Shehzad Ghias Shaikh

Actor. Director. Stand up Comedian. Improviser. Lawyer. Writer. TV anchor. Trainer. Journalistic scholar.

Shehzad Ghias Shaikh, the founder of Cogito Productions and Room for Improv-ment, has a decade of experience working in the theatre and television industry of Pakistan. He is also a journalistic scholar on theatre in Pakistan.

Shehzad performs stand up comedy all over Pakistan, the United States and Canada. He also tours with his improvisational comedy troupe and writes comedy and satire for various organizations.

Shehzad has degrees in law, arts and theatre. He offers workshops, trainings and speaking sessions on confidence building, communication, personality development, idea generation, team building, writing, acting, directing, improvisational and performing.

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Islam may be trending on the streets of New York

Originally appeared here:

Thirteen years after the events of September 11, 2001, New York is ready to begin its cathartic process. News of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda may still dominate the majority of the news, but the feeling of the streets is more of intrigue rather than fear.

Most of the food carts in the city are halal, and the number one street cart in the city is called ‘Halal Guys’. To see people have chicken over rice from these carts has never been surprising but now some bars are also exclusively serving halal meat, ‘halal’ food is being embraced by hipsters for being more organic.

In the city, subway announcements about stations in Pakistani dominated areas are also published in Urdu. In the capital, a Friday prayer was held at the Washington Cathedral.

One of the top rated shows on television, Homeland, started four seasons ago with the premise of a US Marine converting to Islam and the current season is based in Pakistan.

Last week, while walking in High Line, I noticed art work engraved with the word ‘Allah’ as part of an art exhibition. There is graffiti with Arabic calligraphy at the corner of my street.

On Saturday, I headed to a theatre in East Village to see a play called ‘My Wife in a Chador’. I was very apprehensive about going to watch a play with the tagline, “Can a novelist with an Islamic wife win the mayoralty of New York City?” I assumed the word ‘chador’ referred to a chaddar (headscarf) but the French pronunciation of the word, sounding like ‘Shadoor’ threw me off.

Written by Claudio Angelini, a political correspondent of the Italian National Television, the play completely fails to capture anything to do with Islam. But at least he tried, and for that he must be lauded.

The play asked the right questions. And even though characters in the play reacted with disgust at the prospect of a candidate with a Muslim wife running to be the mayor of New York City, the audience did not.

The story revolves around a novelist, John Mayor, with a wife who is looking to embrace her Islamic roots. She changes her name from ‘Rosa’ to ‘Abeera’ and starts covering her head with a scarf. The costume choice of having the headscarf but maintaining the skirt for the first half even made me question my own sensibilities.

I felt a possessiveness about Islam I have not felt before, any misrepresentation had me jumping at my seat. As a playwright, I know the best characters are flawed and a play is not a sermon, but the lack of research on certain issues was jarring. Abeera serves her husband a “traditional Islamic meal”. I was born Muslim and I have never had a “traditional Islamic meal”, my first inclination was to think of iftars and dates but the unveiling of a goat curry was anti-climactic. The idea of the existence of any traditional Islamic meal was as ill-advised as a white blonde haired woman dancing on stage to Arabic music in attempts to be more ‘Islamic’.

The lack of a dramaturge on the team could be responsible for many of the mishaps.

The play had its faults, the acting was not believable and the plot lingered on unnecessarily. The comedy was forced; the punch lines made you cringe more than laugh. The only thing running riot were the clichés. However, the audience seemed to whole heartedly embrace the Islamic wife and actively cheered for her husband to win the elections. To throw a Bollywood twist, it was also revealed that his opponents had ties to ISIS.

Theatrically speaking, I felt the idea of the terrorists not being representative of the religion were forced into the story but maybe it served purpose for a largely American audience.

Running down on opinion polls, John’s head of staff asks him to ask his wife to take off her headscarf to increase opinion polls. The refusal of John to force his wife to change religions and agreeing to have a traditional nikkah with her is the moment of recognition and reversal in the play.

The acceptance of a mayor with a Muslim wife in a play in a dingy theatre in East Village cannot be said to be a microcosm of a larger trend in society but such plays serve a cathartic purpose by causing a purgation of fear and pithy in the audiences.

The ISIS headlines are designed to instil fear in the residents. Many New Yorkers lost loved ones on 9/11, the scars have not yet healed, but a full house of people willing to open themselves up to the possibility of being amused and entertained by a play asking the right questions about Islam can only be a good thing.

There is also a bigger Pulitzer Prize winning production by Ayad Akhtar called ‘Disgraced’ starring Josh Radnor (Ted Mosby from How I met your Mother). Same questions on Broadway and the use of Islam in art in the city can potentially lead to more awareness about the religion in the city and should be encouraged. It is going to be a slow process fixing the tainted image of Islam, but this is a drop in the ocean.

Can LUMS still be considered apolitcal?

Originally appeared here:

This has not been a great week for Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Fresh off the sexual harassment case and an online petition to remove the Vice Chancellor, the university was embroiled in another controversy when an event featuring a talk session by Asad Umar was cancelled by the university.

LUMS has since issued a public apology to Umar acknowledging that permission was granted to the Law and Politics Society at LUMS to invite him to speak to the students. The permission had been sought from the university and the topics of discussion were approved. However, just a couple of days before the event, LUMS revoked the permission and cancelled the talk.

As a former student of the university, I stood holding a placard as hundreds of us actively protested against Pervez Musharaf’s imposition of emergency in the country. We stood steadfast as police tried to break into the university possessing FIRs against students and professors of the university. The Vice Chancellor, Syed Zahoor Hassan, stood with us and placated the situation narrowly avoiding a direct confrontation.

I sat on the road in H-Block when a student of LUMS passed away after a Prado driven rashly by an intoxicated son of a rich businessman. We organised a protest outside the Vice Chancellor, Ahmad Jan Durrani’s office, and he ceded to our demands.

I stood in line as hundreds of students poured into a tightly packed auditorium to attend talks by Imran Khan. I sat in the sports complex as Asim Sajjad Akhtar, former professor at LUMS and the President of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) Punjab sang, “Na Tera Pakistan Hai, Na Mera Pakistan Hai, Ye Uska Pakistan hai jo Sadr-e-Pakistan Hai” in a rousing speech against Musharraf, who at that time was ironically the sitting president, technically the chancellor of LUMS.

The very mandate of the Law and Politics Society states that it was created to create a greater awareness about national political issues and to encourage their participation in the political process. It further states,

“The society hopes to generate an atmosphere of political consciousness which promulgates a deep sense of civic responsibility.”

In light of my personal experiences, news breaking out on social media that the event was cancelled due to Umar’s political affiliations made little sense to me. As a member of the LUMS Student Council, I conveyed the first Student Societies Forum and there has never been any official policy of the university to bar societies from inviting people with political affiliations. Based on this, will Abrarul Haq not be allowed to perform at any of the concerts at LUMS?

