A new day for Pakistan? The Aasia Bibi Verdict

A strange thing has happened in the land of the pure, the bastion of Islam that is Pakistan. A woman imprisoned for almost nine years and who was on death row for blasphemy has been acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The reason I call this strange is that in Pakistan — it is. The country’s infamous blasphemy laws are used willy-nilly to settle personal scores and it is very difficult to be absolved of this ridiculous crime. Plenty of people are languishing in jail because they had supposedly “blasphemed” against Islam, its Prophet or the Qur’an.  In fact, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was murdered for trying to get Asia Bibi’s acquittal. And it is Asia who has been acquitted today.

This is no doubt a landmark ruling, not least because there was absolutely no evidence against Asia Bibi, but also because it shows that even though the case against her was entirely fabricated she still had to languish in jail for almost a decade before getting justice. Judges would continue to recuse themselves from her case and lawyers were unwilling to represent her.

This is how hard it is to get out of the blasphemy trap in Pakistan. Her acquittal at least gives a little hope that others might get justice too. Much has to be said about her current lawyer Saiful Malook, who argued her case successfully in the supreme court and who is no doubt under threat for his life as well. Her previous lawyer, Naeem Shakir, died last year.

Of course, the religious fanatics cannot just let this go without an outcry. For them it is not important that there was no evidence against her. In Pakistan, the accusation of blasphemy is always the judgement — and sometimes the execution.

Now, TLP (Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan), a party of right-wing religious nut jobs, has come out on the streets to protest against the verdict.  They have threatened the judges, the army chief, the government and, of course, Asia and her lawyers. She and her family are still in danger and it is not clear when she will be released and where she will go.

TLP, like many other religious parties, has been propped up by Pakistan’s military establishment to keep tight control over democratically-elected governments.  They have usually been brought out whenever the ruling party has to be reined in. Recently, the TLP was used to go after Nawaz Sharif’s government.

After Asia’s acquittal, the current Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation.  He supported the verdict and told the TLP and its members on the streets to cease and desist. He warned them that the state will take action if they turn violent.

Yes, this is the same Imran Khan who used the blasphemy card when it was convenient for him to do so, against Nawaz Sharif. In this case he, maintained that Pakistan is an Islamic country, all laws are as per Islam and this decision was too.

The fact that he has changed his tune makes me wonder: has the military establishment had enough of the TLP? Because the only way Imran Khan could have made a speech against a religious party is if he had the backing of the military. Previous prime ministers did not have this backing and therefore always had to tiptoe around fundamentalists.

What is clear from Khan’s bravado is that the military establishment is still very much in control. He is standing his ground because they are behind him. Have they realised that when you unleash monsters, sometimes the monsters come after you?

Are we about to see a change in Pakistan’s support to religious extremists? Perhaps. Or perhaps this is just another strategic move. For now, the army will support the Prime Minister and the TLP will be quietened down. Until the next time.

There is much to celebrate. An innocent woman has been acquitted. But here is the rub.  That very word “innocent,” because she would have been punished if she had been guilty. Asia has been released because there was no evidence against her.

This is the first baby step against the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. This acquittal has indicated that there needs to be evidence to show that a person has blasphemed. There are many many more steps to follow. This does not mean that there is a wave of support to repeal these arcane laws.

While we should rejoice that she has been released, we must think of all those still incarcerated. And we must not forget the fact that blasphemy as a concept and blasphemy laws as part of the justice system need to be completely abolished.  Human rights demand it.

(Published in Sedaa – Our Voices)


India’s British rulers first codified offences against religion in 1860, which were then expanded in 1927. When Pakistan become a separate country, it inherited these laws; and decided to keep them. In the 1980s, Zia ul Haq added more clauses to this ridiculous and frankly unnecessary law.

Over the years, this law been used to put people in jail (Aasia Bibi has now been acquitted by a Pakistani court after being in jail for over seven years, with a death sentence hanging over her head). The mere concept of blasphemy has been used to murder people (Salman Taseer, who was trying to help Aasia Bibi, was murdered by his own security guard), settle personal scores (Mashal Khan was murdered by a group of people because he was speaking against his University’s administration), and seek revenge. General vigilante justice has become the norm.  A Christian couple was burned alive in 2014 by a mob of 1200 people when they were accused of blasphemy.

