A note from the editor

(Re)introducing Soch Writing

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BEGINNING TODAY, SOCHwill publish twice a week — a new story every Monday and Thursday. We hope to produce stories that challenge orthodoxies, and to have fun while doing so. Many hands are wrung and heads shaken over Pakistan’s purported ‘youth bulge’ but appallingly little space is given to young voices in the mainstream media. We aim to be a corrective and provide a platform to bright and provocative young thinkers: dogged reporters, scholars, essayists and artists, as they attempt to figure out how Pakistan works — and how it can work better. 

Soch Writing stories aim to be rooted in history and theory, and fuelled by curiosity. We’re not interested in breaking news. We’re not trying to get anywhere first. We don’t care for knee-jerk punditry or aggregated hot takes. We seek interesting, considered and beautiful non-fiction writing (and art) from Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora. Sometimes, it can take a while to figure things out, and that’s okay. 

Today, we re-launch with five new stories: 

In Alchemy in A Pakistani Classroom, Nudrat Kamal writes about the exhaustion and heartbreak of teaching — redeemed by the occasional electric connection with her students. The critical curiosity of young people, she writes, is the saving grace of our universities, to be nurtured against all odds.   

How free is Azad Kashmir? In Indigenous Iterations of Azaadi in Kashmir, Zuha Siddiqui explores the life and legacy of Kashmiri nationalist Maqbool Bhat and how local aspirations have long been eclipsed by narratives set by India and Pakistan.

Maqbool Bhat opted for armed struggle but, argues Kashmiri academic Abdul Manan, it is best not to create moral hierarchies of resistance. His essay, A Moon in Your Name, is a mix of original poetry and prose, with illustrations by Kashmiri artist Mir Suhail. 

It can take years to muster up the strength to name your accuser — only to then find yourself accused of defamation, and threatened with jail. In Sued For Saying #MeToo, Zainab Husain investigates the emotional and financial costs of battling defamation lawsuits, and their effects on free speech. 

In this regard, how can we the media do better? In Mistakes We Know We Are Making, after rape allegations against a storied media baron, we ask journalists how we can cultivate a culture of accountability within our own ranks.  

Next up: a report on a citizenship dilemma that challenges the patrilineal nature of the Pakistani state, and a non-fiction comic on the aftermath of Karachi’s anti-encroachment drive. 

Despite the internet’s ephemeral nature, we strive to be a publication of record: every story is vetted by a dedicated fact-checker. Every writer and illustrator is paid for their labour. We at Soch are very excited about this experiment in local storytelling and hope you continue to drop by here to read us, write for us and think with us. —AK ■

Header illustration by Marium Ali  

More Stories

What makes a story true?

A Sundance film imagines conversations between a ship berthed at Gadani and the labourers who come to break it

A moon in your name

On Kashmir, poetry and hierarchies of resistance

Last man standing: Hammad Azhar

Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar has the unenviable job of guiding Pakistan’s tax policy; Soch sat down with him to learn more about revenue collection going forward.