However, the official statement from LUMS differs from the news stating that it cancelled the event on a technical ground; the poster used to advertise the event strayed away from the guidelines for promotional material for events. LUMS felt that the posters made the event political rather than educational. It goes on to categorically state that Umar is welcome to speak at the university in the future at an event organised within the university’s guidelines.


Having personally seen the ‘contentious’ poster, I feel there is nothing political about it. There are no political symbols, or mentions of Umar’s political affiliations. The only bone of contention the university had with the issue was the use of the headline, “Why Pakistan Needs You”, which LUMS felt made the event political despite the society getting the topics that Umar was meant to speak on approved by the university.

According to sources from Umar’s camp, the head of the Law Department at LUMS had personally intervened to ensure that the speaker would not make any political statements.

Political parties in the past have exploited Student Unions resulting in a degradation of the university environments all over Pakistan. Karachi has especially suffered with many student unions being militarised. In light of our history with politics in universities, it is a prudent policy by LUMS to remain apolitical. But despite citing the need to remain apolitical, its decision to cancel Umar’s event, despite earlier approving it, reeks of right wing politics.

Questions were raised at the appointment of Sohail Naqvi, and the sudden departure of Adil Najam from his role as the vice chancellor of LUMS, after serving a mere two years of his tenure, in May 2013. His appointment has proved to be an unpopular one amongst the students. Although there is no evidence of political influence exerted in this particular scenario, the students have gone on a rampage on social media. The hashtag #ShameOnLUMSVC has been trending on Twitter.

I believe it is a great disservice to the university that this case has been politicised to such an extent. If the university felt like the society overlooked a technicality in the poster guidelines, they could have fined the society. Mr Mazhar Chinoy of the office of Student Affairs has repeatedly fined societies for violating promotional material guidelines in the past. In fact, in one instance in the past, when financial discrepancies were discovered at an event, the students were punished but the event was not cancelled; which makes the cancellation of this event even odder.

At the end of the day, the largest stakeholders of LUMS are its current students. How the affairs of the university are conducted should be an active result of the negotiations between the students and the university at large. Vice chancellors in the past have kept an open door policy, and been quick to address issues internally with conversations with the students rather than releasing media statements. The new vice chancellor still seems to be bedding in his new role, having to combat with a different challenges after serving eight years in the Higher Education Commission.

LUMS’s role in ensuring no political activity takes place on campus is admirable but every university has an active role in teaching its students about their civic duty and raising their political consciousness. The political science department prides itself in teaching political theories from around the world and encouraging an active discourse on them. In such an environment, restricting the flow of ideas seems archaic and dictatorial.

Even though there is a difference between apolitical and non-political, it is impossible to be non-political. Every single decision you take has political ramifications. However, LUMS should be apolitical – it should not express any political affiliations, or encourage any promotion of a specific political party on campus. By cancelling this particular event, it has raised questions about its ability to remain apolitical because even if the decision was based around a technicality, it has become politicised. In the highly politically charged environment that our country finds itself in, LUMS should have been aware of the potential for that to happen and acted more prudently, especially after receiving assurances from Umar, a man who has served on the LUMS Board of Trustees in the past.

Unity, not uniformity

Originally appeared here:

A Christian couple, Shama and Shehzad, was beaten to death and thrown into a brick kiln furnace on the grounds of blasphemy. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

A Christian couple, Shama and Shehzad, was beaten to death and thrown into a brick kiln furnace on the grounds of blasphemy. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

We tend to accept unity as one of the fundamental guiding principles of Pakistan, without questioning what it means. The oft repeated, and clichéd, political slogan is that we need to unify the country. We all need to come together for Pakistan, but come together to what? Unify to become what?

The acceptance of the need for unity as a given truth, without questioning the very meaning of the word itself has led to a perverted understanding of the word. Unity seems to be understood to mean uniformity; a society where dissent is not accepted, any person holding an opinion contrary to the popular one is labelled as being anti-state.

The abuse of the word to further didactic political ideologies has led to violence in Pakistan against people not seen as part of the unified whole; the minorities, the people on the fringes of society. The Hindus and Sikhs in 1947, the Bengalis in 1971, the religious minorities since then have all suffered mob violence.

A Christian couple was burned to death on Tuesday but the news hardly surprised anyone. According to The Express Tribune report, Shama, known as Saima in the village, was caught burning garbage which had papers with verses of the Holy Quran on them. The rumour spread like wild fire and reached the local imam of the mosque who incited to take action against the couple on the grounds of blasphemy. The couple was clubbed to death and their bodies were thrown in the kiln’s furnace to burn to ashes. Shama was four months pregnant at the time of her murder. Last night, a policeman used an axe to kill a 50-year-old man from the Shia sect in custody for allegedly committing blasphemy.

People being burnt by angry mobs in Pakistan are no more a travesty; they have become a mere statistic, a growing list of people let down by our country. Somewhere along the line, we were made to be afraid to be other. Intrinsic to our preaching of unity was the idea that to be different was to be made. Quaid-e-Azam’s novel idea became a political tool to an Orwellian degree.

It is highly problematic to define what it means to be Pakistani in exclusionary terms. There is uproar on both sides to be either or, to be either secular or religious, to be liberal or fundamentalist, to be green or white.

Despite pre-modernism causing a collapse of binaries, and grand narratives, over a century ago, why do we strive for the need to define ourselves as a unified whole. The question is not how we can all become one but rather how we can stay who we are, and continue to live together without our Pakistani-ness being questioned for our opinions, or beliefs.

Our nation is one, but our people do not need to be one. The idea that every person living in Pakistan should be cloned from a political demagogue’s idea of an ideal Pakistani is not unity, but rather uniformity.

Pakistan is a country of a diverse group of people, we speak hundreds of languages, sing millions of songs. As our clothes differ from the peaks of K2 to the port of Gwadar, so do our opinions and beliefs. Just because a belief, or opinion, exists as a minority does not mean that opinion, or belief, does not belong in Pakistan. A part of true unity is not only accepting but celebrating our differences. The cornerstone of a civilised nation is the ability to encourage public discourse, but respecting disagreements.

Let us not take the green and white divide on our flag so literally, the white is as much green as any of the green. If we lack the institutional capacity to prevent instances of mob violence in the country, let us not lack the moral capacity to universally condemn them too.

If a community is to be understood akin to the human body, where one part feels the pain of another part, then every single part of the body is as much a part of it as any other. The toenail and the pinkie finger look completely different, serve completely different purposes and if they were to have opinions, they would probably disagree, but they form the part of the same body. And somehow, they have figured to live together on the same foot. All the fingers act in unity, but they are not uniform.