In July 2018, once again blasphemy was used against Sindhi artist Qutub Rind. Qutub had rented a flat in Lahore. There was a disagreement with the landlord regarding rent and, lo and behold, blasphemy allegations were bandied about. Rind was tortured and murdered.

Since 1990, saviours of the religion have been accused of killing at least 65 people. And not a single government — military or civilian — has been able to do away with this law. Some may have tried to make tiny adjustments but had to backtrack due to the same ever-ready frenzied mobs.

Things are likely to get worse. Imran Khan, the freshly-minted prime Minister of Pakistan based his campaign on over-emphasis of creating an Islamic Welfare State, supporting blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws. Khan’s tenure has begun with the appointment of a supporter of the killer of Salman Taseer as the Information Minister of Punjab.

Pakistan continues to give succour to religious hysteria; its military is known for harbouring extremists as strategic assets and now, in their infinite wisdom, they have started mainstreaming fundamentalist organisations. The result is that these groups hold sway over large areas of the country and have tens of thousands of followers. They are able to bring these same followers out on the street at a moment’s notice and thus exert a lot of influence over the country’s political and governance spheres.

Just this past week one of the largest pro-blasphemy law parties, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), stoked religious hysteria over a forthcoming cartoon contest in the Netherlands. Mobs came out, death threats were issued and the contest has now been cancelled.

Geert Wilders, the propagator of this contest is himself a right-wing nut-job, whose sole intention was to be provocative. However, that is not the point here. The issue remains that Pakistan’s population is more and more beset with worrying about saving Islam than anything else.

In a country where almost all development indices are at the lowest levels, this incessant clarion call of Islam and blasphemy as the prime requirement of the population is distressing and does not bode well for the future.

Khan is a new to this political game; he is going to test the waters very gently. There is no expectation that he will do away with the blasphemy laws and/or make any strides towards a more liberal and free society. I predict that more freedoms will be curtailed and there will be more hysteria over Islam. And, unfortunately, there will be more Mashal Khans and Qutub Rinds.

(Published in Sedaa – Our Voices)


“In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state,” said Charles de Montesquieu.

This is certainly true for Pakistan where one particular institution, or at least its successive doyens, have played nine pins with every chief the country has had after the first decade of its existence. In the early days the army controlled the country blatantly through martial law, of which we have had plenty. It started to look as though that we had actually seen the last of them.

Our hopes seemed to have come true as we saw two successive democratically-elected governments finish their terms; Pakistan is now set to go to the polls in July.  But this time, ladies and gentlemen, the control exercised by the only institution that runs the country, the only institution that demands a reverence usually reserved for the divine, may seem benign when it is anything but.

After decades of harbouring terrorists, after years of turning into the local version of the East India Company – not colonising foreign lands for resources but parasitising their own from within — and years of controlling us as rulers, the military establishment experimented with ruling behind the scenes. Becoming the king makers so to speak.

It did not work out well for them as their golden boy, the chosen messiah, the hero Imran Khan, turned out to be a moron. The establishment tried to fix the game for him by trying to destroy other political parties, but did not manage to give him that edge.

In the age of social media, dissent, which was localised before — and thus easily controlled through disappearances of critics, without anyone finding out —  has become national, even international. Previously, journalists and activists could be quietly kidnapped and killed without uproar. To counter this, social media accounts were created by the hundreds, to troll voices that were deemed anti-army.

Criticism is hard to control, however, and finally the old tried and tested methods of abducting people were extended to include bloggers and social media activists. While disappearances earlier meant that your dead body would be found by the roadside, this time the abductees were tortured, told not to say who tortured them and then released. Most of them fled the country.

Now just a few weeks before the general elections, the controlling of dissent, of free speech, of human rights, and of liberty has become more pernicious. The news media was muzzled, clearly to influence the election result and some channels are engaging in self-censorship due to serious threats. Then, Gul Bukhari, an activist and journalist, was recently abducted for a few hours. She is back after a lot of clamour on social media. For someone who used to tweet relentlessly about the army’s role in all kinds of anti-democratic and fascist activities, her silence is deafening.

Through all this, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a movement by people from the tribal areas, who had been denied rights, had their loved ones abducted and were the main sufferers of the war against the Taliban, emerged as one of the biggest ones seen in recent history. The news media was banned from broadcasting their activities, so they took to social media. When their voices could not be controlled, their leaders were arrested.

