From Dagh Dehlvi to Ghalib: My journey towards understanding Atta Shad

A few days after his death, I came across the news in an old newspaper: “Renowned poet and writer Atta Shad passed away last night”.  It was not news for me. Anyone could die, so did Shad. I didn’t even bother to read the news piece in detail and instead put the newspaper aside. At that time, I was a teenager and had recently developed a taste for poetry. And if you expect Shad to strike the chord of a teenager, you would be terribly wrong. And if somehow a teenager did manage to read his poetry, his words would disappoint you, as ...

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In four years, PTI did more to restore faith in democracy than PML-N or PPP did in decades

Whether Imran Khan wins the 2018 General Elections or not, he has given to our democracy what he gave to his down-and-out team during the World Cup of 1992, and to millions of despairing cancer patients across Pakistan – hope. If we move the clocks back to the last quarter of 2011, we can distinctly recall the sense of utter frustration that was prevalent in the country. People had voted for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with great expectations to get the nation back on its democratic footing. Unfortunately, Asif Ali Zardari and company wasted this golden opportunity to strengthen the transition to democracy. In fact, they made a mockery of the ...

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What’s aiding Pakistan

I was recently in Pakistan after a long gap and observed first-hand how the country functions. After years of learning about Pakistan through electronic media and personal accounts of recent immigrants in North America, I was a bit guarded when it came to what I would find in the country. Most of the experiences I heard about from people returning from Pakistan ranged from bad to catastrophic. What I found was a country that was crazy and chaotic yet chugging along. Below are some things that I walked away with: 1. In all the companies that I have worked for in ...

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Why has Pakistan not had a census in 18 years?

Now that the country will have a census after 18 years, doubts are already being expressed about the accuracy of the data that will be collected. Farooq Sattar, MNA and former Karachi mayor, says that the census should not be influenced by the landlords as the census commission is very close to the landlords and there should be no injustice with the people living in Sindh’s urban areas. Mir Hasil Bizenjo, the chief of the National Party and the incumbent federal minister for ports and shipping, has said that the census should be put off in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) till the four million Afghan refugees return to Afghanistan ...

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Is observing Kashmir Day enough to show your support for Kashmir, Pakistan?

In Pakistan, February 5th is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day. It is a national holiday in the country. A number of solidarity rallies, seminars and awareness programmes are organised across Pakistan in support of the political struggle of the people of Indian-controlled Kashmir. By observing Kashmir Day annually, Pakistan expresses solidarity with the people of Kashmir. What relevance does Kashmir Day hold for Kashmiris as on date? Has the pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmir enhanced or diminished over the last 28 years? Does Pakistan need to move beyond symbolism vis-à-vis Kashmir? Is it time for Pakistan to accept that the new, assertive, young and educated ...

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Imran Khan, not Nawaz Sharif, deserves credit for Pakistan’s decline in corruption

A recent Transparency International (TI) report has received eerie enthusiasm from various quarters of the government who are otherwise exceptionally reluctant to pursue any serious reforms to combat corruption in the country. The celebration is so exuberant that it has left many wondering in amazement. For the past few days, since the report has been released, the government of this poor country has spent millions of tax payers’ money in the form of print, electronic and social media advertisements to project themselves as Pakistan’s saviour against corruption using the Transparency report as evidence. This raises an important question: Who deserves credit for ...

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Dear PTI, remember when you vowed to end VIP culture? Well, meet Faisal Vawda!

Although Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been in existence for over 20 years, but politically it really arrived in 2011 with one big rally in Lahore. The sheer size of the rally finally created a perception that it was “viable” to vote for the party and following that many who had merely ”respected” Imran Khan before, threw their weight behind him. An overwhelming number of these “new” voters belong to Pakistan’s white collar urban middle class which has become the core support base of the party. Over the past five years, it is no surprise that PTI has ended up articulating ...

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She is six and her name is Sarima

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a little princess called Sarima*. But wait, this is not a fairy tale. This is a slap in the face of a society that greatly lacks humanity. In this tale of woe, Sarima is a 6-year-old girl whose body was found in a dirty drain in Karachi’s Korangi Crossing area. She had been raped, mutilated and left for dead. When her lifeless body was located and taken to the Civil Hospital, it was a miracle she was still breathing. No one thought she would make it, but she did. God ...

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Grieving Abdus Salam and the Muslim age of darkness

“There is no question, but today, of all civilisations on this planet, science is the weakest in the lands of Islam. The dangers of this weakness cannot be over-emphasised since honourable survival of a society depends directly on strength in science and technology in the conditions of the present age.” – Abdus Salam It was last year, on December 5, when I woke up to the news that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had approved the proposal to rename the National Centre for Physics (NCP) as the Abdus Salam Centre for Physics (ASCP), along with five PhD fellowships annually in Abdus Salam’s name. This was a pleasant ...

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Do you think you have done enough to end child labour, Murad Ali Shah?

Around 20 years ago, a relative of mine got into serious trouble when a European customer of his visiting Pakistan saw some children working in his factory. The foreigner immediately cancelled all orders and my relative had to wind up his business to avoid bankruptcy. In Pakistan, child labour is something that is considered normal and the laws dealing with it are very lax. In developed countries, forcing a child to work can result in severe penalties and imprisonment. But in Pakistan, even today, a child can be “sold” to work as domestic help and the punishment for this is a mere fine of Rs250, if ...

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