The Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme is a great initiative, but can it survive the curse of corruption?

In keeping with the theme of ‘change’, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government recently launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, aiming to build five million homes in five years. It is evident from the very start that a project of this magnitude will require a lot more input than just land, which the government will be providing. And while they say they will not be involved in construction directly, arranging funds to provide basic amenities to residents alone will be a herculean task. We have launched our most ambitious, landmark housing policy of building 5mn homes in 5 yrs. InshaAllah this ...

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NAB’s ‘selective accountability’ is only adding fuel to PML-N’s ‘victimised’ fire

Shehbaz Sharif’s arrest by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) right before the by-elections raised legitimate concerns in the opposition regarding the impartiality of the accountability institution. Currently, the leader of the opposition and president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Shehbaz has been charged with misusing his former authority as chief minister of Punjab and for his alleged involvement in the Ashiyana housing scam. While he is currently under investigation by NAB, a perception has been created in the country that the PML-N is seemingly being targeted and punished for crimes other parties and politicians are exempted from. The spin wizards ...

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‘Naya Pakistan’ – PTI’s best-selling joke

The verdict of the 2018 by-elections is in, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) losing some of the seats it had previously won in the General Elections. Yes, their supporters will say the party has won more seats than the opposition, but the fact remains that losing seats which you previously won, and that too in the by-polls (which always favour the sitting government) is a bad sign. Things are not going well, and the electorate is noticing the sheer incompetence and cluelessness of the PTI government. I am trying to recall, but despite my best efforts cannot remember a comparable level ...

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Sakina’s soul is calling for justice, but is Pakistan listening?

Would it be true to suggest that only the mighty can get justice in Pakistan, or just another misnomer? No matter what side of the argument you support, it is undeniable that this is a question of wide importance in a country such as ours. On September 13, 2018, a brutal crime was committed in the Chak 92 JB area of Gojra. A man called Safdar, with the help of an accomplice, threw acid on a sleeping family out of revenge. The ferocity of the attack did not stop at this; they viciously poured acid into Sakina Bibi’s mouth and ...

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Sending your child to school doesn’t guarantee that he will actually learn

In a utopian setting, the quintessential scenario for Pakistan would be to educate every child, thus leading to countless benefits, not least in relation to important indicators such as employment, health, equality and so on. Receiving “free and compulsory” education is also a legal constitutional right for every Pakistani child aged five to 16 under Article 25A. However, let’s face the harsh reality: Pakistan is unable to educate every single child. According to budget estimates, the government will only spend around a meagre 2.03% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on education in 2018. This is way below international requirements. Resources are ...

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The stone crushers of Taxila: Are we ready to lose pieces of our history and heritage?

Taxila valley, which lies just beyond the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, is a picturesque, rural place with sleepy villages nestled below its green hills. Located less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad, the area is famous for Khanpur Dam and a series of archaeological remains which were declared as world heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) back in 1980. Ideally, Taxila should be preserved as a tourist destination steeped in history, but over the years, stone crushers (a machine used to break down large rocks into smaller rocks, gravel or rock dust) have been ...

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For how long will you blame the previous government for your failures, PTI?

It has been only seven weeks since the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took over the reins of the country and it is already evident that the government, especially its finance minister, has no clue of the direction the economy is taking. It is, of course, the fault of the PTI leadership, who brainwashed its followers into believing that Imran Khan could change the face of Pakistan by eliminating corruption and recovering the looted money immediately after winning the elections. Perhaps the slogans were deliberate; Imran and his associates knew that it was impossible to achieve so much in such a ...

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When blood becomes cheap and police are the monsters our children need protection from

Another day, another victim – a child no less! A short while after the death of Amal Umer – 10-year-old girl who lost her life after a crossfire between the police and robbers – the police in Karachi have claimed yet another young life. Seven-year-old Aqsa recently became the victim of a stray bullet, out of all places, while she was at her school! Perhaps what makes this situation direr is the fact that the school she was attending was next  to a police training centre, full of police personnel, which is where the bullet came from. Now that we have ...

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(Un)clean and (dis)honest: When karma paid a little visit to Jahangir Tareen and Imran Khan

The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan has finally dismissed Jahangir Khan Tareen’s review petition, filed by him after being disqualified for life alongside former premier Nawaz Sharif. Tareen was found to be dishonest under article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, read with Section 99(1)(f) of ROPA, due to him concealing SVL, an offshore company also known as ‘Hyde House’, which he failed to declare in his nomination papers. By submitting an untrue statement – that he had no beneficial interest in SVL – he proved his dishonesty in the eyes of the law. Tareen always maintained that the verdict against ...

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Stand at attention, hand on heart, bow your head – what are you supposed to do during the national anthem?

It is not often that people listening to the national anthem get airtime on multiple occasions over a three-month period. In this era of hyper nationalism and unnecessarily overt displays of patriotism, perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing. However, with the recent oath-taking ceremonies, Independence Day, Defence Day and the Asia Cup coming in quick succession, we’ve been blessed with (or subjected to, depending on your perspective) something approaching an overload of this. One remembers, of course, the brouhaha across the border on people not standing up for the national anthem which, apparently, is played before every movie in the ...

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