Pakistan maintains one of the world’s largest centralised citizen databases, which continues to expand at an unprecedented rate. This mammoth task sounds impressive, but it also raises concerns about the vulnerability of our data.

There is no denying the database’s utility. Multi-layered digitisation of big data can offer guarantees for greater transparency. Indeed, in the best-case scenario, sophisticated mobilisation of big data can refine the state’s service delivery mechanisms.

The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), for instance, is one biometric transition success story in Pakistan.

The BISP’s increasing automation reflects how biometric verification of credentials acknowledges the non-static, dynamic nature of data. The programme facilitates nearly 5.3 million women in accessing welfare support through real-time thumbprint recognition.

On the other end, insufficient legal safeguards to curb abuse of surveillance knowledge by law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) raises red flags.

These concerns are not unfounded considering the exceedingly vigilant security regime under which rights defenders, citizen activists, and journalists operate in Pakistan’s data territory.

Given the size of biometrically-contained human records in the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) repository and the extent to which data-sharing occurs across, between, and beyond government agencies and LEAs, the scale of this vulnerability is likely to be huge.

Read: CNIC re-verification hit by major technical snag

With Computerised National Identification Cards (CNICs) as testaments of having our consolidated biometric data stored with principally a single entity; and with an inevitably recurrent use of this CNIC and of biometrically-registered SIM cards while conducting our daily consumer mobility and monetary interactions, the ideals of free movement and of unmonitored human communication for the citizens, are breached in their fundamental.

It can be rationally imagined that only when surveillance on communications is regulated exhaustively and when limitations on the jurisdiction of this surveillance are very thoroughly defined – which is possible when there are efficient legal protections accessible to all citizens indiscriminately – the privacy of citizens and the democratic guarantees that their personal data are not exploited, will not be threatened.

The desperate need for biometric data management

The simple fact is that biometric data management is yet to mature.

Accidental data leakage, forgery with identification documents leading to identification theft and duplication, and inaccuracies in the handling of even legitimate documents, are insecurities of scale and have incredible damaging externalities.

Risks associated with these externalities become more profound in the intricate dynamics — including a refugee management crisis, an overwhelming population, and a climate of intense censorship — of countries like Pakistan.

These challenges are exacerbated when infrastructure and staff competencies in the use of biometric technology are not adequate and thorough.

Explore: Afghan refugees’ children can’t get CNICs: Nisar

Opportunities which biometric data amassment has to offer, merit a pragmatic acknowledgement of existing structural and legal voids which prevent the prioritisation of the protection of individual privacy, and which continue to generate pressing questions on the efficacy of this technology for public development and responsive governance.

Mass-scale surveillance and the law

In Pakistan, the space for an autonomous Privacy Commission gains prominence to respond to the critical need for the examination of an exceptionally large surveillance data.

This need grows further in the scenario where the government is investing heavily in mass-scale digital surveillance of its citizens and visitors through projects like the Punjab Safe Cities Project (PSCP).

The PSCP will reportedly have more than 8,000 cameras installed across its premises, and is now being extended to include Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala, and Faisalabad.

Similarly, the Islamabad Safe City Project (ISCP) gives LEAs sweeping intrusive powers through 24 hours of intensively-networked, real-time virtual monitoring with around 1,800 high definition Huawei CCTV cameras worth over Rs13 billlion installed in the capital city and connected to Nadra’s centralised biometric repository.

As shared by ISCP project director Dr Tahir Akram with Dawn, the project’s command centre will be able to “monitor every car coming out of any residential sector in Islamabad”.

Read: Operators to spend more on Sim verification drive

This arrangement between safe city projects and Nadra affords the kind of arbitrariness to data handlers that pervasively encroaches on the civil freedom of sociopolitically vulnerable sections of the citizenry, to claim anonymity.

It therefore becomes important to question what guarantees are being supplied for the protection of this surveillance data during its retention with Nadra, and what extent of this retention carries involvement of Huawei’s equipment.

Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 and the way forward

The recently-enacted Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA, 2016) further legitimises the demand for independent data protection authorities and an increased jurisdiction of the National Commission for Human Rights as also outlined in the 2015 Charter of Demands jointly prepared by digital rights organisations Bytes for All, Pakistan, and Media Matters for Democracy.

Simultaneously, it is crucially significant that the data-handling and investigative capacities of FIA’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes, are rapidly evaluated and optimised. This will ensure that PECA is enforced keeping in view the local dynamics where the government has still not rolled out enough campaigns for the purpose of educating the cyberspace occupiers in the country about the legal implications of this law on their cyber rights and responsibilities.