All of the key freedoms are under threat in Pakistan. Human rights activists, dissenters, journalists and many others have been threatened and the crackdown is so extreme that many voices have been silenced. In the midst of it all, the ISPR (the army’s PR wing) complained about how social media accounts of bloggers, activists and journalists were criticising the state and during a recent press conference, even named them.

Here’s the thing. The army knows that it can no longer hide its fascism. Mainstream media can be silenced but it is not easy to do so with social media. People can be abducted or arrested but it won’t be under the radar anymore.

What they are doing now is simple. They still want to control Pakistan, its people and its resources. They tried to do so by pretending that freedom and democracy were important to them, while continuing to subvert them, but it did not work because information is fast and people are not stupid.

Like all bullies, they lie, and they know that we know they lie. “Pakistan belongs to all Pakistanis regardless of beliefs or opinions,” said the Army Chief recently. This is a barefaced lie. Pakistan is only for those that toe the establishment’s line. They know that we the citizens are aware of their speciousness, their perfidious behaviour and their solipsism.

When they say they are not responsible for rigging elections, for social engineering, for promoting conformity and social conservatism, for not being answerable to anyone in the country, for stealing from us, they know we are not fooled anymore. They also know we are helpless to do anything about this. And this helplessness is what makes them stronger. They can now blatantly disregarding our rights and liberties and tell us to enjoy it.

“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong”, said Voltaire. He also said, “If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticise.”

Pakistan in the 21 century is now reminiscent of 18th century France and its army is reminiscent of the East India Company.

(Published in Sedaa – Our Voices)

I’ve Just Become An Organ Donor. Here’s Why You Should Be One As Well

I have just become an organ donor. Because, for me, there is no better way to leave this earth and become part of stars again, than to make sure that a few people might benefit from my body.

Organ donation saves lives, and all over the world hospitals encourage people to register as donors. Pakistan has the Transplantation Society of Pakistan (part of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation SIUT) and you can become a donor in 5 minutes by filling out their online form. Within a few days, you get your donor card.

There is a shortage of human organs the world over,because of which many patients die; including in Pakistan where an estimated 50,000 people die each yeardue to end stage organ failure, according to the Transplantation Society of Pakistan. This figure includes 15,000 people with kidney failure, 10,000 with liver failure and 6,500 with heart failure. A majority of these patients can be saved if the required organs are available for transplantation. Dr Adib Rizvi, Director of SIUT, considers the figure to be much higher, at approximately 150,000 annually.

There is not a lot of information and education to foment the growth of organ donation culture in Pakistan. A Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA) has been established and according to HOTA rules and regulations, government hospitals are directed to identify brain dead patients and inform HOTA accordingly. A transplantation ordinance was promulgated in 2007, which targets the illegal sale of human organs in exchange for money, a problem that was and is rampant in Pakistan. In 2016, The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed in the National Assembly.

However, there is no education or information raising programme that promotes voluntary organ donation from deceased persons. SIUT provides free treatments and transplants to 2 million people annually; and is working with the medical community, civil society and media to help develop a deceased organ donation culture in the country. The Layton Rahmatullah Benevolent Trust (LRBT) also provides free corneal transplants and can be nominated for cornea donations.

Organs or tissues can be obtained from either a living or deceased person. A living person may donate a kidney or a piece of their liver in addition to blood, bone marrow, skin or bone. However, what is extremely crucial to understand is that multiple organs and tissues may be obtained from a deceased person, including kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, lung and intestine and corneas.There is also no age limit for deceased organ donation. From a newborn baby to a 75-year person, all are eligible to become donors.

Pakistanis are also unaware that almost all Muslim countries with organ transplant facilities are performing deceased organ transplants including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Egypt, and Bangladesh among others.

One of our most important heroes – a man who dedicated his whole life to serving others – did not let death deter him from serving humanity. His last wish was for his viable organs to be donated. His corneas were thus transplanted into someone else. So, when you put up Abdul Sattar Edhi sb’s picture on your social media pages and pledge to live like him, one of the best things you can do is to make sure that you become an organ donor. Talk to your families and friends and convince them too. Your heart, liver, lungs or corneas can save a life or enable someone to see. It is better than becoming worm food. As your last living act, give the gift of life to someone else – be an organ donor.

