The end of Afghan Basti: It was all they had

Last week, Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered the removal of illegal settlements in I-11 area of Islamabad. The judgment summarised that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) had allotted plots in the I-11 Sector, and therefore the settlements established there were violating the rights of the land owners and resultantly had to be removed. Strangely enough, however, the voters list of 1985 had the names of the inhabitants of the Afghan Basti (settlement) as eligible voters while the plots were allotted a year later in 1986. How could Afghans be registered voters? Well, it seems that the name is a misnomer because the population ...

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The question remains, why was Yakub Memon hanged?

The Supreme Court is an institution of the state. An independent Supreme Court does not mean that judges would not be cognisant of the political implications of their decisions. As the products of the society they live in, it would be unrealistic to expect the judges to make decisions devoid of any political, religious, or social influences. The Judicial Commission in Pakistan must have factored in the political ramifications of their decision, and the Supreme Court of India must have factored in the political ramifications of their decision while deciding Yakub Memon was to be hanged. Memon was pronounced guilty on September 12h, 2006 for ...

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What a newly dated early Quran tells us about Islam

For the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, the idea that the Holy Quran is a seventh-century text disseminated by Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is neither new nor particularly controversial. But in academia, the history of this holy text is much more opaque. For researchers in Islamic studies, historical evidence dating the Holy Quran back to Islam’s foundational era has proved elusive. This has led to hotly contested academic debates about the early or late canonisation of the Holy Quran, with a small handful of scholars claiming that the book is a product of a much later (mid-eighth century and after) age of compilation ...

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Pakistan should put its own house in order before jumping into an arms race

I’m a peacenik and I’m happy in my skin. As an active journalist, I have covered enough wars, had my fair share of good and bad fortune, experienced torture and witnessed people maimed, lamed and face the ultimate fate of death. I got emotionally drained and ultimately decided that it was time to say goodbye to the action and adventure. In my quest to understand life better, I used spirituality as my crutch. I realised that all we need is to counter hatred with love, aggression with passion and hostility with peace. I learnt that the beast of vice is ...

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Zardari’s fool proof plan to end corruption (read: save himself) in Sindh

Recently, the Chief Minister of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah, along with some of his cabinet members travelled all the way to Dubai to attend a meeting co-chaired by the co-chairman and chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), neither of whom, by the way, hold any office of authority in the government of Sindh or Pakistan, yet are ‘powerful’ enough to have the Sindh government come to them for directions. What were these directions that could only be given in Dubai, only in person and not via a teleconference, letter or a phone call? Well, first off, it is an established fact that Mr Asif ...

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When businesses flourish at the expense of poor hygiene standards

Cleanliness and hygiene are probably the least important segments to be taken seriously in our society. Be it our government-run offices, hospitals, parks and privately-owned eateries, grocery stores, and entertainment areas. Due to a lack of awareness and absence of strict law enforcement, businesses are least bothered and easily get away by either bribing the food inspectors or paying off the little monetary penalties that the government impose on them whenever a certain concerned government official decides to do his/her job for a change. The recent raids on Pizza Hut and KFC in Peshawar and Fat burger, Pearl Continental (PC) and Avari in Lahore and the following ...

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After five years, will justice finally prevail for Aasia Bibi?

Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death approximately five years ago, an incident that added to the miseries of the already-marginalised Christian minority within Pakistan. At the time, very few had the mental capacity to question the Lahore High Court’s verdict to sentence an innocent woman to death, and for those who did, the chickens came home to roost. Salman Taseer paid his price for speaking against the heinous blasphemy law with 27 bullets in his body and blood splattered all across Kohsar Market, with his words drenched in blood, “My resolve is so strong that I do not fear the flames from without, I fear ...

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PTI claims improvement in K-P, but the tales of Nathiagali speak otherwise

I spent my childhood playing in daisy-filled meadows, walking the pakdandis and exploring the narrow roads of Nathiagali. I have drifted along these pakdandis for miles, getting lost in the green hills only to be brought home by the villagers who witnessed us growing up. My family and I are blessed that we can flee to the Galiyats, escaping the hustle bustle and frenzy that has seeped into almost every other city in Pakistan. The hill station has been my parents and grandparents retreat of choice since the 60s. This year brings the fourth generation of our family to the Galiyats at a ...

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What they didn’t tell you about Pakistan: Seven common myths dispelled

Pakistan may be one of the most misunderstood countries around and it is certainly easy to see why when you hit the layman’s ceiling of knowledge in about 10 seconds. What most people don’t see is what lies beyond the media coverage, highlighting just the challenges the country is facing today. There is a lot more to Pakistan than what meets the eye, so prepare for some enlightenment and let’s go bust some myths. 1. Pakistan is no place for women A young girl from Kailash in native dress. Photo: Asfandi Yar. Contrary to the stereotype, not all Pakistani ...

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Can Pakistanis not speak in fluent Urdu anymore?

I am not proud of my inability to read and write Urdu well. Growing up overseas, I did not have the opportunity to study the tongue, and English became my first language. As a result, it takes me far longer to read Urdu words than it should. This is not a good thing, and when I speak in Urdu, which I do well, I try to use as many Urdu words in my speech as possible, hard as it can be with English having infiltrated the language tongue so heavily. Surprisingly, when I moved to Pakistan later in my life, I ...

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