Tag Archives: Women

June 21

June 21, the sun brightens our skies longer

Democracy: is a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Feminism: The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.  The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not sameness. Feminism is not about hating men.

Although democracy and feminism are not as democratic and feminist as they should have been, but we still have something to celebrate because of the struggle of Benazir Bhutto. I often quote the fragments of her speech delivered at Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. In her speech she advocated Islam, women empowerment, and democracy. Let me quote some again to refresh our memories and celebrate her day of birth, because she still is alive for whatever she had contributed towards democracy ant women empowerment:

Empowerment is not only a right to have political freedom. Empowerment is the right to be independent; to be educated; to have choices in life. Empowerment is the right to have the opportunity to select a productive career; to own property; to participate in business; to flourish in the market place.

Muslim women have a special responsibility to help distinguish between Islamic teachings and social taboos spun by the traditions of a patriarchal society. This is a distinction that obscurantist would not like to see. For obscurantists believe in discrimination. Discrimination is the first step to dictatorship and the usurpation of power. In distinguishing between Islamic teachings and social taboos, we must remember that Islam forbids injustice; Injustice against people, against nations, against women.

It shuns race, colour, and gender as a basis of distinction amongst fellowmen. It enshrines piety as the sole criteria for judging humankind. It treats women as human beings in their own right, not as chattels. A woman can inherit, divorce, receive alimony and child custody. Women were intellectuals, poets, jurists and even took part in war. The Holy Book of the Muslims refers to the rule of a woman, the Queen of Sabah. The Holy Book alludes to her wisdom and to her country being a land of plenty. The Prophet Muhammad himself married a working woman Bibi Khadija.

Women are not only victims of physical abuse; women are victims of verbal abuse. Often men, in anger and frustration, indulge in the uncivilized behaviour of rude and vulgar language against women. Unfortunately, women at times also use vulgar language to denigrate another woman. The discrimination against women can only begin to erode when women are educated and women are employed.

When I was growing up, women were not educated. I was the first girl in my family to go to university and to go abroad for my studies. Now it has become the norm for girls to be educated at university and abroad when the families can afford it. I have seen a lot of changes in my lifetime.

The end of the cold war should have ushered in peace and an era of progress of women. Regrettably, the proliferations of regional tensions and conflicts have belied our aspirations. As in the past, women and girls have again been the most direct victims of these conflicts—the most helpless, and thus the most abused. The use of rape as a weapon of war and an instrument of “ethnic cleansing” is as depraved as it is reprehensible. The unfolding of this saga in different parts of the world, including Jammu and Kashmir and Bosnia Herzegovina has shaken the conscience of the entire international community.

A woman proud of her cultural and religious heritage, a woman sensitive to the obstacles to justice and full participation that still stand before women in almost every society on earth. As the first woman ever elected to head an Islamic nation, I feel a special responsibility towards women’s issues and towards all women. And as a Muslim woman, I feel a special responsibility to counter the propaganda of a handful that Islam gives women a second class status.

There is a moral crisis in the world, a crisis of injustice and inaction, a crisis of silence and acquiescence. The crisis is caused by centuries and generations of oppression and repression. This conference, therefore, transcends politics and economics. We are dealing with a fundamental moral issue.We must shape a world free from exploitation and maltreatment of women. A world in which women have opportunities to rise to the highest level in politics, business, diplomacy, and other spheres of life. Where there are no battered women. Where honour and dignity is protected in war and conflict. Where we have economic freedom and independence. Where we are equal partners in peace and development. A world equally committed to economic development and political development. A world as committed to free markets as to women’s emancipation.

We must shape a world free from exploitation and maltreatment of women. A world in which women have opportunities to rise to the highest level in politics, business, diplomacy, and other spheres of life. Where there are no battered women. Where honour and dignity is protected in war and conflict. Where we have economic freedom and independence. Where we are equal partners in peace and development. A world equally committed to economic development and political development. 

And even as we catalogue, organize, and reach our goals, step by step by step, let us be ever vigilant. Repressive forces always will stand ready to exploit the moment and push us back into the past.

I have never claimed that Benazir Bhutto was perfect, no one is, but she still managed to offer the world an alternative model of feminism. And in her campaigns, she advocated new services for women and opposed sexual discrimination, though few measures were adopted under her government. If anyone personified the feminist and democratic struggle in Pakistan, it was Benazir Bhutto. She challenged tradition, patriarchal norms and defied cultural boundaries. She continues to reign on as the most influential Pakistani of our times, overshadowing sportspersons, politicians, generals and Islamist jihadists. She challenged terrorists publicly even when she knew that the price of that challenge could be her own life.

