Stories about policy

Smart power: Mango diplomacy and Khar

I said I wanted to write about our Chaunsa Diplomacy and was reminded that the accepted phrase for the season’s initiative was Mango Diplomacy. I still prefer Chaunsa Diplomacy, Chaunsa being the only variety amongst Pakistani mangoes to have been allowed market access in America. Also, I believe it sounds more native and therefore implies credit and ownership for the policy where it is due. And why have I not written about the new tint our diplomacy is taking vis a vis India? I can say that from the foreign minister’s purse to her blue scarf, the subject has been beaten ...

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Rural education: Eight reforms we need now

Educational institutions are the breeding ground for any civilization. Illiteracy is the mother of all evil and ignorance leads to exploitation of the weak, and injustice in the society. The pertinent question: Why is the current breed of politicians so ignorant about the pitiful state of government-run schools? The simple answer: They know that their presence in the assemblies and their luxurious lifestyle is only possible because of the illiterate masses who vote for them. Education, especially in state-run institutions, has deteriorated. I belong to a very remote part of Sindh and have had the opportunity to observe the devastation of society personally. I have ...

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Dear IBA, your policy-makers need a heart

I am a student of Institute of Business Administration (IBA). For four years  I had been grateful towards the institute but now, when I needed it most, IBA bailed on me. During the last few days of my Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) programme, my father fell extremely ill and passed away with an unfulfilled wish – to see me graduate. Coincidentally, my father’s illness and my second set of midterms clashed. I missed three exams because he lay unconscious in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). I needed to talk to the doctors; to do a crash course in medicine to understand my father’s ...

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Port Grand, saying no to men

Five years in the making, Port Grand finally opened its doors last month bringing hope of some entertainment to Karachiites. Work on the much talked about project began in 2006. I for one had been waiting for it to open impatiently. The management promised a much earlier opening date but delays and lack of funds meant that it took almost twice the time to complete the project, and when the day finally came, I couldn’t wait to check the place out. My favourite RJs on the radio wouldn’t stop talking about it the day after it opened. I visited Port Grand’s website and ...

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The (not so) long arm of the HEC

The Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) devolution has pulled emotions and inflamed passions for the past couple of weeks. We are told that the future of Pakistan and the future of higher education are at stake. However, I for one do not believe that the HEC is a barometer of the state of education in Pakistan. On the contrary, the case of Qamar Riaz Mamitkhel, a lecturer at Bahria University Islamabad points to how inadequate the provision of education in our country is. If we ever needed a snapshot of where we stand, look no further. Mr Qamar Riaz Mamitkhel had the audacity to ...

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Don’t devolve the HEC

The government’s plan to devolve the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to the provinces as a consequence of the 18th Amendment has come in for widespread criticism. The government’s justification is that since education already comes under the purview of the provinces, there is no contradiction in this planned measure. To that end, the chairman of the implementation committee of the 18th amendment, Senator Raza Rabbani, recently said that the ordinance which gave birth to the HEC would be redrafted and that all its powers save a few policy matters would be devolved to the provinces. He also said that the provinces would ...

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‘My kidneys are not for kafirs’

A Pakistani runs our local mini-cab service in north London. This means we get fantastic rates when a cab is needed to get around. It also means I get an odd assortment of Muslim drivers from different parts of the Muslim world. Sometimes, conversations with cabbies reveal a lot about their community politics and general worldviews. It was one such conversation with an Algerian cabbie that got me thinking about the uniformity of hate and anti-western sentiment across the Muslim world. It also made me realise that I have justified reason to feel angry with the many Muslims settled in the United Kingdom ...

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Do parliamentarians care about the education emergency?

The education task force set up by the prime minister has recently termed the situation in Pakistan an “education emergency”. When media walas, policy makers, development sector workers and political activists are invited to sit together, they do not seem to think this “emergency” needs to be addressed urgently. The panel from the educational task force concluded that the main hurdle in educating the nation is the lack of political will. It is ironic that this statement comes directly from co-chair of Pakistan Education Task force Shahnaz Wazir Ali who is a member of parliament and the ruling party. If not her, ...

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SOS call for higher education

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has functioned brilliantly in recent years. It had numerous achievements, but one of the more tangible ones was the significant improvement in the quality and quantity of the research work undertaken in universities across the country. The present government has announced that it will devolve the HEC to the provinces, while stating that this was required under the 18th Amendment, and that education will now be the sole domain of the provinces. HEC officials however dismissed the proposed devolution under the 18th amendment, while maintaining that the commission was an independent institution that was functioning directly ...

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Shahbaz’s health plan: Adding insult to injury

The Punjab government has failed yet again to address the problems of dealing with emergency situations, especially when it comes to treating the injured at hospitals after terrorist attacks. Lahore has witnessed plenty of blasts and suicide attacks in recent years. And the casualties seem to be rising due to inefficiencies in rendering emergency aid, and due to a lack of trauma centres. While many die on the spot, a majority of the victims are rushed to emergency wards of teaching hospitals where they either eventually succumb to injuries, or suffer life-long disabilities – both of which in most cases are ...

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