of the week in Pakistan is ridden with a wide spectrum of events. All this is thanks to (no, not Almighty Allah) the wonderful, colorful and ever so enthusiastic people who inhabit this lovely place. The level at which the minds of our people function is something which I feel is not stressed upon enough. To make it simpler for you and in spirit of being more specific (something which I battle with on a day to day basis, but that is a story for another day) I am talking about the tag lines seen on the back of cars and rickshaws, amongst other things. Call it their sense of humor or a serious form of self-expression, it is something that has never failed and will never cease to make me give a silent applaud to the dexterity and genius of our people. The day I realized the worth of these, I decided to forever capture these works of art in pictures so that at some point in time I could go through them, have a good laugh and just appreciate the amount of creativity ordinary citizens on the roads are inundated with.

Besides, talking about the funniest and strangest things you have seen on the back of vehicles is actually a good topic for conversation (again, something I struggle with but we will get to that someday. If you are lucky).

Here I share with you my collection; a plethora of pictures I was lucky enough to capture with my forever loyal companion; my dearest cell phone. I have had to tailgate cars to get good pictures so do not think of this as an ordinary endeavour but the height of an enthusiast’s love for art. This is where I shut up and let the people speak for themselves. I hope you all enjoy these as much as I did.

 

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Let’s start with the most common one. “That’s all dua to my parents” is probably the most used line and it’s such a hot favourite that it has become a classic. “It’s all prayers of my parents” is another take on the original version but with of course the same idea. May we all be blessed with such grateful offspring.

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Sometimes you come across names that really make you curious as to who that person is and what he/she looks like. “Bablu”,  “Bhalu Don” & “Teddy Pehelwan” are actually very interesting names. I might just name my kids something of the sort.  

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Well, if this guy says he’s not a terrorist because his name is Vicky, who are we to argue? He sure convinced me.

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Have you ever seen someone with a stick figure haircut? If no, here’s your first. If yes, you can still admire this work of art.

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.   I guess this is pretty self-explanatory

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Only in Pakistan will you find Uncle Sam on the back of a garbage truck asking you what you have done for mother nature.

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I’m not sure I want to know what they put in their shawarmas.

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I guess when Saith tells you not to mess with him, you don’t.

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Zidi Rajpoot wants his lover back because; well, he needs her love.

Apathy

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By Asiya Shoaib Ismail

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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.

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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.

Flashback Pakistan: Reverse Gear

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Flashback Pakistan: Reverse Gear – Saira Ansari

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Two days ago, during my usual time wasting midnight activities; which always include over-dosing on food with pointless staring of  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram news feeds, I came across this page called ‘Citizens archive of Pakistan‘. The page belonged to a non-profit organization operating from Karachi. What I found out while looking around on their page was that they really didn’t have any kind of historical archives which showed the long forgotten Pakistani history, photography, culture, literature or some sort of historical documentations of the 60s and 70s. Instead, all of the published content was related to recent events held at schools, orphanages and various art exhibitions.
Most of the time during classes, I hear my teachers talk about how times have changed. Sometimes they discuss and try to make us understand about the evolving of history by talking about their own personal experiences and the things that they could or could not do in the early 70s or 80s in Pakistan. Experiences like going to large rallies in support of a progressive and more democratic state, celebrating Basant, living in older parts of Lahore, the kind of liberal environment found in high class hotels and restaurants before the Zia era or even the excitement of going to a cricket stadium to watch our team play. So I began searching for other sources online where I could find old pictures of the open and Pakistani society which I always heard people talk about around me and I was able find out many interesting pictures and facts, some of which I have shared here.

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I came across beautiful post card stamps and tourist cards from the 60s which showed parts of Pakistan or had Sufi miniature artwork on them. I found pictures of a bar, restaurant and ballroom in Swat from 1970. During the 80’s the ballroom became an arcade games hall with the very first coin-operated entertainment machines. There were Pakistani Tudor cigarette
commercials made especially for female smokers. I also found pictures of tourists visiting areas such as Chitral, Attock and Multan during the 80s.
What I saw in these images was a safe and pleasant country where foreigners were welcomed and treated as guests instead of being slaughtered or kidnapped. The local populace had the freedom(s) without fear of being stopped or ‘Islamized’. It was while looking at these images of Pakistan that I realized, yes, there was a time that existed. When my country was a ‘sane’ place to be; My grandparents and my parents did live their early years in better times…most of the time, what i experienced and grew up watching on television was operations, strikes and killings and now in an effort to shun monotony, we witness suicide bombings by terrorists. There is no direction to take, we are still and for a long time will be
in the reverse gear.

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  Stepping into the Slums

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by Sufyan Alvi

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With her grandmother by her side, an innocent girl, Zakia, stared at me. The one-year-old had lost her mother shortly after she was born. She didn’t know of any life aside from that of the filthy slum she was born in, just outside of Johor town in Lahore.

As her grandmother described the ordeal that she had to go through just to get milk for the little girl, a rare occasion in a household such as this one, I couldn’t help feeling fortunate and guilty at the same time.

Zakia and her grandmother, regrettably, are not the only people struggling to make ends meet. A staggering 40 per cent of Pakistan’s population, in fact, lives under $2 a day, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Thus, approximately 67 million people in Pakistan are deprived of the basic necessities of life.

The sanitary conditions in these slums are appalling. People have dug trenches outside of their homes which are used as disposal grounds. In addition to being a breeding ground for diseases, these trenches emit a constant pungent odor. Moreover, it is common for a family of nine people to live under a tin roof in the meager space of 120 square feet.

As I talked to the resident of these slums, the failure of the government’s urban planning and lack of political will was a recurring theme in our conversations. It was blatantly evident that the youth of the slums, tiring of their desperate conditions, was turning to drugs, crime and alcohol as a means of escapism.
It is high time that the government realize that they cannot ignore the conditions of the people living in these slums any more. These issues must be urgently tackled at a national level, as no human being deserves to live like these people do.