The big Kamal confession: What happens next?

It takes exceptional courage to speak out against power abuse in Pakistan. To expose someone infamous for violent politics. To challenge the status quo. Regardless of the authenticity of claims, Mustafa Kamal exhibited extraordinary courage in an unprecedented tirade against the party’s chief Altaf Hussain.

He accused him of working against the state and deceiving people of Pakistan. He exposed the internal workings of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and even made a revelation about the party’s alleged links with Indian spy agency RAW. Interestingly, there was nothing too shocking about the revelations. It all sounds like familiar stories. A recent BBC report had also raised similar concerns by indicating a financial link between the MQM and the Indian government. What is deeply intriguing and distinctive about the whole episode is the fact that it came from a widely respected insider which automatically renders credibility.

The big question now is, what happens next?

Should MQM be worried?

Are we going to witness culprits being probed and held accountable?

While there have been numerous instances of disturbing revelations about the party and its notorious chief in the past, any decisive action has been rare. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on the deadly Baldia factory fire incident is a case in point. Around 259 people lost their lives in what has been termed as the country’s worst fire incident. Poor workers paid a fatal price for the factory owner’s failure to pay extortion money.

Is there any hope for justice for the victims’ families? Accountability has been missing from our story. Who could dare take any action? Who could dare catch the big fish despite enough evidence to get convictions? The federal government or worse, the Sindh government?

The scourge of corruption in Pakistan has been made possible by the excessive power abuse and acute lack of accountability. The ruling groups have traditionally crippled laws and institutions of accountability for personal gains. Selfish motives trump basic human rights. Dozens of children have lost their lives due to widespread malnutrition in Tharparkar. Karachi and the rest of Sindh is one big rotten mess because those in control are part of the rot. Politics in Karachi is characterised by a politics-crime-corruption nexus where the political parties, city district government are among land grabbing mafias. Organised crime and terrorism are rampant.

If MQM or the ruling party is so well-intentioned, why is the state of service delivery so dismal? Why is there no adequate water supply in the metropolis? If MQM is the only party that seems to care about the indigenous Muhajirs, why are the streets full of litter and manholes? Why do we still have dilapidated old style buses? Why is so much claimed and so little done?

Amid these facts, allegations of corruption and violence against MQM naturally seem to gain traction. The state of present mess has been made possible by the grand unholy alliance between the major political groups in Karachi. Both MQM and Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) have collaborated not for wider public good, but for protecting personal interests. Imagine MQM and PPP joining hands to improve food security in Tharparker region.

The blatant criminality and abuse of power by the rulers has gone unabated, until recently when the rangers posed a serious threat to the evil nexus of political leaders, gang lords and civil servants. But even they have faced considerable challenges in their attempts to clean the mess.

Ethnic grievances have informed the core of MQM’s political strategy. MQM claims to be the only political party which represents the interests of the Muhajir community, however, it has done little in improving their life chances and providing them with basic amenities. Instead it has used the Muhajir rhetoric to create a climate of fear and hostility fuelling anti-Punjabi sentiment.

By emphasising ethnic differences, it has failed to inculcate a nationalistic sense of identity.

Given the recent revelations, it is high time MQM comes forward and provides the public an honest explanation for its wrongdoings. Aggression and personal attacks are no longer an option. The sickness on display and the devastation that has been perpetuated must end now!

from The Express Tribune Blog


I was never his wife, I was only his slave

“I maybe from a  third world country but I have a heart like you do, emotions like you have, and dreams to pursue. On my first Eid as a married girl, I wanted to dress up and celebrate my new beginning instead of being in a hospital bed recovering from the effects of abuse.”

I got married in March 2014 in Chicago with dreams of starting a new life and a future built out on love and trust in my new home. My parents were so assured that they were giving me into the hands of an educated guy; someone who would value their daughter and appreciate her.

The day I got married, not even 24 hours after my parents left Chicago, I was evaluated on the dowry that I was given. My in-laws felt that it wasn’t enough – even though my dad had given all that he could. He had fulfilled every demand my in-laws had made and yet it did not satisfy them.

