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)

Can Islam and democracy coexist in today’s world?

Germany has given its verdict and elected Angela Merkel for the fourth consecutive term. Her victory has relieved many as her popularity took a nosedive after her brave decision to take in refugees in 2015. However, at the same time, the reduced margin of her victory has also raised alarms. The German far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has accumulated 13% of the total votes, becoming the first such party to win so many seats in more than 50 years. The improvement in its vote tally is remarkable, given the fact that it only won 4.7% of the total votes in the 2013 elections, narrowly missing the ...

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Is the NA-120 by-election a preview of PTI’s prospects in the upcoming 2018 elections?

The voters of NA-120 have given their verdict and have elected Kulsoom Nawaz by a healthy, though reduced, margin of around 14,000 votes. Although I have been following elections for decades now, I don’t recall any election of an individual seat in which the stakes were so high. Normally by-elections are predictable and frankly boring affairs. This by-election, however, was anything but boring or even predictable. It is said that all politics is local and one should exercise a lot of caution in extrapolating the results of one seat to predict the future general elections. Like all constituencies, NA-120 has its own local ...

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September 2, 2017

Understanding Muslim nationalism and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’ through the eyes of Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Nadeem Farooq Paracha is one of Pakistan’s prominent liberal journalists. His plunge into the field began in the 1990s, even though he initially gained fame as a music critic. However, over the years, his writing has become fairly eclectic and he has touched upon many cultural and political aspects. Furthermore, he has also excelled as a satirist. He is the author of two bestselling books as well, titled ‘End of the Past’ and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’. The first book was centred on the way Pakistan started to transform from a moderate and pluralistic society to a more hard-line one. The latter, which was released recently, traces ...

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Ironically, the credit for banning triple talaq in India goes to BJP and Narendra Modi, not Congress

The recent decision regarding triple talaq by the Supreme Court (SC) of India has elated many liberal intelligentsias. I also believe that it is a step in the right direction and should be applauded by all those who want better treatment for Muslim women in India. I have written about it earlier as well, that one of the major problems ailing the Muslim societies is the gender imbalance due to the on-going rampant religious orthodoxy. From a political perspective, what is really interesting is that apparently, the party which has actually championed the issue in recent times is not the left-leaning ...

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Why the creation of Pakistan does not negate my Indian identity

There is something about India as an idea which transcends modern-day political configurations. It is the idea of India as a huge mass of land which stretches from Balochistan to present day Bangladesh. This idea of India is independent of any political configuration. In fact, during the past thousands of years, this mass of land has very seldom been a unified political entity. And yet, there is something which loosely unites the inhabitants despite their substantial religious and at times even ethno-linguistic differences. After all, let us not forget that more than 200 languages are spoken in India. There is something, perhaps ...

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Dear PML-N supporters, dragging Tyrian White in your battle with PTI reeks of indecency and dirty tactics

When Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was formed in 1996, I quickly became a member. Back then, I was much like the PTI supporters of today – impressionable, emotional and self-righteous. My devotion to Imran Khan was also like that of contemporary PTI supporters – blind, cultish and eulogising. Like millions of PTI supporters, I was also unable to see anything wrong with Imran and would break into passionate debates with anyone who was critical of him. I used to think that only jahils (illiterates) voted for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Thank God, those days are over, and today ...

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If it’s unfair to believe an allegation, it is also unfair to doubt Ayesha Gulalai and call her names

A few months ago, I wrote an article where I pointed out that both the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were promoting a misogynist culture. In the said article, I criticised PML-N leaders like Khawaja Asif and Javed Latif for spewing filthy language against women in rival political parties. I further argued that PTI was also indulging in the same practice as an overwhelming number of its supporters have repeatedly abused prominent women politicians and also public figures. I cited examples of Malala Yousafzai, Asma Jahangir, Reham Khan and Maryam Nawaz. I also wrote about how Dr Shireen ...

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Dear sexist men, your privileged gender is not an outcome of your “biological” qualities, but of social conditioning

Recently, I wrote an article based on two recent videos which went viral. The main idea behind the article was to showcase two outstanding individuals who challenged gender stereotypes instead of conforming to society’s prescribed gender roles, going on to live their individual dreams. For me, these individuals are heroes and, in fact, trailblazers as they have challenged socially constructed stereotypes. These stereotypes play a large role in determining what is expected of men and women from society. By spelling out these expectations and enforcing them through upbringing and cultural norms, men and women are often regimented into different roles and hence, destinies. These different roles also largely account ...

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Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Jr and Maria Toorpakay Wazir will have none of this gender conformity nonsense, and we salute them

A few days ago, I had the privilege of watching two videos. The central individuals in both the videos are totally different. One is a scion of the most famous political dynasty of Pakistan, while the other was born into a more humble background but managed to garner fame and success through talent, determination and hard work. One is a bearded young man who speaks softly and eloquently, while the other is a tough-looking female who talks in what would be considered a “masculine” manner in our society. One is a man who is trying to tell the world ...

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How the two-faceted mindset of moderate Muslims ends up aiding militancy and terrorism

In recent years, there have been growing concerns that Islam’s major problem, as well as the world’s, is Islamic radicalisation, since Islam is one of the major and fastest growing religions of the world. These concerns are being voiced in various countries and have yielded various reactions ranging from apologetic defence (whereby some of the western liberals interpret it as a ‘reaction’ to the US hegemony) to outright xenophobia. Radicalisation is a major problem and there is no question about its lethal potential to inflict harm in the form of religious extremism and terrorism. However, though present, it is not as widespread in the Islamic world as is ...

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