Titillate us, entertain us, even educate us, but please, don’t talk about rights

Women Protest Qandeel murder

Women and men in Peshawar protest Qandeel Baloch’s murder. Photo via Javed Aziz Khan

Pakistani model and social media icon Qandeel Baloch rocked the boat with outrageous antics like offering to strip if Shahid Afridi led the Pakistan cricket team to victory against India in the T20 match a few months ago. Yesterday, her brother in Multan strangled her to death in apparently because she was bringing a bad name to the family — a family she financially supported. Continue reading

Pushing forward the cart that says “Educate Pakistan!”

My piece about the TCF fundraiser in Boston last weekend, published in The News on Sunday, May 15, 2016

Adil Najam, Nargis Mavalvala-Ateed Riaz-Beena Sarwar

Adil Najam, Nargis Mavalvala, Ateed Riaz at the speakers table. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Pitching in for education in Pakistan from Boston and beyond

Beena Sarwar

The Citizens’ Foundation is doing an amazing job, and I’m honoured to be here,” said Nergis Mavalvala, giving the keynote address at the sold-out Third Annual The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) Boston Fundraiser on Saturday, 7 May, 2016.

Propelled to celebrity status by her role in the recent breakthrough on gravitational waves predicted by Einstein, the Pakistani-American astrophysicist at MIT added, “TCF is fantastic – give generously”. Continue reading

Three good causes: help save a life; contribute to free medical camps; donate-a-goat

17-yr old Allahdin from Mithi, Tharparkar in hospital in Karachi. Photo: Wahid Khairi

17-yr old Allahdin from Mithi, Tharparkar at hospital in Karachi. Photo: Wahid Khairi

Sharing three appeals for help here from people I trust,  for those who would like to get involved or contribute in some way to any of these worthwhile causes:

Continue reading

Afridi’s googly and CII’s no ball

Afridi kitchenUpdated version of my PERSONAL POLITICAL column published in The News op-ed and TOI blogs on Friday

Beena Sarwar

Shahid Afridi’s googly lobbed at women’s cricket in Pakistan in an interview, dismissing women as just good cooks, went viral on social media over the past few days.

And recently, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) decreed that Pakistani laws that prohibit under-age marriage and place conditions on a married man’s attempts to take another wife are ‘un-Islamic’.

Ostensibly very different, both stem from the same patriarchal mind-set that sees women as inferior to men, justifying itself by invoking religion or cultural traditions. Continue reading

From India with love: Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan

"You were the steady hand, now we must learn to fight the pain" - Haris Gazdar

“You were the steady hand, now we must learn to fight the pain” – Haris Gazdar

A moving and beautiful tribute to Hassam Qadir Shah, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a principled human rights lawyer and decent human being with a million dollar smile and gentle manner, married to the filmmaker Aisha Gazdar. Thank you Kamayani for writing this #RIP – Tribute to Hassam , Friend and Human Rights Activist from Pakistan. Here’s a link to Hassam’s seminal booklet on criminal procedures, in easy to read Q&A format about gender violence in Pakistan, “There is no ‘honour’ in Killing – Don’t Let them Get Away with Murder’ (Shirkat Gah, 2002)

Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated)

Marvi Sirmed raises some critical questions about the complex case of Rinkle Kumari, with a timeline of the case, on her blog Rinkle Kumari: A Test Case for Jinnah’s Pakistan (Updated).

Pakistan: A Thousand Separate Worlds

constable.jpg

Constable cradles Apache, a dog she rescued while she was embedded with Marines in Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Chris Borouncle

I wrote this book review for the Brown Alumni Magazine, Nov 2011 issue, and didn’t get around to posting it earlier. This is a slightly longer version than the one BAM published.

Playing with Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself by Pamela Constable (Random House, 2011).

When it comes to Pakistan, veteran journalist Pamela Constable certainly ‘gets it’. Her latest book, ‘Playing with Fire: Pakistan at war with itself‘ is readable, thoughtful and nuanced. A veritable ‘Pakistan 101’ with much to offer even insiders like myself. 

As Kabul bureau chief and then deputy foreign editor at the Washington Post, Constable travelled extensively around the country. Her interactions with ordinary folk and newsmakers yield empathy and human faces often missing from discussions about Pakistan. Continue reading

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