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)

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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Dear Imran Khan, if you’re going to blame Najam Sethi for Pakistan’s defeats, then praise him for their wins also

I was a teenager when Imran Khan, one of the most famous cricketers our country has produced, lifted the World Cup in 1992. I remember watching the match with my family and how they yelled with joy. I remember the euphoria I felt when I went outside to the nearby liberty market to witness what were unimaginable levels of fervour and joy. People were dancing and performing bhangra. The streets which had been almost deserted during the match, as everyone was glued to their TV screens, had suddenly become overwhelmingly alive. Cricket is such a uniting force in Pakistan and for those brief moments, from Karachi to ...

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PML-N is cultivating a sexist and misogynist culture, but PTI is no better either

A few weeks ago, I had written an article lamenting the misogyny in our politics, which is actually a more accentuated reflection of the level of misogyny in our entire society. The Javed Latif incident had shamed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and made them defensive. I had hoped that due to the negative publicity, the ruling party would adopt a more careful approach in the future and avoid ridiculing rival women politicians. However, it seems that PML-N, which is already in a lot of legal and self-created problems (the Nehal Hashmi outburst is an example), does not plan on learning from their mistakes. After the Latif incident, ...

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Jemima Goldsmith loves Pakistan more than many of us, even Imran Khan

Jemima Goldsmith recently tweeted that she found documents which would prove Imran Khan’s innocence in court regarding the purchase of his Bani Gala residence. The media has been gripped by this tweet and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fans are ecstatic. On social media, they are raving about Jemima and her loyalty to the great Imran. Finally tracked down 15 yr old bank statements to prove Imran Khan money trail/ innocence in court. Now please go after the real crooks… — Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) June 1, 2017 What’s great about this tweet is not only the fact that it revealed proof to vindicate Imran and showed Jemima’s loyalty to him, but more ...

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Was Nehal Hashmi’s outburst orchestrated by the PML-N leadership?

When things are going bad for you, the last thing you should do is issue a threat to those who are controlling your fate in any way. This bit is common sense, a sense that does not seem to be common. When I saw the video of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senator, Nehal Hashmi, openly threatening the Supreme Court judges and members of the joint investigation team (JIT), I was literally dumbfounded.

At a time when the fate of the prime minister is hanging by a thread, this guy had the audacity to sprout words which could potentially seal Nawaz Sharif’s fate. The senator did not limit his threats ...

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As PPP dries up in Punjab, Firdous Awan looks towards PTI’s (hypocritical) greener pastures

In a recent development, the former Member of National Assembly (MNA) from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan has joined Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). This is not the first time Awan has changed her loyalties, as she had originally been elected on the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) ticket in 2002 and then joined PPP in 2008 just before the elections. Her most recent switch indicates two things. First, the claims of PTI of representing something new and of being a harbinger of change have little truth in them. Second, PPP’s fortunes in Punjab are grim and it is doubtful that it is going to make any impact in ...

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Why framing Shia genocide as a sectarian conflict only trivialises the problem

One of the most important factors which determine the way an issue is understood, debated and addressed is the way it is framed in the media. Framing becomes extremely important as it affects the discourse, narrative, and ultimately the kind of solutions which are brought to the table. Knowing its importance, supporters and opponents of a contentious issue often try to frame it to their advantage. For example, in the US, the debate around abortion is often framed as pro-life by Conservatives. This is a very powerful and effective construct as it creates the impression that those who choose abortion are anti-life and hence ...

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