Stories about foreign relations

An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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Will Nawaz Sharif be able to handle Narendra Modi?

On the evening of September 17, 1950, Damodardas Mulchand Modi and his wife Heeraben would have probably never thought that their third born, Narendra Modi, will one day challenge the powerful Nehru Dynasty and vouch for the office of Pradhan Mantri (prime minister) in one of the biggest democracies of the world, India. The rise of Namo (Narindra Modi) is spectacular as well as mind boggling. It shows a change in Indian politics, where a self-made tea boy running a tea stall at a small bus station in Vadnagar has risen to become the Chief Minister (CM) of Gujarat. Namo is the household name for the ...

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From Sudan: Thank you Pakistan!

This blog is not just based on my interest and respect for Pakistan. It is a personal thank you from a Sudanese person living in the United Arab Emirates for all the things Pakistan has done for my nation. The two countries share a very strong, special bond that I wish would strengthen further over the years to come. For 13 years I have lived in the UAE; a home to over 130 different nationalities, working and living together striving for a better life for themselves and their families back home. South Asians constitute 42 per cent of the population. Of them, ...

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Splitting atoms: Can your nukes save you?

Pakistan’s nuclear program, much like Pakistan itself, is always a headline grabber. And like Pakistan, it’s usually for all the wrong reasons. Certainly, there are all the perfect ingredients for a pot-boiler present –the potential death of millions, espionage, conspiracy, the threat of pilferage and/or outright takeover and so on. Also predictably, very few of us really see eye to eye on the usefulness of this programme. Those to the left of the political spectrum see it as a wasteful, dangerous and unnecessary tool, while the rightists amongst us see it as an indispensable asset and a laudable achievement. There ...

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What the NATO Summit achieved

The Pakistanis came, they didn’t quite conquer, and now they’re leaving. At the end of the day, the NATO Summit in Chicago produced no news, and yet there was much to report. With hundreds of media personnel camped at the massive media centre at McCormick Place, the venue of the summit, the subject of the day remained Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reporters tried to work out whether Pakistan would announce the re-opening of the supply routes, an issue that has been raised in nearly every press conference that took place during the summit. All that work really was in vain – Pakistan ...

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Why America won’t help with Kashmir

Media commentator Aakar Patel, who also co-owns a publishing and content outsource company in Mumbai, recently wrote for The Express Tribune about the Kashmir freedom struggle and how India gets away despite its reign of oppression and coercion in the valley. For a change, Aakar is one of the voices from the Indian mainstream who infuses fresh life into the waning secular Indianess. However, his skewed proclamations where he raises questions like “What does azadi mean? It means freedom, of course. But freedom from what? (sic)”, which are not new to the Kashmir discourse, stink of ignorance and self-righteousness, and ...

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What our HEC can learn from India

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan has made significant contributions since its inception in 2002, however the strategies used by the commission have room for improvement. Statistics clearly show that the quantitative results of the HEC are plausible, with drastically increased university enrollment and a huge army of PhDs in the making on scholarships. The quality of students on the other hand, does not seem too impressive. It is hard to challenge the fact that knowledge is not being produced in the country, and this raises a question: What exactly do we want to achieve with this enormous number of ...

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Trade with India, for a better Pakistan

If the choice facing Pakistan is abandoning its claims on the Indian side of Kashmir in exchange for free trade with India, then I see it as an automatic choice: the economic future of 180 million citizens of Pakistan is not worth sacrificing for the sake of some vague political aspirations of a fraction of the 12 million or so who live on the Indian side of Kashmir. The hyper-nationalists that populate a surprisingly large segment of Pakistani cyberspace will no doubt argue that this is “selling Kashmir down the river”. Has anyone ever thought of the fairness of it ...

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Overtures from Washington

There are clear and unmistakable signs of a possible thaw emerging between Washington and Islamabad, with the head of the US Central Command expected to visit the Pakistani capital this month. Both sides are counting the threads of converging interests and a strategic rethink is taking shape on Pakistan’s possible role in US talks with the Taliban. The deadly Nato attack on a Pakistani border post on November 26 last year had virtually frozen the relationship at both political and military levels, leaving the US to embark on a solo journey in uncharted waters as Washington engaged the Taliban for the ...

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The Pakistan-Iran pipedream

For a government often accused of indecision and weakness, Islamabad has been strikingly defiant about its determination to pursue a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran. Pakistan’s strident tone has not changed in light of Washington’s heightened sanctions regime vis-à-vis Iran, which bans countries from having commercial transactions with Tehran. The foreign ministry has declared that the sanctions do not affect the pipeline project. Other Pakistanis, however, fear that the sanctions may well present problems. One prominent lawyer has suggested Islamabad go so far as to lobby the UN to ensure the ...

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