A dialogue with a lost soul…

He appeared perturbed, disgruntled, self-loathing, as if every breath he took ensued conscious effort. Every breath whispered the longing of being his last, too tired, too exhausted for the next. He stared aimlessly, helplessly, searching all around, yet, not wanting to find anything.

I couldn’t resist. I had to intervene. I had to lend a hand. I had to be there. A lifeless man sat across me at a short distance, purposeless, being, not wanting to be. Perhaps he just wanted someone to talk to. Perhaps someone to just point him in the right direction. Perhaps someone’s hand on his shoulder, telling him it will all be okay. The death wish in his eyes screamed for help. It took a lot of courage to walk over to him, not knowing what to say to a man who sees no hope. But I did. I had to. There seemed no other way.

I went and sat next to him. As I passed in front of him to take the seat to his left, there was absolute stillness. He did not register a human being passing right in front of him. Not even a blink. The stare continued in the vast emptiness, in search of nothingness. The breathing followed the slow, gloomy rhythm, lifeless, painful. As I inched closer, it felt as if I have crossed a barrier, a veil which he may have hid behind for years of loneliness and longing. It was almost like entering another world. Perhaps it was this melancholic world of horror, infested, overpowered by the stench of decay. It was ghastly to be in his world, with him, right by his side. I reached further to get a hold of his trembling hand which was lifelessly placed on his left thigh, fingers perfectly aligned, attentive, as if waiting for a sign, ready to embark on a journey. The air cleared a little. Each layer could be vividly felt. The air that I had been in, the air around him and the air that surrounded his self. This air was different. It was lightly fragrant, exuberant, perhaps reflective of his inner self.

His chair rocked back and forth as his inert glare, fixed at a distance, continued to search. A burning

cigarette in his right hand, stuck between the index and the middle finger, gave out a dull orange light with a stream of smoke, unassuming and directionless. A crystal glass on the table, placed within the reach of his left hand, filled with whiskey, had its own way of reflecting the rays of the Sun. The light gold of whiskey shimmered as the rays hit the glass, giving the gold a tint of red, like a haunted sea without a shore, unending. The wooden floor creaked as the chair went back and forth. It was a couple of hours to dusk. Not knowing any better, I held his left hand and tried to absorb this strong presence of nothing. I stared in the same direction, clueless, wanting to see what he sees, but nothing.

In a few moments, the vision was clouded, appearing to be a different time. Perhaps the past. A young boy frolicking around, being a child. The eyes fixated on a woman, yearning for a companion, to play along, to run in the green as the grass gets stuck to the shoes with dew. It seems to be early morning. But the woman won’t budge. Knowing clearly the innate desire of the child, she would not pay heed, appearing completely oblivious to the child’s presence. Instead, she looked at the shoes which were being ruined. She screams at the child to make sure the shoes stay clean. The child being a child, keeps on running around, longing for the woman to join him, to play, to love. Stream of red rolls down the boy’s forehead as he is hit by the keys thrown at him by the woman. I hope the woman thought the shoes were worth it. My eyes welled up. He was just a child, playing, like a child should be.

The boy is now a bit quieter, a little sober. Soberer than one should be at his age. The same woman appeared again, with a man this time. He watches as these two argue endlessly using words he had never heard before. Degrading words. At a distance, there are other young ones, scared, not wanting to be where they are. There was physical abuse at a distance. Those young ones could not understand standing there, horrified.

I felt the man’s left hand jitter as he reached for the glass of whiskey with his right hand. He flicked the ash from his cigarette as he sipped from the crystal glass, politely, peacefully and placed it back on the table across him. This time, he turned to me and looked at me for the first time. Straight into my eyes, without saying anything, he asked if I wish to go on. I silently turned back and started staring at the clouds that had appeared earlier. Perhaps this was my way of telling him I can handle it.

