Asad Shabbir

Asad Shabbir

The writer is a LUMS graduate, a TEDX speaker, and a novelist. He tweets @sceneawwn (twitter.com/sceneawwn)

Pakistan’s Ramzan corona conundrum

Every year, newspaper columns and online blogs seem to debate the merits of policies implemented in Pakistan during the month of Ramzan. Some pundits argue over the role of ‘Ehteram-e-Ramzan’ and some criticise television show presenters that make an obscene amount of money during the month. Ramzan in 2020 is, however, not going to be the usual month, which statistically ends with Mufti Shahabuddin Popalzai announcing Eid in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) a day before Mufti Muneeb. This Ramzan may be one of the most challenging times for the country amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.    While some clerics have softened their tone on ...

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How will COVID-19 impact tourism in Pakistan?

Before we begin, let’s address the elephant in the room: the COVID-19 pandemic has sucked the normalcy out of almost everyone’s life. That being said, this pandemic shall pass eventually, and there is little value in spinning endless conspiracies and rhetoric around it.  While the country was gearing up for the revival of its tourism sector, the global travel advisories, suspension of major flights, and subsequent transformation of hotels up and down the country into quarantine sectors have essentially robbed us of an otherwise promising season. Yet this unforeseen delay may be a blessing in disguise for the tourism sector as it ...

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How to ensure access to education during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond

As academic institutions close across the country, Pakistan’s already weak educational infrastructure has been thrust into yet another challenge. With pre-COVID-19 statistics indicating around 22 million out of school children, countless ghost schools, and an abyssal literacy rate, the closure of schools and postponement of examinations are significant disruptions. To mitigate this disaster, the government has announced the launch of education based television channels in collaboration with Pakistan Television (PTV) and other education service providers. This move would be the first step in the right direction, with future steps potentially leading to mobile applications that are engineered to work ...

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Navigating the media chessboard amidst COVID-19

One of the fundamental things to understand about COVID-19 is that nobody in the world has a crystal ball that can accurately explain and predict the impact of the virus. Governments, weak and strong, have been left scratching their heads as their healthcare systems buckle under the pressure. As the total number of global cases approaches the one million mark, the machinery that regulates global economies has halted. For Pakistan, difficult decisions were made to lock down certain parts of the country, with a focus on ensuring the mitigation of impact for particularly vulnerable groups, including daily wage workers.  The ...

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What will be the consequences of the rising US-Iran tensions?

In the popular TV show House of Cards, American President Franklin Underwood faces a hostage situation with a group of extremists loyal to the Islamic Caliphate Organisation. The loyalists can easily be taken out and the hostage freed, but the president uses the public death of the hostage as political capital. Because of investigations into the president’s tainted past, he raises an effective disinformation campaign against the terrorist organisation, rallies Congress, and declares war. The American people are scared and choose to place their faith in the president, forgetting any accusations of foul-play, corruption, and murder. In the real world, ...

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Pakistan’s precarious waltz with the FATF

A quick internet search reveals a litany of news articles, twitter rants, and opinions regarding the presence of Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) infamous black and grey lists. Back in October, the global watchdog posed 150 questions which Pakistan had to respond to. While it remains to be seen as to how many issues the government has actually addressed, the subject in question goes beyond the scope of clamping down on terror financing and money laundering for Pakistan. Major shifts in the global balance of powers, geopolitical conflicts and diplomatic duels have significantly affected the FATF ...

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Will Israel always manage to reign supreme over the US?

The romantic flame between Washington and Tehran, which had reignited last year in the form of the historic phone call between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, has been dampened. The tentative deal between the US and Iran, limiting Iran’s nuclear program for around a decade before easing up on restrictions has raised strong opposition from Israel. On invitation of a Republican congressman, which was condemned by the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his way to Washington. The stage was set, the world was watching, and Netanyahu was going to put up a good show for the hottest ticket in town. Netanyahu, who ...

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The Prado effect

Adam’s story I backed out of the driveway, closely monitoring the environment around me. This was the first time I was driving such a large vehicle and it was safe to assume that there was a very steep learning curve with regards to keeping the jeep on the road. “I need to pick up something for Natasha.” Amir squeaked from the backseat. There were around five people sitting atop each other. I nodded, glancing towards the road ahead before putting the jeep in gear. A slight tap on the accelerator and the monstrous engine roared to life, launching the vehicle onto the road. Sitting behind ...

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It is Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy, America!

Hiroshima and Nagasaki – two words that evoke nothing but the destructive horror which ensued after the United States attacked Japan. There is not much to say apart from the fact that the results from the explosion can still be seen today. Those who survived diseases from the blast produced offspring with mutations. Humanity was killed that day as the radioactive footprint was embedded on Japanese soil. While the US may, arguably, be the most powerful state in the world, it had no right to engage in nuclear war. Some might say that it was, in fact, a ‘war’. Very well, but ...

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