Peer Muhammad

Peer Muhammad

A correspondent for The Express Tribune in Islamabad.

Restored faith in Qadri

As I write this, Dr Tahirul Qadri is moving towards Islamabad with thousands of supporters. Nobody is certain about the fate of this much publicised and controversial political game. Commentators are busy analysing this sudden political gimmick and predicting various consequences of this development. Most major political parties are opposing the march. No one can deny the importance of public pressure over the ruling elite which can serve as an important corrective mechanism if exerted the right way. But the sudden emergence of Dr Qadri and the ambiguity of his ultimate agenda have raised many questions in the minds of people. At this ...

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Bring back tourism to G-B

I still remember how tourists, particularly foreigners, would openly wander around the streets of Gilgit-Baltistan before the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent start of sectarian violence in the region. G-B is one of the world’s most scenic destinations, where tourism was once the main source of income for a majority of the population. During summer, some 12 years ago, G-B would host so many foreign tourists that domestic tourists found it hard to find any accommodation. Every hotel, restaurant, guesthouse and even private residents were occupied by foreign tourists and dollars were showered in every business.  Tourists would roam around without any ...

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G-B massacre: The government is all talk, no action

It was perhaps the first time that an international forum as prestigious as the United Nations took strong exception to sectarian violence, referring to the massacre of passengers belonging to the Shia community at Babusar Top, two days prior to Eidul Fitr. This was not the first incident where passengers were disembarked from a bus, identified and killed on the basis of their religious sect. Such brutal assassinations of innocent commuters in broad daylight, in some cases in front of their families, have occurred on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) and other routes in the country. Secretary General of the United ...

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Are public schools not good enough for you?

It was surprising to hear that a senior official of the Capital Administration and Development Division had his three children enrolled in a private school. But what was even more shocking was that over 95 per cent of bureaucrats, politicians, business tycoons and corporate employees send their children to private elite schools rather than to government institutions. I asked the official why he preferred to enroll his children in a private school since he himself is looking into the government education system in the Islamabad Capital Territory. His answer was indirect but simple: If you have the choice to buy an ...

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Gilgit-Baltistan: Paradise turned bloody

The bloodbath in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has started yet again, as a severe wave of sectarianism has revisited the landlocked, but strategically key, part of the country. It began on February 28 when masked miscreants forced passengers travelling in four buses out at gunpoint and shot dead 16 of them in Hurban area of Kohistan. Since then, the law and order situation in G-B has worsened. On the morning of April 10, violence erupted again in the tense city of Gilgit when masked men riding on a motorcycle hurled a hand grenade on Sunni activists who were trying to force shopkeepers ...

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Civil servants with a conscience

Civil servants are considered to be the engine of any state machinery and their performance has a direct link with the building of a nation. It has been observed that the vested interests of the top hierarchy itself are a key hurdle in many cases to ensure good governance by victimising efficient, committed and honest public servants in one way or the other. The role of the civil servants of Pakistan has been time and again controversial in Pakistan, more or less due to being misused by the ruling elites. Victimisation of bureaucrats has been on the rise, and it ...

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In Arfa’s name

There is need to change Arfa’s dreams into reality. The entire nation is mourning the sad demise of the world’s youngest IT professional Arfa Karim Randhawa. She died on January 14 at the very tender age of sixteen. No doubt, she was an extraordinary genius, and a committed and intelligent individual. The grief caused by her untimely death is likely to stay embedded in the collective national psyche for some time, especially given that people like her are born one in a billion. Also, she died too young, before the nation could have benefitted from her talent and prowess in ...

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Budget cuts mar higher education

Heads of the public sector universities have warned the government of protest if the finance division fails to provide an additional Rs8 billion to the cash-starved Higher Education Commission (HEC). The university heads and HEC officials say that without the additional funds, the commission will not be in a position to ensure payment of 65% salary raises for employees of the 70 public sector universities under its domain. Cuts in the commission’s budget have already affected research and development projects, when a major chunk is being diverted towards the employees’ salaries. Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh in Friday’s meeting gave ...

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Why thank the Taliban, minister?

Every Pakistani was thankful that Ashura passed off without incident and gave full credit to security agencies for employing stringent measures on the solemn occasion. Contrary to this, talking to journalists later, Interior Minister Rehman Malik thanked the Taliban for the merciful act of not carrying out any terror acts during Muharram. The statement not only stunned his compatriots, it also exposed the real reason behind the peace in Muharram — it was not actually because of heightened security, but because of an ‘understanding’ between the government and the Taliban. It was also clear from the statement that the terrorists ...

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For the disabled, inclusive education is a must

Like many other days, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was also observed on Saturday with government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working for physically challenged persons holding walks and seminars. This year the emphasis was on inclusive education systems and a discrimination-free, level playing field for such persons. Speakers at these functions demanded that the authorities should provide inclusive facilities in educational institutes to the disabled persons. Although the government has allocated special quota for disabled persons in jobs, it is not yet being implemented in a transparent way. The educational institutes, especially higher education institutes, lack special facilities for ...

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