“Udhar tum, idhar hum”: When Bhutto pushed Bangladesh to the edge of Pakistan

The fall of Dhaka is one of those events in our history that we’d rather forget. No one talks about it nowadays, because it was the result of our own follies. But those who are still alive will never be able to forget TV newscaster Shaista Jabeen’s tearful announcement that dreadful night in December:  “According to an agreement, Indian soldiers have now taken control of Dhaka.” The people in what remained of Pakistan were shocked beyond belief. For days they had been told that everything was normal in the eastern wing, despite the BBC giving a contrasting picture. As always, ...

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While Balochistan’s natural gas keeps the rest of Pakistan warm, its own residents are freezing in silence

On a cool and sunny November afternoon, Ahmad Habib sat behind his shop, located in Quetta’s main Liaquat Bazar, accompanied by a handful of other local shop owners. They sat together, enjoying the traditional kahwa with gur (jaggery), a drink designed to keep their bodies warm for long. Unlike the past four years, this year’s winter is warm and appealing, mainly due to an abundance of sunny days. More often than not, mid-November is a time when the strength of the heat gradually weakens and cool, dry wind arrives for an extended stay. These cool winds slowly whisper and signal the ...

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Pakistan’s economy: Rising through the storms

In Pakistan, the financial year ends on June 30th. However, since the conventional year is about to end, we look back at how the new government fared at handling the economy and also make some policy prescriptions along the way. The incumbent government is being judged rather harshly on its performance in the first few months. Let’s just make this clear: there is no silver bullet that could end Pakistan’s economic woes within 100 days. Given that the government has inherited a ‘broken’ economy, I’d say that they have performed quite well. A common way to find out how well a country ...

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Human Rights Day: What will you ‘celebrate’, Pakistan?

Every year, December 10th is marked as the Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that lists down basic human rights guaranteed to the population of the world. This year marks the 70th anniversary of this resolution. It is important to note that sustainable growth is not achievable until and unless the human rights of the world are protected. Besides commemorating 70 years of the resolution, we should vow to stand for the civil, economic, political and cultural rights of our people; after all, ...

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Can India really lecture Pakistan on secularism?

In what is almost certainly a first, the Indian army chief has found it prudent to lecture another country on how its state ought to function. While this may be a first, it sadly doesn’t come as a surprise. Institutions in India in the time of Narendra Modi are in disarray. Those that should assert themselves are being asserted upon – like the Election Commission of India, the Reserve Bank of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation and so on – while those institutions that should properly mind their own business feel like they now have the space to ...

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To solve the economic crisis, PTI will have to move beyond optics and IK’s persona

The Pakistani rupee plunged against the US dollar yet again last week, this time by almost Rs10. The sudden fall of the rupee, which traded for around Rs140 against the dollar, gave birth to speculation and as a result also led to the stock exchange witnessing a sharp decline in index points. On Monday, the Karachi Stock Exchange saw another bloodbath as it lost 1,355 points. The premier’s statement regarding the possibility of early elections and the forecast by the State Bank of Pakistan that 2019 will slow economic growth from the projected 5% to 4% played a crucial ...

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Buzdar, Khan, Sarwar or Elahi – we still don’t know who is running Punjab

The truth has become the rarest commodity, hasn’t it? Take anything ranging from religion, politics or economics and you will find media cells and experts trying to manipulate public thinking. In Pakistan, well-educated individuals are hired as media consultants, spokespersons or advisers but their job is not to formulate people-friendly policies, rather the core purpose of their appointment is to defend the indefensible. Dr Shahbaz Gill is the latest example of such individuals. Fahd Hussain wrote an interesting op-ed almost a month ago titled Who is running Punjab? At the very outset, Husain observed that: “From Rawalpindi to Rahimyar Khan and from Layyah to ...

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Walk it like you talk it: What (little) did PTI achieve in its first 100 days?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has finally completed its first 100 days in power. While the number itself is insignificant to judge any government’s performance, it was Imran Khan and the rest of PTI that created the hype over the 100-day agenda to begin with, even before the party won the General Elections. It was perhaps this promise and this plan that played a role in the PTI winning the elections. However, contrary to expectations, these 100 days were not smooth sailing for the PTI. On the contrary, they were marked with controversies, cases in the Supreme Court, U-turns, ...

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Why do we only have one advanced forensic lab in the entire country?

Mudassar Ali, a 21-year-old young man, was caught by the Kasur Police in February 2017 and was subsequently murdered by them in an ‘encounter’, as the police believed he had raped and murdered four-year-old Iman Fatima. In an interesting development, DNA tests conducted a year later on Imran Ali – the man who raped and murdered seven-year-old Zainab – evidenced he not only killed Zainab, but that Iman was also one of the many victims of his brutality.  Sadly, if the Kasur Police had made timely use of forensic science while investigating Iman’s case, not only Mudassar but other victims of ...

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The unheard plight of subcontractors in Pakistan

You might have noticed how the security guard at your company’s gate isn’t directly employed by your organisation; there is a third-party agreement that ensures there is no liability of that security guard on your company. Try to find out how much he earns a month and compare it to how much your company is actually paying for him; I guarantee you will find a stark difference in both amounts. Till a few years ago, this situation was limited to support staff, including pantry boys, the sanitation department, security guards, and so on. However, things have changed over the ...

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