Stories about Islamabad

Remembering Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan: A soldier, a maverick, and a loving grandfather

On June 25, 2002, my grandfather embraced my siblings and me as we carried our father’s body to his home in Abbottabad. In that moment and at the age of 81, he swiftly took responsibility of the family of his eldest son; he remained poised despite the overwhelming grief as familial duty called. At the tender age of 14, I had come under the wing of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan. My mother and her three children permanently settled in my grandparents’ home in Islamabad. Living a semi-retired political life, he took an active interest in my education, reviewing ...

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It’s only been 6 months and Islamabad International Airport is already falling apart

The newly built Islamabad International Airport is yet another example of how poor planning continues to add rust to the public exchequer. Despite the nation’s capital being in dire need of a better airport, the new building has failed to deliver in every aspect. Since its inauguration in May this year, it has seen a plethora of structural flaws that have revealed it to be less of an airport and more of a health hazard. To start with, years before its inauguration, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accepted flaws in the design of the runways due to which multiple ...

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Why is India worked up about the Pakistan-China bus service?

On October 31st, India formally protested the proposed launch of a bus service between China and Pakistan because the service would “operate between Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” under the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC). The official spokesman noted that India held the China-Pakistan Boundary agreement of 1963 as “illegal and invalid” and views the service as a violation of India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. If all this sounds tough and uncompromising, it is. But it is hardly consistent and not especially helpful. The Karakoram Highway, over which the service will be run, has been around since the late 60s and ...

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Life after the British: If India can develop a thriving railway sector, why can’t Pakistan?

As a frequent traveller, whenever I visit another country my first preference is to take the train, and I have many reasons for doing so. Being an environmentalist, I am a conscious traveller, and railways have a smaller carbon footprint than other means of transportation. As a bonus, they also offer an enchanting and panoramic view of the countryside, which you are likely to never forget. Trains are also comfortable – you can book a private cabin and walk, stretch and even sleep in a real bed during your travel. If you’re traveling overnight, you don’t have to pay for a hotel ...

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Dear private schools, I am a parent but not an ATM

The Constitution of Pakistan has, via Article 25A, made it mandatory for the government to provide free education to all citizens who cannot afford to go to school otherwise. However, implementation of this clause has never been enforced in letter or spirit, allowing the private sector to take advantage of the growing gap between private and public schools.   Now, be it rich or poor, people from all strata of society are sending their children to private schools irrespective of the teaching standard of such schools. Operating a school has become one of the most profitable businesses in the country, and ...

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To squat or not to squat?

I was one-year-old when my family moved from Pakistan to Botswana. Located in Southern Africa, Botswana is about the size of France, with an astonishingly low population of two-and-a-half-million people. We spent most of our time abroad but would often visit home, and at least once a year we visited Karachi, where I was born. Although it had been a few years since my last visit to Karachi, this is a city that always pulls on my heartstrings, and after spending only a week in the city of dreams, I found myself used to the cultural oddities, such as ...

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The stone crushers of Taxila: Are we ready to lose pieces of our history and heritage?

Taxila valley, which lies just beyond the Margalla Hills bordering Islamabad, is a picturesque, rural place with sleepy villages nestled below its green hills. Located less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad, the area is famous for Khanpur Dam and a series of archaeological remains which were declared as world heritage sites by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) back in 1980. Ideally, Taxila should be preserved as a tourist destination steeped in history, but over the years, stone crushers (a machine used to break down large rocks into smaller rocks, gravel or rock dust) have been ...

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Pakistan is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’ – what will it take to reveal it globally?

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it” – Martin Parr. Pakistan, unfortunately, is a country that has been at the receiving end of such mythology and perception for a good while now, even as things on ground have changed quite drastically over the last few years. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), terror-related incidents have declined 58%, from 2,060 incidents in 2010 to 681 in 2017. These figures are testament to the success of our Army during the massive military operations conducted in the northern areas of ...

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Zia thought he was going to China to sell his liver, but he didn’t know what was waiting for him

Being a journalist in Pakistan, I frequently come across crimes committed, sentences pronounced, culprits getting caught, and in many cases, culprits getting away. Thought I may not be physically present every time, I rely on certain ‘sources’ within the respective setup to bring forth the facts, if not the whole truth. On July 30th, I was contacted by one of my sources within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) who informed me about a poor soul and a ring of criminals caught at the airport. I asked for adequate information on the issue, and in response, I was not only ...

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Trevor Noah’s comparison of Imran Khan and Donald Trump was mind-blowingly shallow

Trevor Noah is a funny man. In 2015, he replaced Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show – a highly reputable satirical show on politics. Previously, Noah had been very successful as a stand-up comedian, and had reportedly been Stewart’s first choice as the leading host of the show. But when it comes to Pakistan, the two men could not be further apart. Stewart’s Daily Show was known for its wide array of well-researched pieces, and even his comedic bits gave the impression that he knew what he was talking about. He was never all jokes and no ...

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