When we start encouraging public discourse on truths that we take for granted in our society, we will start asking questions of our behaviour. I do not know what Quaid-e-Azam specifically meant when he asked for unity, but I do know what he did not mean. He did not mean a society where we encourage everyone to be the same. The true mark of unity is to find a reason to be together, when nothing about two is the same. If we are to live in a Pakistan with unity, we must drop the ideas of uniformity and celebrate our diversity, rather than challenging it.

Sexual harassment case at LUMS

Originally appeared here:

A video of a woman walking the streets of New York City, getting hundreds of catcalls from men went viral around the world this week. The woman is followed, called all sorts of names, and her attention is solicited, but none of the men touch her.

In Pakistan, instances of men “inadvertently” touching women are all too common. Girls are taught to ignore it, to avoid creating a ‘scene’. Not only does society silence the woman, our very laws discourage women from reporting cases of violence against them.

Yesterday, news broke out of the Federal Ombudsman directing the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to fire a teacher from the law department for allegedly sexually harassing a student. I graduated from this very department a mere two years ago. Upon hearing the news, my reaction was not one of disbelief. I did not wonder, “How could this happen at LUMS?” but rather “which one of them finally got caught”.

Having served in both the student council and the law student council at LUMS, multiple cases of sexual harassment were reported to me by students. All of these girls decided not to pursue their legitimate cases for fear of their reputations being tarnished. They did not want to “create a scene”.

One student was harassed incessantly by an admin staff member; he took her number from a form submitted to the office and constantly texted her.  She did not report him; she did not want to “create a scene”.

Another student caught a worker hired by LUMS pleasuring himself in front of her. She walked away; she did not want to “create a scene”.

One student walked into class wearing a sleeveless top and her professor exclaimed,

“Girls who dress like this, their mothers do not sleep at their homes at night.”

She quietly went to her seat; she did not want to “create a scene”.

There were even unsubstantiated rumours of teachers and students dating and substantiated rumours of teachers and teaching assistants dating or teaching assistants and students dating.

However, it would be foolish of you to think that LUMS is the problem. The problem is that we do not have a larger conversation about sexual harassment in the country. LUMS, at least, has a sexual harassment policy in place. Other universities where this is common, these things do not even attract censure to make the news. Students from various government colleges and schools have even held protests about facing harassment at their educational institutions. However, they were not taken seriously.

Schools all over Lahore are bubbling with gossip about teachers and students dating. A prominent school in Lahore caught a theatre teacher and a student crossing the teacher-student relation boundaries on school premises but the incident was brushed under the carpet.

LUMS seeks to serve as a model for schools and universities across the country. In all my interactions with board of trustees at LUMS, I found people like Syed Babar Ali and Mr Abdul Razak Dawood to be visionary people, but they are not involved in the day-to-day happenings at the university.

LUMS prides itself on equality; a large section of the student body comes from the National Outreach Programme (NOP), and there is no visible discrimination based on sex, gender, religion or ethnicity. However, if the people at the top do not hold the culprits responsible, then these principles will stand in name alone.

As the student representative of the disciplinary committee at LUMS, I have observed several proceedings. My conclusion is that the hearings violate all principles of justice; students are assumed guilty and it is their responsibility to prove their innocence. The disciplinary committee has flatly refused in the past to hear of any cases against faculty members. The only time the committee actually acts against faculty members is when a political faction within the university professors wants a professor out.

I could name people involved in flagrant violations of the LUMS policies, and the principles it stands for, but the problem is not LUMS. Despite its flaws, it stands as an institution that at least allows its students to voice their concerns.

However, the appointments in the last five years in key offices risk politicising the university and martialling a restriction of freedom for students but news of sexual harassment at LUMS should open a larger conversation about sexual harassment in the country.

We should not socialise girls in Pakistan to not ‘create a scene’. There are rampant cases of molestations and sexual assaults in Pakistan, which go unreported, even to family members. Women are taught to just live with it but we should tell them to create a scene, to report the perpetrators and seek to bring them to justice.

There is a real need to break the complacency regarding the question of sexual harassment that plagues our society. The educational institutions should be safe havens for girls, every school and university in Pakistan should offer a safe place for them to report cases of sexual harassment.

Let us start encouraging our girls to report it rather than shaming, or blaming, them. Generations have suffered in silence, and I think it is about time we have this conversation. The schools and universities, for one, are a great place to start.

Ban the Pakistani bowlers, ban them all (Satire)

Originally appeared here:

After depriving the world of the most glorious sight in international cricket – Saeed Ajmal in all his grace, splendour and beauty giving an interview to Nasser Hussain after a match – the ICC plans to throw the book at bowlers.

I welcome this hard-line decision taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on the matter; if only these regulations had come a few years earlier, Kachra would never have been able to win the match for the farmers and the British could have enjoyed imposing dugna lagaan.

Had they banned Imran Khan, our politics would have been deprived of the numerous cricket analogies that have become a part of the national lexicon. On the bright side, the tehreek (movement) against dhandhlee (rigging) could have started two decades earlier and by now we would have been waving at the Indian satellite to Mars, from our Naya Pakistan colony on the red planet.

If only we had allowed the ICC to cherry pick our best bowlers and ban them based on arbitrary rules historically, there would be so much more stability in our team now. Rana Naveedul Hasan would have been leading our attack, a man who surely has vivid memories of our World Cup victory in 1992, since his age then must have only been a mere 65 years.

Mohammad Amir would have never needed to bowl a no-ball from halfway down the pitch; Mohammad Asif would not need to resort to taking dope in Dubai and Mushtaq Ahmed could have retired much earlier to focus on being a full-time Osama bin Laden doppelganger.

Ajmal’s ban has forced Pakistan to hand a test debut to Zulfiqar Babar, a childhood friend of Hasan, the only two people alive who actually saw the Jurassic Park – and no, I don’t mean the movie. Please ban him for a suspect action and put him out of his misery so he can enjoy the last few centuries of his life peacefully with his childhood friends, the mummies of Egypt.

Verdict: Ban him!

We also have Sohail Tanvir to offer to the ICC, a bowler exactly like Wasim Akram, without the talent, the ability or the charisma, but other than that even a blind monkey could not tell the two apart. Tanvir’s facial expressions in every match are one of complete astonishment – even he cannot believe he was picked to play. Legend has it that he learnt to bowl by combining the ancient art of Kathak with his best impersonation of an octopus caught in a fishing net.

Verdict: Ban Him!

God, I have never asked for much throughout my life but if there is any sense of justice in the world then the least ICC can do after banning Ajmal is to give some ray of hope for the future of cricket in Pakistan by banning Mohammad Sami too. He sounds like Maria Sharapova every time he bowls but she is probably better at cricket than he is. Mohammad Sami’s passion for bowling is such that he often bowls three overs into one; he holds the record for the longest over in cricket. At least the crowd cannot claim that they do not get their money’s worth with Sami; sadly, it is usually the opposing crowd.

