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

You Too?

By Sonya Rehman Apart from two incidents in my childhood, the one that sends chills down my spine was when I was groped in broad daylight at a well-known bookshop in Lahore. I was in my early 20s and till that point; I never fully understood the feeling of being violated. The man was a … More You Too?

An Ode To Cultural Heritage

By Sonya Rehman As the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan enters its third decade of operations in the country, the organization’s mission to improve socio-economic conditions of rural and urban communities by leveraging the transformative power of cultural heritage has only strengthened. With numerous award-winning projects in the high valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan under its belt, … More An Ode To Cultural Heritage

Pakistani Singer Highlights Trans Lives In Latest Single

By Sonya Rehman It’s a fun and catchy little ditty, but on closer inspection, Madam, the latest single by Pakistani musician, Jimmy Khan, shines the spotlight on a rather grim issue: local society’s apathetic attitude towards its transgender community. But it was only after the song was recorded that Khan started considering highlighting the lives of transgenders … More Pakistani Singer Highlights Trans Lives In Latest Single

Director’s Cut

By Sonya Rehman Local cinema is on the rise, what with the help of independent filmmakers who have brought a number of genres and stories to the big screen. While some have gone the safe, commercial route, i.e. aping formulaic Bollywood productions, others have taken the longer, albeit more offbeat and original path. Through local … More Director’s Cut

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

Pakistani Music Maestro Teams Up With Grammy-Winning Producer

By Sonya Rehman In perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the global music sphere, a Pakistani classical music giant, Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, will be collaborating on a multi-CD album with Ian Brennan, an Irish-American record producer who won a Grammy Award in 2011 for the Best World Music Album. “[Saami] is a world class vocalist, both virtuosic and soulful … More Pakistani Music Maestro Teams Up With Grammy-Winning Producer

A Platform For New Music Talent In Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Pakistan’s largest music streaming site, Patari, recently launched Patari Tabeer, a project that has stirred up the local music scene thanks to its unique line-up of artists from Islamabad to Sindh, and beyond. With its sixth and final song soon-to-be released, the project brings unexposed talent from humble backgrounds to centre stage: a tea-seller, … More A Platform For New Music Talent In Pakistan

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

Meet Pakistan’s Wonder Boys Reimagining Special Education

By Sonya Rehman Taking home third prize at the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I Startup Competition held at Stanford University this year, WonderTree, a Pakistani start-up from Karachi, is on the road to aiding children with special needs by way of its thoroughly interactive augmented reality games. For Muhammad Usman, the start-up’s co-founder and Chief … More Meet Pakistan’s Wonder Boys Reimagining Special Education

Halwa Poori Is Spicy, Sweet, Deep Fried Goodness

By Sonya Rehman If you’re hoping to polish off a plate of halwa poori, the spicy-sweet, deep fried goodness that’s also the most popular breakfast in Pakistan, make sure you’re ravenous. The Muhammad Ali of all Pakistani breakfasts, halwa poori, conceived in the Indian province of Punjab, is a traditional meal passed down from the … More Halwa Poori Is Spicy, Sweet, Deep Fried Goodness

Deradicalizing Pakistan Through Comic Books

By Sonya Rehman He was an unassuming ninth-grader when he was radicalized years ago by a school teacher to join a jihad training camp. Gauher Aftab, one of the co-founders of CFx Comics, a Pakistani comic book start-up, recently wrote a tell-all article about his brush with Islamic extremism and how his experience led him to wage a different … More Deradicalizing Pakistan Through Comic Books

Our True Test

By Sonya Rehman A day before we picked her up, her brother was killed by a speeding vehicle. He was too adventurous and had strayed from the pack. With her remaining three puppies, the emaciated mother dog had lucked out – she had sought refuge on a green belt near an army check point in … More Our True Test

A Spoonful of Sugar

By Sonya Rehman There’s nothing more soul-satisfying than slicing your spoon through a perfectly round, wobbly-soft gulab jamun set in a sizzling little katori filled with sweet syrup, piping hot. Scrumptious. Decadent. The combination of powdered milk, ghee, sugar, love and heat gives rise to little bites of heaven, and if it were up to … More A Spoonful of Sugar

Cher Pushes For The Release of ‘Kaavan’ – Islamabad’s Loneliest Elephant

By Sonya Rehman From a change.org petition that garnered thousands of signatures, to immense pressure from animal lovers and animal rights activists both at home and abroad, Kaavan, the 29-year-old maltreated elephant in Maraghazar Zoo, in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, was recently unchained after 27 years in confinement. Gifted by Sri Lanka to Pakistan in the 80s, Kaavan’s only … More Cher Pushes For The Release of ‘Kaavan’ – Islamabad’s Loneliest Elephant

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?