Perhaps mid-teens, with the evident penchant to search for his own. For his long-lost ones. He seems to be in a different world now. Surrounded by the others. With marks of physical abuse on his back. Each scratch mark on his hands and feet and almost everywhere else, telling its own story. A dreadful tale of how it all not ought to be. The face is a canvas of a painting in black, narrating many sleepless nights, with running streaks from tears as the black smudges across the marvel. A man comes close, holds his hand and takes him along. The boy smiled as if he finally found someone who cares. But the longing for his own lost ones was evident in every breath he took. The vacillation was evident. He wanted to feel that he belongs, yet there was fear, perhaps of the unknown. He goes along with the man, who is loving and caring. This man is somehow able to fill the voids which have existed, plaguing an innocent life for years. Soon, the young boy finds himself struggling, fighting within, oscillating between the peace he felt in laughing, playing, being embraced and the pain as he is barely able to walk with blood streaming down his leg. The desire of belonging overcomes the boy as he decides to bare the pain. The man turns to men, many men, and the boy’s smile outweighs the pain from the crushing of his body and soul. He fears losing what is the closest he ever felt of being loved.

The wood under the chair creaks with every motion. As I come back to sit with the man, I am not holding his hand anymore. I am more into another world. A world of disbelief, of despair, of pain. We look at each other one more time, once again, his questioning eyes, awaiting a nod from me to go on. I am scared to go further, yet I nod. He sips his whiskey again and takes a puff from his seventh cigarette. He turns again, staring in emptiness. I continue to look at him, too scared to look ahead on another cloud, with another story. He tilts his head back, easing into his rocking chair, and the creaking begins again. Intrigued, I focus and turn my head towards the cloud with a conscious effort, not really wanting to but wanting to, all at once.

I see him again, desperately looking, searching for his own, from another time, from another life. I saw

him as a young man now, with a woman and young ones. He is smiling with unending heaviness. The women, seemingly happy but not from within. She has dark circles around her eyes, trying to make the best of it all, still wondering, still trying to grasp. She has her own world of which he is a part. His desire of being the whole and not just a part can be felt in his sagging eyes. It is almost as if he has forgotten what moments of happiness are and how one behaves when happy. The feeling is too alien. The younger ones grow in their own world, not realizing the one world which is yet to be inhabited by them, him and her. The union remains undone. He is visibly concerned, unable to create the one world despite his untiring efforts. His search for his own continues like an endless journey but he seems sure he will find them one day.

He looks at me one more time, almost finishing up his whiskey, and this time, he is holding my hand, making sure I go on. Once again, the creaking begins as he settle back on his rocking chair after putting the empty glass on the table. The gold and red is gone as the remaining rays of the sun have nothing to reflect on. At a distance, I can see a couple of stars, not shining like stars do. There is a halo of gloom around them, almost not wanting to shine but having to.

I see him, excited, ecstatic, with the woman and the young ones playing around in joy. He is sitting in the green of the grass, a pleasant view after the horror I had been witnessing. The bright colors, the air, the sunshine, the life is almost near perfect. He is sitting on the grass and I see two beautiful flowers in front of him. He is tending to the flowers, covering them with his cupped hands to make sure the wind does not blow away the petals. With a soft cloth, he wipes the dirt off the flowers with a smile I have never seen before. The flowers grow as he nourishes them with all his might. His devotion to these flowers is divine. The colors maintaining the perfect hue, the wind allowed to get through only in perfect strength to make sure the flowers breath dreamily. The soil is made to be impeccable, like beds from heaven on which angels sleep. As he does all that, I see him perturbed, of not doing enough. A constant fear overshadows his presence. Each succeeding act of tending to these flowers and caring for them is set up like a higher level of achievement with an underlying feeling of failure. Still, he feels he is not able to do justice. The flowers are just too beautiful. The smell, the color, flawless.

As they grow, the face of one of the flowers turns away and he adjusts himself to have the flowers face him, only to notice only one could face him. He seems to be torn between the two. The flowers too seem to drift, yet one flower tries not only to face him but to get the other to face him too. I see him getting upset, once again, diving deep into self-loathing, knowing not enough is done to protect and love. With every moment the face turns, and he turns and the face turns and he turns again. All this while, covering the flowers and tending to them, making sure not a spec of dust, nor the wind harms them. He seems to have found his own. Those he had longed for all his life.

