What might link a group of middle-class Pakistani women sipping coffee demurely in a living room, with the fiery young women in black burqas threatening shopkeepers in Islamabad? When and how do an adolescent girl's aspirations translate into the maturing of a social and political revolution in urban Pakistan?

Cultural Underpinnings

Cultural underpinnings


Naz, the female protagonist in Maniza Naqvi's On Air, fills in as a late night radio talk show host in Karachi, Pakistan. Earlier in the evening an irate male caller has chastised her: ‘A woman's voice, going into stranger's houses at this time of the night, into strange bedrooms … is very bad. It is simply indecent … obscene’ (Naqvi, 2000: 9).

The tirade is followed by another phone call, this time a young woman supporting her for hosting the show. Naz thinks to herself:

Here is a woman as indignant and bewildered as I am … I gave the producer a double thumbs-up sign.

The caller, though, goes on to say, ‘I think he is wrong because after all being on the radio ...

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