A glaring void currently exists between the extensive criminalisation of the Internet landscape that PECA’s enactment has mobilised into law and the public’s nascent information and comprehension of the intricacies of its legalities.

Equally concerning is that PECA’s language contains considerable opportunity for the subjectivity of the investigating regulator to claim a determinant jurisdiction.

Explore: The state bytes back: Internet surveillance in Pakistan

In the backdrop of Pakistan’s dictatorial history with digital censorship and the political exploitation of the blasphemy law, to invest potentially unmonitored authority in a regulatory body, will make the ambiance of cyber expression only more precarious.

To refer to PECA as ‘archaic’ is no exaggeration.

In its quite expansive coverage and criminalisation of cyber activism, it criminalises the act of whistleblowing. It also makes highly controversial way for a warrantless collection of one’s personal digital data and its reproduction to Pakistan’s foreign cooperation partners.

With now a fiercer surveillance regime in place, Pakistan currently experiences one of the world’s most desperate urgencies to ensure the presence and preparedness of an assertive oversight and transparency regime.

In terms of transparency, it is expected of the federal and provincial governments to educate the public on the use of their Right to Information for greater documentation on surveillance practices, to be brought into the public domain.


Law of the Indus


“The upstream users of an international river are no longer entitled to the unrestricted use of (the waters) of such a river, and are bound, when taking decisions concerning its use, to take reasonable account of the interests of other users in downstream areas.” On Sept 25, 1997, the ICJ gave its imprimatur on the rule in a case between Hungary and Slovakia (concerning the Gabcíkovo-Nagymaros Project), putting it beyond dispute.

Thus, even if the Indus Waters Treaty did not exist, India would not be able to take any of the diversionary measures that official leaks in the media threaten. It reflects legal incompetence, contempt for international morality, and a barbaric outlook.

The court followed an earlier ruling of its predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice, in 1929 with regard to the River Oder, which said “the community of interest in a navigable river becomes the basis of common legal right, the essential features of which are the perfect equality of all riparian states in the use of the whole course of the river and the exclusion of any preferential privilege of any one riparian state in relation to the others”.

The water treaty is not a weapon to be used for political ends.

Therefore, in its judgement, the ICJ pointedly stated: “Modern development of international law has strengthened this principle for non-navigational uses of international watercourses as well, as evidenced by the adoption of the convention of 21 May 1997 on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses by the United Nations General Assembly. The court considers that Czechoslovakia, by unilaterally assuming control of a shared resource, and thereby depriving Hungary of its right to an equitable and reasonable share of the natural resources of the Danube […] failed to respect the proportionality which is required by international law.”

The law mandates equitable and reasonable shares for all the countries through which an international river runs. In 1895, US attorney general Judson Harmon was asked for an opinion on the rights of the US and Mexico over their shared river, the Rio Grande. US farmers had increasingly begun to divert its waters, significantly reducing its flow to Mexico.

He responded: “The fundamental principle of international law is the absolute sovereignty of every nation as against all others, within its own territory.” He conceded that he had found in support of his view “no precedent or authority which has a direct bearing” and the “case presented is a novel one”. The Harmon Doctrine of absolute territorial sovereignty, which privileged the upper riparian state, died swiftly and was buried by the US supreme court.

East Punjab was therefore ill advised to cut off the water supplies in every canal crossing into Pakistan in April 1948, which ran contrary to the agreement reached by Committee B (one of the committees set up to deal with issues arising from Punjab’s partition) when it stated: “There is no question of varying the authorised shares of water to which the two zones and the various canals are entitled.” Cyril Radcliffe expected that “any agreements […] as to the sharing of waters from these canals will be respected”.

It is unnecessary to trace the tortuous course of events that followed this standstill agreement of May 1948 until the signing of the Indus Waters Treaty in Karachi, on September 1960, by Jawaharlal Nehru, Ayub Khan and W.A.B. Iliff (representing the World Bank) — albeit for specified purposes. As judge Richard Baxter, an expert on international waterways law, noted, the World Bank was not a disinterested presence but one of the parties to what were actually tripartite negotiations. It was, therefore, not a bilateral treaty but a multilateral one — for yet another reason.

On the same day and place, two other agreements were also signed: the Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement by representatives of Pakistan, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the World Bank, and a loan agreement between Pakistan and the World Bank. Enormous sums of money were spent and expensive irrigation works construction was undertaken.

