raza.habib

Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (twitter.com/razaraja?lang=en)

Out with the new, in with the old: Is Imran Khan sacrificing his “Naya Pakistan” to win the elections?

As the country approaches the all-important elections, the selection of candidates by all major parties is almost complete. This is an extremely important stage of the electoral process, as the eventual legislature will be formed out of the pool of these candidates. Moreover, in a democracy like Pakistan’s, whom you give a ticket to is extremely important for both pragmatic as well as normative reasons. From a pragmatic aspect, while candidates are important in every democracy, in countries like Pakistan they are even more significant. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, Pakistan follows a majoritarian model as opposed to proportional ...

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Ahsan Iqbal was shot but the bullets were provided by the very hands he shakes

As I write this, the country is still reeling from the shock of an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. I am grateful that the minister has survived and is on his way to recovery. The accused attacker, who has been caught, claims to have attempted this assassination on the pretext of protecting “Khatm-e-Nabuwat” (finality of Prophethood). Considering the fact that Ahsan himself is a religious and a very decent person, this is an extremely dangerous development. It shows that now, literally, anyone could be a target, if some fanatic believes that he or she has violated the sanctity ...

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Pakistan and India have one thing in common – they are both intolerant nations

A few days ago, I watched a video clip of a Hindu MNA from PTI, Lal Chand Malhi, in which he gave a fiery speech, pointing towards the discriminatory, and in fact, derogatory attitude of the Pakistani society towards the Hindu community. He objected to the way in which the Hindu style of worship is mocked. Malhi also lamented about the conflation of Pakistani Hindus with the Indian state by saying, “inko gali deni hoti hai India ko, galian de dete hain Hindu ko.” (They want to abuse India, instead they abuse Hindus). He claimed that Hindus are equal citizens of Pakistan, and complained that ...

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Amir’s punishment was justified, but has the world been too harsh on Smith and Warner?

The recent ball tampering scandal – SandpaperGate, as it is being colloquially referred to – continues to emanate shockwaves in the cricketing world. Both Steve Smith and David Warner have ended up losing their leadership roles, and have also been banned for one year each. Further, Smith has been declared ineligible for captaining Australia for two years, whereas Warner has been declared the same for life. In addition, both have also been banned from playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which will literally burn a hole worth millions in their pockets. While young Cameron Bancroft has also been banned ...

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Winning the 2018 elections with Zardari and PPP, or saving his party’s ideology – what will Imran Khan choose?

The election, or as some experts satirically call it, the “selection” of the relatively unknown candidate as the Chairman of the Senate, has jolted the political landscape of Pakistan. It is now clear that those who removed Nawaz Sharif – right or wrong is a different matter altogether – are going to use all the tactics at their disposal to prevent his political comeback. The objective in the Senate election has been achieved brilliantly by both, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). They have been brought together in a surprising alliance, despite Imran Khan’s tall public promises of never shaking ...

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Remembering Bollywood’s Chandni: The mesmerising, incredibly talented doe-eyed beauty, Sridevi

When you are a young boy, you tend to hang pictures of people in your room whom you admire and love. Whose picture goes up on your wall depends on how old you are. When you are between five and 10, it is normally superheroes like Superman, Batman and so on. Then, as you age beyond 10, posters of superheroes get replaced by real life figures, like sportsmen and male movie stars. Then, at a certain time, normally when you are well into teen years, pictures of female movie stars also start appearing. Of course, it coincides with adolescence and ...

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Battle of the Khans: Wajahat vs Imran – but why?

A few days ago, I had the “privilege” to see a video sent to me by one of my friends who happens to be a diehard Imran Khan fan. He forwarded me the video on WhatsApp while stating that it was one of the most “sincere” videos he had seen in recent times, as it indulged in what he called “constructive” criticism of Imran. Intrigued, I started to watch the video which began by focusing on garbage cans for a few seconds. After the obviously bewildering and frankly senseless focus on garbage cans, the camera lens moved to show our ...

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There could only be one Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s valiant moral compass

Last year, I wrote an article praising a person who I consider to be my most favourite Pakistani, Ms Asma Jahangir. In that article, I wrote how courageous she was and how she had taken principled liberal stances throughout her life. Due to this, her support for any political party or institution was not constant. She supported the judiciary during the lawyers’ movement and was its fiercest critics later on when she found out that judiciary under former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry was overstepping its constitutional authority. She supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) point of view ...

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A woman leading Friday prayers proves that without patriarchy, Islam can be a progressive religion

A few days ago, I came across a headline that piqued my interest. In the Indian state of Kerala, a Muslim woman named Jamida Beevi led the weekly Friday prayers in the predominantly orthodox Muslim town of Malappuram.  Her decision to do so is remarkable, given the fact that she is in reality a religious and practicing Muslim who also works for a religious organisation. This also marks the first time that an Indian Muslim woman has led prayers and that too in an orthodox setting. In the past, some women have done so in western countries where threats of violent backlash are relatively minute. In this ...

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The jury and the executioner: Misusing the blasphemy law for personal vengeance

A few days ago, I came across a headline that shook me to the core. A student killed his principal in Charsadda, on the pretext that the man had committed blasphemy by merely reprimanding him for his absence from school. The student had skipped school to attend the infamous Faizabad sit-in. The fact that the dharna was supposedly conducted for the protection of the finality of prophethood, and his principal indirectly rebuking him for attending it, was enough for the student to justify killing him. Over the past several years, I have witnessed several incidents in which blasphemy was used as a pretext for framing and killing individuals. There ...

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