Weighing In On The Future Of Pakistani Music With Zeeshan Parwez

By Sonya Rehman Always ahead of the game, Zeeshan Parwez has worn many hats throughout his fascinating career in Pakistan’s music scene. While some would have remained in their comfort zones, Parwez has continued to push the envelope, as a musician, video director and an animator. A cerebral, humble and hardworking artiste, Parwez’s purpose lies solely … More Weighing In On The Future Of Pakistani Music With Zeeshan Parwez

Crafting Minimalist Jewellery With A Touch Of Heritage And Folklore

By Sonya Rehman Designing jewelry for a little over two decades, Puja Bhargava Kamath’s pieces are a glorious balance of understated design and traditional aesthetic, with a strong emphasis on craftsmanship. Having steadily made a name for herself in jewelry design through her label, Lai, the New Delhi native (currently residing in California), works with master … More Crafting Minimalist Jewellery With A Touch Of Heritage And Folklore

In Her Daughter’s Memory

By Sonya Rehman From organic block printed saris and skirts, to intricately embroidered ethnic wear, the Lahore-based fashion start-up, Aman Kay Rang (translated from Urdu as the colors of Aman), brings traditional crafts and clothing to a local market saturated in a mélange of eastern and western ‘fusion wear.’ With an exciting color palette, including a distinctive … More In Her Daughter’s Memory

Unveiling The Beauty Of Pakistan: One Photographer’s Lifelong Quest

By Sonya Rehman There’s something about Mobeen Ansari’s photographs that take one by surprise. Whether landscapes of ethereal valleys, snowcapped mountains, architectural wonders and heritage sites, overlooked regions, to the faces that inhabit them, Ansari brings a unique sensitivity to his work that is at times lacking in travel photography. Born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, the 34-year-old is … More Unveiling The Beauty Of Pakistan: One Photographer’s Lifelong Quest

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

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

The Man Behind The Minar: Nasreddin Murat-Khan

By Sonya Rehman He wasn’t an ordinary man, and neither was his life. Even though Nasreddin Murat-Khan is largely acknowledged as the ‘architect behind Minar-e-Pakistan,’ his story goes beyond the minar, and far beyond Pakistan. We meet at her childhood friend’s home in Lahore for tea. Meral Murat-Khan, Murat-Khan’s youngest daughter, is soft-spoken and candid … More The Man Behind The Minar: Nasreddin Murat-Khan

Against All Odds

By Sonya Rehman In a village in Raiwind, Lahore, a little boy would sit in a basket attached to his father’s bicycle and repeat mathematics multiplication tables that his father would chant aloud for his son to memorise. In the evenings, after a long, tiring day in the fields herding cattle, the shepherd would ask … More Against All Odds

Postcards From Pakistan: Can Local Tourism Be Revived?

By Sonya Rehman Nishat Mummunka’s love for the aviation industry was almost instantaneous when she began working at American Express’ travel department in 1973 in Lahore, Pakistan, as a fresh graduate. Soon enough, her passion for all things travel led her to lucrative offers from Swiss Air and British Airways, the latter of which required … More Postcards From Pakistan: Can Local Tourism Be Revived?

Bollywood Legend Visits Pakistan Encouraging Indo-Pak Artist Collaborations

By Sonya Rehman Kicking off with much fanfare this month, the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop’s three-day International Film Festival in Lahore showcased a number of Pakistani and foreign productions, in addition to bringing together renowned Pakistani and Bollywood A-listers, film critics and movie buffs on one dais. But perhaps the highlight of the evening was the attendance … More Bollywood Legend Visits Pakistan Encouraging Indo-Pak Artist Collaborations

An Unsung Hero

By Sonya Rehman Initiated this year, the social media initiative, Pending Meal, spearheaded by the young advertising professional, Sarah Rizvi, has garnered immense popularity. This week, Masala! chats with Sarah about her social welfare project and the importance of paying it forward. How does Pending Meal work? The idea or concept behind Pending Meal is … More An Unsung Hero

Defending Digital Freedoms in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman This year, one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, Nighat Dad, a young Pakistani activist and lawyer based in the city of Lahore, is one of the most significant voices in the country in creating awareness amongst Pakistani women about cyber crimes and cyber harassment. Having founded her not-for-profit, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) … More Defending Digital Freedoms in Pakistan

Journalism in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Perhaps best known for his widely popular, hard-hitting talk show, “Talk Back,” and “Eye on India” for the local Pakistani news channel, DAWN News, Wajahat S. Khan is one of the best-known Pakistani broadcast journalists in the country today. Having worked for a number of local and foreign media houses; such as … More Journalism in Pakistan

