Zahid Gishkori

Zahid Gishkori

A reporter for the national desk of The Express Tribune in Islamabad who tweets @ZahidGishkori

2170 days

It was a cold sunny morning, in March 2010, when I was given the opportunity to work with a young dynamic team that would be a part of an upcoming newspaper. We, as a small team at our Islamabad office, had started telling people that we were working for The Express Tribune, a paper affiliated with the New York Times, to be launched in a couple of months. “We don’t know what newspaper you guys are talking about,” almost everybody responded. “We will talk to you when this paper actually launches.” To our horror, most of the people we called slammed their phones on ...

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A tour of Sri Lanka’s history

One can recall Pakistani culture, when standing in front of the National Museum of Sri Lanka – the most beautiful and historic place in Colombo. The visitors always talk about South Asian culture and art, particularly, Buddhist art in Pakistan. Governments of both countries are also fostering a relationship based on the shared cultural heritage. Now, the High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo is taking steps to send replicas of key artefacts that can be kept permanently at the museum in Colombo. Watching the history of the Stone antiquities Gallery of the Colombo National Museum, I was told that it goes ...

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The other side of the coin

Looking at the current state of Pakistan’s electoral politics, one side of the coin portrays the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and his idea to change the way traditional political outfits operate in the country. Imran Khan has undoubtedly put Pakistan’s politics on a new course, attempting to inject fresh blood in the system, which may eventually enter parliament. But looking at the other side of the same coin, one sees dynastic politics remaining dominant in the country. I witnessed its prime example in south Punjab when our former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar announced the withdrawal of her nomination ...

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Observations from Sri Lanka

After fighting an uphill battle against the Tamil Tigers, Sri Lankans are now keeping their focus on education and economy. This is what I observed in Sri Lanka last month. Sri Lankans are now following the policy: “Good walls make good neighbours.” I met several lawmakers, who strongly believe that Colombo is trying its utmost to promote business relations other South Asian countries, particularly with India and Pakistan. A senior member of parliament, Professor Rajiva Wijesinha, who represents the treasury benches, remarked that New Delhi and Colombo have not only improved their diplomatic relations but also expanded their trade volume recently. His views ...

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Meeting Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief

After meeting former chief of army staff of Sri Lanka, General Srilal Weerasooriya, I was curious to know what he thinks of the ongoing Afghan war, as well as the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. I was also interested in discussing issues related to militancy in Pakistan with General Weerasooriya, who spent months with former president General Pervez Musharraf in the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul, Abbottabad in the late ’60s. He told me that Pakistan cannot get rid of militancy until it succeeds in stopping neighbouring countries’ involvement in its territory. General Weerasooriya made it clear that the Pakistani ...

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Blood trails in Balochistan

Civil servants hailing from Balochistan are braving difficult times in Islamabad. They face embarrassment when someone poses a question about the recent bloodletting in Quetta and elsewhere. While elaborating over the disastrous blasts, they tell me how the Hazara community is met with deep-seated sectarian acrimony by non-Shia outfits. While in conversation with some civil servants, I was shocked to learn that the recent past had witnessed a tremendous surge in the exodus of Hazara youth to Australia. Over 600 youth are now seeking asylum through legal and illegal channels in western countries, particularly Australia. Several others are leaving their ...

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Can SAARC become a vibrant regional organisation?

I tried to find the answer to a question at a South Asian Association Regional Cooperation (SAARC) conference recently held in Islamabad. After meeting representatives of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the Maldives, I can say that yes, SAARC can be an effective regional organisation. But its bright future depends upon good relations between the two nuclear neighbours – India and Pakistan. In my opinion, if Pakistan and India pursue good ties, keeping in view long-standing trade relations, then SAARC can turn into a mega platform for seeking solutions to regional problems. Being a representative of Pakistan at the SAARC ...

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A good time to cultivate relations with India

On a lazy Sunday morning on April 8 this year, President Asif Ali Zardari flew into New Delhi. His host, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was waiting to receive him with open arms and on the table were not only the best delicacies of his country, but also the agenda on which the future of the region and perhaps, the world hinges on. In my opinion, the visit was crucial, not only because it enabled the top leaders of two hostile nations to come together, but also because its timing was of immense significance. It came about when the US and ...

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A visit to Shahbaz airbase: All is well…

I reached Shahbaz airbase along with several other journalists and senior Pakistan Air Force officials, to inspect the 36 new F-16 C Block 52 fighters. We were accompanied by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief of Air Staff Rao Qamar Suleman. We toured the revamped base where the recently acquired aircraft will be housed, and which has reportedly cost the government over $5 billion! I could not see any American soldiers at the airbase, which is only 345 km away from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Everyone, including both the army and air force chiefs, appeared to be grateful to the United States ...

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Who cares about Pakistan’s Anna Hazare?

The success of the Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and the defeat of his Pakistani counterpart Jehangir Akhtar in their almost similar missions perhaps reflect the nature of politics and how it is perceived in both countries. The 75-year-old Indian shot to fame, thanks largely to the power of the Indian media, when he undertook a much hyped fast. That, more or less, brought the Indian government to its knees and made it agree to move a bill in parliament to establish the office of an ombudsman (Lokpal). However, in Pakistan, the story was quite different with the fasting Akhtar largely ...

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