The treaty says that it can be terminated only by another treaty. Article 63 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1980) says: “The severance of diplomatic or consular relations between parties to a treaty does not affect the legal relations between them by the treaty except in so far as the existence of diplomatic or consular relations is indispensable for the application of the treaty.” Even severance of diplomatic relations does not affect the treaty.

To obstruct the Permanent Indus Commission is to trigger the formation of a court of arbitration (Article IX). The treaty is not a weapon to be used for political ends; it has a long history and is entrenched in international law.



THE textile industry is in a dilemma as cotton trade between Pakistan and India has been hit by a rise in border tension; and traders across the border, being uncertain of future developments, are not entering into new deals.

Pakistan’s Cotton Commissioner Khalid Abdullah says a low quantum of trade activity is still taking place. The government has not asked importers to stop buying cotton from India but many of them are not buying on their own as a gesture of national solidarity. However, Indian exporters are refusing to sell at their government’s behest although they would be the losers.

Pakistani spinners are the biggest buyers of Indian fibre. Fewer imports by Pakistan this year could hurt Indian exports, raise their prices and help rival cotton exporters like Brazil, the United States and some African countries. For Pakistan’s industry, buying the raw material from other sources may prove costly owing to long distance freight. In fact, the situation is in a wait-and see mode. Cotton trade between the two countries is worth $822m a year.

Pakistan’s Cotton Commissioner Khalid Abdullah says a low quantum of cotton trade activity is still taking place

Another victim of high political temperature is vegetables. According to Times of India, traders from the Indian state of Gujarat have decided to stop supplying vegetables to Pakistan.

Gujarat used to send 50 trucks having 10 tonnes of vegetables, mainly tomatoes and chilli, to Pakistan via the Wagah border. This is the first time in almost two decades that Gujarat’s exporters have halted the supply of essential vegetables to Pakistan. The commission agents say they will not resume exports till the normalisation of relations.

The suspension in cotton trade comes at a time when Pakistan’s cotton crop has recorded an overall decrease of 15pc over the last year, adding to the industry’s woes. Pakistan, the world’s third-largest cotton consumer, starts importing from September, but this time there has been little activity so far.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year ending on March 31 in India, official trade between the two was $2.6bn with cotton being a major component. However, in the crop year that ended on September 30, Pakistan was India’s biggest cotton buyer after its own crop was hit by drought and whitefly pest. According to an estimate, Pakistan will need to import at least three million bales in 2016-17.

The Cotton Crop Assessment Committee (CCAC), on Oct 7, estimated that the output for 2016-17 stood at 11.039m bales.Participants were informed that the lower output was mainly due to effects of climate change on the crop, besides pests like pink bollworm and whitefly. The crop output in Punjab is estimated at 7.3m bales, with each bale weighing 170 kilograms.The crop size of Sindh is estimated at 3.7m bales.

The representative of growers from Punjab agreed to the assessment whereas the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association chairman was of the opinion that the crop size in Punjab was about 7.5-8m bales. Cotton sowing has registered a decrease of 21pc in Punjab while it has risen by 2pc in Sindh. The crop size is assessed on the basis of data provided by provincial governments.

Meanwhile, Afghan President’s special envoy and Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, has refuted reports that Kabul has shut down the land route for Pakistani trucks going to Central Asian states through its territory. Ashraf Ghani had threatened, last month, to shut Pakistan’s transit route to Central Asian countries if it did not allow Afghan traders to use the Wagah border for trade with India. Pakistani trucks, the envoy says, can deliver transit goods directly to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan via Afghanistan.

It is interesting to note that in a highly charged political atmosphere, trade in other commodity goods has not been affected. The inward flow of Indian goods into Karachi’s major commodity and grocery markets, in old city areas which form the hub of the country’s wholesale trade, continues uninterrupted without any increase in prices or shortage of goods.

Shopkeepers selling Indian cosmetics and jewellery are doing business as usual because of their smooth flow and easy availability. The war-like situation has not affected their business. Not only is the arrival of goods from India normal, even exports are taking place at the usual pace. Pulses, spices and dried fruits continue to land in Pakistan, with these items not having faced any shortage in the wholesale market so far.

Trade balance between the two countries is in favour of India. In 2015-2016, exports from Pakistan to India dropped to $400m from $415m in 2014-2015. India’s exports to Pakistan surged 27pc to $1.8bn over the same period.

