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A Dysfunctional State

by Saad Hafiz Pakistan’s societal, economic and political travails place it in a category of deeply dysfunctional and nearly ungovernable states. Generally speaking, dysfunctional states exhibit high degrees of institutional inconsistency, social malaise, ideological confusion, political malfunction and national paranoia. As a consequence, such states are unable to leverage their people’s histories and traditions to construct effective formal institutions with wide legitimacy; nor can they draw on the social capital embedded in cohesive groups to facilitate economic, political, and social intercourse; neither are they able to employ the established governing capacities of their citizens to run the affairs of state. Moreover, national development is much dependent upon the quality of a nation’s human capital. Dysfunctional states do not invest in human capital—such as better schools and hospitals. They tend to discourage people … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Egalitarian Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan, Society

Good Luck India

Raza Habib Raja I have written before also that for me India holds a special place in my heart and I feel connected to it emotionally. Besides that as a student of politics also, India for me is an enigma with respect to its ability to sustain a balanced combination of democracy, secularism and stability over almost seven decades. It has to be understood that even in relatively homogeneous countries, these factors are difficult to combine and balance. And yet, India despite being so diverse and complex, has so far done well. It has not been a smooth ride but political will has always been there. I sincerely hope, that in the zeal of voting incumbents out of power, the Indian populace does not lose track of what exactly differentiates India from Pakistan. I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Raza Rumi: I’m Proud of You!

Kasim Osmani It is nothing but a stroke of luck when you happen to meet and start working with your most favorite personality. The very idea that you are going to work with country’s prominent political analyst excites the imagination. It fills you with high spirits and you feel like the luckiest person on planet. I felt so, when I met and started working with Raza Rumi. A day after I shared my profile, I found myself sitting across Raza Rumi, having kehwa and discussing how I could contribute to his bulging workload. Staring at him with almost static eyeballs, I expressed my earnest gratitude and determination for the given responsibilities. Raza Rumi entirely changed my views about a boss and people working in “private sector”. Now, I had a smiling boss who … Read entire article »

Filed under: journalism, Terrorism

Taliban Are Right, We Are Wrong!

by Obaidullah Khan How painful is this fact for those who have not yet abandoned reason that our independent and sovereign state is negotiating with the terrorists. We are down to such a low that we are begging for mercy from those who are vicious barbarians and brazenly attack innocent citizens and the state institutions while our state seems to be helpless against them. Such barbarians must be dealt with an iron fist, is an established principle of politics in any country that claims to be independent and sovereign. Apart from disgracing the martyrs of our nation, whose blood is still of no value to our rulers, are we not disgracing our constitution by surrendering before those who are contemptuously mocking the writ of the state and its constitution and are … Read entire article »

Filed under: Terrorism

Punjab and Army

Punjab and Army

Raza Habib Raja Most of the political developments in Pakistan involve armed forces and also Punjab’s politicians as Punjab is the most populous province. Some or the other, a narrative has developed which links Punjab and armed forces (who mostly hail from Punjab) in a conspiring role.  The phrase “Punjabi Establishment” is often used by the liberal intelligentsia with the intention of not only showing the ethnic makeup of such establishment but also highlight its conspiracy mindset … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Punjab

Peace in Our Time

Peace in Our Time

Saad Hafiz Between phase of strident nationalism and armed conflict, India-Pakistan relations have mostly remained in deep freeze from which there still appears to be no hope of recovery. Historically, bilateral ties have been dominated by shrill jingoism, xenophobia and a quest for absolute justice at the expense of national interest and political realism. National leaders, instead of pursuing peace, have generally found it easier to propagate hawkish positions, unwilling to risk charges of appeasement, defeatism and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan, peace

Vying for Allah’s Vote

Vying for Allah’s Vote

Author: Haroon K. Ullah What is driving political extremism in Pakistan? In early 2011, the prominent Pakistani politician SalmaanTaseerwas assassinated by a member of his own security team for insulting Islam by expressing views in support of the rights of women and religious minorities. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, was killed by gunfire and explosive devices as she left a campaign event in December 2007; strong evidence links members of extremist organizations to her slaying. These … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books

Individual liberty or societal damnation – a simple choice

By Javed Hassan Muslims are rightly proud of great thinkers who emerged from the Islamic milieu of the so called Islamic Golden Age. Avicenna, Omar Khayyám , Averroes, Razi, and many more not only carried forward the Greek tradition of rational enquiry but also innovated and brought about new discoveries. We should rejoice the greatness that was once there, and the potential that we might still have to achieve such heights again.  However, before that happens we need to ask ourselves the question that Dawkins posed to all of us, ‘why are there only ten Muslim Nobel laureates compared to thirty from Trinity College Cambridge/”. It’s worth noting that there are some two hundred plus Jewish recipients of the prize. Why has there been virtually no major scientific contribution from Muslims since … Read entire article »

