Salman Haider cares more about Pakistan than any of his critics do!

Pakistan is in the international spotlight and once again for all the wrong reasons. Three weeks have passed and yet there has been no news of the whereabouts of the abducted liberal bloggers. What’s been making the news instead, is the vicious campaign against those bloggers and those supporting it. The main weapon is the allegation of ‘blasphemy’ which is now hurled at activists like Jibran Nasir as well. Charges of blasphemy are supplemented with accusations of treason against the state. These bloggers have so far not been brought to court despite the fact that there are laws governing the ‘crimes’ ...

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Can Bilawal Bhutto Zardari ever become Zulfikar Ali Bhutto?

Since Bilawal jumped on the political bandwagon, many had breathed a sigh of relief as they believed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) ship finally had a captain that might steer it away from the humongous maelstrom formed by the party’s inept governance in Sindh. However, witnessing the eroding internal structure of the party, there is a proposition that he might not have the authority to steer that ship after all. On December 27th, at Garhi Khuda Baksh, the once flamboyant Bilawal was seen standing humbly and silently behind his father, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who recently returned from ...

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Set aside that male privilege and stand up for your women, Pakistan

Being a Pakistani man myself, I would like to think that most Pakistani men are as appalled at instances of sexual violence as I am. I would like to think that most Pakistani men would not engage in sexual violence. I would like to think that there is a small minority of sexual predators who commit these terrible acts. However, the truth may be a lot more horrifying than my mistaken beliefs. I am not going to limit this to sexual harassment as I do feel a lot of people do commit sexual harassment without even realising they are ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Can Pakistan ever be a minority-friendly country?

Both January 11th news items were almost conjoined. Or like reading the mirror-written ecnalubma (mirror image of the word ‘ambulance’ written in front of ambulances) and getting it right as ambulance in the rear-view mirror. The Guardian carried a report, titled ‘Christians in India increasingly under attack, study shows’, in which Pakistan ranks fourth on the list of the 50 countries where persecution is worst for Christians. APP reported that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached out to minorities in a speech at the sacred 900-year-old Katas Raj Hindu temples in Pakistan where he said: “The day is not far when Pakistan ...

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Pakistan’s missing freedom

Salman Haider. Ahmad Waqas Goraya. Asim Saeed. Ahmed Raza Naseer. Samar Abbas. Five of Pakistan’s brightest and most outspoken social activists have disappeared.  Waqas and Asim have been missing for a week, Salman for five days, Ahmad Raza for three days and Samar Abbas went missing today. Other than CCTV footage in the case of Salman, possibly showing his kidnapping, no leads are reported on any of the other men. While journalists, human rights lawyers and activists have been kidnapped and assassinated in the past, this is the first time multiple abductions at different locations have occurred within a span of ...

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And they will say, ‘Remember what happened to Naila’

She hailed from Qambar Shahdadkot, where the literacy rate is 44%, according to a report published in 2012. She came from an area where only 33% of the female population has completed higher education. Against all odds, she left her hometown and enrolled herself in the Sindhi Department at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, to continue her studies. Currently in her final year, Naila Rind was not just an average student; she was an award winning student in her Masters class. Naila had returned early from her hometown during her winter vacations in order to work on her final year thesis, which was due on ...

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Is the jirga system truly just?

A report was published in The Washington Post on December 17, 2016, titled, “In Pakistan, five girls were killed for having fun. Then the story took an even darker twist”. It covered the investigation of an incident that took place in Kohistan in 2012, where five girls were murdered ruthlessly for singing and dancing at a wedding on the commandment of a jirga. The report divulged the abominable treatment and egregious injustices women are subjected to at the hands of influential jirgas. It further explained how this council of leaders conceals their wrongdoings by intimidating uneducated people and manipulating evidence. The jirgas are so powerful that ...

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Is PML-N the most liberal regime Pakistan has seen in recent times?

A single click on Google reveals liberal to mean someone who is willing to respect or accept the behaviour and opinions of others that might be different from one’s own. It might come as a shock to many if one was to claim that the regime of Nawaz Sharif might be the most liberal Pakistani regime in contemporary times, and perhaps second only to the great Quaid himself. I don’t claim this because I support Nawaz Sharif or Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N); on the contrary I spent Election Day sleeping, because I had no hopes from any political party to ...

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Asif Ali Zardari vs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari: Round 1

Finally, Asif Ali Zardari, after a self-exile of 18 months, is back in Pakistan. His self-exile, at that time, was motivated by the Karachi operation which had started to target some of his close associates and also by his own rather uncharacteristic outburst against the military in which he threatened the institution with “grave consequences”. His return has also coincided with Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) deadline given to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regarding the former’s four demands. Just to reiterate that, PPP had threatened a long march to Islamabad if PML-N did not adhere to its demands. However, on December 27th, ...

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