The face turns again and as he turns, he realizes he can not keep up with the pace. He struggles to follow. He waters the flowers, sees them grow with the perfect gold, red, green colors of life. He starts losing his breath but keeps at it. He could not let anything harm the flowers which have finally come to him from the previous life and are being nurtured for the second time now, perhaps not as lovingly as they were the first time. More lovingly this time. The colors of the flowers and the joy justify the years of pain and longing. But they keep turning. In his desperate attempt to make sure they don’t’ turn since he can not

keep up, he holds them by the stem. In an instant, with a jolt, in utter pain, he lets go as a thorn pierces him in his finger.

The creaking continues. He is not looking at me this time. His head is tilted towards the side, the cigarette in his fingers almost burning his flesh. He has a smile, eyes shut, the creaking continues as the cigarette drops on the floor and the creaking slows down to a halt.

A collection of short stories…

Where it all starts…. and ends!

i-dont-care-if-you-match-your-shoes-with-your-6511390.pngShort Story 1: Sohaib and Sara on a casual night out, walk into a restaurant.  When they left home, a very enthusiastic and charged anchor was holding a TV show on child labor.  As they waited to be seated, the conversation continued on child labor.  Sara was seemingly upset.  The lines on her forehead spoke of worry.  Sohaib, on the other hand, seemingly not as emotional, quoted number of children out of school, the live, the responsibilities and the deprivation.  As they talked, the waiter came to lead them to their table.  Right before they were about to order, Sara thought it would be good to check up on kids they left at home.  So she called Amina, a 15 year old maid, and was relieved as Amina told her everything was fine.


Short Story 2: Ahsan, all dressed in a crisp shirt and tie, headed out to get to work.  Checking the mirror frequently was part of the daily drive to work as Ahsan wanted to make sure not a single hair was out of place and the knot of the tie was perfect.  “Bloody morons!” he exclaimed, as he had to suddenly slam on the breaks.  The biker kept sliding in and out of the lane.  ‘If only we could follow traffic rules, we’d be a better country’, Ahsan thought to himself as he pulled closer to the office.  It was a blessing to find a decent parking space.  Ahsan spotted one and he hurriedly went a few yards on the wrong side to grab the spot.  That parking made his day and cut short on the otherwise long walks to and from his office to the car.

Say-One-Thing-Do-Another-Quotes-Meme-Image-17Short Story 3:  Masood, talking to a friend from the same apartment building he lived in, said how Islam is a beautiful religion and how he was driven by what he had heard from his childhood.  Specific reference to how it is important to know if the neighbor has eaten before sitting down to eat, he disagreed with many who believe it is about food only.  He told Wamiq how he thought this line meant a lot more.  To him, it meant that it is important to make sure people around you are fine.  Masood said he believes that society stands to benefit if we all follow what is said, and that is, to watch out for each other, be there in times of need.  Two days later, Masood’s immediate neighbor, Tariq, jumped off from the 13th floor and committed suicide.  Tariq had lost his job and was not able to pay the monthly maintenance to the apartment management.  That day, the person collecting maintenance charges was extremely rude to Tariq.  He was told to start begging so he could settle the dues.  All this happened in front of Tariq’s 12 year old son.

hypocrite1Short Story 4:  Javed and Sana, a happily married couple, discussed anything and everything.  Javed’s work pressure were often the subject.  He would complain to Sana about how his supervisor was unfair and how he had failed as a senior.  Javed felt his supervisor needed to take more interest in the lives of his team and be a little more understanding.  Qasim showed up late to work the next day.  A very important presentation was due which was not completed on time.  Javed, Qasim’s supervisor, got extremely upset and told him to leave and marked him absent for the day.  Qasim’s father had been unwell and Qasim was in the hospital all night attending to his father.

0512b76da60aaf4666711a7b31a442da7e440d-wmShort Story 5:  Jahanzeb, a public speaker, conducted a one day session at a school speaking to young adults.  The session went great.  The subject was core values, themes which set good and bad apart.  Perseverance, honesty, dedication and a lot more was talked about.  Jahanzeb had many examples of successful individuals who never sacrificed on basic values, especially honesty.  It was a long day for Jahanzeb.  When he got home, he just wanted to relax after having dinner with his wife and his 10 year old son, Zeeshan.  After they were done with dinner, Jahanzeb told Zeeshan in case someone came over to see him or called, he should tell them Dad is not home.