Benazir Bhutto was a zealous guardian of her father’s legacy, populist, appealing and glamorous face of Pakistan and a trailblazing feminist. She was a lighthouse for democracy in Pakistan: “Benazir Bhutto doesn’t cease to exist the moment she gets married. I am not giving myself away. I belong to myself and I always shall.”

In her famous speech Benazir Bhutto quoted the German writer, Goethe: Freedom has to be re-made and re-earned in every generation. We must do much more than decry the past. We must change the future.

Let me quote my own words again to conclude the article: the day lasts longer on June the 21st to celebrate the achievements of Benazir Bhutto for Democracy and Feminism.

The meesha shafi

Regardless of the legal position, employers should strive to eliminate workplace bullying and harassment as they both have a negative impact on employee morale and motivation.

In every employment contract there is an implicit obligation of mutual trust between the employer and the employee. Failure to address intimidation and harassment likely leads to a breach of trust, which amounts to a breach of contract.

Many people refer to bullying and harassment interchangeably. However, because in recent years the law on sex, race and other types of discrimination has explicitly recognised harassment as a category of unlawful discrimination, there is now a tendency to use “harassment” specifically in this context. 

In United Kingdom under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is described as unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating another person’s dignity or creating an “intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment” for another person. It may be of a sexual nature or related to the gender of the victim, transgender status, disability, race, age, religion or belief or sexual orientation.

In April 2018, Meesha turned to her social media account and publicly alleged that she had “been subjected, on more than one occasion, to sexual harassment of a physical nature” at the hands of Ali Zafar. Meesha wrote that by speaking out, she hoped to “break the culture of silence that pervades our society.”

Ali Zafar denied the allegations and filed a civil libel suit against Shafi for one billion rupees in damages. The court agreed to the trial and imposed closure on Shafi, which still prevents her from discussing the allegations in public.Zafar has accused Shafi of organising a social media campaign against him. According to newspaper reports, he said he could not believe that “anyone can come forward and accuse someone who is innocent and decent, has worked hard for over two decades – solely on social media. 

In the following two and a half years, Ali Zafar took part in quite a few television programs to defend his name, sometimes accompanied by his wife. He claimed the charges were a smear campaign, coordinated by a group of women who created false accounts and were financed by foreign money.

When Ali Zafar accused Meesha Shafi and Nighat Dad of leading an overseas-funded campaign against him, it reminded me of a speech by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She appeared to be well aware of such situations and said:

“Civil society is a concept intrinsically linked to strong democratic traditions, giving real meaning to the concept of pluralism in society. Nongovernmental groups, community organisations, women’s organisations, student unions, trade unions, environmental organisations, professional associations, and religious groups each represent the interests of particular constituents. Collectively, they form the foundation of democracy in theory and practice. The groups making up civil society are often at the vanguard of political reform and demands for governmental transparency. They are the internal election monitors. They stand up against violations of human rights. They work with international groups that promote democracy to guarantee a fair political process but not a guaranteed political outcome. Such civil society groups can be both powerful and credible. Although civil society cannot replace political parties in the democratic process, it complements political parties by ensuring a level playing field in politics. By working with their counterparts around the world, NGOs in the Muslim world can integrate societies and break down walls of ignorance. Civil society is therefore invaluable to building democratic systems that isolate extremists. There can be no democracy without a civil society, just as there can be no democracy without the rule of law. Laws should be enacted to protect civil society from political attack. Financial and tax incentives can further strengthen civil society institutions. Here again, women’s organisations have played the most crucial role in civil society in promoting political reform in the democratically developing world. 

We need a powerful, heavily networked international group aggregating activist women’s groups throughout the Muslim world. Women’s groups can serve as the linchpin of civil societies around the world.”

In July 2018, Shafi also initiated court proceedings, attempting to bring Zafar to trial for sexual harassment in the workplace. Her case was rejected because of the technicality that freelancers were not subject to the legislation. An appeal before the Lahore High Court was dismissed and although her lawyers challenged the decision in the Supreme Court, the case has still not been heard.

Until September 2020, when news of the charges broke, nine people, five women including Meesha Shafi, and four men, had been booked for defamation by the FIA’s cybercrime wing over the alleged social media “character assassination” of Ali Zafar.

