Stories about debate

Explaining the garlands for Qadri

You may argue that a large number of people in Pakistan condemn the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. But the truth, though bitter, is that many instead of condemning the heinous act of a murderer, condemn the verdict of the court which proclaims capital punishment for Mumtaz Qadri.  There are campaigns running throughout the country that pay tribute to a murderer. Huge posters of Qadri, decked with Quranic verses and beautiful roses, are plastered all over and yet there is no one to remove such aberrations. Some believe that the reason for this queer phenomenon is illiteracy, and talk about it in a ...

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No homosexuality in Pakistan, and other lies

While visiting Karachi University a few months back for a fieldwork assignment, I had a rather peculiar run-in with a group of clinical psychologists. All of them were involved in clinical and rehabilitative projects and had recently banded together to start a small forum to teach people aspiring to enter mental health and also to disseminate specialised information among professionals. They felt that such knowledge was largely disaggregated in Pakistan.  This meeting was atypical for me since it was one of my first encounters with a group of well educated and professionally active psychologists who wanted to inject some vigour into the ...

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More provinces …or not

Recently, amidst the frenzy of the National Assembly debate regarding new provinces, the MQM’s Farooq Sattar voiced an interesting thought. He said that if more provinces are not built, more “Balochistan-like situations” could arise. By politicising the issue of additional provincial units, the current discourse for provinces has taken an unfortunate turn. Based on populist rhetoric, the debate inside the National Assembly disregards the structurally important aspects of the country’s bureaucracy and political system which is plagued with cases of centralisation and inability to promote local autonomy. The real fear of creating ‘more provinces’ is that it may further polarise the ...

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Why divide Punjab?

“Why not create a Seraiki province in Sindh?” This is my cardinal question to all those who want Punjab to be divided. The MQM’s recent call for new provinces to be carved out in Pakistan has irked me a great deal. To explain my sentiment, here’s some background on the province of Punjab.  Many different dialects are spoken in this province, some of which include Majhi, Jhangochi, Pothohari, Saraiki, Jatki, Hindko, Chhachhi, Doabi, and Derewali. The MQM has submitted a bill to the National Assembly calling for Punjab’s division on linguistic basis. What they don’t understand, perhaps, is that Seraiki is a just dialect of ...

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Demystifying Jinnah’s Pakistan

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, rightly known as the ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, spent most of his life advocating for a united India in which rights of all factions would be respected and Muslims given an equal representation in all state affairs. It was not until he realised this was not possible in the prevailing political atmosphere that he took up a different path to protect the rights of the Muslim minority – fighting for a separate homeland. For as long as Pakistan has existed, liberals and conservatives have debated the true nature of the state that Jinnah envisioned and helped ...

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Slaps won’t get us anywhere

India is in in the midst of a violent clash today – a clash between headlines and history. Too many headlines over the last few years have blurred our vision, and suddenly we find ourselves in chaos. The shrill voices discord that we thought we had left behind have let themselves loose on the consciousness of a nation. The nation that is angry over the political menopause of the Opposition party which has lost vigour at a time when the youth population is expanding. In a rush to garner attention, a devious political agenda is being put forward which might ...

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The inadequacies of ‘Financial Fair Play’

There’s an ongoing debate over the financial muscle of ‘big clubs’ and the amount of money they throw on player transfers – extraordinary amounts of money are seen being splashed out in the transfer window even with the existence of what we’ve come to know as an ‘economic recession’. While clubs like Real Madrid and Manchester City have bored followers by their excessive transfer spending, the recent excursion into the window by Chelsea has raised quite a few eyebrows among the general public and UEFA officials. UEFA’s answer to all these problems is the controversial ‘Financial Fair Play’ legislation. ...

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Banning opinion: What would Gandhi do?

In the words of 16th century English author and philosopher Francis Bacon: Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. In the 21st century, a section of Indian politicians want to add one more line to this sentence: some books are to be banned without reading and knowing the name of the author. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Joseph Lelyveld’s book Great Soul: ...

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It is time to reclaim the mosque

The battle for blasphemy reform is not over. It needs a change of strategy. Currently it has consisted of people demanding a change in the laws but to little effect. There is a need to get various influential lobbies and stakeholders involved. One of them is the mosque. The mosque, as a center of ideas, has been severely under-utilised by reformist Pakistanis which is unfortunate. I’m sure some of us go to the mosque once a week or so. It is time we should engage our maulvis into debate and discussion. Many of them will not change the way they ...

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It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘left’ or ‘right’

I have always wondered whether the characterisation of ‘’secular’’ versus ‘’religious’’ (with ‘’secular’’ equated with liberalism and ‘’religious’’ synonymous with at best, a quaint traditionalism and at worst, a form of barbarity) is an accurate framework for civic discussion. In his work titled Public Philosophy – Essays on Morality in Politics, Michael Sandel, the Harvard political philosopher, argues that all citizens should come to the public sphere and be allowed to use religious/moral and metaphysical arguments in public discussion as it has done much to tear down these simplistic dichotomies. The civil rights movement in the US was primarily a ...

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