Author Archives: Agha Akbar


Agha Akbar

A crusader no more

This was inevitable. After the assassination of Salman Taseer, and the way his murder was celebrated and the murderer honoured in full public view by some quarters, with our entire political class either silently sympathising with the killer or cowering instead of taking him and his sponsors on, Shahbaz Bhatti had it coming. And he knew it.
That makes him another good man with the courage to stand up for his convictions and humanity (his death a reminder of how few we are left


Agha Akbar

One after another…

Across the vast swathes of the Arab world, Their Highnesses have either been running helter-skelter or cowering in their gilded palaces, scared out of their wits for the deceptive but rapid shift of sand that has put them all in serious jeopardy. Who could have predicted this seismic change that many have dubbed as the Arab Renaissance with millions nodding in assent? Who could have contemplated, only three months back, that the winds that started blowing from Maghreb down, would


Agha Akbar

The Gamechanger

For the uninitiated, the World Cup that just got rolling is the third in the sub-continent but the first where Pakistan has been denied the status of a host, though it initially was there when the rights were awarded by the ICC. This is sad in the extreme, but then with the security situation as alarming as it is in our neck of the woods, envisaging a different outcome, though not impossible would still be wishful thinking.
What made an already bad situation irretrievable was


Agha Akbar

Ministers required

After wavering for what seemed like ages, and only forced by a set of circumstances well beyond his control, the prime minister on Wednesday finally sacked his bloated cabinet. Even here the prime minister was found coy in doing the needful in a straightforward manner, and to maintain appearances instead of getting fired the honourable ministers were shown the exit through en masse resignations.
Though none other than the outgoing ministers is going to shed a tear on the demise


Agha Akbar

Tailspin tales

For the first time since 2008, the price of oil in international markets surged above the US $100 a barrel mark this last week. Since it coincided with the end-of-the-month review of prices on the domestic front, it indeed was a surprise that the Pakistani regulators didn’t bat an eyelid and retained the pricing on the whole raft of petroleum products.
Doesn’t make sense in an economy where the GDP has for the last three years been limping along at a growth rate of a mere two to


Agha Akbar

Cry, the beloved city

As it has intermittently happened in recent years, this past week or so violence erupted again in Karachi and there was a spate of murders that has for some time been dubbed as “targeted killings”. The political analysts of all hues agree that this latest series of tit-for-tat murders, and many such horrific binges before this, decidedly have a political and ethnic tinge to it.
This murderous frenzy that has already resulted in about 35 deaths has not been without a consequence.


Agha Akbar

Words of wisdom

Whether somebody wizened him up to it, or whether it came from deep within, is irrelevant. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s speech at Salmaan Taseer’s memorial at the Pakistan High Commission in London is significant for its impact and import – and its timing.
In the superbly crafted statement, delivered with passion and equipoise that belied his years, Bilawal gets straight to the heart of the matter: the assassination of Taseer is not about “the liberals versus the conservative or


Agha Akbar

A sacrifice to bigotry

Even if one didn’t like him, one still had to appreciate and acknowledge Salmaan Taseer’s courage of conviction. And in these times of live telecast followed by endless repetition, in his last few years as the governor of Punjab, he gave one ample opportunity to take delight in his acerbic wit. Those at the receiving end though were definitely not amused by it. So he got as well as he gave, but he still could never be accused of pulling any punches or shying away from a verbal


Agha Akbar

Much ado about nothing

Interesting times are never far away from the Pakistani political scene. When the debate was focused on the RGST and whether the government would be able to rustle up the legislative muscle to ram it through both houses of the parliament, the prime minister’s showing the exit to a brace of ministers from his cabinet provided the spark that made the JUI(F) walk out of the coalition in a huff.
This made JUI-F the first party to exit from the carefully constructed and well coalesced


Agha Akbar

Now that it’s out

Whenever a set of documents is either leaked or declassified, it invariably generates tremendous interest and excitement. This is natural for it fills in the gaps and caters to the curiosity of an overwhelming number that takes keen interest in the events and incidents and also the people involved and their thinking.
There however is dissimilarity between the stuff that is declassified and that which is leaked. The declassified papers more often belong to a period that may be


Agha Akbar

Sentenced to death

A little spat between farm labourer women. That was all it was. And this would have remained just that, with the exchange of a few harsh words both ways had one of them not happened to be a Christian needled no end to convert. The ill-fated Aasiya Bibi, whose only provocation presumably was taking water from the same vessel that her Muslim fellow workers used, was subsequently accused of blasphemy.
And that, as has happened so many times before in the Zia and post-Zia quarter


Agha Akbar

The UNSC club

To sup at the top table, to secure pride of place in the global hierarchy has been India’s enduring ambition since its independence. And this deep rooted desire received a huge boost when US President Barack Obama obliged it with a pledge to support India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN’s Security Council.
The buoyant optimism in India is understandable but the endorsement is kind of post-dated for it is contingent upon United Nations’ reform. And that definitely will


Agha Akbar

Nawaz Sharif’s dilemma

In his present avatar, Nawaz Sharif seems to be infused with a crusader’s spirit in taking on the establishment while always making a deliberate attempt to further reinforce his own democratic credentials. And his espousal of popular causes means that he is consciously trying to forge a new identity for himself and for his party.
Given the PML’s profile (of whichever hue, this has forever been a handmaiden of the establishment), this is an awesome undertaking. To be fair to him,


Agha Akbar

She wins!

The hurdles were many: The quite visible split in the ranks of the mainstream lawyers, the stigma of the government’s tacit but active support, the vicious smear campaign, and the fact that Asma Jahangir was the first woman to contest the high profile office that for the last one year or so has become as contentious as it is coveted.
That is not to omit mention of a well-heeled opponent in Ahmad Awais, who was backed by that wing of the bar that has been in the forefront of the


Agha Akbar

Pay up and play the game

Well, a third ‘do more’ has been foisted on us. And quite unlike the previous two – a political/military ‘do more’ and the more recent cricketing one, courtesy an abrasive and clueless PCB chairman Ijaz Butt – this economic/taxation ‘do more’ may be even more intrusive and insulting as the earlier two, but it is something that may actually be a long-range blessing in disguise.
Weaned on foreign aid, and addicted to doles and handouts, our ruling elite and the privileged rentier


Agha Akbar

A cricketing ‘do more’?

Pakistan cricket has been through crisis before, having witnessed some of its worst turbulence in the last decade and a half. But none quite equals the present one in terms of despair, for the opprobrium of the world body is ringing and unmistakable.
Terms of the diktat are humiliating, and the consequence of not abiding indeed with them is harrowing indeed as sanctions stare us in the face.
What the ICC’s entire Board has told us with one voice – which means that all its

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