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)

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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Will PML-N and PTI take pages from TLP’s book to gain votes for the 2018 general election?

Recently, the results of the by-election in PP-20 Chakwal were declared, giving the embattled Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) a comfortable victory. This particular by-election was important for the following three parties: PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP). For PML-N, ever since Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification through Supreme Court’s (SC) landmark decision, a question which has constantly been discussed in the media is their political future. According to some, PML-N is in dire state after the disqualification and is facing harsh subsequent events which include Faizabad sit-in and former prime minister’s continuous confrontation with higher judiciary and establishment. At the same ...

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Pot calling the kettle black: Imran Khan reserves the right to privacy, but Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto don’t?

A few weeks ago, before the media storm was unleashed by Imran Khan’s alleged third marriage, a friend of mine sent me a WhatsApp message in which he mocked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. His contention was that Bilawal had “technical” faults and was a closet homosexual. I tried to ignore him at first, but he kept pressing at the issue. I replied by saying that firstly, he had no proof for making such an assertion and secondly, even if it was true, it was his personal matter. Some days later, I got another message, in which he was desecrating Maryam Nawaz’s ...

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Pervez Musharraf claims he gave women their rights, but then mocks Bilawal Bhutto Zardari by calling him a “woman”

“Bilawal jo nahre laga raha ke auraton ke tarah. Sub se pehley tu yeh keh aadmi ban ker dikhai aur phir  nahre lagwai.” (Bilawal is raising slogans like a woman. First he should become a man and then raise such slogans.) These lines from the latest video from General (retired) Pervez Musharraf really hit me hard. As of late, I am becoming used to Musharraf sprouting nonsense, but this was very uncouth and ill-considered and below his usually extremely low standards. After all, Mr Musharraf, the former dictator and Pakistani “educated” urban middle class’s favorite political leader after Imran Khan, has lately been ...

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Yes, Shahrukh Jatoi is a murderer, but is he a ‘terrorist’?

Once again, the murder trial of Shahrukh Jatoi is making headlines. Since December 24th, 2012, the evening Shahzeb Khan was shot, the case has constantly been in and out of the media spotlight. As per the latest developments, the Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered a retrial of the case in November 2017, following which the session court released the accused on bail on December 23rd, 2017. This development has shocked many, particularly those belonging to the civil society who showed their intention to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. Despite several obstacles and delaying tactics employed – including misleading statements about the age of the accused murderer – by ...

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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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