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Chairman Aamir Fayyaz says that since now the textile industry has become highly dependent on imported cotton, duties and taxes on import of cotton would make the entire value chain uncompetitive. The situation calls for the withdrawal of 4pc customs duty and 5pc sales tax on the import of cotton. He wants the government to resolve the textile industry’s issues and enable it to undertake investment worth $1bn per annum.



Former batsman and captain of the national cricket team Jaived Miandad on Saturday withdrew his allegations against former T20 captain Shahid Afridi.

Miandad also announced that he harbours no ill feelings towards Afridi.

In a meeting held between the two former cricket captains, Afridi thanked Miandad for the withdrawal of his statements.

“It is a great pleasure that Afridi is sitting besides me and there are no differences between us,” said Miandad.

Miandad also expressed well wishes for Afridi and said if any of his comments had hurt Afridi, he would withdraw them.

Afridi said he had never demanded an apology from Miandad as he considers Miandad as his senior.

“Miandad withdrawing the allegations against me is a big deal for me and my fans,” Afridi added.

The controversy arose when Afridi, who quit ODIs last year after the ODI World Cup 2015 expressed his desire of playing a farewell match, and asked the PCB to entertain his request. Afridi had expressed his desire to bid farewell to his fans through one final match.

Miandad opposed the idea of giving a farewell match to the former T20 captain which resulted in Afridi passing controversial remarks about Miandad.

Reacting on these controversial remarks, Miandad levelled match fixing allegations against Afridi.


Like, where’s Fawad Khan? And is demi-couture a thing?


Year after year, we’ve heard a similar complaint — award shows don’t bring anything new to the prime-time TV slot. Will this change with the newest award show in town?

We’re getting closer to the day of Pakistan’s only other style awards, the first ever QMobile Hum Style Awards — and the nominations are in.

Categories include Best Model, Best Hair & Makeup Artist, Best Fashion Photographer, Best Designer – Demi-Couture, Best Designer – Bridal, Best Designer – Lawn, Best Designer – Fashion Jewellery, Best Designer – Menswear, Retail Brand of the Year – Apparel, Best Fashion Publication and a QMobile Rising Star.

Most Stylish Awards will also be awarded to film and TV actors, singers, TV hosts and sport personalities.

The stage is set for a celebration of “trendsetters in fashion and entertainment”, but the most pressing question on our minds is ‘Will Hum TV remain objective?’ The tendency of TV channel-sponsored award shows to honour their own productions has reduced them to mere television entertainment with no real credibility, and the hope is that Hum TV will not follow suit in favouring the stars with whom they have the closest association.

Another question that begs asking is the exact criteria of the style awards. Are they being doled out to celebs that dress the best on-screen (in which case the credit really goes to the film’s stylist, costume designers, director and other people with creative input) or off-screen, where the celebrities’ own preferences are likely to come into play.

Either way, one is confused by the presence of Hamza Ali Abbasi in the style nominations. The actor has been vocal in his rejection of style statements, but is in the running for his second style award this year, the first having been awarded to him at the Lux Style Awards in July.

Other nominees that surprised include Feroze Khan who hardly ever makes an impression and Urwa Hocane, who is often singled out as the worst dressed at red carpets and isn’t ‘Most Stylish’ by a long shot.

Television hosts are, again, hardly stylish, especially those that go about gifting rickshaws and motorcycles to their audience. Fahad Mustafa, for instance, usually evades designer-wear, opting to boost a brand called ‘Cherry’ – and when he goes on promotional rounds for his movie, he makes blunders like wearing over-ripped jeans. Sana Bucha, Huma Amir Shah and HSY, though, certainly have style.

Noticeably missing from the nominations is one Fawad Khan, but the omission has probably got to do more with the fact that he hasn’t featured prominently in a Pakistani production — TV or film — in the past year.

Also read: Fawad Khan in a bowtie at the Grazia Awards is possibly his best look ever

Many big names were snubbed in the fashion categories. For instance,Elan and Faraz Manan were ignored in the Demi-couture category (more on that later), Sana Safinaz and HSY are not present in the Bridal category while a relatively younger designer like Zainab Chottani gets recognized. In Menswear, Deepak Perwani and HSYignored despite showing menswear collections last year – perhaps this is because both designers are ostensibly more inclined towards womenswear now?

