Does Freedom Await Kaavan, ‘The World’s Loneliest Elephant?’

By Sonya Rehman On a weekday, the vicinity outside the Islamabad Zoo (once known as Marghazar Zoo) is crowded with families and their children milling about, buying toys, snacks and drinks from the kiosks set-up near the entrance. However, the zoo’s bright yellow main gate is closed and every now and then, hopeful visitors walk … More Does Freedom Await Kaavan, ‘The World’s Loneliest Elephant?’

The ‘Flower Craft’ Artisan From Hazara

By Sonya Rehman Throughout her life, Naseem Akhtar had a natural inclination towards hand embroideries. As a young woman, she would stitch gorgeous cushion covers in her free time, while also experiment with crochet work. However, when she got married, Akhtar and her husband were struggling to make ends meet. It was around this time that she … More The ‘Flower Craft’ Artisan From Hazara

How One Scottish-Pakistani Designer Is Helping Sustain Traditional Needlework In Chitral Valley

By Sonya Rehman Growing up in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a young Pakistani, designer Adil Iqbal consistently felt driven to connect with his roots. What did the Pakistani identity entail? And more importantly, what did Iqbal’s own identity encompass as a Scottish-Pakistani born to immigrant parents? It was these very questions which inspired Iqbal to begin … More How One Scottish-Pakistani Designer Is Helping Sustain Traditional Needlework In Chitral Valley

An Iconic Pakistani Fashion Label Is Making A Comeback

By Sonya Rehman Known for its unconventional, brightly-colored digital prints, the Pakistani fashion label, Sundip, was the go-to boutique for women who wanted ready-to-wear apparel which was not only fun, but which also made a statement. For Nafiz Khokhar, jobs left him feeling uninspired and unfulfilled. Therefore in 1973, the young designer was inspired to launch a … More An Iconic Pakistani Fashion Label Is Making A Comeback

From Lahore To New York: The Pakistani Entrepreneurs Behind Atoms

By Sonya Rehman Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, the Pakistani entrepreneurs behind the shoe start-up, Atoms, never fathomed how much their lives would change in the nine years since their foray into Pakistan’s – now thriving – start-up scene. In 2011, the young entrepreneurs were still learning the ropes after the launch of Markhor, a shoe start-up … More From Lahore To New York: The Pakistani Entrepreneurs Behind Atoms

The ‘Jewel From Cholistan’ Leaves Behind A Lasting Legacy

By Sonya Rehman The acclaimed Pakistani folk singer, Krishan Lal Bheel, passed away last week following serious health issues. Leaving behind his wife and two children, the arc of Bheel’s career was rich and vibrant, much like his larger-than-life personality. Hailing from Cholistan, a desert in South Punjab, Bheel began his career in singing over … More The ‘Jewel From Cholistan’ Leaves Behind A Lasting Legacy

A Magic Shadow-show

By Sonya Rehman   For in and out, above, about, below, ‘Tis nothing but a Magic Shadow-show, Play’d in a Box whose Candle is the Sun, Round which we Phantom Figures comes and go. – The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám   We’d been planning on moving to Islamabad for a year. In early 2019, we … More A Magic Shadow-show

This Pakistani Streetwear Brand Is One To Look Out For

By Sonya Rehman It’s hip, it’s edgy and it epitomizes South Asian streetwear. Rastah, an Urdu word meaning path or journey, is a Pakistani fashion label which is swiftly beginning to carve its very own, gritty niche in the global streetwear industry. Launched in 2018 by Zain Ahmad, Adnan Ahmad and Ishmail Ahmad, the founders … More This Pakistani Streetwear Brand Is One To Look Out For

Meet The Sisters Getting Lahore Back Into Shape

By Sonya Rehman Founded in 2014 by two fitness fanatic sisters, Mahlaqa Shaukat and Noor-ul-Hira Shaukat, the popular fitness studio, AimFit, holds every essential ingredient of one day becoming a booming fitness empire in Pakistan. With three branches in Lahore and one in Islamabad, ninety employees, and countless members (‘AimFitters,’ as the sisters like to … More Meet The Sisters Getting Lahore Back Into Shape

Rising Above The Stigma of ‘Sheedi’

By Sonya Rehman Pakistan’s Sheedi community can trace its roots back to East African slaves brought to India by the Portuguese, hundreds of years before the partition of the subcontinent. Marginalized and overlooked for decades, the group has found its commanding, charismatic voice in Tanzeela Qambrani — in the halls of the Sindh provincial legislature. … More Rising Above The Stigma of ‘Sheedi’

