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)

December 17, 2017
TOPICS

The Alabama election proves that after Trump’s victory in 2016, women and minorities are trying to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

Besides Pakistan, the two other countries I have always been politically interested in are India and the US. For decades, I have followed every major election in both these countries. My interest is not just restricted to general elections, but extends to state elections and sometimes to important individual races as well. No individual contest in recent times has aroused my, and for that matter, the interest of literally the entire world, as the recent senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones did. This was the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he opted to become the attorney general, and was considered ...

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Terming liberals as “khoonis” only further exposes Imran Khan’s Taliban-apologist tendencies, lack of knowledge and right-wing mindset

I have always been genuinely interested in the Indian political discourse, particularly the way competing ideologies are framed. For example, in India’s political arena, the schism between right-wingers (largely represented by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)) and the liberal left has been growing. In India, despite electoral setbacks, the liberal left nevertheless has a very dominant presence in the media, which has enabled it to continue to stay relevant. Ironically, a huge constituency of the BJP is composed of the educated middle class who often justify their decision to oppose Indian leftists by terming them as “pseudo seculars” and “fake ...

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Who controls the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

If I were to rank the worst weeks in the recent history of Pakistan, this one would most definitely be a strong contender for the top. The week, which also witnessed the release of Hafiz Saeed, much to the dismay of the outside world, reached its crescendo when yesterday, Pakistan saw its elected government, with supposedly a heavy majority, capitulate in front of a few thousand zealots. The hopes that had been raised when the government initiated a crackdown on Saturday were quickly dashed when the crackdown was suspended, and subsequently transformed into horror when the government proceeded to yield to the unreasonable demands of the ...

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November 15, 2017
TOPICS

Why it is important for MQM-P and PSP to resolve their differences and form an alliance… again

Last week, the media was abuzz with the developments regarding an electoral alliance between Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Pakistan faction (MQM-P). Leader of MQM-P, Farooq Sattar, claimed in a press conference that the two parties would fight the coming election under “one name, one party and one manifesto”. However, within 24 hours of the press conference, amid news of serious rifts between MQM-P’s top leadership, Sattar announced his resignation from politics. However, in a manner remarkably reminiscent of his former leader, Altaf Hussain, he took back his decision after “insistence” of his party colleagues and “persuasion” of his mother. Apparently, the ...

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Pakistan should become a secular state, but how realistic is that?

In one of my articles last year, I tried to make a normative case for secularism in Muslim countries. I argued that given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and growing sectarianism, there is a case of secularism in Muslim countries. Since a secular state is religiously neutral, therefore it would allow various sects in Islam, as well as non-Muslim minorities, to practice their faith freely. Moreover, it would delink the religion with legal code and therefore laws would start reflecting contemporary realities. In my opinion, the idea should at least be entertained in our discourse as it merits serious deliberation. My own country, Pakistan, perhaps is ...

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NA-4: PPP, a party once truly federal in nature, getting votes from all corners of the country, today finds itself confined to rural Sindh

The constituency of NA-4 has given its verdict, giving Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) an important victory with a comfortable margin. Just like NA-120 was Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) litmus test of popularity after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, this by-election was PTI’s. This election was in many ways indicative of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) electorate appraisal of PTI’s performance in the province. The comfortable margin of this victory has rejuvenated PTI, and to a certain extent, has provided a glimpse of its electoral prospects in the upcoming general elections of 2018. However, this by-election was not just about PTI but also about its contenders, both at the ...

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Greeters of Aamir Liaquat and champions of VIP culture, and PTI still claims to be an “anti-status quo” party

One thing which has often amused me is the way Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) fans use the word “anti-status quo” to describe their favourite party. As per their belief, PTI represents change whereas literally every other party represents status quo; campaigners of nepotism, corruption and of course the so-called “VIP culture”. On social media websites such as Twitter, the behaviour of the PTI followers is worth witnessing, where they literally exalt their party and leader Imran Khan to a deity-like status and condemn other parties and politicians using abusive language. Does PTI really represent change and is anti-status quo? To answer this question, we have ...

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Damage control does not need to come at the expense of our minorities, Capt Safdar

A few days ago, I came across a video making rounds on social media which disturbed me a whole lot. In the said video, a retired major, belonging to a newly formed political party, was openly threatening to kill the former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In his view, Nawaz, by constantly reaching out to Ahmadis, had become ‘Wajibul Qatl’ (necessary to be killed). I could not believe that someone could so openly express hatred against a minority community and incite violence against a former PM for just displaying kind and courteous behaviour towards our minorities. It was the ...

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If the US does not recognise its glaring gun problem after the deadliest mass shooting, it never will

“Why are they not calling it terrorism,” was the text of the WhatsApp message I received from my wife as the news of the latest and deadliest mass shooting in Las Vegas spread. I replied by saying that terrorism by definition is a deliberate act conducted for achieving some political and ideological end. This kind of shooting cannot be called terrorism as it is more likely to be an outcome of a mental disorder. It was an inhumane and horrific act, but still cannot be called terrorism. But I understand as to why she, and for that matter many other Muslims, wanted it ...

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Why an alliance with PTI will prove to be detrimental for MQM

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about the possibility of an alliance between the Muttahida Quami Movement – that is now divided into MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P) and MQM-London (MQM-L) – and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at a federal level. Furthermore, this alliance is allegedly to replace the current opposition leader, Khursheed Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), with someone nominated by PTI. It is said that all politics are realpolitik and eventually realist concerns dictate what political parties actually do. PTI and MQM, given their history of intense confrontation, would prove this saying true if this alliance materialises. Both the parties have been clashing ...

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