Stories about General Ziaul Haq

22 loans in 61 years: Pakistan’s unwavering habit of going to the IMF

If we take a look at Pakistan’s history of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some interesting facts come to light. Pakistan’s history of knocking upon the IMF’s door started back in 1958, when General Ayub Khan first took the country to the IMF route and signed an agreement to secure special drawing rights (SDR) 25 million under a Standby Agreement. The money was never withdrawn.  Not too long after, Ayub’s finance team pursued two back-to-back IMF programs in 1965 and 1968 respectively. This time, however, they ended up withdrawing around SDR 112 million, the entire agreed upon amount. ...

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Renaming BISP: PTI’s art of turning non-issues into controversies, because any publicity is good publicity

The art of turning a non-issue into a controversy seems to be a favourite habit of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. From the moment it came to power, PTI has only been good at changing the names of projects initiated by former governments and trying to re-launch them under its own name. The inauguration of the Lahore to Multan Motorway and the opening of the Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim in Karachi are examples in this regard, for the latter was already inaugurated while the former was a project almost completed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. As the prime minister is a media-savvy person, ...

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I dedicate this Pakistan Day to my grandfather, a PoW, and my father, a war veteran

Lieutenant Colonel Shuaib was posted in Bahawalpur, West Pakistan when he was informed of his new assignment in East Pakistan as G1 to a three-star General. This was in the late 60s, when tensions were high between the East and the West wing of Pakistan. As is usual with army postings, he packed up and left to report to his new posting. His family of six – a wife and five children – were supposed to follow him soon. As fate would have it, before his family could arrive and the house could be furnished with belongings that would later be ...

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Dear PEMRA, it is our society that is ‘indecent’; our dramas are merely a portrayal of it

The performing arts are considered a tool for providing entertainment, relaxation and catharsis to society. Before the invention of the television, stage dramas, dancing and poetry were all important mediums in people’s lives, showing just how necessary entertainment is for us. Pakistan’s first official TV channel was launched in 1964, and we soon saw the rise of our drama industry with classic plays like Ankahi, Waris and Tanhaiyaan. However, after General Ziaul Haq’s martial law and the subsequent Islamisation of society, the entertainment industry was not spared either. As a result, the film industry gradually vanished and dramas became more ...

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Stand at attention, hand on heart, bow your head – what are you supposed to do during the national anthem?

It is not often that people listening to the national anthem get airtime on multiple occasions over a three-month period. In this era of hyper nationalism and unnecessarily overt displays of patriotism, perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing. However, with the recent oath-taking ceremonies, Independence Day, Defence Day and the Asia Cup coming in quick succession, we’ve been blessed with (or subjected to, depending on your perspective) something approaching an overload of this. One remembers, of course, the brouhaha across the border on people not standing up for the national anthem which, apparently, is played before every movie in the ...

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16 years after 9/11: Its tragic memory, surreal aftermath and the insecure world it left behind

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, young men like me who had posed as ‘Marxists’ across the 80s were overwhelmed by a sense of both sadness and dread. And yet we knew that things in our beloved Soviet Union were not quite like what we had imagined – a socialist Utopia in which the working classes (the proletariat) had risen above economic, religious and social biases to consolidate their own rule according to the noble dictates of Marxist-Leninism. I was 22 in 1988 and about to head out to a university in Moscow on a scholarship. The plan was ...

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Ziaul Haq’s legacy consists less of his own policies and more of the actions successive governments have taken to undo their effects

Throughout human history, there have been numerous individuals whose existence and actions have adversely affected the course of a nation or the world on a whole. They have been the cause of great pain and suffering directly such as Joseph Stalin with his agricultural program or Adolf Hitler’s war on Jews and the minorities of Germany and later on, the rest of the world. Pakistan too has had its fair share of such individuals but none of them stand out in comparison to the man who sowed the seeds of dissension, discord, sectarianism and extremism in our country – General Ziaul Haq. On the ...

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No, Maryam Nawaz can never emulate Benazir Bhutto or her political legacy

Amidst the uproar of the joint investigation team (JIT) findings over the Panama Leaks case, some people began comparing Maryam Nawaz Sharif to Benazir Bhutto. Personally, I was taken aback by such a comparison because Maryam may be the rising star of Pakistani politics but it is too early to compare her to a political icon like Benazir. Efforts made by Fatima Jinnah and Benazir for establishing democracy in Pakistan are unmatched in the annals of Pakistani politics. Fatima, due to her deteriorating health, was unable to fight the vultures that conspired against democracy. However, Benazir was able to fight the dictators of her time and was able to restore democracy in Pakistan, which is an admirable ...

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Remembering my father, Salmaan Taseer, and his love for pranks on his 73rd birthday

At last I’m able to laugh about my father, Salmaan Taseer, and remember the good times without anger and sadness. More than six years after his death, I found myself at a dinner table with the company coiled in helpless laughter over my Abba’s stories. As today would be his 73rd birthday, I’m happy to share his light-hearted side and humour. Abba had the most wicked sense of humour. Friends, relatives or his children were not immune from his tricks, pranks and one-liners, and all who knew him will attest to his fun and vivacious side. He always managed to spontaneously highlight the comical side ...

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The minority protection bill is both Islamic and constitutional

The Sindh Criminal (Protect of Minorities) Bill 2016, passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly seeks to outlaw forced conversions. This has led to a backlash from certain quarters, the self-styled thekaydars of Islam in particular, who say that the bill is unconstitutional and unIslamic.  Unfortunately, these people who are agitating against the law have neither an understanding of the constitution nor that of Islam. But then very few people, including I am sad to say our black coat brethren, have any understanding of constitutional law. “Holy Quran and Sunnah are supreme under the Pakistani constitution” they scream. Their reference is to ...

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