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)

On ringtones and shaving highly emotional facial hair

The blasphemy law keeps being cited for reasons beyond understanding. While some cases are indeed based on fact (your personal position on the law itself aside), the majority of them have little more than an iota of religion behind them. Recently, some 30 clerics in Lahore wanted a blasphemy case registered against the population welfare department for offending beards. The moulvis are apparently still recovering from the threat to facial hair put up by a ghastly event in Karachi last year, when the world’s leading razor-blade manufacturer was forced to cancel “Shave it and Break it”, an event aiming to ...

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Anjum Aqeel: Who let the MNA out?

As a voting citizen of Islamabad, I am ashamed. My MNA, the elected representative of the city, a member of a party that is ostensibly part of the judicial movement, made a mafia-style dash from the police before deciding to turn himself in. How nice of him. There are those who would point to his party’s hierarchy to show this was to be expected. Now how can a party which stood up for the judiciary and the removal of a dictator be seen in such a light? Read history. The party and its democracy-loving leader rose to prominence in the 80s through the ...

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What’s with the morality brigade?

The sight of the world around us degenerating into a hate-fuelled spectacle brings pain to the heart of anyone with real faith. Man’s greatest achievement, at least according to great religious philosophers like Ibn Rushd, Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas, is the ability to act of free will rather than instinct. It is what separates man from the animals and makes us Ashraf-ul-Makhlooqaat or the highest of all creation. Sadly, roving drones around the city, nay, the world, serve as a constant reminder that the term is quite liberally applied to much of mankind. In The Decisive Treatise (Fasl Al-Maqal), Ibn Rushd, ...

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Land of confusion: Why we’ve lost the war on drugs

Recently it was the UN sanctioned International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, another day of world leaders, NGOs and others lying through their teeth about their success in ridding the world of the scourge of narcotic drugs to try and justify their pay checks. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is very different. If you’ve seen the Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 movie Traffic, a remake of the brilliant 1989 British television serial Traffik, starring Jamal Shah among others, you might remember a very relevant piece of dialogue. It happens when teenage junkie Caroline introduces herself during a rehab support group ...

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Capital encroachment: Laws, promises and a delicious piece of pie

“Silence is a source of great strength” – Lao Tzu As an optimist will confirm, waking up is supposed to be the best part of the day. It doesn’t matter what time you wake up, or what sleep cycle your body follows, waking up full of energy is part of the charm of facing a new day and the new challenges that come with it. So why this weak feeling? Maybe it’s the school up your street. Maybe it’s the office next door. Maybe it’s the VVVVVIP next door (they love their V’s don’t they?), or maybe even ...

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Land of confusion: Riddles in the sand

The view from the bunker is perhaps, one of the most worrying sights for the amateur golfer.  The dual impact of a poor stroke and bad luck usually strikes a nerve that will further hinder the player’s already disadvantageous position. Chances are, at least one poor shot will follow. But that’s OK, because even the worst round of golf can be erased by another famed Scottish export. Ah, the golf courses of Islamabad. If there were ever a place in this city to forget poverty, illiteracy and disease, and everyone’s favourite – terrorism – these are the places to be. ...

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My feudal (over)lords

When Pakistan was formed, the Sardars of Balochistan were given a relatively free hand to run their areas as they wish, so long as they would pledge themselves to the Dominion. India, on the other hand, using land reforms and other measures, was able to restrict the power of the landowners. While neither country saw complete success, it is our landed gentry that truly made the decision taken by the founding fathers seem farcical. Hindsight may be 20/20, but somebody had to realise that granting them autonomy to run an unelected tribal government within a government had to be a recipe ...

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Military goes bang, bang

With apologies to the munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, it’s astonishing to see the extent to which civilians will go to defame the armed forces and paramilitary units. First they blame the army for Abbottabad, then the navy for PNS Mehran. Then the accusations of ISI support for our strategic ally, the Taliban, Raymond Davis’s exit, and a host of other problems. Don’t they realise that khaki knows best? The brouhaha over the shooting of a civilian in Karachi is an embarrassment. Can they not see that the dangerous civilian was about to overpower the five Rangers men? Can ...

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May 6, 2011
TOPICS

Some answers, please

So the world’s most wanted man is dead, terror in the world is a thing of the past, and everything will be all hunky-dory from here on. Or, has a new can of worms just opened up? Now is the perfect time to look back at the almost ten-year long Afghan War and re-examine the war on terror, specifically, the winners and losers. The United States has gotten rid of public enemy number one, and given Obama an unexpected popularity boost. However, with Osama bin Laden gone, a new face will have to be found for the enemy. For Pakistan, ...

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An open letter to Shahid Afridi

After helping this nation come together for over a month in support of the one element that we all feel pride in, and even an honourable concession speech after the semi-final, you managed to flush away all the goodwill you and the team earned. Your comments were racist, insensitive and childish to the extreme. So what if the Indian media treated you differently? So what if Rehman Malik played to the gallery? So what if Gautam Gambhir said something that was undeniably stupid? The Indian media was always going to be harsh with you, lest you forget that you are ...

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