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A Rebel For An Endangered Cause

August 19, 2017

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So just a day before I was sitting at Frere Hall, Saddar (in my beloved Karachi of course) discussing some work with some friends, when out of nowhere a so-called humanist/ student activist (I knew from Facebook) came up to me and asked me (in a threatening tone) about what I said to him on Facebook?

I did had a mild and very friendly debate with this jerk (after I thought he was like-minded liberal like me) on my private chat after this guy was constantly messaging me to give him the number of one of my transwoman friends I had pictures with, I clearly said to him that it does not work like that and even educated him a bit about LGBTQI rights and gay culture which of course this self-proclaimed Facebook humanist opposed because for him it goes against everything his beloved state was founded on and the pseudo-liberalism he believes in.

So whenever I tell you to not harass my transgender friends on Facebook, educate you a little about their rights and the wider LGBTQI movement in Pakistan, even if you don’t agree with me just don’t F**king threaten me (really don’t use a tone like you will beat the shit out of me especially in public)!!

It’s really sad to see how dangerous and intolerant people are becoming in Pakistan that even so-called humanists and liberal left around me can’t be trusted and talked to cause they can’t accept anything that’s not according to their school of thought or whatever delusional ideology they believe in!

On a bright side later that day I went to an informational session about Acumen fellowship (where you are encouraged to bring change and contribute towards a better society through social entrepreneurship), I never really came out that day in public especially because I avoid unwanted attention and I just don’t wanna be known for something that is so risky that it might further endanger me.

But to my astonishment I was surprised to see the level of acceptance shown by these brave Acumen fellows I met who even encouraged me to continue the work I do (whatever I do within my own given capacity, exposure and self-funding), the best part of day happened when I spoke to the son Mr. Yazdani (now director and Acumen fellow too) of my ex-school’s madam principal and he lauded my efforts on working for the LGBTQI community and rights. in Pakistan

To my surprise I never knew how amazing and accepting he would be, I didn’t want to say out loud I am working and striving for LGBTQI rights in Pakistan but it just happened that words came out when he himself said you’re an LGBTQI activist!!.

At first, I was like no way why would you say yes that Salman but then I was personally so touched by the conversation we had that it truly made my day. It really meant a lot especially for someone like me who has suffered through a long and extensive period of social isolation, constant bullying and even death threats given out by my school mates who were never comfortable with my rebellious nature.

I really admire the strength shown by another new friend, she came up to me and shared her story of resilience and compassion I was like wowed by Ms. Karim’s story which literally took my breath away, for her me really being out there was something of an awe-inspiring phenomenon but I’ve to say her life and work was all developed with great strength and audacity that’s what I understood from the all so inspiring talk we had.

For me I seriously wish to inspire more, I wish to do more work for the LGBTQI community I wish that such support and compassion shown by these change makers can resonate across my beloved nation. Cause I always say my people are not bad, they’re just being shown a way that isn’t right.

For me, my activism is not about bringing some hippie sex revolution in Pakistan, nor to legalize gay marriages anytime soon or allow gay prides on our streets. What I wish to achieve is the sense of understanding, liberation and of course acceptance for my people, my people being the gay community and the wider LGBTQI community which are always denied their very right to even exist.

A sense of awareness must be promoted in Pakistan about people who exist with unique gender identity and non-conforming sexuality that is different from what’s accepted as the norm, I know in a society that’s dominated by a conservative, patriarchal and heteronormative mindset this seems nearly impossible but at least I can say we tried our best.

So within a day of my rebellious life, I get to come across those who literally wanna hurt me and those who literally say that I must continue the work that brings some meaning to their existence, I just wish we all can be more meaningful in the awe-inspiring and unique ways we can! ❤

 

                                         Written by Muhammad Salman Khan

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The author is an environmental and social activist/ blogger based in Karachi. Lover of science, tech and nature he tweets as @ImGreenGuru (twitter.com/ImGreenGuru)

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Why more Pakistanis must celebrate Holi, to spread love and peace!

March 27, 2016

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What is Holi, how and why is it celebrated were questions that I had in my mind ever since I was a kid and all that I knew about Holi was from the internet or the Bollywood movies I’ve seen. I being a Pakistani was always fascinated by the idea of Holi, we practically grow up watching Bollywood (Indian) movies where we saw young and old, rich and poor, men and women, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims playing Holi and chasing each other with powdered and water colors. We Pakistanis have always danced to and sang popular Holi songs like, ‘Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse’ & ‘Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain rangon mein rang mil jaate hain’ . It is equally surprising that not many Pakistanis are aware of the fact that festival of Holi has its origins from city of Multan here in Pakistan.

