Pew Report: The American middle class is shrinking & standards of living are slipping. 

The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground
No longer the majority and falling behind financially

After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it. In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined, a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data.1

Read more »  PewResearchCenter
See more » http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

Pakistan’s Muniba Mazari named goodwill ambassador by UN Women

BY IRFAN HAIDER

ISLAMABAD: UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, named Muniba Mazari as Pakistan’s first female goodwill ambassador to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

As the goodwill ambassador for UN Women Pakistan, Muniba will dedicate her efforts towards the empowerment of women and girls, and would serve as an advocate for UN Women’s “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” and other campaigns.

Muniba Mazari is a writer, artist, singer, activist and a motivational speaker. She is also a paraplegic, having lost control of both legs in a car accident.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1225483

Al-Huda, Tashfeen, and the massacre

BY MURTAZA HAIDER

A young mother who attended a religious school for women in Pakistan weds a conservative man. Months later, the two are accused of murdering 14 and injuring many more in an unprovoked attack in San Bernardino, California.

What made her leave diapers for rifles?

Tashfeen Malik, the young mother and the co-accused in last week’s massacre in California, attended the religious teaching centre Al-Huda’s regional branch in Multan. Though, Ms. Malik left before completing her studies, acquaintances report her becoming religiously conservative after enrolling at Al-Huda.

The Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation has distanced itself from Ms Malik by posting an official statement on their website:

Tashfeen Malik had studied at Al-Huda International’s Multan branch for a brief period between 2013 and 2014. She left without completing the Diploma course. No organisation can be held responsible for personal acts of any of its students.

While there has been no publicised connection as yet between the institute and the shooting, the Canadian branch of Al-Huda abruptly shut down Tuesday citing security concerns.

The Centre has been controversial from the very beginning — in 2014, three of the Centre’s former students of Somali heritage, aged 15 to 18, left homes for Syria to join the militant Islamic State (IS) group. The Turkish authorities intercepted the girls and returned them to their parents in Canada.

The Canadian authorities are concerned about the extent to which the teaching at Al-Huda Centre inspired the teenage girls to leave their parents for IS militants in Syria.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1225251

Chenab: Pakistan’s river of love

I like to view my life as multiple voyages: the first is a physical one that requires me to walk the earth, the second is a journey from known to unknown. There is another journey that leaves one emotionally fatigued, and it is a need to form and nurture relationships.For me, the thought of new voyages is very refreshing. The North Wind holds you in thrall at your first visit (to the northern areas of Pakistan); subsequently, it keeps whispering in your ear to come back. You remember the blue sky of the day, the black cloak of the night embroidered with glittering stars, and the breeze dancing over the river in summertime; its scent can leave you intoxicated.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1219865/

Pakistan Is Not the Place Americans Think It Is

By Author, interfaith activist and law enforcement trainer

Recent news about the Pakistani origin of the San Bernardino’s terrorists has shocked and saddened the Pakistani American community. In an environment where Muslims face a backlash after every terrorist attack at home or abroad, being from Pakistan is no joke these days.

Thanks to media stereotypes of Muslims, most Islamic nations including Pakistan get painted with a very broad brush, one where bearded extremists and oppressed women reign supreme. That’s the reason why I wrote my book Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan: to showcase some of the lesser known but astonishingly vibrant and beautiful aspects of Pakistani people and culture. Granted that it’s impossible to learn about an entire nation in one blog post, but to get started, here are some ways Pakistan is not the place Americans think it is:

Pakistan has an educated and liberal upper class. Unfortunately most images of education in Pakistan focus on children sitting on floors and studying on rickety desks. While true of many rural areas, Pakistan’s cities include a whole spectrum of top educational opportunities from Catholic convent schools to local English schools and exclusive business colleges. What’s more their students win national and international awards almost every single year, such as a group of students who won afilm award and a 7th grade boy who won an international math competition. Since the American media doesn’t profile those educational spaces or the students attaining world-class education, Pakistani Americans like myself often get questions such as “where did you learn English?” or “How is your accent so good?” My response: Pakistan is more educated than you know.

The image of the oppressed Muslim woman is seared into the western mind. Contrary to media narratives, Pakistani women are some of the most determined and intelligent women in the world. From the first female head of state of a Muslim country Benazir Bhutto, to the first female Pakistani to scale Mount Everest Samina Baig, from CEOs of startups to heads of banks and everything in-between, Pakistani women are leaving a mark in a way that Americans don’t hear about in the media. This list of 10 Pakistani businesswomen will leave you with hope for that country and possibly even a query: when will we learn more about empowered Pakistani women? Hint: search for Pakistani media sources that profile women and other marginalized groups, such as Dawn and Express Tribune.

Pakistan has a top-notch creative scene including music, fashion and art.Those who see Pakistanis as fundamentalist Muslims often don’t realize how popular art forms are in a country like Pakistan. True, some Muslims consider art haram (forbidden) but they are not a majority. From fashion weeks and literary festivals, from art events to music concerts, the youth of Pakistan often spend their time appreciating creative pursuits.

Read more » THE HUFFINGTON POSTSee more » http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saadia-faruqi/pakistan-is-not-the-place_b_8740864.html