Category Archives: religion

Who is Hussain (as)?

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That the life and death of Hussain Ibn Ali is a lesson for humanity is a fact no one aware of his sacrifice can refuse.  He embodies all that is beautiful about the religion of Islam. Being from a family known for its perseverance, humility and unmatched devotion to the Almighty, it comes as no surprise that he chose to stand up against a ruthless tyrant thirsty for his blood rather than pledging allegiance to someone diluting the true meaning of Islam.

To defend the religion revealed to his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he left behind his life in Madina with his loved ones and trusted companions. The small caravan journeyed on to Makkah, where unable to perform Hajj to protect the sanctity of Ka’abah Hussain was forced to leave. He explained his stance in a letter saying:

“I have not come out to stir emotions, to play with oppression. I want to bring the (Muslim) Ummah back to the path of Amr-bil-Marouf & Nahyi Anil Munker. I want to lead them to the path of my Grandfather and my father Ali Ibn Abi Talib.”

With restoration of Islam to its original glory as the only intention on his mind, Hussain reached Kerbala, where on 10th Muharram 61 AH, he along with his dearest companions, sacrificed his life, setting an example for generations to come.

The world he breathed in had been corrupted by the people in power. The Muslims had strayed from the true message of Islam. To preserve his immense sacrifice and its significance, his sister Sayyaida Zainab, taken prisoner after his martyrdom, gave a sermon laying down what is said to be the foundation of Majlises today. In the marketplace of Kufa, unable to grieve her tremendous loss, she addressed the people who called themselves Muslims yet were unaware of the calamity that had just befallen the progeny of the Prophet (pbuh).

Her sermon, meant to carry forth the message of her brother Hussain, ultimately gave rise to a movement that brought to justice the main culprits responsible for the incredible cruelty witnessed at Kerbala.

The world we live in is no different from that misguided time, when Muslims have once more strayed from the righteous path; handing out labels of non-believers and infidels to anyone they please. Therefore it becomes very necessary for us to remember, and spread the lessons of Kerbala.

Being an example for all mankind, Hussain lives on in the hearts of all those inspired by him. This inspiration has begotten a campaign titled ‘Who is Hussain?’ A group of young people from different communities in London, merged together to help spread awareness about Hussain. According to their website, (http://www.whoishussain.org) their aim is for:

“ Hussain ibn Ali to be a role-model for all, regardless of gender, class, religion, creed or any other superficial factor that divides our common humanity.”

As of last year the campaign has gone international comprising of individuals from all cultures, languages and religions. The movement is purely voluntary and has enlisted various ways in which people can actively get involved. A facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WhoIsHussain) and Twitter account (https://twitter.com/whoishussain), further facilitates the volunteers and spreads awareness about Hussain to those who seek to learn from him. Similarly various other social media platforms like youtube and instagram are being used by the group to share content and recruit people in different countries.

People are asked to share how Hussain has inspired them to be a better person for the society.

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Stemmed from this awareness campaign is another movement “Be Hussain”  (https://www.facebook.com/BEHUSSAIN) that inspires ‘individuals to be LIKE Hussain in whatever small way they can’. The volunteers have organized weekly food drives for the homeless and worked with disabled and elderly.

This movement is a great initiative that can help significantly in bridging the rifts caused between the different sects of Islam. A collaborative effort that foregoes the cast, creed, culture limits set by man, only thriving on the generous contributions of whoever wills, to help mankind, is one of best ways to commemorate the memory of Hussain.

Ramzan – Let the feast begin.

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A list of places offering iftar and Sehri deals.

The Holy month hasn’t even started yet, and people are once again arguing whether to call it Ramzan or Ramadan or Ramazan or Ramdhan. Sigh, in the meanwhile all well known eateries across the city have begun a rat race of the best deals and ‘all you can eat buffets’ for the month. Knowing that during this month eating out is twice as popular as not brushing your teeth, or pretending to be a better person, the restaurants go all out trying to invite the ‘flies into their parlors’.

Here is a list in no particular order, of all the restaurants and cafes offering Iftari and sehri deals for you blessed fasters. The list will be updated throughout Ramzan. Cheers.

1.       Lals Patisserie

Enjoy a delicious Iftari platter for two from Lals. Having things such as chocolate covered dates, Hummus and chicken skewers on the menu, the platter looks tempting enough to try. Priced at Rs. 1,299 + GST this platter is for two people. That makes it around Rs.650 + GST per person.

