A few days ago, I came across a video making rounds on social media which disturbed me a whole lot. In the said video, a retired major, belonging to a newly formed political party, was openly threatening to kill the former prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. In his view, Nawaz, by constantly reaching out to Ahmadis, had become ‘Wajibul Qatl’ (necessary to be killed). I could not believe that someone could so openly express hatred against a minority community and incite violence against a former PM for just displaying kind and courteous behaviour towards our minorities. It was the ...Read Full Post
Making Pakistan (un)proud: Too consumed by domestic issues to care about overseas Pakistanis, Khwaja Asif?
Blunt and evasive are two adjectives that best describe Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s recent conversation with the Asia Society. It was held in union with the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Asif, a vocal critic of Donald Trump’s version of American foreign policy, admitted that Trump’s position on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AfPak) region was an “utter disappointment”. However, I personally felt that his elusive response to the question regarding Pakistani-Americans was an utter disappointment. The interviewer, a world-renowned journalist and author, Steve Coll, mentioned the increasingly polarising nature of the American society, which the foreign minister sharply labelled as a bad sign for the future. Coll also referred to the ...Read Full Post
Following the Supreme Court decision regarding Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification from his prime ministerial position, the NA-120 seat needed to be filled immediately. Fortunately for the Sharifs, the NA-120 by-election results allowed Kulsoom Nawaz to fill this vacant seat. NA-120 has been a stronghold for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) since 1985 when Nawaz won and became the chief minister of Punjab. From then onwards, Nawaz’s party consecutively won the NA-120 seat eight times in 1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2002, 2008, 2013 and now in 2017. The NA-120 by-election results did not only highlight PML-N’s stronghold, but also highlighted the emergence of two far-right Islamist parties – Milli Muslim League (MML) ...Read Full Post
Given their (corrupt) record, why is the Sharif family being allowed to skip accountability proceedings?
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with his family, has fled to London. Now, this isn’t surprising news, because everyone’s safe haven seems to be London. But you see, the Sharif family was discovered to be knee-deep in corruption and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has three corruption cases filed against them. The references filed are related to the Sharif family’s property in London and their two steel mills in Saudi Arabia. Since the filing has been completed, NAB can frame charges of corruption against the accused, thus the Sharif family should be in the country, rather than out of the country. Normally, under NAB rules and ...Read Full Post
The voters of NA-120 have given their verdict and have elected Kulsoom Nawaz by a healthy, though reduced, margin of around 14,000 votes. Although I have been following elections for decades now, I don’t recall any election of an individual seat in which the stakes were so high. Normally by-elections are predictable and frankly boring affairs. This by-election, however, was anything but boring or even predictable. It is said that all politics is local and one should exercise a lot of caution in extrapolating the results of one seat to predict the future general elections. Like all constituencies, NA-120 has its own local ...Read Full Post
Understanding Muslim nationalism and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’ through the eyes of Nadeem Farooq Paracha
Nadeem Farooq Paracha is one of Pakistan’s prominent liberal journalists. His plunge into the field began in the 1990s, even though he initially gained fame as a music critic. However, over the years, his writing has become fairly eclectic and he has touched upon many cultural and political aspects. Furthermore, he has also excelled as a satirist. He is the author of two bestselling books as well, titled ‘End of the Past’ and ‘The Pakistan Anti-Hero’. The first book was centred on the way Pakistan started to transform from a moderate and pluralistic society to a more hard-line one. The latter, which was released recently, traces ...Read Full Post
Can Nawaz Sharif salvage his legacy by normalising relations with India and the economic alleviation stemming from it?
The battle lines have been drawn. Nawaz is out flaunting his muscles on the street, and his choice seems clear – defiance over acquiescence. But to what end? One possibility is that the power play is simply intended to gain political leverage and bargain relief from those the former prime minster (PM) feels have vindictively disarmed him. But two factors refute this theory – Khawaja Asif and Mushahidullah Khan. We all know the perversity with which Asif is viewed within the General Headquarters (GHQ), and the comments that led Khan to be scapegoated and removed from his ministry. The appointment of the two ...Read Full Post
Can Pakistan’s economic stability and businesses survive Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar’s disqualification?
In one of his first public appearances, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reported to have said the following: “During my tenure, the stock market increased from 19,000 to 52,000.” So, is a rising stock market really a barometer of a strong democracy or just a number game for a selected few? We surely cannot say at the moment. To all the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) sloganeers, Nawaz is gone, but is prosperity, not tabdeeli (change), around the corner? Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was primarily the only major political party that was known for their pro-growth temperament. Despite never being able to complete their full term, businesses cheered on the so-called economic focus ...Read Full Post
#GoneNawazGone: Today could be the darkest day in Pakistan’s judicial history or the day a new Pakistan was born
The nail-biting suspense leading up to the verdict is now over. The unthinkable has finally happened. Nawaz Sharif, who managed to win three elections and serve as Pakistan’s prime minister, has been disqualified and faces political extinction. This is the mother of all Supreme Court (SC) verdicts and whether it will change the country’s fate for better or worse will be decided in the next few days. It could be the darkest day in Pakistan’s judicial history or it may be remembered as the day a new Pakistan was born, depending on whether or not the SC disqualifies others who are equally corrupt (which includes ...Read Full Post
At the beginning of this month, the government found itself in something of a pickle. Regardless of a dubious WhatsApp call fiasco and alleged political proclivities of the joint investigation team (JIT) members, the Sharifs had failed miserably in elucidating a tangible money trail for their opulent assets abroad. To truly offset the velocity of the storm they faced, they would have to counter attack with something far more potent and invidious – something powerful enough to offset the damning reality of their inconclusive money trial – a global conspiracy. A conspiracy that was hatched in collusion with the venal folks in the General Headquarters (GHQ), ...Read Full Post