This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ South Asian Politics and Culture Hassan Mirza (HM): Was India ever a proper democracy? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): India was a secular democracy in its first few decades but, like Pakistan, is now becoming a majoritarian democracy. That’s very dangerous for minorities. There’s a real danger of the two countries becoming mirror copies. For example, last year I arranged a talk by the anti-Modi Indian liberal politician, Mani Shankar Aiyar, at Forman Christian ...Read Full Post
Is Imran Khan not the PM of Balochistan? Is the Quetta attack not as tragic as the Christchurch attack?
As I begin to put these words on digital paper, I am appalled at the memories of every time I have written about this same tragedy. Despite the periodic occurrence of these catastrophes, it is evident nobody gives a damn. Thus, I ask, ‘Jacinda, Jacinda. Where art thou, Jacinda?’ It was only a few weeks ago that Christchurch suffered a devastating hate crime against Muslims at the hands of a self-righteous terrorist. The whole of New Zealand, spearheaded by their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, rallied to protect and support its Muslim community. Her government went on to ban the category ...Read Full Post
The minorities living in Pakistan have perhaps been more adversely targeted since 9/11, with them being harshly exploited by the majority on the basis of their religion. Brutal incidents against the Christian community in Pakistan have gained international media attention, but politicians who made many promises in the past to work equally hard for minorities conveniently forgot about their promises once obtaining a seat in the parliament. Before Imran Khan turned towards politics with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), there were many famous politicians who made their party manifestoes in favour of the minority, just to grasp their attention and their vote. They pandered ...Read Full Post
For too long, the faction of Pakistani society that upholds the principle of equal citizenship as a fundamental human right has been in despair. This is because human rights are an ideal no one disputes in theory but which, in essence, depend on the non-discrimination of individuals, whether based on religion, language, political opinion or socio-economic standing. However, human rights often becomes a provocative term when applied to a blogger with a dissenting political opinion, or to those we celebrate as symbols of our diversity on Easter and Christmas, or to those listening to speeches about their heroic contributions to the war on ...Read Full Post
On August 10, 2017 I heard about the demise of Dr Ruth Pfau. Within hours, social media was filled with condolence messages and appreciation posts for Dr Pfau’s efforts to counter leprosy in Pakistan. Prayers for Dr Ruth Pfua. "We shall remember you as Ambassador of humanity and for selfless services to the people of Pakistan. RIP", COAS. — Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) August 10, 2017 Saddened to learn of Dr Ruth Pfau's passing. Her spirit of selfless dedication leaves a void that will be difficult to fill. — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 10, 2017 Dr Ruth Pfau. Pakistani legend. Represented the pinnacle of human empathy ...Read Full Post
If Muhammad Ali Jinnah came back from the grave and saw the sorry state of the country he had created, what would he say? He would be shocked to see that the Pakistan of 1947 had been broken into two, with East Pakistan (where his beloved Muslim League was founded) no longer a part of Pakistan. He would see a country on the brink of an economic collapse, with the dollar (which was equal to the rupee in value in 1947) now worth Rs107. He would see fruits and other edibles from New Zealand and other countries selling at prices beyond the reach of the common man in a land which ...Read Full Post
How can we expect a better Pakistan if our caste system is the reason why our sanitation workers die?
There may be no better parameter to judge the character, values and structure of a society than by the manner in which it performs some of the most humble and menial tasks. Sweeping, handling garbage or working on clogged gutters and sewage lines fall into the category of menial tasks. Who are the people who perform these tasks? What methods, implements and protective equipment are used to remove, handle and dispose the filth, trash, sludge and raw sewage? Are these processes well regulated and controlled? Are these jobs open to all or restricted to some? What is the social status, respect ...Read Full Post
Pakistan issued its first third gender passport – but giving respect to the transgender community is asking for too much
As a part of Pakistan’s minority group who seems to care about our country’s transgender community, watching this video was disturbing to say the least. Shortly after the holy month of Ramazan was over and Eid was being celebrated, a group of Pakistani men of all ages thought it was amusing and entertaining to publicly harass a group of transgender people in Murree. The video itself left viewers, including myself, completely taken aback and disappointed. It was a stark reminder of how pathetic people can be. I couldn’t help but wonder how much time it would take for people of this country to become responsible and empathetic citizens. ...Read Full Post
“Primum non nocere” is Latin for “first, do no harm”. Although not overtly found in the text of the original Hippocratic Oath, the message in that Latin phrase holds firm for students making the transition from medical apprenticeship to medical practice. Scholars have widely attributed the oath to Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. As their rite of passage, young doctors graduating from medical schools the world over take some modern version or another of the oath, several in their own languages. Medical schools in Pakistan follow suit in terms of the oath being taken by students prior to practicing as independent doctors, with valid medical licenses ...Read Full Post
Pakistan never ceases to shock me. Be it its controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) 2015 which could get us in prison for tweeting against the powers that be, or the formidable strategy of fighting terrorism by banning pillion riding, the government has come up with creative ways to use the law against the public. Staying true to its tradition, the government has recently announced another bill which states that smoking or eating in public during the month of Ramazan will lead to three-month imprisonment for the “offender” along with a fine of Rs500. This has been proposed as the Ehtram-e-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill, 2017. There have been mixed reactions to ...Read Full Post