Meesha Shafi’s lawyer Nighat Dad, says she knows dozens of women who have complained to the FIA about online abuse, hate-speech, rape threats and vindictive sharing of intimate videos, but had received no response. When girls at the Lahore Grammar School recently alleged harassment by teachers and fellow students, several were threatened with criminal defamation, after which the accusations went quiet.

 “The cyber laws that were enacted in the name of protecting women in Pakistan now are being misused and weaponised to silence them.”

For the women, most galling of all was the law they had been charged under. The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act was passed in 2016 partly to protect women from online harassment, but the wing of the FIA tasked with prosecuting these cases is accused of being ineffective.

According to Nighat Dad she herself has been subjected to a vicious smear campaign, with newspapers making allegations that she is a foreign operative running an “illegal NGO”, unsubstantiated claims retweeted by Zafar. 

In a recent development, on January 11th, 2021, the Supreme Court approved Meesha Shafi’s plea for workplace harassment against Ali Zafar. She was granted leave by the court in her appeal against Zafar, meaning the court will be deliberating if Meesha Shafi’s accusations of sexual harassment should come under the workplace harassment law. 

The Punjab government as well as Zafar received advice from the court, as the judges decided that there should be a proper hearing of the points raised in the case.In my opinion, it is no longer a matter of winning or losing. The case will establish new precedents and guidelines regarding harassment at work in Pakistan. Regardless of the outcome, Meesha will forever be remembered for seeking justice for victims of harassment in the workplace.

That is why I refer to Meesha as “the Meesha Shafi”. 

Paramount of Feminism; Zainab bint Ali

The battle of Karbala is largely considered a male event, revolving around the sacrifice of Hussain Ibn e Ali and the lack of visibility of women. The women of Karbala are known through the suffering of the male kin and the hardship they endured in the absence of men. The Karbala narratives that are derivative from this historic event, the martyrdom of Hussain being seen as the key moment in the history. In the earlier narratives, women were largely seen as passive victims of the tragedy and know largely through the trials and tribulations they faced. In some accounts the central female character Zainab bint Ali in Karbala is described as being weak with grief, choked with tears, in the aftermath of Karbala. This trend of representations, portraying the Karbala women as weak and passive actors changes adequately when you read the post Karbala events, the journey of the family of Holy Prophet from Karbala to Damascus as prisoners of war. 

Zainab bint Ali’s character has been an integral part of the Karbala narrative, in her augmentative role Zainab is the epitome of command, who had her father’s fiery tongue and her mother’s forbearance. It was the night of the tenth of Muharram that Zainab took charge of her desolated household. The focus shifts to Zainab at the dusk of Ashura. From this point onward, she spoke with paramount authority and unrivalled courage. Zainab confronted Yazid at his court in Damascus, to redeem her family’s suffering and tell the world the reasons for which Hussain Ibn e Ali and his companions suffered. From this moment onward, Zainab evoked the far-flung conquest of Hussain, metaphorically turning Damascus into a variant of Karbala. Hussain’s martyrdom and his physical combat are reinforced through Zainab’s subsequent confrontation with Yazid; her battle with words and deeds. Zainab became the feminine face of Hussain and Abbas Ibn e Ali.

A rigid disunion between the emotional and the rationalised versions of Karbala narrative, where the traditional narrative only make people cry and the authenticated one teaches lessons is problematic because, it separate the political from the spiritual and tends to overlook the intrinsic spiritual message of Karbala. The characters of the Karbala women are no less important than the men and their intellectual skills and oratory powers are equal to the defiant powers of their male kin. The following excerpt of the sermon of Zainab bint Ali at Yazid’s court is a prime example of such courage:

Whatever you consider today, as a bounty would turn into reparation for tomorrow; whatever you have sent in advance would be received by you. Allah does not like oppression toward his servants. I complained to Him and put my trust upon Him; thus whatever deceit you want to practice, go ahead and do it; whatever endeavours and efforts you can make, try them. 

By Allah you would never be able to remove our remembrance from the hearts, nor would you ever be able to destroy our revelations; you would never reach our splendourand majesty; you would never be able to wash this ugly spot of tyranny from your dress; your opinion and suggestions are invalid and unstable. The duration of your rein is very short, and your assembly would soon be scattered; on that day when the heavenly crier would announce: Praise be upon the Lord of the Worlds, and are beginning- with prosperity and salvation-and our end-with martyrdom and blessing. O You, Who is just and righteous toward us and who is the most compassionate among all the compassionate ones, we put our trust only upon you.