Legend has it that there was an evil King named Hiranyakashipu from Multan who considered himself as God and forced everyone in his realm to worship him. His own son, Prahlad, remain defiant and remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. This enraged the evil king who subjected Prahlad to tormenting abuse and agony, which had no affect on him. The evil king later on requested a wicked witch name Holika to sway Prahlad away from Lord Vishnu, she tricked Prahlad into sitting on a pyre with him. Despite the protected cloak she wored, the evil witch got burned instead of Prahlad. This further enraged the king who smashed a pillar in anger, out from the smashed pillar came Lord Narasimha (avatar of Lord Vishnu) and killed the evil king.

To this day the burning of the bonfire symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the practice of applying color as a celebration of the festivities which followed after the demise of the evil king. Holi isn’t celebrated by all Pakistanis, Pakistan is predominantly a Muslim majority country and Hindus consist only a minor 2.0% of a total country of 180 million. Traditional Muslims believe that celebrating and even participating religious festivals of non Muslims is a ‘Shirk’ that is an unforgivable crime in the eyes of God. To break the taboo surrounding this dogma and support the Pakistani Hindu community, I decided with a bunch of like minded friends to celebrate Holi at the historic Swami Narayan Mandir of Karachi, which is also one of the largest Hindu temple in Karachi.

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Holi is a Hindu festival which is also known as the festival of colors. During the two days of the festival the first day which is known as Holika Dahan devotees gather around at a bonfire (as shown below in the videos) and pray for forgiveness of their sins, moving on to the second day which is known as Rangwali Holi worshipers and people from all walks of life celebrate the festival of colors by playing with powdered and water colors, indulging in traditions sweets and savory foods and even rejuvenating old bonds with friends, families and foes.

To my astonishment the Holi celebrations turned out to be a breathe of fresh air, never had I imagined that the festival of Holi could be held on such a wide scale which contradicts the popular depiction of Pakistan in the Western media as an intolerant society were religious freedom is denied and women are oppressed. And such visuals of Holi celebrations depict a vision of Pakistan foreseen by its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah (quoted below) where he envisioned of a country where everyone is free to go to there mosques, temples and churches; where your religion, caste or creed has nothing to do with the business of the state.

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah

 

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Such a free and secular Pakistan as envisioned by Jinnah is far from reality now, the Pakistani Hindu community and other minorities are facing constant threat of violence from draconian blasphemy laws, abductions and terrorism attacks. Hindus particularly face the threat of abductions, forced conservation and marriage of their women and girls and even discretion of temples & property with the state seemly remaining unconcerned and silent over such pressing issues.

I participated in the Holi festival despite the objection of a few religious zealots to promote interfaith harmony in Pakistan and spread a message of love and peace across the country and for all my Hindu friends living in India and beyond. I am glad to have been part of a festival that not only celebrated life and all its colors, but which also advocated a message of peace, love and equality for all.

For one day I become part of a community that practiced the true meaning of love and respect for everyone regardless of the minor differences of classes, color, creed or castes that we’ve in the end love for humanity, for peace and happiness are the values that makes us humans. If only we started celebrating these values that makes us humans, only then can we be able to make this world a better place for everyone and for our own selves.

With this message of love, happiness and peace I wish a Happy Holi to all my readers across the world. 🙂

 

Written by

Muhammad Salman Khan

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The author is an environmental and social activist/ blogger based in Karachi. Lover of science, tech and nature he tweets as @ImGreenGuru (twitter.com/ImGreenGuru)

 

More from the Holi celebrations, Happy Holi everyone.

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#Karachi is my life, my love and why we need to save it!

March 20, 2016

Karachi is the love of my life and what’s the best way to express your love than to promote and share your city with the world so I joined a photo walk organized by The School of Writing in connection with the Karachi Day that was initiated by The I Am Karachi Society. The walk was a through downtown Saddar

Personally speaking as a Karachi based blogger and activist it was a wonderful experience to be part of an initiative that is promoting a more vibrant, multicultural, religiously diverse and colorful image of Karachi which is often ignored because of the constant media hype of terrorism and instability within our peaceful city.

