Sunday, February 28, 2016


Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the “Northern areas of Pakistan”, it is the northern most territory of Pakistan - but many question if it really is a part of Pakistan. It borders, Azad Kashmir to the south – another region being fought for by both Pakistan and India – Afghanistan to the north and China to the northeast. Giligit-Baltistan, along with Azad Kashmir has been a dispute between Pakistan and India since the birth of each nation. Technically, Gilgit-Baltistan is a self-governing region that was established in the 1970’s. It has never formally been integrated into the Pakistani province and doesn’t participate in Pakistan’s political affairs. Gilgit-Baltistan’s economic resources are mainly dependent on agriculture and tourism but it is famous for K-2, the second tallest mountain in the world.

In the article mentioned above Abdul Hamid Khan, the Chairman of the Balawaristan Nation Front argues for freedom in his region by asking the UN for help. He claims that Pakistan is imposing the Urdu language upon the people of this region to gain control and increasing military troops. Furthermore, he accuses GBLA (Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assemble) of fraudulent governance by submitting all of its resolutions to a ministry in Islamabad, which is not bound to respond.

Earlier in the year, a Pakistani news site, Dawn News, published an article “Move to change statue of Gilgit-Baltistan”, in which the government considered a proposal to upgrade the status of Gilgit-Baltistan into a constitutional province…But hold up! Does no one see the communicational disconnect here? – Giglit-Baltistan wishes to govern itself.

In all this mumble jumble, you have the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China refuses to invest billions of dollars on a road in a region that is disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Stuck in the middle are Gilgit-Baltistan and other regions like Azad Kashmir that can not economically progress; their “ambiguous legal status” give them little to no say in their own political or economical affairs, despite their autonomy. So what now? Where do they stand?  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016



Earlier today, I read a fellow bloggers post, titled: “In Malaysia, I visited a mosque – In Pakistan, I can’t” by Dilaira Dubash. Mosques – it wasn’t a topic I had really thought much about, but after reading such a powerful opinion I couldn’t help directing my attention to it.

On that note, my dear readers, let me warn you that opinionated articles and blogs can vastly be misinforming – and here I was thinking only news articles have a tendency of displaying bias. Now, let me begin by admitting that I have never really thought of Malaysia in any comparison to Pakistan. As a Pakistani, Malaysia comes to mind when you think of going on quick little family vacation. A place you tour around, because Europe seems too far away or way too expensive, or in all honesty, because you know that the visa process will be far to troubling for other countries. Now, allow me to point out why comparing the freedom of “visiting mosques” in both these countries is just...just not a good comparison at all.

As stated, the Muslim population in Malaysia is 61.3%. In contrast, the Muslim population in Pakistan is between 95-98%. A country like Malaysia opts “for a conscious uncoupling of religion from culture” because it has a population of roughly 40% non-Muslims, in addition a variety of tourists that help bring a bunch of money into their country and endorse the economy. Let me tell you why no one openly talks, dresses, breathes or broadcasts their faith in public – because when you have diversity of faiths and cultures, it becomes taboo to talk about religion and publicize your faith. What I am trying to underline is that, it is easy to see diversity when 40 out of a 100 people have a variety of different cultural beliefs. On the hand, it is very hard to to find diversity in cultural beliefs when 95 out of a 100 people are of the same religion. You can’t go looking for “conscious uncoupling of religion from culture” in a place where almost EVERYONE IS OF THE SAME RELIGION.   

Speaking of different religions, I’m sure living in Pakistan as a non-Muslim must be a little tough, but living Pakistan in general, can be quite challenging. Yes! Hindu’s and Muslims have fought their battles but in Pakistan’s current state, Shi’a Muslims and Sunni Muslims are battling constantly as well. Therefore, to make the claim that, it is hard to envision a peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims in Pakistan, is frankly quite ignorant since Hindu’s are not even 2% of the current population, respectively. Moreover, unlike Malaysia, Pakistan is an Islamic Republic which is why most Islamic religious holidays are also public holidays – Eid for example.

Now, in terms of following a certain dress code and partying – I do agree that Pakistan is conservative. However, there is a saying: when you go Italy do as the Italians do. A similar concept applies here. There are no formal laws in the constitution against how women and men should publically dress, but there are certain social norms that frown upon specific westernized dressing – and those social norms need to rightfully be accepted and tolerated. When it comes to partying – the Islamic Republic law needs to be considered – alcohol is not permitted under Islam and therefore the selling and buying of alcohol – even though, it is so very common – is not done publically. And, since alcohol is an under-the-table pleasure so is all the partying.

I agree that Pakistan has a lot to learn about how to make full use of all its potential and value its own home bound beauties such as Hunza Valley, Swat Valley and The Murree Hills. But I strongly believe that it is important, when highlighting the short comings of the country, to offer a complete perspective of laws, social norms and in this case a majority population of religion. 

Link to the blog being referred to is below:

Monday, February 22, 2016



Above is an article from The New York Times written by Nicholas Kristof about Rafi, a young Pakistani who confesses that for a long time he thought of the Taliban as freedom fighters and hated Americans. He dictates how different realms of education influenced his beliefs and train of thought. First, in a madrassa; where he was sent to memorize the Quran and be his mothers golden ticket to heaven. Next, attending a public school in the province of Balochistan; where he fell pray to political Islam – the worst kind of Islam. As Nicholas Kristof says, you would think of education as an antidote to extremism – but in fact it is not. All the education in the world means absolutely nothing without the ability to critically think.

On the flip side, in no sympathy do I reason with Rafi’s parents and the route that they chose for their children. However, I believe it is important to realize that when you live in the outskirts of a poor rural area with not much money and very little hope – religion is all you can hold on to. With the combination of hard circumstance and lack of opportunity, religious extremism can be nurtured through misinterpretation of the Islamic Sharia (law).  But to think that all Muslims that have a steadfast faith are extremist is equal to thinking that all presidential candidates for the United States of America are like Donald Trump.

“Religion”; the belief in and worship of a God or Gods – THE OXFORD DICTIONARY GOT THAT WRONG! More like, “Religion”; a political approach towards gaining power through devoted submission from a group of people.

I feel this article does a great a job in highlighting the importance of the “right” kind of education; the one that allows intellectual growth and underlines the necessity of empowering women. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t lay out what Islamic Sharia (law) is truly about.

I leave you, with teachings of Shams bin Tabriz, a mystic Sufi; “The sharia is like a candle…It provides us with such valuable light. But let us not forget that a candle helps us to go from one place to another in the dark. If we forget where we are headed and instead concentrate on the candle, what good is it?”