Another thing that had us scratching our heads is what classifies as demi couture in the Pakistani context? Demi couture is defined as the in-between of pret and haute couture — it’s fashion that has the high quality and fine embellishments of couture but is available to be picked up off the racks. It sounds like luxury pret — and a fashion insider confirms that demi-couture is Hum TV’s new word for the same.

Fashion Publication of the Year leaves one confused because most fashion publications tend to be over-infested with ads and very little exclusive matter. One wonders how the jury managed to decide upon the results for this category.

The full list of nominations of the QMobile Hum Style Awards, which takes place on October 28, is below:


Amna Babar

Rabia Butt

Sadaf Kanwal

Fouzia Aman

Sunita Marshall


Shahzad Noor


Hasnain Lehri

Aimal Khan

Waleed Khalid


Hannan Siddique

Raana Khan

Natasha Khalid

Toni & Guy North Pakistan



Shahbaz Shazi

Guddu Shani

Nadir Firoz Khan

Abdullah Haris

Azeem Sani


Ashna Khan

Zara Abid

Anam Malik

Shoaib Khan

Umair Bin Nisar




Sana Safinaz

Shamaeel Ansari

Body Focus Museum

Shehla Chatoor

Zaheer Abbas


Zainab Chottani

Nomi Ansari

Shehla Chatoor


Faraz Manan



Shehla Chatoor

Sana Safinaz

Zara Shahjahan

Faraz Manan


Republic By Omar Farooq

Nauman Arfeen

Ismail Farid

Munib Nawaz

Amir Adnan


Samina Ibrahim

Amber Sami


Zohra Rahman



Gul Ahmed

Sana Safinaz




Junaid Khan

Imran Abbas

Hamza Ali Abbasi

Feroze Khan

Ahsan Khan


Syra Shahroz

Ayesha Omar

Nausheen Shah

Aamina Sheikh

Urwa Hocane


Mohib Mirza

Humayun Saeed

Adeel Husain

Sheheryar Munawar

Sikander Rizvi


Humaima Malik

Iman Ali

Mehwish Hayat

Sanam Saeed

Mahira Khan


Ali Zafar

Asim Azhar

Atif Aslam

Shahzad Roy

Umair Jaswal


Hadiqa Kiani

Zoe Viccaji

Sara Haider

Meesha Shafi

Quratulain Balouch


Shahid Afridi

Shoaib Malik



Fahad Mustafa

Faisal Qureshi

Hassan Sheheryar Yasin

Huma Amir Shah

Sana Bucha


Libas International


Niche lifestyle


Brides & You

Me & My Wedding


The actor says she finally understood “why women who wear headscarves are looked at differently”


In 2015, Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan was criticised in the US for carrying the Quran while walking the streets of New York. This year she donned a headscarf while working with Syrian refugees in Turkey and threw the media in a frenzy.

In an interview with Turkish TV channel Haber Turk, Lindsay opens up about the recent events in her life that made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The Parent Trap actor explained how she felt like an outsider in her own country after being ‘crucified’ for holding the Quran in the US.

“This was just me holding it and walking… the paparazzi had been across the street… and they crucified me for it in America. They made me seem like Satan; I was a bad person for holding the Quran. I’m so happy to have left and gone back to London after that because I felt so unsafe in my own country. And this is my belief, if this is something I want to learn then this is my personal will, it’s not for you to express,” she said.

Lindsay’s tumultuous life was in the public eye for years, she explains that her close friends in London and Saudi Arabia had given her the Quran to help her through the difficult time she was facing in the US. “[They] gave me the Quran and I brought it to New York because I was learning and it opened doors for me to experience and spiritually to find another true meaning,” she explains.

But having faced that ordeal, she finally understood “why women who wear headscarves are looked at differently,” because she felt like an ‘outsider’ too.

Earlier this month, Lindsay visited the Syrian refugees camps in Turkey and during her visit she was presented with a headscarf by one of the refugees. The headscarf on the Hollywood actor’s head soon made headlines in the West.

I met a wonderful aid worker (Azize) at The Refugee Camp in Antep. She saw that my eyes lit up when I told her that her headscarf is beautiful. She waved to me and said, come with me, I followed her and she gifted it to me. I was so moved and touched by this that I wanted to wear it in appreciation for all of the generosity and love I received from everyone at the camp. Thank you #Gaziantep #theworldisbiggerthan5 thank you @fatmasahin. Photo: Instagram
I met a wonderful aid worker (Azize) at The Refugee Camp in Antep. She saw that my eyes lit up when I told her that her headscarf is beautiful. She waved to me and said, come with me, I followed her and she gifted it to me. I was so moved and touched by this that I wanted to wear it in appreciation for all of the generosity and love I received from everyone at the camp. Thank you #Gaziantep #theworldisbiggerthan5 thank you @fatmasahin. Photo: Instagram

“When the woman put that headscarf on me, I felt really honoured because she went out of her own way to allow me to be a part of my own culture and she didn’t have to do that. I was a stranger to her,” explains the actor.

