Stories about diplomats

We let Kulbhushan meet his family and you let Shakirullah die in prison – where’s the justice, India?

In what can be termed as an inhuman and barbaric act, a Pakistani prisoner named Shakirullah was beaten to death in Jaipur Central Jail at the hands of Indian prisoners. Shakirullah hailed from Sialkot and was serving life imprisonment in India. It was no coincidence that he was murdered in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, which claimed the lives of atleast 44 Indian soldiers. Since the attack, the Indian government and Hindu nationalists are threatening Pakistan of dire consequences whilst harassing Kashmiri Muslims across India. According to Jaipur Central Jail’s official, Shakirullah got into a quarrel with his ...

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Why working with the Austrian Mission in Pakistan was more than just another job

A few years ago, I was distractedly skimming through a pile of newspapers when suddenly my cup of tea fell over the classifieds section. It was there that I saw a job vacancy at the Austrian Embassy in Islamabad, and my life changed for the better. Seeing the ad took me back to my childhood, when my father was transferred to Frankfurt during the 90s. At the time, I was enrolled in a German school. Surviving on the streets of Germany without knowing the German language was a difficult task, especially during the early years of German reunification. But I ...

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Racism, Islamophobia and… steno-typists?

We’ve all read reports of the Belgian police (mis)identifying a Pakistani man as a terrorist. They thought his cricket bat (wrapped in a t-shirt to protect it from rain) was a rifle. The news was followed by reports that the Pakistani embassy in Belgium has sacked the young man’s father for damaging Pakistan’s reputation. The foreign office issued a prompt denial: “Muhammad Tufail Abbasi, steno typist in the commercial section in the Embassy of Pakistan, Brussels, has been transferred back to the headquarters by the Ministry of Commerce on completion of his four year tenure.” Ridiculous, right? Now let’s talk about something even more ridiculous about ...

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Pakistani diplomats and misplaced priorities

Every year one or two groups representing the German Journalists Centre visit Pakistan on a trip sponsored by the Pakistan Embassy. Information such as the aim of the visit, its outcome and the selection criteria is, however, kept confidential.  Before their departure, the group is introduced to the history and culture of Pakistan, along with the ongoing developments in the country, the serious challenges they can face while there and ways to handle them. Recently, Mr Mazhar Javed, the acting ambassador of Pakistan in Germany, accompanied by Mr Ghulam Haider, Press Counselor Pakistan Embassy Berlin, briefed a group of such journalists who ...

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Islamabad Diary: Of dodgy scoops and ‘cultural terrorism’

An elected official of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who I am sure would prefer to remain anonymous since he would not want people to know how he wastes his time courting journalists, sent a text message last week offering his condolences for Roger Federer’s loss at Wimbledon. This had followed an earlier conversation we had had where I explained that the tension over the government’s survival and political machinations in the country seemed so insignificant compared to the travails of the greatest tennis player in history. After receiving the SMS, my instant reaction was to cut the man some ...

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Forget Aafia, we’ll keep Davis

On Monday, Waseem, the brother of one of the men Raymond Davis has been accused of murdering, announced that he was open to an exchange involving Dr Aafia Siddiqui and Davis. Later, Aafia’s sister Dr Fauzia and mother seconded the idea. They are not alone. Calls to exchange Aafia for Davis emerged soon after the American was arrested. To me, these do not make much sense as both cases are completely different cases. Aafia was tried and sentenced to 86 years in a US prison on seven charges. Davis, on the other hand, has been accused of shooting two Pakistani citizens ...

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Diplomatic criminal: Will Raymond Davis go unpunished?

On January 27, when American national Raymond Davis was arrested for shooting and killing two Pakistani civilians on a busy road in Lahore, he identified himself as a diplomat. Following this lead, the media initially dubbed Davis as a diplomat; he was then called a consular employee and finally, some reports claimed he was a civilian visiting Pakistan on a business visa. The US State Department has not divulged much information regarding his identity. On the day of the incident, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J Crowley refused to discuss Davis’ identity and only referred to him an employee at the ...

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Frisky business: Why Indian diplomats should be checked at airports

What differentiates a democratic system of governance from colonial rule or from a totalitarian system or a feudal order is the rule of law and equality before law. India has been a practising democracy for more than 60 years and several landmark social and political changes have taken place in the country to break the nation free from feudal and colonial ways. But somehow the desire of the ruling  and rich class to see themselves above others is so deep rooted that whenever there is an attack on this hierarchy, the privileged class makes it a national issue and links it with national ...

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Before we turn into WikiFreaks…

Excuse me, while I jump on the bandwagon and hail the unprecedented revelation of global espionage. The revelation of a quarter of a million classified diplomatic cables of the United States is no mean feat. Ordinarily, a quarter of a million journalists would have made their careers if they were fortunate enough to gain access to each of those documents individually. But must we be blinded by the incredulity of such an event to the point that we forget to question what the revelations really are? For all their juicy and gripping disclosures, the leaked ...

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Bowing to Arab pressure: Nature pays the price of politics

The “West” is by far Pakistan’s favourite whipping boy. Many view the Pakistani state as subservient to Western demands, compromising its interests and the welfare of its citizens to please its “master”. Closer to home are another set of masters who have made Pakistan their playground and its peoples its servants. The rulers of many Gulf States have for long relied on the cheap labour that has built their palaces, roads, buildings and filled the rank and file of their military. Not content with the rabid exploitation of the Pakistani labour class, endangered species such as the houbara bustard famous in ...

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