Stories about provinces

Imran Khan is right, Pakistan should have more than four provinces

Whenever I make any comments about Pakistan having more provinces and smaller units, the reaction is always the same, “You want to divide the country? Are you a RAW agent or what?”  So when Imran Khan promised the creation of a South Punjab, it was a pleasant surprise to hear him say something intelligent for once. Imran made this promise recently as he welcomed turncoats from South Punjab into his party; defectors who enjoyed the perks and privileges of being MNAs for the past five years while saying nothing about creating a new province, until now. While supporting the demand by the Janoobi ...

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Dear Murad Ali Shah, do you even know what Sindh’s tax collectors are upto?

Dear Murad Ali Shah, It is well known that if you want to get anything done in your province, you have to pay the right people. In most cases, the right people are the ‘baboos’ as they are the ones who can skilfully insert whatever you want in any document knowing that the person who approves it will do so without reading it. Sometimes, if a baboo is not paid anything or not paid what he wants, he can do the opposite; he can get a tax imposed or increased on a particular commodity or service. This is what seems to have happened in the recently announced Sindh budget. ...

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Here’s Pakistan, raw and real, through the lens of a smartphone

Three months, Rs250,000, and a backpack, what does that get you? Memories for a lifetime. From Gwadar to Khunjerab Pass – I made it to over a hundred sites travelling solo, hitchhiking and using public transport. What started out as a desire to get away from the day-to-day ordinariness of life, turned into a journey encompassing cities, towns, plains, forests, deserts, mountains and beaches. I managed to explore all four provinces and territories, all the while meeting some of the most wonderful people from all walks of life. I was hosted by old friends in certain places and places where I had no ...

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Prejudice towards languages and ethnicities other than Punjabi has to end

Textbooks play an important role in building the world view of students. In a country like Pakistan where the reading culture is non-existent, these books serve as primary sources of information for a huge chunk of society. Khursheed Kamal Aziz also known as K K Aziz began his book ‘The Murder of History in Pakistan’ with the following words, “In every country, the textbook is the primary implement of education at the school and pre-university stages of instruction. In Pakistan, it is the only instrument of imparting education on all levels, because the teacher and the lecturer don’t teach or ...

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Punjab’s dominance is not because Punjabis are chauvinists

There is a common narrative that an overwhelming majority of Punjabis are chauvinistic and are always conspiring against the smaller provinces. In fact, it has become sort of a trend, particularly among some of the liberal journalists, to put all the blame on the Punjabis. I can understand the rationale behind it because that is a well-accepted narrative. Moreover, since the smaller provinces have complaints, therefore it becomes difficult to say anything in defence of the Punjabis for the fear of being called a ‘pseudo liberal’ or worst, a closet chauvinist. Some of the journalists just throw the word Punjabi chauvinism without even trying to justify ...

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As a citizen of Pakistan, I demand to know more about Balochistan

Back in 1998, while living in Quetta in our cosy cantonment apartment, I had known little about what this province in the southwest of Pakistan is facing. For me, it was more about exploring the rugged mountainous terrain of the largest province of Pakistan, enjoying the juicy apples and cherries, and experiencing the melting of snowflakes on the palm of my hand during winters. Back then I didn’t know that for 60 years this region has been a battleground. Even today many people living in other provinces of Pakistan do not know about the on-going conflict. Mostly because whenever somebody tries to talk ...

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Baby Bhutto, the Kashmir issue is way out of your league

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has spoken. “I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because, like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan.” This statement has evoked serious backlash from the Indian side and has made him a butt of jokes in both Pakistan and India. The statement was disturbing on many levels. It came at a time when the “political intern” was visiting flood affected areas and was, ironically, asking all political parties to set aside their differences and work in unison for the flood victims. By mentioning Kashmir out of the blue, he contradicted his own agenda ...

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I am from FATA and, today, I don’t feel Pakistani at all

I was shocked when I heard that the governments of Punjab and Sindh have barred Waziristan’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from entering their provinces. Belonging to the tribal areas, I know how much our forefathers have sacrificed for this country. It was our people who took part in Pakistan’s first war against India in 1948, to save Kashmir – and this was when Pakistan’s own army general had refused to fight. Today, whatever part of Kashmir comes under Pakistani territory, it’s all thanks to the efforts of my people. When the USSR attacked Afghanistan and Pakistan decided to be part of the United States-led ...

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Copy culture: Degree holders who can’t read or write

The youth, of any country, is always considered its greatest strength and an educated youth is an even stronger pillar for the state. However, these pillars cannot remain strong if young students start looking for shortcuts in their educational life. If such a situation does occur, a decline in a nation’s progress will be the inevitable result. Sadly, this process of decline is already in motion in Pakistan. Cheating culture is increasingly prevalent in our education system and it has become a pervasive phenomenon over here. Despite high claims and solemn promises, respective authorities have failed to curb the rampant and blatant cheating culture ...

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Who wins if Punjab is divided?

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the impending division of Punjab. From the viewpoint of many analysts and politicians, it is simply a matter of time before Punjab is divided into, at least, two provinces. The question, however, remains; does division, whatever form it eventually takes on, make sense? There is one line of argument that focuses on how large countries, like China and India, are able to experience substantial economic growth side-by-side with a substantial number of provinces. This argument makes the false assumption that the provincialism is somehow driving the economic growth. The truth is that ...

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