Columns articles


Nazir Naji

On Obama’s trail

The Mumbai Airport is the fifth largest airport in the world and it is host to more or less all the biggest airlines in the world. After two days, this airport shall be closed to all flights. On the 6th of November, the US President Barack Obama is coming to India for a visit. As you read this, the Mumbai Airport has been in the control of American security guards for the past two days. On the night of 5th November, every Indian security guard will be ineffective. Anybody with an


Rabia Ahmed

The lender beware

We appear, as a nation, to have some difficulty recognizing the thing called ‘a rule’ [plural: rules]. For a start, we cannot figure out why rules exist, and then, if they must exist we’re quite happy to accept them for others but not for ourselves. In a strange contradiction of this fact, we are always on the look-out for new rules to impose upon ourselves, and turn all kinds of things into rules, when they’re not. But once we grasp the fact that we have a genuine rule in front of


Hassaan Ghazali

Water rights and wrongs

The United Nations may have lost its relevance in the twenty first century but it is certainly adept at hitting the headlines from time to time. This year we saw the UN General Assembly pass a resolution recognizing water and sanitation as a human right. Perhaps next year, the UN can also confirm that the Sun rises in the East. It is after all a master of the obvious but one cannot help but wonder why the UN would go through the trouble of a resolution when such a right was already


Shirin Sadeghi

Silvio and other old men

In the heart of Lahore, just behind the ancient fort and its mosque is a restaurant where respectable families stop by for a feast in the shadow of sacred things.They whisper by the high walls of the fort, tip-toe up the many narrow stairs of CooCoo’s restaurant and look over the minarets as they relish their kabobs and their naan by candlelight.
It is romantic and graceful floating above the red light district of Heera Mandi. Below them is a world very different than theirs, so


Mayank Austen Soofi

The crusader of all things

Does any country deserve to have Arundhati Roy? The Booker prize-winning novelist of The God of Small Things is running amok in the reckless rage of a suicide bomber. This month she will turn 49, but it seems she is growing up without a brief. (She doesn’t even colour her graying hair. )The woman just doesn’t know how to be an ‘acclaimed author’. Instead of quietly working on her next novel, she writes provocative, mocking and long essays that upset the flow of the Rising India


Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Mapping terrorism

The absence of a universally accepted definition of terrorism does not mean that there is no understanding of what terrorism represents. Terrorism is the deliberate, planned and systematic use or threat of use of violence and coercion in pursuance of some definite socio-political or politico-religious agenda. It is an attempt to force a change of behavior or policy output of, or subjugate an individual, group, community and an established authority by intimidation, violence and damage


M J Akbar

Ghost in Obama shadow

The prevailing metaphor of Barack Obama’s relations with India is surely the sauciest gatecrash in the timeless span of diplomatic dinners. Michaele and Tareq Salahi probably deserve an Oscar for chutzpah in turning up, uninvited, for Obama’s grand evening in honour of Dr Manmohan Singh last year, and maybe the White House secret service now needs a tutorial from Delhi Police. But the hovering presence of an unwanted spirit has become the most unsettling factor in Indo-American


Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Closet corruption

It has become commonplace to hate on the government of Pakistan. But don’t think for one moment that this means the individuals running said government are the ones being blamed, “Oh No Siree!” They are, in fact, paragons of excellence, beacons of hope and saviours of the downtrodden. It’s just that they’re quite busy with matters of the state to fully understand the problems of their subjects, that’s all.
In any self-respecting country that is not run by monkeys or mussels, it


Fixing the fundamentals

Last month, Pakistan was involved as a key participant in two back-to-back meetings, one in Brussels and the other in Washington DC. Both were focused on how to assist this non-Nato ally in meeting its myriad challenges including this year’s monsoon flood disaster of Biblical magnitude. At the end of the day, a loud and clear common message was flagged in red from both meetings urging Pakistan to fix the fundamentals of its governance. There could not have been a greater service to


Waqqas Mir

Courtly quips

Firsts, for one reason or the other, are always memorable. That September morning, about 3 years ago, was my first interaction with the courts of Pakistan and the product of its legal system. I was assisting an Associate from the law-firm. The case related to a claim of inheritance and the opposing counsel looked calm despite the fact that he had hair growing out of his ears. He approached me with a not so subtle ‘I am sizing you up’ look. ‘Who are you?’, he asked. I told him we had


Kamran Rehmat

Helen of Roy

If life was a beach, Kashmir would have been just Cashmere, its soft fibers giving that signature warm feeling in dark winters.
However, as another chilly season descends on the Valley, Arundhati – that latter-day Helen of Roy to some – has sparked a self-righteous indignation across India.
Trust every word spoken by a celebrated rights activist that begs to differ from the state narrative to stir a hornet’s nest in this part of the world. Suffice is to say, you cannot


Dr Mubarak Ali

Taking down barriers

Twenty-one years after the fall of the Berlin wall, when the earliest sensation and the immediate aftermath is over, historians are in a position to assess and analyse the event and its impact on different parts of the world. I shall try to look at the significance of the event from a South Asian angle. The first impression was that the fall of the wall united divided Germany by peaceful means. The Wall divided both Germanys on the basis of ideology. In other examples, such as


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


Sarmad Bashir

Not-so-strange bedfellows

You can’t think of anything more inconsequential than Babar Awan’s political moves. Yet he stirs up public curiosity and offends political opponents.
The meeting he had with Ch Pervez Elahi early in Lahore last week is a case in point. The PPP and the Q-League have no love lost for each other. It was the circumstances rather than their own will which have brought them together. They came into contact when they felt being politically pressed in a vice. Both sides must be trying


Humayun Gauhar

Rascals, rogues, freebooters

Winston Churchill was against ‘granting’ independence to India and Pakistan just yet. They are not ready for it, he argued. On the eve of independence, he wrote:
“Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India and Pakistan will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be


Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Peace with India

Pakistan continues to lag behind in the race for social development because it fails to cut down its defence budget. To be able to improve its economy and come up to the expectations of its citizens, outstanding issues with India have to be resolved not through war but diplomacy. The problem is that those who continue to formulate policies on India and Kashmir are not trained in peaceful resolution of conflicts and tend to resolve every issue through recourse to arms.
Over two


Raoof Hasan

The moral factor

“We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach”.- Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (1928)
World history is replete with instances that when a leadership is driven by motives shorn of the moral component, it begins to lose credibility that, in turn, contributes to hastening its exit. In contemporary times, there is a growing awareness that morality is being accorded the lowest priority, if any

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