Stories about government

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

Forgotten veterans: This is the story of Allah Ditta

His eyes reflect long nights of toil, tears and sweat. His posture and grey beard is telling of his age. His ID card announces his name – Allah Ditta. He is a security guard at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi. As I draw near, he greets me with a warm smile. Behind this calm facade is a story of great self-sacrifice, of dreams unfulfilled, of expectations unmet and a life unlived… During the blood-stained days of 1971, Allah Ditta was 19-years-old. Overflowing with a blend of youthful valour and the love of his fatherland, he joined the army and jumped ...

Read Full Post

When there was a rat in the house

The family stood by like a nation. Mother was the intelligence. She knew all that took place – how many people entered the house, when they came in and when they left. Only she truly knew the quantity and quality of ration and what kind of sustenance was needed at any given point in time. She was also the government. Father was the army. He fixed leaks, changed bulbs and defended the territory from external threats. He was also the opposition. My sister was the media. She kept a strict check on the army and government. She was also the ...

Read Full Post

Is the PTI tsunami over already?

“It’s just a blast, not the end of the world” This statement, made by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ex-information minister Shaukat Yousafzai, on a suicide attack killing 16 people shows arrogance, ignorance and lack of experience to run a government in a stressful situation. It isn’t surprising, thus, that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lost badly in the biggest ever by-elections in Pakistani history. They lost both the seats vacated by its Chairman Imran Khan with Ghulam Ahmad Bilour emerging as victor of the seat NA-1 in Peshawar and Ubaidullah Khan Shadi Khel (PML-N) of NA-71 in Mianwali. Tragic news indeed for PTI. So, how exactly did they lose? Bad decisions: ...

Read Full Post

Five things Egypt can learn from Pakistan

Discussions over Egypt’s future have almost become a coffee table routine for many across the globe. Shock, grief and anger over the violence and death, combined with the fear of a looming civil conflict, has paved way for passionate discussions over the ‘legitimacy’ and ‘actions’ of various political entities in the most populous Arab state. As Egypt copes with a changing political climate and sluggishly works its way towards democracy, one wonders what external solutions can be offered to help end this unrest and instability. If Egypt wants to look at a fellow Islamic country for guidance, it should look no ...

Read Full Post

Sindh local government elections: Bureaucrats have no place in politics

The upcoming local government elections could provide an opportunity to address issues of governance in Karachi provided the local governance system is strengthened to compensate for the division of the province into a rural and an urban part.  A discussion on these issues is normally framed in terms of the political parties involved. Unless some structural issues are addressed, a change in political parties would only be a change at the margin. One of the problems with Sindh is that it is the only province in Pakistan where a distinction has been made between urban and rural areas. An unintended consequence of this is that ...

Read Full Post