Stories about revolution

Can Pakistan witness an Egyptian style revolution?

Mohamed Bouazizi was a Tunisian street vendor, who poured fuel over and set himself ablaze in an elegant double-storey building with arched, azure shutters. The hard-scrabble loitered in the hospital for a few hours before breathing his last breath. His self-immolation became a catalyst for the Tunisian revolution. Khalid Mehboob, a depressed and dejected father of six, jobless and poor, self-immolated himself outside Karachi Press Club. Unlike Tunisia, normal life sustained in Pakistan. According to the annual Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), 12,580 people were killed all across Pakistan in 2010. Thousands of innocents fall prey to sectarianism, ethnocentrism, drone attacks, ...

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Bhagat Singh the intellectual

A lesser appreciated aspect about Bhagat Singh, who was executed on March 23, 1931, was his intellectual prowess. In the greater context of subcontinent politics and history, Singh’s socio-political understanding showed a very nuanced and detailed insight into the future of India and the importance to transform society. The tragedy, in the context of a Pakistan that lacks an academic culture, is that Singh’s legacy has been used to reaffirm the state narratives set in place. For some reason or another, history before 1947 has been studied in limited scope within Pakistan. In reality, Singh’s writings should be seen as ...

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A Pakistani Spring is not enough

The Arab Spring has captured the imagination of young people around the world with a powerful message about people taking control of their own destiny. In Pakistan, the spirit of the Arab Spring is playing out to a different tune. Instead of adopting “overthrow of the system” as their battle cry ala the Arab Spring, a visible and growing number of young, educated professionals in Pakistan are channeling their energies to incrementally improve the system by engaging with the current set up. Young Pakistanis, including many who have traveled to the West to get educated, are returning home to make active contributions ...

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Bonded to brick kilns: A song for revolution

“That was the darkest decade of our time. Women were considered half-the-man. Workers were as suppressed as slaves. Artists and poets were not allowed to create. Killing in the name of Islam began in that era. And those who resisted either had to face lashes or ended up in the Kafkaesque prison cells of the Lahore fort. Thus, everyone was oppressed except the religious clerics and those who surrendered to the worst military dictator. That was the 80s, but things haven’t really changed yet…”  (Mussarat Aziz) These are the words my mother wrote on a birthday card she gave me ...

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Yes he Khan, but he may not

To say that Imran Khan elicits mixed emotions from me is like asking me whether I like chocolate; it’s complicated. On October 30 after seeing the swarms of people collect around the Minar-e-Pakistan, I was hoping that Imran Khan would come on a white horse and sweep me off my feet; I wanted to follow him. But alas I found the content of his speech to be lacking. Despite the fact that he was able to mobilize such a large number of people, I was not ready to put the Daniyal Noorani seal of approval on him (clearly all politicians ...

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Black and white democracy

I see so many young boys and girls around who are just dying to do something for this country. Interestingly though, the idea of doing something for most of them revolves around starting a political, semi-political or quasi-political movement, bringing about a revolution, replacing the government with angels etc. I am not against any of this, in fact it is refreshing to see such great ideas and plans in our youth. But it is also depressing that there is such a dearth of other ideas. In my humble opinion, nations are not built by governments, governments are built by nations. ...

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Why I don’t support Imran Khan

This is not the way a revolution happens – with unquestioning obedience and a blind following; this is how cults are made. That is exactly what we have happening here, much like the cult following of the Bhuttos, Imran Khan is cultivating the image of a one man show (much like his cricketing years I might add). How can he stand out from the rest when he follows the same policies? For those that don’t know, the PTI does not hold internal elections, Imran Khan is the president for life and office bearers are appointed. If we tolerate his pandering now how can we expect ...

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Arab Spring? No thank you

When Raja Khan, a twenty-something father of three from Sindh, lit himself on fire in Islamabad to escape from the misery he found at every avenue of life, people started talking. Talking about deprivation. Talking about unemployment. And talking about an Arab spring. Really? After a summer in which a number of authoritarian Arab regimes have fallen to the power of the people and the global “Occupy” movements are putting pressure on world leaders to provide legislation for the people, assisted in no small part by the power of social media, some circles have begun debating whether it is time for Pakistan’s ...

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Libya — beginning of the end

As the gunfire reaches Colonel Qaddafi’s compound, it seems as though ‘the end is near’ for the longest serving dictator in the modern world. However, since neither was this a Libyan-led nor a Libyan-owned war, one may argue that this is only just the beginning of the end. When we might get to see Qaddafi creep out of his compound or get killed in the process cannot be foretold; however the situation in Libya does seem to be more fluid and ‘complacency,’ a by-product of winning the war, may get the better of everyone. As his regime fades into the background ...

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‘Zaid Hamid told me so’

After a hiatus of few months, Zaid Hamid is back in the news and regrettably – though not surprisingly – for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, his labeling of SAFMA as an extension of RAW, didn’t sit too well with the SAFMA people and they have decided to press libel charges against them. A week before this new development, a few friends and I met him at his house: The assistant introduced us and left. The desk, the comfy seat, the black monitor and sheets of papers scattered all over the table were a shock. I was expecting a middle-class ...

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