My husband, and in-laws, felt that all that I had brought in with me was not enough. The iron and ironing board were missing and there just weren’t enough comforter-sets to keep the entire family warm. They were so disappointed that they began scheming on ways to end my marriage.

My resistance infuriated my husband and then he became violent. I hid his brutality from my parents because of their heath condition. I never spoke of his foul behaviour in worry that it would affect their health.

My mother-in-law would summon me and make dowry requests. When I discussed this with my husband, he would say,

“Even our Prophet (PBUH)’s daughter got a dowry”

And then he would yell at me and say,

“If you won’t get anything, you can sleep on the mattress.”

I was shocked and horrified that someone who held the position of a Vice President at a bank, and who could afford a house was fixated on asking my father for furniture. As if this wasn’t deplorable enough, he demanded a 50-inch TV saying I was lucky he demanded only that because,

“I want a smart TV, but I will settle for the 50-inch TV.”

Finally, I resorted to asking my sister for help who paid for those things after marriage. I ordered everything my in-laws demanded on my sister’s credit card and went to pick them up with my husband. I was ashamed of being married to a man who was forcing me to take funds from my younger sister.

Despite succumbing to their requests, my husband and in-laws treated me akin to a slave. They would snatch away food from my plate if I did not finish cleaning the house. I would be forced to mow the lawns, while he would sit and watch. I was overburdened with domestic chores and on top of that, my in-laws’ attitude towards me left me emotionally and physically exhausted.

But my husband would brazenly vindicate this abuse by saying,

“I am giving you a roof, food and shelter.”

My health started to deteriorate with each passing day. I had become an emotionally torn person. I became deprived of my individuality. With each day getting worse than the last, my life turned into a living hell.

My marriage was completely devoid of any respect; I got none from my husband or his family. I was treated like a servant, was confined to the four walls of our house and was advised to ‘win hearts’ and not mope about my situation. Despite being his wife, I enjoyed no such place or position. There were restrictions laid upon me on going out by myself, cooking for myself, or my husband, and even staying in touch with my friends or family.

They wanted to exert control over every aspect of my life; I was forbidden from working or socialising, and bound to them in every way. I was to say I felt suffocated it would be a gross understatement. I was imprisoned in my own house and would cry to my sister about my pain, if I had the fortunate opportunity of talking to her. I would keep giving in to save my marriage and kept preventing the possibility of being a societal taboo; a divorced woman.

About a week before my six-month visa was expiring, he asked me to sign a postnuptial agreement. At that point, I was not aware of what that was. I was not even allowed to ask questions and was expected to blindly trust my husband. I was shown the document only minutes before reaching the notary office where I had to sign it. I was horrified to read the contents of the agreement. It stated,

‘The wife will not get alimony’

‘The wife will not have the right to contest divorce’

And the cherry on top of the cake was,

‘The wife has transparency to everything’.

In my five months of marriage, I had never had any transparency to his assets or his salary because he never considered me his partner. I was a slave from a third world country with parents far away from home.

Finally in Ramazan, one day before Eid in 2014, I was able to escape. I can never forget that day. He physically attacked me and then snatched my phone to stop me from reaching out for help. I thank God that I was able to find a laptop and use it to call my sister on Skype for help. I thought they were going to kill me, because when they snatched my phone, I had heard his mom say,

“We have to do something about her.”

I shudder when I recall the day I left their residence, bruised. I was 70 pounds in weight and shaking. On the day of Eid, I was in a hospital bed traumatised at my state, my health and my condition.

Since then, I have been going for counselling to bring myself, and my life, back together, and today, after months, I feel I have battled what thousands of women are still suffering. Every day thousands of girls suffer such form of abuse in silence and put up with domestic violence. Every day, thousands of parents become victims of threats and feel the urge to save their daughters from divorce.