(Published in Dunya Blogs)


Qandeel Baloch was an anathema for a country like Pakistan. Coming from poverty, she rose to become independent and support herself and her family. She was an anathema because she did not care. She did not care what society thought of her and she did not care if they made fun of her. She was the bold and the beautiful. And one year ago, on July 15, 2016, she was murdered in the name of that tenuous and all important property of Pakistani men: honour.

Her brother strangled her because her videos and her clothes brought a bad name to the family. This only happened when Qandeel’s real name was revealed. Up to the time no one knew her real name; her brother was happy to live on the money she provided to the whole family.

Qandeel’s murder highlighted the blight of honour killings that has been a part of this country for a very long time. And while many women are killed for actually having “illicit” relations with someone or wanting to marry of their own choice, often male members will kill a sister, mother or wife along with a male member of a rival family to settle scores. The woman in this case is just a pawn. Sometimes, women are killed to take over their share in family property. Because honour killings are not just about men’s “honour”, they are also about money and revenge.

In 2014, it was reported that over 3,000 were victims of honour killings. In 2014 alone, over one thousand women were killed.  In 2015, 1096 women, out of which 170 were minors, became victims of this heinous practice.

Almost every day, those of us who live in Pakistan hear about some woman or girl sacrificed for honour, and these are just the reported cases. The number of unreported cases probably will make this go sky high.

The perpetrators almost never get punished because due to a completely ridiculous law in Pakistan, the family of the victim can forgive the murderer; and because in these cases the murderer is always related to the victim and therefore her family, he is forgiven. The State of Pakistan has passed the Qisas and Diyat Law, which basically made murder a private matter and not a crime against society or the State. As such, the victim’s heirs were able to forgive the murderer/ criminal, thereby putting the onus of punishing the murderer on the victim’s family.

Thankfully, in October 2016, the parliament passed a bill that guarantees mandatory prison sentences of 25 years and strips families of the right to legally pardon the perpetrators of so-called “honour killings”.

“Honour” is the property of the men in our society. It is their honour that gets maligned when their other property, their women do something of their own free will. I say property of men because this is a patriarchal society and men make the rules of morality in their families, tribes or communities. But let’s be clear, many times women are equally involved; mothers or sisters will support and even encourage the men in their family to kill in the name of honour.

The onus of this horrendous word “honour” almost always lies with women. And it is not just honour killings that are used to preserve it. Pakistan (and India) also has another tradition, that of the panchayat: a village council primarily made of up illiterate old men. There is never any representation of women in this council, which makes rules and passes judgement at the village level to settles disputes between and amongst families.

An example of the panchayat’s judgement can be found recently in the case of a 12 year old girl, who was raped while cutting grass in a field. The council comprising of 40 men was convened. And what was the judgment of this esteemed body? That the 16 year old sister of the accused be raped by the brother of the victim. This crime was committed in front of the panchayat and the girl’s family! An incident of “an eye for an eye” in which the victim is always the woman.

This concept of “honour” has been a dark mark on the Indian sub-continent for centuries, and places the responsibility of its maintenance firmly on women and girls. Now with the rise of social media, such cases are being given coverage and at least some action is taken. For example the 40 people of the panchayat were arrested when the family of the 16 year old girl on whom this “revenge” was taken reported it to the newly established Violence against Women Centre (VAWC) in Punjab. How these cases are resolved is still anybody’s guess because more often than not the perpetrators are allowed to go free.

The passing of the honour killing bill and the setting up of the VAWC in Punjab are steps in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. The rest of the provinces still have to set up centres for victims of violence and the implementation of the law is still not perfect.

More importantly though, the hardest thing to get rid of is the idea that men’s and their families’ honour is the responsibility of women. This idea is still perpetuated in society. Unless changes are brought in the mind-sets, we are going to continue to see more Qandeels being killed because men like her brother would still take the consequences rather than be the subject of ridicule in their communities. Panchayats will continue to pass horrible judgements that punish girls for the crimes committed by their brothers, fathers or husbands.

One only has to read the comments of the average Pakistani man at the bottom of news items reporting such cases, or talk to them on social media to know how entrenched this vile concept is and how they will always malign the female victim of such crimes to show that it was the right thing to do.

