Oct 17, 2008 - Uncategorized    58 Comments

Talibs are here and now

It was a regular evening for me. I left work at the usual time; little did I know that I would be subject to moral policing par excellence – Taliban style – in the day light and that too in Karachi.

On my way back from work, I was waiting at signal of Hotel Crown Plaza. The driver of the taxi next to me knocked on my window, I thought there must be something wrong with the car or something so I rolled down the window and raised my eye brow in question. It was then all hell broke lose. He went ballistic, first he accused me of promoting promiscuousity by leaving home un chaperoned and then said that we, as a nation, are facing so much trouble because our women have stopped observing hijab and what not. After the initial shock and paralysis which lasted a full ten seconds, I rolled up my window and decided not to listen to his tirade.

The signal turned green and I put the car in motion but that taxi driver decided to teach me a lesson and started following me and banging my car with his hands which was very dangerous in rush hour traffic. It was then I got really scared and decided to stop by next to a traffic police constable who was manning traffic at the signal. I complained to him but he couldn’t help because the taxi driver drove on when I stopped next to the constable. He asked me to wait it out for a few minutes so I parked my car there for ten minutes. After waiting for a while, I too decided to go, but instead of taking the usual route, I took the more crowded route because I was too scared to go anywhere less crowded.

I have lived in Karachi most of my adult life, I love living here but if this is the shape of things to come, I want out. I am scared.


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  • Its amazing to read about these things…it makes people like us appreciate the little we do have. I hope you are ok and that the situation improves…

  • I can imagine. This Taliban invasion into our cities is horrifying and alarming.

  • I am terribly sorry for what happened…and i have no memories of this happening to me since i am a guy…but maybe its a bit of a generalization…but then again i don’t follow current affairs very much.

  • That’s awful. I hope you are OK.
    Running away is not a solution, though. This is what they want us to do.
    And don’t call them talibs (students). If they had even the remotest connection with education, they wouldn’t have been what they are.

  • man that sounds crazy… i agree with the last comment that talibs is not the correct word… brainwashed is the word…

  • Yikes, that would have been awfully scary.

  • You need to really listen to Ayn Rand.

  • last comment is mine – khadija

  • Good god. You read about these things in features, I didn’t really think that it happens so openly even in a city like Karachi.

  • I should point out that the taxi driver was not a local Karachiite, but was from somewhere in the North, may be Afghanistan or someone who has been to Afghanistan or tribal areas and listen to gems like Mangal Bagh and Baitullah Mehsud.

    Whats alarming is that they have started working in Karachi. It was an extremely scary situation which totally rattled me and those who know me know that I dont get rattled at all, be it open grenades in Sri Lanka or german skinheads, i keep my cool, but seeing something like this in your hometown – a place you own and love – is scary and heart wrenching as well.

  • n thats wats put me off of religion most of all… these s2pid fanatics who hav no idea what they are talkin abt n yet like to preach and not practis… !

  • today it was just a warning, tomorrow it could be worse!

  • When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.
    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Jew.

    And then they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    If we, us dont stop this nonsense there will be no us in the end…

  • The Talibs have been here for quite some time now. What scares me is that if they ever decided to go on the offensive, all hell would break loose

  • Tez,

    Oh lord! horrible! and horrifying! Please note, it’s not Islam – it’s the people the culture that propels then the people to act as Allah’s vigilantes and enforcers of Islamo-morality. I hope this telling incident does not spurn you from the peace loving religion that is Islam.

    Sorry to hear that.

    Enjoying the comforts of US of A


  • Well you did the smart thing by ignoring him and stopping near the police constable. If his intentions were truly sincere he would have stopped by there as well and continued with his lecture.

  • Hmmm….
    Carry a gun!

  • WTF???

    still in a bit of shock here, Taz. i’ve enouce all the MSNBC articles on the “talibanization” of pakistan’s major cities, “what farcical propganda!”, i’d argue. i just hope yours is an isolated incident that will never be re-experienced.

    what an odd, frightful experience.

  • *denouced

  • Wat the hell….Gosh that’s really scary!

  • we need to carry guns. and shoot these motherfuckers the moment they try to pull something funny.

  • do they know that,it is un islamic to look at and talk to a non mahram.they dont know islam and they are not muslim for sure!

  • Sorry for your suffering.These people are not muslim for sure.

  • I remember when I went to Lahore for the first time, a couple of Punjabi guys approached us (a bunch of girls from Karachi traveling together) with similar sort of “advice”. It was complete culture shock because this had never happened to any of us in Karachi. I hope you stay safe and sane.

  • Wow. First let me say that I am learning so much by reading your blog and I appreciate your openness and candor. Everywhere in the world there seem to be problems erupting. Lack of tolerance, acceptance and respect seem to be increasing. I think people everywhere are feeling the pressures of a changing world and it’s limited resources- this doesn’t seem to bring out the best in some. Be safe.