To them, all I can say is, save your daughter. Educate and empower her, don’t allow her life to be put through hell. Her life is as important as any boys, it is as important as anyone else’s; don’t deprive her of the joy of living. I thank God for the support I have gotten from my family and friends, and they will thank you too. Please give them the opportunity to live. Be more vigilant. It is time that we stop using the words divorce and taboo synonymously. It is time we let our mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and female friends know that they have the right to live their lives as they please as much any man has that right.

If my message and story has had an impact on even one person, I believe I have saved a life. Here is to a new year with hope of a better society that doesn’t oppress anyone’s daughter in any way.

from The Express Tribune Blog

Stop blaming Afridi for Pakistan’s dismal T20 performance!

As our Pakistani cricket team hits rock bottom, keeping in mind their recent T20 form, the amount of criticism hurled towards Shahid Afridi has been increasing. Before I elaborate on anything, let me make it clear, I am not a diehard Afridi fan and hence I am not here to defend his lack of consistency. Sure enough he has been making errors on and off the field and he could have definitely performed way better, but delusional Pakistani cricket fans must realise Afridi is a part of the problem and not the only problem.

As our Pakistani cricket team hits rock bottom, keeping in mind their recent T20 form, the amount of criticism hurled towards Shahid Afridi has been increasing.
Photo: AFP

Being a captain of a subcontinent team is anything but enjoyable. No matter how a team loses, the biggest chunk of criticism will have to be swallowed by the skipper. It’s just something that comes as part of the package. Just look at our neighbours, they still criticise MS Dhoni for losses, despite his phenomenal success as a captain for India.

A captain can set the right field, make the right bowling changes and even inspire his teammates to achieve higher success.
Photo: AFP

A captain can set the right field, make the right bowling changes and even inspire his teammates to achieve higher success. However, a captain cannot carry the weight of 10 other players on his shoulders. There are certain things that are just beyond a captain’s control.

It is not Afridi’s job to help Khurram Manzoor stay on the pitch longer than the time he took to walk to it. I mean, it’s not as if Afridi selected him and is responsible for his actions. It is not Afridi’s job to run in for Anwar Ali and bowl one decent over without getting smacked all around the park. It is not Afridi’s job to teach the so-called ‘Professor’ how to run between wickets. Believe it or not, even diving from the other side of the field to help Mohammad Sami’s misfielding is not Afridi’s job.

I hate to break it down to Pakistani fans, but sacking Afridi will not change anything for the Pakistani cricket team.

The problem at hand is beyond Afridi.

There is a serious lack of talent.

There I said it.

There is a shortage of talent coming down the line. If Mohammad Aamir is excluded from the current team, Pakistan will even find it tough to win against associates. Let’s open our eyes; the problem is bigger and darker than mere captaincy issues.

If Mohammad Aamir is excluded from the current team, Pakistan will even find it tough to win against associates.
Photo: AFP

Until we face this harsh reality, we will never be able to fix it.

Let’s focus our criticism on the system that has given up its responsibility to discover, manage and develop talent. Let’s criticise root level cricket that is slowly evaporating. Let’s focus our attention on the board that hires one bowling coach after another despite heavily paying Waqar Younis, the head coach, whose credibility is entirely built on his bowling performances in the past. One can only wonder what Azhar Mahmood will add to the bowling tips which Waqar Younis has failed to address.

Instead of embracing reality in order to fix it, we tend to find the easiest target to hit. Afridi is definitely the easiest one to target while the role of Waqar Younis and company remains unquestionable.

Till then, let’s keep changing captains and blaming him for our inept team and selectors.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

from The Express Tribune Blog

Is allowing menstruating women time off from work discriminatory against men?

Every woman on this planet will experience the immense joy of menstruation in her lifetime. It is something she was biologically made to experience. But for a workplace to recognise the pain she experiences whilst on her period is quite revolutionary. This week a company in Bristol, UK decided to allow menstruating women time off from work in order to recuperate from period pain. Suffice to say, this decision was met with a mixture of applause and derision from both men and women alike. 

