Stories published in March, 2020

Should Pakistan release its prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic?

Every person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond any shadow of doubt however, the fate of 48,008 prisoners who are under trial but still languishing in Pakistan’s jails, hangs in the balance. Not only were they already vulnerable because prosecutions, many a times, fail to prove charges, long after a sentence has been served, or worse, the accused has died in jail. But now with the pandemic, they are also more susceptible to the coronavirus outbreak, as many jails are filled to more than capacity. In times of enforced social isolation and distancing, prisons in Pakistan are ...

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Does coronavirus have a parasitic relationship with democratic systems?

“If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country, and how do you then enforce a quarantine? … One option is the use of a military that’s able to plan and move.” The above-mentioned quote, although relevant and relatable in its content, is, in fact, a dated address, given by President George Bush 15 years ago. Since the Avian Flu of the 2000s, thematic concerns within the politics of outbreaks have not evolved a lot. Thus, equating a national health emergency to a state of war is not a semantic ...

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Navigating the media chessboard amidst COVID-19

One of the fundamental things to understand about COVID-19 is that nobody in the world has a crystal ball that can accurately explain and predict the impact of the virus. Governments, weak and strong, have been left scratching their heads as their healthcare systems buckle under the pressure. As the total number of global cases approaches the one million mark, the machinery that regulates global economies has halted. For Pakistan, difficult decisions were made to lock down certain parts of the country, with a focus on ensuring the mitigation of impact for particularly vulnerable groups, including daily wage workers.  The ...

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Media sensationalism in the age of COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown the world into a state of fear and uncertainty. Hence, countries today are banking on their doctors to save lives, not on their armies or their multinational companies. In Pakistan, many doctors and medical personnel do not have access to personal protective equipment (PPEs) to prevent them from being infected by coronavirus patients while performing their duties. Yet, by putting their lives at risk, doctors across the country are bravely fighting this war against COVID-19. However, despite this, there remain a few journalists, television channels and publications which, just for the sake of ratings, are dispensing news based on a limited understanding of medical ...

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A tale from across the border: How India is dealing with COVID-19

India has suddenly fallen silent. Some of the prominent cities where life never stops have come to a standstill. The chants of endless community prayers have ceased. An eerie silence pervades the country ever since the nationwide lockdown was declared on March 24th. However, beyond the surface of this deepening quiet is a disquiet and the sense of unease over the success of this unprecedented lockdown. Never before in the annals of human history have 1.3 billion people been confined to their homes like Indians are today in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19). Today the ...

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The past, present and future of European Muslims – Part II

This article is the second in a two part series which explores the history, current status and future of Muslims in Europe. Read Part I here. ~ Beginnings of a European Islam It will be safe to assume that a European form of Islam is emerging now, and has its roots in European history. The idea is to develop new interpretations of Islamic theology which will be in line with the European intellectual tradition and culture. According to some European Muslim scholars this branch of Islam will be a new religio-cultural off shoot, and will help to thwart extremist ideologies from the Middle East. ...

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Should Pakistan ask for free internet during the coronavirus pandemic?

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic? There are chances that by now you have been frustrated by the speed of your internet at one point or the other. Maybe your co-worker’s face froze during a Skype meeting, or maybe you were trying to watch a YouTube video that kept buffering or maybe a 5MB picture took more than 10 minutes to download.  These are revealing signs that the internet in Pakistan might be struggling to support the unprecedented surge in use from millions of homebound computer and smartphone users. Since the local governments have imposed lockdowns across the country, ...

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The past, present and future of European Muslims – Part I

This article is the first in a two part series which explores the history, current status and future of Muslims in Europe. Read Part II here. ~ Is Muslim integration in secular European societies possible? This question is of importance as Islam is growing and thriving in European cities and towns, mainly through migration but also through higher birth rates among European Muslims. However, Islamist terror attacks in recent years have increased concerns about Islam and the future of European Muslims among the European populace. Growing frictions between the already present European Muslim minority and the host community is evident from the rise ...

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Pakistan can’t afford a political crisis during a pandemic

Within a fragile and deceptively undulating ‘democratic’ landscape, politics and politicians in Pakistan have consistently maintained a rather adversarial character. In fact, at any given point in the erratic democratic history of the country, all leading national political parties have shown their tenacious adherence to adversarial politics. Perhaps, this is the only kind of mainstream politicking that party leaders are capable of doing in Pakistan. What unraveled in the wake of COVID-19 crisis was no different, a severely adamant inability of the country’s political leadership to conduct consensual politics. Spain or Senegal, no matter how rich or poor the economy, presently ...

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Was Nawaz Sharif really soft on India?

Former Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in a recent interview claimed that not only was former prime minister Nawaz Sharif soft on India himself, he directed the Foreign Office to not highlight India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Balochistan or mention Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian spy who had been arrested in the same province. She also went on to allege that Sharif was soft on India due to his business interests in the country. These claims have since been rubbished by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif, while Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has seconded the allegations.  Was Sharif ...

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