The disconnect between our moral standards and actions, that is where it all starts, and ends.


PS: All stories in this article are true.  The names, of course, have been changed.

Pakistan & Hope…


The past few days, if not more, perhaps as dramatic as Pakistan has always witnessed.  The elections were qualified as the most fair and transparent by many, while many others qualified them as the worst ever.  As scary as it may be, such polarization is not uncommon and is actually growing with every passing day.

There has to be a middle ground where people can have a progressive discourse.  It is the responsibility of those in power or socially known, to create a space.  A space where opinions can be shared and thrashed out.  Unfortunately, many of those key opinion leaders are giving way for a higher level of polarization rather than putting in efforts to bring people together.

pak4It has been quite concerning to witness how someone is dressed, how someone spoke, what language was used, how many times one stumbled, and so on, seem to be issues tantamount to Pakistan’s doom.  It was as if the future of the country depends on what someone is wearing and how fluent someone was in English or Urdu.  What makes it even sadder is that these issues were a point of discussion among many of those from whom a certain level of intellect is expected.  And then there was a speech.  A fine specimen of eloquence.  Remarkable choice of words, incredible tone and adequate delivery, which swept many off their feet.  In fact, so mesmerizing that the delivery of words massively overcame the decades of non-delivery on ground.

When the ‘educated’ political opponents and supporters hold the current set-up responsible for delivery of luxury cars to the Prime Minister House, knowing well that such orders need to be placed well in advance, when the same group of ‘intellectuals’ hold the current set-up responsible for power breakdown, knowing well that no magic wand is handed over upon taking oath, it reflects on the ulterior motives.  Raising such arguments and levying these charges are certainly not attuned to the progressiveness claimed otherwise.

pak3 (2)

Au contraire, a general air of hope seems to have gripped the nation.  At any place, be it home, office, a mall, or a casual meet-up for tea, an aura of confidence, expectation, optimism and hopefulness can be felt.  This aura is not only of looking up to those in authority to take charge and bring the much needed change.  It is generally inclusive where people themselves are holding themselves responsible and wanting to be a part in bringing that change.

As the country looks towards the promises to be fulfilled, it must be borne in mind that no rights come without responsibility.  This applies to those sitting in the parliament and the common people of Pakistan equally.  Indeed hopes, wishes and dreams must be there, a reality check also needs to be in place.  As a nation, the need is to look towards actions, be a part, have checks in place, support sane voices and push for legislation of public interest.

The problems of Pakistan are much bigger than an abaya or mispronunciations, or a fluent speech in English.

Pakistan Zindabad!


Remembering Hussain (as), a regime par excellence…

23e88a19627e830dbb011c3ad5312a89--shi-a-holy-familyImam Hussain (as), epitome of valor, steadfast, resilient, devoted, sovereign, virtuous…perhaps no language has enough adjectives. A discourse embracing Hussain (as) may well be work of divinity for it is simply not human prowess.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad qualified Hussain’s martyrdom as the hereditary state of the brotherhood of all mankind, while Jawaharlal Nehru characterized it as the path of righteousness.  The victory of Hussain (as) despite his minority marveled Thomas Carlyle who learnt that when it comes to truth against falsehood, numerical superiority does not matter.

Since the greatest martyrdom in the history of mankind, Hussain (as) has inspired many across the globe and his illumination has certainly not restricted itself to any specific group of individuals, followers of a particular religion, a specific race or any faction.  Rather, it has been ubiquitous and unprejudiced.

If Nelson Mandela had not thought of Hussain (as) in prison, he would have capitulated as he accredited Hussain (as) for his strength to stand for the right of freedom and liberation.  Gandhi learned from Hussain (as) how to achieve victory while being oppressed.  Many politicians, judges, heads of states, philanthropists, activists, social workers around the world have attributed their occupational success to the great Hussain (as).