At first, I didn’t know how to react to the news. The feminist streak in me thought it was a brilliant idea and a significantly forward way of thinking about a perfectly natural phenomenon, but then I retracted. The realist in me started asking some logistical questions. How was such a policy to ever be implemented correctly? Would it not be revealing too much information about someone who might just want to keep that information to themselves?

Apparently it all comes down to productivity. The company’s director, Bex Baxter has stated that,

“When women are having their periods, they are in a winter state, when they need to regroup, keep warm and nourish their bodies. The spring section of the cycle, immediately after a period, is a time when women are actually three times as productive as usual.”

Those words made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. That statement made me feel that we are still living in a time when women are cave-dwellers and men are hunter-gatherers. What does regrouping even mean? Do all menstruating women get in a room and give each other hi-fives and hugs for surviving another period? Sure, period pain can be very painful but there are plenty of very effective pain relief medications that are available over the counter.

Taking time off every single month is just excessive and would, in my honest opinion, hamper a woman’s ability to move on up the career ladder. She may be seen as ‘weak’ or in constant need of a break, and when the number of days taken off for ill-health is taken into consideration when discussing promotions, career progression may stall.

In China, a woman is seen as ‘weaker’ or more ‘delicate’ during her menstrual period. The Chinese province of Anhui introduced such a policy in their labour laws from March 1, 2016 onwards, with employers being legally bound to give women two days off work as a result of excessive bleeding and painful menstruation that disrupts normal working. Such policies have also been around for many years amongst Chinese companies, especially for women who are working in tough outdoor conditions. Whilst I can understand that such policies are helpful for women in tremendous amounts of pain, I just don’t know how to react to such a policy if it was ever put in place at my workplace.

Also, in a society which is vehemently in favour of equal rights for women, are we beginning to forget the role of equality for men?

If equality demands that women and men be treated in exactly the same manner, is such a policy not discriminatory against men?

Should biological processes be legislated upon?

For the company in Bristol, this doesn’t seem to be a matter of great concern since the majority of the staff there are female, however, policies like these are going to lead to some serious questions where it is a male-dominated workforce or even in a workforce where there is an equal mix of men and women.

To conclude, every woman’s experience with periods is different. Some have very painful ones, some have no pain at all, some have very lengthy ones and some have shorter ones. I can see the wisdom in helping women out who are in immense pain; I just don’t see its practicality. Not to mention the fact that I would be seriously embarrassed if my male colleagues knew I took time off to recuperate from my periods. Maybe it’s better to just soldier on valiantly, period pain in tow.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

from The Express Tribune Blog

Stop killing our dogs, CBC!

“I came back home at night and found Sandy dead, my maid boy told me CBC van came and shot her, her body was just lying there covered in bullet wounds, her four puppies were left behind from which one died of poisoning, two were rescued by Mustafa Ahmed and the last one ran away and is yet to be found…” – Hira Sami

These are the heart-breaking words of a citizen of Karachi who took care of Sandy the stray dog for the last two months. Coming home from work to find your beloved stray, one you’ve been taking care of, is not only depressing, it’s downright infuriating, frustrating and what nightmares are made of. Hira’s painful experience is sadly one of several. Just recently someone’s six stray dogs were poisoned in Bath Island. I myself have lost nine strays to poisoning several years ago, and witnessed half-alive dogs with bullet wounds, gasping for breath.

This cleansing of stray dogs in Karachi, specifically in the Clifton Cantonment area, needs to be brought to an end. It is an assault to humanity, it is a heinous campaign that disregards an animal’s right to live and share this land of ours. Our friends at Home Four Paw and Claw (HFPC) are daily rescuing and evacuating strays in various locations under the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), who are at risk of being shot dead like they just don’t matter. Many of the injured, mothers and puppies are being relocated to shelters like the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation or Edhi Animal Shelter, but for the most part the healthy dogs are being sent to ‘dog-friendly’ locations where they are not at risk of being gunned down barbarically nor pose a threat to any people.

