Columns articles


On the judicial revolution

What was the point of the judicial revolution? Was it to restore one man to office? Or was it to establish the independence of the judiciary? Either way, how would you assess the revolution from today’s perspective?
This was the question posed at a recent roundtable hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. And predictably, it set off a small storm amidst the lawyers gathered.
I don’t intend to summarise the many viewpoints offered but the plurality of opinions


Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Counting the ways

Life, as I know it, is very hard. Falling out of bed every morning, stumbling into the shower and then trying to keep your chai stable and your cigarette dry as you drive over pot-holed roads to a dead-end job. Working 10, 12 and sometimes 16 hours at a stretch is bound to tire even the most athletic of us, so imagine what a piece of lard such as myself must go through, day in and day out. Since I work for a TV station, it’s not like I have much recreational time anyway. Even when I


Iqbal Haider

Haj scam unveiled

The letter of the Saudi Prince to the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court is surprising on two accounts. To the best of my knowledge no such letter has ever been written to our Chief Justice or any other Court on any scam by any foreign Government. Secondly, rampant, unchecked corruption in our Ministry of Religious Affairs, like in most other ministries, is nothing new. For the past many years, such blatant corrupt practices have been widespread. Neither the Government of Pakistan nor


Waqqas Mir

Supreme? – Of Parliamentarians and Guiding Principles

Noah Feldman, in his immensely readable ‘The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State’, brings out the tension that exists in Islamic countries between a written constitution and the unwritten abstract legal principles of Islam. The question whether the injunctions of Islam as interpreted by the clergy/Islamic jurists take precedence over a written constitution in Islamic States is one that has been and will continue to be debated for a considerable time. This directly brings into focus the


Kamran Rehmat

Understanding China – Why we need to heed Wen’s all-embracing lesson

We are a nation given to exaggeration. True to form, where we should have had a sense of sobriety about the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and what it really entailed, we whipped up an orgy of celebration as if all we needed was his revered presence in our midst. To the extent that Jiabao was able to unite disparate Pakistani power players even, if for a few hours, it was fine but we could do with a deeper introspection of where we stand in the grand geo-political scheme.


Umair Javed

Challenging discourse – The Balochistan Question in Punjab

A tendency to ignore possible lessons from mistakes made in the past seems to have become a recurring theme in the way this country is governed. 16th of December came and passed, with the general level of unease, suppressed anguish, and awkwardness that we’ve traditionally reserved for all things related to ‘that’ particular chapter in our history. A sense of guilt pervades in certain quarters, while other quarters still hold a grudge, using this particular day to refresh sentiments


Dr Mubarak Ali

Monasteries and khanqahs – The socioeconomics of mysticism

Generally, in every religion there were individuals as well as groups of people who believed that this world was sinful, ugly and corrupt. Therefore, to shun all worldly affairs and adopt an ascetic life was propagated by all religions to a certain extent. Among the Hindus, there were individuals who after leaving their family and property, retired to forests or mountains and spent their time in meditation to gain spiritual ecstasy. The same practice was followed by Buddhism and


Humayun Gauhar

The course of history

Assassinations such as Benazir Bhutto’s alter the course of history. Because it is her third death anniversary doesn’t necessarily explain the sudden surge to find her killers. While some within her party have been questioning why their own government has been dragging its feet, the administration’s troubles have suddenly multiplied too. Is this an attempt to divert public attention? Or are they serious? Given what we are, a vassal state, a perception fortified by WikiLeaks, it’s hard


M J Akbar

The Radialogue wound

New words are an annual media byproduct without a balance sheet. The profit is not immediately visible, and loss not worth the count. The New York Times has produced a thirty-plus list that seems more obligatory than essential. Most words show the strains of artifice. Fortunately, terms like “sofalize” [socializing from home, through the net] will die a natural death after their fifteen seconds of fame. The hideous “mansplainer” just might get fifteen minutes of life, since it denotes


Ejaz Haider

Our Veena problem

Pardon me for being slow on the uptake, but I am trying to understand the brouhaha about Veena Malik. Is she being accused of what or who she is or being herself while on the ridiculously named Indian reality tv show, Bigg Boss?
This matter of clarification is important because if she is what she is then she would be what she is regardless of where she is. That is to say, if the woman is generally not looked upon as marriage material and can’t be taken home to one’s mother while


Sarmad Bashir

Closing ranks

Better late than never. President Asif Zardari took some time to reply to the letter written by Mian Nawaz Sharif a little more than a month ago in a bid to re-engage the PML(N) at a time when the PPP government was facing trouble from some of its coalition partners.
If Mian Nawaz’s letter put across a critical review of the federal government’s overall performance since assuming power, the President’s was a simple let’s-bury-the-past-and-be-friends-again response. But both sides


Arif Nizami

The Machiavelli

Barring the lone nay vote of Kashmala Tariq, the 19th Constitutional Amendment has gone through the National Assembly unanimously. This rare consensus has only been reached on the process of judicial appointments and not on other contentious issues. Hence too much should not be read into it.
But even on this count, the parliament has jealously guarded its supremacy by not granting the superior judiciary a veto over judicial appointments. After the exit of the JUI(F), the real


White Lies

A cynic once said “Friendship is an arrangement by which you undertake to exchange small favours for big ones.” Is that what is happening between a certain senator with a huge LPG whack (quota in local lingo) and a VVIP family that has the power to cancel or enhance it? Apparently this PPP senator, one of a family trio that got tickets for parliament, has been given a crucial assignment. That is, taking the VVIP family shopping and picking up bills for their retail therapy. Now we


Raoof Hasan

Meaningless words

Those green-rob’d senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir…
(Hyperion – John Keats)
The last few days witnessed a mini upheaval on the political front with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman staging a walk out on the PPP-led coalition at the centre. Ostensibly, the move came at the sacking of a JUI minister from the federal cabinet in the wake of the Hajj scandal that was generally received with a


Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Strange bedfellows

The PPP decided to induct the MQM, JUI(F) and PML(F) into the ruling coalition after the PML(N) left the government in 2008. The decision looked odd to many as the PPP had identified the three parties with the establishment whereas it projected itself as a democratic force opposed to military rule.
The partners adopted by Zardari had remained a vital part of the Musharraf set up for six long years. The MQM, along with the PML(F) had joined the military controlled coalition


Ahmed Rashid

Date with the enemy

In separate interviews, four former Taliban officials, now living in Kabul, recently told me that the Taliban leaders want to open a political office in a third country that is not Afghanistan or Pakistan, so that they can start talks with the Kabul regime, the US and NATO. All four occupied high office in the 1990s when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan and cannot be identified for security reasons. They remain in touch with the Taliban leadership based in Pakistan and have facilitated


Murtaza Mohsin

A royal intrusion

The WikiLeaks disclosures shattered many illusions. One of the more surprising revelations of the cache has been the alarming extent of Saudi influence in Pakistan’s affairs. In the words of the Saudi ambassador to the US, “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.”
Cable after cable has laid bare the hard reality of the true nature of this special friendship. Some would invoke Islamic brotherhood to quash any legitimate debate on the issue; but for

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