There are rumours that he was actually created in a laboratory by RAW and BCCI to ensure India never loses to Pakistan. The only condition set by India for all bilateral series with Pakistan have been that Sami must be picked for the team. I would risk the severance of all cricketing ties with India just to never see Sami in a green jersey again, or without one.

Verdict: Ban him!

Once the ICC is done with this lot, they can take care of the rest as well.

Junaid Khan can go back to being the best carpet salesman in the country and Mohammad Irfan can finally pursue his true calling – fighting the Great Khali in a ladder match at Wrestlemania.

Shohaib Malik seems to have banned himself from playing cricket so the ICC has nothing to worry about there. This would leave us with Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi; it is widely known that the two do not get along so they would never agree to bowl together from either end.

At this stage, you must be wondering,

“But that would mean we have no bowlers left?”

Yes, and that is the genius of the plan.

Like a true Pakistani, we would choose to bat first and once our innings is done, we would just protest against the umpiring decisions in the first innings and refuse to play the next; instead, we’ll stage a dharna at the cricket ground.

For kicks, we can even reinstate Inzamamul Haq as captain, who would be so tired after the first innings that he might just the ask the team not to go out to bowl altogether.

It is the perfect plan. Haven’t we all dreamt of a game of cricket where we get to bat and then just walk away without allowing the bowling team to have their turn? Our clever ploy can help us achieve the ultimate cricketing utopia!

The Gullu Butts of the internet in Pakistan

Originally appeared here:

“There is no hypocrisy in Pakistan; we just have completely different standards for men and women.”

The comment above summarises the general feedback I received on a meme I created, which went viral on Facebook last week. I hope the irony of that statement was not lost on them.

The idea behind the meme was to call out a population that was in an uproar about Humaima Malick crossing over to the tinsel town next door but was showing a general acceptance towards Fawad Khan doing the same. I am no moral authority to judge anyone’s behaviour but it is always fun to start a debate. Once the meme was in public domain, my opinion on the matter was irrelevant. The comments ranged from discussions on the nuances of being half-naked, as opposed to being shirtless, to the dissection of each intimate scene in both movies. I believe one person even did an analytical study on the distance maintained, or the lack thereof, between the protagonists.

Apart from some internet trolls, the general discussion on Facebook was fruitful, with a varying degree of opinions, till the big guns got involved. Pages like Pakium dot Com and Viral in Pakistan took the image from my page and reposted it on their pages, without permission or credit. My page has a mere 8,000 likes, which is nothing compared to the likes of 500,000 that Pakium dot Com enjoys. When the admin of that page stamped his moral authority on the subject, asking people to report the image as being against our nation, our culture and our religion, the floods of hate mail started filling my inbox.

The hate mail ranged from the usual ‘ghair parlaymani alfaaz’ (non-Parliamentary words) to tangible threats to my life, both virtual and physical. The online moral authorities had spoken. When the harassment failed to incite a response, the admin of Pakium dot Com, filed a false copyright infringement claim with Facebook claiming to represent Walt Disney Corporation. Facebook took down the content without so much as investigating the matter.

Photo: Shehzad Ghias

The old adage was inverted,

Jeet gayee mehangayee, har gaya English.”

(Inflation won, English lost)

We are coming out in hordes on the streets against the ‘Gulu Butts’ of Pakistan but there resides a Gullu Butt in all of us. Those unable to wield sticks on the streets abuse the power of the internet. It is very easy to label anyone as being anti-state, just as people on television do not exercise any caution in doing so. Pages with clout on the internet are using their power to settle personal vendettas. They derive their authority from the number of likes on their page, the online equivalent of the ballot box. Without decrying Facebook dhandlee (rigging), I plead the virtual Gulu Butts to exercise caution. If they have a problem with an image or a person, engage in a meaningful dialogue rather than mob rule.

A lot of thought and effort goes into creating content for the internet. A meme going viral is a moment of pride for the creator. All that work should not be undone just because the content questions a person’s view of the world.

Can Nawaz Sharif be Pakistan's John F. Kennedy?

Originally written in February 2014.

“You have no option but to take direct military action.”

This was the advice given by John F Kennedy’s top military aide at the height of the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war.

The future of the world hinged on Kennedy’s acquiescence. After the Second World War, global politics were dominated by the political, ideological and power clash between the Americans and the Soviets. Communists were painted as violent savages to the Americans who were made to fear communism. However, the idea of communism gained ground in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union grew as a global superpower.

Following multiple insertions into Cuba and the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, the Soviet Premier Khrushchev, placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, despite reassuring Kennedy that he will not do so. Kennedy had publicly proclaimed that placement of nuclear missiles by the Soviet Union close to the United States would give the United States no option but to go to war. So, when a US U-2 spy plane discovered the missiles in Cuba on October 14, 1962 the world waited with baited breath.

Today, the people of Pakistan are looking towards its own leader – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – to make a decision on how to deal with the increasing threat of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Last week, the prime minister officially constituted a formal committee in the National Assembly tasked with holding peace negotiations with the TTP. The country finds itself divided between people apologetic to the Taliban cause and people antithetical to their very existence.

Hence, the TTP and the government both, find themselves on the battle ground firing shots waiting for the other party to blink while the rest of the country prepares for war.

People against a military operation make the practical argument of the potential of a TTP backlash but the humanistic argument has lost its momentum after a string of violent attacks by the TTP. Although the power brokers of the TTP and their actions are reprehensible, any large scale military operation will be unable to sift between the terrorists and non-combatants. In a country where death comes aplenty, any collateral damage is accepted as a necessary evil.

It seems that the very idea of Pakistan has been hijacked by a select few and military force is used against any detractors. And it is ironic to see this in a country formed by millions of people who sacrificed themselves in the hope of freedom.

With the memory of Bangladesh fresh in our minds, our country faces the prospect of another civil war.

The control of power does not necessarily give one the right to exercise that power and the monopoly of violence afforded to the state must be exercised with extreme caution. John F Kennedy took that caution when he negotiated peace with Khrushchev and averted a potential nuclear war. Although the United States has not been as cautious in exercising its military force on other countries in the recent past, military action against citizens of your own country is almost inconceivable in much of the developed world.

The idea that Pakistan can eliminate any future threat of terrorism through military force is unjustifiable. Extra-judicial military force and collateral damage to entire communities will only result in more people joining the cause of terrorists. It will just create more martyrs for people to rally around.

It is next to impossible to sift between terrorists and non-combatants on the ground through drone attacks and airstrikes. Despite the best intelligence, the risk of collateral damage is too strong.

