The Islamabad sit-in is a reminder to Pakistan that you reap what you sow

For the past two weeks, hundreds of right-wing Islamists belonging to various religious parties have been protesting in Islamabad, which has disrupted the capital’s life. The protesters have been demanding the resignation of the federal law minister over a recently omitted reference to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a constitutional bill. While the law minister has apologised by terming the constitutional amendment a “clerical mistake”, the protesters continue to insist that they will carry on the protest unless the minister resigns. Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the federal government to ensure that the protesters leave the capital within a day. However, the protesters have not moved an ...

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Happy Children’s Day, Pakistan! BTW, child sexual abuse increased by 10% since 2016

Child abuse is one of the most prevalent social issues in Pakistan. A 2017 report suggests that there has been a 10% increase in cases since last year alone. The issue is only made worse by the fact that neither do we talk about its prevalence, nor do we take any preventive or rehabilitative measures to deal with it. Topics of importance, such as child abuse, rape, sexual assault, honour killing, forced marriage or mental illness, all are considered taboo and often brushed under the rug. The fear of being shunned by society and victim-shamed is perhaps what keeps some of the victims from speaking up about the issue ...

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Bujayote: The future of Pakistan’s musical valley may be bright, but the future of their music is dark

In the extreme north of Pakistan, a small area located in Yasin Valley known as Bujayote, is the home of traditional musicians. According to these artists, this name is associated with one of the very early musicians named ‘Bujaye’, a professional, whose generation pursued this profession. The area is also locally known as “Ustadishoo Deh” which literally means the neighbourhood of the musicians. Yasin Valley is one of the many mountain-locked valleys in the extreme north of Gilgit-Baltistan. The instrumentalists of Yasin perform in a set group of more than three. One of them plays a pair of kettle drums locally called ...

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November 15, 2017
 Raza Habib Raja
TOPICS

Why it is important for MQM-P and PSP to resolve their differences and form an alliance… again

Last week, the media was abuzz with the developments regarding an electoral alliance between Mustafa Kamal’s Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Pakistan faction (MQM-P). Leader of MQM-P, Farooq Sattar, claimed in a press conference that the two parties would fight the coming election under “one name, one party and one manifesto”. However, within 24 hours of the press conference, amid news of serious rifts between MQM-P’s top leadership, Sattar announced his resignation from politics. However, in a manner remarkably reminiscent of his former leader, Altaf Hussain, he took back his decision after “insistence” of his party colleagues and “persuasion” of his mother. Apparently, the ...

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Why do most Pakistanis always favour the ‘wrong’ side of any issue?

Most issues aren’t black and white – they’re grey. More often than not, we read about an event or hear about it in the news, and while our personal views dictate what side we’re on, it is not unfathomable that other people might not see it the way we do. However, have you ever read about an issue and thought, “wow, this seems pretty black and white to me”? And then seen the reaction of people around you, as they somehow invent new colours just to add more sides to seemingly uncomplicated issues? This is quite frequently the case in Pakistan, ...

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How to get rich while saving billions in taxes in Pakistan

I’ve read a lot on how to get rich in a short span of time if you are living in a developing country like Pakistan. But all the writers of such articles have missed the easiest method of all – collude with the customs to cheat the government. One way of doing this is what an enterprising importer did recently. In this case alone, the company must have cheated the government of at least Rs100 million by importing 80,000 cell phones (which were recovered from the bungalow) without any payment of duty and taxes. In another raid, the authorities seized a container (belonging to the same ...

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Because I own Karachi

Standing somewhere in the middle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, I guess my attire gave it away and they all greeted me with a seemingly customary “jeevay, jeevay Pakistan!” Towards the end of my trip, the salutation actually became comical – until this random shopkeeper asked me where I was from and what I felt my city represented. Before travelling to Turkey last month, I was told about Turkish hospitality and I got to witness their warmth towards desi tourists for myself. But for a total stranger to ask me what Karachi means to me, was something entirely new – I’ve ...

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Pakistan should become a secular state, but how realistic is that?

In one of my articles last year, I tried to make a normative case for secularism in Muslim countries. I argued that given the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and growing sectarianism, there is a case of secularism in Muslim countries. Since a secular state is religiously neutral, therefore it would allow various sects in Islam, as well as non-Muslim minorities, to practice their faith freely. Moreover, it would delink the religion with legal code and therefore laws would start reflecting contemporary realities. In my opinion, the idea should at least be entertained in our discourse as it merits serious deliberation. My own country, Pakistan, perhaps is ...

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Hazaras: The Rohingyas of Pakistan?

Last week, when I was planning a trip to Quetta for training, Mujeeb Hashmi, a friend from work, asked me to wear shalwar kameez, not only to the airport but also whenever I went out and about in the city. Hashmi, being a veteran filmmaker, has been to almost every habitable area of Pakistan – so I had to pay heed. He also warned me to be wary of certain localities within the city such as Hazara Town and Alamdar Road, given the violence witnessed by the city in the past. He was right. Quetta made a great first impression on me – ...

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Do not accept praise for healthcare when you cannot accept blame for a woman giving birth outside your hospital, Shehbaz Sharif

They want to attribute this incident to a developing country’s poverty, meaning that it is nobody’s fault in particular. But I believe it is appropriate and needed for the public to shake its fist at the administration that has failed us all. No woman should have to bargain for shelter and basic healthcare while in labour. But that is what Sameera Bibi had to do at Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital in Raiwind. Sameera, the wife of a humble brick kiln worker, was refused obstetric care because there was seemingly no doctor available at the facility at that time. Knowing Shehbaz Sharif’s history with ...

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