Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

Exploiting the power crisis: Rioters in protesters’ clothing

A strange thing happened on the way to Raja Rental’s ascension to the premiership; Islamabad’s daily loadshedding was increased. On the face of it, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with that, considering the nationwide power crisis, but a little birdie told me that in the absence of a WAPDA minister and prime minister, the hike should have been delayed until a cabinet was set in place. And although that may or may not be a legal requirement, a notification of the increase is. With the mercury hovering around 45 degrees Celsius, loadshedding is a major issue, but unfortunately not the only one. Water in Khanpur Dam, the ...

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Pindi’s Orwellian water crisis

With fuel and electricity shortages already rampant, one of the least surprising local stories in recent weeks was that water is in short supply in the capital and Rawalpindi. The latter has a much more acute shortage, around 15 million gallons a day or 26% of total demand. While an inexact measure, working on the assumption that one in four Pindi residents doesn’t have any water, one can get a better grasp of how bad things are. One may wonder, quite justifiably, why nobody saw this coming. Well somebody did and for once, it wasn’t just the experts, but the government. In ...

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The devil’s workshop and justice undone

Justice is supposedly blind, and in the case of Lal Masjid, it is also mute. According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, treason is: The crime of doing something that could cause danger to your country, such as helping its enemies during a war. Given, some members of the world community look at Pakistan as being a country full of radicals and terrorist-sympathisers, but I would like to believe that is largely untrue. Eyewitness testimony says our troops were fired upon while they were still outside the mosque, which according to military protocol is cause enough to breach the complex. So forget helping ...

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Trendsetters: Parliament to be new wrestling ring

Almost half-a-century back, the greatest wrestler in history died in Lahore. Gama Pehlwan spent his entire 50-year wrestling career undefeated.  Even today, he is considered to be head and shoulders above anyone who ever entered a ring. He was a role model, not just for wrestlers but for other athletes, too, with Bruce Lee among those that picked up elements of his workout technique. It is sad that today, not just Pakistan but the world seems to have forgotten about wrestling as a sport, focusing instead on ‘professional’ wrestling, which is really just grown men pretending to fight or noora kushti in ...

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We can ******* our education system ourselves, thank you

Universities are supposed to help open a young person’s mind to the world, exposing them to new ideas and concepts. Historian Richard Hofstadter felt that “a university’s essential character is that of being a centre of free inquiry and criticism — a thing not to be sacrificed for anything else”. Unsurprisingly, this concept is foreign to at least one of the country’s leading universities. Recently, Islamic International University Islamabad (IIUI) Rector Fateh Muhammad Malik took indefinite ex-Pakistan leave, allegedly after pressure was applied on the government by the ambassador of a ‘friendly nation’ for his removal. Now, IIUI is hardly a ...

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They paved paradise, and put up a cricket stadium and golf course

There was some good news for the city’s sports fans following the announcements that new “world-class” cricket and golf facilities are going to be set up in Shakarparian. Hundreds of thousands of cricket fans would be especially enthused by the knowledge that the capital will finally be home to a cricket stadium as would a dozen-odd golf fans. But I kid. Golf has more than a dozen fans in the city. Maybe even a few hundred. While a cricket stadium has been a long-standing dream for many Islamabadis, a bit of an odd one considering the relative proximity of Rawalpindi Cricket ...

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Hail Farkhand Iqbal, the King of Islamabad

Expect a court battle soon over whose daddy owns this city. Earlier this week, CDA chief Farkhand Iqbal’s son, no doubt proud of his dad’s great list of accomplishments including stealing and unsealing the Bhoja Air black box and making ludicrous comments about other agencies to deflect blame for his own failures, decided to establish his father’s stranglehold on the city for all to see. After a mother and son made the mistake of driving their car into the path of his daddy’s car on his daddy’s road near Kohsar Market, causing an accident that was in no way the younger ...

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Bhoja Air crash: Hail to the sound bite addict!

Hours after the fiery death of 127 Bhoja Air passengers, our interior minister, hungering for sound bite-upon-sound bite, raced to the crash site. His getting there was so important that ambulances and rescue vehicles were forced to move aside and clear the route for his motorcade. Fortunately, either good sense or the army told him to turn around halfway, but why he needed his full motorcade to go to a disaster area with him in the first place is beyond me. Why he thought his motorcade should be given priority over emergency vehicles is also beyond me. His presence at the site ...

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Drugs are not the only problem

Drug use usually starts as a form of rebellion, be it against mom and dad, your own friends or society as a whole. Ease of access only increases the likelihood that someone will make an uninformed decision and light up their first joint, smoke their first bong, or worse, pick up their first needle. Pakistan is historically a hashish-smoking nation, with records of the cannabis-derived substance’s use going back thousands of years. Although some would try to deny it, drugs, at least soft drugs, are part of the local culture. From bhang and charas up to opium, Mother Nature’s gifts ...

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Is the Punjab government protecting Ludhianvi?

After decades of abuse over corruption, politicisation, complicity with criminals, outright disregard for their own duties, and their inexplicable fear of unarmed lynch mobs, the Punjab police showed that there is at least one group whom they don’t fear- their own- when they pointed their guns at the Islamabad police to protect a known hatemonger from arrest. Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (read Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) leader Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, along with fellow extremist and Jamaatud Dawa (read Lashkar-e Taiba) chief Hafiz Saeed were wanted by the city police, for breaking a ban on their entry into the city, when both appeared ...

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