Stories about dictatorship

A presidential system will only ‘save’ Imran Khan, not Pakistan

A presidential system does not mean one person can wield unlimited power. Sorry to break this to those who have recently grasped on to the idea that a presidential system will somehow save Pakistan. If you want that kind of government structure, you’re looking for a dictatorship. Most advocates of a presidential system in Pakistan are hoping for an unchecked executive being granted limitless powers. A person above the petty politics of Parliament, and who – through their iron resolve – will steer Pakistan out of the choppy waters it has found itself in and on towards the shores of ...

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Remembering Qalandar Momand: 3 short poems for the colossus of Pashto poetry

Qalandar Momand (1930-2003), whose 88th birthday fell yesterday, is regarded as an epoch-making and trend-setting personality in Pashto literature, journalism and politics in the 20th century. The most gifted of a generation that also includes contemporaries like Ajmal Khattak and Khatir Ghaznavi, Momand made his mark as an enlightened scholar, progressive writer, political thinker, social thinker, scientist, researcher and historian. It was thus rather unfortunate that Google chose to commemorate the late Urdu playwright Fatima Surayya Bajia – also born on September 1st  88 years ago –  with a Google Doodle, and not Momand; though the latter’s diverse contributions far outstrip the former, ...

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70 years of Pakistan and two successful elected governments – should we celebrate democracy?

Democracy is a system of procedural consistency, which is perhaps why the reason Pakistan has failed to strengthen its democracy over the past few decades is because it has been marred by inconsistencies. As the government fulfils its five-year tenure once again, we see the emergence of a new dawn, something unimaginable even a decade ago. For the first time in our 70-year history, two democratic governments have successfully completed their entire five-year terms and engaged in a smooth transition. It has become a common habit for people to criticise our “desi democratic principles”. And why not, they ask? ...

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PTI’s 100-day agenda: No change without exchange

On May 20th, Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) brethren took to the stage in Islamabad to reveal a wide-ranging legislative agenda that the party hopes to focus on, if it is elected into office in the upcoming general elections over the summer. The agenda included ambitious agricultural and developmental reform, as well as plans for the bifurcation of the Punjab province, with detailed plans for the incorporation of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) into Pakistan’s legal jurisdiction. The conference ended with a few words from Pervaiz Khattak, perhaps the conference’s most important: “The media must not take this to ...

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To leave or not to leave: Will Chaudhry Nisar actually quit PML-N for PTI?

While in conversation with a local news anchor, Chaudhry Nisar maintained his position that, “In my entire political career, I have never demanded influential positions in the party or the government.”  This is quite puzzling, for if not power and influence, what exactly has Nisar been looking for in the shady world of local politics? However, now that he is struck with a dilemma at an interesting point of his political career, it makes one curious whether his choice will be to remain with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), or opt for its rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). His decisions at many ...

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Remembering Habib Jalib: the torch-bearer of resistance through poetry

There is no doubt the languages of Pakistan are rich when it comes to resistance poetry. One need not look far; in Urdu alone, names such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Josh Malihabadi, Kishwar Naheed, Fahmida Riaz and Zehra Nigah come right up. Then there are names such as Shaikh Ayaz, Attiya Dawood and Amar Sindhu for Sindhi; Mir Gul Khan Naseer for Balochi; Ustad Daman, Ahmad Rahi, Ahmad Salim, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Najm Hosain Syed and Fakhar Zaman for Punjabi; Janbaz Jatoi and Shakir Shuja Abadi  for Seraiki; and Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, Qalandar Momand, Khatir Ghaznavi, Farigh ...

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Is Kemal Kilicdaroglu’s Justice March a tacit reminder and refractory reaction to last year’s attempted coup?

The streets of Ankara still reek of punctured patriotism and vehemence. Today, Turkey finds itself stumbling upon an all too vivid memory of the July 15th coup attempt that marks a momentous yet troubled first anniversary. Observing the aftermath of last year’s events, it is still not safe to say whether the new chapter opened up by the coup will be as promising as it was perceived to be from atop a vanquished military tank. And now, with wounds barely healed, Turkey finds itself hurled into yet another political endeavour. Thousands of restless citizens are taking to the streets behind the opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, to embark on a Justice March from Ankara to Istanbul. The dynamic opposition ...

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Dictators like Rodrigo Duterte need to be careful when they “joke” about using rape as a weapon

The world works in strange ways and the more things change, the more they stay the same. After decades, nay centuries of conflict, it seems the world had finally turned the corner in the 90s. Yes, there was a lot still to be done, but we seemed to be moving in the right direction. The cold war had ended, the European Union (EU) took concrete shape, and globalisation was taking root all over. Free trade and the communication revolution were turning the world into a global village. Perhaps for the first time in human history, democracy and human rights were regarded as supreme and inviolable in ...

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Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte: An effective leader or a despotic one?

Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  First, he has been accused of large scale human rights violation, where tens and thousands of people have lost their lives due to extra judicial killings, drug trafficking, rape, murder, arson and other related criminal activities. The second incident relates to an interview he had given, where, when asked how he would react if Barack Obama were to criticise him for extra judicial killings of over 1,000 persons involved in drug trafficking and other acts of crime, he responded with cuss words against the president. Although Duterte realised his faux pas and expressed regret over his ...

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This March 23rd, admit that you do not love Pakistan

I do not believe that patriotism and the expression of love for our country ought to be limited to just a couple of occasions like March 23rd or August 14th. Yet here I am, writing a piece for one of these very days, which is less of a celebration and more of a concern. I have said and heard the phrase “I love Pakistan” a million times and wondered what it really means. Love for the soil, the seas and the sand, for the land that is Pakistan’s territory? For me loving Pakistan is loving the people who belong to this country; my people. ...

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