Columns articles

Waqqas Mir

The economics of innocence

Despite the pride that mankind may legitimately take in the role played by rational thinking in its recent history, ideologies and their distortion can still cause a considerable amount of havoc. Every country goes through periods of history dominated by an ideology or by the results of a conflict between different ideologies. How a citizenry is shaped by and eventually responds to competing ideologies is therefore crucial. Citizenship, in turn, presumes a certain amount of civic

Humayun Gauhar

Mountains don’t cry

“Curiouser and curiouser” said Alice in Wonderland. “Worser and worser” say I in Pakistan. “Badder and badder” say Arabs in the Middle East. Thank God we haven’t reached ‘worsest’ and ‘baddest’ for we can’t guess the limits of worser and badder. Words, damn words: they sublimate anger and frustration till we realise that we still remain in curiouser, worser and badder mode. Depression and frustration return when it eventually dawns on an excited people that their uprising was much ado

Naqib Hamid

Adding fuel to the fire

An in-depth analysis of the contemporary radical discourse clearly shows how a feeling of experiencing a ‘loss of honor’ or undergoing humiliation is one of the strongest constituents of the state of mind of radicals. It is one of the many things that constiute the subjective condition of the radical mind.
This theme has been a centerpiece of Al-Qaeda discourse since the very beginning with its first articulation in Osama bin Laden’s interview published in Al Islah newspaper in

Sarmad Bashir

Wrong call

When President Asif Zardari hit upon a roundtable idea, it was met with scathing criticism from the PML(N) hawks: what is that he wants to discuss now ; it’s just an attempt aimed at scuttling our 10-point reforms agenda. Fast forward to March 7. The PPP had already been thrown out of the Punjab Coalition. The floor-crossers were being pampered as they were the only hope left for the Raiwind Squad to save their fledgling government from collapse.
The chances of the two mainstream

M J Akbar

The great political game

It seems reasonable to suggest that any political organisation with both Stalin and Napoleon on its frontlines, as DMK can boast, should make short shrift of a party with a mere Gandhi at its head. But the Karunanidhi vs Sonia Gandhi sideshow within the larger drama of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections was always a no-contest. Bluster is hopeless against cool. And when Mrs Sonia Gandhi decides to be cool, polar icecaps break into envious applause. Karunanidhi did not melt because

Arif Nizami

Troubling times

The Supreme Court sending the NAB chairman Deedar Hussain Shah packing and the virtual breakdown of ongoing talks with the IMF for setting new benchmarks to revive the stalled $11.3 billion standby arrangement are not good news for the already beleaguered PPP government. Its talks with estranged coalition partner, the MQM, virtually deadlocked and having been already ousted from the PML(N)-led coalition in the Punjab, the PPP-led government is in all kinds of trouble.
The gunning

White Lies

A deal is a deal but what does one do when a dealer gets a little greedy and decides to rock the boat. We hear that some time back the boss of Evacuee Property Board came up with a brilliant idea on how to make a fortune. He discovered that a chunk of land belonging to the Board was to be acquired by DHA Lahore. Promptly but discreetly, he arranged an auction of this real estate and a small time real estate dealer with whom he had an understanding, quite conveniently picked up the

Raoof Hasan

Emerging realities

The failure of governance is being increasingly attributed to the shortcomings of the system and the inadequacies of the people who get elected. There being little awareness of these limitations among those who have the constitutional powers to initiate remedial measures, the predilection to perpetuate further authority in the hands of individuals in preference to institutions is being increasingly pursued – a trait that is in direct conflict with the spirit of democracy.

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Out of the box proposal

The Parliament is perhaps the only pillar of state which has not tried over the last three years to trespass its limits. Despite this, it has made solid though belated progress to strengthen itself and its system of committees. The PML(N) now wants to bypass the Parliament by seeking to hold an unusual conference comprising politicians, serving judges and generals. The agenda of the conference as spelled out by Mian Shahbaz Sharif is “to discuss the challenges faced by the country”.

Ejaz Haider

Our schooled illiterates

Apparently, we have an education emergency. As emergencies go, this one has taken us 63 years to register. That makes it quite an emergency. But let’s not quibble over minor issues and take a look at this emergency instead.
The current bout of hysteria follows a report by the Pakistan Education Task Force. The report is on the internet and it says on the main webpage “Sign the Petition to End the Education Emergency: Click here to Support.” I was about to click the indicated

Imran Husain

Sweet and sour

After a very long time I managed to spend ten days continuously in Pakistan, visiting Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. It felt really good for the most. There is such a mixture of thoughts and feelings prevalent. Most of them negative, unfortunately. It’s confusing to say the least. But what has me smiling is that I saw the side of Pakistan that I grew up with thriving, albeit a little dangerously.
My penchant for and commitments to dogs, especially German Shepherds, had me flying

Agha Akbar

An immodest proposal

If there was any hope that the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s telephone call to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani may lead to rapprochement between the by far two largest political entities in the country, it turned out to be short-lived. The Shahbaz Sharif initiative didn’t even help in fence-mending between the PPP and PML(N), and if anything the mistrust was enhanced.
For the PPP, the provocative part in the proposal was extending an invitation to the army and the

Nazir Naji

Never allowed to flourish

It seems as if the leadership of Pakistan is dilapidating fast and furiously. Its destruction started way back in 1958, when the Armed forces, according to a well-laid plan, decimated the elected constitutional institutions of Pakistan and removed the people who had the will and ability to run these institutions from the political scene. Most of these capable politicians had to face decade-long bans, 10 years being the political life of any shrewd and seasoned politician. As envisaged

Dr Faisal Bari

Striking a balance

Mian Nawaz Sharif, in a recent statement, suggested that one way oaf getting out of the current economic problems is through balancing the federal budget. The deficits we are running are causing crowding out, inflationary pressures, and putting excessive pressure on the financial and fiscal system of the state. The deficits are also forcing the State Bank to print too much money, at the behest of the government, and in the process the integrity/autonomy of the State Bank, as an

Kuldip Nayar

Crisis of confidence

Governance is not a matter of wishful thinking. Nor is it some political trickery. For this, a clean, transparent administration is something minimum. By providing more funds for different fields, as the budget has done, does not automatically ensure improvement, particularly when the aam admi has been consciously left out. If past experience is any guide, the bigger the expenditure the greater is the scope for siphoning off money. A few scams, which have come to light, show how large

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Drifting towards anarchy?

Another high profile political personality belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has fallen victim to a violent attack on March 2 by hard line Islamic activists who targeted him for publicly dissenting from their select religious beliefs and notions. The underlying motive is not Islamic but an ambition to dominate the state and society by creating fear that nobody is beyond their destructive reach. The escalating terrorism also exposes the incapacity of the state

Shirin Sadeghi

Not the better-off half

This week another International Women’s Day has come and gone and one wonders why this day is necessary at all. And why there’s no International Men’s Day.
So the answers rather spill out on their own because the world finds itself needing to set aside one day a year, every year, for those who are marginalised in society. Not that the commemorations get terribly specific – there is, after all, no International Day for poor children whose mothers didn’t get an education because