Stories about civilians

It wasn’t state facilitation but years of political neglect that turned FATA into an extremist stronghold

Whilst our civilian rulers have borne significant calumny for their dismal governance since the return of the democratic regime in 2008, there remain some feathers in the cap they can yet point to when juxtaposed with their military counterparts. Take the 18th Constitutional amendment for example. Since independence, successive military regimes have sought to consolidate power in the centre, perpetrating a phantom federation which in turn fuelled discontent and separatist-ism throughout the smaller provinces. The unitary propensity of the establishment also played a vital role in the East Pakistan debacle in 1971. The 18th amendment represented a break from this past, bringing about an inclusive administrative system by ...

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Why did PML-N let Musharraf go?

Those who had anticipated the former military dictator lingering behind bars, for monopolising power through unlawful acts for nearly a decade, are reminded of Manto’s masterpiece, Naya Qanoon. The story was written during the British rule in India in the midst of the promise of limited government under the Indian Act of 1935. Ustad Mangu, an ordinary, disillusioned tonga driver in Lahore attempted to test the new law by responding to racial discrimination. Mangu was arrested for beating an English man but kept screaming, “New constitution, Naya Qanoon!” The police retorted, “What nonsense are you talking? What Naya Qanoon? It’s the same old constitution, you fool.” Mangu was ...

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Zarb-e-Azb: Are you doing your bit to fight terrorism?

With the consent of the federal government in Islamabad, the Pakistan Army has finally launched operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in North Waziristan. It was long due for the federal government to take responsibility of the constitution of Pakistan. The constitution is not just about executing former chiefs of the army under article six; it is also about establishing the writ of the state, providing justice to its citizens and securing their lives and properties, against criminals and terrorists. The attack on Peshawar airport was not the first attack. The attack on the Karachi airport, on army bases and headquarters, on schools and public gatherings, in marketplaces and residential areas, ...

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Dear politicians, is this really the right time to discuss politics?

For the third time now, Imran Khan has threatened to dissolve the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly. And for the second time, Tahirul Qadri has pledged to transform Pakistan into an Islamic utopia by coming all the way from Canada. Is this because the greatest problems Pakistan faces right now are entirely of a political nature or because Pakistan is not ‘Islamic’ enough for Canadian nationals and that needs to be changed? Yes and perhaps, respectively. Or maybe, the state is a bit too intent on cutting down on tax exemptions. Yes, our politicians have identified Pakistan’s major problems spot on. When the army stepped in and began its military operation ...

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Drone strikes: We’re humans, not bugs waiting to be squashed

Recently, a charity organisation in the UK by the name of Reprieve, along with the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR), helped a group of artists install a giant portrait of a child victim of a US drone strike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), using French artist JR’s ‘Inside Out’ movement. Since humans seem like ‘bugs’ when viewed by drone operators, and like bugs, they are mercilessly crushed by drone strikes, the idea behind this initiative labelled ‘Not a Bug Splat’ was that it would arouse empathy and humanity in drone operators when they spot the face of a child. Source: NotABugSplat It is quite heart-rending ...

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I am sorry Mr Policeman, you deserve better…

This year, like preceding years, began with massive bloodshed. There have been targeted killings of civilians in the south, sectarian killings in the west and militants in the north of Pakistan. Amid these killings we lost a very brave policeman – Chaudhry Aslam. His death was another gloomy reminder of the continuous attack on our police force as well as our lack of empathy and recognition for their work. In January alone 26 policemen have been killed in Karachi, while in Peshawar another six have been killed and the month is not even over yet. And scores of policemen continue to be injured and killed across the country every day. Unfortunately, only one ...

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Drones are our friends

There is a dichotomy of opinions between people about the ongoing drone attacks. Where some consider it to be a good deed when a terrorist is killed, others think of it as mass murder due to the innocent casualties attached to the attacks. ‘Drone’ is one word that every Pakistani knows of at the present time. It is one of the most useful inventions in modern warfare, after the birth of the AK-47. You don’t need a huge on-foot operation to eliminate your targets anymore, nor do you have to risk the lives of your men. Most importantly, drones give instant results which one ...

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For the family of a dead soldier

Standing outside a hospital corridor, opposite the nursery, I was waiting for my wife to return from the operating theatre after giving birth to our second child. Anxiety was in the process of being replaced by happiness, and I was enjoying the quiet moment. A few minutes later, a nurse brought another newborn baby boy, and some ladies (presumably the family of the infant) followed the nurse. One of the ladies, who looked like a typical grandmother, stood out from rest of the crowd. There was something not quite normal about her. She was relentlessly wiping away tears, saying things like, Mein ...

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Why democracy should stay

Pakistan’s administrative setup was modeled after the British system: an elected legislative assembly was to give form to an executive government headed by the prime minister. The president was to hold a symbolic role while the judiciary was set to be independent. It remains a reality that despite the narrow scope in the electorate, Pakistan was a product of democracy, and will only thrive and succeed if it is democratic in structure and spirit. The continuous hampering course that Pakistan is passing through is not helping it become a truly democratic nation which can grow strong economically and deliver welfare to ...

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Martial law at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts

I just got back from the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). While there, I saw around 200 fauji jawans, in their camouflaged uniforms and big boots, take over the place. The big parking and most of the area in front of the facility, is totally shut down for the public as of now. For a moment, I thought, God forbid, martial law had been imposed. However, upon investigation, I found out that the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) is holding an event on the June 28 (tomorrow) and the prime minister will be the chief guest. Now I have seen Gilani ...

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