    (I know this may not seem to be an articulate response to what you wrote… but somehow in my currently fuzzy brain it makes sense, so I will leave it be!)

  • Mezba,

    I so fear what you have said,


    I am more concerned about the sanity part, if i am dead, then i am dead, end of discussion. But if I am alive, I would want to be sane and lucid, something that is in danger.


    Carrying a gun is not the solution of the problem. My friend askari once said that Sun Tzu has detailed many ways to fight the enemy in his book “art of war” and the most effective he said was running away. I now get what he meant.

  • Zoobee said :”Please note, it’s not Islam – it’s the people the culture that propels then the people to act as Allah’s vigilantes and enforcers of Islamo-morality. I hope this telling incident does not spurn you from the peace loving religion that is Islam.”

    Nope, its not Islam. Its the local culture.

    But don’t you find it wierd that cultures as diverse as Kashmiri Muslims in South Asia, Arabs in Saudi Arabia, Pakistani muslims in Britian and Sudanese Muslims in Africa all turn to this fanaticism?

    So maybe, just maybe, it’s not culture. Maybe its economic status. A poor man is not enlightened. Fair enough argument, for say Pakistan. Passing the Hudood ordinance there might be justified on this assumption.

    But what about Saudi Arabia? Damn they are rich. However, that still wouldn’t stop them from “punishing” a woman to lashes for BEING raped.

    My point here is that till you don’t identify the problem there will be no solution. Following a 2000 year book written in a foreign lanuage is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

    The day Muslims can be man enough to say that, “look here’s my religion. It’s a good religion, but it’s not perfect. So lets change it a bit.”

    It’s not unprecedented. The bible can match the koran for barabrity. But nowhere will you have countries framing laws on rape based on what some chap in 1 AD said.

    The Manu Smririt is a lot more barabric than the koran. Yet nowhere will you find its tenets in modern Indian Criminal Law.

  • its scary for all the female drivers….hell man

  • I Say, ‘Nuke ’em all’…. there should be no negociation or whatsoever….only solution is aerial bombing of all the areas in Karachi where these bastards are breeding.

    With this I may soud like Idiot Bush but for once I don’t Care


  • Hara hara boom boom…

    No sure – but just to be sure – I was being sarcastic…

    In reality I am disgusted by such behavior, whether it be in Los Angeles, Lahore, Karachi, Multan, or Kasur… and I feel for Taz.. it is scary as hell to be subjected to such an unsolicited act of lesson of morality…

    Saima – even though you do sound like that idiot Gee Dub, in your case though your words are contextually on par with the situation…

  • Carry a pepper spray with you. And I am no kidding at all.

    Be safe & Take care,

  • wow i remember a sort of tragic and funny thing that happened to my sister
    she got in a cab and this guy she said had crosses hanging all over his car my sister tried to make some polite converstaion and he said I hate people
    do not worry if i think of all the crazy cab drivers i`ve met my whole life …
    plus there is a very famous case in Romania the Anda case about this girl being raped and cut to pieces by a cab driver so I`m a bit paranoid myself
    the idea is don`t let the `post-traumatic` shock affect the love for your city D

  • Wow! This is horrible. But running away is not the solution. We have to face this head on. I don’t mean to preach sitting so far away from the problem back home but voicing this incident is a start. And the more that people speak up, the more awareness there will be. And seriously just always be aware of your surroundings!

  • yes, finally the solution to world peace – women donning the hijab.
    pls do carry pepper spray

  • yeah tazeen i carry one everywhere D

  • Hmmm… you know me, I was not serious about the gun part.

    However, my karate teacher said the same thing once. When you are alone and confronted by the enemy – RUN! But if you are with family or people who cant run, then fight. And hence, learn your kathas!

    I dont think you are alone. You are with many who need you to fight! So dont run……. join a Karate class 😛

  • What were you scared of ? You should have stopped your car and slapped the guy. You ran away ? I can’t believe that.If there was my ex wife in place of you, I can bet my life that she would have blocked that taxi and would have slapped the guy and if you were my family member, I would not let you come home after such a sissy attitude
    :-). Slap the guy and let family handle the issue.Be ready to face more such incidents if you let them happen to you though I believe it was one off incident. Chill. Enjoy weekend.

  • Gosh!! This is very scary. I don’t know when times will change. But something has to be done soon.

  • Han Solo,

    Lesson of bravery from a man who is afraid to use his own name in a cyber discussion and has to hide behind characters of Star War is a little hypocritical, if not more.

    Taking panga with crazy pathan drivers is not something I would ever indulge in. For one, I am an independent person who does let ‘family’ take care of everything. Secondly, I would never block another vehicle on the main road and create chaos.

