Trailblazers: Daastan’s Outcast Magazine

Trailblazers: Daastan’s Outcast Magazine

Coming back with another exciting feature of the Trailblazers series, where we focus on writers and individuals of our family who spread their wings and took off towards heights previously unthought of and uncharted.  In this feature we will be writing about another graduate of the second batch of our Literary Fellowship program, Fatema Bhaiji.

Fatema Bhaiji And Our Outcast Magazine:

Before she joined our fellowship, Fatema had already made herself known and left a mark on us, by participating in and becoming one of the top finalists of The Stories Untold season two. Her story, titled “Holding her Hand”, was in perfect accordance with the theme of our story writing competition, “A War Within”. Our phenomenal writer Fatema, in her book, addressed very boldly the dilemma of having feelings for an individual of the same gender. The havoc it causes on our emotions and inner stability, all the while living in a society which in no way tolerates this. Her book was put up for crowdfunding, and through the help of our community, was brought to print.

Outcast Magazine Makes Rounds:

With this booming introduction, Fatema came to join the Editorial department of our fellowship program. Halfway through the program, Fatema came to the team with her idea of forming a queer lit magazine. A magazine targeted towards the South Asian community that zeroed in on increasing the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community through art, poetry and stories.
In the beginning of the fellowship, graduates were encouraged to pursue projects on their own with full support from Daastan. Despite all the criticism, Daastan stood strong. And so, the Outcast magazine ‘came out’ – its website was launched a month after the idea was rolled out, and its first digital issue came out a month later.

Fatema Bhaiji was invited as Panelist Speaker at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Kathmandu, Nepal

Acclaim and Applause:

Outcast Magazine was later on endorsed by a global platform, i.e. Commonwealth Writers, who conducted an extension of our Stories Untold Season 4 on their forum. The LGBTQ+ community were encourages to put to words any abuse they might have faced, directly or indirectly. Outcast went on to announce a Micro Fiction competition of their own in collaboration with Daastan and White Falcon Publishing. The first issue was released in print the very next year. Fatema was invited to many events as a speaker, one of which was “Salzburg Global Forum” held in Nepal and powered by UNDP.

Fatema Bhaji on launching the queer literary magazine, Outcast, in Pakistan

Fatema Bhaji talks on the importance of creating media in which South Asian LGBT people could connect to, which led to the creation of Outcast, a queer literary magazine based in Pakistan.Fatema Bhaji was a participant at the latest program of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum – Advancing Legal and Social Equality in South Asia, held in Kathmandu, Nepal, February 24 to March 1, 2019.

Posted by Salzburg Global Seminar on Wednesday, May 8, 2019

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Trailblazers: Small Town Girl, Rises Like A Phoenix From the Ashes

Trailblazers: Small Town Girl, Rises Like A Phoenix From the Ashes

Laiba Sehrish Nawaz:

Daastan’s co-founder Sidra Amin, has been long known to be the fairy godmother of mentorship, and always has an eye out for talent that she can groom and launch forward into the world. It was through her that Laiba Sehrish Nawaz first came in contact with Daastan. The beautiful 18-year-old girl from Peshawar, who was a student of journalism, had faced many a trauma since the young age of 9, when she lost her mother to breast cancer. Since then, Laiba suffered at the hands of anxiety, depression, and abuse. Her only solace lay in one thing, putting to words all that weighed her down. Writing to both unburden herself, and also preserve each emotion that found its home in her heart. This was how at such a young age she compiled a complete book of her very own work, and was seeking a publisher to help bring her work to print and start her career as a distinguished writer.

[TRAILBLAZERS] Presenting a brand new product where we showcase Daastan's social impact on community. See how we are challenging the status quo and providing authors the platform through which they can chase their dreams.Our first ever trailblazer is Laiba Sehrish from Peshawar who lost her mother at a tender age of 9. She fought her way through depression, anxiety and abuse to become Peshawar's youngest published author at age of 19.Her debut book 'Abductions from Lethe' has inspired readers across the globe to stay resilient in face of hardships. Using Daastan's platform, Laiba was able to raise 35,000 PKR in three days through pre-orders to publish 100 copies of her work. She earned the title of 'Daastan's fastest and youngest crowdfunded author'.Her life turned upside down when she had to take some tough choices in her life. She chose to follow her dreams and passion over her family and friends. Hence she moved and resettled in Quetta.Her books arrived a week ago and the biggest issue which we faced was to cover her travel costs so she could fly to her hometown for her book launch. However, we are pleased to inform that some angel from our community stepped forward and helped us raised 20,000 PKR in mere five minutes of announcement.Our #EmergingStar Laiba is now all set to be a part of the book launch which is scheduled in Feb'18. If you believe in what we do and want to support us then place an order of her hard copy @ 1000 PKR#Daastan #EmergingStar #TrailBlazer #LaibaSehrish #Peshawar

Posted by Daastan on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Abduction from the Lethe:

Her book, Abduction from the Lethe, was put up for a crowdfunding campaign, and that is when she bagged the second honor of her professional journey with us – she became the fastest crowdfunded author, breaking all previous records and raising her required funds of 35,000 PKR in a week’s time. It was heartwarming to see our community so ready to support a girl destined for greatness.

