Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

The writer is a columnist and writes for various English and Urdu publications. He tweets at @rjimad (twitter.com/rjimad)

The forgotten plight of private school teachers during COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan has not only put the lives of the masses at risk but it has also damaged several businesses across the country due to the lockdown and global recession. Pakistan’s private schools are no exception. The lockdown has placed their very existence under question because the parents of some students are unable to pay the school fees, citing the lockdown and the economic crunch as the main problem. In Pakistan, there are more than 200,000 private schools and out of these “85% schools charge a fee below Rs2,000.” There are 1.5 million teachers employed by these private schools while ...

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Media sensationalism in the age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown the world into a state of fear and uncertainty. Hence, countries today are banking on their doctors to save lives, not on their armies or their multinational companies. In Pakistan, many doctors and medical personnel do not have access to personal protective equipment (PPEs) to prevent them from being infected by coronavirus patients while performing their duties. Yet, by putting their lives at risk, doctors across the country are bravely fighting this war against COVID-19. However, despite this, there remain a few journalists, television channels and publications which, just for the sake of ratings, are dispensing news based on a limited understanding of medical ...

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Dissecting the political future of PML-N

It is naturally impossible to speculate upon what the future holds for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) if one is first unable to understand the history of the party. PML-N was founded by Nawaz Sharif, a Punjabi businessman turned politician, who gained popularity in Punjab in the 1980s during the dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq. His loyalty to Zia resulted in Sharif being appointed the chief minister of Punjab after the non-party elections of 1985. After the demise of Zia, Sharif fought in the elections on the platform of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), and in 1990 he managed to become ...

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Dissecting the political future of JUI-F

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) made waves once again when Maulana Fazalur Rehman threatened to dislodge the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government through a long march and sit-in last year. It seems that Fazal has a knack for ensuring that the JUI-F remains in the headlines, for better or for worse. JUI-F is a faction of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) which was headed by Shabbir Ahmad Usmani in 1947 after parting ways with the Markazi Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. Fazal’s party came into existence during the martial law of General Ziaul-Haq, when Fazal split with Maulana Samiul-Haq, who later formed his own faction of the party called Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami ...

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Dissecting the political future of PPP

Democracy in Pakistan has never been allowed to flourish and has always been subject to direct and indirect military interventions. The graves of former prime ministers Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, and those of their family members buried at Garhi Khuda Baksh, are a testament to the price which the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has paid for taking a stand against the powers that be. However, since the demise of Benazir, the PPP, which once enjoyed a strong vote bank in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), is not doing so well there during the recent elections. It seems that PPP has now only been limited to the province ...

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The US-Taliban deal will only benefit America

The deal between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban in Doha last Saturday is bound to have lasting repercussions across the region. Under the agreement, the US is committed to reducing its number of troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the deal, and the full withdrawal of forces will take place considering the security situation in the country and the Taliban’s commitment to not creating any more security threats in the region. However, it seems that President Donald Trump has made this deal in a hurry in an attempt to strengthen his chances ...

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Is a PML-N resurgence on the cards?

On Tuesday, the stalwarts of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal were both granted bail by the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Given that PML-N has adopted a much softer line of political rhetoric and has completely ditched its narrative of “respect the vote” in an effort to mend fences with the powers that be, Abbasi and Iqbal receiving bail was not particularly surprising. It appears that a new power-sharing deal between the PML-N and the establishment is being negotiated through the back channels. However, the Punjab government’s decision to recommend to the federal government to not extend Nawaz Sharif’s bail came ...

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What does Hafiz Saeed’s arrest mean for Pakistan?

In a recent development, Hafiz Saeed, the head of the proscribed Jamat-ud-Dawah, has been sent to prison for five and a half years by the anti-terrorist court in Lahore. Naturally, this news quickly made it to the the headlines across the globe since Saeed’s name is included in the list of banned terrorists by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Saeed is also wanted by India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But one cannot understand the impact of Saeed’s arrest if one is unaware of exactly what Saeed has been up to for all these years. Saeed ...

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The importance of Imran Khan’s Malaysia visit

Imran Khan’s Malaysia trip has gained an added sense of importance since it comes after last year’s fiasco when Pakistan, at the very last moment, refused to participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit due to Saudi pressure. Although Malaysia, despite knowing the reason for Pakistan’s failure to attend the summit, never showed any discernible annoyance, this Malaysia trip presents Imran with an opportunity to engage in some damage control in light of that decision. This was evident since upon landing in Malaysia one of the first things Imran did was express his regret for missing the Kuala Lumpur summit because,  “Unfortunately, our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow ...

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An in-house change will not solve the problems Pakistan is facing

The winds of change have started blowing in the power corridors of Pakistan. We recently saw how the main opposition parties, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), compromised on their so-called ideologies when the matter of giving Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa an extension was presented in the assembly. Evidently, PML-N and PPP have been trying to mend fences with the powers that be, and it seems that under Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N is ready to present itself as the new ‘King’s party’. Given the economic turmoil burdening the incumbent government, and the fact that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) does ...

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