Why is lifting the ban on student unions important?

Over the past month, it appears that it has become increasingly apparent that the students of Pakistan are in desperate need of a greater number of bodies and student organisations which can help raise a voice for many of their concerns. The recent scandal which hit the University of Balochistan (UoB) resulted in the mobilisation of students across the country who were demanding that the university take immediate action to ensure that those responsible for such abhorrent behaviour be held accountable for their actions. In Islamabad, students were protesting for their housing rights, students in Shaheed Benazir Bhutto University Nawabshah ...

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The problem with Munir Akram’s UN appointment

While Munir Akram officially taking over as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) on Friday did make headlines, a petition filed in the Sindh High Court against him did not, quietly slipping through the cracks. After Maleeha Lodhi announced her departure, the appointment of Akram was met with muted applause for several reasons. It was argued that Akram had already served as Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN during Pervez Musharraf’s regime and that his return would only herald in more of the same polices. The bringing back of the old vanguard and a failure to bring something new ...

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Why did a judge’s belief system stop him from hearing a blasphemy case?

In 2012, Zafar Bhatti was arrested in Rawalpindi for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages. Bhatti, who is a Christian, had subsequently been sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Rawalpindi and has been in prison ever since, even though it has been proven that the mobile phone from which the blasphemous texts were supposedly sent was not registered under his name to begin with. Nonetheless, Bhatti still languishes in jail and his appeal hearings are repeatedly postponed. But the latest reason as to why Bhatti’s court hearing has been delayed is truly perplexing. A few days ago, Judge Raja Shahid Mehmood Abbasi stated that ...

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How Nawaz Sharif’s illness has changed Pakistan’s political chessboard

As per expectations, the Islamabad High Court suspended the imprisonment of Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference case for eight weeks. The high court cited his deteriorating health condition as the reason for doing so. Since being hospitalised last week, Nawaz has been battling ill health while the current government and its backers are praying for his early recovery. This is perhaps a situation where even the worst of Nawaz’s visible and invisible opponents want him to recover from his illness as soon as possible. As a result, Nawaz’s critical illness has actually changed the dynamics of the power chessboard, and the government of Pakistan ...

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What does Pakistan’s improved ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking mean?

The World Bank’s latest rankings of 190 countries on the Ease of Doing Business (EDB) is out.  Pakistan did well, considering it moved up 28 rungs on the rankings ladder, from 136th place to 108th.  In this latest round, Pakistan is one of 10 countries (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Togo, Bahrain, Tajikistan, Kuwait, China, India, and Nigeria) that have improved the most across at least three of the 10 factors that go into constructing the EDB rankings. The annual report received wide publicity on its arrival because the rankings matter. They reflect how conducive the regulatory environment is for opening ...

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Why are we silent about the sexual abuse at madrassas?

Of late, many individuals in Pakistan have finally begun to confront the long festering issue of sexual harassment, with several brave victims choosing to speak out about such issues despite the repercussions that often follow such admissions. Harassment and abuse, whether at the workplace, at a university or at ones own home desperately need to be tackled, yet, we as a nation are still largely reticent to openly acknowledge and discuss these matters. This is made all the more problematic when religion is thrown into the mix. For years, it has been silently acknowledged that many madrassas (religious seminaries) in ...

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How did we let the Counter-Terrorism Department get away with murder?

Justice remains a luxury in Pakistan. The acquittal of the Punjab Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials involved in the Sahiwal massacre case has endorsed the fact that Pakistani laws have double standards depending on which party involved has greater influence – thus only making the cracks in our crippled criminal justice system all the more apparent. The way the court has released the CTD officials by giving them the ‘benefit of doubt’ makes one wonder that how the murder of a family in broad daylight can be so callously dismissed without any repercussions. Unsurprisingly though, this is not the first case, nor ...

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The curious case of Pakistan’s political prisoners

On Monday night, Nawaz Sharif was taken to a hospital for a medical check-up, but Maryam Nawaz’s request to visit her father at the hospital was rejected by a court in Lahore today. Similarly, Asif Ali Zardari was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for treatment yesterday. Both these visits come after intense back and forth between the ruling party and the opposition regarding the conditions of the jail cells in which several politicians are currently being kept. The state of the jail cells, and the charges under which these politicians have been arrested has led to much scrutiny ...

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Can demonetisation help address Pakistan’s FATF concerns?

While many in Pakistan celebrated after hearing the news that Pakistan had survived ‘Indian lobbying’ attempts to get Pakistan onto the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) black-list, it would be foolish to think that a position on the grey-list is something to be proud of. FATF’s primary duty is to be a global watchdog which curbs money laundering and terror financing, and while Pakistan has assured the task force that the nation will achieve the set targets, the likelihood of this happening still remains circumspect, especially given the wide array of problems the nation is already facing. Undoubtedly, the pace of ‘progress’ is far below ...

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How successful are Imran Khan’s attempts at becoming an international statesperson?

“My son, look for a kingdom greater than Macedonia, for it is too small for thee.” Alexander the Great’s father, Prince Philip, said this to him when as a young boy he reined in the famous horse, Bucephalus, while everyone else who had tried to do so had failed. Now, while Imran Khan certainly is no great conqueror of lands, nor does he aspire to be, it is evident that Pakistan is too small a stage for him to play on. Even if he wants to dedicate himself wholeheartedly towards fixing Pakistan’s manifold problems and shuns all foreign commitments, it ...

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