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)

Why should we come back?

Pakistan is our home. It’s something we’ve been taught from the time we all were children. For better or worse, it will always be who we are, and if there’s something wrong with it, we have a duty to try and fix it. It takes a great amount of idealism to keep believing that, and sometimes, that idealism can be interpreted as idiocy. Over the last month, I interacted with five Pakistani-born and educated bankers. Three are based abroad, two are in Pakistan. They are all of different ages, they grew up in different cities, and under very different circumstances. Yet, ...

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Qadri sentence: Justice served – for now

The verdict is in. The assassin will hang. Justice seems to have been served. Well, not quite yet. Almost ten months to the day when the former Punjab governor was gunned down, the lone gunman has seen his bubble burst. His ‘divinely inspired’ mission wasn’t so divine after all. He will die the way a real blasphemer would have been put to death. Except that in his case, thousands of righteously misguided individuals will take to the streets to push for his release from prison. After all, guilty or not, his followers have already made it quite clear that for them, ...

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Shoaib Akhtar: An embarrassment par excellence

Shoaib Akhtar’s autobiography is generating something of a stir, and perhaps it should. Personally, I haven’t read it yet, only the bits and pieces available across my beloved WWW. However, if these excerpts are anything to go by, I must congratulate Mr Akhtar on his glorious achievement. Bravo world’s fastest bowler! Akhtar has proven beyond a doubt that the image he created, and then tried to deny throughout his career, was indeed true. And I’m not even talking about his off-the-field antics. After all, like any poor kid who stumbles onto a bundle of money, he was bound to make stupid ...

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Why protesting against this government will fail

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw Last month, Pakistan celebrated the 64th year of its broken democracy (30 if you discount the field marshal and generals). Whether you prefer 64 or 30, the fact remains, our democracy is broken. While many accuse politicians of breaking it, this is just proof of our national past time, blame it on the other guy. As much as I want to agree with the sentiment of people on the street, that Parliament is full of thieves and liars, I am reminded of one fact ...

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Sorry honey, mama’s too busy for you

The recent murder of Riphah University’s vice principal in Rawalpindi received a flood of comments on The Express Tribune’s website, some opinionated, some sympathetic, some bewildered, and some ridiculous. The most befuddling though, was a string of sentiments in favour of this embarrassment for the human race; ‘oh he must’ve given him bad marks’, ‘oh, the teacher was mean’, ‘oh the fees were high’. Incidentally, the ludicrously incorrigible command over the academic lingua franca of the country, displayed by the aforementioned empathisers, is, in a word, not good. Sorry, I know that’s two words but I don’t want to scare readers off with more ...

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On ape-administered territories and a hero’s kidnapped son

A famous Pakistani musician had a Facebook status last week that read, “Planet of the Apes: Based on true events in Pakistan.” This is debatable. The Planet of the Apes franchise is based on themes of racism and intolerance based on dogmatic beliefs and bigotry. While the 1968 original and its four sequels were much more explicit in delivering this argument, with scenes, props and bits of dialogue quite clearly meant to illustrate the point, the recent reboot/prequel portrayed the problems in a much more sublime manner, and focused more on ambition, abuse and revolution, all linking to the same ...

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Slavery: constitutionally forbidden, socially accepted

On Friday, 11 bonded labourers were freed from a brick kiln in the outskirts of Islamabad. They had been crowded into squalid pens and were forced to live in inhuman conditions which earned them a princely sum of Rs 300 per week. That’s Rs43 per day. That’s less than many of us spend to get to work.  That’s less than the price of a plate of daal chawal. That’s less than a human being needs to survive. Slavery is abhorable, but in Pakistan, it is also an unavoidable fact of life. Or is it? How often do you hear anyone praising slavery? ...

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A short biography of Mr West Pakistan

Mr West Pakistan turns 64 on Sunday. The retiree has come a long way since his birth. Unfortunately, now deathly ill, Mr Pakistan is desperately seeking a cure for the diseases that ravage his body after years of negligence. Born on a hot August day in 1947, little Pakistan came into the world with his twin brother East, and a completely dysfunctional family. Born prematurely amid severe complications, Mr Pakistan grew up an orphan. Abandoned by his mother, what little he knew of his father, was quickly erased by the abysmal faculty at school. His other brother, Mr India, did remember ...

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Sisters, wives, mothers and punching bags

Women belong in the house. They are too fragile to take on the challenges of a man’s world. They cry when they see a child in pain. Their maternal instincts drive them to take decisions that are often against their personal interest. They are ingrained with a spirit of self-sacrifice that drives them to give up on their dreams to achieve a better reality for their families. When they go out to study in prestigious universities or offices, they are ‘harassed’ by innocent men whose only fault is their noble offer to give women an advantage at work in exchange ...

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Cure the disease and kill the patient

Ah, Pims, a place where people are guaranteed quality health service. Or at least used to. Nowadays, anyone naive enough to want to go to Pims for any form of treatment is guaranteed only one thing — denial of service. Medicine is a professional category that earns the respect of all and sundry the world over. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and even technicians are regular features in the prayers of patients whose lives they save. Cicero aptly described doctors when he wrote, “In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men.” Sadly, the recent actions of protesting ...

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