Columns articles


Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Moon-is shining

The Noon League is infamous for its partial treatment of the city of Lahore. The Super Sharif Bros have long been accused of neglecting their own constituencies – and indeed every other constituency in the province that is their fiefdom – in favour of ostentatious acts such as the planting of palm trees along Gulberg Main Boulevard. Planted during CTBT’s second tenure, the palm trees are still very much there even today and have yet to be declared anti-state vegetation by the ruling


Rabia Ahmed

For better or for worse

The twenty one gun salute on the 23rd of March woke me to panicked fears of a bombing, the first thing one thinks of in these parts. This was immediately followed by a (fleeting) concern for the local muezzin’s throat. He does not normally sound as drastic, but who knows. It was not until the explosions went on to four and beyond that I remembered it was Pakistan Day. So belated (and relieved) greetings, motherland! I’m glad you made it thus far, even though pretty much on all fours.


Basharat Hussain Qizilbash

The Arab secularists

Best bet of the West in the Middle East?
Even the best of the minds are not sure about the outcome of the ongoing conundrum in the Arab world. A review of the press indicates that the West is most jittery owing to its dependence on the Arab oil. Alarm bells have been already raised about the possible Islamist take-over; therefore, the opinion-makers in the West are fervently working to convince their governments to manipulate the crisis to bring the secularists in power because


Regional Press – Problems old and new

Last year’s flashfloods have dislocated millions of people besides causing large scale devastation in the province. The people have not yet been properly rehabilitated and there are some four months left for the expected new waves of the floods. This neglect is criminal and the government should work with whatever resources it does have rather than making excuses.
The government’s officials are warning the masses about the expected flood by saying that the irrigation department


Waqqas Mir

The mother of all matches

It doesn’t get any better than this
John Dewey in his seminal work, ‘Art as Experience’, pointed out that the notion of ‘the ideal’ often renders us unable to appreciate the beauty and joy represented by ‘the actual/existential’. This work received high praise from a man no less than Oliver Wendell Holmes; a great lover of words and language. But sometimes, be it through poetry, perfect sunsets or a Rahat Fateh Ali qawwali, ‘the actual’ comes perilously and tantalizingly close to


Kamran Rehmat

What’s just not cricket

The best India and Pakistan can do is to continue playing
Anyone attempting to write on India-Pakistan cricket runs the risk of drawing from troves of cliched and rhetorical references. In a nutshell, it is like stating the obvious. And yet, like always, these never lose their import. However, the one outstanding factor that impinges on the outcome of matching involving the two Asian giants is the ability or lack thereof to cope with pressure. Mind you, it is no ordinary pressure


Humayun Gauhar

Sleep well, Uncle Tajammul

Today is the chehlum of my uncle Tajammul Hussain in Lahore. He died and was buried in Karachi on February 24, just two days after his 86th birthday. Flying to Karachi from Islamabad, Iqbal’s verse occupied my mind.
“Those who drink from the cauldron of Love are fast departing;
Sometimes, just sometimes, offer the water of eternal life O’ wine-bearer.”
Now I was on my own in a tumultuous sea of change after his demise. Now we will be treated as guides by our children,


Dr James J Zogby

Of Congressional critics

For weeks now, President Barack Obama has faced a barrage of criticism from Republicans over his Administration’s failure to intervene in Libya’s ongoing conflict. The GOP’s assault accused the President of “weakness”, “dithering”, and “a lack of leadership”. But, coming from the same cast of characters who recklessly led us into Iraq, the attacks could be dismissed as partisan rhetoric.
Then, in what appeared to be a sudden about face, the Administration moved quickly to press


M J Akbar

Two and only

Bob Hope, that great, late Hollywood philosopher, once described diplomacy as the art of describing Jane Russell without moving your hands. Such wisdom cannot be fully appreciated without a fond knowledge of Jane Russell’s vital statistics, and Bob Hope had plenty of that. Jane was an actress who could, to put it mildly, stretch a blouse, and turned picking up unnecessary items from the floor into a tour de force: camera and cleavage had an excellent working relationship. Bob Hope


Arif Nizami

The Ides of March

President Zardari having the sole distinction of addressing the joint sitting of the parliament for the fourth consecutive year, the PPP government has completed three years of remaining in power. It is a rarity in our political milieu that elected governments are allowed to complete their terms. Most, except those under the wings of a military strongman, have lasted less than three years.
One of the reasons why Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto’s government in November


White Lies

Of the Cricket World Cup restored the dignity of Pakistani cricketers, the series also exposed the morality of Pakistani bureaucracy. Caught on camera are some senior most Pakistani bureaucrats sitting as spectators in cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These “public servant” cricket enthusiasts have been identified as either heads of various public sector corporations that are sinking fast or board members of corporations and banks that were sinking and were privatised as


Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Lahore Resolution

The Lahore Resolution has always baffled the overt and covert supporters of a strong centre and a polity based on religion. The establishment has consistently refused to implement it. Some have tried to minimise the Resolution’s importance by maintaining that a typographic mistake is responsible for the term “independent states”, which they insist was rectified at a much smaller Legislators’ Convention of the All India Muslim League (AIML) by changing the plural “states” into a


Raoof Hasan

A question of survival

In a disturbing revelation, the World Food Programme (WFP) Director in Pakistan, Wolfgang Herbinger, has stated that, according to a recent survey, people were taking out loans to pay for food: “You may have the country full with food, but people were too poor to buy it”. He went on to say that the WFP was “struggling a bit” to get the message across: “We are working a lot with the ministry of agriculture to explain to the minister that it is not enough to have production in the


Ejaz Haider

No need to be FMT-ed

A recent conference in Islamabad on the implications for Pakistan of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty negotiations was an interesting experience. The 2-day event was held by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) and most presentations, especially by SASSI staff and speakers from the Strategic Plans Division iterated and reiterated two points: Pakistan’s decision to shun the process is correct as is Islamabad’s insistence that if a treaty on fissile material stocks


Imran Husain

The Oval Syndicate

To be mild, I’m nonplussed. Ok, the “allied” forces have attacked Libya and supposedly damaged its entire defense structure. Well done. Congratulations. So now what?
The question very quickly needing an answer is that are they aware of who or what they are dealing with? To a layman like me, this uprising trended whatever was happening in the region; a leaderless, popular movement that threatened to engulf. That movement has a very different aspect. The protestors are not armed


Agha Akbar

Greenshirts ascending

Even for the most hardened cynics and critics of the greenshirts, this World Cup has so far been an enormous and, for a change, most pleasant surprise. Pakistan breezed into the semis with almost effortless ease, along the way disposing of co-host Sri Lanka and the reigning champions Australia in the league and contemptuously crushing the Caribbean challenge in the first quarterfinal.
Looks of a champion? Certainly.
At least most of its opposition and critics so think, which


Dr Faisal Bari

Barriers to exit?

The Pakistan Education Task Force, co-chaired by Shahnaz Wazir Ali and Michael Barber, had a survey done on low fee private schools in Karachi. The full report of the survey is not on the website, but a presentation of survey results is. It argues that the school market, in the five low income areas of Karachi that the survey was conducted in, is competitive as a) there is effective choice between 5-10 schools for all children in these localities and b) barriers to entry into the

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