Recent writings

Boys collect water in a fishing village in Karachi. Photo: my own
Boys collect water in a fishing village in Karachi. Photo: my own

The picture on the left is one I took during a visit to a small village on the outskirts of Karachi, for a piece about water sanitation. Below is a link to that piece (written for Dawn), and to some of the other things I’ve been writing recently.

Independent

Bilawal is key to PPP regaining mass appeal in Pakistan (27th December)

Following the PPP co-chairman’s speech on the anniversary of his mother’s death, I wrote a piece for the Independent about the importance of dynastic politics.

Postcard from Karachi (13th December)

This short piece describes a trip to Lyari, one of Karachi’s most dangerous areas.

Express Tribune

Revisiting Malala (6th January)

Malala Yousafzai was released from hospital last week, but has anything really changed for women activists since she was shot? This piece asks why we wait for women to become victims of serious violence before taking action.

Celebrating Christmas in Pakistan (31st December)

The week after Christmas, I looked at the continued persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.

Polio attacks – Pakistan’s future under threat (23rd December)

In the aftermath of the shocking murder of five healthworkers in Pakistan in December, I wrote about the dangerous politicisation of medical aid.

Dawn

“Everybody needs water, it’s not political” (28th December)

This long feature looks at efforts to provide clean drinking water in Sindh, Pakistan, and the problems faced, including lack of education and poor electricity supplies.

Radio

On 4th January I was on Monocle 24, talking about Malala Yousafzai’s release from hospital, and what has changed (or not) in the interim. You can listen to it here.

I was also on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 on the 3rd January, talking about blacking up. (A bit of a break from the Pakistan theme!)

Censoring the internet

A policeman clashes with a demonstrator during protests in Lahore against the “Innocent of Muslims” film.

YouTube has been banned in Pakistan since 17 September, after riots triggered by the “Innocence of Muslims”, an inflammatory clip on the video-sharing site. Last week, I wrote a short piece for the Independent about the ban. I’ve also covered the issue in more detail for Dawn. As the piece explains, the YouTube ban is just the tip of the iceberg, with the government using the unrest to usher in a system that would allow them to censor the internet on a wide scale.

Just 20 million people out of Pakistan’s 187 million strong population have access to the internet, making digital rights a niche concern. However, despite this limited audience, being online has brought innumerable benefits to Pakistan, enabling entrepreneurship and economic growth, facilitating education and academic research, and encouraging communication. Increased censorship and the associated impact it will have on the basic human rights of freedom of expression and access to information should be a concern for everyone. As Saleem says, “It’s just another step to becoming a police state and a more closed society than we already are.”