Many a hearts have been kindled by the brilliance of the phenomenon known as Hussain (as).  Though these hearts are scattered all over the globe, belonging to various sects, religions, assorted walks of life, it is incumbent upon those who follow the religion of Islam to let this light illuminate their lives.  Every breath should be knitted with utmost circumspection.  It was Islam that was born again after Karbala.  As Quaid-e-Azam said, “The world is unable to present an example finer and brighter than the personality of Imam Hussain (as).  He was the embodiment of love, valor and personification of sacrifice and devotion.  Every Muslim should seek guidance from him.”.

The question is, to what extent have we, the Muslims, allowed this light to enter our hearts.  Reference is not to Muharram, the commemoration, the mourning, the prayers and various ways of observing these days.  Rather, this inquiry is how Hussain (as) is commemorated in our lives in general.  It is certainly a far-fetched notion to prepare and be ready for another Karbala, for it may not happen.  However, the occurrence of Karbala is dependent on how the event of Karbala are perceived.

8e762cbab1265ca5ac1b73a4c6edf60e--muharram-quotes-shia-islamTo sum up Karbala, it is about taking a stand.  Looking the tyrant in the eye and saying or doing what is needed.  It is about unflinching resolve.  It is about love.  It is about having faith and holding ground for justice to prevail.  It is about putting others first.  It is about selflessness.

While many of us may not ever witness a battlefield of thousands of tyrants against a few faithful, is it not Karbala when one witnesses injustice at home?  Is it not Karbala when an individual is suffering at the hands of those who may be more powerful by virtue of their level, riches, age.  Is it not Karbala when a female’s honor is at stake?  Is it not Karbala when an individual is depriving others of their hard earned money by manipulation and playing with emotions?  Who is it that has not witnessed these events in their varying manifestations?


This is the Karbala we face almost each day of our lives.  Yet, the lessons of Karbala, are sadly put aside while mourning, praying, discussing Karbala enjoy a much higher priority.  Why not live Karbala?  It is sad that the relevance of Karbala is not felt and resonate in our daily lives.  When our immigration to another country, our job, our spouse, our relationships become more important than honor of a female, financial losses of others, lives full of misery, prevalent injustice, because of which we elect to stay quiet look the other way, think of Karbala, think about the lessons of the great Imam Hussain (as) and introspect.  How far have we strayed?  How we call Hussain (as) our own, yet let him down in most situations where it is required to take a stand, no matter how few in number we are or even if we are alone.  Each time we stay quiet because of perceived impact on our own lives, think about Hussain (as) and what could have happened if he thought the same.

If Hussain (as), Karbala and the lessons are not a part of routine lives, the mourning, the observance, the discussions, the commemorations, all is hypocrisy and nothing more.  Every day is Karbala.  Live it. Take a stand.  Make the greatest teacher of all times proud. Commemorate Hussain (as) each day in the most routine acts.

Many express the wish to die for Hussain (as).  Is it not better to live like Hussain (as)?

Labbaik Ya Hussain (as)


Of suicide…

suicide 4Suicide is defined as the act of intentionally causing one’s death.  Whose intentions exactly?

Leading cause of suicide is said to be depression.  The internet is full of statistics, reports, studies, research papers, reflecting causes and numbers.  No need to quote any of these to understand that one is most certainly mentally unstable to be thinking of or actually committing suicide.  What is more important is to analyze what is it that leads to such extreme instability?  Perhaps it may lead to answering the question initially put up.  Whose intentions exactly leads to a suicide?

Anxiety is said to drive a person crazy, to the extent that it may become difficult to maintain relationships or carry on with a normal life.  Bipolar disorder, essentially revolving around extreme mood swings, once again rendering it difficult to maintain a balance in life or carry on normal relationships with friends and family.suicide 2  Depression is a massive contributor to suicide.  Some sources mention untreated depression to be the reason behind almost 90% cases of suicide.  The loneliness, the irrelevance, no sense of belonging and solitude results in greater risk of suicidal thoughts which may eventually materialize.  Other reasons include traumatic experiences like physical or sexual abuse.  The helplessness, guilt and shame renders one unable to move on.  Being bullied at a young age, for instance, may become a part of one’s personality with a deep-rooted feeling of being worthless, once again leading to depression.  Substance abuse, more often than not, is a result of the innate desire to get over painful memories and hopelessness or to feed the yearning to belong.