“I said I really liked the colour of her headscarf and she gave it to me, and maybe she had two and she gave me one – there’s more in the story that occurred. Because this woman took the time to give me this, and a part of herself, not even knowing me, I’m not taking it off.”

She admits that wearing the headscarf made her think twice about how the media will portray her and she was scared she that it might misconstrue as something else rather than the truth that lay behind it.

“It should make headlines [her wearing the headscarf] because in Turkey you have the free will as a woman if you want to [wear a headscarf] or if you don’t want to, that’s why it’s amazing here because you can choose why you want it and it’s accepted. Whereas in America, I’m holding the Quran and I’m the devil.”

Although Lindsay’s trip to Turkey was for a work obligation, she decided to stay. Soon things started aligning and she was helping Syrian Refugees. She feels “it’s about time we recognised the truth and start doing something.”

I can't forget Heya whom I met during my visit to the Hussein family. She couldn't care less about our gifts to her, whose mother has gone. She held me more and more tight when she sat on my lap. I sniffed her hair, took her hands and held her tight. I understood at that moment once again that we can do more for each other, that we should do more for each other. And we can start by giving support to #Turkey which did its part in this huge human tragedy called Syria by welcoming 3 million refugees. We should do more, starting today... #RefugeesWelcome #MassacreinAleppo #theworldisbiggerthan5 #love not #ignorancekills
I can’t forget Heya whom I met during my visit to the Hussein family. She couldn’t care less about our gifts to her, whose mother has gone. She held me more and more tight when she sat on my lap. I sniffed her hair, took her hands and held her tight. I understood at that moment once again that we can do more for each other, that we should do more for each other. And we can start by giving support to #Turkey which did its part in this huge human tragedy called Syria by welcoming 3 million refugees. We should do more, starting today… #RefugeesWelcome #MassacreinAleppo #theworldisbiggerthan5 #love not #ignorancekills

“Everything happens for a reason,” she explains. “I left, came back, hurt my finger, I couldn’t leave, I had to stay. But that happening to me was an eye opening experience, because everybody said ‘Should we stop? We’ll postpone everything’, and my first thought was ‘Are you kidding me?’ Why would I stop? Why would you stop because my finger hurt, when someone had their legs blown off?'”

She first got to know about the problem in Turkey through the coup, that’s when she knew she had to help. “A lot of it was around when the coup happened. Just seeing the whole country stand up for each other. That was very emotional for me. All these people in one place… all supporting one another. And that’s a really powerful, strong front.”


Move over, Fawad Khan. There’s a new chai-making sensation in town.


A discovery of Islamabad-based photographer Javeria Ali, thischaiwala — spotted at a tea stall in Islamabad’s Sunday Bazaar — has girls ready for rishtas and talent management firms on the look-out for their next big star.

“I didn’t expect [such a fuss] at all,” shares the photographer Javeria. “It’s very surprising.”

“I took the picture during a photowalk at [Islamabad’s] Itwar Bazaar and put it up as a regular post on Instagram and it didn’t go viral until four or five days later,” she tells us.

Javeria Ali uploaded more photos after popular demand
Javeria Ali uploaded more photos after popular demand

Javeria, whose photography business goes by the name of Jiah’s Photography, says that some enterprising person realised the potential of the photograph before she did.

“Someone stole the picture from my Instagram since it had no watermark. This person claimed it to be hers. Later, a girl on Twitter (@albatrouz_)posted it and it started trending. Afterwards, Facebook page Sheikhspere posted the tweet on their page. I found out then that it went viral.

“People started tagging me and my Facebook blew up. Then I had to run after all the pages to [have them] give [me] credit and tell them it was my image.

“And then [popular Indian Instagram account] India Pictures shared the photo and my insta went viral. Since yesterday, my phone and Facebook has been buzzing.

“Thanks to the girl who claimed it to be hers, [laughs] and the twitter account @albatrouz_.”

While Javeria knows little about the chaiwala, Twitter is having a field day with her important discovery.