Pakistani Performer Uncovers Comedy in Taboos, Cultural Crossover

By Sonya Rehman Nadia P. Manzoor, a Pakistani writer and performer based in Brooklyn, New York, has made it her mission to bring to light the struggles of young Pakistani Muslims, immigrants in foreign countries, who struggle to find their identity while growing up in traditional Pakistani homes; the balance between the East and the … More Pakistani Performer Uncovers Comedy in Taboos, Cultural Crossover

Protesting in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Mohammad Jibran Nasir is a young Pakistani activist from Karachi, leading the popular #ReclaimYourMosques campaign in Pakistan after the brutal Peshawar attack in which more than 130 children were killed in cold blood by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Nasir’s movement was initiated after the Lal Masjid’s imam, Abdul Aziz, refused to condemn the … More Protesting in Pakistan

Priya’s Shakti – A Comic Book Heroine Tackles Rape

By Sonya Rehman The brutal gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, India, in December 2012, had a profound affect on Indian documentary filmmaker, Ram Devineni. The incident led to the creation of Devineni’s comic book, Priya’s Shakti, targeted towards the Indian youth. The book is about a young female superhero who tackles rape … More Priya’s Shakti – A Comic Book Heroine Tackles Rape

Pakistani Start-Up Preserves a Disappearing Craft

By Sonya Rehman Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, two young Pakistani entrepreneurs, are on a mission to preserve the art and craft of handmade leather shoes through their start-up, Markhor. A Persian word meaning ‘snake-eater,’ Markhor is also the name of an endangered wild goat – Pakistan’s national animal. In 2010, Waqas Ali was sitting … More Pakistani Start-Up Preserves a Disappearing Craft

Pakistan’s First Woman Cartoonist Shapes Young Minds and Society

By Sonya Rehman This year Nigar Nazar, the first professional woman cartoonist in Pakistan and, quite possibly, the Muslim world, was named one of the 100 Women of 2014 by the BBC. Nazar began her career in the 1970s, and her cartoon character Gogi has not only been published widely within Pakistan, in an assortment … More Pakistan’s First Woman Cartoonist Shapes Young Minds and Society

Lahore’s Last ‘Lollywood’ Poster Artist Looks Back on a 50-Year-Career

By Sonya Rehman It takes us (my photographer and I) a good 20 minutes or so to find his office. The tiny lanes are claustrophobic and busy as we drive past tea-sellers, donkey carts, badly parked cars and motorbikes, printing shops and offices that seem to spill over in a mesh of weekday chaos. We … More Lahore’s Last ‘Lollywood’ Poster Artist Looks Back on a 50-Year-Career

The Media in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Having been affiliated with the Pakistani media industry for over a decade, Puruesh Chaudhary has become an integral part of the country’s crop of young and ambitious players in the media sector. From initially working with two leading, local television channels – DAWN and SAMAA TV – Chaudhary has been invited to … More The Media in Pakistan

The 1947 Partition Archive: Preserving the Past

By Sonya Rehman Even those of us who have been direct beneficiaries of the world’s digital media revolution are finding it increasingly challenging to retain and sort through information. The chance to mull over a certain story, opinion piece, or photo-essay is fast becoming a luxury. The makers and takers of news are forgetting how … More The 1947 Partition Archive: Preserving the Past

Defying the Odds – an Indian in Afghanistan

By Sonya Rehman At just 37, Kavita Nair, a Mumbai native, has lived a life many can only dream of. Based in Kabul, Afghanistan, and working for a relatively new Afghani media house, Shamshad Radio & Television Network (STRN) as a Director of Project Management and Business Development, Nair’s love for her second home, Afghanistan, … More Defying the Odds – an Indian in Afghanistan

The Awesome Guy behind ‘My Awesome Journey’

By Sonya Rehman While popular Facebook pages such as ‘Humans of New York’ (and other similar pages) enjoy their fair share of popularity on the internet, a humble educationist in Lahore decided to honour inspiring Pakistanis via his very own, and relatively new, Facebook page – ‘My Awesome Journey.’ High-spirited and chirpy, Usman Aziz’s energy … More The Awesome Guy behind ‘My Awesome Journey’

Daughters of Lahore

By Sonya Rehman On a cloudy weekday this month, sisters, Afshan Ejaz and Noshi Ejaz are putting together a modern-looking clay pot at Shehrezade Alam’s workshop in Lahore. Alam, Pakistan’s acclaimed female potter is not in at the moment, but Afshan (the older of the two) chirpily tells me that she’ll be joining us shortly. … More Daughters of Lahore

