From PML-Nawaz to PML-Nobody: Who’s calling the shots?

Ours is a great country. We love our politics as much as we love our curry with laal mirch masala (red chilli powder). Perhaps one of the primary reasons we are as emotional as we are is because of the laal mirch (read laal, hari, peeli mirch) in our food. It makes us exciting, passionate and restless. A little moderation in our masala intake might make us more tolerant and peaceful, and this definitely is the case for most of the nations of the subcontinent. Seems like at this moment the greatest need for moderation is in Islamabad, where judicial activism is at its ...

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Diplomatic immunity: How to get away with murder in Pakistan

This weekend, the country suffered yet another blow in its already shaky relationship with the United States of America. Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, a diplomat serving at the American Embassy as the defence and air attaché, ran a red light and hit a young Pakistani man on a motorcycle, killing him. Before any official reaction could occur, the CCTV footage of a speeding Land Cruiser striking a biker started making rounds on all social and digital platforms. It also came to light that the driver was apprehended by the local police, but had to be let go due to his ...

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Pakistan and India have one thing in common – they are both intolerant nations

A few days ago, I watched a video clip of a Hindu MNA from PTI, Lal Chand Malhi, in which he gave a fiery speech, pointing towards the discriminatory, and in fact, derogatory attitude of the Pakistani society towards the Hindu community. He objected to the way in which the Hindu style of worship is mocked. Malhi also lamented about the conflation of Pakistani Hindus with the Indian state by saying, “inko gali deni hoti hai India ko, galian de dete hain Hindu ko.” (They want to abuse India, instead they abuse Hindus). He claimed that Hindus are equal citizens of Pakistan, and complained that ...

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Karachi – the city where your ‘mochi’ can also mend your soul

Karachi is home to the most diverse of populations across Pakistan. Muslims, non-Muslims, Shia, Sunni, Muhajir, Balochi, Sindhi, Pashtun, Kashmiri, and also many other minority groups; many a people have found home here. Some of them love Karachi, others hate it. But Karachi has embraced them all – giving them the freedom to be themselves. Some folks weave dreams during the day. Some have adopted a nocturnal lifestyle and work during the night. Some read Jane Austen, while some unfalteringly quote Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Some revere and find solace in its shrines. And yet, others destroy the very sanctity of ...

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Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

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Has Farooq Sattar and Amir Khan’s “leadership” ended MQM-P for good?

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) recently removed Farooq Sattar from the convenership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P). Interestingly, the petition was not filed by any rival party; rather, it was filed by the Rabita Committee of MQM-P. They also challenged the intra-party election held by the Sattar group. Sattar decided to challenge the decision of the ECP in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and subsequently, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) restored him back to his position. The damage, however, has been done, and it is deep. Back in the day, the MQM used to have a unique attraction for the youth of Karachi, and ...

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The city of Sufism, saints and nirvana – Multan has more to offer than you think

Earlier this year, I took a trip to Multan that was meant to be an official excursion, and yet somehow proved to be a bit of a life changer. As I waited to board my flight, I “checked in” on my Facebook account, and in turn was presented various sites referencing Multan as the “City of Saints”. All I knew about Multan was that it was famous for its blue pottery and other textile items, which is why this revelation made me feel excited at the prospect of my trip to the city. Coming from Karachi, I genuinely did not ...

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Only in Pakistan can your child get an ‘A’ without learning anything

Over the past few years, the policy on education has taken centre stage in Pakistan. There is now debate over reforming the curriculum of madrassas, as they have failed millions of students who have, and continue to receive, their education in these religious seminaries. However, it is not just the madrassas that need reform, but also the ‘elite’ private school system. I have been teaching part-time in Karachi’s private sector for almost a decade, and it is blatantly clear that the current system has failed miserably. Be it private universities or schools, few understand or are interested in the purpose of education itself. The ...

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Winning the 2018 elections with Zardari and PPP, or saving his party’s ideology – what will Imran Khan choose?

The election, or as some experts satirically call it, the “selection” of the relatively unknown candidate as the Chairman of the Senate, has jolted the political landscape of Pakistan. It is now clear that those who removed Nawaz Sharif – right or wrong is a different matter altogether – are going to use all the tactics at their disposal to prevent his political comeback. The objective in the Senate election has been achieved brilliantly by both, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). They have been brought together in a surprising alliance, despite Imran Khan’s tall public promises of never shaking ...

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Women empowerment in rural Balochistan: Applause is louder and real when men and women clap together as equals

In December 2017, I paid a visit to the Kech District in Balochistan, during which I had a very stimulating interaction with members of the community organisations formed by the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP). However, the biggest surprise for me undeniably was to see the social mobilisation of local women, as they participated in the meetings alongside the male members of their village. Such a high rate of female participation in these meetings was a shock, to say the least, particularly given the conservative nature of the province of Balochistan. Decision-making here is a domain solely belonging to its men, ...

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