Will Pakistan continue to fail its non-Muslim men and women?

Every year in Pakistan over a thousand non-Muslim women are forced to convert to Islam. The stories of forced conversions tend to have a similar pattern. First, the girls are abducted. Once taken away from the safety of their homes and communities they are raped and then, usually, married off to their assailants who sneakily shield their non-consensual sexual assault behind the veil of a nikkahnama. Sometimes they are sold into the sex trade. These girls rarely ever return to their families. Help from the police and local clerics is pretty much unheard of. Both parties are either in on the ...

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Making India an NSG member state will be a mistake

Recently, India initiated efforts to become a member state of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Correspondingly, Pakistan — in an attempt to subdue India — has also submitted an application in its desire to join the club. However, both countries don’t meet the prerequisites to join the NSG. I personally believe that Pakistan needs to focus on stability rather than gaining access to this group. NSG restricts the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling nuclear commerce. India, the fastest growing economy in the world, has a huge population and an enormous demand for energy. It has various domestic nuclear industries that require international exposure ...

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Is Hamza Ali Abbasi the only one brave enough to broach the ‘Ahmadi question’ on TV?

Pakistan has a complicated relationship with one of its most bankable stars, Hamza Ali Abbasi. For we might love putting him in the line of fire for his over-emphatic, often ill-informed, posts on Facebook; the TV serials he stars in climb up the TRP charts like a pro. Courting controversy is then Hamza’s forte, after all, they say no publicity is bad publicity and Hamza’s getting his share aplenty. Often pointed out for his extreme ideas, borderline hypocrisy and “liberal bashing” on his very active Facebook page, Hamza has circled himself with a group of like-minded people online; most dwelling upon ...

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You forced me to break the law, Qaim Ali Shah!

I’m not the kind of person who speeds through a red light, even if the drivers of vehicles behind me honk loudly enough to wake up the dead. I have a healthy respect for the law. So, when my son was deprived of his smart phone and 10 thousand rupees last month, I advised him to immediately report the crime to the police and the CPLC. He smiled indulgently, saying that once you go to the cops they will never let you rest in peace and you’ll have to pay them a handsome amount to stop hounding you. I don’t blame him. The cops in Karachi ...

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Who was Jinnah, an Islamic cultural relativist or a brown sahib?

There are two bar rooms in the Lahore High Court. One is considered the bar room of left liberals and progressives. The other bar room, much bigger of the two, is the favourite haunt of those with a tinge of religious right wing. The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit. The other one has a sombre portrait of him in a black sherwani and karakul cap. Next to his portrait is an equally serious portrait of Allama Iqbal.  In a poignant piece for Granta sometime ago New York Times journalist Jane ...

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Nawaz Sharif underwent serious surgery: Should a deputy PM have been appointed?

Amidst heated demands of resignation following his family’s deep involvement in offshore tax activity coming to light with the Panama Paper reveals Prime Minister Sharif hastily left for London last week. Jumping where they saw opportunity, his political detractors, in a game of ‘I told you so’ accused the country’s leader for having fled for good until news surfaced, from within the PM’s family camp, that he had in fact gone for a necessary, emergency open heart surgery – a risky yet routine procedure and the PM’s second such surgery in recent years. At 66 years of age, the prime minister of Pakistan ...

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Why are arms and ammunitions so easily available in Pakistan?

As per a recent news report, over 170,000 of the total 352,000 licenses in Pakistan could not be verified by NADRA. Acquisition of arms and ammunition in Pakistan has never been a problem for applicants who know the various back door options available in the market. Unless there is a blanket ban on issuance of new arms licenses, a common citizen bearing a computerised national identity card, can get more than one arm license issued under his/her name of various non-prohibited or prohibited calibers  if he/she has a direct connection in the federal interior ministry. Background interviews with some prominent arms dealers in ...

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Why was Karachi’s Commissioner Asif Hyder Shah dismissed, Mr CM?

Whenever there is honey, there will be bees and wherever there are bees, there should be a beehive nearby. In other words, be careful of honey or the bees will sting you, not to mention the odd bear or two lurking about. Karachi is akin to the honey, which welcomes millions of people looking for work within its high rises but these people must survive amongst the bears (land mafia, political power mafias, death squads, extortionists and an endless list of the like). The number of bears Karachi attracts is roughly the same number which goes to the rivers to ...

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The US drone program in Pakistan killed over 200 children, how is it any different from the APS massacre?

Last week saw a lot of flurried comments once again condemning US drone strikes in Pakistan. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif in a meeting with United States Ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, on May 25, 2016, expressed concerns over the US drone strike in Balochistan on May 23rd in which Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was reportedly killed.    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had criticised the US drone strikes earlier, describing them as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. In an adjournment motion submitted by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar to the Senate, he said the issue would alter the security calculus ...

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She came to me for a contraceptive but her husband dragged her away

It was a few years ago when a 40/41-year-old mother of five children (her eldest in his late teens) came to me asking for contraception. After we discussed the pros and cons of the various contraceptives available, she decided to pick a pill that was appropriate for her age. Half an hour later, her husband, a man in his early 60s, stormed into my clinic, flashed me the same medication in his hand and asked, “What is this?” “This is a medication for women,” I said. “Is this a contraceptive?” “Yes.” He threw it in the dustbin and warned me that if I ever dared ...

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