Stories about Ziaul Haq

Should we be suspicious of Modi’s visit to Lahore?

The hysterical outburst, as if the man was in a state of utter delirium, at Lahore Airport of a reporter of a Pakistani news channel on the surprise visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore on December 25, 2015, left me gaping with disbelief. He asserted, with such certainty, that never in the history of international diplomacy have foreigners ever entered the territory of a sovereign and independent state without procuring the visa first. I must admit that for a moment even I was taken aback at the alleged singularity of such a diplomatic irregularity. However, my own sense was that visas are ...

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Revisiting Jeremy Corbyn’s Pakistan moment

I took a photo while Jeremy Corbyn – a British politician who is the leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition, and is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Islington North – Naila Hussain, and I were leaving for lunch in a rickshaw in Karachi, where we had gone to attend the World Social Forum in 2006. Tariq Ali, along with Corbyn, were one of the highlights of the forum. Dr AH Nayyar introduced me to Corbyn, since his elder, more radical brother was in Dr Nayyar’s research group at the Imperial College in London). Having heard Corbyn, Tariq Ali and ...

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I am a Sindhi and I have no sympathy for PPP anymore

Thar’s veteran politician, Rana Chandra Singh, once commented on the size of Umerkot’s Lanba ground in Dhatki, “Lanba ground Kachhi menhan Bhari ya Bhutto re Dikri.” (Either the southern rain has the power to fill the Lanba ground, or the daughter of Bhutto.) Those were the days when Sindhis, both Muslims and Hindus, chose to name their children after the famous Bhuttos. There are many Zulfikars, Bhuttos and Benazirs in Sindh and people once took pride in such names. Similarly, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged, many who had named their children Ziaul Haq, changed their children’s names immediately. Now, you will rarely come across a person named Zia in Sindh. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) represented the people; PPP represented the ...

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Why blame Zia for every ill in Pakistan?

On the eve of Ziaul Haq’s 27th death anniversary, his name still generates an animated response from Pakistanis. Browse around social media or the English press, and one gets the impression that there is no leader more disliked than him. He was brutal. He was un-democratic. He was authoritative. He destroyed Pakistan’s moderate socio-political fabric and turned the country into the fragile fundamentalist haven it is today. Or did he? Zia was an apolitical figure, or so Zulfikar Ali Bhutto thought, when he was appointed Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) in 1976.  He ended up taking control of the country in the political chaos that ensued following ...

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Dear Junaid Jamshed, Google ‘misogyny’, and then stay away from it forever

Junaid Jamshed has done it again. And it looks like he’ll never learn. Whatever made him say the things he did about Hazrat Aisha (RA) previously which made him run for his life, were clearly not enough for him to understand what he’s doing wrong. And if I were his PR manager (if and so he actually has one) this would be my one single email to him, “Dear boss, Google the word ‘misogyny’. Then stay away from it forever.” In another email, I’d gently explain to him the meaning of hypocrisy. The right to practice your beliefs is clear and there is no disputing that. ...

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Can fundamentalism in Pakistan be traced back to madrassas?

In Pakistan, certain madrassas have a knack for producing terrorists. The government is aware of this yet it does not have a consistent stance regarding such madrassas. After the Peshawar school attack in December, the government made it a priority to regulate madrassas, but when the information minister, Pervaiz Rashid, spoke out against them last month, not a single member of government publicly supported him. This conflicting treatment did not happen overnight. Fundamentalism in Pakistan can be traced back to Former Prime Ministers Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Ziaul Haq who wanted to ‘Islamicise’ the state. Zia’s 1979 education policy highlighted the priority to ...

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Should he stay silent just because he is a Hindu MNA in a Pakistani National Assembly?

Lal Malhi’s one minute and thirteen seconds on the National Assembly floor this past week summed up more than just the ignorance of our elected representatives; it spoke to an alarmingly prevalent disregard for our Hindu citizens. That not all Hindus are Indian and that not all Indians are Hindu seems too complex a concept for most of us. If only these despicable “Hindu ga’ay ka pujari” (Hindus are cow-worshippers) slogans were an anomaly. Earlier this month, the hammer-wielding Lutf Lashari destroyed five idols in Durga Shiv Mandir (the story eerily broke in a very Fox News “let-me-tell-you-how-this-man-was-mentally-ill” style). Malhi also called attention to forced conversions: ...

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Is Pakistan capable of protecting its minorities?

The recent attack on the Ismaili Muslims in Karachi brought a lot of things into perspective. Firstly, it exposed the ineffectiveness of various military, rangers and police operations, and, secondly, it unveiled the dangers our minority communities are exposed to. But seeing this attack in isolation would not be of any help. We need to understand how religion has facilitated the state and, by extension, the militant organisations over the past decades and how it has led to the conundrum that we find ourselves in now. The first time Islam came to serve the government was in 1953, for Mumtaz Daultana, which led to ...

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Is Morsi going to be Egypt’s Bhutto?

Egypt and Pakistan may not have much in common when it comes to culture, cuisine, and heritage, but when you look at their political landscape, a lot of commonalities spring up. My political alignment is exactly the opposite of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, but I admire him as a great public orator and a tactical politician. He was a rarity amongst the political circle of our country, so much so that the biggest political party of Pakistan is still banking on his legacy to lure in voters. In regard to his personal charisma, I think Imran Khan is the only one who comes close to his ranks. ...

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Dear Ziaul Haq, we are paying the price for your decisions today

Respected Sir, It has been almost 27 years since your death. The flesh and dismantled bones placed in your grave would have turned to dust by now. Many governments were formed since your death. Many dictators have ruled us after you. Your rival’s daughter embraced shahadat (martyrdom) – as they say. A war even broke out in our neighbourhood. Can you guess who the predator was and who the target? That smile on your face will quickly disappear when I inform you that I am not talking about Saudi Arabia invading India. I am referring to America invading Afghanistan. Yes sir, the same Afghanistan that ...

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