This initiative attracted many brave photographers and activists who accompanied us to make this initiative a success by highlighting Karachi as never seen before with the help of social media and digital photography but more needs to be done to safeguard public spaces and urban environment in Karachi which is unfortunately facing constant threat of pollution, encroachment and vandalism.

It is about time that the stakeholders of Karachi wake up to the crisis this city’s natural and cultural heritage is facing before all the beauty, peace and love is lost to the greed and short-sightedness of a few malign ones.

#Pakistan #Karachi #KhiMeriJaan #Saddar #Karachi #IAmKarachi #SaveTheTrees #PublicSpaces #NoBoundaries #KarachiMeriJaan #SaveBuiltHeritage

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Written by

Muhammad Salman Khan

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The author is an environmental and social activist/ blogger based in Karachi. Lover of science, tech and nature he tweets as @ImGreenGuru (twitter.com/ImGreenGuru)

Sacred Love

February 4, 2016

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Courtesy of Alex Calis

“The forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God, nature is God. Whoever moves within the forest can partake directly of sacredness, experience sacredness with
his entire body, breath sacredness and contain it within himself, drink the sacred water as a living communion, bury his feet in sacredness, open his eyes and witness the burning beauty of sacredness.”
– Richard Nelson ❤

Why the Paris climate talks are too important to ignore for Pakistan

November 30, 2015

 

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A Pakistani mother carries her children after the devastating floods of 2010. – AFP

 

As the UN-backed COP21 climate talks are about to commence in Paris, the eyes of the world are set on the city of lights which despite the horrendous Paris attacks of November 13th which killed 130 people and injured hundreds more will be hosting thousands of international diplomats and 158 heads of state including Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an effort to reach an ambitious deal that would help reduce global carbon emissions and resolve the climate crisis.

 

Human-induced carbon emissions which are responsible for the rise in global temperatures that are contributing to melting glaciers, rising sea levels, rampant droughts, catastrophic floods and heatwaves that has killed thousands and displaced millions around the world including in countries like Pakistan which remains worst affected from this climate crisis.

 

Despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently declaring, ‘climate change as a serious threat to human life’ the official response from the Pakistani authorities does not really seem to reflect the urgency to deal with the climate crisis after Pakistan not only delayed the submission of its own national climate action plan but the 350-word one pager it submitted to the United Nation was declared as “irrelevant” and “not serious enough” by many experts for solving one of the greatest threat that humanity faces in the 21th century.

Pakistani delegation must highlight some of the key facts mentioned below at the Paris climate talks to not only present their side of the story but in order to ensure climate justice could be served for one of the world’s most vulnerable and poorest of the countries affected by climate change.

 

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An elderly man left behind in the floods of 2012 in Pakistan. – AFP

 

  • Pakistan happens to be one of the most affected country from the present climate crisis as it has already suffered from extreme and deadly climate events such as the floods of 2010 & 2012, 2012 Gayari Sector avalanche, 2015 Karachi heat waves which have lead to widespread loss of human life, undermining economic development and national security of the country as a result.

 

  • Pakistan needs international assistance and cooperation if it wants to mitigate and adapt from the effects of climate change. Despite the increase in global funding for adaptation and mitigation within developed nations, Pakistan’s share has been “too little, too late” compare to the magnitude of disasters it has faced. The average cost of climate change adaption for Pakistan alone would be an average annual cost of around $6-14 billion and the cost of mitigation would run around 17 billion every year according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

 

 

  • Pakistan is a country that faces an acute and serious energy crisis, one of the solutions to free the country from this menace would be moving towards a  clean energy transition that is sustainable, low carbon and cost effective. Pakistan is already going ahead with a planned development of Asia’s largest solar farm called the Quaid -e-Azam Solar Park, which eventually will produce 1,000 MW of power. But in order to truly move ahead with its climate friendly and energy independence objectives Pakistan must seek more investment, international co-operation and funding for development of the renewable energy sector, which is projected to meet 7 to 30% of the Pakistan’s energy requirements by the year 2030 that can eventually lead to a stabilized and economically progress Pakistan.

 

 

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France the host country to the Paris climate conference which recently suffered an unimaginable tragedy that shocked the world still planned to move ahead against all odds with the climate talks and its ambassador to Pakistan Martine Dorance recently declared the ‘Paris conference to be a moment of solidarity’. Pakistan as a country that is not only a victim of terrorism but equally suffers from the climate crisis too must realize that this crisis is a security threat that endangers the stability and security of Pakistan and it is a threat that must not be ignored at any cost.

