raza.habib

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)

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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Does liberalism do more harm than good?

As a philosophy, liberalism is more inward looking and hence does not try to shift blame on the outside forces. By its orientation, it also does not have an overly negative assumption about human nature and consequently is not obsessed with crime and punishment. It believes in the rationality of humans and further assumes that human intelligence is capable of creating an artifice where ethnic, linguistic, and other such ‘natural’ differences can be accommodated without creating a rift. Its emphasis and belief on human rationality rather than instinct, logically lead it to being more fluid and progressive. Conservative points of views ...

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Punjab’s dominance is not because Punjabis are chauvinists

There is a common narrative that an overwhelming majority of Punjabis are chauvinistic and are always conspiring against the smaller provinces. In fact, it has become sort of a trend, particularly among some of the liberal journalists, to put all the blame on the Punjabis. I can understand the rationale behind it because that is a well-accepted narrative. Moreover, since the smaller provinces have complaints, therefore it becomes difficult to say anything in defence of the Punjabis for the fear of being called a ‘pseudo liberal’ or worst, a closet chauvinist. Some of the journalists just throw the word Punjabi chauvinism without even trying to justify ...

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If you blame Bilawal solely for the famine in Thar, then blame Imran for the suicide attacks in KP!

Ever since the Thar crises, I have seen a flurry of newspaper articles condemning Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and in fact, likening it to a party of Pharoahs. Many PPP haters have actually taken a sinister delight in the tragedy and have used it to find justifications for their hatred of PPP and also to further whip the public sentiments. I am not a Jiyala and hence it is not my job to come up with an apologetic defence for PPP. Any famine is partly an administrative failure and hence the incumbent government should face the heat. However, at the same ...

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In defense of the status quo

Right now, news of a possible regime change is dominating the mainstream media. Active enthusiasm in some quarters shows that euphoria after the elections of  February 18, 2008 has fully subsided and has been replaced by plain disgust. If the demographics of the wary public are to be taken into consideration, it is again some sections of the affluent middle class which are pressing for the regime change and are ready to support even unconstitutional means. However, this time the buck does not seem to stop at regime change as a sizeable number either wants democracy to be completely purged or at least temporarily ...

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