How we as a society, as a nation, can let animal welfare be so far neglected is merely an example of the level of apathy we’ve reached.

So what do we do to save man’s best friend from being killed in cold blood?

The solution is simple.

With organisations like HFPC and fellow volunteers willing to donate their time and effort, we request CBC to put an end to the needless shooting and poisoning of stray dogs and instead ask for a chance to implement a more humane plan of relocation, vaccination, spaying and neutering.

We could resolve the alleged ‘dog problem’ but for that we would require the assistance of our fellow citizens and officials to help make it happen in a civilised way. We have shelters and other animal welfares on board to support us and we require nothing from Clifton Cantonment except to put a stop to shooting and poisoning dogs.

We will spay, neuter, give rabies shots and release the dogs in an area that is not an inconvenience for the residents of Karachi. It is our duty as human beings, as a nation with the potential to be so amazingly great, to protect the voiceless creatures from being treated in such a heinous way. Shooting the dogs dead, most of them left half alive with bullet wounds, dying a slow painful death, is not something we should even wish on our worst enemies.

I understand that the stray dog population may be a ‘hazard’ to those who are not animal lovers or animal friendly, but we have a sure shot way of solving the problem with the effective solution at hand.

Please read the plan below, a simple solution that works for everyone.

The plan

1. Provide numbers to CBC and other residents to call in case of a ‘dog problem’ in the area.

2. Upon calling those numbers, our team of volunteers will come to the location and evacuate the dogs, get them spayed and neutered, give them rabies shots and release them in an area that is away from residents.

3. Injured dogs and puppies will be taken to shelters and treated there.

4. Once the initial evacuation process is completed, we will focus on vaccinating the dogs. Once the vaccinations are done, we will start the spay and neuter program. Once the spay and neuter program is successfully completed, we will focus our efforts on finding viable homes for the puppies at least, perhaps even for the adult dogs if people step up.

What is achieved?

1. The ‘dog problem’ is being solved and dogs are being removed from areas where they are not welcome.

2. The dogs are being spayed and neutered so they do not reproduce and therefore we are controlling the stray population.

3. The dogs at hand are being taken to safety where they can live free of the fear of being shot dead.

4. Helping the voiceless is our God given right.

5. By giving the freedom to save these dogs and not shooting them, you are playing a huge part in an act of kindness.

I’d like to end this post with the simple request to my fellow country men and women, if you cannot adopt, then foster. If you cannot foster, then volunteer. If you cannot volunteer, then donate. If you cannot donate, then help create awareness. If you cannot help create awareness, then offer moral support. If you cannot offer moral support, then let the people who are working to save the voiceless, do what they do. Just don’t add to the problem, don’t support such treatment of animals, don’t find reasons to enforce cruelty.

from The Express Tribune Blog

24 completely Pakistanis reactions, explained through Disney

We Pakistanis have many trigger points; many things irk us and many leave us disgruntled. Some moments make us sing with joy while others leave us simply bewildered.

Therefore, in line with all things Pakistani, here are 24 Pakistani reactions that can very aptly be explained via Disney Gifs.

