Pakistan did not need to pick a side in the Canada-Saudi Arabia conflict

I had the pleasure of visiting the Pakistani consulate in Toronto the other day to renew my passport. Every time I enter the consulate, it’s like I am transported back in time to a bureaucratic government office in Islamabad in the 90s. Passport renewal process in Pakistan has been improved and streamlined yet our consulates and embassies still operate as if this is Nawaz Sharif’s first term in office. But I digress. I was seated next to a bearded gentleman who was also there to renew his passport. We struck up a conversation and I found out that this man ...

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In the US-China trade war, Pakistan and the global economy will be the casualties

The year 2017 ended on a positive note, with some major economies leading the “broadest synchronised global upsurge since 2010”, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Markets reacted positively to the improved global economic outlook, giving rise to a flare of optimism in the investor community. Halfway through 2018, however, and the global economic scenario now paints a different picture. China just lost its spot to Japan for the second largest stock market in the world, amid rising tension over the trade war concerns between the two major superpowers. Donald Trump seems to be on board to fulfil his promise ...

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If religious parties were not elected into power, is the Pakistani voter thus “moderate”?

The 2018 Elections are over, giving a healthy but controversial victory to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). These elections were, according to many independent correspondents, one of the “dirtiest” in living memory, mainly due to the tactics employed by mainstream parties and the extreme political polarisation in the electorate. Besides other things, one crucial aspect that truly distinguished these elections from previous ones was the intense whipping up of religious sensitivities – like bringing up the Finality of Prophethood (pbuh) – by several parties. Although this issue had been raised earlier as well, it took centre stage during the elections. Due ...

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Horse-trading in Naya Pakistan: Is Imran Khan sure his aides won’t stab him in the back?

Horse-trading has existed in Pakistani politics since its inception. Whether it is behind closed doors or flagrant – the manipulation of politicians consequently influences narratives in the Majlis-e-Shura. Come election season, the game of simple majority in the Parliament strengthens independents and parties such as Awami National Party (ANP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) among others – giving them an edge over major political parties such as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). For decades, major political parties have practiced horse-trading in a bid to make government or ...

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From Fatima Jinnah to Nasira Iqbal: Can Pakistan make the choice 53 years later?

The first woman to run for Pakistan’s presidential elections did so in 1965, and it was Fatima Jinnah versus Ayub Khan. The latter swept the elections and was sworn in as president. That was 53 years ago. Now, 53 years later, is Pakistan ready to make history and elect the first woman president of the country? Recently, social media was rife with speculation that Justice (retd) Nasira Iqbal, a Pakistani jurist and law professor who served as a justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) for eight years until 2002, was being considered for the office of the President of Pakistan. ...

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In the midst of all the tabdeeli in K-P, did Imran Khan forget about its women?

In June, Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and now set to be the country’s future prime minister, made a few uninformed statements on feminism. He said,  “I disagree with the western concepts of feminism. It has completely degraded the role of a mother.”   The internet responded to this and set the record straight. The theory and practice of feminism, which is certainly not always western, has led to maternity benefits for working mothers and has elevated motherhood in that regard. But Imran has previously opined on topics that stray from his area of expertise. His views on feminism do not ...

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Naya Pakistan, purana Balochistan

As expected, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) grabbed more seats than any other party in the legislative provincial assembly in the 2018 General Elections. Though they did not win an absolute majority, BAP has enough elected members to attract other parties and independent candidates to form a coalition government. In the entire history of the province, there has never been a political party that has enjoyed an absolute majority in the assembly, so switching party loyalties to form a coalition government is a common occurrence. Of the 50 members of the house, the BAP acquired 17 seats, with two of them going ...

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Waking up in Naya Pakistan: 8 commendable things to come out of the 2018 Elections

I live in the US but I am visiting Pakistan for the 2018 General Elections, and am proud to have witnessed an amazing electoral process, voted myself, and seen the making of a ‘Naya Pakistan’. I was in the US in 2016 when the presidential elections were going on, however, the burst of activism and political awareness among the youth, alongside the will to work for the betterment of the country, is rather distinct here in the homeland. Politics is discussed over cups of ‘karak chai’ at local dhabas and elite coffee shops alike. Another difference I observed from ...

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The rise of ‘aam shehri’

With the General Elections only a couple of days away, politics is in its prime – rallies are being held, politicians are still being convicted and disqualified, and the ludicrous valuation of assets are making waves on national television and drawing rooms alike. Unlike 2013 though, excitement beckons with the launch of mainstream candidacies by fresh challengers, who are mounting pressure against the status quo. Jibran Nasir, a popular social activist, is taking on age-old tested candidates, prospectively Pak Sarzameen Party’s (PSP) Fauzia Kasuri and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Dr Arif Alvi in NA-247, Karachi. Photo: Facebook/ Jibran ...

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To vote or not to vote: 6 questions that need to be answered before Election Day

As General Elections are approaching, people are increasingly interested in discussing various aspects of elections. In a country that has seen martial laws most of its existence, it is indeed a good omen that slowly elections are becoming a predictable event of democratic development (touch wood) in Pakistan. The world has started excelling in the use of social media for meaningful purposes including electioneering; it’s not a bad start for Pakistan as well. There is, however, a huge class of “concerned citizens” (read: chattering class) who have started raising some questions on elections, ranging from why is there an election ...

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