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An insane message

Bilal Qureshi According to the New York Times, Pakistan’s military is maneuvering to remove the current government. This, according to the paper, is because of corruption and lack of proper response to the flood. What is missing from the report is that once this government is gone, angels and superheroes are going to takeover and they will change everything wrong with Pakistan, overnight. The world has seen this before, but I suspect that people in Pakistan like this game of throwing out democratic governments and bringing in old, tried, and tired hands with this hope that somehow, magically, things will change and yes, improve, even though, history begs to differ. No point in repeating that the current government has been perpetually dealt with crisis right after Musharaff and his cronies left the country without … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Pakistan: A Brighter Future?

Niaz Murtaza Pakistanis tend to be dreamy romanticists. Our favorite dream relates to the sudden emergence of a knight in shining armor from heavens to rescue everyone through able governance. Unfortunately, this is a pipe-dream, for leaders emerge from within societies, from among stronger classes, and embody the worldviews of their parent class and allies. Governance transforms when classes angry with the status-quo become organized enough to challenge ruling classes. The collective anger eventually ignites political aspirations in the hearts of their most daring members. In absolute states, these aspirations unleash armed revolution. In even imperfect democracies, elections provide easier avenues to challengers unless their agenda lacks mass appeal, like the Taliban’s. Thus, armed revolutions under democracies appeal mainly to unpopular fascists unlikely to win elections. Six overlapping classes currently compete for control … Read entire article »

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Regime Change or Cosmetic Surgery

Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf When we as Pakistanis discuss the partition of the sub continent and creation of Pakistan, we usually refer to the freedom movement led by both Congress and Muslim League in the backdrop of events within the united India and the Jinnah-Nehru rivalry. We also ignore to shut our eyes to the reality that despite a sustained freedom struggle, Jinnah’s Pakistan has remained elusive due to the instability created by various power houses within and outside Pakistan’s politic body.  By 1951, most of the die hard and ideological supporters of Jinnah had become back benchers, others left for India and those who dared became traitors or got the lead clad in copper. The entire construct of Pakistan as an equal opportunity and democratic republic evaporated in the heat of political … Read entire article »

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The ardent messiah seekers

Raza Rumi A natural disaster, largely unavoidable, has provided a glorious opportunity to all those who have been hankering to reverse Pakistan’s fragile transition from an authoritarian to quasi-democratic rule. There is hardly a new script for the much-touted change and its proponents are using the same old tricks out of their worn out hats to prepare for a rollback of the democratic process. Therefore, the intense rumour-mongering, which has gripped Pakistani psyche over the last fortnight, is a tried and tested success formula: create the perception of change and then turn it into reality. Even though Pakistan’s military remains unwilling to intervene, regime-change seems to be the flavour of the month. Ironically, this time large sections of the electronic media are hyperactive participants in the process, which is most likely going … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan, Politics, public policy

..The Taliban is NOT an expression of Pushtun Nationalism

By Qudsia Siddiqi One of the biggest lies that have been spun by our establishment, which is the arbiter of our national narrative, is that the Taliban are an expression of “Pushtun Nationalism”.  This lie has been repeated ad infinitum by reactionary politicians and Taliban apologists like Imran Khan and  biased academics like Tariq Ali and Rasul Baksh Rais. The rich and diverse culture of the Pushtuns extends back to several millennia.  The cultural and anthropological influence of the Pushtuns extends from Iran to Bangladesh and even a cultural metropolis like Calcutta can boast of hosting Pushtuns and their way of life.  From Rehman Baba to Khushal Khan Khattak, poetry and moderate religious views have been a cornerstone of Pushtunwali.  The land of the Pushtuns is the land of Lord Gautum Buddha.  … Read entire article »

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The Meltdown Of Logic

By D Asghar It is rather disheartening to see the lack of objective analysis when it comes to the general population of Pakistan. Mostly people tend to think along the lines of religion or language and tend to hold their strong position irrespective of what facts are presented to them. Any person engaging in a meaningful dialogue is shunned by the usual and often debated conspiracy rhetoric. Let’s take the event of 09/11 for an example. On the eve of 09/11, when I spoke with my Mother in Karachi, she was convinced by the Pakistani media that there was not a single Jew, who was murdered. All the Jews were informed a day in advance, not to show up to work, that ill fated Tuesday. When I informed her about the facts, … Read entire article »

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Working with the victims of the disaster – Part I

Usman Ahmad’s diaries Day 1 The small smattering of rain the previous night ensures a clement beginning to our journey south and the flood hit areas of South Punjab and Sindh. The cool bite of the air is a sublime luxury I will later look back at longingly as the days ahead unleash the fury of their white heat. But for now, I gaze only at the waving hand of my infant son, who has awoken at this unearthly hour to bid me adieu. As our Pajero draws away – I catch my final glimpse of him nestling on the doorstep – firm in his refusal not to go back inside. The sight makes me laugh and becomes my first memory of a trip I had wanted to make much earlier. Together in … Read entire article »

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In Quest Of The Missing Leader

