Stories about government

Why is the value of the Rupee depreciating, your honour?

“Could you please explain to the committee the factors that have resulted in the sharp depreciation of the Pak Rupee recently? In addition, please enlighten the honourable members of parliament about the possible measures the government is likely to take in order to avoid this in the foreseeable future,” inquired the Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance. This was the moment I had been waiting for since the day I started my research associate-ship in Pakistan’s Upper House of Parliament, the Senate. I was, finally, about to see the executive being held accountable by the representatives of the people. The ...

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Lalas are fighting each other…but who is giving them weapons?

“Chachu, I heard three deafening explosions and I have been hearing gunshots for three days now! Dad is not even letting me go to school because of the terrible situation outside,” said my 12-year-old nephew, while calling me from his house in Chakiwara, a part of the gangster stronghold in Lyari. “This time Lalas are fighting with each other,” he continued. Lala, though a Balochi word meaning older brother, is ironically now used to refer to gangsters in Lyari. Once again, Lyari finds itself in the midst of a gang war, at the mercy of a handful of thugs who roam the streets, shooting sophisticated ammunition ...

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Skimpy clothing in Saudi Arabia? If you’re in a compound, sure!

I remember watching a movie a couple of years ago, called Kingdom, the plot of which centred around an armed assault on a Saudi Aramco housing compound. For those who are not aware of the oil and gas industry, Saudi Aramco is a Saudi Arabian state-owned oil company, which has exclusive rights of oil extraction in the country. At the moment, Saudi Aramco is the biggest oil exporter in the world. The movie Kingdom was released in 2007 and that was my first exposure to the life-style followed in the housing compounds of this company. Last week I got a chance to actually visit a ...

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Why should Sindhi be taught in all schools of Sindh?

The Government of Sindh recently announced that it would ensure that private educational institutions offer Sindhi language as a separate subject. The announcement went on to state that schools refusing to offer Sindhi would be fined or even have their permits revoked.  This announcement has led to predictable outrage. Some have argued that students who attend private schools have no use for learning a language that is ‘only’ spoken within Sindh. On the other hand, children attending public schools, given their financial background also have little practical utility for studying the region’s native language. This, in itself, is a false assumption ...

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A chat with a 21st century Pakistani patriot

Interviewer (I): Assalamu alaykum. My name is Sanjay. Patriot (P): Sanjay? Are you Indian? I: No, I’m Pakistani. P: How come? I: Well I was born and raised here. P: However, people of your belief are born and raised in India. Sanjay Dutt is an example. I: A large number of people of my belief live in Pakistan as well. Seen the white in our flag? P: Oh. That’s Odd. I: What do you think about Pakistan? P: I love my country. It’s a great country to live in. I: What do you like about Pakistan? P: I know the funded media is trying its best to ruin Pakistan’s image, but we need ...

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The superpower shuts down

Congratulations to the United States Congress. It has accomplished something that America’s enemies—including al Qaeda—have long wanted to achieve: Bring the government of the world’s sole superpower to a screeching halt. We Washingtonians are used to talking about shutdowns. Several times in recent years, Congressional gridlock has threatened to bring the government to its knees. Yet last-nanosecond deals have always averted disaster. Not this time. The story is sadly simple. Congress can’t agree on how to fund the federal government beyond October 1, the start of the new US fiscal year. In recent days, the Republican Party (goaded by its ultra-conservative Tea ...

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Pakistan’s official website is an embarrassment!

I tried to be objective; I tried to look at it neutrally, but let’s face it, Pakistan’s official government website is a disgrace. Building a website isn’t really very expensive and we have plenty of talent here, then why is the website in shambles? Well, I think the main reason is because incompetent politicised government employees made it and they are not bothered to put forth something that represents the brilliance Pakistan is capable of. Let me walk you through what happens as you hit www.pakistan.gov.pk  The speed The first thing that hits you is the speed of our official website; the website’s load-time is ...

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Security checks: Why are military (looking) men and women exempt?

My husband and I had the dubious fortune of visiting a government office recently. Before we entered we were stopped at a security barrier as usual. My husband has a martial air about him, it seems, because they often mistake him for an army officer. In Lahore, that’s useful.  Not one to be left behind, I too can produce my alter ego when required, you know, as though there’s something smelly under my nose, like Mrs Malfoy, and that’s useful too. The security guard took one look at us two stiff necks in the back seat and his resolution ...

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Doctors vs pharmacists: Selling drugs gets no respect in Pakistan

Ever watched a Bollywood song and wondered why the back-up dancers, who are as pretty as the main actor/actress, fail to catch a glimpse of the limelight? There are some people who feel like this all the time. You may recognise them as the people behind the counter at a medical store — I like to refer to them as ‘pharmacists’. Fact: they study a crucial, nerve-racking five-year course and earn a doctorate of pharmacy, yet they are not recognised on professional platforms. I believe most of them are tired of this crazy roller coaster, where they are asked several ...

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Mr Asif Ali Zardari, you have done it!

September 8, 2013 is a day for both history and headlines in Pakistan. A historically unprecedented and smooth transfer of presidential power has taken place in our constitutional and political history. There has been no coup d’état by a general, no declaration of emergency, no suspension, abrogation or subversion of the constitution and no declaration of a fifth martial law in the country. A democratically elected head of state has completed his full term and has vacated the office in line with the theory and practice of constitutional provisions. All the headlines emanating from former president Asif Ali Zardari’s completion ...

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