Iftar Lals copy

Lals Iftari Platter

2.       Dunkin Donuts

While they claim to be the ‘best Iftar in town’, one can only assume what good would a sandwich, a mini pizza, donut and a vitamin drink can do. Though quite easy on the wallet, at Rs. 399, I am not sure if the offerings would be quite enough. Time will tell.

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Dunkin Donuts Iftar Deal

3.       Forty4 Restaurant

So with two iftars down, the third deal being offered is by Forty4 Restaurant. For Rs. 1244 + tax, the elaborate menu boasts an Iftar platter as appetizers, a main course, dessert and beverages.  Will this really be ‘a feast worth fasting 4’? We’ll see.

Iftaar/ dinner deal from Forty4

Iftaar/ dinner deal from Forty4

4.       Nandos

Determined not to be left behind, Nandos Pakistan has introduced three deals depending upon the number of people in your posse. If you are forever alone like me, the per head cost is Rs. 575.

Nandos Iftar Deal

Nandos Iftar Deal

5.       The Lantern

Offering both Iftar and Sehri deals, the management at The Lantern will surely have their hands full. For Iftar, the deal is open from the Iftar time till 9pm and is for Rs. 699 per person. For Sehri, you can visit from 11pm to 2am and get a 35% off on whatever you order.

Iftar and Sehri deals by The Lantern

Iftar and Sehri deals by The Lantern

6.       The Deli

Setting you back Rs. 899 + GST is the iftar being offered from The Deli. They invite you to celebrate a healthy iftar and dinner. Healthy and Ramzan for most people do not go together. However a change is sometimes good.

Iftar deal from the deli

Iftar deal from the deli

7.  The Cakery

Starting from 1st Ramzan, get tall and frosty Milkshakes from The Cakery. Lord those look divine! In addition to those, the Ramazan menu includes the following.

Cakery Ramazan menu

Cakery Ramazan menu

8.     Chai Master

Open only for Sehri Chai Master offers various deals for Sehri that are open all night. Visit anytime after Iftar and chill with the Disco Chai.

Sehri Deals by Chai Master

Sehri Deals by Chai Master

 9.      Big Thick BurgerZ

For Rs. 500 per person, get a burger, fries, 2 samosaas, dates and a drink. Umm the deal in itself doesn’t woo me but maybe the burger (and samosaas) is worth the trip.

Iftaar at Big Thick Burgerz

Iftaar at Big Thick Burgerz

 10.   California Pizza 

Three different deals are being offered by California Pizza, for dine in only. While it’s safe to say, hardly anybody would want just a regular pizza after that long a fast, their prices start from 739/- for a regular pizza and drink.

California Pizza Iftar Deal

California Pizza Iftar Deal

11.   KFC

This Ramzan KFC is offering two deals to choose from. If low on budget, you can opt for the Yum meal for Rs. 225. And if someone else is paying, you can try the Family bucket for Rs. 1200.

Iftar deal from KFC

Iftar deal from KFC

12.   Capsicum

The new eatery that opened up in Mohammad Ali Society, Capsicum, announced the following deals for Ramzan, priced at Rs. 430 and Rs. 1399 respectively. My one and only experience at Capsicum didn’t turn out so well but we still have 18 more Rozas left. Tag it as an option.

Iftar deals from Capsicum

Iftar deals from Capsicum

13.  Roasters 

Have 1,500 bucks to spare? Your iftar choices can easily include Roasters. Priced at Rs. 1,340/- visit the once hot for Iftar eatery. Give it another chance. I’m sure they won’t disappoint. If they do… we have more Rozas don’t worry.

Iftar Deal from Roasters.

Iftar Deal from Roasters.

14.  Arizona Grill

For Rs. 1328, visit the famous steakhouse for well Iftaar that doesn’t offer steaks but other Ramzany things.

Iftar deal at Arizona Grill

Iftar deal at Arizona Grill

15. Kahva 

Many a good times I have had at Kahva. While the food in itself wasn’t spectacular, the place has been a popular hangout for us. Their Ramzan deal includes the following. More details soon.

Kahva Ramzan Deals

Kahva Ramzan Deals

16.   Snack Attack

While being increasingly tired of restaurants not announcing Ramazan deals together, I update the blog once more with news about Snack Attack. If you are a kid under 10 (no not at heart) you can enjoy this all you can eat deal for Rs. 499. For those now adults due to age, regardless of their antics it is Rs. 699.