One can only hope that the proper implementation of laws and recourse to victims in courts will lead to the eventual end of victimizing women in the name of honour.

(Published in Sedaa – Our Voices)

We have been silenced into submission because we don’t want to be the next Mashal

Muslim tradition holds that in the early 7th century AD, in a town in Arabia, a slave called Bilal was tortured by his owner. His crime, so says Islamic history, was to walk away from the existing ideological landscape. To embrace a new religious and political order. To dissent. Bilal did not back off and 1,400 years later, he is considered a hero in Islam. Why? Because he dissented. But also because he blasphemed.

Move forward and the followers of the religion that Bilal evidently helped to spread, have adopted the traditions of his torturers. Two years ago, on April 24, Sabeen Mehmud was killed because she wanted to provide a safe space for people to gather and discuss ideas, to challenge ideology, to dissent. We were told that extremists had killed her. The same jihadists who have killed thousands of Pakistanis. The same ilk, who have killed thousands all over the world.

But in Pakistan, the situation gets evermore fascinating. The State itself has adopted the same techniques as Bilal’s tormentors. And against whom you ask? Surely, the State – which includes civilian and military both – must be performing its duties to the letter; and if horrible torture techniques are being used, it must be against those that have killed our children?

Well, no. The State still has its ‘assets’, which have always been in the form of Islamic terror organizations that have continued to indulge in violence all over the country. We always knew this was happening. There were some who even vocally questioned it. Perhaps in the hope that our small voices will gather momentum and the State will be made to answer. Answer for deceiving us by continuing to support our killers, while pretending to fight them.

It wasn’t meant to be though. Some activists and bloggers were abducted. They were spirited away to unknown locations and they were tortured. The rest of us continued to protest and in an unprecedented move they were released. Almost none of them have spoken about what happened to them and who did it.

The bloggers were accused of blasphemy. It was said that their social media pages were full of anti-Islamic content. That tactic has now become the norm. The State has weaponized blasphemy because it knows that it is a death sentence without a trial. It is the perfect way of silencing any questions about how its machinery works. Accuse someone of blasphemy and sit back. The caretakers of religion will take over.

That is what happened to Mashal Khan. His horrendous murder did what was required. The government beat the drum of blasphemy for months, prior to his killing. Perhaps it did so of its own accord or perhaps it was compelled to do so. But it got the job done. People got scared. Many of those who used to question the way this country was being run, have backed off. They have been intimidated into silence. But silence was not enough. We also needed to be shown clearly and irrevocably, who rules us.

So it transpired that Naureen Leghari, who admitted to plotting a terrorist attack on Easter, became the daughter of the nation, who should be rehabilitated. While small time bloggers and activists are tortured and killed, known terrorists like Ehsanullah Ehsan – who has recently surrendered – can be seen on TV smilingly parroting the state narrative of RAW involvement in terrorism in Pakistan.

Just silencing wasn’t enough. A slap in the face was also needed to ensure complete acquiescence. Not only do we not have the right to question State agenda, we also need to be shown how inconsequential we are. Because it is not about good Taliban and bad Taliban anymore. From the looks of it, all Taliban are good Taliban now. The enemy are those who need to be muzzled for looking askance at the State. While terrorists are given the benefit of the doubt, activists and writers are taken to task in the worst possible manner. And what better way to do so than to use blasphemy. It is a time honoured tactic. And it has again been successful. Journalists are self-censoring. Activists and bloggers have gone into hiding. At a time when we needed more voices to come out and challenge 70 years of propaganda and brainwashing, we have very very few left.

Because nobody wants to be the next Mashal.

(Published in The Nation)

Rannikot: The mountains, the desert and the wall

(Published in The Nation Pakistan)

Out amongst the Kirthar Mountains, in the eastern side of Kirthar National Park, in the middle of nowhere, lies Rannikot. Also known as the Great Wall of Sindh and the largest fort in the world, Rannikot is actually a 35km (some estimate 45km) wall encircling the Kirthar Mountains and occupying an area of 65 sq.km. Within the outer walls are other forts: Miri Kot and Sher Garh; Shahper Gate and Mohan Gate. Beyond Mohan Gate can be seen an arid valley and the signs of an ancient road, part of the Barbicon Arachosia, which connected Bhambore to Kandahar; a road used by many a conqueror and traveler of yore.

