Has Nawaz Sharif been silenced or is it the calm before the storm?

For an outside observer, September 19th in Islamabad could easily have been mistaken for Eid – thousands gathered and cheerfully embraced each other with exuberance, and sweets were handed out to all in sight. The entrance of the Islamabad High Court was buzzing with excitement, in the aftermath of the decision to suspend the sentences handed down by the accountability court to Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Muhammad Safdar Awan. Amidst it all, the cause of celebration – former Prime Minister Nawaz – was relatively mute. Of course, the sombreness is in many ways understandable, Nawaz’s wife and former First ...

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Is Pakistan ready to grant citizenship to its Afghan and Bengali refugees?

Policy and governance are most effective when idealism morphs into realism to tackle challenges and go after opportunities in the real world, while also aspiring for utopia. It is in the middle ground between these poles where effective governance happens. Thus, Imran Khan’s announcement that Pakistan would grant citizenship to refugees of Afghan and Bangladeshi origin should be seen in the same vein as his other policy decisions since his victory, many of which he has backtracked on. Atif Mian’s resignation from the Economic Advisory Committee is a case in point. The decision to oust him was a solid ...

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Nation uniform curriculum: Are we compromising equity for equality?

In another move towards a Naya Pakistan, Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood has announced a uniform national curriculum policy to not only ensure the quality of education, but also provide a level playing field across the country and present equal opportunity to everyone. This may sound utopian to many, but can we start celebrating yet? Let’s unearth this thought by taking a glance at the omnipresent institution of ‘schools’. How old is this institution? Impromptu responses might suggest perhaps thousands of years old, or maybe dating back to Socrates. Not only would these responses reflect our ...

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Can PTI’s mini-budget get the economy out of the ICU and into the ‘recovery room’?

Pakistanis love to bash politics and politicians whenever they face any problem. Slogan after slogan, martyrdom, militarism and affluent status quo is what three generations of Pakistanis have seen. So when Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) claimed to make policies focusing on “uplifting the lower middle class”, even the PTI voters were somewhat sceptical. Alas, critics can be shushed, the mini-budget is out and looks like PTI may have delivered what it promised. Before the official mini-budget announcement, many people were criticising the government for its decision to raise gas prices and income taxes, however, they did not see ...

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Is reformation of Pakistan’s civil service another empty promise?

“How would you reform the civil service?” Some eight months ago, when one of the members of the interview panel constituted to select the most suitable candidates for the Central Superior Services (CSS) asked me this question, I heaved a sigh of relief. The questions prior to this were trickier than my expectations, and hence unnerving. But this one was, in cricketing terms, a half volley, and I had to try to make the most of it. However, less than a minute into my impassioned speech on what I believed blighted our esteemed civil service and what ought to be done to improve ...

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RIP Kulsoom Nawaz: An embodiment of ‘when they go low, we go high’

The death of Kulsoom Nawaz, three-time former first lady and wife of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is a loss deeply felt by all, but especially by those who have an inkling of her role in our political history. Kulsoom was diagnosed with throat cancer in August 2017, and she passed away in London at the age of 68 after fighting a long and strenuous battle. The entire nation prays she rests in peace. Kulsoom will undoubtedly always be remembered as the woman who stood against the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf, and pushed him on the back foot by not ...

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From a man’s perspective: Why Pakistani men murder women for saying ‘no’

As cases keep coming to the forefront on a regular basis, the question of why Pakistani women are killed for rejecting male advances will sooner or later have to be answered. The killing of a young medical student, Asma Rani, and the stabbing of Khadija Siddiqui were still fresh on our minds, but it didn’t end there; the incidents just kept on coming. Not too long ago, news emerged of 19-year-old Mahwish Arshad, the sole breadwinner of her family, being shot and killed for rejecting a proposal. Last year, 19-year-old Tania Khaskheli was gunned down in her own home ...

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Damage control: Why Imran Khan needs to put foreign diplomacy before domestic issues

In the globalised world of today, the foreign policy of any state is the most vital component to its progress. This is how states interact with each other and negotiate their interests, as you have to figure out how to fulfil your national interest while also giving other states a way to fulfil theirs. In Pakistan, it has been the control over foreign policy that has been the cause behind major rifts between civilian governments and officials of other institutions. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif were all elected leaders thrown out of power due to their efforts ...

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Why Dr Arif Alvi should not be the president of Pakistan

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Arif Alvi is one of the few politicians respected widely for his honesty and modesty. In a political party like the PTI – which mostly consists of intolerant and impulsive politicians, or people like Aamir Liaquat – Arif’s constant presence is like a calming presence for supporters. Dr Arif has now been chosen by the PTI as their candidate for the president of Pakistan, and given the fact that the opposition has not been able to agree on one candidate yet again due to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), he will likely become another head of ...

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For PM Imran Khan: A guide on how to fix the unfixable

There is a new sense of optimism in Pakistan. Many in the country are looking to the government of Imran Khan to reform the way the country works and put it back on the track of development and prosperity. The new government has signalled a willingness to think outside the box. This means trying to do what has not been done before. It means going against vested interests, the ‘rent seekers’ who have used their influence to accumulate power and enormous wealth. And finally, it also means going against established international ‘norms’ of behaviour as defined by the ‘Washington Consensus’. First ...

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