For Muslims in India, Eid namaz was offered under the shadow of fear

I recently recalled the memory of an argument I had with one of my friends from school six years ago, when I was still in high school. It was around the time Narendra Modi was vigorously campaigning to become the next prime minister of India. He was a hot topic for debate, and every media house was discussing the sharp rise in the popularity of the chief minister of Gujarat, despite the Hindutva identity he carried. The media termed it the ‘Modi wave’. My friend and I were discussing the series of corruption scandals that unfolded during the tenure of ...

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70 years of Pakistan and two successful elected governments – should we celebrate democracy?

Democracy is a system of procedural consistency, which is perhaps why the reason Pakistan has failed to strengthen its democracy over the past few decades is because it has been marred by inconsistencies. As the government fulfils its five-year tenure once again, we see the emergence of a new dawn, something unimaginable even a decade ago. For the first time in our 70-year history, two democratic governments have successfully completed their entire five-year terms and engaged in a smooth transition. It has become a common habit for people to criticise our “desi democratic principles”. And why not, they ask? ...

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Sorry PTI, but the game of elections is poised between PPP and PML-N

The stage is all set for the battle of the General Elections 2018, with all major political parties eyeing the throne. Though we are more than a month away from the big day, the three leading parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are all hoping to make the government in the centre as well as in their respective provinces. Given the dynamic circumstances of our political arena, it is almost impossible to predict a winner at this stage. Nonetheless, looking at the present situation, one can try to assess ...

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Miscarriage of justice: For Khadija Siddiqui, justice was delayed and denied

Shah Hussain’s May 25th ‘acquittal’ in the Khadija Siddiqui case has led to public outrage. People’s faith in the criminal justice system seems to be shattered yet again. In 2016, Khadija was attacked by a helmet adorned assailant multiple times, 23 times to be precise, with a knife. On July 29, 2017, a magistrates’ court convicted Shah, her classmate at law school, of attempted murder and criminal hurt (Sections 324 and 337 of the Pakistan Penal Code) and sentenced him to seven years in prison. In March, 2018, a session’s court reduced the sentence to five years, and last week, the Lahore ...

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Can the 2018 General Elections be rigged?

Let’s get it out of the way: the caretaker or interim government setup for the General Elections 2018 will not be in a position to influence the results the way it did back in May 2013. After all, the chief secretaries appointed in this tenure will be scrutinised by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) very strictly, while the political parties, especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), are very determined to develop consensus when it comes to the names being included in the interim government. The provinces failed to develop consensus for the selection of caretaker chief ministers (CM) within the given ...

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“Either the cement plants go, or we do”: The dry lands of Punjab’s future breadbasket

When the blue-green waters of the Katas Raj Hindu temple complex began to dry out last year, there was a furore in the media. Concern over the historical site brought the country’s attention (and the Supreme Court’s focus) to the plight of the local community’s dwindling groundwater resources. One of the most photographed sites in Pakistan, the Katas Raj Hindu temple’s pond is said to have been created from the teardrops of Shiva as he wandered the earth, inconsolable after the death of his wife Sati. For hundreds of years, Hindu pilgrims have bathed in this pond, whose plentiful ...

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18th amendment: Teaching Pakistan’s children the importance of their vote

With July fast approaching, election fever is at a peak. The selection of the interim prime minister is dominating the news cycle, rallies are being held regularly, and parties have begun advertising their policies. But the question remains: have the structural problems pertaining to electoral quality been addressed?  They are wide and ever perpetuating; a lack of voter turnout, the gender parity in the turnout, non-coerced voting for women, representation in turnout from all areas of the federation, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and the question of escaping the seduction of dynasty politics. Keeping this plethora of electoral issues ...

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Pakistan’s insecurity, India’s leverage, and the most generous Indus Waters Treaty

The Indo-Pak relationship has become a byword and a cautionary tale in what nation states must not do when interacting with one another. Whether it is the complex Kashmir issue, cross-border terror, trade issues, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), or even the allegedly “low hanging” and easily resolvable issues of Siachen and Sir Creek, the two countries have been unable to come to terms. In the backdrop of failed agreements, lost opportunities and active sabotage of attempted détentes, one instance of cooperation on a critical issue bucks this trend, and that is the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). The treaty was ...

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PTI’s 100-day agenda: No change without exchange

On May 20th, Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) brethren took to the stage in Islamabad to reveal a wide-ranging legislative agenda that the party hopes to focus on, if it is elected into office in the upcoming general elections over the summer. The agenda included ambitious agricultural and developmental reform, as well as plans for the bifurcation of the Punjab province, with detailed plans for the incorporation of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Pakistan’s legal jurisdiction. The conference ended with a few words from Pervaiz Khattak, perhaps the conference’s most important: “The media must not take this to ...

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Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

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