In most cases, regardless of the various reason mentioned, one finds self being questioned upon the purpose of being.  Individuals ultimately arrive at their destiny of existential crises at which stage, they see no purpose, no meaning, once again leading to major trauma, depression, loneliness.  Most of these individuals feel utter absence of any logic behind life, hence, suicide.

suicide 1It is certainly not easy to deal with such ‘ailments’.  The weight may be unbearable for many to carry on.  What is even more perturbing are the expectations of the ‘normal’ people associated with those suffering.  The quoting of religion is even more disturbing.  It is difficult to decide which one is more mentally unstable.  The one who is contemplating suicide or the one who is expecting the former to understand and make perfect sense and be logical.  Here, the subject are individuals who are extremely disturbed, yet, these individuals are expected to call a friend, seek help, reach out, change the lifestyle.  This can be equated to asking a blind man to ‘watch’ where he is going.  Those expecting the subject to ‘understand’ and make ‘sensible’ decisions seem to have missed the plot.

Almost all conditions leading to suicidal thoughts or suicide have one thing is common.  That is, absence of the human bond.  In most cases, a human is pushed into such feelings leading to suicide by another human causing the trauma, the unacceptable experience, the solitude, the feeling of being worthless.  Furthermore, there are a lot more than one human who are at play, silently observing and not taking any action, further pushing the individual into the void.  This must be hard to believe but there is no other truth.

suicide 5

It is fashionable to blame the victim and suicide is no different.  And certainly this seems 
to be the case with suicide as well.  The fact is, a smile, a hand on the shoulder, an embrace, a glance, talk, visits, financial assistance and some such simple activities can make an enormous difference.  All this communicates a simple, yet most important message to the victim.  And that is, ‘You are not alone.  I am here for you.’  If the ‘normal’ people took it upon themselves to change, to be tolerant, to be more caring instead of 
isolating and pushing the victim into loneliness, it may make a difference and save lives.

Suicide is a murder at the hands of those who can but do not make a difference.  The apathy is at the epicenter.  Those committing suicide may be unwell and the ailment is more often than not, a result of something done or not done by those who are well.

suicide 6Take responsibility, reach out, no matter how difficult it may be, those with a genuine concern can feel there is trouble and can make a difference by ignoring how unacceptable the victim’s behavior may be.  The intentions to take one’s own life can crumble and disintegrate when faced with the intentions to love, care and save.

Persevere. Save lives. Be the cure, not the toxin.  


In response to PEMRA’s Notice to TV ONE…

The appended letter has been sent to PEMRA electronically as well as having been physically delivered to PEMRA Headquarters, Islamabad.


June 1, 2017

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority


Mauve Area G-8/1, Islamabad


This is with reference to the press release on the captioned subject issued by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Islamabad, vide reference no. 2(05)/PR-2015/I, dated May 31, 2017.

First and foremost, I, as a citizen of Pakistan, would like to express my gratitude for issuance of the said notice to TV One in violation of Section 20(c) and (f) of PEMRA Ordinance 2002, Section 15(1) of PEMRA Rules 2009 and clauses 5, 3 (I) (a) and 17 of the Electronic Media Code of Conduct of 2015.

While management of TV One has been called on for an explanation on account of Sahir Lodhi, who while hosting “Ishq-e-Ramazan” on May 28, 2017, held Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, responsible for deaths of those martyred during partition of the subcontinent, the following is presented for your consideration:

  1. There was a young female involved, supposedly named Dr. Saba Rizwan, who was abruptly interrupted and was not allowed to complete her speech, charging her of being insulting to Quaid-i-Azam, holding the Quaid responsible for all social evil in Pakistan today.
  2. After watching the speech, which is available on various social media sites, general belief of the masses is that the charges levied against her were wrong and the overall behavior of the host, Sahir Lodhi tantamount to Mr. Lodhi being discriminatory, rude and insulting and harassing to the debater and the public at large which supported her argument and clapped.
  3. Mr. Lodhi challenged the other’s patriotism and implied that other, especially the debater, do not care about the moralities, values of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and that the founding fathers are not respected by others as much or more than they are respected by Mr. Lodhi.
  4. Even if the debater was guilty of all the charges levied by Sahir Lodhi, what right and authority can be exercised by a host/anchor person on live TV and what is the conduct to be observed in such cases?

