Columns articles

Dr Faisal Bari

Please, be generous!

A small village on the banks of a docile looking river, with mountains in the backdrop. The scene should by idyllic. But it was not. The village is still very much in ruins. A lot of houses have not been reconstructed, a lot of people are still in tents and/or makeshift arrangements, many fields that should be green with the beginnings of the wheat crop look like sandy wastelands. And there are children running around everywhere, in the sandy fields and in the partial ruins of houses.

Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Eloquence lost

For an assignment editor, the most annoying thing in the world is a reporter taking an off-day. While there’s nothing wrong with this simple act, and it is very unreasonable of the assignment editors to think this way, their dilemma is also a thought provoking one. You see, each reporter has a beat which they have to look out for and make sure that they don’t miss anything in their assigned beats. Beats are like cabinet portfolios, it can be a single department or a whole bunch of

Umair Javed

Devolving democracy

Taking liberty of my little corner in this newspaper, I’d like to thank the many dedicated internet pirates who make it possible for me to watch the latest episode of the American comedy TV show ‘Parks and Recreation’ just a day after its original broadcast in the US. First recommended to me by fellow blogger Kalakawa, to whom I remain eternally grateful, ‘Parks and Recreation’ is a mockumentary style show that covers life in the parks and recreation department of a local government

Humayun Gauhar

Being America’s ‘Roodle’

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is supposed to have said of Rafael Trujillo, the odious Dominican dictator: “I know he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
Many countries have dogs of pure breeds. France has the Poodle, Germany, the Rottweiler. Poodles come in three sizes: the smallest is the Toy Poodle, the largest a sheepdog. The Toy Poodle is a lap dog, a favourite of fat-rich ladies. The Rottweiler is a very powerful dog used for cattle herding; in Holland it

Sarmad Bashir

The old and the new

You cannot keep everybody happy all the time but then nothing stops you from being pleased with others. This is precisely how Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s parting words to his outgoing cabinet members can be summed up. He was effusive in his praise for the efforts they had made during their stint spanning a little less than three years to ensure good governance. This was Mr Gilani before he picked up a 23-member new cabinet striking a balance between new and old faces.<br

M J Akbar

The Kuch Nahi Sarkar

Which was the swivel moment when the Indian-born British citizen shook off his psychological shackles and came into his own? There will probably be as many answers as there are success stories. My personal favourite is the year in which an enterprising Sikh businessman bought out a distillery producing the most sustained, and possibly sustaining, export of the British peoples, Scotch whisky. The breakthrough was not in the financial transaction. Money is the easy part. The

Arif Nizami

Most bullied ally

Whatever credibility the US had amongst ordinary Pakistanis has been inexorably eroded by the Raymond Davis incident. The American, certainly not a diplomat in the traditional sense of the term, by his act of murdering two Pakistanis has unwittingly unleashed currents and cross-currents which have exposed the inherent weaknesses in Islamabad’s “strategic partnership” with Washington.
The manner in which the US has gone about seeking the release of its citizen and the refusal of


White Lies

This is about the Lady maliciously rumoured to be the First. As it turns out, that was far from the case. She is nothing but your standard jiyali and proud of it. The lady, who is active in the US wing of the Pakistan People’s Party, is always dressed in shalwar kameez of either the colours of the Pakistani flag or the PPP tricolour. At a recent party function stateside, she is said to have declined offers for an innocent cup of tea (ladies, there is no such thing!) from overzealous

Raoof Hasan

The Davis fiasco

The Raymond Davis fiasco is plastered all over. Every newspaper, every television channel, drawing room gossips, tea shop conversations, road-side predictions – all converge on the possible fate of Raymond Davis. More specifically, these interactions are about the manner in which he would ultimately be released because, discuss as one may, plead as one may, protest as one may, immunity or no immunity, it is evident that, at some stage in the future, the government would be left with

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Sowing hate, reaping death

The suicide by Shumaila Kanwal, the widow of Muhammad Faheem, one of Raymond Davis’ two victims, carries an ominous message. Shumaila was a young girl in her teens, recently married, whose husband was suddenly taken away from her. All her dreams about her future were shattered. The pain was made all the more unbearable because she could do nothing about bringing the killer to justice. She understood like many others in this country that the man being an American functionary was beyond


New and improved?

An evaluation of the performance of the federal cabinet which resigned on Wednesday after being in office for nearly three years is in order. All the more so after Prime Minister Gilani’s claims regarding its successes. To many this would appear a one-sided narrative which needs to be corrected to keep the record straight.
Referring only to a surge in exports, increase in foreign exchange reserves and the Karachi Stock Exchange index and leaving out trends that nullify the

Ejaz Haider

Testing sovereignty

The Raymond Davis case continues to hang fire. Pakistanis want to know what happened, who the guy is, what he was up to, the deal that brought him here and allowed him to roam the way he did and so on. There are two broad levels of queries, one dealing with what happened on that fateful day in Qurtaba Chowk, the other with the broader issue of this man’s ID and the nature of his work.
Answers are not forthcoming on these questions from either the Government of Pakistan (GoP) or

Kuldip Nayar

The American dichotomy

The ‘Ugly American’ was a sneering way to describe citizens from the US in the sixties and the seventies. Cartoonists showed them holding dollars in one hand and weapons in the other. This was the time when Washington was the biggest aid giver as well as the supporter of dictatorial regimes. Convulsions in Egypt and the unrest in most other Arab countries show that Uncle Sam has not learnt that democracy is not a half-way house.
You cannot foster the ideology when you overlook

Taimoor Ashraf

To go scot free?

Just when we thought we’d hit the rock bottom and it couldn’t get any worse with double-digit inflation, increasing unemployment, rising incidents of terrorism in urban areas once again, being forced to watch the not so pretty but buffoonish politicians with an IQ of an ant on tele daily, with an unsavoury topping of pot bellied maulvis, (I have an endless list), along came Hon’ble Raymond ‘the diplomat’ Davis (hereinafter referred to as good old ‘Ray’; Americans have a knack for

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

Nazir Naji

The aegis of America

It had to happen. It was inevitable that Israel was going to become the fishbone lodged in the throat of the US. That state was carved out of the hearts of a 120-million strong populace. Its very foundations were wrong. How could a nation-state of a few lakhs subject 120 million people living all round them to constant humiliation and belittlement? What rules have the US and Europe not broken to shelter this country? They compromised on their national interests. They betrayed allies.

Ramzi E Khoury

Fads and fiction

After years of being drowned in a deep sea of fads, Tunisia and Egypt have offered us the rare opportunity to call a spade a spade. The first fad that already found its end is the proposition that the Arabs, per culture and religion, do not want democracy and if they call for change, due to adverse economic and/or political realities such as corruption or Israel’s occupation of Palestine, they are calling for Islamism; another form of authoritarian regime.
The lie that any change