The late Fahmida Riaz who was a progressive Urdu writer, poet, human rights activist and feminist, depicted the address of Zainab bint Ali in a poem, titled Hazrat Zainab ka KhutbaSham key Darbar Mein. The poem ends with a declaration of defiance from Zainab bint Ali, and the defiance is immediately followed in the final couplet by a call to feminism.

You perpetrated a horrible crime, O murderer Yazid

Do not think it is glad tidings of victory decreed

But the very end of the low which you think to be a high

The men and women you over-ran with your army were a handful

The Gracious Lord from the sky watched the unjust slaughter

You have caused yourself a huge loss

The wrath you visited, your oppression upon our brood

You cut your own jugular, drank your own blood

The Prophet’s family have embraced martyrdom

Their heads held high, departing successfully from this kingdom

They shine on the firmament, will be remembered by the earth

The darkness of your face is now indelible, you accursed

There is great noise in every quarter over your tyranny

You deserve curses, and are worthy of a penalty

Humanity presents her a golden tribute

She elevated the world of femininity with a crowning attribute

Translated by Raza Naeem

Zainab was the third child of Ali ibn Abi Talib and his wife Fatimah bint Muhammad. Like her two elder brothers, Hassan and Hussain ibn Ali, Zainab was named by Prophet Muhammad pbuh. The name “Zainab” means, “adornment of her father”. 

She is a constant reminder that the human spirit will fight against and triumph over oppression and is seen as a protagonist, not as a victim. And finally, women were given the right, or even the responsibility, to challenge male authority when a man acted in an impious manner, even if he was the ruling caliph. Hussain’s Jihad was marked partly by sword and arrows; Zainab’s Jihad was waged through words of eloquence. Hussain made Karbala immortal; Zainabassured the immortality of Karbala through her sermons in Damascus. The manifestation of her acts is seen in the words of her grandfather Muhammad pbuh: 

The best form of jihad is to utter just words in the presence of a tyrant ruler.

The struggle of Zainab the conqueror of Damascus reminds us again and again that the minority must not be intimidated by the Majority.

Attacks Won’t Silence Us

Starting from ‘you’re a bitch’ to ‘you deserve to be killed because you’re against the state’. This is one extreme to another. Everything that goes in between, you can imagine.

Umaima Ahmed works for The News on Sunday said this in December 2018. Many journalists in Pakistan face online harassment and in the case of women, the abuse they get is often sexual in nature.

A survey in 2018, among Pakistani journalists by the Digital Rights Foundation, showed that 66 percent of respondents had experienced ‘digital insecurity’. This includes, but is not limited to, being hacked, threatened, blackmailed and being harassed over a sustained period of time. Many women whochallenge the status quo face extraordinary backlash and abuse. There is self-censorship not only because of the abuse they face online, but also because there is real fear of that becoming offline abuse. When it comes to women journalists, it’s very sexual in nature. People abuse them not based on their content but based on how they look and their body. They body shame them. Such online abuse threatens media diversity in a country where women already make up a small fraction of journalists. Women are coming out of their comfort zones and out of their homes. The more they are reclaiming spaces, the more they are facing challenges, said Nighat Dad

Nothing has changed I am afraid since then, on August 12, a joint statement signed by some 50 women journalistscondemning a “well-defined and coordinated campaign” of harassment on social media, including abusive language and threats of violence, vicious attacks through social media are being directed at women journalists and commentators in Pakistan, making it incredibly difficult for us to carry out our professional duties. The statement further outlined the systematic abuse the female journalists are subjected to beinstigated by government officials and then amplified by a large number of Twitter accounts, mainly declaring their affiliation to the ruling party. In what is certainly a well-defined and coordinated campaign, personal details of women journalists and analysts have been made public. To further discredit, frighten and intimidate us, we are referred to as paddlers of “fake news”, “enemy of the people” and accused of taking bribes. Critical posts are drowned under sexual slurs and baseless allegations. There have also been multiple reports of pictures and other personal information of female journalists being accessed and spread online, endangering their safety. The group of journalists also retreated that they are being prevented from exercising their right to free speech and participate in public discourse

The statement demanded the government to immediately restrain its members from targeting women in the media. Asking Prime Minister, Imran Khan should send out a clear message to all party members, supporters and followers, to desist from launching these attacks, whether directly or indirectly. The government should hold all such individuals within the government accountable and take action against them.