 

 

Written by

Muhammad Salman Khan

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The author is an environmental campaigner and social activist based in Karachi. He is a lover of science, tech and nature who tweets as @ImGreenGuru (twitter.com/ImGreenGuru)

 

 

My Name Is Salman Khan & I am Crowd Funding So That I Can Travel to a Climate Change Training Event In Miami, Florida http://igg.me/at/ktyiiC3ZqBQ.

August 27, 2015

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I’m reaching out to ask for your support for my online fundraiser: “Help Salman, Travel to Climate Training In Florida.” This fundraiser is benefiting me so that I can fun my travel and acomodation expenses.

There are two ways to help:
1. Donate – even small donations raise our popularity and give us more visibility on the site.
2. Post to Facebook – in the end, the more people hear about us, the more likely we are to meet our target.

Kindly go through my campaign link mentioned below and details about who I am, why I seek funding and why is this important is mentioned in detailed paragraphs further below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISER SITE

Who Am I:

My name is Salman Khan and I am an environmental and human rights blogger from Pakistan who happens to be pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-vegan, pro-humanist advocate for climate change solutions and tech for good initiatives.

Read my about a brief introduction about me here – Who Is Salman Khan

What Situation Prompted Me to Start Fundraiser?

I have quit my job recently as there is a higher calling for me to work on social good and environmental initiatives that can bring about the change I wish to see within my community and country. In order to pursue my life’s mission I must receive certain training and education for which I will be able to complete by traveling to the US. In addition to funds I saved before leaving my job, I still need financial assistance in achieving to my goal.

Your donations will help me with my travel and accommodation expenses for an education and training event to be held in Miami, Florida in September. Because the Climate Reality Project suggest their chosen leaders to go forward with crowd funding for funding our travel and accommodation expenses.

How Your Donations Help Me In What Ways:

To breakdown the figure for you, I am raising around $2900 (USD) for my round trip flight (around $1600 USD or more), accommodations for 3 nights (likely on Air B&B would between $300 or $400 USD), Non-immigrant Visa Services fee is approx $160 USD, plus additional funds would be utilized for transportation, and a few snacks/meals (most will be provided at the conference). The surplus would be donated to charities that are working on distributing renewable technology like solar lamps or fuel efficient cook stoves that I would be writing about on my blog.

Your donation money will be used to pay for my complete travel expenses that includes plane tickets, visa registration and hotel accommodation. To ensure and guarantee this your money is going towards the cause, I have attached the copy of the official letter of invitation from the Climate Reality Project that I have send to my embassy too.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MY CLIMATE REALITY PROJECT INVITATION LETTER
What Will Be The Impact And Why This Is Important:

The potential impact of attending, networking and working for climate change solutions are huge, some people talk about changing the world. Climate Reality Leaders are doing it every day.

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps is a global network of over 7,500 activists working to educate and empower communities in more than 125 countries to take action on climate change.

Climate Reality Leaders come from all walks of life but all come with the same deep desire to make a difference and help solve the climate crisis.

By attending a focused three-day training with former US Vice President Al Gore and other experts and influencers, you’ll learn:
The science of climate change,
The direct cost of its impacts on communities around the world,
The solutions that are available today,
Storytelling, public speaking, and social media networking,
Media engagement strategies,
Best practices in grassroots organizing,

CLIMATE REALITY LEADERSHIP CORPS TRAININGS FAQ

Your donation is the highest form of support I and this cause could ever receive,
Thank you!

Regards,
Muhammad Salman Khan

P.S.: (1) “Our [Indiegogo] payment processor charges a 3% + 30 cents fee on every donation, which will be removed from the total raised before the funds are disbursed.” (2) Indiegogo charges $25 (USD) in Bank Transfer Fees per monthly transfer of funds raised up until that point.

‘Let Love Be Free’

June 30, 2015

This Is A Poetic Tribute To The Gay Community & Their Supporters

We hide from the world,

We fear for our lives,

and never shall we be truly free.

Love is love,

Let love be free,

A kiss won’t be the end of the world by me.

If you fear my love, 

You fear yourself not me,

What we only wish in this life is to love as we please.

Written By

Salman Khan as a tribute to all those who love and support the LGBT/ gay community.

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