1. When it rains, anywhere in Pakistan

Photo: Tumblr

2. When Shahid Afridi hits the ball in the air…

Photo: MermaidConga

And it lands in the fielder’s hands

Photo: Disney Wiki

3. When Pakistanis come across #ThankYouRaheelSharif

Photo: Tumblr

4. When a Pakistani is recognised internationally

Photo: Pinterest

5. When it comes to Malala Yousafzai

Photo: Giphy

6. When the scheduled load-shedding does not take place

Photo: Pinterest

7. When Pakistanis manage to get tickets for a new blockbuster, without booking in advance

Photo: Giphy

8. Whenever Meera tries to speak in English

Photo: Tumblr

9. When we saw Ayesha Sana’s infamous video

Photo: Tumblr

10. When guests are about to come over

Photo: Tumblr

11. When ammi asks you to go fetch yogurt/vegetables/fizzy drinks from the nearby store

Photo: Gifmania

12. When ammi threatens to go and buy the items herself

Photo: Tumblr

13. When Pakistani students realise what they have done in their exams

Photo: Tumblr

14. When there is a wedding at home and you have to do all the work

Photo: Giphy

15. When there is a wedding at a relative’s home and there is a lot of drama to look forward to

Photo: Tumblr

16. When there is a strike

Photo: Tumblr

17. When Pakistanis are told tabdeeli aagayi hai (revolution is here)

Photo: Tumblr

18. Whenever Altaf Bhai holds a press conference

Photo: Tumblr

19. When Pakistanis were introduced to KitKat Talcum Powder

Photo: Smosh

20. Whenever Zubaida Aapa comes on TV

Photo: Tumblr

21. When a game show is being aired

Photo: Giphy

22. When we see Mamnoon Hussain on TV and realise that he still exists

Photo: Tumblr

23. When we hear the roti, kapra aur makaan (bread, clothes and shelter) drill…

Photo: Photobucket

24. When the Mere Aziz Hum Watno moment arrives

Photo: Tumblr

There are so many more instances where Pakistanis have peculiar reactions. If you have some in mind, do share them with us in the comment section below!

from The Express Tribune Blog

Do you have what it takes to resist this chocolate caramel tart? Because I don’t!

I’ve always wanted to make a chocolate tart, but honestly, I had been scared of making the pastry required for the base. I’m not sure why, but making pastry seemed difficult. The time required, the kneading, the rolling, the making sure it’s perfect to cook (and also the dried beans/pie weights needed?! What!)

I tend to not have the time or the patience, and recipes with lots of steps scare me. But I am a determined woman. After years of wanting to make a chocolate tart, but never actually doing so – it was finally time. I had invited some friends over for the afternoon, so I decided to experiment.

I scoured the net for a pastry recipe that would suit me and found one that, albeit time consuming, seemed fairly simple. The chocolate part is easy – chocolate, cream, heat it up, yummy.

I saw some dulce de leche as I looked in the fridge and thought, why not mix it up and add some of this to the tart as well. I’ll post how to make some dulce de leche, so you can see how easy it is to make!

On the recipe, pastry tart first.


Flour – 2 cups
Sugar – 3 tbsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Unsalted butter – ¾ cup (cold and cut into small cubes)
Egg – 1 (large and separated)
Ice water – 2 tbsp (more if needed)


1. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and add the butter.  Mix in with your hands until you get coarse crumbs.

2. Whisk the egg yolk with the ice water, and make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients – add in the egg mixture.  Work the dough well, and if it is crumbly, add in more water.

I had to add in more water. I didn’t work it enough initially, so make sure you really do work on it, so nothing is crumbling. Once it’s done, wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge.

3. After 30 minutes, roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface. Roll up the dough on your rolling pin, and lay it on a nine inch tart pan that has a removable bottom.

4. Press the dough in the pan and shave off the excess. Then keep it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and before putting the tart in the oven, line it with aluminium foil and add either dried beans, rice or pie weights into the foil layer.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, and then remove the foil and dry filling.

9. Coat the crush with a beaten egg white, and bake for another eight minutes or until it is golden in colour. Now finally add in the filling and bake it for the actual delicious tart.

10. Before putting in the tart with the filling, lower the temperature to 325 degrees F.

Now the filling recipe!

Heavy cream – 1 cup
Milk – ½ cup
Chocolate – 10 ounces (I used a mixture of dark chocolate and milk chocolate)
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Eggs – 2 (large at room temperature)


1. Heat the heavy cream and milk in a pot, until it is simmering.  Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.

2. Add in the sugar, salt and add in the beaten eggs until everything is completely blended.

3. Before putting the chocolate in the pastry, take the dulce de leche that should be at room temperature and layer that onto the tart pastry. Then add in the chocolate filling.

4. Put it in the oven at 325 Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes until it’s ready to be served.


from The Express Tribune Blog