Snack Attack Iftaar

Snack Attack Iftaar

17.    Pizza Hut 

No memory of Ramzan can be complete without you and your group of friends haunting Pizza Hut and their All you can eat Buffet. I couldn’t find any official announcement about their Ramazan Deals from Pizza hut itself, however I did have quite a few reliable sources tell me, their deals announced through mainstream media include an All you can eat Buffet, that is priced at Rs. 899+ tax. Since Pizza hut has really gone down with their quality, I can easily see myself giving it a miss. Finally Pizza hut decides to update their Facebook page.

Pizza hut iftar deal

Pizza hut iftar deal

18.    Hero Tastea

Nothing quenches a day long thirst at iftaari like the colder than Antarctica, Lal Sherbet, drizzled with a little lemon juice. Keeping that in mind, Hero Tastea has introduced a Ramazan special RoohAfza bubble tea. If it tastes as refreshing as it sounds.. I’m definitely trying it out.

Hero Tastea Ramazan offer

Hero Tastea Ramazan offer

 19) HobNob  Cafe 

Priced at Rs 1249+tax, Hobnob Cafe announced the following Iftaari deal. A good idea if you have plenty of people coming over and are in no mood to cook yourself.

Iftari from Hobnob

Iftari from Hobnob

 20) Arena/ Rangoli 

An Iftar dinner Buffet from Arena worth Rs. 1099+ tax. If you happen to be a member, you get more things out of the deal. If not, the food makes up for it all.

Arena/ Rangoli deal

Arena/ Rangoli deal

21) Hardees 

Love a good burger? Of course you do! Hardees Ramazan offer is now out. All forever alones can enjoy a burger, drink and fries for Rs. 450, while a group of 3 can get the same deal for Rs. 433 per person. Is there no place where being forever alone isn’t looked down upon? sigh.

Hardees Ramazan offer

Hardees Ramazan offer

22)     Fatburger 

If you are fat and think of yourself as a burger, here is a deal for you. Depending upon the number of people in your group, two deals with burgers, fries and drinks. considering how the place is always crowded even in normal days, you may want to grab a seat at sehri if you want iftar.

Iftar deal from Fatburgers

Iftar deal from Fatburgers

23)     Bella Vita 

For Rs. 950/- per person, grab your friends and head out to Bella Vita. You get a starter, main course and a scoop of gelato. That sounds good.

Bella Vita Ramazan offer

Bella Vita Ramazan offer

24) Gon Pacci 

With an exclusive menu for Ramazan offering a variety of a of 36 different items on ‘all you can eat’ basis, Gon Pacci charges a minimum of  Rs.999+tax. You do however have to make a reservation before visiting.

Iftar Buffet from Gon Pacci

Iftar Buffet from Gon Pacci

25) Pizzo 

Here is the Iftar deal from Pizzo.

Iftar deal from Pizzo

Iftar deal from Pizzo

26) Fusion Lounge 

Rs. 833 per person, an iftar dinner from Fusion Lounge. You get:

Iftar dinner deal by Fushion Lounge

Iftar dinner deal by Fushion Lounge

27) Red Emperor  

At Rs. 995 + tax Red Emperor offers an Iftar and Dinner Buffet. Remember not to fill up on the snacks and munchies and wait for the actual food.

Red Emperor

Red Emperor

28) McDonalds 

I apologize for the teeny size of this image. This is the only one I could find. The Iftar deal at Mcdonalds starts at Rs. 399 per person and includes a burger, drink and a piece of chicken. Not bad if you are a true McDonalds fan.

McDonalds Iftar deal

McDonalds Iftar deal

29) Cafe Cilantro 

Cafe Cilantro is offering you Iftar at just Rs. 290 + tax making it the cheapest to date, however this is just iftar, you know pakoras and roohafza type. I would recommend, skip the iftar and go for dinner instead.

Cafe Cilantro

Cafe Cilantro

30) Chatterbox Cafe (Pie in the Sky) 

At Rs. 950 per person, here is the Iftar menu by Chatterbox Cafe.

Iftar menu from Chatterbox

Iftar menu from Chatterbox

31) Subway 

This Ramazan buy one delicious sandwich from subway, and get another one free. Yes, I’m excited too.

