Why do we exoticise the Kalasha yet continue to ignore their woes?

The mountainous communities of Pakistan who inhabit the valleys of Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalaya are on the margins, ignored and side-lined; dependent on external centres of power for knowledge that define and decide their identities, policies and power dynamics. The people of Pakistan largely don’t know much about these communities, their languages, cultures and history. This was glaringly evident during the media coverage coming out of the valley during the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to one of the Kalasha valleys in the Kalashadesh in Chitral. Some reporters associated with certain famous media houses even thought that ...

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Will the victims of the Balochistan University scandal get justice?

A month ago, the Balochistan High Court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to look into the sexual harassment reports which had emerged from Balochistan University. According to FIA findings, both female and male students “were being blackmailed by some staff members through ‘objectionable’ videos of them, recorded through CCTV cameras hidden at various places on the campus including its washrooms.” These reports are bound to have repercussions not just for the educational institution under question but also on women’s education in Pakistan as a whole. Whether or not those responsible for blackmailing, harassment and an evident breach of privacy will be ...

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The Maulana and his army

If Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman goes ahead with the plan he has announced, hordes of khaki-clad men wielding sticks will descend upon the federal capital. No matter how many times Rehman insists that these men will remain peaceful, the striped sticks they will be brandishing are by no means for playing dandiya (a folk dance performed with sticks) with the law enforcement personnel deployed to deal with them. Rehman recently flexed his muscles in Peshawar, staging a gathering of this militia called Ansarul Islam and then letting them loose on the streets of the city, giving the ...

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Who is to blame for Saeed Book Bank’s impending closure?

Reading about Saeed Book Bank’s impending collapse made me think about my last visit to the store; it took me 20 minutes just to find someone to help look for the books I wanted. Once found, it was evident from the salesperson’s disinterest that it was not by mere chance that none of them could be seen in the spacious yet dusty shop. The help they offered was more abysmal than the look on their faces, with me having to run around two floors in confusion as the book arrangement was also haphazard. I eventually had to turn to technology and opted to use ...

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Fazlur Rehman and the art of staying politically relevant

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is well versed in the art of staying relevant. Despite the constant shifts on the political chessboard, Rehman has proven himself to be a very shrewd politician with excellent political acumen. Rehman’s ‘Azadi march’ aims to end as a sit-in against the incumbent government until Imran Khan resigns and dissolves the National Assembly. The fervent support base that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam- Fazl (JUI-F) enjoys means that Rehman and his followers are unlikely to be deterred by the continuous warnings from Interior Minister Ijaz Shah. If the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government really wanted to avoid Rehman’s impending march and sit-in, it ...

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Why can’t Pakistan adopt practices from developed countries to reform its tax system?

Why is it so difficult to evade taxes in developed countries? Couldn’t we just adopt the same systems and improve our tax collections? If they have figured it out, why can’t we just copy them? What’s all the fuss about? These questions regularly come up in conversations when someone finds out that I work in public finance. Since taxation has become a hot topic over the last year, Pakistanis are curious to know more about whether or not we can simply transpose tax policies from other nations into Pakistan. But the realities are a little more complicated than that. ...

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The man who understood poverty: Akhtar Hameed Khan

When Akhtar Hameed Khan announced that he would be resigning from the bureaucracy in order to become a labourer and a locksmith, it isn’t hard to imagine why his family was deeply concerned. After all, he had been born into relative prosperity, had joined the coveted Indian Civil Service (ICS), studied history and literature at Cambridge, and had the intelligentsia of the time as his family, both by birth and through marriage. But it was his time as a revenue collector in East Bengal that made Akhtar Hameed Khan pause and reflect upon his life and world around him. It ...

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The infamous ‘char dewari’ failed to protect Karachi’s gang rape victim, now what?

Women and their clothes made for viral news recently when the Haripur District Education Officer (DEO) issued a notification which stated that all schoolgirls must wear burqas since it will ‘protect’ them against harassment and rape. The move left Pakistanis divided, with some vehemently calling out the government, while others blatantly supporting it. Those for the decision, argued that a covered up woman will inculcate ‘decency’ and, for the lack of a better word, ‘tame’ the raging hormones that supposedly, largely remain out of men’s control. An extension of this argument says confining women within the four walls of a house will also protect them from predatory males. Although the notification ...

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Pakistan’s population conundrum

Amidst all the politicking over economic recovery, a crucial element that is missing from the mainstream narrative is the uncontrolled population growth in Pakistan. The recent census revealed that Pakistan’s population has skyrocketed to approximately 208 million. This is an alarming situation because any effort to stir economic development will be undermined if the population keeps growing at this rate. Realising the constraints overpopulation can have on a developing country’s socio-economic development, most countries in the region implemented policies that significantly decelerated population growth in a relatively short amount of time. As a result, Bangladesh currently has an annual population ...

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How effective is PTI’s climate change policy?

Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan began his historic speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last week with climate change, calling it one of the “most urgent problems the world must address”. Climate change was of course on the agenda of this year’s global leaders gathering in New York. But to be fair Khan has noted the importance of climate change in several of his earlier speeches to the nation as well. 1st let me talk about climate change; I have seen a lot of leaders talk about this. But I don’t see world leaders really realizing the urgency ...

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