Nawaz Sharif finds himself in a Catch-22 position and he truly cannot come out as the winner in this situation. It will be extremely short-sighted for any committee to focus merely on preventing terrorist attacks in the short-term. Instead, the strategy should be to wage an ideological war to win the hearts and minds of people – people who have historically fought valiantly for Pakistan and most of whom have taken up arms only after losing loved ones to drone strikes or after being misguided by people using religion to further their own political motives.

The acts of the TTP are condemnable and any form of terrorism anywhere in the world must be heavily criticised but the rule of law dictates that only people responsible for the acts must be brought to justice. After our failings in Bangladesh and continuous military involvement in Balochistan and Kashmir, our government and military needs to be extra careful to avoid triggering any form of genocide in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) or there is a risk of an all-out civil war breaking out in the country.

Yes, the state must not be threatened by violence by any anti-state actors but as Kennedy showed us, sometimes acknowledging the other is the first step towards understanding the other. Thus, the rhetoric of painting the other as wajibul qatl (worthy of being killed) or a violent savage to support military operation must stop.

The question now is, can Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif be our John F Kennedy or will he be just another General Yahya Khan?

68 Things That Would’ve Gone Very Differently If Harry Potter Had Taken Place In Pakistan instead.

Yesterday Buzzfeed came out with a list of 68 things that would’ve gone differently if Harry Potter had taken place in India. (

Although some of them apply to Pakistan too, we like to do things a little differently. Here is 68 things that would have gone very differently had it taken place in Pakistan instead.

1.       All elders would refer to Harry as Harry Putter (son). Upon finding out that he is an orphan, every uncle and aunty would tell him, "Bus ab humay hee apnay ma baap samjho, takaluf kee koi baat nahee puttar." (Now think of us as your parents, there are no formalities with us son.)

2.       All the other kids at school would be jealous of Harry for having his own room. Even if it was a closet under the stairs.

3.       Hogwarts would be shut half the time from dharnas by Professor Snape asking for an inquiry into the selection process of the Defence of the Dark Arts Professors every year.

4.       Snape would demand for Dumbledore’s resignation.

5.       Dumbledore would have been the head of Jamiat-e-Islaami.

6.       The post would lose your Hogwarts acceptance letter.

7.       The government would issue Arabs licenses to hunt the post owls in Pakistan.

8.       Half-bloods would be declared kaafir.

9.       Ron and Hermoine’s story line would be used as an example of why you should not send your daughters to co-education schools. Humari Larki first atee thi, us manhoos larkay say milnay say pehley!( Our daughter used to come first before meeting that wretched boy.)

10.       The ministry of magic would enter into negotiations with the death eaters and Lord Voldemort.

11.       The Weasley family would be seen the average family. Every other family would be judged for not having enough children.

12.       Dobby’s parents would constantly greet him with “Haye kitnay kamzoor hogaye ho, kuch khatay nahee ho kya school mai?” (Look at how weak you have become, do you not eat anything at school?).


13.       Dobby would be hired by restaurants to open the door for customers.

14.       The Floo network would be replaced by a Metro Bus Project.

15.       The Hogwarts express would never run on time.

16.       The wall on Platform 9 ¾ woud be plastered with “Yahan peshab karna mana hai”.

17.       Mamnoon Hussain would go to Hufflepuff. The house that does nothing.

18.       A kunda would be set up to provide lighting for Quidditch matches.

19.       Your massi will complain to your mother about you constantly playing Quidditch and damaging her favourite jharoo.

20.       Najam Sehti’s chirya would teach the Astronomy class. Its prediction about Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif would be made famous…”for neither can live while the other survives.”

21.       Rita Skeeter would be labelled a Lifafa Journalist.

22.       Rita Skeeter’s column in the Daily Prophet would be called Khara Sach.

  23.       People would be hanging out of and sitting on top of the knight bus. On the back of the bus it would also say “Ma kee Dua, Janat kee Hawa.”

24.       Diagon Alley would be replaced by Sunday Bazaar. You would be able to get wands from China for a cheaper price.

25.       The diary of Tom Riddle would sell at Sunday Bazaar for 50 Rupees.

26.       The mirror of Erised would be replaced by a picture of your disapproving parents and pictures of potential rishtas.

27.       Some of the moving portraits would be spray painted black. Mainly the ones with female occupants.

28.       Potions class would be renamed to Zubaida Apa kay totkay.

29.       The media would report disparaging on the ball dances. Asking the question, “Does boys and girls dancing at Hogwarts represent our culture?”

30.       Nagini would be captured and be forced to perform at Sea View for 25 rupees.

31.         Waqar Zaka would kiss Nagini as a dare.

32.       Malfoy family would be criticized for their VIP culture. Lucius Malfoy would be asked to leave the Hogwarts Express for boarding late.

33.       The only kiss unmarried boys would have a chance to experience would be that by a Dementor, especially NUST students.

34.       The Forbidden Forest would be cut down to sell the wood.

35.       Death Eaters would manage to organize successful escapes from Azkaban.

36.       Dementors would accept Rishwat(bribes).

37.       Head of the Ministry of Magic would be called Mr. Ten Percent.

38.       People would burn shops at Hogsmeade after the death of Dumbledore. Slogans of Zinda hai Dumbledore would become famous.

39.       Moaning Myrtle would be declared haram.

40.       Biryaani would be served at every feast at Hogwarts.

41   Harry would not accept the ruling of the court. He would declare the judiciary to be corrupt. Oye Cornelius Fudge, mai tumhay nahee choro ga! (I won't leave you Mr. Cornelius Fudge.)

42.   Witches would be confused whether to feel insulted or take it as a compliment everytime they are referred to as “Haye woh  churail”.  (Oh that witch!)

43.       People would claim Angels do not visit Hogwarts because Dumbledore keeps a three-headed dog there.

44.       Cedric Diggory would be buried in a political party’s flag.

45.       Hagrid would ride a Honda CD-70. Hagrid would appear in an ad saying, “Mai tay Honda hee Lay Sa.”


46.       Everything would be blamed on foreign agenda or bayrooni saazish.(International evil plan.)

47.       The media would claim Lord Voldemort par dollars lagay huay hai. (He has dollars on him.)

48.       Harry Potter would be called a very colourful word for going out with Ron Weasley’s sister.

49.       Ali Hamza would make a song on that.

50.       There would be a giant ludo board instead in the chamber of secrets to guard it.

51.       Remus Lupin would be ostracized for being a veishee bheriya. (Wild wolf.)

52.       Sirius Black would be constantly given fairness creams. Everyone would call him Sirius Kala.

53.       The Triwizard tournament would be called the Prime Minister’s Triwizard tournament.

54.       The winner of the Triwizard tournament would be handed a laptop.

55.       Dumbledore’s Army would attempt a coup at the Ministry of Magic.

56.       Professor Snape would be referred to as Baaghi.

57.       Your mother would blow all spells onto you before you go for school.

58.       Hogwarts would be called the Hogwarts Grammar School.

59.       Molly and Arthur Weasley would insist on meeting Hermoine Granger’s parents.

60.       Love potions would be the most popular potions. Ever. Seriously.

61.       Centaurs would be used to ride on to play Polo.  Shandur Top Festival Centaur Polo festival would be inaugurated.