The TV Serial That Got Pakistan Talking About Child Abuse

By Sonya Rehman Udaari, a popular new Pakistani television drama serial that highlights a pressing social issue, child abuse, was recently served a notice by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) this month for its “unethical” and “offensive” scenes. A collaboration between a well-known private channel, HUM TV, and a local microfinance institution, Kashf Foundation, the TV serial … More The TV Serial That Got Pakistan Talking About Child Abuse

Documentary On Extremism Banned In Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman Having been screened in over twenty countries and subsequently picking up numerous awards, Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s hard-hitting documentary, Among The Believers was recently axed by the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) in Pakistan. In a notification issued by the CBFC, it stated that “the [production] contains dialogues which project the … More Documentary On Extremism Banned In Pakistan

Wall of Tolerance: Lahore Diffuses Terrorism with Community Art

By Sonya Rehman The terrorist attack last week on Easter, at Lahore’s popular Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, which left scores dead and hundreds injured, was nothing short of horrific. Since the attack, the stories of loss and devastation have begun emerging across social media platforms; one in particular was the that of a little girl, now an … More Wall of Tolerance: Lahore Diffuses Terrorism with Community Art

Rekindling The Indo-Pak Connection Through Poetry

By Sonya Rehman Released over Youtube last month by Delhi Poetry Slam, an Indian poet, Shivani Gupta, speaks from the heart in a thoroughly sensitive spoken-word performance that touches upon India, Pakistan and a desire to know and understand ‘the other.’ “Look I’m not here to start a fight,” Gupta speaks in the video, “I just … More Rekindling The Indo-Pak Connection Through Poetry

The Karachi Whiz Kid and Pakistan’s First Hand Drawn Animated Flick

By Sonya Rehman In 2012, a young, unassuming Pakistani musician from Karachi created waves after being selected as a TEDGlobal Fellow, following the success of his brilliant composition, Fire Fly, which went viral a year before. Sharing stage space at TEDGlobal – a conference that brings together trailblazers from across the world to deliver inspiring talks – with … More The Karachi Whiz Kid and Pakistan’s First Hand Drawn Animated Flick

Filmmaker Takes on Honor Killing in Pakistan

By Sonya Rehman With the 88th Academy Awards taking place today, Pakistani documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Oscar-nominated documentary, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, brings to focus the gruesome practice of honor killings in Pakistan. Having taken home an Oscar in 2012 for Saving Face, a documentary about victims of acid attacks in the country, … More Filmmaker Takes on Honor Killing in Pakistan

The Rise Of Lahore’s Biscuit King

By Sonya Rehman Past shops selling glittering party decorations, silver and gold tiaras, cricket bats, plastic toys for children, netted pouches filled with sea-green, azure and multi-colored marbles, local Pakistani sweets, dried fruit, spicy pickles and fresh kebabs, the narrow, claustrophobic streets inside Mochi Gate, one of thirteen historical gates constructed by the Mughals, in … More The Rise Of Lahore’s Biscuit King

‘Bachaana’ And The Rebirth of Pakistani Cinema

By Sonya Rehman 2015 was an incredible year for independent Pakistani cinema. With the release of a number of productions such as Jawani Phir Nahin Ani, Bin Roye,Shah, Moor, Manto and more, the new year seems to be kicking off to a great start in terms of local cinema. Currently being screened across cinema houses in the country, the drama, Ho … More ‘Bachaana’ And The Rebirth of Pakistani Cinema

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

The Politics of Art

By Sonya Rehman Divided by religion, marred by violence, Bollywood’s King Khan weighs in on the current debate in India… With the culmination of the Masala! Awards this year, perhaps the biggest talking point about the event was how it brought together both Indian and Pakistani artists on one platform to further promote the cross-cultural … More The Politics of Art

Music Has No Borders

By Sonya Rehman Pakistani documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, known for her big Oscar win in 2012 for Saving Face (a documentary about acid attack survivors in Pakistan), has once again brought a spellbinding story to the fore – Song of Lahore. Highlighting eight incredible Pakistani classical musicians, who go by the name of Sachal Jazz … More Music Has No Borders

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

Center Stage

By Sonya Rehman Having been a part of the theatre scene in India since the 80s, Preeta Mathur Thakur, the President of the prominent theatre group, Ank, in Mumbai, speaks with Masala! about her upcoming play, Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya (to be held in Dubai this month), the evolution of theatre in India, and playing … More Center Stage

“Researching Manto was a Voyage of Discovery”

By Sonya Rehman Slated for release this month, the trailer for the Pakistani Sadat Hassan Manto biopic, Manto, is intense and riveting. Directed by Sarmad Sultan Khoosat (who also plays Manto in the production), and written by Shahid Nadeem, the film focuses on the writer’s last few years in Pakistan before Manto’s tragic demise. This … More “Researching Manto was a Voyage of Discovery”

Regional Fashion on a Global Platform

By Sonya Rehman The Woolmark Company’s prestigious International Woolmark Prize (IWP) 2015, will be seeing the participation of gifted regional designers from the Middle East, India and Pakistan for the first time since its inception, four years ago. Celebrated for bringing new talent from the world of fashion to the global stage, eleven talented regional … More Regional Fashion on a Global Platform

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

Love Never Dies

By Sonya Rehman What happens when two brilliant poets are drawn to each other? What happens when they’re separated by distance, but their connection to one another is so strong that the feeling between them continues to blossom, spreading its roots, strengthening its hold on their hearts? Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam, two widely successful … More Love Never Dies