Stories published in October, 2019

Will we fight a water war inside Pakistan?

Earlier in the month, the news of Narendra Modi threatening to cut off the flow of water from India into Pakistan made headlines across country. But as justified as this outcry was, it does beg the question as to why we seldom raise a voice against the manner in which water is stolen and wasted in Pakistan. The cries for more dams and reservoirs have thus far failed to result in tangible projects, while elsewhere in the country corruption watchdogs have uncovered that certain influential landlords play a big part in the theft of water. There have been many media trials in ...

Read Full Post

How did we let the Counter-Terrorism Department get away with murder?

Justice remains a luxury in Pakistan. The acquittal of the Punjab Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials involved in the Sahiwal massacre case has endorsed the fact that Pakistani laws have double standards depending on which party involved has greater influence – thus only making the cracks in our crippled criminal justice system all the more apparent. The way the court has released the CTD officials by giving them the ‘benefit of doubt’ makes one wonder that how the murder of a family in broad daylight can be so callously dismissed without any repercussions. Unsurprisingly though, this is not the first case, nor ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s burgeoning intellectual dilemma

Normally, we think of knowledge as an activity which is shorn off from society in the libraries and laboratories of thinkers and scientists. On the contrary, production of knowledge is very much connected to the prevailing mindset and cultural ethos which directly influences our perception and reception of knowledge. It is this very mindset that has contributed to the poor state of human sciences in Pakistan – where these subjects have essentially been assigned a marginal status at the higher education level, as compared to natural sciences. Instead of engaging with complex ideas, we reject them by stating that they are ...

Read Full Post

What does the future hold for Inam Butt?

Pakistan has been fortunate enough to be home to a lot of talented and dedicated individuals. These countrymen have raised the national flag in various fields including sports irrespective of having little or no support from the government. Inam Butt, the wrestler, is also one of these men. He is continuously making the nation proud by winning medals at various international wrestling events. Despite that, the authorities, especially the Pakistan Wrestling Federation, is not giving him the facilities and financial support he deserves. Butt a product of Gujranwala’s local akharas (wrestling rings) came in the limelight when he won a gold medal during the 2010 ...

Read Full Post

Jami’s bravery has opened the doors for a much needed conversation about rape

Sexual harassment or abuse is a very difficult topic to discuss, especially in a country that still heavily indulges in victim-blaming. Despite the arrival of the MeToo movement in Pakistan, we are still having a tough time believing victims and holding perpetrators accountable, even in clear cut cases like the Mukhtaran Mai case. Things became more convoluted recently after Professor Afzal Mehmood, a lecturer at Government MAO College, committed suicide after he was wrongfully accused of sexual harassment. Those who oppose the MeToo movement used this incident to further their own agenda. As a result, many victims were afraid that the brief ...

Read Full Post

The curious case of Pakistan’s political prisoners

On Monday night, Nawaz Sharif was taken to a hospital for a medical check-up, but Maryam Nawaz’s request to visit her father at the hospital was rejected by a court in Lahore today. Similarly, Asif Ali Zardari was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for treatment yesterday. Both these visits come after intense back and forth between the ruling party and the opposition regarding the conditions of the jail cells in which several politicians are currently being kept. The state of the jail cells, and the charges under which these politicians have been arrested has led to much scrutiny ...

Read Full Post

The resilient tribesmen and Balochistan’s Chilghoza trees

Last month at a ceremony held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a project from a remote part of Balochistan, the Kasa Ghar Community Based Organisation of the Sulaiman Range, won the Equator Prize for conserving Chilghoza forests. I was thrilled to hear about the global recognition (the project was one amongst 22 communities across the world which were selected for this prize) as I have actually visited these Chilghoza forests in the Shirani district of Balochistan. By creating a successful value-added market model for Chilghoza nuts, this community-based organisation has conserved around 9,000 ...

Read Full Post

How an Iqbal poem got a Muslim headmaster suspended in India

It no longer shocks us in India. Prejudice and bigotry have become such a part of our existence that it no longer pricks our conscience when a lynching takes place, when a Muslim is humiliated for their way of life, when an overwhelming majority of television stations dish out jingoism all day long – it no longer baffles us. The recent suspension of a school headmaster, Furqan Ali, in the Pilibhit district in Uttar Pradesh (UP) is only the latest demonstration of these growing hostilities. A local Hindu right wing leader belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), one of the ideological brothers of the ...

Read Full Post

Can demonetisation help address Pakistan’s FATF concerns?

While many in Pakistan celebrated after hearing the news that Pakistan had survived ‘Indian lobbying’ attempts to get Pakistan onto the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) black-list, it would be foolish to think that a position on the grey-list is something to be proud of. FATF’s primary duty is to be a global watchdog which curbs money laundering and terror financing, and while Pakistan has assured the task force that the nation will achieve the set targets, the likelihood of this happening still remains circumspect, especially given the wide array of problems the nation is already facing. Undoubtedly, the pace of ‘progress’ is far below ...

Read Full Post

How successful are Imran Khan’s attempts at becoming an international statesperson?

“My son, look for a kingdom greater than Macedonia, for it is too small for thee.” Alexander the Great’s father, Prince Philip, said this to him when as a young boy he reined in the famous horse, Bucephalus, while everyone else who had tried to do so had failed. Now, while Imran Khan certainly is no great conqueror of lands, nor does he aspire to be, it is evident that Pakistan is too small a stage for him to play on. Even if he wants to dedicate himself wholeheartedly towards fixing Pakistan’s manifold problems and shuns all foreign commitments, it ...

Read Full Post