In the May of 2017, her book went into print. She was later on interviewed by a news TV channel Mashriq, in which she talked about her upcoming book, her struggles, and how Daastan was empowering writers to seize their destiny and materialize their dreams.

A quote from Laiba’s book, Abduction from the Lethe

The Book Launch:

In the beginning of 2018, her book launch was held in the city of Peshawar. Laiba, having moved to a different city to pursue her passion and study journalism, lacked the funding to fly back to her city for her book launch. Once again, our community came to the rescue, and we raised a fund of 20,000 PKR to cover her airfare. Her book launch was a huge success, where numerous dignitaries from the literature community were present along with creatives and poets, and was covered by Dawn News.

If you have a manuscript that you’d like to see brought to print and become the next sensation of Daastan’s literary community, drop us an email at or a message on our Facebook page.

Trailblazers: The Girl Who Preserved the Word of Legends

Trailblazers: The Girl Who Preserved the Word of Legends

Over the years, Daastan has had the pleasant opportunity of involving with us individuals from all walks of life, to help us rework and rebrand the literary industry of Pakistan. We have had intellectuals of the highest order, those seeking Masters and PhD degrees and on the forefront of the pack who will change the world, and also those who carried a dream in their eyes and a fiery passion in their heart, but due to lack of opportunities were not able to put their ideas to work. It was people like these, who rose from the bottom and shot for the skies, that inspired us the most. And so, we decided to showcase their talent to the world.

The Concept:

We at Daastan coined a product by the name of “Trailblazers”, to exhibit the life, the struggle, and the consequent successes of those who we had seen grow. These were the people who we believed walked a road previously not taken, lighting a fire to help all that would follow in their wake. We wanted our community to see how these people’s efforts landed them in a place where they were socially impactful, and empowering not only themselves but also all those who were connected to them.

Sameen Aziz:

One such person, who challenged the status quo and rose above the rest, is Sameen Aziz. Though raised in Balochistan, considered the land that offers the least opportunities, she found a passion in her soul for the arts, that started from photography. Over the years, that hobby lead her to learn design, and she caught a lucky break and started working with literary platforms like Zanjabeel – A bookstore by Nemrah Ahmed and The Ancient Souls. Eventually, she joined Daastan as a Literary Fellow of the second batch, and worked on opportunities related to design, and that which was to become the basis for her profession later – digitizing. During the fellowship, she along with four literary activists digitized a beautiful but forgotten masterpiece by an Urdu legend, Hazrat Zaka.

Harf Nagar, A digitizing company by Sameen Aziz

The Formation of Harf Nagar:

Upon her graduation, having found a niche for herself which she excelled, she took the step of forming a company which would help authors in digitizing their content, and making it print ready, naming it Harf Nagar.

After serving as CEO for half a year, she turned her operations over to Ms. Qudsia Jamali – another one of the graduates of Daastan’s Literary Fellowship and an Urdu Editor at Daastan. Ms. Qudsia then served an Urdu legend Asrar Jamyee, and digitized his manuscriptTanz Paaray. They were Daastan’s company of choice, when we secured the rights to republish Kashmir’s first monthly print magazine Shahadat, so as to digitize and bring to the public all that literature which was on the verge of extinction.

Asrar Jamyee, smiling as he holds up his published manuscript
Presenting "Harf Nagar"

#FounderDiary: Turning your passion into profession is a luxury which not everyone is able to afford. I am blessed to have been given this opportunity by Daastan.I was raised in Balochistan and then we moved alot. I experienced life. I realized that art is the ultimate form of expression and I chose photography. Design followed and over the course of time, I got ample opportunities to work with literary platforms like Zanjabeel – A Bookstore by Nemrah Ahmed and The Ancient Souls.Ultimately, I signed up for Daastan's Literary Fellowship (Batch-2) where I was given opportunity to work on projects I never thought I would be able to get. I led a team of four literary activists, together we digitized a long forgotten Urdu masterpiece by Hazrat Zaka.As I was about to graduate, I chose to take a bold step to form a company which would help authors and publishers in digitizing content. Hence, my baby Harf Nagar was founded.I am extremely happy to announce that our brand has the honor to serve an Urdu Legend Asrar Jamyee and we digitized his manuscript titled 'Tanz Paaray'.Moving ahead, I wish to scale this initiative to a level that we are able to cover all regional languages of Pakistan. At present, we are dealing with Urdu and English.You can reach us to get print ready files or avail book composing service through us.I am rebranding the foundations of Pakistan's Literary Industry! Are you?Sameen AzizFounder9th Feburary, 2018#HarfNagar #ContentDigitization #BookComposing

Posted by Harf Nagar on Friday, February 9, 2018

If you have a manuscript that needs to be digitized, drop us an email at, or a message on either Daastan or Harf Nagar.