Columns articles

Imran Husain

Payback time

The word from around the world, governments, donors and allied sources is that Pakistan must dip into its own elite resource base to find adequate funds for rehabilitating its flood losses. “We will not ask our taxpayers to dig into their wallets to fund all your rehabilitation efforts”, is what a British Minister said at the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad last week. All the very senior foreign government functionaries attending this prestigious event unanimously echoed this

Nazir Naji

The never-ending war

If one accepts the current news item doing the rounds that the US is asking for permission to conduct drone attacks on Taliban hideouts in Quetta, then one has to implicitly accept as well that the US did ask for permission to carry out the drone attacks currently going on. But the Government of Pakistan incessantly protests them which flies in the face of this logic and proves that these attacks are taking place without the government’s consent. Will these new attacks also take place

Shirin Sadeghi

I do, or do I?

England’s royal family finally announced this week what everyone in the world already knew: Prince William will marry Kate Middleton. What’s far more interesting is how much has changed in the uptight, conservative circle that is the English monarchy since nearly 30 years ago when an arranged marriage with a virgin was the only acceptable method for continuing the bloodline.
William’s generation has come a long way since his mother’s. Not only did he get to choose his wife (and

Kuldip Nayar

Defeating corruption

In the stand off between the Congress and the BJP, two main political parties in India, Parliament has been reduced to an arena where both are displaying their prowess. It does not matter to them whether the apex body in a democratic system functions or not but their focus is on which party out of the two emerges victorious. This is the worst scenario the elected representatives can place before the nation.
The point at issue is corruption but the parties have been stalling the

Hassaan Ghazali

Eat, pray, tax

The observance of Eid this past week gave one a rare glimpse into the plight of citizens and how similar our fate is to that of livestock at slaughtering time. And with the debate on Reformed General Sales Tax and Flood Tax gaining momentum in the legislative arena, our similarities become more striking still. As a bleating nation waits on the altar, one cannot help but wonder whether this sacrifice is even necessary, and what we may expect from our ‘kasais’. We would be lucky to get

Mayank Austen Soofi

The winter blues

I’m writing this on Monday evening in an internet cafe in Nizamuddin Basti, a 14th century urban village in Delhi, famous for a sufi shrine that gives its name to the neighbourhood. It is late November. Very soon, the doors leading to the tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya will close not at 10 pm, the usual time, but half an hour earlier. This will mean that winter has finally arrived in Delhi.
The same night, a few hours later, it may rain. The temperature may drop, making the

Extravagance of morality

Consider this paradox: Pakistanis generally believe that the time of their fathers and grandfathers was more moral than the world we now live in. We have laws today which ban alcohol and provide that adulterers be stoned to death. Those laws did not exist fifty years ago. And yet, many Pakistanis are convinced that our moral standards would be devastated if those laws were repealed.
The relationship between law and morality is complicated. In particular, the question as to

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

The reluctant partnership

Pakistan is integral to the US efforts to eliminate transnational terrorism. Pakistan and the United States share the goal of countering terrorism and stabilising Afghanistan and Pakistan but they diverge on the details of the strategies to pursue these objectives. These differences have been a cause of complaints against each other. The US pressures Pakistan to “do more” for countering terrorism and specifically suggests tough action against some groups. Pakistan feels that the US

Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Sticks, stones and devils

For many, the stoning of the devil at Jamaraat is the highlight of the Haj. It is here that many a pilgrim gets a chance to finally cast out their own demons, both of this world and otherworldly ones. This is also where many irate pilgrims vent their anger indiscriminately. It’s times like these you realize just how scary human beings are.
It could be those wooden shurtas whose job is to make sure that you don’t doze off in the House of God. Or maybe the impossible taxi drivers,

Imran Khan

In defense of shrines

The recent string of attacks on Sufi Shrines signifies the growing intolerance in our society. A normal response to these incidents is an expression of disbelief; how could someone kill Muslims in the name of Islam? But the fact of the matter is that with these attacks, the “Muslim” attackers are announcing the excommunication of their “grave worshiping” victims. Given the history of Sufism in the Subcontinent, it is indeed sad to see these expressions of hate against a movement that

M J Akbar


A less complacent lot might have seen the approaching firestorm from some distance. Someone somewhere was bound to turn up with a matchstick. The Supreme Court, which has emerged as the supreme voice of the nation, asked the explosive question that is echoing across the land: what precisely was the relationship between Ali Baba and the 40 thieves?
For those who have just discovered that familiarity is not synonymous with certainty, Ali Baba was an unassuming professional with

Sarmad Bashir

Lead by example

If you don’t forget the past you are condemned to repeat it. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sounded more like an opposition leader when he admitted before the plenary session of the Pakistan Development Forum early last week that corruption and lack of governance are the two major problems bedevilling the country at present. Coming from him as it did, the observation is a virtual no-confidence against his own government which has completed half of its term in office.

Humayun Gauhar

Banquo’s ghost

Unlike Bengal, there are only a few ways to get into Afghanistan, but like Bengal, there is no way to get out, except with one’s tail between one’s legs. Ask the British. Ask the Russians. Surprise is, the British have gone in again to ingratiate themselves with their American masters and also because they still suffer from Imperial delusions, even though they are on the brink of a collapsed economy. Some people love getting a beating.
America’s plan for Afghanistan should have

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Educating Pakistan

Prime Minister Gilani has blamed the nationalistation of the educational sector by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for the ills that the education system suffers today in Pakistan. What is implied in the statement is that education being a function of the private sector, the government should not be blamed if it is in a bad shape or under-financed.
There is a tendency on the part of the free market enthusiasts to relegate education completely to the private sector since this, according to

Raoof Hasan

Symptoms of degeneration

It is generally believed that a stagnant society begins to degenerate much the same way as we see happening around us. This stagnation may pertain to multiple factors including, but not limited to, intellectual contortions, social disorders, growth deprivations, ethnic and societal disparities and generally an inordinate refusal to learn. Not only that we seem to be stuck with these gross and debilitating symptoms, we are wholesomely consumed with them. Concurrently, showing

White Lies

It seems that the extended family of a VVIP has the privileges that even the Queen of England is denied. Just ask the passengers of a PIA flight that took off from Karachi to Lahore last week. We hear that the passengers of this regular flight were informed, after checking in, that there would be a delay of half an hour due to “unavoidable reasons.” Half an hour later, the “unavoidable reason” walked in and as it turned out she was the first “samdhan’ of the first VVIP. She had been

Arif Nizami

The last straw

The hapless people of Pakistan are facing the full brunt of the country’s perennial economic downturn. Prime Minister Gilani however wants more time and more money to fix the problem. Our traditional international donors, on the other hand are becoming increasingly impatient with the snail pace of our reforms, poor governance and lack of transparency at the state level.
At the recently concluded Pakistan Development Forum (PDF), Gilani said, “The government believed in leading