Samir Butt

A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at

What our HEC can learn from India

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has made significant contributions since its inception in 2002, however the strategies used by the commission have room for improvement. Statistics clearly show that the quantitative results of the HEC are plausible, with drastically increased university enrollment and a huge army of PhDs in the making on scholarships. The quality of students on the other hand, does not seem too impressive. It is hard to challenge the fact that knowledge is not being produced in the country, and this raises a question: What exactly do we want to achieve with this enormous number of ...

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Imran Khan’s PTI: New face, same old lines

Has Imran Khan’s party started to crumble already? The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Nazriati (ideological) is a recently formed faction consisting of those who stood by Khan when he started his mission to clean Pakistan’s politics. Khan took pride in them because they were honest, educated, and hard-working people who had vowed to help him bring about a revolution in the country. Recently, however, his right and left have been hijacked by the Makhdoom’s and the like. Honesty, education, and hard work are not traits that will win ballots today. This is not very different from the history of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP ...

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Time to restructure the army

Recently, there was a public demonstration in support of the Pakistan army outside the Presidential Palace. There were more banners in support of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the army than there were demonstrators. Ironically, all the banners were exact lookalikes. There was a desperate need for show of some public support for the military after US Navy Seals violated Pakistan’s sovereignty undetected, to hunt down Osama bin Laden. This demonstration didn’t change much. Pakistan received a small, handicapped army after the partition of India in 1947. The civilian population, keeping the best interest of the country in mind, massively ...

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Leadership, and the curse of public sentiment

In a recent electronic address, Pervez Musharraf announced that he is a sayyid. The desperate, attention seeking former president spoke of his visit to the roof of the Holy Kaaba from where he shouted out slogans in the name of God. Taking a seeming U-turn from his long “enlightened moderation” stance, Musharraf went on to announce his support for religious organisations. Without his army resources, this is how he thinks he can win hearts – not sure about minds. He isn’t wrong, because this is how people play politics in Pakistan. They use emotions based on religious thought to persuade ...

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HEC devolved at the altar of politics

Like the Federal Education Ministry before it, now the Higher Education Commission (HEC) is being devolved to the provinces. The very ingredient that strengthens the fabric of a society — education– is being adulterated through a planned strategy. Some portfolios are to be held by the federal government due to the nature of their strategic importance. For instance, letting provinces have independent foreign policies would be suicidal. Similarly, while provincial governments should manage the education infrastructure in their respective jurisdiction–which they were already doing–they should not have any control over the curriculum being taught. Every school in every province should ...

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Forget French, it’s time to learn Pushto!

Education is more than a predefined curriculum or a Grade Point Average (GPA). It can shape a society. But the education system in Pakistan has failed. The people of our country do not understand each other and have allowed issues based on culture, language and even clothes plague the future of the country. In Pakistan, diversity has turned into a burden and coexistence of culture and opinion has turned violent and bloody. All this is a result of an education model that promotes isolation and hatred. Education exchange The launch of an extensive student exchange program within the borders of Pakistan can remedy the problem of intolerance. Student exchange programs are ...

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After Taseer: The birth of a liberal movement

After Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, a clear line of distinction was drawn between the liberals and conservatives of Pakistan. This assassination will change the course of Pakistan’s history, and this is not an exaggeration. The outspoken Governor had flaws, but hypocrisy was not one of them. He made a promise to the minorities of Pakistan and fought for it till his last breath. Whether his demand was legitimate according to the constitution of Pakistan or the Islamic law is beyond the scope of this article. Taseer has become a symbol for the liberals and Mumtaz Qadri for the rightists. The rightists ...

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Zardari stands tall amidst disaster-struck Pakistan

With the intellect of a potato, the Punjab leadership recently banned sugar in all government offices. The cosmetic step left many offices with tasteless tea and coffee, and achieved absolutely nothing. The politician-owners of many sugar mills, in the sitting government, continue to print money with high prices while harping about their nonsensical policy to save sugar in government offices. Having said this, the Pakistan Muslim League is the most likely alternative available to the present federal government. The existing government is a symbol of inefficiency and corruption. But then, so were all the other previous governments. Our parliament consists of ...

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To ‘civilised’ Pakistanis: Learn to stand in line

A four-way road-crossing magically functions in many Western cities, without a traffic policeman or a traffic signal. They call it the four-way ‘Stop’ sign; every car stops before the crossing, waits for other cars before it moves and then moves on its turn. Such discipline is a rare, if not impossible, sight when you live in a developing country. This unsupervised display of morally and socially correct actions speaks volumes about the citizens of any country. No concept of standing in line The concept of waiting in queue is missing in Pakistan. While it represents unruly, misguided and animal-like behaviour, it ...

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Agha Hasan Abedi: the man who dared to dream big

Agha Hasan Abedi was one of the finest minds this country has ever produced. He was an exemplary patriot and a legendary banker. In the mess that exists today, the youth of Pakistan desperately needs inspiring personalities to look up to. I cannot think of a better person to quote. He proved that politics is not the only form of service to the nation. He suffered through various scandals towards the end of his life, but no one can deny his contributions towards building a stronger Pakistan. It is a shame we let our youth forget a man like Agha Hasan ...

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