Subway Ramazan deal

Subway Ramazan deal

32) Wok 

Well in the spirit of Ramazan we forgive them for whatever it is they are offering.

Wok Ramazan deal

Wok Ramazan deal

33) BBQ Tonight 

Offering both sehri and iftar deals, the all you can eat buffet from BBQ Tonight is a must try.

BBQ Tonight Ramazan deal

BBQ Tonight Ramazan deal

34) Gloria Jeans Cafe 

Four deals being offered by Gloria jeans, depending upon your budget.

Ramazan offer from Gloria Jeans

Ramazan offer from Gloria Jeans

35) Del Frio 

The Ramazan deal by Del Frio available on at Dolmen Mall Tariq Road. Rs. 1600.

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36) BOTS 

Plan to fill up during sehri? Go to BOTS. For Rs. 550 you get to stuff your face with delicious desi food!

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37) Sajjad Restaurant 

For the fresh sea breeze and a real family experience, visit Sajjad for their Ramazan buffet!

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38) Golden Dragon 

Depending upon the number of people in your group, Golden Dragon has three different Ramazan offers.

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39) The Patio

The Iftar menu from The Patio.


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40) Indulge 

The Ramazan deal from Indulgence is affordable to say the least. But is it worth it? Not sure. Haven’t had anything from Indulgence in quite a while.

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41) Cheeky Joe’s 

With Ramazan almost over, I found one more deal for you to try. The iftaar deal from Cheeky Joe’s

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Know of a deal and don’t see it on the list? Please let me know in the comments below. Much appreciated.

Tried any of the deals mentioned above? Let me know your experience.

The right to be governed Democratically

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The fate of the country is unknown. People are wondering if indeed the elections 2013 will be held as promised. With the current spate of violence across Pakistan, many have decided not to vote at all.

Keeping this view in mind, as well as the growing tensions in the country, the Center for Civic Education Pakistan held a week long course earlier this month to educate 22 young leaders from all over the country.

I too was a part of this course that revolved around elections 2013, focusing on the ‘right to be governed democratically’. The course, led by Mr Zafarullah Khan, Executive Director Centre for Civic Education, discussed the many fundamental rights a citizen has in a country and the extent to which he is aware of them.

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Held in Islamabad, the workshop began on 11th April 2013 and commenced with asking all participants to introduce their partners to the group. This exercise acquainted me with a number of different and incredible people I otherwise could have never met in one room alone.

I came across an incredibly brave lady from Turbat, Balochistan. Working as a social worker, she battled grave dangers everyday to help people of her community. Living is a city where even the basic human right – the right to live, is denied, she carries on trying to make a difference.

I met this young woman from Muzafargarh, Punjab who was doing her Bachelor’s in Nursing, the first girl in her family to do so.

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All in all, I got to be introduced to people who had actually done something with their lives, helped in some way to make a difference to the people around them and truly deserved being a part of the workshop. I on the other hand was there for God knows what reason.

While the course took us through different issues plaguing our society, it also taught us the basic fundamental rights a person has in his country, the history behind these rights, and how countries are answerable to a human rights council via the Universal Periodic Review. A country has to submit a report of all social, economic and political rights given to its people.

This particular class chaired by Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani talked about Pakistan in general and the two reviews already conducted in the country. The talk also extended to the changes these reviews have brought and those which will be visible in the coming decade or so.

The group with Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani

The group with Mr. Sajid Mansoor Qaisrani

The workshop wasn’t all learning. Interactive sessions with group work also asked members to discuss the role youth in the upcoming elections, the culture of fundamental rights in their particular community and dealt with the grounds on which the youth plans to vote.

For me the workshop was an eye-opener. Not only did I learn in detail about the constitution of Pakistan, I through healthy debates with fellow participants managed to gauge their mindset.

The best part about this workshop was the way it integrated people from all four provinces of Pakistan and brought them together. I learnt how people live in the different provinces even interior Sindh. They hopefully learnt that people from Karachi aren’t all dead.

During a group session

During a group session

According to a participant from Haripur, currently a student of Peshawar University, Sehrish Mehmood: “It was the most appropriate time to train (us) about the importance of constitution, as our constitutional history is taking new turns. It is important for us to understand it. And CCE (Center for Civic Education)just provided us with the platform to learn and know about it. This course gave me an insight into the importance of democracy and how important a constitution is for a strong state.”

