Category Archives: Nation

“I am Karachi”: The Call of an Extinguished Fire

Assalamoalaikum (peace be upon you). Here is an essay that I submitted for the Karachi Literature Festival Competition held by Compassionate Karachi. My essay got selected for publication in Compassionate Karachi’s book, “Hum Qadam”.

————————————————————————————————————————-I am sitting by my window, observing the crowded street cry with impatient honks, while I try to block out the sound, coming from the television, of a newscaster reporting recent terrorist attacks in Karachi. A lot of voices flurry through my mind:

“There is nothing left in this place. I have lost all hope”

“14 have died. 56 are injured and have been transported to the nearest hospital”

“Oh! Turn off the TV, what does it matter? There’s nothing new here.”

This is my city-the hub of intolerance and insecurity, flooded with voices of dismay and hopelessness. Yet I wonder why I still can’t get myself to hate this city.  My city and my country are living symbols of downfall and disgrace, but there is something-something special about this place.

I am still sitting by my window when I hear a voice.

Hush! Hush! Can you hear it?

No, no! You have to listen more closely.

Shhh! Did you catch it? It’s throbbing somewhere within the honks and blasts, I think.

Now, I can hear it more closely, more intricately, more clearly. It’s not a hoarse or melodious voice, but a collective voice-as if a lot of people’s pleas are echoing- with urgency and awakening. It says:

“I am Karachi, the city of waning lights.

I am bruised and burnt and blasted.

I am wounded and I am dying.

I am no more a city of brightness and colour. I am but, an extinguished fire.

I am a helpless plea, a desperate call.

I am bomb blasts, and treacheries and robberies and starvations.

I am gloom and nothingness.

But wait, wait! There’s more.

There’s more to me, more to Pakistan, than unlicensed guns and sporadic bomb blasts.

There is more to me than target killings, treacheries and robberies.

There is far, far more to me than hopelessness and insecurity.

I am breathless, but I am regaining my breath. I am sick, but I am convalescing.

Oh! Have you not seen my streets? Polluted, yes. Characterized by impatience, yes. Insecure, yes. But have you not seen the victims of a road accident being carried away to a hospital by random passers-by who are complete strangers?

Have you not seen my nooks? Dirty, yes. Congested, yes. But have you not seen them brimming with hope?

Have you not seen my people? Poor, many. Confused, yes. Exasperated, yes. But have you not seen them reaching the summits of altruism and philanthropy?

I am SIUT, I am Edhi, I am Chhipa, I am the Indus Hospital, I am TCF and I am many, many more.

I am no more a fire, but that last resilient spark of an extinguished fire, ready to rekindle the moment that I am destined to.”

The voice goes silent. I am still sitting by my window, charged and untangled. I lift my head up high with pride. I have finally received my call and my answers.

I now know why I can’t get myself to hate my city and my country. It’s because that voice didn’t come from the streets. It came from within me. I could hear it along with the beating of my heart.

I am a part of my land rather; my land is a part of me.  It’s the home of my hopes, my aspirations, my dreams and my being.  It lives within me.

This country of hope and this city of lights keep me going.  You know why? It’s because, I, a fifteen year old girl, who goes to school and wears glasses, along with all the citizens who can hear this call  are Karachi- rich or poor, old or young.

We all are Karachi.

I am Karachi.


The Peshawar Attack: We Will Not Remain Silent

You have been murdered

ruthlessly, brutally,

Rather; you have been hunted

mercilessly, like prey,

Your smiles are now blood-stained flesh,

Your families, but, mourning silhouettes

of beings downtrodden and distressed,


Writers have lost their words,

Singers have lost their melodies,

Speakers have lost their speech,

In the shock and pain of what happened to you today.


But o you who were butchered today,

O you who died,

Along with so many,

Whose hearts are heavy with grief and,

Whose mouths cannot pronounce

words fitting to mourn your death,

O you who weren’t spared,


We will not let this be,

your murder will be avenged,

But you have not died-not for us,

not for any soul that is alive,

You live within our hearts,

Like a light within a lamp,

As a spark within the dark,

As unity amid chaos.


It is those monsters, void of conscience,

Who killed you,

That have died,

These behemoths, these dead souls,

Will be punished,


If not today, then tomorrow,

If not now, then soon,

Because, in the end,

“Everyone upon the earth will perish,

And there will remain the Face of your Lord,

Owner of Majesty

and Honor.”*

“And He is the best of judges.”**


*The Quran, 55:26-27

**The Quran, 7:87

(translation taken from

That Spark of Hope in Pakistan

Amid all the turmoil that Pakistan is witnessing, tomorrow, the anthem will be sung with the eternal hope and pride which, despite receiving could-have-been fatal injuries, has lived through and will live to the end.  (Insha’Allah)

Here is to that hope:


My heart is about to explode. Help! No, I will not ask for help. But I feel so helplessly far.

Oh NO!There is always that spark left, even in the ashes of a flame. We still have that spark left. No! We will not crush it.

But do you know? That last spark is the strongest and most resilient. That is why it lasts beyond the end. That last spark shines beneath the remnants of flame, trash and rubble.

No! All the heaps of the world will not kill that spark.

My heart delays the explosion.


My heart resuscitates.

It will not explode.

Star, Crescent, Green and White

Oh! It is a magnificent sight,

Of star, crescent, green and white,

Every lamp so luminous, every star so bright,

The magic, the beauty, the lustre,the light,

Of sincerity, purity, identity and right.

The freedom of rising, the freedom of flight,

Gained through sacrifice, struggle and fight,

Gained through strength, valour and might.

Oh! It is a beautiful sight,

Of star, crescent, green and white.Pakistan's flag

Karachi, I’m Sorry

O city! You are dying.
I am sorry, I can not save you.
But I can never hate you,
For it is I who stands silent amid the murder.

O city! You are dying.
I am sorry, I watch in quietude,
I know that you are calling
Aloud; but I do not listen.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry, I sit in comfort.
I am sorry, for I do nothing,
As I watch you die each day.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry that I let you,
I love you, but I can not save you,
Or rather, I do not try.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry, all I do is write,
My verse has lost its rhythm
Along with the beating of your heart,

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry for being a hypocrite,
I am sorry, I let you loose your lives,
While mine remains useless at home.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry for not showing I care.
But there’s a fear that always stops me,
From trying to do what I should.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry for not doing all that I can.
People blame you and I am sorry,
I am unable to defend you.

O city! You are dying,
I am sorry, I am stubborn,
But this stubbornness gives me hope,
Dear city! I will not forsake you.

O city! You shall convalesce,
I will not leave you alone,
Little by little, I will help,
I will be standing right next to you.

O city! You are dying, but I will not let you die.
My Lord is watching,
And I am answerable.
We will contrive a way.

O city! You are of lights,
We will not let your lustre die.
If people break the lights,
We shall light our own lanterns.

O city! You are dying,
But you’re still glistening with hope,
One day, O city!
You will shine brighter than ever!