The following is presented as reference:


  • Electronic Media Code of Conduct, Section (3) (1) (a) “No content is aired which is against the Islamic values, ideology of Pakistan or founding fathers of the nation…”
  • The treatment dispensed towards the debater was seemingly much against the Islamic values and the ideology of Pakistan, both of which put women at highest of honors.  Being humiliated on television for false charges and no being heard may be in direct contrast to the quoted regulation.


  • Electronic Media Code of Conduct, Section (3) (1) (f) “No content is aired which is likely to incite, aid, abet, glamorize or justify violence…or leads to serious public disorder.”
  • If various individuals including certain known ones present on the stage can clap on Mr. Lodhi’s outburst, is it not possible that his speech may incite violence in view of publicizing ‘his’ definition of patriotism and implying others who do not conform to his definition are somehow lesser Pakistanis and putting the debater under direct threat?  Matters of patriotism are personal and one’s being denounced may have dire consequences not only towards the individual being criticized but a larger group who may not agree.


  • Electronic Media Code of Conduct, Section (3) (1) (k) “No content is aired which amounts to intimidation, blackmail or false incrimination of any person.”
  • Mr. Lodhi’s hurling of insults to the individual and the entire episode was based on false pretense.  Not only did Mr. Lodhi react on something which was never said, he actually held the public responsible who had much better level of understanding and applauded the debater.  Mr. Lodhi’s demeanor was insulting and derogatory towards the debater and this attitude was baseless and on false charges.  If his demeanor was not intimidation, the honorable PEMRA is requested to elaborate on the application of the quoted clause.

With utmost respect for the founding fathers of Pakistan and the rules and regulations laid down to ensure overall quality of content improves and a discipline is maintained on electronic media, PEMRA is requested to kindly let the public of Pakistan know while rightfully honoring a great founding father of Pakistan, how does PEMRA view the honor of a living Pakistani in light of the quoted clauses.  If the honor of a living Pakistani is important, which does seem to be the case in light of various rules and regulations some of which have been quoted for reference, why is it then none of these reasons were felt important enough to make it to the notice referred to above issued to TV One and why is there no notice against Mr. Sahir Lodhi in particular?

Vide this letter, it is stated that I, as a Pakistani, have been offended with such a display as the one under discussion here.  These are not the values of our society and such behavior needs to be condemned in the most powerful words and punished as per law.  

In the opinion of a viewer, a young female was reflecting upon the issues faced by a female, and she was proven right on live TV.

Mohammad Ali Rahman

A Concerned Pakistani


Physical Letter dispatched to: PEMRA Headquarters, Islamabad

Email to: chairman@pemra.gov.pk; exec_member@pemra.gov.pk; dg-ops@pemra.gov.pk; dg.admn@pemra.gov.pk; dg.lic@pemra.gov.pk; dg-pp@pemra.gov.pk; secretary@pemra.gov.pk; info@pemra.gov.pk; finance@pemra.gov.pk; legal@pemra.gov.pk

The untimely brides…

tumblr_n22we90sql1supmtwo5_1280“Most people simply don’t know the extent of the problem.  An estimated 25,000 child marriages occur every day.  That’s mind-boggling, so much so that to many people, it becomes abstract, unreal.” – Gavin Weston, Author.  Indeed unreal should one opt to browse through the statistics published by UNICEF. According to UNICEF, a startling 21% of girls married in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the year 2016 were below 18 years of age, 3% below the age of 15.  The poverty, illiteracy, customs, gender inequality, insecurity and much more contributes to this evil practice, almost always leading to the girl’s physical, mental and social health causing serious overall health issues.

