The New York Times/ Women in the World: April 26, 2015
That which was squashed by others
Was lifted by this slight one
-Mir Taqi Mir
On Friday April 24th, the city of Karachi lost one of its bravest daughters. Sabeen Mahmud, a rights activist and the owner of The Second Floor (T2F) café, was shot dead shortly after she hosted an event that sought to highlight grave human rights abuses widely attributed to the Pakistan Army and associated militia in the country’s largest province of Balochistan. By Saturday afternoon the café where, since 2007, residents of Karachi could talk about virtually any subject—religion, ethnicity, sexuality, politics or even just the merits of the latest Apple invention—fell silent as Sabeen’s body was brought in by well-wishers, admirers, friends and family members. There were too many shoulders jostling to help carry the weight of the bier holding Sabeen’s slight, forty-year-old frame. She would have been 41 this June and had never been so still for so long in this café, for hers was a manic, irrepressible energy.
I was often irked by Sabeen’s optimism. When I spoke with her last week about a project we were collaborating on, I asked, tired, “How is everything going?” She replied, “Oh its madness! But the best kind.” I wondered how her spirit did not flag—or at least did not appear to—even as she lived in a place that did not always respond kindly to her attempts to fix what was broken and change what was flawed.
Photo: Ali Rez
The Express Tribune: January 22, 2015
There are some days when Jawad Hazara follows his son Ibtihaj’s school van as it ferries the 12-year-old boy from his home in Quetta’s Gulistan Town till the entrance to the cantonment area where Army Public School and College Seven Streams is located.
“Sometimes my heart will not rest until I see that van enter the cantonment,” Jawad says. After the attack last month on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Jawad feels his son is in greater danger, particularly in a city where his distinct features mark him out as an easy target. “If they can do that to army children, just imagine what would happen if someone entered Ibtihaj’s school. He is a Hazara boy. If anyone came to attack the students, the Hazaras would be killed first,” Jawad says.
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The Express Tribune: October 19, 2014
A whiteboard in the reception of the Milo Shaheed Welfare Trust in Quetta, Balochistan, is testament to the centre’s success in treating drug users. Every day, it is updated with the total number of under-treatment patients and includes Pashtuns, Hazaras, Baloch, Punjabis, Sindhis, Kashmiris, Hindus and Christians. Afghans and Iranis cross the border into Pakistan as word-of-mouth about the treatment offered at MST travels. The board is placed under calligraphic text that reads, ‘Allah will provide for you’
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The Express Tribune: August 14, 2014
ZIARAT: “We have a tradition in our Pashtun culture,” says Feroze, the manager of a guest house in Ziarat. “When there is a shaadi or a baby is born, we get out our guns. We’re happy! We fire!” A little after 1 am on June 15th last year, Feroze woke to the sound of gunfire. “I thought someone had their first baby boy because it was so intense,” he said. A few minutes later, he learned that Ziarat Residency, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s home in his last few days in 1948, had been attacked by militants.
The bomb disposal squad removed six more bombs planted inside the house, but not before furniture, artifacts and photographs inside were burned and one police official lost his life.
Within a month, architect Nayyar Ali Dada was approached to oversee the Residency’s restoration. While he has a record of such conservation projects, it was Dada’s prior experience with the house that made him, as he puts it, a ‘natural choice’ – in the 1990s, the government recruited Dada to convert the Residency into a museum space after a fire.
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