By D. Asghar Hats off to the Nation for completing 63 years of patience and perseverance. You have heard countless promises and utopian speeches about this great nation from various political and non political mouth pieces and sucked it all in like sponges. It is commendable that you have been stripped from your right of determination of your destiny for decades by usurpers, who derailed and fooled you by the phony “doctrine of necessity” excuse. You put up with the so called “guardians of the gates of heaven”, who are only worried about “your salvation.” So much so that these noble and righteous often tend to disregard their own final chapter. You give heed to people continents away, call them your “Brothers” and let them dictate the terms of your daily … Read entire article »

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Deviating from the democratic path

By Yasser Latif Hamdani (Published in the Daily Times on 27 September 2010) The pictures that have emerged from the Athletes Village at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi have conclusively rubbished the India shining myth. This would not come as a surprise to those Pakistanis who have visited India or have interacted with Indians visiting Pakistan. Most Indians visiting Pakistan comment on how much more developed Pakistan is, how clean Pakistan’s cities are, how much better Pakistani roads are than India’s and how they find fewer beggars on Pakistani roads than on Indian roads. It will, however, certainly shock those who have been brought to believe that India is the land of milk and honey. … Read entire article »

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Collapsing local governance

By Raza Rumi Recent floods have exposed the capacity of the state to govern, especially at the local level. The disintegration of local state is not a recent phenomenon. The continued experimentation with and frequent strangulation of local governance arrangements have led to a situation that Pakistan’s burgeoning population is now without a representative, accountable local state. Erosion of state writ: Three historical trends are noticeable for their impact on the overall governance and the writ of the state. First, centralisation is a tendency that is most attractive to those who govern Pakistan at the federal and provincial levels. The post-colonial Pakistani state has retained the official obsession of controlling power and patronage at the top and denuding the local space for democratic development and sound mechanisms of accountability. Secondly, granting local … Read entire article »

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PTH exclusive: Interview with Lionel Ross

Dil Nawaz has conducted this exclusive interview with Lionel Ross”Men of Conviction” for PTH. “Men of Conviction” tells the fascinating tale of three desperate and disparate young men, released from prison on the same day. They are Hussein, the Islamist preacher of Jihad, Wayne the burglar and Dovid the religious Jew and ‘one offence fraudster’. “Men of Conviction” is their story over the ensuing ten years. Hussein, predictably, builds a shadowy Jihadist organisation with the intention, through terrorism, of creating the Caliphate of Britannia under Shari’a law. Wayne is determined to change his life and almost accidentally finds himself the owner of a chain of Massage Parlours. By his previous standards, this is the path to wealth and respectability! Dovid, on the other hand, with the aid of his wealthy grandfather, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books

The Verdict of Dr Afia and Our Reaction

Raza Habib Raja Right now the media is voicing its vociferous opposition to the sentence handed to Dr. Afia Siddiqui. The entire case, even before the verdict was announced, had become an overly emotional episode for the Pakistanis. The media has been whipping a lot of frenzy for a considerable period of time. This case overshadows even horrendous acts of terrorism in terms of the condemnation generated. I will not debate the technical aspects of the case as frankly the court which gave the verdict was better equipped to weigh and decide. We often have the tendency to become “experts” while having flimsy evidence. During the past two years particularly when the case was being fought in US, Ms Afia’s was simply assumed to be a victim of some grand conspiracy and … Read entire article »

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South Asian Literature Festival (15-25 October)

PTH announces the forthcoming festival – Raza Rumi The inaugural South Asian Literature Festival takes place in London from 15th – 25th October, followed by outreach events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester at the end of October. SALF joins an emerging landscape of literature festivals located in South Asia including Jaipur, Hay Festival Kerala, Galle and Karachi Literature Festivals but is UK based and the only one to have the remit of focusing on South Asian writing exclusively. Reflecting the diverse nature of South Asian culture, SALF is a multi-dimensional festival and will explore the politics, languages and literature of the region through music, spoken word, visual arts and literary performance. Playing host to a stellar cast of authors, actors, poets, musicians – home-grown, international and from the sub-continent – and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Literature, south asia

Is it easy to fill the God shaped hole at the center of our souls?

By Aasem Bakhshi Contrary to common Muslim perception, Islamic tradition does not hold a unanimous conception of God; furthermore, being able to believe in an omnipotent, perpetually creative and law giving Deity demands clarity of conception, which is intellectually laborious and demands extraordinary dedication. The foremost act in religion is the acknowledgment of Him. The perfection of acknowledging Him is believing in Him; the perfection of believing in Him is acknowledging His oneness; the perfection of acknowledging … Read entire article »

Filed under: Islam, Philosophy, Religion

Poverty Reduction Strategies in Pakistan: What Worked, What Didn’t?

Aadil Mansoor In the last decade Pakistan has devised at least three poverty reduction strategies meant to be used as tools for setting economic policy with the aim, at least in theory, of alleviating poverty. But their performance has made it clear that meeting the needs of the country’s poorest continues to take a back seat to goals such as rapid economic growth and fulfilling the requirements of international donors. The strategies have been aimed at ensuring that Pakistan continues to receive much-needed support from international lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Their success or failure, too, has depended on external factors like the global economic environment and Pakistan’s geopolitical role in the world. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) were first developed in 1999, initiated by … Read entire article »

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