62.       Buttterbeer would be made by Murree Brewery. It would be illegal but still be available everywhere.

63.       Girls would constantly get owls with messages that say, “Will you friendship me?”

64.       A peer baba would be called to do an exorcism on Luna Lovegood. “Bachi par jihnn char gaya hai.” (She is possessed by an evil spirit.)

65.       Ron’s rat Scabbers would be killed by giving it food with rat poison.

66.       Harry Potter and Cho Chang’s relationship would be held up as the best example of Pak-China friendship.

67.       Despite saving the world, Ron and Hermoine’s Parents would criticize them for dropping out of school in their final year.

68.       The religious political parties would be the keepers in our Quidditch teams. They are very good at not letting anything pass.

10 Philosophical ideas perfectly expressed by Lollywood songs

Video link:

Lollywood gets an unreasonable amount of flak for being the step-sister of Bollywood; the one that was sent to the village as a child, and says her ‘o’s as ‘a’s, Mcdonalds becomes Maacdaaanalds and Ostrich becomes Assrich.

However, these people fail to realize the deep philosophical ideas expressed by Lollywood songs.

Here are some examples of why Lollywood is on par with the greatest philosophers the world has ever seen.


1.       Cartesian Doubt

Philosophical version:

The Cartesian doubt is a method of questioning one’s own beliefs; of being skeptical about all that you hold to be true

Lollywood version:

“Sanu Nehar walay pull tay bula kar sohnay mahi kithon reh gaya?” – Noor Jehan


2.       Classical Conditioning

Philosophical version:

A subject learns to respond in a desired manner to an activity that the subject was previously neutral to; through conditioning this neutral stimulus has been associated with an unconditioned stimulus to elicit a desired response i.e. Pavlov’s dogs salivating after listening to the bell, associating the sound with the food.

Lollywood version:

“Thand paway gee kailajay dildaar, Pyaar dee gandheri chup lay” – Naseebo Lal, film: Humayoun Gujjar.


3.       Behaviourism

Philosophical version:

Behaviourism rejects the dualism of the mind and body, hypothesizing that love is both observable and quantifiable.

Lollywood version:

“Cheekhain marta badaan mera tu jis walay neeray yaara, jadu maim ahi tay neeray ho manji de vich dhaang pherda” – sung by Naseebo Lal, film: Badmaash Gujjar


4.       Plato’s allegory of the cave

Philosophical version:

Plato’s allegory of the cave suggests that people in caves only exposed to the shadows of the light from the sun have never seen the sun and take the shadows to be the complete truth, even though they are mere reflections.

Lollywood version:

“Kal jab dekha mai nay chand jharokay mai, usko kiya salaam tumharay dhokay mai” – Waris Baig


5.       Martin Luther King

Philosophical version:

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Lollywood version:

“Kameez teri kali tay sohnay phoola wali” – Ataulllah Esa Khelvi


6.       Schrodinger’s cat

Philosophical version:

The paradox based on the scenario of a cat, that may be both dead and alive.

Lollywood version:

“Adhi raat sottay meri laat hillee, lagta hai jiway koi billy shilly hai”


7.       Kant’s metaphysicals of morals

Philosophical version:

In the doctrine of virtue, Kant shows how humanity ought to behave.

Lollywood version:

“Ama dekh aah dekh tera munda bigra jaye” – Film: Munda Bigra Jaye


8.       Hegel’s Phenomenology of the spirit

Philosophical version:

Hegel’s discussion of self-consciousness focuses on how the subjects view other subjects also as objects; the dialectic of the spirit is between this self-consciousness and the need for self-recognition.

Lollywood version:

“Manji ek tay jawaniyan do…teri lataan day vich pair mu phasana paiya” – Film: Guddu Badmaash

(The bed is one but teenagers two, I have no option but to put my foot with your legs.)


9.       Freud’s Id

Philosophical version:

The Id is the part of Sigmund Freud’s philosophy that is the compulsive psyche that operates on the pleasure principle.

Lollywood version:

“Sexy meri shirt, sexy meri pant, mujh ko rakh lay permanent”  - Film Desan Da Raja


10.   Communism

Philosophical version:

The system of governance based on common ownership where there is no social class, and everyone is equal.

Lollywood version:

“Tumharay aur meray ghar kay beech mai Larri Ada, yahan sunay ga nahee koi pukaar ye hai larri ada larri ada larri ada”


10 Philosophical Ideas perfectly expressed by Bollywood songs

1. Marxism

Philosophical version:

Karl Marx criticized the mentality of the rich to horde private property, and their interest in capitalistic gain over communal relations.

Bollywood version:

"Kyon paisa paisa karti hai, kyon paisay pay tu marti hai,"


2. Cogito Ergo Sum

Philosophical version:

Rene Descartes came to this indubitable truth after wondering about the strangeness of life, he wondered whether life was merely a dream or a story. He wondered about the truth.

Bollywood version:

"Ladki Bari Anjani hai. Sapna Hai? Sach Hai? Kahani Hai?"

3. The Veil of Ignorance

Philosophical version:

John Rawls argues that law makers must legislate under a veil of ignorance, not knowing what is under the veil.

Bollywood version:

"Choli kay pheechay kya hai? Chunari kay neechay kya hai?"

4. Determinism

Philosophical version:

Determinism is the philosophical position that for every event, including human action, there exist conditions that could cause no other event

Bollywood version:

"Tu Haan Kar, ya Na Kar, Tu Hai Meri Kiran"

5. Iqbal's Shikwa

Philosophical version:

Shikwa is Allama Mohammad Iqbal's complaint to God, he expresses his shock at apparent contradictions in life.

Bollywood version:

"Tujh Say Naraaz Nahee Zindagi, Hairaan Ho Mai"

6. Jean Jacques Rousseau's social contract theory

Philosophical version:

Rosseau argues that despite instances of violence and hate in the world, in its most natural state a human being is full of love, and pity, for others.

Bollywood version:

"Dunya Mai Kitnee hai Nafratain, Phir Bhi Dilo Mai Hai Chahatain"

7. Socrates's Rejection of Hedonism

Philosophical version:

Socrates argued that .a pursuit of pure happiness and pleasures will lead to one's downfall.

Bollywood version:

"Khushi nay humari humay, maar dala...Allah...maar dala"

8.  String Theory

Philosophical version:

In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings

Bollywood version:

"Kheenchay mujhay koi dor, teri ore teri ore teri ore haye Rabba"

9.  Feminist criticism of the objectification of women.

Philosophical version:

Feminists question the usage of sexual words for women that objectify the women.

