Budget2019-20: Is PTI’s budget for the people, the IMF or the country?

If there is one day when the entire nation has its eyes glued to the screen – apart from the elections or a Pakistan-India cricket match – that has to be the day the budget is announced. From the common man to industrialists, all pin their hopes on the government to see which direction the drivers of our economy are taking the nation. This time the government had a choice – either please the masses or please the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Of course, ultimately, the government is choice-less. To put things into perspective, never has the government been ...

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Amidst feudalism, Umme Rabab marches bare foot to fight for justice

Umme Rabab, a 20-year-old advocate from Sindh, went viral on social media recently after a video of her walking barefoot to and from court was shared widely. The young woman’s family – grandfather, father and uncle – were murdered by powerful tribal chieftains belonging to the Chandio tribe of Sindh; influential men who are serving as MPAs in the Sindh Assembly. Despite being advised to not pursue this case against ‘influential men’, Umme Rabab has taken it upon herself to fight for what is not only her right – justice for her family – but what is right in the ...

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Stop deifying or demonising PTM, just lend them a listening ear

The military’s media wing stated in a recent statement that soldiers manning a North Waziristan checkpoint attacked by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) workers led by MNA Mohsin Dawar “exercised maximum restraint”. Despite being attacked, the soldiers didn’t harm the PTM workers.  This is a good sign and reflects the maturity of the armed forces, but they should always exercise restraint like this. There are many conspiracy theories out there about how and why members of the PTM allegedly attacked the Kharqamar check post, or whether they attacked it at all. In addition, there are voices in the Pakistani media questioning where the PTM ...

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The fall of a dynasty: Does Congress still have a future in Indian politics?

As the results of the General Election tumbled in a week ago, concern gave way to questions among the more sceptical. What will this brute majority portend for India? Will we see a ramping up of religious rhetoric and a stronger push for a Hindu Rashtra? Will we see the process of undermining institutions continue? Will we keep witnessing the derision of experts, leading to disastrous policy decisions like demonetisation? And so on. One of the most important questions that emerged from this result, however, is about India’s opposition parties, particularly the Indian National Congress (INC). What does the Congress do ...

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Will PayPal never come to Pakistan?

Pakistan’s financial sector received yet another shock recently when it was revealed that PayPal, which the present government was keen to introduce here, had declined to come to Pakistan citing internal issues. PayPal is a banking channel which acts as a middleman for payments between two parties. After signing up on the platform, a customer is supposed to link their bank account, credit card or debit card to PayPal. Once the procedure is complete, the customer pays or receives money, having the option of keeping the amount in their PayPal account or transferring it to their bank account. Former finance minister ...

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Criminalising abortions and miscarriages: Is America going back to the Dark Ages?

America is an exceptionally confusing place. Doctors in Alabama can now face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion, whereas people like poster boy Stanford swimmer Brock Turner face six months (three due to good behaviour) for being a rapist. Political party culture and conflicting ideologies have been the root of heated debates surrounding life, death, and the disturbing reality that 25 men can tell a woman what to do with her body in the 21st century, and a judge can write a law on abortion in God’s name in a country where church and state ...

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Yes, Chinese men are sham-marrying Pakistani girls, but CPEC is not to be blamed for it

After she finished her initial studies, her parents could no longer afford to send her to college to continue her education. What her father earned was not even enough to make ends meet. The family was living in a rented house in a slum-like dwelling. Sensing she should not be a burden on the gradually weakening shoulders of her father, she started seeking a job but was not successful at all. She was willing to do anything to ease life for her parents so they could focus on her younger siblings instead. Hira, the 19-year-old daughter of a Christian watchman from Sarai ...

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Pakistan and India have cheap labour too, so how is Bangladesh surpassing them?

Lisbon, Portugal, is a scenic and hilly city which has preserved its old Christian traditions and has a hint of romance to it. It’s also rare to come across any South Asians there, unless it’s a Bangladeshi. So is the case in Madrid, Spain, where I lived for some time. From the deserts of Saudi Arabia to the concrete jungle of New York, wherever I have travelled in the world, I have always come across Bangladeshi people. After some research, I have found out that my chance encounters with Bangladeshis in every nook and corner of the world were ...

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What happened to the Bitcoin hype, and why it’s time to invest in it

Two years ago, a phenomenon known as Bitcoin gained hype across the globe, including in Pakistan. Anyone with even a modicum of tech knowledge was head over heels to invest in it, and it seemed unstoppable. Fast forward to the present, the hype seems to have vanished and Bitcoin is rarely the centre of discussion now. Back then, Bitcoin sounded like a method to make easy money, but investors soon became wary of the challenges associated with it. While Bitcoin was still making space in Pakistan in 2017, the cryptocurrency seemed to offer promising returns at a global level. The price was ...

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From Nashwa’s death to doctors spreading HIV, what is happening to Pakistan’s healthcare?

“Primum non nocere.”  (First, to do no harm) This is how I started a blog for the Express Tribune a few years ago. I wrote it then because I felt I had to speak out. A sweeper in Karachi had been rushed to a nearby hospital after he succumbed to noxious gases while trying to clear a sewer. The shocking bit was that the fasting doctor on duty refused to treat the critically ill sweeper covered in sewage water, claiming that doing so would have broken his fast. Interestingly, it is Ramazan again, so perhaps an apt time to remind my fellow healthcare ...

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