A Conversation With Lollywood Screenwriter Nasir Adeeb

By Sonya Rehman With 412 films to his credit, veteran Pakistani writer, Nasir Adeeb, needs no introduction. Having started out as a clerk in the once prolific Pakistani film industry, Lollywood, Adeeb’s early days as a struggling writer were filled with hardships and self-doubt. At the time, the film industry was exceptionally hard to break … More A Conversation With Lollywood Screenwriter Nasir Adeeb

Meet The Photographer Using Instagram To Highlight Culture In Sindh

By Sonya Rehman Emmanuel Mansingh was only 9-years-old when he discovered National Geographic magazines belonging to Christian missionaries in a church in the city of Nawabshah (in Sindh, Pakistan) that his father used to work in. At the time, Mansingh was enchanted by the magazine’s pictures featuring tribes, cultures and communities around the world. “I remember feeling … More Meet The Photographer Using Instagram To Highlight Culture In Sindh

Hitting The Right Notes: Pakistani Music’s Comeback

By Sonya Rehman After refining her craft in music production in Canada for five years, Haniya Aslam, returned to Pakistan last year to pick up from where she left off. A part of the local music scene for over a decade, Aslam thinks that the new phase in Pakistani music, that’s swiftly unfolding, is an exciting … More Hitting The Right Notes: Pakistani Music’s Comeback

Born To Live

By Sonya Rehman Every so often one comes across stories of ordinary people who wind up doing the extraordinary. Defying the odds and societal expectations, they set out on unchartered territory to seek truth, purpose and meaning from new life paths that may seem rife with risk for some. But perhaps this is what makes … More Born To Live

Is Plus Size Fashion Finally Coming To Pakistan?

By Sonya Rehman Fed up with looking for clothes that fit, two thirty-something best friends from Lahore, Zenab Ali and Maryam Yousaf, launched their plus size clothing brand, The Rack Couture, in April (this year), in a bid to introduce body positive fashion to Pakistan’s thriving fashion industry. From semi-formal, formal and casual apparel, The … More Is Plus Size Fashion Finally Coming To Pakistan?

A New Start-Up Provides Opportunities For Pakistan’s Marginalized

By Sonya Rehman Muhammad Mustafa and Suniya Saadullah Khan are the very definition of a young ‘power couple’ driven by a dream to create long-lasting social impact in Pakistan. Mustafa, a Stanford graduate with a decade’s experience in the local telecommunication sector, and Khan, a rocket scientist who once worked as an engineer with the … More A New Start-Up Provides Opportunities For Pakistan’s Marginalized

Recreating Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Since her debut novel, An Isolated Incident (published in 2014), US-based Pakistani author, Soniah Kamal, is currently gearing up for her forthcoming book – Unmarriageable – an endearing re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. But here’s the twist: it’s set in contemporary Pakistan and no, it has nothing to do with … More Recreating Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

Back To Their Roots: Krewella Talks Pakistan And Collaborations In Their Homeland

By Sonya Rehman         Popular electronic dance music (EDM) sister-duo, Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf (of the band, Krewella), revealed that their recent collaboration with Pakistani artistes for the music series, Coke Studio, was “unlike any other creative experience” they had ever had. Teaming up with Riaz Qadri, a classical music maestro, and his son, Ghulam … More Back To Their Roots: Krewella Talks Pakistan And Collaborations In Their Homeland

A Palace Full Of Secrets

By Sonya Rehman A little over two hours, an assorted playlist and insipid coffee (from a petrol station) later, we arrive at our destination in the heart of the historic Chiniot city in Pakistan. Maneuvering through cramped lanes, past sputtering rickshaws, vegetable vendors and furniture shops with their beautiful pieces on full display (side note: … More A Palace Full Of Secrets

Pakistan’s Rising Air Pollution Crisis

By Sonya Rehman According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 4 million of the world’s population succumbs to air pollution-related illnesses on an annual basis, due to toxic air quality levels that go well beyond the standard guidelines outlined by the WHO. As mentioned in a recent State of Global Air 2018 report, “Worldwide … More Pakistan’s Rising Air Pollution Crisis

Coke Studio Explorer Unearths Pakistan’s Hidden Talent

By Sonya Rehman Pakistan’s biggest and most popular annual music platform, Coke Studio, under the banner of its exciting new initiative – Coke Studio Explorer – cuts through the mainstream and brings previously undiscovered music talent to the public eye. Having released a grand total of five tracks this month, each song highlights Pakistan’s cultural … More Coke Studio Explorer Unearths Pakistan’s Hidden Talent

The Story of ‘Salam’ – An Overlooked Pakistani Hero

By Sonya Rehman Having been screened at the Raw Science Film Festival (for which it bagged first prize for Best Documentary Feature), the Mumbai International Film Festival, the Charlotte Asian Film Festival and Oxford University, the phenomenal documentary, Salam, will soon make its way to film festivals in Paris and Barcelona, later this year. Tracing the extraordinary life of Pakistan’s first … More The Story of ‘Salam’ – An Overlooked Pakistani Hero

