asad.badruddin

Asad Badruddin

A student of economics and international relations at Tufts University in Boston who hails from Karachi. He blogs at octagonaltangents.blogspot.com

What Turkey has done right

Turkey is turning heads. A few weeks ago the top brass of the entire Turkish army resigned– an act that could have previously brought down whatever democratic government was at the helm- but Prime Minister Erdogan reacted coolly and appointed a new army chief. The present AKP (Justice and Development Party) government has slowly chipped away the power of the deep state. Moreover many have alluded to Turkey’s pluralism and democracy as an example for all Muslim countries to follow. Turkey was also the fastest growing country in the world last year, with a growth rate of just over 9%. ...

Read Full Post

So you hate TV? Do something!

The Pakistani Television media has a problem. It is too often racist, sexist and intolerant of religious beliefs of minorities. How do citizens push back against the tide of propaganda being fed on the airwaves? I don’t think anyone should be advocating for the government to regulate channels. When the government is given power to regulate media it is very easy for regulation to become censorship. What should be done? It is simple. Citizens should push for economic boycotts. It is important to understand how media works and how they generate money. Unlike print media which also earns money through the circulation of ...

Read Full Post

Iqbal: Beyond poetic catchphrases

Yesterday was the death anniversary of one of Pakistan’s prominent national heroes, philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal. Dr Riffat Hassan wrote a wonderful piece on how Iqbal’s ideology and message has been excluded from national discourse. I would like to echo that sentiment; today’s generation feels no connection to Iqbal’s ideas. Every once in a while, I see a couple of his lines on someone’s Facebook status but that’s about it. Pakistanis know nothing of the man beyond a few catchphrases. His ideas are important to understand, question and reflect on, because we have all grown up in an environment ...

Read Full Post

A Hiroshima survivor’s message to the nuclear world

What happens when a nuclear weapon is used? And what are the implications the day after? Scientists tell us that as an atom splits, a burning sun erupts from its heart, descends from the sky to engulf a city in its flaming wrath. It chars houses, melts skin and poisons the mud. The sound could be mistaken for the angel Israfeel’s promise to end the world with his trumpet. A few weeks ago, Tufts University held a conference on the peril and promise of ‘Our Nuclear Age’. I had the opportunity to listen to some distinguished speakers answer interesting questions. Hiroshima survivor ...

Read Full Post

It is time to reclaim the mosque

The battle for blasphemy reform is not over. It needs a change of strategy. Currently it has consisted of people demanding a change in the laws but to little effect. There is a need to get various influential lobbies and stakeholders involved. One of them is the mosque. The mosque, as a center of ideas, has been severely under-utilised by reformist Pakistanis which is unfortunate. I’m sure some of us go to the mosque once a week or so. It is time we should engage our maulvis into debate and discussion. Many of them will not change the way they ...

Read Full Post

Help! Our police needs help

There he stands; his black uniform stretched across a protruding belly, he has a certain fondness for chai and ‘pieces of paper with pictures of the Quaid’. This is the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a Pakistani policeman. In the pre-Musharraf era, crime was a major problem. Mustering the political will to clean up the police force was hard because the political elite found it useful to make alliances with certain police departments. Two important things have changed since then. Firstly, another threat has emerged, the militant threat, which attacks not only the common man but ...

Read Full Post

After Mubarak: Will Egypt survive democracy?

As dissidence swept the Middle East, events in Egypt turned sour. Hosni Mubarak was rumored to step down in a press conference yesterday but he disappointed many with his attempts to prolong his rule. Things in Egypt could have gotten really ugly. My guess was that crowds would march towards the Presidential Palace pressuring him to step down – and they did. What does democracy mean to Egyptians This movement is  based on political ideas as opposed to personalities. ElBaradei should draw an agreement with the consensus of leaders of the brotherhood, and the Ghad party among others, mapping demands for ...

Read Full Post

Teach for Pakistan: Sharing the wealth of knowledge

Those of us who are brimming with patriotic fervour now have an outlet to use this energy constructively. This past week I saw a video for the Teach for Pakistan campaign that seeks to recruit professionals who have the potential to be educators. The idea is to train people accepted into the program to be inspirational teachers and to partner with government schools which are facing problems such as an absence of teachers or poor teachers. What I like about this is that the Teach for Pakistan program focuses on a specific problem and tries to fix it. Roots of ...

Read Full Post

How to end the war in Afghanistan

President Obama has reiterated his goal for the 2014 withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and at the same time has put pressure on Pakistan to “do more” in his latest review of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to the New York Times, Obama, when referring to Pakistan, stated that “progress has not come fast enough,” and the United States (US) would “insist that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.” Analysts have argued over whether it is in Pakistan’s interest to undertake an invasion of North Waziristan. However, there is a need for us to analyse ...

Read Full Post

WikiLeaks: Redefining diplomatic history

The continuing WikiLeaks saga has many important implications for the state of international relations which have been much debated over the print and electronic media. We’ve heard diplomats, kings, generals and politicians from all over the world having candid and unguarded conversations about each other. However, we have failed to see how the leaks have threatened the idea of history, and notions of the process of discovering it. History is not what has happened in the past but an account of what is said to have happened. The historical process can range from a sage telling a story to a ...

Read Full Post