My cultural identity isn't defined by where my parents were born. My father was born in Pakistan, his siblings and parents were born in Goa, India, and all of his great-grandparents were born in Portugal. What does that make him? My mother was born in the Philippines, and my sister and I were born in Toronto. What does that make us?
Pregnancy during war, natural disaster, or economic collapse isn't simply a time of joy and wonder; it's often tainted with anxiety and fear. For these women, it's more like nine months of holding the thin red line of courage against almost impossible odds. The strength and resilience needed to do this is astounding.
My father tells me stories about growing up in Kashmir. He describes it as a wealth of natural beauty tucked high away in India's north, with unique cuisine and local craftsmanship. While years of political unrest makes this state especially interesting to the curious traveller, much of what he remembers has since been washed away.
Despite its internal problems, Pakistan is slowly emerging as a key cog in the geopolitics of the region. In light of the OPEC market share war and the Syrian crisis, both Iran and Saudi Arabia are looking to tilt the power balance in their favour - a balance that lies with Pakistan as a military power. Instead of gravitating towards its traditional Sunni ally in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan is attempting to play a positive role in diffusing tensions between the two regional powers while also keeping its interests in mind.
Pakistan is a diverse country and females account for a large portion of the population. Recently, it has becoming increasingly difficult to discuss the challenges that Pakistani women face. There is a dire need to promote the education of females by launching awareness campaigns at the national level, because in order to educate a nation, you need to educate its women.
Pakistan has a long history of dissidence and struggle for human rights, where leading writers, poets, artists, students, labour leaders, and journalists, including men and women have sacrificed and given their lives. The shooting death of Pakistan's human rights activist, Sabeen Mahmud, is the latest victim.
Slowly, but surely, I see my ancestral city die a slow death at the hands of religious fanatics. From Boko Haram in Nigeria, who kidnapped 276 young girls from a school in April 2014, to the TTP, who has repeatedly attacked schoolchildren in Pakistan, the Islamic fundamentalists are systematically attacking schools and students. Their goal is to deprive the future generation of Muslims of education and return them back to the dark ages. It is time for the West to right the wrongs and help save Peshawar from the apocalyptic mercenaries.
Millions around the world rejoiced when Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Canada will embrace Malala by granting her an honourary citizenship to recognize and celebrate her efforts to educate the girls in Pakistan. Today, we must also expose and confront the distorted narratives of those in Pakistan who systematically misconstrue facts and figures to discredit her.
While the announcement that Malala Yusufzai has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi of India was greeted with jubilation across the world jubilant, many in her native Pakistan have shown open hostility towards her while her admirers fear that she may now never be able to return to her birthplace.
From amidst the carnage, an epidemic of heroism emerged that should be remembered along with those who lost lives and limbs. In stark contrast to the pitiless resolve of the killers who combed the halls of Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel and executed its guests, the hotel's employees refused to abandon the iconic edifice.