In response to the joint statement, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Pakistani authorities to ensure that the online threats and hate messages are stopped. We regard the highest levels of the Pakistani government as either responsible or complicit in these recent cyber harassment campaigns against certain women journalists who don’t toe the official line, said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

Benazir Shah said the social media harassment usually follows a very specific pattern. First government officials target you, calling your tweet ‘fake news’ or accusing you of being an ‘enemy of the people’ or a ‘lifafa’ journalist.

As expected, trolls responded back with filthiest language to the female journalists. Special Assistant to the prime minister on political communication, Dr Shahbaz Gill responded on social media earlier today accusing Benazir Shah and Mehmil Sarfaraz of being a supporter of PPP and PMLN, who are specifically trying to link only PTI with harassment. 

Not long ago, an alleged audio call of Member Provincial Assembly of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Uzma Kardar wasleaked on social media, wherein the she was heard saying that First Lady Bushra Bibi has restricted the movement of PTI leaders in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence. There’s a line in the house which nobody can cross. She controls everything in the house. She also said that establishment isplaying a very prominent role and has controlled the media. There is a clear message that establishment and government are on one page. It is good because no government can survive without the support of establishment in Pakistan.

On June 15, Special Assistant to the PM for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Rights Development Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari criticized Uzma Kardar on twitter for her disrespectful remarks about the First Lady. The PTI MPA could be heard saying indecent things about Bushra Bibi in the audio. One can’t expect her to understand the calibre of First Lady but it is extremely shameful of Uzma Kardar to be talking behind her back, prime minister and First Lady’s respect comes foremost for all of us. Embarrassing behaviour from anyone who claims to be associated with the party.

Ultimately Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan removed treasury MPA Uzma Kardar from his ministry’s media strategy committee and the slot of the Punjab government’s spokesperson. If an MPA of sitting government can be removed within a week of a leaked audio, why prime minister’s office cannot issue a statement in favour of the women journalists?

I sincerely expect Prime Minister Imran Khan to take immediate notice of this dirty campaign on social media and instruct his advisors to abstain from attacking female journalists instead. It is in the interest of whatever democracy is left in the country not to silence the voices with force and online harassment. 

Let me repeat it again with that attacks cannot silence women journalists.

Whore of Babylon

Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.

Hooker, whore, and prostitute, call girl, hooker, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers?
Don’t you think men visiting brothels are prostitutes not women?
What’s a polite and respectful name for a prostitute?
Ask yourself this question honestly?

Like mother like daughters

Every day is women’s day.

The International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been coming about for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.

This day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. The General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be remarked on any day of the year by Member States.

Obsession is, the domination of one’s thoughts or impressions by a persistent idea, image, or desire. Since I met with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I am obsessed with her fearlessness, her vision for democracy, her views on human rights and freedom of speech. Today Pakistan is celebrating the International Women’s day, I would like to share not a pleasant incident, but it is linked to her bravery.

On Nov 27 1991 a friend of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Farhana Veena Hayat was assaulted by five gunmen at her residence in Karachi. Ms Farhana Veena Hayat was the daughter of Sardar Shaukat Hayat, a prominent member of the All India Muslim League and granddaughter of Sir Sikander Hayat, chief minister of united Punjab.

She accused the province’s home affairs adviser, Irfanullah Marwat, a son-in-law of the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, of having ordered the violation. She claimed the rape was politically motivated because of her friendship with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. There were two other cases set out the limelight because of Farhana Hayat’s case, Khursheed Begum and Rahila Tiwana, a Pakistan Peoples Party student activist. All three women were connected with PPP.


She was raped to send me a message. This is the worst sort of male prejudice, male chauvinism to send a message to a woman political leader by raping her friend, her supporters: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto led her Pakistan People’s Party, chanting “Fascists,” in an unprecedented walkout from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s ceremonial address to a session of Parliament. Firing tear-gas canisters and swinging batons, police later drove 2,000 Bhutto supporters away from the heavily guarded Parliament House. Ghulam Ishaq Khan denied any official complicity. He told the reporters that the charges against Irfan Ullah Marwat are nothing more than fabrication.

