Muhammad Shafiq Haider

Muhammad Shafiq Haider

The writer is a sustainable development practitioner with expertise in governance, policymaking and implementation. He holds an M.Phil in Public Policy with a specialization in Political Economy. He blogs at shafiqhaidervirk.wordpress.com and tweets as @SHVirk.

Evolving traditions: Online bakra shopping and a ruined childhood

During Eidul Azha, Muslims venerate Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) utter submission to God, in his willingness to sacrifice his son, Hazrat Ismail (AS), when he was commanded to do so.  The “Festival of Sacrifice” is, indeed, a celebration of Prophet Ibrahim’s (PBUH) steadfastness in his faith, as well as, an occasion for Muslims to renew their resolve to follow his tradition. Thus, Muslims sacrifice an animal on Eidul Azha. The sacrifice is commemorated by sharing one-third of the meat with the poor, while the rest of it goes to the holiday feast. That’s what the adults are concerned with. Children have always ...

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The pigeons are dying before death

I know you are busy. There are a thousand different things, You are obligated to do, Just like my parents; They too spent themselves earning bread, For me and my five siblings.   Given their limited means, They have done their best, To help us survive, But have we survived? Or would your child be able to survive?   I was 10, Playing in the street with my friend, That uncle, Who lived just around the corner, And his friends, They said they wanted to show us pigeons.   You know how curious young boys can be, Even the uncle living next door and the aunty, Who often sat with my mother, Saw us leave to see the pigeons.   There were only two pigeons, The rest, ...

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Their maddening, disappointed passion and the silent love

“It is neither a story of hatred, nor of love; it is not even a fatalistic story. It is a story of sheer indifference towards oneself and those loved, one that eats away a human soul slowly, bit by bit but persistently. It is a story of spiritual paralysis caused by maddening disappointed passion.” Nadia was standing by the window of her office, which offered a spectacular view of the main boulevard, with an air of untroubled poise which was reflected in her quiet dark brown eyes outlined with a dash of kohl. Her frozen, soft face complimented the stillness of her ...

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Do rich children even value education anymore?

“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” Ernest Hemingway’s words echoed in my mind, while I read about Shah Faisal, son of a samosa vendor from Malakand, who bagged the top spot in the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) examination in FSc computer science. He stood tall and defiant, and refused to give up on his ambition, regardless of his financial shortcomings. Individuals with unwavering courage like Faisal are an embodiment of our belief in the human dignity. Faisal, as it happens, is not a rich prince or the son of a politician, with top schools running after him ...

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Why Pakistan will soon become a water scarce country

Pakistan is almost water scarce today, with an alarming rate of 1,017 cubic meters water available per capita annually, which is dangerously close to 1,000 cubic meters, the threshold of water scarcity. Unfortunately, Pakistan has failed over the past years when it comes to improving water governance and taking corrective measures for saving the rapidly worsening water situation. Water governance mechanics in Pakistan are loose, out-dated, and inefficient. The federal government has not been able to reach a consensus for decades on the topic of building large dams. Similarly, Pakistan has also failed on diplomatic fronts, it has not been able to persuade or deter India from ...

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The violated rose, sickened by an invisible worm

It was midnight. She had appeared out of nowhere, like her unknown and forgotten birth, and signalled him to stop. He stopped unintentionally.  She was young. Her long hair fell down to her shoulders, blustery and wild, darkened by the bleak night. She was clad in rather revealing clothes, and despite the resisting cold, she was not shivering. He was driving back to his flat after wandering the cold desolate roads of Islamabad, when all of a sudden she emerged from the dark hedge along the pavement opposite to Islamabad club. “Sahab, want company?” she inquired charmingly. He was engrossed. “Yes,” he replied indecisively. “Do ...

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Dear Senate, instead of new legislations, how about implementing the old ones?

What are thou going to do today, my lord? I am going to protect minorities in Pakistan. And how would thou protect minorities, my lord? By making new laws! But what about the old laws, my lord? Hmm, they are old and obsolete. How would thou save the new laws, my lord, from becoming obsolete? For that I need to form a committee! Recently, a Senate committee got together to discuss a fresh piece of legislation to help protect the religious minorities in Pakistan. After the killings of 1,456 Hazaras in Balochistan over a period of seven years and other minorities in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), the Senate committee on human ...

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Ammi ki yaad and the dilemma of localised development in Pakistan

An Eid TVC by Shan Foods touches the lulled-to-sleep chords of millions of hearts beating, otherwise mechanically, in pardes (abroad). “… Ammi ki bohat yaad aa rahi hai bhai… ye bhi koi Eid hoyi bhai?” (I’m missing mom a lot… what kind of an Eid is this?) Although agriculture still remains the single largest localised employer of labour (40 per cent), yet services and industrial sectors have registered an increasing trend of employment over the years. Hence, the burgeoning movement of labour from underdeveloped to relatively developed cities and foreign countries adds to the ever-growing number of pardesis forced to work and live away from their families. Similarly, a ...

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Was closing ‘Save the Children’ justified, Pakistan?

A news item published in the Express Tribune and other national dailies, dated June 11, 2015, read that Pakistan had stopped several international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) from working due to suspicious activities. This also included ‘Save the Children’, which claims to have provided employment to thousands of Pakistanis as well as relief to some hundred thousand children in one year alone but has also attracted wrong attention due to linkages with Dr Shakeel Afridi, the CIA ‘rat’ behind the raid on the Osama bin Laden compound at Abbotabad. This must have generated pressure on the government domestically and internationally that the very ...

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Aitchison may be ‘the best school in Pakistan’, but our education system is dying a slow death

Editor’s note: When I first read Mr Haider’s email, my first reaction was to decline the post. The blog in question, for which he wrote this rebuttal reproduced below, had been published two years ago. As our readers and bloggers may be aware, we don’t normally take rebuttals to pieces after such long periods of time. But I gave it a read none-the-less, and before I finished, I had already asked my colleagues to write back to the author thanking him for sending us such an inspirational piece. We hope our readers enjoy it as much as we did. All the best, Erum ...

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