Stories published in February, 2020

In conversation with Pervez Hoodbhoy – Part 2: Pakistan’s language conundrum

This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ Pakistan’s Language Conundrum Hassan Mirza (HM): The English language continues to dominate South Asia in many spheres of life, and its authority is almost unchallenged by many of the local languages. Will Urdu (also Hindi in India) fade away in a century’s time and be replaced by English completely in Pakistan (and in India)? What is the future of Urdu and Hindi? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): Urdu is certainly not fading ...

Read Full Post

Corporal punishment: Legalised aggression with deadly consequences

If you were born in the early ’90s and attended school in Pakistan, it is likely that you were either subjected to or witnessed someone else being subjected to some sort of physical punishment in the classroom. Admittedly, most of us laugh at such incidents in hindsight, however, it is not safe to assume that everyone has the emotional capacity to overcome potentially scarring instances of physical abuse. Fortunately, I did not have to endure any forms of physical punishment, but some of my peers were not so lucky. When I was 10, I briefly attended a private school in ...

Read Full Post

In conversation with Pervez Hoodbhoy – Part 1: Pakistan’s education system

This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ My correspondence with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy began a few years ago, and I have presented our email exchanges here so that they can be of service to a wider audience. Professor Hoodbhoy’s sincerity and commitment towards improving Pakistan’s institutions is unquestionable and, whatever one may think of his views on certain topics, there is always a lot to learn from him. Therefore, I hope this correspondence not only enlightens readers about the ...

Read Full Post

Revisiting Ghalib’s “Thousands of Desires” on his 151st death anniversary

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) is unique in the annals of Urdu literature. Not for nothing is he referred to as the bard of Urdu literature, to be compared with a universal tradition of literary figures representative of any national culture. Therefore he is the closest in our subcontinental tradition to what William Shakespeare is in the English, albeit dramatic, tradition. His works in both Urdu and Persian have left an indelible impact on the region, which is why his writings continue to be celebrated and widely read, not just in the subcontinent but across the globe. Today marks the 151st ...

Read Full Post

What to expect from Antonio Guterres’ Pakistan visit

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Islamabad tomorrow, February 16th, to attend an international refugee conference that marks over 40 years of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. The UN chief will also meet Pakistani leaders for talks on matters of mutual interest, giving Prime Minister Imran Khan an opportunity to get international backing on the issue of Kashmir. But in light of Pakistan’s long-established mass deportation of Afghan refugees, can it truly claim the moral high ground on Kashmir?   Aims of the conference Since 1979, Pakistan has hosted an official number of 1.4 million refugees who fled from Soviet ...

Read Full Post

How Pakistan’s economic crisis is impacting women

The fact that Pakistan’s economy is in a crisis need not be restated. Inflation rates are at a historic high, industrial units are shutting down, workers are being laid-off and there are limited employment opportunities for job market entrants. Sources of revenue are shrinking and the daily life of most the country’s population has become significantly harder. Opinion writers, academics and economists have said a lot about the current economic crisis and its impact on the lives of ordinary people. There is also little to no doubt that the average man is struggling to keep up with the current ...

Read Full Post

What does Hafiz Saeed’s arrest mean for Pakistan?

In a recent development, Hafiz Saeed, the head of the proscribed Jamat-ud-Dawah, has been sent to prison for five and a half years by the anti-terrorist court in Lahore. Naturally, this news quickly made it to the the headlines across the globe since Saeed’s name is included in the list of banned terrorists by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Saeed is also wanted by India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But one cannot understand the impact of Saeed’s arrest if one is unaware of exactly what Saeed has been up to for all these years. Saeed ...

Read Full Post

Celebrating Faiz’s 109th birthday by remembering his defiant political anthem

The great poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-84), whose 109th birthday is being celebrated today, was a staunch communist. He had written his famous poem “Hum Dekhenge” (We Will See) in January, 1979 during a time of great political upheaval in Pakistan. With the rise of General Ziaul Haq and the sweeping changes which his regime would bring to the social fabric of the country, the poem served as a potent challenge to the years of dictatorial rule which were to follow. However, the poem remains just as prescient today as it was back in 1979, not just in Pakistan but perhaps for the ...

Read Full Post

Lahore’s infamous night theatres: obscenity or art?

The Al-Hamra Arts Council has always been extremely sensitive about giving a platform to political content. During the tenure of the previous provincial government, one could not even use the words “kyun nikala” as part of the dialogue during a performance. If you did, your production team would immediately be expelled from the theatre. However, this sensitivity is only limited to politics and does not extend to content of the infamous ‘night productions’, which seem to rule the roost at Al-Hamra. No plays can run beyond 10pm from Monday to Saturday and beyond 7pm on Sundays because both the main ...

Read Full Post

Erdoğan’s Pakistan trip comes at a crucial juncture for both the countries

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is due to visit Pakistan tomorrow, February 13th, for a two-day visit. Erdoğan’s trip is timely for both countries. Turkey is in the middle of a crisis with Syria, where the Syrian government-led forces have attacked Turkish troops in their quest to retain the remaining territory from the opposition forces; with Erdoğan stating that Syria will “pay a very, very heavy price” for the attacks. Similarly, Turkey also deployed its forces in Libya in early January this year to support Fayez al-Sarraj’s government against the eastern opposition led by General Khalifa Hifter. Hence Turkey’s ambitions to remain a regional power ...

Read Full Post