Field visit to the Center of Civic Education.

Field visit to the Center of Civic Education.

Ifrah Faiz, a pilot from Peshawar said: “It was a great experience and a great learning platform where friends from all provinces shared their thoughts, views (over the) prevailing situation in their areas. I strongly believe that we (will) spread the knowledge gained (to) benefit the citizens of our country in our own capacities. As change always starts from our ownselves and then our efforts, will and endeavour take it further to the society. And we must remember that every individual effort counts so don’t forget to vote for election 2013.”

Sheraz Ali from Nowshera stated: “It (the course) was informative and interesting, but depends how we (will) put into practice (the lessons learnt) to fill the gap in.

For Swaleha Malik, the course was ‘a platform where you can voice your opinion.”

An amalgamation of all four provinces, the workshop aimed at lessening the differences between us all. Yet personally I witnessed the opposite. Conversations at lunch started with ‘who are you?’ The right answer being ‘Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pathan’. Me, I just sat there awkwardly saying meekly ‘I am a Pakistani’ because 1) I was born here, 2) I do not belong to any ethnicity and 3) I really do not care about the background of a person before talking to them.

Above all the workshop might have only been for days, it certainly changed me, for the better.

Certificate Distribution

Certificate Distribution

For more information on Center of Civic Education, please visit their website: www.civiceducation.org and http://www.citizenswire.com

The Path Once Take – part III

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The women in Iran are required by law to cover their heads. So accordingly we women prepared ourselves for the summer under long chaddars and scarves. My aunt borrowed some from another relative who had been to Iran earlier in the year, while my mum dug deep into her closet to find scarves and burqas from her trip to Saudia many years before.

Right on the border of Iran and Pakistan, the women each were handed a scarf or a chaddar, about to become our second skin for the entire month. And with our heads, forbidden to see the light of the day for a while, we entered Iran.

Reading this blog, some might think wow these people are religious. The truth I am ashamed to add is not quite so clear cut. It was the end of June when we set out on our journey. We kids saw it as a vacation ‘out of Pakistan’. The adults saw it as a way of bringing us, their hopelessly lost children a little towards the right path. And it was just that. A vacation ‘abroad’ with a little faith revival thrown in on a short budget.

What compelled me to share my story with you was the recent killings of Shias in Quetta who were on the same journey as I once was. Barely a week passed when another such incident occurred. Another group of people on their way through the same route were brutally massacred in Turbat. It is said that the notable humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi passed out after viewing the bodies of the deceased. Imagine the time for their families.

I made my journey sometime in 2003. I now wonder, what stopped these animals from this brutality then. Why now do they have such a free hand that they don’t hesitate killing dozens of people instantly? Who are these people and where are they hiding? What is making them kill another human being so mercilessly?

The saddest thing I have experienced while talking about the Shia Genocide is the generalization of the issue. Every time I talk about it, people tell me it is not just Shias who are being killed. No one is safe in Pakistan, everyone is being killed. I agree, but who is specifically being targeted? Who is being made to get down from a bus and shot point blank? And again who is being singled out for having slightly different beliefs. I agree no one is safe, but shoving the continuous ongoing massascre under the rug, will that help? The killers don’t generalize. They specifically target Shias, why cannot other people accept the fact that being a Shia in Pakistan is now almost a crime.

With absolutely no sense of accountability in Pakistan you get easily get away taking someone’s life. In fact it is now easier to kill someone and run away than getting your passport renewed. Dear reader, I ask nothing of you today. But if one day you hear of me being killed, at least have a heart and ask my killers what was my crime? Please do not think of it as just another loss of life in the deadliest countries of the world. And grant me the favor of recognizing the fact that I was killed because of my beliefs.

The Path Once Taken part II

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I thought it was the end of the world. No human in sight, except the tired fellow travelers on that bus. The fear of getting lost was there, for certain. Stories of robbers and thieves lying in wait for such travelers I had heard. But the idea of specifically being targeted and shot in the head had never occurred in my tiny inexperienced brain. But the signs of course were there.

About the Chagai range, one studies in Pakistan Studies. How rocky it is how difficult the terrain. What no text book tells you is that for miles and miles on those rocky hills chalked are the words ‘Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir’ Shia infidels. I kid you not. Go and see for yourself. Even though years have passed by since I crossed those hills, those cold cold words, still chill me to the bone.

