Stories about Islamabad

“Safe” public transport for women: He kept whispering his sexual fantasies to me as he masturbated

I am a big advocate for public transport, which is not only an environment-friendly and cost-effective way of transportation, but also the best choice if you don’t want the hassle of driving yourself. However, another caveat of being a woman in Pakistan is the lack of security you feel every time you travel alone.   I happened to travel to Lahore last month for a meeting, and as I usually do, I chose a Daewoo bus for the commute. While I was at the terminal waiting for the bus, I noticed a young man sitting opposite my chair and blatantly staring ...

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Diplomatic immunity: How to get away with murder in Pakistan

This weekend, the country suffered yet another blow in its already shaky relationship with the United States of America. Colonel Joseph Emanuel Hall, a diplomat serving at the American Embassy as the defence and air attaché, ran a red light and hit a young Pakistani man on a motorcycle, killing him. Before any official reaction could occur, the CCTV footage of a speeding Land Cruiser striking a biker started making rounds on all social and digital platforms. It also came to light that the driver was apprehended by the local police, but had to be let go due to his ...

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Teachers threatening mass suicide – How did it come to this, Pakistan?

It was a despairing day in the capital, when around 1,800 teachers and staff of public schools and colleges threatened to commit mass suicide outside the Supreme Court. Having not been paid for a shocking period of over 10 months, the protestors said they would kill their children alongside them. One wonders how this is possible in a country where even low-ranking ministers have imported, luxury cars, and where politicians are on the next flight to England upon a hint of the slightest ailment. There is no doubt the state of public education in Pakistan has continued to dwindle, but ...

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Today’s India presents a very sorry figure as it stands in isolation

When Narendra Modi started his innings as India’s prime minister four springs ago in 2014, he declared ‘neighbourhood first’ as the core of his foreign policy goal. He invited the heads of state of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to witness the inauguration of his regime, and the entire atmosphere spelled out some hope for a peaceful future in a tense region. This would not last long. Four years down the line, this policy remains a great non-starter – just more empty rhetoric from a politician who wants to win elections. New Delhi’s relationship ...

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Pakistan and Russia: From Cold War foes to budding allies?

It is no secret that Pak-US ties are experiencing a downward spiral. However, there is some good coming out of this mistrust between both countries. The ongoing tensions have motivated Pakistan to reach out to regional stakeholders other than China for potential partnerships, and one such partner being actively pursued by Islamabad is its former Afghan-jihad foe, Russia. Who would have thought that after almost three decades of Soviet disintegration and Pakistan’s active role in the former’s defeat in Afghanistan, both countries’ foreign ministers would be warmly embracing each other in Moscow? Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif – who recently concluded a three-day visit to Russia and signed a number of ...

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To the women of Pakistan: Get out there, march and reclaim your space!

For this year’s International Women’s Day, Pakistani women from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad have decided to stick it out together, get out on the streets of their respective cities, and march to reclaim their space in the public sphere. The event, called the Aurat March, is planned and organised entirely by a diverse group of women belonging to different ethnicities, classes and sections of our society. The march itself is not linked to a particular organisation, nor is it initiated or funded by any political parties or groups, and all women (and men) are welcome! #AuratMarch 4pm 8th March 2018. ...

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Pakistan’s asymmetrical response to Trump’s tweet is a clever way to flip the tables on Afghanistan

Donald Trump is soon going to regret what he tweeted about Pakistan on New Year’s Day, in accusing it of giving safe haven to terrorists, since Islamabad is poised to hit Washington with an asymmetrical counterpunch that it surely won’t forget. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018 The Pakistani ...

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Can Pakistan sideline the US and pursue an independent foreign policy?

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif, said the following in a statement made earlier this month, “Pakistan’s foreign policy has for long remained US-centric. However, the time had come to review the policy and shift its focus towards Russia and China.” At the rhetorical level, Pakistan’s commitment to shifting its foreign policy focus away from Washington has been in place for quite some time. In this regard, these recent changes that Islamabad has touted by and large deal with the country’s increasing economic dependency on China, as well as Russia’s growing interest in Pakistan. Arguably, Pakistan may have gained some tactical leverage vis-à-vis the US by increasing its economic dependency on other regional states, but ...

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As history proves, presidents will come and go, but Pakistan’s relationship with the US will always hang by a thread

The relationship between the US and Pakistan today is the diplomatic equivalent of a miserable marriage, where neither partner is ready to divorce the other, yet there is persistent bickering. Can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other either. Earlier this year, Islamabad watched with anxiety and horror as President Donald Trump called on India to deepen its influence in Afghanistan in his speech outlining the Afghan policy. India’s presence in Afghanistan has been a long time worry for Pakistan, and Trump’s speech earlier this year only reinforced that fear. By pitting two arched enemies against each other, President Trump aimed to ...

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The Islamabad sit-in is a reminder to Pakistan that you reap what you sow

For the past two weeks, hundreds of right-wing Islamists belonging to various religious parties have been protesting in Islamabad, which has disrupted the capital’s life. The protesters have been demanding the resignation of the federal law minister over a recently omitted reference to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a constitutional bill. While the law minister has apologised by terming the constitutional amendment a “clerical mistake”, the protesters continue to insist that they will carry on the protest unless the minister resigns. Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the federal government to ensure that the protesters leave the capital within a day. However, the protesters have not moved an ...

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