    I obviously am way smarter than your ex-wife; after all, she married you once.

  • Tazeen please you do not need to get personal.

    I just meant you needed to stand up against this attitude. You have access to all media and you let this happened to you. Think of those women who can’t even raise their voices.

    And what make you think if person using his real name in a cyber world is a brave person. Privacy and bravery are not opposite of each other but may be in Pakistan they are. Does my real name make my point more important? May be my real name is Han solo.

    If standing up against jerks is called “taking panga” then I am sorry then they have already won it.You will suffer more. Right now there may be only few crazies out there who are exposing them but when other crazies would see that people are there to take beating then they would also start showing their craziness. May be you need to express your frustration via your actions instead of writing a blog which would have no impact on any one. By the way using worlds like “crazy pathan” does not make you better than those “RACIST” arabs who you do hate.

    And by the way you took the meaning of blocking the vehicle literally. I meant that you should have confronted that driver.

    I enjoyed your last comment though. Can’t complain about that. Once bitten, twice shy. Now she is married to some MD who at quite young age is a big time published authors in medical journals and make way more much money than me and I heard that he is a very nice man too. I am happy for my ex wife as she deserved better.

  • han Solo… eye for eye makes the world blind. Tazeen did the right thing in not reacting and heading to a cop. I personally think she should have thrown out a flying kiss to the Pathan. That would throw him in a tizzy!

    A lone woman slapping a pathan might not be the most sensible thing to do. I am sure you would not charge your enemy without any weapons when he is loaded with a semi-automatic!

  • Sorry apoo, you can’t let these things happen to you. Some one who is educated and “very well” traveled like Tazeen can’t confront then who will? Not reacting is accepting your fate.

    By the way, you do not know desi mob psychology. If Tazeen had done any thing, she would have get lot of supporters and I am sure people would have burnt the taxi them selves.

  • Normally Han solo and i am trying to be polite here, when you see a dog barking at you on the street you do not go and bite it you walk away.

    Perhaps he was just trying to provoke Tazeen to do what you suggested, and in return would have maybe pulled a gun on her or slapped her back.

    @ Tazeen In any case the sane thing to do was to ignore and if the pest persists go to the police. There are people like this everywhere in the world now, i do not recommend leaving the country but turning the other cheek is alright. Treat this as a one off incident its a big city..people get robbed and harassed do not let it effect you, you made a mistake in the first para of this post, (leaving work, going to work) quite unlike you which just shows how rattled you still are. I hope you heal soon.

  • Yeah matching desi mob mentality then with desi revenge mentality – a real life example – and this happened in Islamabad – approx hmmm 14 yrs ago. Couple of dudes are driving around town – I mean being the boring ass town that is Isloo – aside driving around or hitting up parties – there’s really nothing much to do then – not sure about now – in any case pardon the digression. So, the dudes arrive at one of many “markets” that litter the sub-urban capital, and noticed three dudes hassling a girl… inappropriate touching and all. The two dudes, that are driving around, thinking that the hassling is bit a too much, decide to intervene. So, the good guys, two, vs, the bad guys three, gets heated and blows are exchanged. One of the good guys was a Naval Cadet, a boxer too at the PNA academy, takes on two of the three dudes, and after few bruises and a lot of cursing, the issue is settled – in the meantime, the girl’s family has shown up and safely escorted her away.

    As parties were departing, one of the loser three warns that this is not over – the good guys thinking not much of it laugh it off and head on back home.

    A week or so later, one of the guys, no not the cadet, he’s back at the academy, is driving up to a local market, and gets stopped by a group of guys, thinking that “Sensitive” agency walas are doing random checks he stops, as he’s opening the door, the group of guys grab on to him, through him in one of those sandokchi Suzuki dubbas and drive off – for next three days this guy is tortured in ways worst than what’s been attributed to American guards at the Abu Gharib prison – on the fourth day they dump the guy out on a random street near the Faisal mosque, where a taxi wala finds the many laying on the ground drenched in blood. The beatings were severe and punishment was horrible. It took him months of visits to the doctor to fully recover.

    It turns out, one of the guys that were beaten up was son of a well known Zameendar… feeling slighted for being stopped from harassing a girl, he had his peeps kidnap one of the good guys. No charges were pressed, cuz the Isloo police refused to believe the victim…

    Moral of the story, when in doubt, save your life and move the hell away from the situation.

    Knowing how cheap really is human life in Pakistan, I think Tazeen did the right thing by getting the hell away from this Allah-wala.

    The real problem is that there exists environment where people feel emboldened enough to take it upon themselves to enforce the sense of morality upon others… had this been a ONE off thing, yeah one could not think much about this. However, given the situation, conflict with the religious extremists, that exists today, one has to be careful from taking on people on their own.

