A patwari and youthia walk into a dhaba…

Or any place that serves a karak chai for that matter. The humdrum chatter at the venue drowns out any prospect of awkward silence. The two engage in conventional small talk as they await the chai that arrives shortly. From there, it’s all tea-dunked biscuits and fun until the conversation inevitably steers towards politics. All it takes is one comment critical of the current administration and one in rebuttal before the two simultaneously yell “patwari”, “youthia”. They storm off in their respective directions as the remaining chai turns just as cold. It is deeply disconcerting to witness a similar attitude of swift stereotyping and disengagement in ...

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Corruption or negligence: The (not so) curious case of Murad Ali Shah’s resignation

Globally, it is common for politicians and public officials to step down from office if an allegation is made against them and an investigation is ongoing. After all, being in the public eye entails that one allegation is enough to cause lasting damage to one’s reputation and career. Thus, once a concern is raised, it is in the official’s best interest to step down instead of remaining at a post paid for through the public exchequer.  For instance, some leaders across the globe voluntarily stepped down after their names were included in the Panama Papers scandal. Unfortunately in Pakistan, those who ...

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Balochistan is thirsty for a drop of water – what will it take for Pakistan to notice?

It is no secret that Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is facing a chronic water shortage issue and has been experiencing severe droughts for decades. Water is one of the basic necessities of life, fundamental for the existence of life to begin with, and without it we will all cease to exist. And yet the province is moving closer towards becoming a land without water. At least seven small and large rivers flow across Balochistan, from which the Hingol River (the longest river in the province) covers a length of 560 kilometres. Despite the flow of these seven rivers, Balochistan is in ...

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A peddler’s life in the city of Badin: Making peanuts selling peanuts

My first interaction with the peanut selling peddler was nearly 28 years ago. In those days, I had gone to Badin (a city in Sindh) with my father. My father bought peanuts from him and that’s how I first met him. Just a month ago, I met him again with the purpose of writing a story about him and his life. The kind, old man was honoured and said to me: “I am happy to know that at least someone cares about the story of a poor man.” Muhammad Ashraf Chandio, 53-years-old and not formally educated, runs a roadside peanut cart in Badin. His ...

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Has Usman Buzdar’s inefficiency murdered Imran Khan’s vision of Naya Pakistan?

Prime Minister Imran Khan stood up against the status quo and promised to make a difference. He also claimed the people of Pakistan would feel a change after the first 100 days of his government, which would focus on the system and the common people. As a matter of fact, many people who voted for Imran now regret it, since they believe it would have been better if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was still in the opposition, giving people hope. PTI’s journey from a beacon of hope to a practical defender of Pakistani democracy is so far dangerously shaky ...

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Caught between a rock and a hard place, Asif Ali Zardari’s days in politics may be numbered

Finally, the noose has tightened around Mr Asif Ali Zardari and other stalwarts of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). A joint investigation team (JIT) report presented before the Supreme Court (SC) accused Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and others in 16 different cases pertaining to money laundering, misuse of authority and allotting government land to a private housing society at low prices. The 128-page long JIT report is comprehensive and can be termed as solid evidence of the wrongdoings committed by Zardari and his accomplices. How Zardari will defend himself in the court remains ...

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The year of Zainab: Pakistan was jolted awake by the abuse of its children, but is that enough?

She stood by the footpath, her shoulders slouched because of the heavy bag she was carrying. I was waiting at the traffic signal in my car and something about her caught my attention. She was a fine kid, probably 10 or 11-years-old, and was coming from the school adjacent to where my car was stopped. She had two pigtails tied with blue ribbons, and yet her face was very tense. It had an unpleasant, don’t-mess-with-me expression, while her body language could best be described as stiff. Every woman reading this knows the expression, because it never goes away. We are taught to ...

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No water, no electricity, no education – When living in rural Sindh is worse than a death sentence

Martin Luther King once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”. This is the thought the residents of Tharparkar comfort themselves with every day. They console each other by hoping that after all their hardship will come some ease. Out of a small number of nine countries, Pakistan has succeeded in becoming a nuclear power. Who would have thought in a country with so much power, there would be so little for the common people? It is appalling to even think that the residents of rural Sindh still transport water with the help of donkeys. I often find ...

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11 years later, both Pakistan and PPP are suffering the loss of Benazir Bhutto

I still remember the date. It was October 18, 2007, the day Benazir Bhutto returned from self-exile. I was posted in Karachi at the time, and it seemed as if an electric vibe was going through the entire city. As I returned from the office, I could see cars and buses full of people, many of whom were waving the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) flag. I was with a colleague who, after seeing those PPP supporters, could not hide his disgust and remarked: “Jahil qaum hai. Itni corrupt aurat ko welcome kar rahi hai. Yeh Bhuttos mulk loot ker kha gaye. Tab ...

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Why 2018 will go down as an unforgettable year in Pakistan’s democratic history

This year can rightfully be termed the year of change for Pakistan. After all, the General Elections held this year saw the rise of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) into the power corridors. While the political temperature in Pakistan remains high despite the cold weather of December, the following are glimpses of the main political events that had an impact on Pakistan’s political dispensation this year.  January: US President Donald Trump lashed out at Pakistan in a tweet and withheld aid worth millions of dollars. February: Renowned human rights lawyer and activist Asma Jahangir passed away. March: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Nihal Hashmi, Talal ...

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