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)

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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Dear JI, why do you fear the emancipation of women in Pakistan?

Recently, the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) chief, Sirajul Haq, made a controversial speech that sparked a debate. In the speech, Haq tried to compare western culture to Pakistani culture and trivialised it by claiming that it advantaged individuality over everything else. In order to make his point, Haq gave several examples. He stated that in the West, children don’t live with their parents or take care of them when they grow old. However, the statement which really made the headlines was the anecdotal “evidence” he gave that in the West, men don’t even buy their girlfriends ice cream and couples pay for things separately. It was ironic that the JI chief tried to ...

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Is PTI trying to wreck the civil-military balance for their own selfish gains?

As someone who is in the process of doing a PhD in political science, I am naturally passionate about the political matters of Pakistan. Although my research interests are eclectic and include topics like gender, religious minorities and current affairs, my special concentration is on the civil-military relationship. I do think that Pakistan cannot build proper political institutions without rectifying the civil-military imbalance. The rectification of the civil-military imbalance, of course, requires political maturity and competence from the civilian leadership. To simply blame the armed forces is an oversimplified and clichéd explanation. In Pakistan’s case, the civil-military balance has historic origins dating back from the ...

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It’s time Nawaz Sharif realised the importance of women in politics

I am very much a child of the ‘90s. The decade has had a profound impact on my intellectual development and has ended up shaping my political ideology. It was during that time that I started to realise that religious extremism, mistreatment of women, political conservatism, and civil military imbalance were the gravest problems which Pakistan faced. It was during that decade when a string of  incidents involving blasphemy charges shook me to the core and changed me as a person. It was during that time when I began to realise that our mind-set is largely misogynist and our ...

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What kind of Naya Pakistan do Imran Khan and PTI have in mind exactly?

A lot has happened in the last few days. The much awaited “historic” verdict of the number one obsession of Pakistani TV anchors, Pakistan’s chattering white collar urban middle classes, and their favourite political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), finally arrived. When the news came that a joint investigating team (JIT) had been formed to investigate the corruption of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, I contacted a famous journalist whom I have the privilege of knowing and expressed my frustration that this nonsense would drag further. His reply was: “Well, in a country where there is no entertainment, such things fill the gap!” He could ...

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