Stories about pakistan

Should Pakistan ask for free internet during the coronavirus pandemic?

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic? There are chances that by now you have been frustrated by the speed of your internet at one point or the other. Maybe your co-worker’s face froze during a Skype meeting, or maybe you were trying to watch a YouTube video that kept buffering or maybe a 5MB picture took more than 10 minutes to download.  These are revealing signs that the internet in Pakistan might be struggling to support the unprecedented surge in use from millions of homebound computer and smartphone users. Since the local governments have imposed lockdowns across the country, ...

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Was Nawaz Sharif really soft on India?

Former Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in a recent interview claimed that not only was former prime minister Nawaz Sharif soft on India himself, he directed the Foreign Office to not highlight India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Balochistan or mention Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian spy who had been arrested in the same province. She also went on to allege that Sharif was soft on India due to his business interests in the country. These claims have since been rubbished by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif, while Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has seconded the allegations.  Was Sharif ...

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What we can do to help the government during COVID-19

Life is full of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. But some surprises are more of a shock than anything else. A rude awakening of sorts.  Just a few days ago, life was normal. You were perhaps planning a family holiday, maybe thinking of what needs to be done around the house and making a grocery list for the next month. And suddenly, everything changed. China was under attack from a very different kind of enemy, a virus. One that rapidly spread across the globe and shut down economies. In a few short weeks, it forced various governments to shut borders, ...

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Sindh coronavirus lockdown: The unfamiliar sight of leaders, leading

We often see the chicken and the egg problem in political systems; chronically bad leaders and a cynical populace coexist in mutual contempt. In this scenario, if a leader tries to do good, the population is ill-equipped to recognise it because, like a snarling, abused street dog, it has known only ill treatment and neglect. Such has been the case in Karachi during the recent weeks. Unused to leaders leading or, indeed, fulfilling even the basic requirements of governance, Karachiites have been treated to the unfamiliar sight of the Sindh government taking proactive measures against the COVID-19 menace. From the prescient decision ...

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Remembering Habib Jalib on his 92nd birthday with his iconic poem ‘Dastoor’

Habib Jalib, who was born 92 years ago today, was a Pakistani resistance poet par excellence. I have written elsewhere on the themes of resistance and revolution in his poetry and also about why his work has an urgent appeal even in the 21st century, despite most of it having been written in the middle of the last century. Instead, I want to focus today on Jalib’s iconic poem Dastoor (Constitution) which not only became an anthem of protest for a whole generation during Pakistan’s first military dictatorship of Ayub Khan in the 1960s, but gained a new lease of life ...

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Why Pakistan must ban congregational prayers during the COVID-19 crisis

Many years ago, I read Christina Lamb’s famous but controversial book titled Waiting for Allah: Pakistan’s Struggle for Democracy. Although her book, touched upon various facets of the Pakistani society, it focused on the role of religion. She made two key arguments. First that Pakistan was trapped by the need to adhere to a “true” version of Islam, which impeded its progress. She wrote, “The more the country strives for what its religious scholars see as true Islam, the less equipped it becomes for running a twentieth-century state, and the more it is forced to watch once-lagging competitors such ...

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Should Pakistan be investing in carbon capture? – Part 2

This article is the second in a two part series which looks at Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology and talks about the efficacy of using it to reduce our carbon footprint. Read part one here.   Public engagement with regards to the efficacy of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is important because it can mitigate the opposition to the development of the largely untapped technology. However, to achieve this, a greater and more meaningful collaboration between engineers, politicians and social scientists is required. Such meaningful interdisciplinary engagement will overcome the bias that may exist amongst various disciplines for the misunderstood carbon ...

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How a Pakistani is weathering the COVID-19 lock down in Denmark

It was late January and I had just returned from a packed month of travel across Europe and South Asia. Novel coronavirus cases had just begun to emerge in Wuhan, China, the then epicenter of the virus. Sitting all the way in Scandinavia, the coronavirus at first appeared to be a pneumonia-like disease that would remain limited to China but then it started rapidly spreading to other East Asian countries and penetrated all of Europe courtesy borderless travelling. The seriousness of the situation first struck me when a hotel in Santa Cruz, Spain, was shut down as cases had surged in ...

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On the front lines of the coronavirus battle: A Pakistani doctor’s tale

If we were in the middle of a military war, a media campaign against active-duty soldiers would be considered ‘distasteful’ at best, if not outright ‘seditious’. On March 16th, two doctors in Islamabad were shifted into isolation for treating a patient suspected of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection. These doctors who put the patient on the ventilator were not equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Basic PPEs may include face masks, surgical gloves, aprons, and gowns. In a different war, these doctors would have medals being pinned to their chest. But in this crucial war for public health and safety, such healthcare professionals ...

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Lessons Pakistan should learn from America amidst the coronavirus panic buying

A few weeks ago, when the coronavirus was largely affecting mainland China, a friend of mine called me from Pakistan and complained about the sudden shortage of face-masks in Pakistan. He said, “We are a completely uncivilised society with no regard for any ethics or morals. You are lucky that you live in a morally upright nation (America).” At the time, I agreed with his assertion and thought that I could easily compare the two societies since I have spent a considerable amount of time in both the countries. Most of my personal as well as professional life was spent in ...

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