Initially, the Sindh. The government tried to sink off the case as one of audacity and assault. The police even refused to lodge an FIR. Benazir Bhutto, along with several political parties and women’s organizations, established a countrywide campaign demanding the arrest of the offenders but no arrests were made. Protests over the rape of Farhana Hayat reached a peak on 12 December 1991 when rallies were called in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi

On Dec 12 1991 the Sindh government formed a one-man tribunal consisting of Abdul Rahim Qazi of the Sindh High Court to test the case. The tribunal’s report, presented to the Sindh government two weeks later and made public. The tribunal cleared Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat of any engagement in the rape and also concluded there was no political motive behind the rope.

Mr Irfan ullah Marwat remained highly controversial during the term of office of all powerful Sindh Chief ministers, the late Jam Sadiq Ali. The two, along with the former DIG CIA, Samiullah Marwat, were blamed by Benazir Bhutto for unleashing a reign of terror on the PPP leaders and workers, which reminded her of the days of the late General Ziaul Haq.

Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat, who was elected from the PS-114 constituency on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket, met Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari on 24TH February 2017 at the Bilawal House and announced joining the party. I just got blanked when I heard this news, couldn’t understand how to respond.

While I was in shock BB’s daughter came to the deliverance;

IMG_1384 (1)


All faiths and all societies have given parents an honourable status. From a purely material standpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, I am sure it must have been very difficult for Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto to show their disagreement publicly, but it was the training of their brave mother who taught her children how to show your disagreement without being rude. Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it in full. Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto you are an inspiration for millions this year and years to come. I hope you always will stand strong for the women of Pakistan.



Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women globally, as different studies show it kills about 40,000 women every year only in Pakistan. According to World Health Organisation, breast cancer rates are starting worse and it is not sparing even younger age group. Breast cancer is the most predominant type of cancer in the world. In Pakistani society, there are multiple factors associated with late detection of the disease. One of them is social set up, where women are reluctant to undergo their medical check up and pressing out their medical issues. If women are being diagnosed with breast cancer, they don’t even share the news with their family members. In rural regions of Pakistan, no formal health infrastructure is available for the rural population. Illiteracy is also a major cause of breast malignant neoplastic disease among women because women have no awareness about personal hygienic conditions. Most of the Pakistani women have no proper access to the medical facilities due to gender-based discrimination. 1 in 9 Pakistani women has become the patient of breast cancer. In Pakistan, the most frequently diagnosed cancer among females is also breast cancer, accounting for about one in nine female patients. Its incidence in Pakistan is 2.5 times higher than that in neighbouring rural areas like Iran and India. The disease is curable. It can be detected early if routine breast examination is done. According to the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre website, several studies and reports suggest that among Asian population Pakistani women have the highest risk of breast cancer. Lack of awareness about the diseases and diagnostic facilities, however leads to late diagnosis which is why many women lose their lives to the disease. People hesitate to discuss the issue because of cultural norms. It is important for people to realise the importance of early detection to save the life of a mother, a sister, a wife or a daughter. Women are the heart of the home and our core consumers. The government should create widespread awareness.
A short breast examination can prevent this cancer and protect women from this most horrifying and horrendous nightmare. Breast cancer is not ‘just’ about breasts. From there it can lead anywhere in our body.

Scientific evidence indicates that women can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by at least 20 per cent by being active for 30 minutes every day.
To reduce risk of breast cancer, one needs to be physically active on a veritable basis. That means exercising for a total of at least 30 minutes a day. Integrate physical activity into your day to day routine. There are lots of different ways to be physically active; brisk walk to work or the shops or park ,push a baby buggy, wheelchair, gardening, vacuuming, sweep the paths, walk up the stairs, or go for a swim.
Dietary change is another important approach to cancer control.Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers. Jet lag or shift work disrupts the body clock and could increase the hazards of deadly breast cancer spreading, new research suggests. Interrupted sleep patterns could increase a woman’s chances of developing rapid-spreading versions of the cancer. Previous research have shown women who experience broken sleep, are more probable to develop breast cancer, thanks to advances in medical care, the rate of survival has doubled over the last 40 years and around half of cancer patients survive for ten or more years.

Women diagnosed when the disease is still localised have a 99 per cent probability of surviving.
Together, our actions can deliver eloquently greater impact. In concert, we can defeat breast cancer. We all can contribute by spreading awareness on twitter or face book or write a blog or share your story .I am proud to spread the word about how meaningful every action really can be as we all work together to do our share to eliminate breast cancer at least in suburban parts of the country .