We had decided to travel on our own. But on the way from Quetta, we met another family with the same intentions, also hailing from Karachi. They had made the same journey three times before, and hence they decided to ‘adopt’ us clueless beings.

After a grueling 12 hour bus ride we reached the last stop of Pakistan, Taftan. No not the sweet bread. The bus stopped at a rundown, almost haunted rest house greeting us with the picture of the Quaid. Jinnah in case you were wondering which.  Next to him were the words ‘Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa’ (far from home, yet like home). Seriously where exactly did they think we lived?

Ghar se duur, ghar ke jesa.

As soon as people got down, there was a mad dash stampede towards the nearest restroom. We however were saved from being trampled once again by my uncle’s ‘connections’. Army vans ready to take us to the army mess were a sight for my sore eyes.

More than the breakfast of anda paratha, with halwa on the side, I was happy to find clean bathrooms. But soon, I had to say goodbye to my country and enter Iran. The customs took a while to shoo us all in. And then began the most exciting time of my life. The journey into Iran.

The bored little town of Mirjava welcomed us into oblivion. Deserted as far as the eye could see, my little group tired after the long bus ride braced themselves for what was to come. We van-pooled with another family and reached Zahaidan after two hours, from where another back breaking 22 hour travel awaited us. By now we had started resembling Robinson Crusoes shipwrecked on an island.

The oblivion

The fun however had just begun! The wonderful people of Iran can only speak one language. Persian. No Arabic, no Urdu, and don’t get me started on English. Therefore we were limited to sign language, which we weren’t really very good at. The funny thing was, even though nobody in Iran could read English, most of the billboards and sign boards were in English. What they indicated however was anybody’s guess.

Our stay in Iran spanned over three weeks, during which we experienced things we never thought we would. However never once did the thought of not making home alive entered our minds.

Roza of Imamzada Hazart Shah Azeem

We went about on our ziarats. Visited the beautiful tombs and shrines across the country. Spent a pretty scary night in Tehran where we also had a multi-lingual fight with one of the bus drivers. The shrines on their own were breath-taking. The most memorable one was the one of Imamzada Hazrat Shah Azeem. Located on top of a mountain in Iran, it was so high up that at one point even cars refused to go up. For the weak and the old, a donkey had to be hired while the rest had to walk.

my younger sister atop a donkey

End of part 2

To be continued.

The Path Once Taken.

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Hard to believe now, but there was once a much better time. In the news today, among other things, what most disheartened me was the news of the bomb blast in Quetta targeting Shia Muslims returning from Iran. This news had the most impact on me, not because I belong to the sect, but rather because I too, a couple of years earlier had used the same route to travel to and from Iran.

Barely a teenager I accompanied my family consisting of 11 people in all to Quetta. Our bunch included my immediate family as well as an uncle and his family. There were young, there were old, religious, and not so but together we all set out.

Our plan was to visit Iran for pilgrimage to one of most sacred places for us, the Shrine of the 8th Imam Hazart Ali Raza (AS). The men of the family had taken time off from work, and so we were on a tight schedule. Therefore we refused to be a part of the ‘Kaflahs’ that usually take ignorant people like us to these revered places.

The 11 of us travelled to the beautiful city of Quetta without any fear. Another uncle being in the army, arranged for us, very comfortable lodgings in the army mess, where we spent the night merry-making and trying to write ‘Areezay’ – prayers on a piece of paper. With the adults all settled in for the night, us kids sat down to spill our deepest desires on that innocent paper, hoping that God could read our illegible handwritings.

The weird bunch in the once beautiful Quetta

I thought if I wrote mine in Urdu, I would get extra credit for trying and so we all penned away. While we refused to share our wishes, the general idea of what each wanted was there. Also because writing in Urdu, we each had to ask others how a particular word was spelt. And piecing together the entire wish wasn’t that hard.

The memorable night ended and the next day we set of to the bus stand to start our journey from Pakistan to Iran. The terrain was absolutely terrifying. The hills of the Chagai ranges so deserted I wondered how long if ever someone would take to find us if we got lost. There was absolutely no concept of a bus stand all the way from Quetta to Taftan. You had to be carrying food with you or else starve till you reach your destination. And don’t get me started on where people went ‘to relieve themselves’ on the way.

