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)

Hamza Ali Abbasi: The born again Muslim

A few days ago, actor Hamza Ali Abbasi shared a video on social media to announce his decision to quit show-business and pursue a form of Islamic activism instead. In the viral video, Abbasi narrated his personal journey stating that he went form being an atheist to a devout Muslim. Adopting a ‘philosophical’ tone, he spoke about his early youth and quest for understanding the “existential” questions which occupied his mind. He discussed how he had initially become an atheist because he had been unable to find satisfying answers to those questions at the time, but, later on, an engagement with science ...

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PTI and the confederacy of dunces

I remember watching an interview of Hassan Nisar, an ardent supporter of Imran Khan, in early December 2018, when the PTI government was still in its relative infancy. In the video, Nisar, while lamenting the poor performance of the government, pleaded with the ministers to at least stay quiet on social and electronic media and keep their public profile low. He was visibly irked due to a bevy of irresponsible statements and several other blunders made by a long list of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ministers. A few months later, Mohmmad Hanif, renowned Pakistani novelist and columnist, wrote that the provision of constant entertainment ...

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The infamous ‘char dewari’ failed to protect Karachi’s gang rape victim, now what?

Women and their clothes made for viral news recently when the Haripur District Education Officer (DEO) issued a notification which stated that all schoolgirls must wear burqas since it will ‘protect’ them against harassment and rape. The move left Pakistanis divided, with some vehemently calling out the government, while others blatantly supporting it. Those for the decision, argued that a covered up woman will inculcate ‘decency’ and, for the lack of a better word, ‘tame’ the raging hormones that supposedly, largely remain out of men’s control. An extension of this argument says confining women within the four walls of a house will also protect them from predatory males. Although the notification ...

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Kashmir proves why the Two Nation Theory was necessary

“Us Pakistani liberals have long defended India, so much so that it has almost become a reflex, but honestly an India that has sunk into such depths just cannot be defended: dishonest journalism, joke of a secularism, knee-jerk Hindutva reactionism.” Us Pakistani liberals have long defended India, so much so that it has almost become a reflex, but honestly an India that has sunk into such depths just cannot be defended: dishonest journalism, joke of a secularism, knee-jerk Hindutva reactionism. https://t.co/6pyrZW6yMP — Sabahat Zakariya (@sabizak) September 4, 2019 These words are so reflective of the way monumental and rapid changes in India ...

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Trying to understand Hamza Ali Abbasi’s ‘halal platonic’ relationship

A couple of days ago, the news about actor Hamza Ali Abbasi marrying fellow actress Naimal Khawar Khan broke out. I was extremely excited upon hearing the news because, in my opinion, they make one of the most photogenic and beautiful couples. With his Robert Pattinson-like looks and prodigious acting talent, Abbasi is one of the most famous television stars and perhaps the only male actor to truly rival Fawad Khan in terms of popularity. Khan is also a gorgeous woman and her performance in serial Anaa shows a lot of promise for the future. However, then my attention was drawn towards ...

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Indians can’t wait to ‘marry Kashmiri girls’, ‘buy land in Kashmir’ – and therein lies the problem

A few years ago, I wrote a blog in which I cherished an overarching identity which connected me, a Pakistani, to the inhabitants of neighbouring India. The said article was not a negation of the Two-Nation Theory but rather what I thought was the right way forward. I had written, “Yes, modern Pakistan and India are a reality, but then so is our great common heritage. Yes, it is important for us to be loyal to our political states, but at the same time not overlook the joint heritage. There is an overarching identity which unites us despite our political ...

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As a Muslim husband, I do not agree with Farhat Hashmi and her view on marital rape

It was the summer of 2015. I was in Pakistan for a month and a half due to the demise of my father. My visit coincided with the month of Ramazan. During the holy month, my wife decided to attend Dars-e-Quran sessions conducted by a certain Islamic scholar, Tahira Yousuf. One night, my wife asked me to pick her up after the lecture. When I reached the centre, the lecture had just ended and I saw a large number of women from apparently affluent backgrounds coming out of the hall. When my wife sat in the car, I asked her ...

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Not finding oil reserves was expected, but PTI had to save face so it gave false hope

After a lot of anticipation, the news finally arrived a few days ago that the much hyped oil exploration off the shore of Pakistan has ended in failure. This attempt by Exxon Mobil has cost the Pakistani exchequer about $100 million. This failure marks Pakistan’s 18th attempt at trying to find oil in the deep sea, but this should not be a cause for concern as offshore drilling is considered to be a ‘high risk, high reward’ business with a small chance of success associated with each attempt. Moreover, although this attempt is a failure, experts are hoping that future ...

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A tale of two speeches: Why Bilawal has proved to be a better leader than Imran

This blog is about two speeches that are invariably linked. The first, delivered in a firebrand style by a young leader, provoked a response from an older leader. Both are leaders of major political parties, belonging to different generations and espousing different political ideologies. But as the crux of their speeches show, they belong to different calibres as well. The first speech was given in a National Assembly session by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It was partly in response to Asad Umar’s infamous speech attacking Bilawal, and partly to raise some important questions about the recent ...

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When will people like Khateeb stop using a peaceful religion as a tool for violence?

A frightening incident recently took place in Bahawalpur in which a student fatally stabbed his teacher. The teacher wanted to organise a welcome party which the said student considered ‘un-Islamic’ due to the intermingling of males and females. In a chilling confessional video, the student alleged that the late professor used to ‘insult’ Islam on a regular basis. He showed absolutely no remorse for his action, and when asked as to why he didn’t take the legal route, his answer was that courts in Pakistan are freeing ‘blasphemers’. A student of 5th semester at Govt Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur who identifies himself as Khateeb Hussain when ...

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