Of course, charging an ex-Chief of Army staff with treason will help us fight terrorism

After many hiccups and a long wait, the day has finally come and former president Pervez Musharraf has been indicted for treason. This is a new chapter in the history of Pakistan, for reasons both, good and bad. However, before going into the reasons and the impact of this verdict, I think it is pertinent to recap the situation that led to the imposition of emergency on November 3, 2007 – the alleged violation of Article 6 of the constitution. Since the matter cannot be considered in isolation, let’s begin from the presidential reference against the former chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry. The lawyers’ ...

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The rise of the rupee: A politically potent economical stupidity

Last week I received a call from a friend in Karachi. “What is going on with the dollar?! Should I buy dollars? Why is it falling like this?”  My answer was simple. “The dollar isn’t falling; it’s the rupee that is rising.” What’s the difference? Difference is its implication. Hailing from a regime that had made promises of ending load shedding within 90 days of coming to power, the fact that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar made good on his December 2013 promise to bring the dollar down to Rs98 deserves an applause. While those who consider the currency exchange rate as something of a competitive sport where appreciation ...

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Four Pakistani conspiracy theories that are less fictitious than you’d think

Last year, Pakistani journalist Nadeem F Paracha published an article titled Malala: The real story (with evidence) on the website of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. The article argued that schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot not by the Pakistani Taliban but by the CIA – and with blanks. The shooting had been completely staged. The triggerman? Robert De Niro “posing as an Uzbek homeopath”. Paracha was clearly satirising Pakistani conspiracy theories but some of his countrymen took him quite literally. One obscure newspaper, The Lahore Times, even published an article which was later removed from its website, reporting Paracha’s article as fact. Dawn eventually posted a disclaimer noting that the article was fictitious. One ...

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Aids is a real disease, get out of your ‘conservative’ bubble and believe it!

Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (HIV) is transmitted primarily via unprotected sexual intercourse including anal and even oral sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus and prevention is the key strategy to control the spread of the disease, primarily through safe sex and needle-exchange programs. However, anti-retroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease. Raising awareness about AIDS is a big issue, especially in Pakistan, because this is still considered one of the biggest social taboos in the country. I remember just last year the media reported that 15 blood ...

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Pakistan beyond Bin Laden

In her most recent article in The New York Times, Carlotta Gall, has shunned the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military establishment of Pakistan in an attempt at assessing the troublesome relationship between Pakistani institutions and Islamic extremists. The article titled “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden” explicitly accuses the ISI of harbouring Islamic extremists for its own selfish reasons, with a special mention of Osama bin Laden who she believes had been under the protection of the ISI until he was killed during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad in 2011. Considering the blatancy with which Gall points fingers ...

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What it means to be a ‘Pakistani’

A few days ago a good friend of mine, living abroad, asked me a question: “What do you think ‘Pakistani’ means?” The question threw me aback, partly because it was unexpected and partly because I couldn’t think of an immediate answer. A myriad of images flew around in my head in an instant; from the hustle and bustle of Karachi’s Empress Market, to the textures of the Anarkali bazaar in Lahore. But my friend’s question went deeper than just images and feelings. I found myself trying to truly explore what the concept of being ‘Pakistani’ entails. EMPRESS MARKET. PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA Looking at it purely ...

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Sheikh Rasheed: A political enigma

Farzand-e-Rawalpindi (Son of Rawalpindi), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, is the apple of the eye for many TV anchors. Ratings sky-rocket when he is the guest on a show. His blunt comments, revolutionary slogans and political predictions are loved by the public. He talks about the problems of the common man, in the language of the common man and is always well informed of what’s cooking in the circles of the Pakistani ruling elite – both, civil and military. But Sheikh Rasheed has a past which he has either conveniently chosen to forget or is compelled by circumstances to simply ignore. Today, he may ...

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On death-row: The living dead men of Pakistan

Eight feet by six feet – that’s how big most prison cells are for anyone who is sentenced to death in Pakistan. An inmate on death-row is kept in this cell until his execution takes place which, because of the 2008 moratorium on the death penalty, cannot lawfully happen anymore.  Although the moratorium ended in July 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to reinstate it indefinitely. His government had initially stated that: “The present government does not plan to extend it (the moratorium)” However, mainly because of European pressure, the moratorium was reinstated till a point when the president and the prime minister can have a ...

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PTI just keeps disappointing: Mr CM, that wasn’t insulting enough

If one more person tells me that Pakistan has a better record on women’s political representation than the ‘developed nations’ (meaning the US) because we have twice had a female head of state, I will use my very female and very strong hand to slap them across the face. The Women in Politics Maps 2014 released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women recently ranked Pakistan 72nd among 189 countries in terms of female representation in the parliament. We could have been ranked even lower – there is no woman on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s handpicked cabinet, for instance. But one does not even ...

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They said they would take care of our children in their manifestos, did they lie?

The majority of us, particularly those in the power corridors, may not remember that 2013 was declared the ‘Year of Child Rights’ in Pakistan on November 20, 2012 by the then prime minister of Pakistan while speaking at a function to commemorate Universal Children’s Day. Unfortunately, however, his government couldn’t take any tangible steps in the first two and half months of the year. 2013 was also the year of elections in Pakistan and we heard political parties share their programmes and manifestos with the masses and make commitments related to improving health, education, social protection and other social indicators. This blog is an attempt to ...

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