The terrifying terrain of Balochistan. On way to Taftan

There were however army checkpoints throughout. I know because my beloved uncle had made it sure that he received reports of the proceeding of his civilian family throughout the scary landscape. With numerous geography lessons from my mother going on in the background, to the loud Pushto songs the bus carrying me, went on its journey, unaware that many years later, people using the same pathway, for the same reason would be brutally murdered.

End of part one.

To be continued…..

When things strike close to home – Pakistan’s stance on Sectarian violence

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You know the feeling of carelessness when you hear the news? The idea that ‘such things’ happen to other people and not us? Yeah I am a living example of that. Every day on the telly you come across stories of people being chopped up and thrown across the city, murdered in cold blood, attacked with acid, and you think, that’s so sad. And then you change the channel.

That’s me. That has always been me. The continued spate of violence in our lives has made us immune to the most ghastly of criminal stories. And we find it very easy to digest them, along with the biryanis and niharis which we usually consume for dinner while watching these bulletins.

Back to the point, the recent wave of terror raising a chill down the spine of most people I know is the Shia genocide. On a steep rise with no intentions of slowing down, people across the country are being murdered gruesomely just for being Shias.

While the country already sees so many people being killed regardless of their religion, what baffles the mind is that we as a nation have simply stopped caring. Hardly getting a peep out of anyone, me included these murders continue. Everyday in Quetta, members of the Hazara community come under attack. Pilgrims from Gilgit Baltistan are made to stand in a line while their ids are checked and then shot point blank.

And what happens? A curfew during which these savages roam free while the grief stricken family members are under lock down and cannot even give their loved ones a proper burial. This is happening very regularly now. And while I am very aware of this, knowing how huge the danger is, I am also immune.

Karachi sees its fair share of sectarian violence. Very recently three lawyers belonging to the Shia sect were gunned down right in front of the court house. Extremely saddened I took to a social networking site Twitter to protest. But what I found was that many of the most respected Twitterati found it more compelling to protest against Maya Khan and her date catching brigade than raise a voice against this blatant murder.

Absolutely disheartened, I realized, that raising a voice against sectarian violence is not something this country feels important.

The recent weeks have seen protests against this genocide across the country. In Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi hundreds of thousands of Shias took to streets to protest against the killings. No media coverage was provided. What I got to know was solely through following relevant people on Twitter.

And once more back to the point, while news like this terribly disheartens me, I didn’t think they could strike so close to home. Whenever I hear of targeted sectarian violence in Karachi my heart skips a beat. Who? Where? When? How? Are questions running across my mind. Was it someone I knew? Was it someone I called brother, uncle, cousin or just knew through someone? 

Even if I don’t recognize the name, I can almost hear the cries of those who can. Nobody can realize the actual danger until they experience it themselves.

Stories of such violence are our dinner table conversations. Whenever we gather we talk about how a neighbours cousin was shot dead in front of his house, or how so and so’s son was killed. We talk about how dangerous it is to live in Pakistan now. We exchange duas for our protection. We tell each other which routes to take and which ones to avoid. It’s a ritual now. We all then part hoping none of us have to actually resort to those measures.

And so goes on the life of the immunized. And for the last time, back to the point. While I consider all Shias to be a unit, one family, still when you don’t know people personally there’s only a limit to how utterly helpless you can feel. So  I didn’t think things would ever strike so close to home. But they did.

I saw on the news a story of a very young man, in his early twenties being shot right outside his home as he waited for his ride to work. While extremely saddened I didn’t recognise the name, and so saying a silent prayer went back to doing what I was. It was only until late that my mother informed me that an aunt’s son had been murdered, the bubble burst. I vaguely remembered him. Seeing him sometimes in religious gatherings like Majlises. Worse I remembered he was two years younger than me. His life was just starting, and someone took it from him.

For the sake of not going too emotional here, I will stop here. The point I have been trying to make unsuccessfully throughout was nobody is safe. Nobody. And now I find it almost offensive to expect help from people who just don’t care. The protests are no help either. Pakistan is not a country where protests can make a difference, at least not in this age. If something has to be done, the people in power need to stop condemning these acts and actually do something. We on the other hand, need to stop looking up to them for help and look out for each other instead.

Our most powerful weapons, are our Imam Zamins, and duas. We cannot stop these acts by force, because contrary to what most think, sectarian violence in Pakistan is ONE SIDED!

My prayers are with every single one of you. In Pakistan and abroad.