Make a discernible difference to the support and care available for people affected by breast cancer by becoming a Breast Cancer Voice, support the scientists who test, analyse and experiment to find ways to prevent breast cancer and treat it more effectively. Speak out with the campaigners who push for more dependable services, treatments and care for patients. A pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. It may be worn to honour those who have been diagnosed with breast malignant neoplastic disease.

Awareness isn’t enough;educate

Women : face of Islam

Aerial view of Hijr e Ismail,picture credit googleimages

I travel to open my heart and eyes and learn more around the world than our books will accommodate.I travel to bring what little I can in my ignorance and knowledge,to those parts of the globes whose riches are differently dispersed.Six years ago I travelled to Mecca to perform Hajj in search of few unanswered questions.

Hajj is one of mankind’s most enduring rites for more than 1400 years.The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their household during their absence. There are about 3 million Muslims from all over the World perform Hajj and approximately 4 million Muslims perform Umrah every year.The present form of Hajj was established by Muhammad with its roots in the chronicle of Abraham, the Hajj is a set of rituals performed every year for five days in the month of Zia-Hajj. Pilgrims follow the route of Muhammad, who went on only one Hajj. It begins in Mecca, before moving to the desert of Mina, then to Arafat, for a day-long vigil, then to the rocky plain of Muzdalifah, a few miles away, where pilgrims collect pebbles to ritually stone the Devil, and then brings back to Mina for three days. Back in Mecca, pilgrims bid farewell to the Kaaba.

What is so special about the Hajj that it is expected to produce close to significant changes in the personality, attitude, and outlook of a person? Is there anything magical in the rites and rituals of the Hajj that produces the changes, or is it the constant conscious effort on the part of the performer to inculcate in himself/herself the spirit of those rites and rituals which brings close to the desired changes?What is the most significant aspect of this adoration?

Since my return from Hajj I have consulted many accounts written on Hajj to learn the essence and core lesson from Hajj.Majority of the accounts discuss about the rewards of Hajj , seldom scholars have pointed out towards the literal message.

While browsing many accounts on Hajj I came across a quote from Jaffer Sadiq;

“Ismail buried his mother Hajr in the area of Hijr e Ismail and then constructed a wall over it so that people would not step her grave.”

The whole practice of Hajj hides in these lines ,this tradition is further explained by Dr Ali Shariti in his account on Hajj,he elaborates;

Toward the west of Kaaba there is a semi-circular short wall which faces Kaaba. It is called Ismail’s Hajar. Hajar signifies lap or skirt. The semi lunar wall resembles a skirt.Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim had a black maid called Hajar. Here was a woman who was not honoured enough to become a second wife to Ibrahim yet Allah connected the symbol of Hajar‘s skirt to His symbol, Kaaba.The skirt of Hajar was the region in which Ismail was raised. The house of Hajar is there. Her grave is near the third column of Kaaba.

What a surprise since no one, not even the prophets, is reckoned to be buried in mosques, but in this case, the house of a black maid is located next to Allah’s house! Hajar, the mother of Ismail is buried in that location. Kaaba extends toward her grave. There is a narrow passage between the wall (Hajar’s skirt) and Kaaba. When circumambulating around Kaaba, Allah commanded that you must go around the wall not through the passage otherwise your Hajj will not be taken on.

Those who believe in monotheism and those who have accepted Allah’s invitation to travel to Hajj must touch this skirt when circumambulating the Kaaba. The grave of a black African maid is now a part of Kaaba; it will be circumambulated by man forever! Today the infection of social profiling still remains where we are judged on the colour of our skin, caste, social class or even beliefs.  How wonderful is this symbol that Ismael planted?A flag of equality at the entrance of the all knowing, all seeing Great creator’s household. Now we can affirm the Kaaba is humanity’s bastion.

Allah, the Almighty  needs nobody and nothing. However, among all His countless and eternal creatures, Allah has chosen one, mankind, the noblest of them.From among all humanity: a woman, From among all women: a slave, And from among all slaves: a black housemaid!

The weakest and most humiliated one of His creatures was given a place at His side and a room in His house. He has come to her house and become her neighbour.. Hence now, there are two, Allah and Hajar, under the ceiling of this “HOUSE”!

The rites of Hajj are a memory of Hajar. The word Hijrah (migration) has its root in her name as does the word immigrant.

