Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

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

With Asad Umar gone, who will Imran Khan blame for his government’s failure?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has, after much criticism, finally shuffled its cabinet. Many federal ministers, such as Ghulam Sarwar, Fawad Chaudhry and Shehryar Afridi, have been given different portfolios, while Finance Minister Asad Umar refused to accept a cabinet position and has thus stepped down from office. Though Umar’s removal did not come as a surprise – his performance was heavily criticised and his departure was expected – it is the timing that is questionable. Pakistan’s economy is in shambles, relying heavily on the bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which Umar had been negotiating for the ...

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How many Ahsans, Amals, Aqsas, Intezars, Nimras, Sajjads will we lose to police encounters?

Conducting encounters to catch criminals, only to end up killing innocent people, has become a favourite pastime for our law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Just a few months ago, we saw the brutal massacre of four people, including a woman and her teenage daughter, in Sahiwal. In yet another case of the innocent paying the price for police negligence, a toddler has lost his life after being fatally shot during an encounter between the police and dacoits in Karachi. Two-year-old Mohammad Ahsan Shaikh was travelling in a rickshaw with his parents when a bullet hit him, and when his father got ...

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Was Hanif Abbasi only arrested to benefit PTI in the 2018 General Elections?

Hanif Abbasi, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader from Rawalpindi, has finally been given some relief as the Lahore High Court special bench suspended his life sentence in the ephedrine quota case and granted him bail. It was always expected that Abbasi would be freed whenever a higher court would take up his appeal, as the prosecution never submitted any solid evidence in the court of law. In fact, the way Abbasi was awarded a life sentence by the anti-narcotics court was strange and unprecedented. The judge who awarded this sentence admitted that he took the help from Google to ...

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While endorsing Modi, did Imran Khan forget the plight of Kashmiris and Indian Muslims?

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, while talking to Reuters, gave a statement that really shocked the diplomatic world. Referring to the Indian elections, he said: “Perhaps if the BJP – a right-wing party – wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached.” India’s General Elections have started from today, April 11th, and will continue till the end of next month. The most surprising aspect about Imran’s statement is that it came just a day before the start of the first round of the Indian elections. Usually, world leaders avoid giving out statements that seemingly endorse any political party of a foreign ...

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Renaming BISP: PTI’s art of turning non-issues into controversies, because any publicity is good publicity

The art of turning a non-issue into a controversy seems to be a favourite habit of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. From the moment it came to power, PTI has only been good at changing the names of projects initiated by former governments and trying to re-launch them under its own name. The inauguration of the Lahore to Multan Motorway and the opening of the Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim in Karachi are examples in this regard, for the latter was already inaugurated while the former was a project almost completed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. As the prime minister is a media-savvy person, ...

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The ghosts of Imran Khan’s past: When PTI criticised PML-N for petroleum price hikes

The rising inflation, the dwindling foreign reserves and the growing current account deficit have all practically halted the progress of the country’s economy for the last seven to eight months. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government still seems clueless about how to put the economy on the right track again, and in order to collect more revenue to generate resources for its expenses, it has now increased the prices of petroleum products. After a price hike of Rs6, petrol now stands at Rs98.89 per litre. At a time when the masses are finding it almost impossible to manage necessary expenses ...

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If BRT Peshawar is still incomplete under PTI, what chance does BRT Karachi stand?

Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) seems to be a never-ending project as once again Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ s (PTI) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has postponed its launch. The inauguration ceremony of the BRT was supposed to be held on March 23rd, but because the project is yet to be finished, K-P Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, after consulting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, decided to cancel the opening ceremony. Ever since PTI announced to launch BRT in October 2017, the project has seen many delays because of the inefficient management. The BRT is a 26 kilometre-long bus corridor designed to carry thousands ...

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Unregulated social media, slow police response, rising Islamophobia: The faultlines of the #NewZealandShooting

In what can only be termed a barbaric and inhumane act, 49 Muslims were murdered and another 20 seriously injured in two mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. The unfortunate victims were offering jummah prayers when they were attacked by a terrorist. Introducing himself as Brenton Tarrant on his Facebook livestream, he went on to telecast the entire massacre live as he stormed into the mosque and shot at worshippers of all ages. He was able to do so for 17 minutes. We are once again at a place where Muslims living in the West are paying the price for rising ...

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Alive on a political ventilator, can the PTI government really gamble with Nawaz’s life?

There is no question that Nawaz Sharif’s health is rapidly deteriorating. Even a board of doctors at the Jinnah Hospital advised him to get an angiography, which he of course refused. Apart from heart-related problems, Nawaz also has diabetes and kidney problems. His personal physician, Dr Adnan Khan, has told this writer on many occasions that Nawaz immediately needs intensive care, and will perhaps need to go under cardiac catheterisation and possibly a coronary intervention. However, Nawaz’s refusal to be shifted to any hospital is a sign he is not ready to trust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government again. ...

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Why must Pakistan wait for international pressure to mount to tackle extremism?

The state has finally come out of a long slumber and has launched an operation to eliminate the religious extremist groups who are allegedly using Pakistan’s soil to create disturbances in India, Iran and Afghanistan. In the wake of the rift between Pakistan and India, this can be termed as a positive development since Pakistan is now keeping its word and investigating these non-state actors. According to Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi, 44 people affiliated with extremist organisations, including Masood Azhar’s son and close relatives, have been arrested. The matter is under investigation and further action will be ...

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