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Pakistan: The land of bigotry, misogyny and violence with blasphemy allegations as its raison d’etre

Here is what has happened this week in the land of the pure. A politician (from PTI) punched another one (from PML-N) for calling his leader a traitor. In response, the first politician stood in front of the media and made allegations against his harasser’s sisters. That’s violence and misogyny taken care of, within a space of 24 hours.

Let’s move on to a few days before that. It seems that our judiciary is in need of special hugs because one of its members, a judge in the Islamabad High Court, professed to weeping inconsolably when he reads anything against his religion on social media. He wants the government to ensure that “blasphemers” are put on Pakistan’s pride and joy: the Exit Control List. One wonders why you would want anyone who you think has made fun of your religion to remain in the country. The answer is pretty simple. You don’t want them to leave because you want to punish them. And punish them how? Blasphemers get the death penalty. It’s not that these people just want others to leave their religion alone, they want to ensure that they get killed for criticizing it. After following the due process of the law, of course. As an aside, please note that I always hear the word “blasphemers” in John Cleese’s voice from the movie Life of Brian.

The Honorable Judge has had the support of various factions of the media and other parts of society, who are ever ready to lay down other people’s lives in the name of religion. The issue for them is very clear: no one gets to criticize Islam. That is how things are and should remain. On the other hand, nary a protest is made when Christians are called by derogatory names and Hindus are called “baniyas”, as was done by another politician to criticize his opponent.

Now let’s come to the last two days. Our Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar has also been triggered. He has professed to being very upset that social media sites like Facebook are not providing him with information regarding some people running a campaign against the Islamabad High Court judiciary. In his campaign to support only those elements that want to suppress others through religion, he has threatened to block social media sites in Pakistan, in an attempt to protect the very sensitive citenzry from reading blasphemous content. On the other hand, the statement by a blogger that he was kidnapped and tortured by state institutions has had no impact on our esteemed leaders.

These events of the past week or so show that violence, misogyny and bigotry define Pakistan and recourse to blasphemy is the cornerstone of its society.

If you are upset with an opponent, hit him. If you want to flex your muscles against bloggers, kidnap and torture them. When you have nothing in response to your rival, use the time-honoured practice of abusing the women in his family. And always ensure that the blasphemy law is kept as a precious resource, to be used whenever you require.

This is what we have reduced ourselves to: cultishly following leaders without allowing any criticism of them. It is interesting to note that not even the women leaders of PML-N called out their colleague on abusing women for point scoring. Because misogyny is so entrenched in our minds that even women do not think anything is wrong with it.

As for PTI, they also indulged in misogyny, while criticizing it. Their social media teams made allegations of blasphemy and threats against a reporter for recording a video of their esteemed leader.

These are the important aspects that define Pakistan. Our violent, bigoted, misogynistic reactions to even the smallest of infractions.

These are the things that outrage us. Not our low scores in human rights and education. Not the fact that while we wax eloquent about the Islamic golden age, the country is below every other one for any scientific achievements (other than the nuclear bomb and the water kit car of course), but the fact that our messiahs are criticized and our ideologies are not given due deference.

Freedom of speech is an important characteristic of civilized society. Censoring content and threatening people just ensures that the only kind of progress you make is in oppressing people. Using misogyny as a counter argument does not make you macho; it just shows your pathetic mindset. And using religion as a tool of the state has only ever meant clinging to backward notions of morality. Notions, which have never resulted in progress.

The enlightenment ensured that the west moved on from being bogged down by the same issues of violence, misogyny, bigotry and dependence on blasphemy. They were in the same boat till they realized that antediluvian methods of living one’s life did not work anymore. That religion and state needed to be separate. That life, liberty and freedom were important facets of civilized society. We need to do the same.

(Published in The Nation)

Mohen Jo Daro – Story of a city

(Published in The Nation Pakistan)

The young woman looked out of the narrow slit in wall that served as a window in her house. She saw the sun rising over the brick city and the far off fields of wheat and barley, signaling to her to start her day. She stepped out of her brick house and used her favourite earthenware jar to get some water out of the well. The jar had been made by her sister, who had painted pictures of animals and geometrical designs on it. She washed her face and hands, not paying attention to the dirty water flowing into the drain outside the living area. Later, she will go down to the Great Bath before heading towards the temple for the evening prayers.


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