Stories about government

With elections looming, suddenly education is a priority!

“Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.” – Aristotle Elections are around the corner, and the national assembly seems to have taken it upon itself to save the worst for last. The past month has seen a number of odd bills rushed through without following proper procedure. Among the examples are the eight universities — mostly in Islamabad — that have been approved during the last month. While adding to the number of education institutions available would normally be seen as a good sign, the fact that the bills were rushed through without input from ...

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Pre-poll rigging

Of all the words and phrases bandied about in the election season, I find “pre-poll rigging” and “other forms of electoral fraud” the most intriguing. Perhaps it is because I don’t entirely understand what it means. You see there are too many nuances there that I am not aware of. To be honest, pre-poll rigging seems simple enough, at least if entries in most dictionaries are considered. We discover that the term is used routinely in countries where democracy is present, or, for that matter, absent. It is often on the lips of the common man (who is by no means ...

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The return of Musharraf

Some Hollywood sequels hold the promise of becoming big ticket numbers, especially if their heroes are of world-saving ilk. The Dark Knight, Terminator 2 and even Die Hard 2 are examples of movies whose characters struck such a chord with the audience that people couldn’t wait for them to return to fight the big, bad villains. Pakistan is not short of characters, and not necessarily fictitious ones, who are chomping at the bit to make a comeback. Their desire to return to the spotlight is, however, not necessarily a reflection of audience demand.Their promos and trailers have been running forever ...

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Are sit-ins and protests the only way to be heard?

Sit-ins, it seems, are the only solutions to all the problems people are facing in this country. Workers demanding the regularisation of jobs, people protesting prolonged power outages, villagers demanding justice against the high-handedness by the police or influential persons, families of the dead demanding the arrest of the killers, people protesting attacks on high-profile personalities. All these people stage sit-ins to pressure the government into accepting their demands. Here, I would like to refer to two of the biggest sit-ins in the country, which paralysed road and rail traffic throughout Pakistan. These sit-ins were staged by the Wahdatul Muslimeen in January ...

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My experience at the not-so-swift NADRA offices

“What’s so special about this special Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC)?” I asked. The man wearing the volunteer card replied, “It will give you small privileges over the rest of the people.” “Such as?” I asked, curious. “You won’t have to wait in any long lines, for instance, and all of your work will be done on fast track.” Having visited a National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office once before, I had learned not to trust any claim of this agency. But this was not any Nadra office — it was a camp organised by an NGO at a local university in Karachi for ...

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No accountability, no solutions

As elections approach, political parties have started criticising each other. The temperature is only going to rise in the coming days. From law and order to poor economic indicators, everything is surfacing in fiery speeches. But if one looks closely, the parties conveniently avoid offering solutions. Take the example of the national carrier. Bogged down by accumulated losses of over Rs100 billion, PIA is in a mess. The PPP government changed the airline’s top management more than twice but that did little to lift its fortunes. Even the well-connected managing director Aijaz Haroon was forced to quit by the formidable alliance ...

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The tale of transgender people: When hate starts ruining lives

Recently, some of my friends and I made a short documentary on transgenders to participate in a documentary competition held at my university. To collect the required information, we visited their homes and were shocked at what we discovered. Passing through the narrow alleys, I was disturbed to see open drains and human waste all around. After having spoken to Sahiba, Sapna, and a few other transgenders, I was able to form a clearer picture about this particular gender and the appalling exploitation of their rights. Sahiba, the president of the transgender society in Bahawalpur, started the conversation; “God created us, as He created all. ...

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Did we really put ‘locals’ into govt system?

When the Sindh Assembly passed the controversial Sindh Peoples Local Government Ordinance 2012, terms such as “black spot on democracy” and “slap on the face of Sindh’s residents” cropped up in nationalists’ speeches. Interestingly, when the act was repealed, some MPAs used the same terminology to describe the development. This is the first time that a democratically elected government has dabbed at putting together a system of local government. Interestingly, if you carefully examine the local government experiments under the colonial rulers, military regimes and the current democratic set-up, you would notice that at the fundamental level, there doesn’t seem ...

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Let horse-trading stop already

An influential clan of Ghotki has left Party A for Party B. Sons of a governor have decided to join Party C. Meanwhile, the swashbuckling chief of a youth-centred party claimed last November that he only needed youngsters, not big-shot politicians, in his party. That was after he had welcomed a battalion of such politicians during the course of a few months. Welcome to election season in Pakistan! The season when major political parties auction tickets for electoral seats to the highest bidder. Individuals and heads of parties negotiate the price of the former joining the latter, in terms of the number ...

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Why the UN fails humanity in Kashmir

Kashmir is an open-air cemetery sprinkled with corpses of hopes and dreams, ambition and laughter, on which government officials shovel piles of “investigations” to hide the truth of long-standing crises. There are over 500,000 Indian troops patrolling the Kashmir Valley. It is the most militarised zone in the world, bearing the highest soldier-to-civilian ratio for any given territory. In the past twenty years, thousands of Kashmiris have disappeared, over 70,000 have died (only since 1990), and countless women and children have become orphans and widows. New graveyards flourish in Srinagar, with epitaphs that bear the journey of resistance. The inscription on the ...

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