Stories about Bangladesh

Nusrat Rafi is to Bangladesh what Jyoti Singh was to India – a rude awakening

Nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi should be doing what any other average teenager does in their day: sitting their exams, stressing about their results, surrounding themselves with piles of books, and spending time with their friends. Instead, 19-year-old Nusrat is being mourned by her distraught family after she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. Her crime? She filed a police complaint against the headmaster of her madrassa who sexually harassed her. In Bangladesh, like many other conservative countries, sexual harassment is a taboo subject and women are reluctant to speak out against those who harass them, for fear of ...

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It’s 2019 and PMDC is still struggling with emails, while ‘valuable assets’ lose opportunities

Every year, between 1,000 and 1,500 Pakistani physicians leave the country to pursue their advanced medical training. As a result, there are currently thousands of Pakistani physicians working in the US, UK, Australia and the Middle East.   According to the 2016 Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) census, there are more than 12,000 active-licensed Pakistani physicians working in the US alone, while similar estimates for the UK, ranging around 2,300. To continue their academic pursuits, these physicians are required to attain temporary, and eventually permanent, registration with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). One would expect the process of obtaining ...

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I dedicate this Pakistan Day to my grandfather, a PoW, and my father, a war veteran

Lieutenant Colonel Shuaib was posted in Bahawalpur, West Pakistan when he was informed of his new assignment in East Pakistan as G1 to a three-star General. This was in the late 60s, when tensions were high between the East and the West wing of Pakistan. As is usual with army postings, he packed up and left to report to his new posting. His family of six – a wife and five children – were supposed to follow him soon. As fate would have it, before his family could arrive and the house could be furnished with belongings that would later be ...

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#SayNoToWar: Airstrikes, blackouts and bunkers – that was my childhood

Learning new vocabulary and songs on the first day of school is a part of growing up; it’s a part of childhood memories. When I recall my memories, they are a little unusual. They are of war; the war of 1971 when East Pakistan was attacked. The lyrics of some of the ‘askari naghme’ (patriotic songs) sung by Madam Noor Jehan, such as Ay watan ke sajeeley jawanon (O brave men of the country) were the first to be embedded in my mind. Words like anti-aircraft, missile, trenches and blackouts were some of the first ones I learned in the English ...

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PTI’s third finance bill in six months and yet no relief for the common man in sight

The highly anticipated second mini-budget or the third finance bill for the current fiscal year (whatever you may like to call it) has, at last, been revealed. Finance Minister Asad Umar, feeling the heat from all ‘concerned’ quarters, made an attempt to appease by announcing tax concessions to the banking sector and the business community at large. On paper, the bill looks acceptable, as it is aimed at restoring the confidence of the business sector in the economy. Abolishing the withholding tax, abolishing the super tax on the non-banking sector, continuing the 1% reduction per annum in corporate income tax, allowing capital ...

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“Udhar tum, idhar hum”: When Bhutto pushed Bangladesh to the edge of Pakistan

The fall of Dhaka is one of those events in our history that we’d rather forget. No one talks about it nowadays, because it was the result of our own follies. But those who are still alive will never be able to forget TV newscaster Shaista Jabeen’s tearful announcement that dreadful night in December:  “According to an agreement, Indian soldiers have now taken control of Dhaka.” The people in what remained of Pakistan were shocked beyond belief. For days they had been told that everything was normal in the eastern wing, despite the BBC giving a contrasting picture. As always, ...

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2018 has been the year of T20 for Pakistan – but that’s about it

I am that party pooper who would be the first to volunteer out of taking insane adrenaline pumping rides at the amusement park, because every experience I have had thus far has left me lightheaded for too long. Yet for some odd reason, I willingly choose to follow the Pakistani cricket team year after year, despite knowing very well that I am signing up for an emotional roller coaster ride that may have the highest crescendos but will also have the sharpest dips. This year kicked off in a free fall mode in New Zealand, where rain seemed like the ...

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Why is India worked up about the Pakistan-China bus service?

On October 31st, India formally protested the proposed launch of a bus service between China and Pakistan because the service would “operate between Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” under the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC). The official spokesman noted that India held the China-Pakistan Boundary agreement of 1963 as “illegal and invalid” and views the service as a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. If all this sounds tough and uncompromising, it is. But it is hardly consistent and not especially helpful. The Karakoram Highway, over which the service will be run, has been around since the late 60s and ...

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Made in Pakistan: Why exporting apparel is the answer to Pakistan’s rising trade deficit

While buying a jacket from an international clothing brand in Pakistan, I was mildly surprised to find the tag ‘Made in Bangladesh’. Until recently, I was under the impression that these clothes were still manufactured in Pakistan. After all, we do export textile, which is simply raw fabric. Apparel is just one step ahead of textile, with value added to the fabric by converting it into readymade garments. Then why we are importing apparel from Bangladesh when we have a huge textile sector at home? And what lessons can our deteriorating economy learn from Bangladesh’s apparel exports? Due to a massive ...

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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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