Bollywood version:

"Sexy sexy sexy mujhay log bolay, hi sexy, hello sexy kyon bolay?"

10. Plato's Republic

Philosophical version:

Plato argued that some people were gold, some were bronze, and some were iron, the metals should not be mixed.

Bollywood version:

"Ye Dunya Pittal Dee, Baby Doll Mai Sonay Dee"

Sexual Harassment case at LUMS: All the facts

News broke out this past week of a LUMS Professor being found guilty of sexual harassment by the federal ombudsman. The news alleges that the Federal Ombudsman directed LUMS to remove the teacher from service.

Previously, the inquiry committee set up by LUMS had found the incident 'unbecoming of a professional' but not sexual harassment. The appellant challenged this decision with the federal ombudsman.

I wrote an article about instances of sexual harassment at LUMS that I encountered while I was there, hoping to start a larger conversation about sexual harassment in Pakistan.

However, since then some former faculty members have come out in support of Abid Hussain Imam, the professor found guilty of sexual harassment by the Federal Ombudsman. They came out with a public statement yesterday.

The statement states that the signatories are of the opinion that incident does not amount to sexual harassment, and that the reporting on the subject does a great disservice to their colleague, Mr. Abid Hussain Imam.

The statement has sent the world of social media in a frenzy, with allegations on the people involved from both sides. I wish to clarify the facts of the matter to rid people of the confusion they find themselves in from these two differing reports.


1. How is sexual harassment defined?

We will come back to the big question of whether it was sexual harassment or not at the end but for now, let us just set the context for it. 

The appeal was filed under the 'The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010'.

The act defines harassment as follows,

"harassment” means any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or written communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature or sexually demeaning attitudes, causing interference with work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment;"

2. The importance of consent.

Notice that the act uses the word 'unwelcome', making the question of consent crucial to the debate.

The opinion offered by the former colleagues of Abid Hussain Imam, and the opinion of Mr. Abid Hussain Imam himself, are both irrelevant in this case. The question is not what they deem to be harassment but rather what the victim perceived as harassment.

The former colleagues have tried to shift the debate from the question of 'whether the victim felt sexually harassed by the guilty party or not' to 'what behaviour may be deemed acceptable in a professional environment' whereas the law clearly states that if the advance is unwelcome then it is deemed to be harassment.

Since the victim in this scenario felt sexually harassed by Abid Hussain Imam, it would come under the purview of this law.

4. Was the contact intended to be sexual?

As shown above, this question is irrelevant to the debate but it is a question that is being discussed with much vigour on social media, and forms the basic tenant of the public statement by his former colleagues.

The law does not take into account the intention of the perpetrator but rather whether it was 'welcome' or not. In this scenario, the victim did not welcome any advance.

The former colleagues have also acted with malafide intent by delibrately suppressing the facts. They fail to mention that before the physical contact, Abid Hussain Imam remarked, "You look very fashionable."

This statement immediately preceding the physical contact changes the light in which one is likely to see the physical contact.

3. Extent of physical contact.

The public statement seeks to belittle the incident by stating it as. "Professor Imam is seen momentarily putting his hand on the shoulder of one of the assembled students."

However, the evidence clearly shows that the victim tried to move away after Abid Hussain Imam's remark but the guilty party 'gripped into the 3 inch zipper detail on her shoulder and while saying that "is that real" all of sudden pulled it down and uncovered her

These facts were accepted by the counsel of Abid Hussain Imam as being true in front of the Federal Ombudsman.

In light of this evidence, I fail to understand how the former colleagues define this as, "briefest tap on the student’s shoulder."

4. Advance

However, as per the law there is no requirement of any physical contact whatsoever. Just the fact that Abid Hussain Imam remarked about how fashionable a student looks could have theoretically been enough to classify his behaviour as harassment.

The word used by the law is 'sexual advance', the verbal remark and the physical contact should be understood together in order to understand how they both together can be classified as a sexual advance.

5. Did the incident take place in a public area?

Yes, not in 'broad daylight' as the statement reads but rather the corridor of the law department that has restricted access. You must swipe a card to be granted entry into the department.

Once again the former colleagues of Abid Hussain Imam are trying to bring unnecessary and irrelevant details to confuse the audience.

There are instances of sexual harassment in market places daily in Pakistan, the fact that they take place in a public place does not change anything. Neither does the fact that most of these women do not react.

Sexual harassment can cause emotional trauma that may not manifest itself immediately, or the victim may choose not to react in the moment for fear of creating the scene, or victim-blaming or victim-shaming.

6. What was the defense of Abid Hussain Imam?

Apart from arguing that it was not intended to be sexual, and there was no fear on the face of the victim. Both points that I have already discussed.

The counsel of Abid Hussain Imam tried to move the jurisdiction away from the federal ombudsman by trying to argue that they cannot adjudicate on the matter. The also argued that the case cannot be heard by the Federal Ombudsman because of the time limitations imposed by the law.

The Federal Ombudsman refuted both these claims. However, the former colleagues of Abid Hussain Imam see the position taken by Federal Ombudsman as unlawful.

Clearly, they are trying to deny justice to the victim based on a technicality.

7. Based on all this evidence, why did the inquiry not find Abid Hussain Imam guilty of sexual harassment?

This is a question I am asking myself. One of the reasons stated is that they feared losing a brilliant teacher.

The Vice-chancellor of LUMS, Mr. Sohail Naqvi, personally intervened and tried to ensure that Abid Hussain Imam stays at LUMS.

Pakistan today also reports that, "Abid Hussain Imam is the son of senior politicians Syeda Abida Hussain and Syed Fakhar Imam and is also related to Syed Babar Ali, the pro-vice chancellor of LUMS. His mother Abida Hussain has served at various important positions, including Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States."

All these are facts, I will leave to you to decide for yourself why the inquiry committee failed in its fundamental duty.

8. Criticism of the inquiry committee by the former colleagues for looking at the past actions of Abid Hussain Imam?

The law also defines harassment as, "creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."

The fact that the inquiry committee heard testimonies by students stating that they were abused in the past by Abid Hussain Imam, their culture and their religion were insulted by him.

According to his students, he has a particular disdain for for religious people and poor people. Here is an exchange narrated to us by one of his former students,

"In a classroom full of students, when a student remarked that he was from the National Outreach Programme, and he did not bring the coursebook to class because he could not afford to buy one. Mr Abid Hussain Imam remarked, "Then why don't you leave LUMS and go back to the village from where you came."

Abid Hussain Imam has also told students in the past that they are worthless, and that they will never amount to anything.

One brave person took to the case to the Federal Ombudsman but clearly there are numerous instances where Abid Hussain Imam's behaviour may be classified as creating a hostile work environment.

