Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

October 19, 2016

Can we blame the West for thinking of Muslims as they do?

In recent times, religiously motivated terrorism incidents have taken place in the West, from Brussels to New York. Due to these barbaric acts perpetuated by extremists, ordinary Muslims are also facing excessive backlash in Europe as well as in the United States. We, as Muslims, are correct to complain that it is unfair to bracket ordinary Muslims with the extremists, but at the same time we need to understand that our negative reputation is not merely due to organisations like ISIS but also because of our behaviour in general. I am not trying to equate extremist organisations like ISIS with normal and moderate Muslims here, ...

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Does the creation of Bangladesh prove the two-nation theory wrong?

This article is not a “defence” or repudiation of the two-nation theory (TNT). Rather it tries to critically evaluate the argument that the creation of Bangladesh in fact proved that the two-nation theory was not valid. Those who claim that the two-nation theory has proven to be a failure cite the creation of Bangladesh as an example. It is claimed that ethnic nationalism trumped religion and therefore the two-nation theory has proven to be a failure. I do not intend to prove that the two-nation theory is wrong or right but just evaluate it with reference to the creation ...

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This is why I think Pakistan needs a Saraiki province

We know that Pakistan is an ethnically diverse society and such societies actually require a decentralised political arrangement. However, due to a strong centre primarily dominated by Punjab, there are widespread and mostly justified complaints from the smaller provinces. The dominance of Punjab is springing from a host of possible reasons, which are: high population allowing it to dominate legislature; resource allocation mechanism which is based on population, dominance in civil and military bureaucracy and promotion of “patriotic” nationalism and Islamic identity which are basically geared at ensuring a strong centre. One of the major rationales often cited about Punjab’s ability to dominate is its extraordinary ...

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Are there any ‘liberal extremists’ in Pakistan?

One of the phrases being used repeatedly in the Pakistani mainstream, as well as social media, is of ‘liberal extremism.’ I have repeatedly heard and read that Pakistani society is polarised – and both the ‘extremes’ are equally harmful. A few columnists and anchor persons continuously point towards the ‘dangers’ emanating from liberal extremists. Some way or the other, our media is trying to project itself as striking the vital middling position and professes ‘miana ravi’ or moderation in opinion. This term is no longer just restricted to the media but has also found its way in everyday conversations and drawing ...

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My argument in favour of a federation and why religion could not unite Pakistan

Pakistan displays strange contrasting patterns with respect to religion’s influence. Apparently, Pakistan looks to be a relatively moderate country, particularly when compared to the likes of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, etcetera. Here the hardliners have never been voted in power through the ballot box. It has an independent media and relatively loose censorship standards. Radical Islam as a mode of life is still largely absent from the overall lifestyle of the Pakistanis as the country by no stretch of imagination is following the trajectory of Iran. It does not have a charismatic cultish religious leader like Khomeini and the public mood despite being conservative ...

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Should Imran Khan be arrested for treating a Taliban leader?

I will begin by admitting that I support PPP, the party Pakistan’s urban middleclass loves to hate. The basis for my support is just one – in Pakistan’s context, PPP remains the only mainstream party with a liberal and progressive ethos. No matter how you put it, this is a party which, in contemporary times, has tried to act as a bulwark against rising extremism and has paid the price in blood for doing so. In 2007, it lost Benazir Bhutto and then Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti in 2011. It also played a major role in the modification of the infamous Hudood ...

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If we can get a foreign passport, why can’t Adnan Sami get Indian nationality?

Recently, Adnan Sami Khan acquired the Indian nationality; this has infuriated many urban middle-class Pakistanis who think that he has committed some sort of ‘treason’ by becoming an Indian citizen. What is ironic is that some of my friends, who happen to be non-resident Pakistanis, are also raising severe objections. I find this reaction rather perplexing and even objectionable. First of all, Adnan Sami Khan is an independent individual who has found fame and glory in India and his adopting Indian nationality is a reflection of this fact. India has made him far more famous and rich than he could ever be in Pakistan. ...

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Why is Pakistan silent about the San Bernardino shooting?

A flurry of recent incidents involving Islamic extremists – the latest being the shooting in California involving a couple of Pakistani descent – has put Muslims under the critical spotlight in much of the developed world. Such incidents, due to their visibility and shock value, often end up getting a tremendous amount of negative media attention. This has resulted in xenophobic reactions from some political and media quarters. Many do not understand that Islam is not a monolithic faith and not every Muslim is identical. To view the entire Muslim world through the prism of extremist organisations like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ...

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Did Imran Khan lie about the 2013 elections being rigged?

Apparently it was a close fight and PTI has actually done well. In by-elections, the incumbents have an inherent advantage and it was also a seat which traditionally PML-N has always won. Yes, in case it had been a normal by-election then PTI has actually exceeded expectations. Only, that it was an extraordinary by-election and therefore the eventual analysis has to consider this fact. The entire narrative of PTI with respect to rigging in 2013 was basically based on four seats, out of which NA-122 was the most significant, because here the PTI chief had himself lost. It was here that the stakes were ...

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Perils of over adulation

Despite being someone who considers himself a strong critic of Pakistan’s military, I do admire General Raheel Sharif and for good reason; he’s finally done what should have been done a long time ago. For years, the issue of militants had been in the spotlight, and despite their openly brazen acts, various governments in succession were unable to counter the menace effectively. The lack of will was astounding, but given the weak public support, due to obfuscating narrative which actually presented the Taliban as a ‘reaction’, was perhaps understandable. Moreover, it should also be remembered that any action against the militants actually required ...

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