Stories about policy

KESC sacking: Wrong time for the right decision

The weakening economy is impacting every sector and one of the worst hit seems to be the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC). The company was already a victim of corruption and a house to ‘ghost employees’ when General Musharraf privatised the utility company in an attempt to provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the city. The new, improved KESC fulfilled its promise.  The new organization was restructured on revolutionary lines. Initiatives against electricity theft were introduced and load shedding hours were reduced to as little as 3 hours (compared with more than 10 hours). KESC took all necessary measures to ...

Read Full Post

I have not sold my soul to America

Many Pakistani Americans were impacted adversely when the twin towers of the World Trade Centre collapsed, on September 11, 2001. Many decided to head back home as they felt their American dream had turned into an American nightmare. There were even ill-founded fears that they would be dispatched to concentration camps. The reality turned out to be the contrary. Many who left for safe harbours in Pakistan or the Middle East ended up returning empty-handed to good old America. The horror they supposedly ran from in the US followed them in those countries. There was a common theme that each ...

Read Full Post

Cafe policy: Does sexism change after 7pm?

Ever walked into a restaurant with ‘the boys’ only to be turned away at the door? If it were any other country, this would be regarded as blatant discrimination with the media having a “field day” for weeks and the owners getting sued. But here in Pakistan this is not the case, hence many prominent restaurants implement the “family only” policy after 7pm. If this policy was really just for “family only” in all instances, it would still make sense. But this policy is just there to prevent single men or a group of single men being at the restaurant. ...

Read Full Post

Think-tanks, conferences and more hot air

As a reporter for Dawn in the mid-to-late 1990s, one of the first beats assigned to me was to cover seminars on various issues in the city of Karachi. At first this seemed like an interesting proposition but over time it became a drag – not least because on ended up seeing the same people all the time, discussing the same things over and over again, and giving the same solutions over and over again. Surely, they didn’t need to hold yet another conference on this issue, one would say to oneself, given that the issue had already been done to ...

Read Full Post

Selective coverage: What the stories we never hear about mean

Keeping an eye on how the media has been working in Pakistan, I have been confused about whether it is actually performing its role –  its real role as an unbiased observer to events – and providing masses with untampered facts and information. Aside from its highly anti-government policies and the Zardari obsession, there are other reasons that makes its role suspect. With reference to the Pakistan army, the media’s role remains ambiguous. For reasons that are obvious, there has been a serious lack of reporting on exactly how the army has been conducting activities in Balochistan and Fata. But recent events are alarming. Last week ...

Read Full Post

WikiLeaks: Democracy undressed

WikiLeaks has now been added to our burgeoning dictionary of new labels of social media but undoubtedly, it is one of the most controversial. The proliferation of different types of social media from Facebook to YouTube is raising deep questions about public discussion, and the workings of democracy itself. It is not so much the content that is released by WikiLeaks that is of concern or indeed of any great surprise, since they merely confirmed what many suspected. Democracy looks like a sham The great concern is how foreign policy is being conducted behind closed doors, in secret corridors of power where only an elite ...

Read Full Post

Dear govt, wake up and smell the inflation!

Just last week, tomatoes were being sold for Rs60 per kg, but this week they were priced at Rs80 for the same amount. When I asked why the sudden price rise of Rs20 in just one week, I got a short reply: “Baji, saardiyan shuru hogayi hai,” (Sister, winter has commenced.) Now, what do tomato prices have to do with the sudden drop in temperatures? The supply of tomatoes is going to continue just as always- there is no sowing strike, no harvesting strike, no farmer strike, no buyer strike, no transport strike – and there hasn’t been any news of devastation ...

Read Full Post

Dear liberals, speak up!

In my two and a half years in the US, I haven’t met a single Republican. An overwhelming majority of the Americans I have spoken to are apologetic about the drone attacks in Pakistan, were appalled by the “Ground Zero” mosque crisis, despise the Tea Party movement and don’t understand Republicans’ repeated attacks against health care reform. This category of opinion is in large part echoed by liberal columnists and pundits that we even follow back home. I, therefore, find it interesting to reconcile what I witnessed in the November 2 elections with what I know of my personal experience ...

Read Full Post

Blasphemy law: An apparatus to sustain tyranny

In Pakistan, if you have a land dispute, political rivalry, or just personal or professional jealousy or economic rivalry with someone and you are bent on settling your score, then teaching them a lesson is easier than you think. You can make your enemies regret every day they have ever lived, especially if they are non-Muslims, Ahmadis, Zionists or “Hindu Zionists”. Although in Pakistan it may seem convenient to hire an assassin or kill them yourself – but why do things ‘illegally’ when you can destroy their lives ‘legally’ with popular support? All it takes is a false accusation of blasphemy ...

Read Full Post

Judicial bungling: Islamabad’s dog and pony show

Recently I have been trying to figure out exactly what is going on in Islamabad and more importantly what exactly the PPP and judiciary are on? Right now it seems the biggest favor they can do is to pass on whatever they are smoking on to the rest of us. The other favor they can do for this country is start doing their jobs. Now when I say jobs I mean jobs based on the descriptions that have been formed in the constitution. What should be happening According to the constitution, the executive is supposed to work on a policy with the ...

Read Full Post