Stories published in May, 2015

10 lessons Pakistan can learn from the UK general elections 2015

On May 7, 2015, the 56th general elections of the United Kingdom were held to elect 650 members to the House of Commons. Victory of ruling Conservative (Tory) Party, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, surprised many. However, from purely a Pakistani perspective, there are many lessons to draw. Ten of them are mentioned here: 1. As a party leader, if you lose, you resign This might sound alien to Pakistani ears, yet it is true. Unlike the land of the pure, ethics is a hall mark of British politics. For me, as a Pakistani, it was quite surprising that within hours of ...

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Noam Chomsky versus Sam Harris: Rationale versus hate

Sam Harris is butting heads again – this time with Noam Chomsky. He recently blogged an email exchange he had with the great man himself; an exchange which, as with most things with Harris, quickly degenerated into crassness. That this torture-advocating anti-theist would, of his own accord, publicise such classless piffle over the web, expecting quite possibly a tsunami of approval from his fans, betrays a curious audacity one may only encounter in a special breed of omniscience-claiming cult-runners. Of course Harris can be absolved of such an indictment – no cult-runner is he. But he may well be drifting perilously close to ...

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In Pakistan, ‘tabdeeli aa gaye hai’

I recently returned from a two week research trip to Pakistan. While travelling through different cities and meeting government officials, former senior military officers, and people from the academia; I was surprised to see how Pakistan has changed so positively in many aspects. One of the things that have changed drastically is how those in the government, as well as politicians, have embraced modern day methods of communication. Till a couple of years ago, contacting government officials via email was thought to be waste of time because it did not fit well with the political tradition, which was failing to keep up ...

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“Ami please, don’t speak to me in front of my friends”

Coming from a 19-year old college student, perhaps what I am writing is completely irrelevant and maybe even stupid, but I’m a person and I have experienced life as it came to me, as it comes to me. All of us have our own beliefs based on the circumstances that we face, and it is these very beliefs that shape our reactions to the obstacles that we encounter. There is no right and wrong in such situations, there are only regrets and lessons that we learn or we don’t, depending upon each person. In my early teens, I was super embarrassed to introduce my ...

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Naran and Shogran, a winter wonderland

Recently, with the help of Royal Tourism Pakistan, I got the chance to visit one of the most popular and beautiful vacation spots in northern Pakistan – Naran and Kaghan. Considering it was May, and peak summers were around the corner, I expected it to be as hot as it is here down in Karachi. However, it is interesting to note that May is actually the tail end of winter in northern areas. We were travelling by bus and started from Rawalpindi passing through Mansehra and Abbotabad before reaching Naran. Since the journey was long, we decided to stay a night in a ...

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#KarachiBusAttack: Forget free speech, where is our right to life?

A recent survey showed that Pakistan was amongst the least racist countries in the world. Certain people celebrated this whereas others used this as an excuse to taunt our Indian counterparts. Today, the results of this ‘survey’ are now null and void – 43 people from the Ismaili community were killed in a bus attack today. Eight armed motorcyclists, some of who were disguised at security officials, boarded the bus and opened fire on the passengers. The bus only had Ismaili passengers on-board, which clearly indicates the intent with which this attack took place. Events like these mean nothing more than a day of ...

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Balochistan 1: The nature and extent of State abuse

Sabeen Mahmud, a peace activist and founder of The Second Floor (T2F), was shot dead on Friday, April 25, 2015, after hosting a talk on Balochistan. Her guests included the now infamous Mama Qadeer, who was also the most prominent invitee at an earlier talk at LUMS. That talk was cancelled after intervention by the state. The subject she highlighted right before her death, and the manner of it, suggests unusual bravery. It also puts an onus on the rest of us to discuss it more. Obviously, Balochistan is too complex an issue to encompass in its entirety, especially for outsiders. We ...

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Let cricket diplomacy strengthen Pakistan-India relations

Let’s face it; Indo-Pak cricket plays as strong a part in conflict resolution between the two countries as any other diplomatic solution. The game has been used to strength bilateral ties for decades. And therefore, the recent announcement made by Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief, Shahryar Khan, about the resumption of the Indo-Pak cricket series, to be held in United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December later this year, is nothing less than a breath of fresh air for the two countries’ foreign-policy makers. This LOC (love of cricket) – unlike its border counter-part – often brings both these nations together, no ...

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Can Modi’s visit to China give India the power it craves?

Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been on a slew of foreign visits since his arrival at the helm in a bid to concretise India’s relations across the globe. Not only has he laid special emphasis on India’s immediate neighbours who lingered in oblivion during the previous tenure, but has also made efforts to project India as China’s competitor in the subcontinent. However, his visits have often been regarded as more about semantics and less about substance. China and India have been grappling hard to maintain their hegemony over the region, albeit China has outmanoeuvred India on almost every occasion. As part of ...

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There is no Bhutto left to rebuild PPP, Mr Zardari

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has decided to kick-start its campaign for the upcoming general elections. For this reason, and to prove that Lyari is still its stronghold like it has been in the past, the party organised a public gathering recently in Kakri ground. In a bid to gain local support for the coming local government polls and general elections, the party’s co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, during the public rally, announced multiple developmental projects. He said that the PPP government will build an engineering college as well as a housing scheme and promised that the people of Lyari will get jobs in ...

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