When will Pakistan stop mocking people for speaking imperfect English?

Recently, a video went viral on social media of a group of girls in which one of them spoke a misplaced English phrase. The results of this innocent error by that girl were catastrophic. It soon became a phenomenon on the internet with the girl being subject to several jokes and derogatory comments. Following this, news came that the girl has not been attending college due to this incident. This represents two chronic problems in our society; first, the issue of cyber-bullying, and second, our obsession with the colonised tongue. Cyber-bullying is reprehensible, but the underlying issue is that we give English ...

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Why have we forgotten the long lost glory of the Punjabi language?

The thorny issue of “Pakistan’s regional languages face looming extinction” has been projected to the forefront in an AFP report carried, among others, by The Express Tribune and Dawn. ‘“There is not a single newspaper or magazine published in Punjabi for the 60 million-plus Punjabi speakers,” wrote journalist Abbas Zaidi in an essay, despite it being the language of the nationally revered Sufi poet Bulleh Shah and the native-tongue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.’ The historical relegation of the Punjabi language comes from the cloud overshadowing the Punjabi stance in the 1857 War of Independence, paving the way for Urdu’s ascendance. The Punjabis meekly ceded the high ground moving house ...

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Lessons from Islamic history: The Mutazila and Ibn Hanbal

By the time the ninth century began, the Abbasid Caliphate had completed its construction of the new capital Baghdad. Within a few decades, the city became a major centre for science, art, and agriculture. The works of Plato and Aristotle were translated into Arabic and local philosophers built on Greek thought to become the foremost exponents of discipline in the world. Within the hospitals that served both the rich and poor were separate wards for the mentally ill that utilised talk therapy, music, and art as treatment modalities. Within the clergy, a movement known as the Mutazila (literally translated as “withdrawers”) ...

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Panamagate: Why are offshore companies such a big deal?

So it has finally come to this; a new five-judge larger bench, daily hearings and two adversaries baying for each other’s blood. Back in December, after a flurry of preliminary hearings of Panama Papers, the larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had hinted that the formation of an inquiry commission was now a real prospect. The new larger bench announced that the proceedings would be held on a daily basis, after the court’s annual winter vacations have come to an end. With the ex-Chief Justice gone, having reached superannuation in December, there has been a new bench, with ...

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Donald Trump’s Eisenhower moment on Islamism

As President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet takes shape, critics charge that his administration would be the most anti-Muslim and anti-Iranian. Meanwhile, in Europe, Islamist terrorism continues to escalate: the assassination of Russia’s ambassador by a Turkish man who pledged allegiance to jihad in Arabic during the killing in Ankara, Turkey; a deadly attack at a Berlin Christmas market and the shootings targeting a Muslim prayer centre in Zurich. This is Islamism at work — the indiscriminate targeting of civilians to paralyse secular liberal democracies. As an observant Muslim woman who repudiates Islamism, I believe the Trump administration, rather than being anti-Muslim, ...

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Demonetisation: How Pakistan can avoid making the same mistakes as India

On November 8, 2016, while the rest of the world was watching the American election results, India dropped a bomb shell on its citizens. The wily Mr Modi (dressed in his favourite kurta shalwaar) announced that the Indian government would pull out all Rs500 and Rs1000 from circulation at midnight. This would be akin to 86% of the total economy – some Rs14 trillion in cash would be rendered useless. Mr Modi implored to the nation that even though it seemed as if he had ripped a bandage off here, India would benefit in the long run. The impetus for ...

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After Benazir, PPP is no longer representative of all of Pakistan the way it used to be

I still remember that moment. I had just entered the Cuckoo’s Den, the famed restaurant in Lahore, overlooking the monumental Badshahi Mosque. That was my first visit to the restaurant and I had brought two of my office colleagues with me. It was early evening and the restaurant was slightly deserted. The phone rang. It was my younger brother on the line. “Raza, where are you? Please come back home immediately. Benazir has been assassinated,” he said in a very distressed voice. I almost fainted as I could not believe the news. I had to gather myself and inform my friends. We all agreed ...

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Remembering the ones we lost too soon

It seems like the year 2016 just started a while back, but here we are, just a few days shy from welcoming 2017. A lot happened last year which took us by surprise and shocked us. But even amidst such unpredictability, we were not prepared to see some of the deaths that came our way. Some were lost to old age, some to disease and some to murder. But regardless, they were all taken too soon. Here are some of those names, in no particular order. Peter Vaughan Photo: IMDb Even though he had a career spanning 75 years, ...

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Have Muslim countries failed its women due to religious orthodoxy?

A few months ago, when Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy won her Oscar, I got into a heated argument with one of my friends. His contention was that people like her were ‘maligning’ the image of Pakistan by unnecessarily inflating some isolated incidents. In his opinion, her efforts were just creating negative stereotypical images of Pakistan and which made ‘enemies’ of Pakistan feel comfortable in their hate. In his opinion, Pakistan’s gender related issues were not systemic and were blown out of proportion. “It is just a tiny minority which is indulging in honour killings and it is unfair to present Pakistan in such a negative light”, he argued. Is he ...

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Jewish-Muslim hate: A manufactured enterprise of illegitimate rulers

On November 14, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) formed a new national group known as Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC). They announced three initial action items as follows: 1. The Council will highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society, and aim to celebrate their contributions in the best traditions of American democracy. 2. The Council will develop a coordinated strategy to address anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism in the US. 3. The Council will work to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities in the US, as enshrined in the Constitution, so they may practice their faiths in full freedom ...

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