Being a member of the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), an inter-governmental body which has adopted a regional action plan to target child marriage, Pakistan was among the first few states to propose a target to end child marriages by 2030.  This commitment seems evident in the overall developments in the legislation at Federal as well as Provincial level.

Despite Pakistan’s Child Marriage Restraint ACT (CMRA) 1929 setting the legal age for marriage to 16 for women and 18 for men, the transgressions continue unabated.  In February 2017, the Parliament adopted an amendment to the Penal Code introducing tougher punishments for the offenders with imprisonment of at least five years and up to 10 years which may be accompanied with a fine of up to Rs. 1 million.  April 2014 witnessed adoption of Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, increasing the minimum age to 18.  Punjab introduced a Bill introducing harsher punishments for offenders while maintaining the minimum age at 16. The Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body which gives Islamic legal advice to the Government of Pakistan, declared the laws prohibiting child marriage un-Islamic followed by severe criticism from various quarters.  Noman Ali of East London Mosque had these views which indeed seem to be a ray of hope.

While the legislation, its implementation, prevalence of justice remain a challenge and as the common people keep on being sent in all different direction in the name of Islam, there are certain individuals who make it a point to do all they can using any medium possible to create awareness among the masses, pushing for education, equality, sending out a loud and clear message that a daughter is an asset and not a liability.

Waqar J. Khan, a young man in late 20s, in his continuous pursuit to add value and address perhaps the most controversial issues which plague the society, conceptualized a photoshoot to create awareness.  Waqar had recently been the talk of the town for his efforts in introducing the first transgender model , objective there being social inclusion and bringing the historically oppressed into the mainstream.

17021642_10208737192163143_8189294907609529331_nPartnering up with Muhammad Haseeb Siddiqui, a teacher of Photography and CEO & Founder of Haseeb Siqqiqui and Saima Rashid Bargfrede, hair designer, makeup artist, and styling expert, who lives to inspire or get inspired, the tremendous trio showcased beautiful young girls in an inspiring and effectual fashion shoot.  What could have been better than tackling gender inequality in the conventionally male dominated sports arena?  The girls were carefully selected from an age group typically falling prey to the stigma of early marriage.

Areeba is 8 years old.  She loves to play cricket and is currently enrolled in Grade 4.  12-year-old Suman is training to be a boxer while studying in Grade 8.  She is the first girls to partake in an outdoor activity. Esha enjoys playing football, is 10 years old and a student of Grade 5.  These powerful picture etch the soul.  The left reflecting upon the sacrifice of a precious life as young girls are married to become more of slaves for labor and object of pleasure, while the right reflects upon the inordinate resolve, to grow, to fulfill dreams, to contribute, shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. 17022335_10208752959357313_9030649482856461776_n16938466_10208752959277311_474656129055450329_n 17021361_10208752959317312_8275697457533421913_n These young girls did not just pose for this shoot to make a statement.  Here you see an actual cricketer, a boxer and a footballer.  How did all this become possible? The answer lies in a dream of a man named Zakir.  Coach Zakir.  Zakir knows not how to differentiate between a girl and a boy and believes in provision of equal opportunity irrespective of gender. Zakir runs the Muslim Sports Complex Orangi West in Karachi.  The facility provides training to males, females, young and old.  Zakir wanted to inculcate a competitive attitude in the community transcending the boundaries ever so ingrained backed by a long history of gender bias and caste system.  It was initially an uphill task for Zakir to enroll females for training in his sports complex.  However, perseverance paid off.  Zakir doesn’t only train young and old males and females in the sports activity of their choice, but also reinforces the concept of mutually coexistence across caste, ethnicity, dispensing one of the most important responsibilities of bringing up tolerant youth.

maxresdefaultWaqar, Haseeb, Saima and Zakir have certainly proven that much can be done to improve the quality of life and addresses various social evils at the individual level and every issue can just not be left to the legislation and subsequently, to the law enforcement agencies to implement the law, if it becomes at all and doesn’t fall prey to various interpretations of Islam.