Pakistan’s largest and oldest English news daily Dawn is one of the few strongholds of journalism in the country, strongholds that are increasingly difficult to defend in a world where misinformation has been weaponized. There are signs though, that the threat already goes beyond misinformation.

I left Pakistan 13 years ago but still visit out of an incurable concern for the mother soil. A few months ago, while visiting the website from my iPhone, I found myself redirected to a suspicious page that looked like this:

Screenshot of a redirect from

I ignored it as another ad and moved on with my life as…

A letter to Pakistan

Click above to listen to the Urdu audio.

Once again, Pakistan stands at the cross-roads of history. This time, however, the entire world seems to be at a cross-roads.

Being the sixth largest population in the world, Pakistan has a special place. Unfortunately, we’re seen as extremists and worse, this view is understandable to some extent because we haven’t formulated an alternate narrative based on intellect, knowledge and logic.

Fortunately, our heritage contains wisdom that can be used not only to solve our problems but also to facilitate meaningful diplomacy between the Chinese, Anglo-Saxon and…

Source: New York Times

It’s June 26, 2020. The United States just witnessed the highest number of Covid-19 infections in a day, months after the coronavirus first broke out. There are 2.4 million confirmed infections and more than 120,000 deaths, with no slowdown expected any time soon. If anything, we are trying to reopen as fast as possible. It may not be wrong to say that we have surrendered without a fight, cowardly agreeing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of the weakest members of our species to a viral deity. Many countries are already preparing to mask this modern human sacrifice as best they…

My maternal grandmother, Khair-un-nisa Bibi

Wrote this in April 2014 in memory of my maternal grandmother, an extra-ordinary woman who overcame suffering and adversity to become an entrepreneur, writer and thinker.

She was born in the 1920s, somewhere around Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, India, to parents with an unfortunate and seemingly never-ending string of encounters with infant mortality. Hence, she was deemed a risky investment of emotional capital by her father, who kept his distance from her for the first few years of her life. …

You are a stand-up comedian who can no longer perform at the local comedy club because of social distancing. You cannot perform via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Zoom or Google Meet because you need to connect with the audience. Will you locate to a different state with loose social distancing measures? Joe Rogan said he might, but there might be another solution.

It’s 7:55 PM. You have to go live in 5 minutes. You put on a virtual reality headset and get teleported to the stage with a full house in front. You thought this would be lame, like the simulated…

Political campaigns are now largely fought online. The 2016 presidential elections in the US demonstrated this well, particularly highlighting the benefits of micro-targeting. Democrats are still struggling to adapt to this new world while the Trump campaign is “poised to dominate online again” in the run-up to the 2020 elections.

Twitter has decided to ban all political ads. Google has decided to limit micro-targeting for political ads e.g. ads targeted based on public voter records or political affiliations. …

History is replete with figures who got persecuted, even assassinated, for speaking of love and transcendence. There seems to be eternal conflict between the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of power, a conflict that is at the roots of many religions, including Islam.

After the Prophet Muhammad passed away, his followers split in two groups: those who believed that protection of spiritual legacy needed to be the most important consideration in the election of a new caliph, and those who favored a more pragmatic and perhaps democratic way to elect a new caliph who would rule over a now…

You can’t truly localize pain
Never be fully sure
Where it comes from
What causes it
What it means

It’s a pattern of neural activity
With no subject and object
Or cause and effect
It just runs like code
On the platform of our brain

It’s probabilistic though
It never runs the same
Like droplets of rain
It’s code that talks to code
Again and again and again

I saw a curious species
Eons away from home
Gnawing at each other
’Cause they were all alone
No problem, thought my friends
Just look inside their minds
Plant a learning program
That iterates through time
But I knew the curious species
With the writing of each tome
They’d see it all so differently
The truth they’d want to own
No problem, said my guru
“Go do it”, and I came
With a message for the people
To be lost all the same
Except some of the curious
Who’d receive somewhat the poem
A little closer at each turn
To the top of Maslow’s cone
But some would think they’re Gods
Deserving of their thrones
So close it got to working
But did it? I don’t know…

A group of people has been chained at the bottom of a cave from the time they gained consciousness. They face a wall, on which they see shadows cast by the fire behind them. For them, these shadows constitute reality. Eventually, one of them manages to escape the cave and discovers the light of the sun shining on the world outside. She feels confused at this unfamiliar visual onslaught, but then she begins to see. Excited, she returns to share the discovery with her companions, but they refuse to believe her. …

Shan Rizvi

Technology entrepreneur based in New York. Interested in art, music, philosophy, psychology, machine learning, neuroscience, physics, and nature.

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