Columns articles


Prices will rise – Woes of governance

A plausible explanation for why the incumbent government has survived the minefield that is the Pakistani polity so far is the fact that it is an awful time to be running the country. No one is interested in holding the reins. Political parties can bide their time on the cushy opposition benches while the perpetual government – the powers that be, if you will – can twiddle their thumbs while watching the helplessness of the political government.
Not in any way to imply that the


Basharat Hussain Qizilbash

He lives on – Bhutto’s sense of history

Birthdays bring joy and happiness but this January, the PPP supporters that had planned huge cakes and grand celebrations to commemorate Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s birthday found nothing but blood and tears as a pall of gloom and doom enveloped the length and the breadth of the country due to the shocking assassination of a Bhutto-lover– Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab. Like most people, I know little about Taseer except that he was a great admirer of Bhutto, a bold PPP leader like


Umair Javed

The placebo effect – The far-right: losing the battle, but winning the war

Just think about this for a second: every time there’s news about a seemingly religiously inspired murder,
or two, or twenty, the first antidote on offer is how religious parties often do poorly at the ballot box. To a certain extent, this off-the-cuff statistic attempts to placate those, both home and abroad, who’re deeply afraid of a Pakistan being inhabited and run by far-right forces. The logic goes something like this: if a party does badly at the polls, it implies that it


Kamran Rehmat

How to find our feet – It is time to look beyond the tainted trio

Salman Akbar, the goalkeeper of Pakistan’s Asiad gold-winning team, offered a succinct comment when a scribe recently sought his views on the failure of the Pakistan Hockey Federation to pay their salaries for the last three months.
It was right around the time when MQM chief Altaf Hussain had just pulled the rug from under the PPP and seemed on course to bring the house down in Islamabad the beautiful.
Playing down assurances from PHF quarters about redressing the


Waqqas Mir

Work shirk – A meeting about meetings, anyone?

The mood was sober. I had just joined a government department, as part of a year away from private sector work, and had been warned about the efficiencies of the new office. I say warned because most people expect a rather cushiony and delightfully inefficient existence in government departments but the one I had joined had a reputation of not taking things lightly. And thus far that morning, it seemed true.
It was my first day on the job and a Departmental Meeting had been


Humayun Gauhar

The civilised and the uncivilised

Populations are classified using different measures, like sex, rural-urban, income, education, age, profession, religious persuasion. The most misleading classification is ‘elite’. ‘Elite’ means cr


Murtaza Mohsin

The Right resurgent

Fascism is not just a convenient political label. It was a monstrous ideology that brought misery to untold millions. Sadly, there is scarcely a better term to describe some of the xenophobic parties that have crawled out of the woodwork into the mainstream of European politics.
The Far Right is on the march again in Europe and can no longer be dismissed as a fringe outcropping. Across Europe, extremist movements have become the new norm as centrist political parties have been


Hassaan Ghazali

Let us prey

As the shock of the Punjab Governor’s assassination gives way to awe for the dark side of Islam in Pakistan, society finally sees what it is up against. It is always difficult to find words that honour our martyrs but one would imagine that the free-thinking people of Pakistan would have acquired a thick skin after having witnessed so much bloodshed in the name of God and Country. Just when you could have said we have seen it all, the assassination of the Governor of the Punjab shows


Mansoor Alam

It’s a win-win

The idea of a no-war pact between India and Pakistan was first floated by former President of Pakistan Ayub Khan. However, the idea was rejected by India and later by Pakistan when the former made the proposal. Now, both countries are vehemently opposed to it.
Consequently, they have fought 3 full fledged wars, twice as conventional weapon states and once as nuclear weapon states and are constantly fighting on the frozen heights of Siachen, where general winter, to quote Mani


Arif Nizami

Quaid’s Pakistan

Events have moved so fast since the advent of the New Year that it is difficult to keep pace with them. Salmaan Taseer’s tragic assassination coincided with Nawaz Sharif’s ultimatum in the wake of the virtual falling apart of the ruling coalition. MQM is back in the folds again and now we are told by no less than Nawaz Sharif himself, that his ultimatum was not an ultimatum at all.
Governor Latif Khosa’s oath-taking ceremony was almost surreal in the sense that the PML(N) that


White Lies

Being a law minister and spokesman for the big man is a major honour but someone still pines for that glamorous colonial mansion on Lahore’s Mall Road. We hear that the Doctor had been trying his best to get there before and after the late Taseer’s appointment as Governor. After Taseer’s tragic murder, the opportunity presented itself once again. Sadly, this time too, he was beaten to it by another legal eagle with just as lively a record as our good doctor. Word has it that on


Raoof Hasan

Another dimension

The appointment of Sardar Latif Khosa as the Governor of Punjab is the first serious blow to the purported rapprochement between the two principal political parties of the country based on the proposed charter of demands presented by the PML(N) Quaid. One of the demands concerned the removal of the tainted ministers and officials who are part of the incumbent administration and to undertake further concrete initiatives to eliminate corruption from the country.
Latif Khosa’s


Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

The writing on the wall

The state is in imminent danger of implosion. The killing of Governor Taseer is meant to send a clear message to the political leadership: Any politician not acceptable to the extremists could meet a similar fate. The incident, followed by rallies in support of the killer, indicates that extremist thinking is touching an all time high. It doesn’t matter whether the extremists are in a minority or that they cannot win the elections. What is significant is that they are already


Ejaz Haider

Our blinding affliction

Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness is the story of an unnamed city afflicted by a mass epidemic of blindness. As the affliction spreads, social order begins to break down. The government’s inept and panic-driven repressive measures, trying to quarantine those already gone blind and resorting to excessive force against others, only serve to worsen the fast deteriorating situation. The result is deep moral degradation. Then one day, as suddenly and inexplicably as it had come, the


Where liberals fear to tread

Much has changed since the time of the classical jurists who studiously worked away writing tracts of theology, books of fiqh and treatises of spirituality. That was a time where the classical jurist had ample individual freedom to construct and pass verdicts independently of any central political authority and where the culture of learning embedded in Muslim society was more individualistic in contrast to today’s bureaucratic systems of education.
Muslim scholars in the past


Imran Husain

The next party

The majority of articles and editorial comments published since the tragic assassination of Salmaan Taseer bear reference to the “deafening silence” of Pakistan’s political, social and liberal elite. Fear generated by the senseless act and an alleged inability of the law enforcement agencies has certainly created confusion, but it is of absolute essence that these forces must be galvanised into resistance if Pakistan is to defy extremist mobs intent on conquering an essentially


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

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