Hajar‘s grave is in the midst of man’s circumambulation of Kaaba. You, the immigrant, who has disassociated himself from everything and accepted Allah’s invitation to go to Hajj, you will circumambulate Hajar’s grave and the Kaaba of Allah simultaneously. The planets rotate around the sun, the electrons around the nucleus, rotating around such a center mean allegiance with love. Tens of thousands circumambulating around the Kaaba and Hajr like the galaxy turning together with billions of stars.

Although the history of hajj goes back to Ibrahim’s era, but Islam contributed furthermore towards Hajr.In the second year after Hijrah according to some traditions Prophet Muhammad was  commanded to change direction of prayers from Mosque Al-Aqsa to The Holy Kaaba.Prayers have become a constant reminder about  the importance of women. Stand in respect when you embark on your prayers and bow down to bury your ego to acknowledge the status of WOMEN and thank Almighty God in Sujood for giving you this chance to infer.It is hard to realise.But for those who think they live in freedom and defend humanism, the significance of these incidents transgresses the scope of their apprehension.



Esteem is an unassuming resounding force. It means being treated with consideration and esteem and to have a regard for other peoples’ feelings, listening to people and discovering them, i.e. giving them one’s full attention. Even more importantly, respect means treating one with dignity. Respect is the opposite of humiliation and contempt. Hence, where the latter can be a cause of conflict, the former and its opposite can help translate it. How do you feel when you are appreciated , honoured and respected ?

Do women need any legislation to protect themselves under such commandment ?

be respectful to women,for they are the mothers of mankind.”

This article first published in The Nation

We the people


Benazir Bhutto was one of the most charismatic leaders that Pakistan’s  politics had produced. Since her return home in 2007, she had been the target of at least three assassination attempts by elements linked to al Qaeda and the Taliban. She staged a series of mass meetings across Pakistan. She did that despite her aides  appeals for caution in the wake of a double suicide bombing that narrowly failed to kill her on the night of her return from exile in October 2007 which killed more than 130 people.

“We will continue to meet the public,” she said as she visited survivors of the bombings at a Karachi hospital. “We will not be deterred.” One cannot take part in democratic life from behind walls,I am not like bin Laden or Mullah Omar, to run and hide in a cave. I have to be with my people.

“I know death comes. I’ve seen too much death, young death.”  Benazir Bhutto

She  was one courageous ,secular and liberal women leader Pakistan will always be proud of,a daughter who knew the tribulations of cloistered confinement, a sister who outshone her brothers by carrying forward her father’s legacy,a young bride who supported her husband , a mother who did not let pregnancy get in the way of politics, an leader  who could easily move with her people regardless of their race, religion, gender  or status.

In 1988 she became the most powerful symbol in contemporary politics for women,as she became the first elected female head of the State in Muslim World.She exemplified  the normalisation of women in politics and immediately countered invisibility of women heightened under Zia’s military rule. She lifted press censorship.

When I met Mohtarmah Benazir Bhutto in December 1989 just a month before Bakhtawar’s birth she was coming back from Multan after monitoring Military excerci ses, I asked her why is she soft on Pakistani print media (in Zia’s regime newspapers were just pro-Zia while in her times it was totally opposite) ,she replied;

This is because of the suppression of 11 years of brutal military rule ,let them take out their frustration , this is the difference between democracy and dictatorship , we are here to strengthen democracy.

She left me speechless but in another interview she confessed ;

I can deal with political differences, but how do you deal with it when someone says I don’t like you because you’re a WOMEN and you have taken a man’s place. I found that my opponents reduced themselves to verbal abuse rather than discuss issues. My identity comes ultimately from being a women and I felt that my life has to make a difference to the lives of other women. I was brought up to believe that a women can do anything that a man can.

The Muslim extremists  not ( Islamists ) killed Benazir Bhutto. But they shouldn’t be allowed to kill Pakistan’s hopes for democracy. In her willingness to meet a violent  death,she may give courage to other women and convince them that its worth risking their lives for the future generation.

More power to ladies like Asma Jahangir,Bushra Gohar,Sherry Rehman,Hina Rabbani Khar,Saman Jaffery,Shereen Mazari,Nafisa Shah,Farah Naz Isphahani,Maryam Nawaz,Fauzia Kasuri,Marvi Memon,Sara Tarar,Sharmila farooqi,Syeda Shehla Raza and many more

June is the month of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s birthday ,may I request you all to celebrate her  by celebrating what she said in December 1988 ;

We gather together to celebrate freedom,to celebrate DEMOCRACY,to celebrate the three most beautiful words in the English language: “ We the people”