9. Was the student threatened not to report the instance?


The definition of the statement also states, "the attempt to punish the complainant for refusal to comply to such a request or is made a condition for employment;"

One can argue that the behaviour of the university threatening the victim not to pursue the case with the Federal Ombudsman also classifies as harassment. Mr. Sohail Naqvi, the VC of LUMS can also be found guilty of harassment under this law.

Abid Hussain Imam also had an earlier instance of threatening a student by saying he would ensure she does not get into any University for her Masters if she did not do what he was asking her to do. His request was related to work, and not of a sexual nature but it is being stated to show Abid Hussain Imam's potential to threat students, and the power and influence he wields in society due to his lineage.

10. Does Abid Hussain Imam have a history of sexual advances with students?

The statement states that Abid Hussain Imam enjoys a great relationship with the students but the Federal ombudsman found that he regularly made "inappropriate jokes, many times with sexual innuendos and undertones and obnoxious language."

Students have also come out to say how he regularly remarked on how they looked, their relationships and their behaviour. He even once inquired whether a student slept with somebody and once asked whether he could sit in a student's lap.

I do not think Abid Hussain Imam's claims that these remarks were made in jest, and not intended to be sexual matter. The fact that these students are coming out against him shows that the great relationship he thinks he enjoys with the students is a lie.

11. Did he resign?


The statement states that he voluntarily resigned after the inquiry committee found his behaviour unprofessional. The first contradiction is that Abid Hussain Imam's counsel submitted before the Federal Ombudsman that they accepted the ruling of the Inquiry Committee, whereas Abid Hussain Imam threatened to resign after the ruling.

Taking a leaf out of the book of our politicians, Abid Hussain Imam threw a tantrum and sent an email to the VC, the email was not a resignation but a threat to resign.

the VC did not accept his resignation and remarked, ""You are too valuable faculty
member and we will discussed this on my return"

12. Did LUMS try to supress evidence?

Yes, the Federal Ombudsman remarks that LUMS did not deliberately give the voice recording of the video.

If the voice recording of the video does not exist then Osama Siddique's claims that he saw in the video that Abid Hussain Imam immediately apologized are lies.

13. Was Abid Hussain Imam targeted for his religious views?

No Evidence proving that was presented by his counsel.


14. Was it sexual harassment?

These are all the facts of the case, based on the evidence. I believe the former colleagues of Abid Hussain Imam are deliberately trying to suppress evidence, looking to protect their friend, acting like an Old Boys club.

I hope all these facts clarify your position on the matter. After going through all the evidence, I atleast find myself agreeing with one thing from the public statement signed by the former colleagues of Abid Hussain Imam.

We collectively believe that, given the witness accounts as well as the video recording, there was no other possible outcome to this investigation.We collectively believe that, given the witness accounts as well as the video recording, there was no other possible outcome to this investigation."

Yes Sir, based on all the facts there could have been only one possible outcome.


Note: A previous version of this post stated that Waqas Mir was the counsel for Abid Hussain Imam in front of the Federal Ombudsman, Mr Waqas has since confirmed that he was merely the counsel for Abid Hussain in front of the inquiry committee, and not the Federal Ombudsman. The error on my part has been rectified, and  I apologize for any inconvenience caused to Mr Waqas Mir, or anyone else, for this oversight on my part.

The unnecessary queering of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

On November 14th, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to register votes for transgender people in Pakistan; they were allowed put down ‘other’ in the gender box on their national identity card.

Almas Bobi,commended the Chief Justice for recognizing them as human beings. This is the world that we live in, even being deemed to be a human being is praise worthy. However, the judgement might have made them human but they still seem to be less human than everyone else by most.

Besides probably knowing the name of 'Mehak' at Khada Market Karachi. How much does the average Pakistani know about gender and/or sexuality? If you know where you stand, how is this for a litmus test: what is the difference between 'transgender' and 'transsexual'?

The politics of these terms is such that they may not even neatly translate to explain the life experiences of people in Pakistan. They are western terms coined for a western audience, which is also moving towards deconstructing them. The term 'Queer' has found its way into the common lexicon to move away from the need of a strict categorization of one's identity as one or the either rather than accepting it's fluidity.

What are some of the terms used in Pakistan? 'Hijra', 'Khusra', 'Khadra', 'Chakka' or the more formal 'Khuwaja Siya'. None of these terms fall anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. Any attempts to find Pakistan on the spectrum may not prove to be fruitful either. Identity is not limited to merely gender or sexual orientation either. A poor queer person in Pakistan may have nothing in common with a rich queer person living a mile away. It would be an error in judgment to even think of hte Pakistani Queer community as a monolithic or homogenous group of people.

I do not wish to either, nor do I wish to assume what anybody's life experiences may be like. I wish to point out that all the aforementioned terms with the exception of the formal variety are all gender slurs; the use of them is completely antithetical to the Supreme Court ruling. They are dehumanizing but I doubt there will be any Suo Motos taken anytime soon for this particular contempt of court.

My newsfeed has been full of all these terms recently. However, they are not being used for anyone who self identifies himself with the community, which makes it doubly offensive. Not only are they offensive to BIlawal Bhutto but they dehumanize the transgender and/or transsexual community in Pakistan by using terms reserved for their life experiences as slurs against people.

It also illuminates the tacit value system in our society, which degrades femininity and by extension, the female. The equation of femininity with weakness is highly problematic.

The usage of these slurs and degradation of femininity are nothing short of sexual assaults. Whilst comfortably throwing these terms around with friends or sharing memes of Bilawal Bhutto you may not feel like you are committing a crime and I am not trying to say that doing so is equivalent to rape or murder but a perpetuation of such notions and ideas in society creates the environment that justifies sexual violence and general violence against women and the queer community.

Anybody who is 'queering' Bilawal Bhutto to make a political statement should be ashamed of themselves. Every single use of a gender slur in Pakistan is a push against the progression of consciousness around gender in the country.

Gender shaming, gender hating or gender slurs are based on an archaic understanding of gender, which totally dehumanizes the person and reduces the identity of that person to a single life experience.

It is shameful to see even the educated class in Pakistan engaging in such behaviour. You may give the ignorant the benefit of doubt based on their lack of knowledge but people who identify themselves as liberals and would for all intents and purposes be against any form of sexual assault freely use gender slurs without realizing the use of them also constitutes a sexual assault on a person and may be liable under the court of law.

If we continue to create an environment conducive for violence against women and the trans community by continuing to perpetuate the same ideas, should we really be surprised when we wake up to news about rapes, honour killings, murders, acid throwing and domestic violence everyday?

Think about the potential repercussions the next time you dehumanize someone with your words in the future. I am guilty of doing so myself in the past but I am trying to educate myself on the subject and I sincerely hope you will to. Thank You!