Filed under: Islam

Polarization, lack of deliberation and changing the status quo

by Hussain Bokhari Pakistani society is as polarized as it has ever been. The country is coming apart at the seams due to schisms across political, ideological, ethnic, religious, and social dimensions. Political parties that are either inept or unwilling to ask the right questions to address the issues affecting the masses (as indicated by a 2013 British Council survey in which 69% of Pakistanis have an unfavorable view of political parties); increasingly misinformed ideological viewpoints among ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ (as illustrated by the general lack of awareness on both sides about what either ideology really advocates); continued penchant for viewing ourselves and our issues across ethnic lines rather than as a nation (as evidenced by the existence of political parties with ethnic agendas and their success across ethnic lines); existence … Read entire article »

Filed under: public policy

The Pragmatic Liberal

The Pragmatic Liberal

Raza Habib Raja This article tries to evaluate the politician Benazir Bhutto and the way she affected her party and the Pakistani political landscape. Since the article tries to adopt a CRITICAL approach therefore it points her weaknesses besides appreciating her strengths. Cult of personality which has become somewhat of a rarity in the West is an integral part of the political culture here. Such personality cults form around Political leaders, particularly famous ones, in our part … Read entire article »

Filed under: Benazir Bhutto, Democracy

The Partition debate

by Saad Hafiz The intense debate over the Partition of India in 1947 continues six decades later. Some commentators have described the partition as neither inherently desirable nor necessary feasible but tragically inevitable. They attribute this to the Congress and Muslim League’s incompatible visions for India, which led to deadlock in talks forcing the British to impose a solution. Others suggest that the partition was a crude and unthinking form of gerrymandering with tragic consequences leading to a permanent poisoning of Hindu-Muslim relations. They dismiss it as a socio-religious experiment, a failure of leadership that the worst possible alternative was chosen. Messrs Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru and Mountbatten, the main players in the partition saga have been praised or vilified as strong-willed visionaries or mediocre statesmen. It has been suggested that they … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

I Wish He Had Not Become a “Born Again Muslim”..

I Wish He Had Not Become a “Born Again Muslim”..

Raza Habib Raja For some of my friends, my transformation from my teen years, when I was a typical “nationalist”, and religious person, is perplexing. Yes, ideologically speaking I have come a long way though this transformation has been gradual. But even more than the ideological transformation, what has surprised them is the change of my opinion about Imran Khan. I used to literally worship him while growing up. For me,  one of the proudest moments in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Drones, Islam, Religion, Taliban

Why MQM Wants Army in Karachi

By Waqas Habib   Democracy is going to bring some long due respite for Karachiites, as soon we will see a major targeted operation in the city. An operation that will not be carried out by the Army but by the Police and Rangers   After May 11, 2013, few things have changed – call it the loyalty of the people of Sind or a strategic initiative by them. They elected a PPP government into power with a clear majority – a no compromise strategy. Hence they are free to make their decisions on an executive level in Sind. They do not need MQM or ANP’s support to sustain their government in the province.   PMLN too is not carrying baggage in the Federal government. They want peace in Karachi so they can fulfill their biggest … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Karachi, Politics

Democracy, policy and the absentee public

By Hussain Bokhari   Pakistan has now been independent for over 67 years. During this time, the country has been subjected to Military law for over 32 years. The remaining 35 years of democratic rule have not exactly been the most effective in terms of progress and serving the needs of the common Pakistani. This has unfortunately been perceived to be the failure of democracy as a political system rather than the ineptness of the few who have been at the helm. According to a recent British Council survey, only 29% of Pakistanis between the age of 18-29 believe democracy is the best political system for Pakistan, and 94% of people in that age group believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.     It is easy to attribute the failures of our attempts at … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Pakistan

Monsoons, Mangoes and Mullahs

By Ghazala Akbar   Monsoon rains, mangoes and angry Mullahs — a visitor to Bangladesh in July / August, finds all three in profusion.  The first two are seasonal. Mullahs of the political kind are perennials. Currently those belonging to the Jamaat-e-Islami are under an ever darkening monsoon cloud, their future role and involvement in Bangladesh politics hanging by a thread. This should be of considerable interest to Pakistan. Yet it barely causes a ripple or comment. The reason is obvious. The trial and tribulations of the party are linked to the events of 1971, a year that Pakistan would dearly like to forget. Bangladesh has neither forgot or forgiven yet. After forty-two years it is engaged in seeking belated justice, bringing to book those it considers ‘local collaborators’ many of whom, allegedly, committed treason … Read entire article »

Filed under: Bangladesh, Islam, Travel