Why are our children brain washed to become “followers” instead of “thinkers”?

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”  ― Charles William Eliot In the wake of the critical crisis that literacy and education suffers in Pakistan, it is imperative to understand that education and the enlightenment of the mind cannot necessarily be instilled within the caged walls of a classroom. Although degrees and grades can produce suited versions of empty minds vying for jobs in an already saturated market but they can hardly broaden the vistas of learning or enrich young brains with insight and ...

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The conundrum that is Hafiz Saeed

Is Pakistan trying to assert itself against non-state actors by putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest? Is this what the government in Islamabad wants the world to believe? Whatever the case may be, the timing of Saeed’s house arrest questions the government’s assertion. Media reports both in Pakistan and outside feel that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regime in Islamabad acted either under the influence and fear of the new ruler in Washington or it buckled under Beijing’s pressure. #BREAKING: Terrorist Hafiz Saeed releases video after he was put in house arrest, claims Modi-Trump friendship led to action against him. pic.twitter.com/V5qYI4FTWC — ...

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Trump’s #MuslimBan: A realist’s take

Recently, the UAE foreign minister defended Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, claiming that it’s not Islamophobic. The unconvincing statement, perhaps given in relief or gratitude for the UAE having avoided the ban itself, only goes to highlight the unscrupulous foundations of the ban. Rich, influential Muslim countries that are financial or strategic allies like the Gulf States and Pakistan have been spared, whereas those with little utility to the US have conveniently been scapegoated to appease Trump’s right-wing populism. Perhaps Abdullah Bin Zayed’s words have some truth to them after all. Perhaps the ban isn’t merely a coup against Muslim countries, but ...

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Moving towards a trans-friendly Pakistan, finally

What a feeling it is when you just be yourself without having to be self-conscious about it. There’s not an iota of concern there. “I am who I am, I wear whatever I please and I express myself however I chose to,” thinks the person. I am not going to be shamed or persecuted by anyone, or entertain any fears about that happening. For many, a transgender, man or woman, it is but an idealised notion that is not always realised but is perhaps trending in the right direction now. In Peshawar, Pakistan, there was a birthday party for a 40-year-old transgender woman by the ...

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Imran’s misguided brain-drain solution

Most things that come out of Imran Khan’s mouth are emotional statements bereft of nuanced thought or judgment. This one was no exception. Like most things Imran Khan, the intention and underlying thought might well have been good, but the execution came out looking all kinds of dumb. Imran Khan stated he was praying that Trump bans Pakistanis from travelling/immigrating to the US. The reason: It would prevent the brain drain and compel people to travel back to Pakistan to fix the country. Now let’s be fair, the intention here is good. Pakistan definitely has a brain drain problem. The ...

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Is PML-N trying to fool everyone under its centrist garb?

Away from the racket of the Panama proceedings at the Supreme Court, the past couple of months have seen Nawaz Sharif take emboldened steps to reconcile with some of the most marginalised segments of society. Firstly, in the beginning of December, the prime minster gave directions to rename the National Physics Centre in Quaid-e-Azam University as The Professor Abdus Salam Centre for Physics, honouring the late Nobel Prize winner from the Ahmadi community. Followed by that was the premier’s inauguration of the restoration of the ancient Katas Raj Hindu temple complex in Punjab. Speaking at the event, he claimed that Pakistan will soon be recognised as a minority-friendly ...

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Why is PML-N being so secretive about CPEC’s investment plan?

If the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) wasn’t already an enigma, the recent debates regarding its pros and cons have muddled this into an even bigger mess. On one hand, there are the knockers who didn’t shy away from labelling it as the future East India Company (EIC), and on the other, we have the blind patriots – the ones that hold CPEC at the highest level of sanctity, that merely questioning the transparency regarding CPEC’s projects amounts to treason for them. Undoubtedly, these directionless debates have a lot to do with the suspicion and political sensitivity created by the government around the CPEC framework. However, to me, ...

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Trial by force(s)

Last week a special military court approved the execution of MBA graduate, small business owner turned killer Saad Aziz who pled guilty last April after gunning down prominent rights activist Sabeen Mahmud. In the aftermath of the horrific Peshawar school attack in December 2014, military intervention into Pakistan’s ineffective civilian criminal justice system was deemed necessary. Since then, terrorism cases, like the case of Saad Aziz, fall under the purview of special military courts, which were instituted in January 2015 as a temporary fix with a two-year expiry period. As of this month, the two-year trial period of special military courts ...

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Why do Pakistan and India always have their daggers drawn?

Pakistan and India are locked in the conviction that each one wants the other’s destruction. Repeating the incantation is patriotic, questioning it, borderline seditious. Each country believes that its violence is only a defensive response to the other’s malevolent initiative. Both nations have separate historical markers to support their points of view and risk engaging in what each believes would be a just war. This smouldering fire is kept alight by the capability theory of judging intent by capability assessment. US General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the 1990 First Iraq War coalition, believes that, “… You … judge your enemy based upon capabilities, not intent, you have to look at ...

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How will the Quetta Inquiry Commission Report help us if our officials don’t read it?

August 8, 2016 came with a devastating tragedy for the people of Balochistan, especially for the lawyers’ community therein. The president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Mr Bilal Anwar Kasi, was murdered not far from his home in Quetta. The murder, as it turned out, was only the first of two terrorist attacks. Mr Kasi was killed to lure citizens to the hospital where another tragedy struck. A suicide bomber detonated his vest amidst a congregation of lawyers gathered for their departed friend and colleague. Seventy perished, 112 were injured; most of them lawyers. The tragedy that befell Quetta that day did not just claim ...

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