    Tez – I think we should sponsor paid trip to Swat valley for Han Rambo Solo – I am hopeful that he’ll be able to take on the Allahwala miscreants on his own…

    Hans are you willing to utter Labaik to being a human drone against the religious extremism in Swat valley?

    -Zoobee (living in the comforts of US of A)

  • to be fair, karachi has been like this well before the taliban became a pakistani thing. there have been stories of men cutting women in sleeveless clothes with a blade and what not.

    the influx of pathan and afghan refugees in karachi makes things very interesting – i guess now we feel like all those people in london and paris do when all us dirty brown people come to live in their cities and try to hold on to our outdated, pre-modern culture. of course, then we call it racism and racial profiling.

  • crazy and irritating

    i wish you (we, we have such craziness going here too) could blow his brains off

  • This is what you get when you allow a religion too much space in society.

    I agree with what Hara Hara Bom Bom said, faith is a personal matter. You can’t perfect Islam, or Christianity, or whatever old man in the sky bollocks is followed by people. When people think their god is right, they will try to police your morals, be they redneck christians in the American South, Likud gangsters in Tel Aviv or our very own in-bred Taliban.

    Also, run away while you can. I have spent almost thirty years in this country and I have seen things change. Maybe fifteen years ago we could have done something about this, it’s too late now. Sorry, but you know it’s true.

  • omigod, this is really scary. I can imagine what u must have gone thru. I hope it never happens again.

  • Learn Judo Karate, looks like Altaf Bhai was onto something when he said all the girls need to learn Judo Karate to combat the menace of Taliban in Karachi

  • oh and this Han Solo guy is a potential stalker material.

    First he talks about you as if you are a member of his family, secondly he said that he would not let you enter his house, i mean What kind of fucked response is that to a blog written by a stranger? Then he tried to compare you with his EX wife, i mean seriously, ban him if you can do that from checking out your blog. He is as dangerous as that taxi driver.

  • What a frightening incident….

    it must have cut deep into your feeling of safety in public…..

    there are extremists everywhere….in every country….and they always seem to employ aggression and violence instead of discussion……

    take care….you did some smart thinking in your situation….even though it would be difficult…I would review the incident in your head…and think about what other alternatives you could use or do…if something like that every comes up again.


  • Ok, the guy should not have said you like this but the way your readers react here is quite funny and made me laugh. Sittin infront of PC and saying ‘Nuke them all’.

  • try forgetting the little incident however big it was… i still love karachi and i miss it bad!

  • Hi,
    reading your blog was great. I live across the border and I have absolutely no clue what Pakistan is like. It sounds exactly like what the movie Veer -Zaara described:) — just like my country.
    Actually I completely agree with Hara Hara Bom Bom. You never know who will interpret religion in a certain way and thereby create a lot of issues for everyone else.
    We have that here too, in all communities and religions.

  • Pakistanis need to be educated to mind there own bussiness.

    Its never too late to bring a change. We need to promote “true Islam” not by force but through education and debate.

  • Hello Tazeen!!!
    I ask you pardon for my english very poor.
    I’am a freind of Georg from france.
    He gave me your link and speak me the poste about you robberie.
    It’s pitty that happend to you.
    I was policeman and i now what about you say.
    This morning i tink of you when i heard that talibans are coming in your coutry.
    I pray for you and for all women in pakistan.
    so long!!
    be strong

  • Hello tazeen!!
    Please read my comment with translation.
    Depuis que je connais ton blog je n’avais pas vu à quel point ton peuple s’alarmait de la montée des talibans dans votre société. En Europe beaucoup pensent que vous n’y voyez pas d’inconvénient.
    J’ai cru lire que certains ne reconnaissaient pas leur islam dans la façon de voir des talibans.
    Ce qui me trouble ce sont les images qui arrivent ici de ta région et dont je me suis fait l’écho. En particulier une jeune femme lapidée pour avoir aimé un homme qui n’était pas de sa religion. j’ai fais un billet sur le sujet mais j’ai enlevé la vidéo qui montrait des images vraiment insoutenables.
    J’ai même reçu une autre vidéo montrant un adolescent égorgeant un homme avec un couteau. Ce qui se passe dans cette partie du monde est réellement attroce.
    Ce qui me révolte c’est qu’aucun
    musulman n’aie le courage de critiquer ouvertement de telles pratiques hors d’âge.
    Dis moi si l’islam est vraiment une religion qui régresse.
    N’y a-t-il pas dans cette religion des gens qui osent dire ce qu’ils pensent.
    En tous cas, je plain beaucoup les femmes de cette région.
    je me permets de t’embrasser fraternellement

  • I can’t believe this!

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