“Allah rung laavay”

By Sonya Rehman They are everywhere. Those heavy-set Gods of the highway, those mammoth trucks in their entire jazzy splendor. The swirls, the motifs, the colours, the patterns, the tigers, the peacocks, the parrots, the lions, and the roses, the thick lashes on singular eyes, the lips, and (at times) the face of a politician, … More “Allah rung laavay”

Chayn: Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse

Founded by a 23-year-old Pakistani, Hera Hussain, Chayn  – a website for Pakistani women who have been victims of domestic abuse – was launched this year with the help of 70 volunteers across the globe. While the portal aids in raising awareness of emotional and physical abuse, dealing with abuse, informing Pakistani women of their … More Chayn: Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse

Singaporean Photographer Edwin Koo: Views from Pakistan to Kathmandu

By Sonya Rehman Describing himself as an “accidental photographer,” Edwin Koo is an award-winning Singaporean documentary photographer who produces work that is striking and evocative. So much so that his body of work on Swat, Pakistan, titled Paradise Lost: Pakistan’s Swat Valley, won him the Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography in 2010. In an … More Singaporean Photographer Edwin Koo: Views from Pakistan to Kathmandu

Filmmaker Focuses on Water and Warming in Northern Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman This year, an Italian-born filmmaker, Niccolo Piazza, is preparing to release The Karakoram Anomaly, a documentary examining life, culture and heritage in Baltistan and the Hunza Valley, locations in Pakistan’s mountainous northern regions, against a broader backdrop of climate change. The Karakoram and Western Himalaya mountain ranges are part of this area, … More Filmmaker Focuses on Water and Warming in Northern Pakistan

Mother, Daughter Preserve Art Form in One of World’s Most Volatile Places

By Sonya Rehman From beautiful coasters to colorful tiles, stunning table tops and other accessories, Pakistani entrepreneur, Farhana Asad, along with her artisans, has been producing meticulous works of art that involve the use of semi-precious stones to produce stunning, intricate mosaic works in an explosion of colors. Farhana’s works of art involve the application … More Mother, Daughter Preserve Art Form in One of World’s Most Volatile Places

In New Delhi, a Transplanted Trinidadian Pursues His Kathak Dream

By Sonya Rehman They say art has no boundaries, and in the case of Quincy Kendell Charles, the saying couldn’t be more apt. A native of Trinidad, Charles was only 15 years old when he first discovered Kathak, a popular Indian classical dance form, while watching a television program in Trinidad. The young, graceful Kathak … More In New Delhi, a Transplanted Trinidadian Pursues His Kathak Dream

Kachee Goliyan – Pakistan’s very own Marvel/DC Comics?

By Sonya Rehman While a handful of Pakistani animators, such as Mir Zafar Ali, Asim Fida Khan, and Wajid Raza, among others, stand as living, breathing Hollywood success stories, Pakistan’s animation industry remains in a fledgling stage. While there are a number of notable Pakistani cartoonists such as Nigar Nazar, Pakistan’s first female cartoonist, and … More Kachee Goliyan – Pakistan’s very own Marvel/DC Comics?

Meet Ghani Chaudry, the Pakistani Tailor Who Conquered Savile Row

By Sonya Rehman For 14 years, the reputed Pakistani tailor Ghani Chaudry worked on the legendary Savile Row — the famous street in London’s Mayfair district whose bespoke tailoring services can be traced back some 200 years. Having provided his tailoring expertise to television series such as the BBC’s Bird of Prey and ITV’s The … More Meet Ghani Chaudry, the Pakistani Tailor Who Conquered Savile Row

BBC Urdu: A Conversation with Sairbeen Hosts Erum Gillani and Nosheen Abbas

By Sonya Rehman This year in February, BBC Urdu launched Sairbeen , a current affairs program broadcast on the local Pakistani television channel, Express News, with a team of all-female Pakistani presenters. The Diplomat spoke with Sairbeen’s Erum Gillani and Nosheen Abbas about their meticulous training at the BBC’s headquarters in London prior to the … More BBC Urdu: A Conversation with Sairbeen Hosts Erum Gillani and Nosheen Abbas

A Pakistani in Hollywood: A Conversation with Faran Tahir

By Sonya Rehman Pakistani-American actor Faran Tahir is no stranger to Hollywood. From roles in productions such as Iron Man and Charlie Wilson’s War to Star Trek and beyond, he has also guest starred in well-known television series like The Practice, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, NYPD Blue, and Supernatural, among many others. Most recently, Tahir has starred … More A Pakistani in Hollywood: A Conversation with Faran Tahir