For The Love Of Classic Cars: Father-Son Duo Restore A Piece Of History

By Sonya Rehman A well-known classic car enthusiast from Karachi, Mohsin Ikram, first came across two decaying vintage cars parked outside the city’s picturesque Mohatta Palace in 1992. The cars, once owned by Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the country’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, were gleaming beauties during their glory days, but when discovered … More For The Love Of Classic Cars: Father-Son Duo Restore A Piece Of History

The Tragic Life of a Slain Social Media Star Chronicled In New Book

By Sonya Rehman Released this month, The Sensational Life & Death of Qandeel Baloch, explores the life of one of Pakistan’s most popular social media celebrities, whose life was tragically cut short in 2016 when she was brutally murdered by her brother over ‘honor.’ Based in Karachi, journalist Sanam Maher says that she was keen … More The Tragic Life of a Slain Social Media Star Chronicled In New Book

Feeling The Music: A Pakistani Band’s Concert For The Deaf

By Sonya Rehman Concerts in Pakistan that are inclusive of deaf individuals are close to none. However, there have been a sprinkle of events that were specifically organized for the deaf overseas. In 1984, for instance, the legendary Prince, once performed to crowd of over 2,000 deaf and blind students at a college in Washington, … More Feeling The Music: A Pakistani Band’s Concert For The Deaf

She’s Standing Up For Pakistani Prisoners Sentenced To Die

By Sonya Rehman In a country where 491 executions have taken place since December 2014, when the death penalty moratorium was lifted in response to the Army Public School terrorist attack in Peshawar, one organization, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) offers hope for the country’s 8,200 prisoners on death row. Sarah Belal, a 39-year-old human rights lawyer, founded JPP in … More She’s Standing Up For Pakistani Prisoners Sentenced To Die

Pakistan’s Fashion Designers Tackle Stereotypes, Fear and Hate

By Sonya Rehman For a country obsessed with weddings, Pakistani clothing brand Generation’s choice of a marriage ceremony as the theme for a campaign last December appeared unsurprising. But there was nothing regular about Shahnaz Ki Shaadi or Shahnaz’s Wedding, the campaign. Revolving around the wedding of a woman in her 50s, the campaign’s images featured the to-be-married … More Pakistan’s Fashion Designers Tackle Stereotypes, Fear and Hate

10 Tips For Women Travelling to Lahore, Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Much has been said and written about Lahore’s hospitality and its alluring charm. Known as the cultural capital of Pakistan, Lahore is the kind of city that pulls you into a warm embrace, refusing to let go, shoving morsel upon morsel of delicious grub in your face! Lahoris take their food very … More 10 Tips For Women Travelling to Lahore, Pakistan

Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor Wows Pakistani Audiences

By Sonya Rehman Now playing across Pakistani cinemas this month, the new animated production, Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor, made in collaboration with WWF Pakistan, is not only a visual delight for cinemagoers, but also highlights a crucial issue: wildlife conservation. At the heart of the story is protagonist Allahyar, a young boy who … More Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor Wows Pakistani Audiences

#JusticeForZainab

By Sonya Rehman Zainab Amin’s grisly murder in Kasur this week comes as a stark reminder of where we’re headed as a nation, infact, cross that, we’re already there. After the hue and cry following the 2015 Kasur child porn ring bust where over 300 children were raped and filmed – touted as the largest … More #JusticeForZainab

Tracing Pakistan’s Scrumptious Food Trail

By Sonya Rehman At first glance, Pakistan Heritage Cuisine – A Food Story, is a beautiful coffee table book. Replete with gorgeous photography, the book is an ode to Pakistan, its people and most importantly, to its diverse cuisine. Penned by an entrepreneur based in Karachi, Sayeeda Leghari, and published Markings, a local publishing house, … More Tracing Pakistan’s Scrumptious Food Trail

Specks of Star Dust

Dearest, I love this time of the year. I love how time manages to slow down, only to rev itself up come January. I love the softness of December, the slowness; 31 days to re-assess, replenish and repair. Thank you God, thank you little green martian(s), thank you Aretha Franklin, thank you baby barn owl … More Specks of Star Dust

For Pakistan’s Startups, Challenges Line The Road Ahead

By Sonya Rehman When fresh college graduate Nabeel Siddiqui launched a startup in Karachi in January 2017 with two of his friends to build low-cost, portable housing, his parents thought he was just “experimenting,” and assumed he would turn to a 9-to-5 job sooner or later. Nine months later, he has belied those expectations. His firm, … More For Pakistan’s Startups, Challenges Line The Road Ahead