Stories about dictatorship

Baby Asha’s struggle signifies the divide between the rich and poor

The CNN headline: Australian hospital refuses to discharge asylum seeker baby. The details: “Nepalese baby, while at a detention centre in Nauru, an island in the South Pacific 2,000 miles away from the hospital in Brisbane, suffered severe burns. Now that she had recovered, though, the hospital didn’t want her to return to the abominable conditions in Nauru.” To morph a cliché attributed to Joseph Stalin – individual tragedy moves us; millions of tragedies become statistics. This signifies either that humanity cares nothing about humanity, or that we cannot process mass atrocity. I’ll take the latter. The story of one life, disseminated to millions, can ...

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I am a Sindhi and I have no sympathy for PPP anymore

Thar’s veteran politician, Rana Chandra Singh, once commented on the size of Umerkot’s Lanba ground in Dhatki, “Lanba ground Kachhi menhan Bhari ya Bhutto re Dikri.” (Either the southern rain has the power to fill the Lanba ground, or the daughter of Bhutto.) Those were the days when Sindhis, both Muslims and Hindus, chose to name their children after the famous Bhuttos. There are many Zulfikars, Bhuttos and Benazirs in Sindh and people once took pride in such names. Similarly, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, many who had named their children Ziaul Haq, changed their children’s names immediately. Now, you will rarely come across a person named Zia in Sindh. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) represented the people; PPP represented the ...

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She loved Pakistan too much…

My first interaction with her was back in late 2010. I read her letter-to-the-editor in Dawn, expressing her disappointment about her fellow students’ indifference to the prevailing conditions in the country and how the NED University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET) administration, which boasts of maintaining a non-political environment at campus, fails to take notice of chalking done by a specific political group. The audacity in Ms Nabiha Chaudhry’s words made an impact on me. After finding her online on Orkut, I dropped her a message appreciating her bold stance and hoped that I would get to meet her, as my first year ...

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No, Mr Khan. Dictatorship is never better than democracy

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief, Imran Khan, has recently claimed that former President Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship was better than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s democracy, allowing the world to roll its eyes to what has become our national shame – the dictatorship apologia of self-hating democratic politicians. In what has become a weekly tradition of delivering bafflingly misinformed statements, the lines between dictatorship and democracy were blurred by the D-Chowk rage-generators, in an attempt to continually vilify Nawaz’s government. The comparison of dictatorships and democracies is as ludicrous as suggesting that a bad bargain is worse than someone stealing your wallet. Any notion ...

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Happy 61st Birthday Benazir Bhutto, there is none like you!

June 21st is one of the longest days of the year. But its significance is much more than just that. It is also the day when Pakistan’s great leader was born 61 years ago. Benazir Bhutto was a brave and dauntless leader. With her charisma, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge and compassion she was an ideal woman in many ways. Tested through fire, she never abandoned her ideals and belief in the freedom of humanity from tyranny. In a male-dominated and Islamic society, she became the first woman elected ruler of a Muslim country in modern history. She stood bravely against both the tyranny of ...

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What is the difference between dictatorship and democracy in Pakistan?

Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer is often referred to as the butcher of Amritsar who opened indiscriminate firing on the crowd at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, killing hundreds of peaceful protestors. Nearly a century later, when we have evolved into an independent country governed by Muslim leaders, his ghost lives on. In the recent barbaric incident of State brutality, the Punjab police opened fire on the workers of Dr Tahirul Qadri resulting in the death of eleven innocent civilians and over eighty others injured. The dead included two women as well, one of them pregnant. TV footages revealed how the government machinery ...

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Remembering Jalib, remembering his fight against dictatorship

There was a man who audaciously used to say, “Mai nahi Manta” (I refuse to accept) He was neither a bourgeois nor a feudal and surely, he was not patronised by any ‘third force’ (Teesri Quwwat) that has a hand in every incident that takes place in Pakistan. He was an ideologue, charismatic and an eloquent poet. Moreover, he was best known for his revolutionary zeal. He struggled for the restoration of democracy and human rights. His enthralling poetry elucidated the notorious rule of dictators. However, his poesy still befits today’s political setting. That man was none other than the great Habib Ahmed Jalib. Dastoor was ...

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The myth of Musharraf’s ‘economic boom’ needs to die

A recent article ‘Have you forgotten all that Musharraf did for you, Pakistan?’ by Mr Rafay bin Ali regurgitates a popular myth – dictatorship is better for Pakistan’s economy. The author uses cross-regime comparisons based on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) size to argue that Pervez Musharraf was the best thing that ever happened to Pakistan’s economy. Like all myths, this fable is also sustained by a crafty combination of truth and fiction. But it crumbles once we separate the flimsy truth from the falsehood that it conceals. To do this, we must analyse the methodological flaws in the framework used by the ...

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Democracy cannot work in Pakistan, not yet

In 2015, we will celebrate our 68th year of independence. In these 68 years, the world around us has changed a lot. For better or for worse, we too have changed as a country. The only thing that has remained constant for us over time is the ever prevalent outcry for a democratic political system. To put it in the simplest of terms, a democratic system is one in which a government is elected by a voting process where every eligible citizen is entitled to vote. It is not however ‘majority rules‘ as many of us assume it is — that is a fallacy. ...

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Egyptian verdict: They gave her 11 years in prison, she gave them a beautiful, victorious smile

As I scroll down my Twitter feed, a smile captivates me. The face had thousands of words, endless thoughts and most importantly tranquillity of soul. She isn’t a celebrity or a popular activist rather a girl next door, who wouldn’t be noticed in normal surroundings. Caged in an Egyptian courtroom with 20 others like her, she received an 11 years sentence for her crimes. The gravity of their offense lay in treading the forbidden path – ‘challenging dictatorship’ – a much greater sin than eating the apple. These young women, all in their teens and tweens, rounded up late last month were ...

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