Editorials articles

Go fly a kite!

They’ve banned it again. They’ve always wanted to ban it. Traditionally, the two principal arguments against Basant were that one, it was a Hindu festival and two, that it yielded casualties. Guilty as charged on both counts. The first count is rather silly. So much so, that even the anti-Basant lobby doesn’t mention it too much anymore. Nor will any attempt be made in this space to take it on.
The bit about the casualties, however, is most serious. The use of illegal twine has

Rahat in Delhi

Though he was subsequently released, the arrest of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, equally popular on both sides of the border, has shocked thousands of his fans while it is being cited as yet another example of maltreatment meted out to Pakistani citizens in India. According to Indian customs intelligence Rahat was about to board a flight from New Delhi to Pakistan via Dubai when a routine search of his luggage led to the discovery of undeclared foreign currency in violation of Indian customs

The people prevail

The Egyptian people’s heroic struggle has finally brought down the 30 year old autocratic and thoroughly corrupt Hosni Mubarak regime. The peaceful display of people’s power that continued for 18 days was unique in a Third World country where movements often tend to become violent. Mubarak’s overthrow is an historic event in the Arab world ruled by hereditary kings and autocrats. The revolution in Egypt is likely have an effect on a number of Arab countries in the days to come. <br

Rightsized

It’s the same old wine in a new bottle. Eighteen of the 23 cabinet members, sworn in on Friday, were those who were part of the oversized federal cabinet which Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had dissolved a few days ago, and most of them managed to retain their previous portfolios. Some heavyweights were dropped and there was a minor reshuffle.
The PM described the move as a step towards the implementation of a provision of the 18th Amendment requiring the size of the federal

Peace talks

With South Asia at the mercy of terrorists of all hues and colours, the news that Pakistan and India are about to resume peace talks suspended after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks is heartening. There is a need now as never before to resolve the mutual differences that have kept the pot boiling in South Asia at the earliest. Pakistan and India have wasted enough resources on rivalry while ignoring social development and thus failing to realise their potential. While India claims to

The Economy

The leading lights of business that had gathered the other day in Lahore under the aegis of the Pakistan Business Council had some rather sound suggestions to make to the government. Lacking the twin attributes of condescension and self-entitlement that is generally expected of some within the business community, these captains of industry and commerce actually had some proactive ideas on how to get out of the rut the economy is.
To state the obvious, business does well when the

Yet another one….

Journalists covering the unfortunate loss of lives in yesterday’s bomb blast in Mardan cantonment would count the casualties (31 as this goes to press) as those of soldiers; no civilian included. Not many would count as civilian the 12-year-old uniform-wearing school boy who set himself off as the Punjab Regiment Centre. What could have motivated one at such innocent an age to do what he did? Those apologizing for these acts from afar, in a plush TV studio or at the keyboard in a

Need for an RTC

President Zardari’s idea of a round table conference to discuss unspecified ‘important national issues’ has evoked divergent reactions as was expected in a milieu marked by lack of credibility. Ch Nisar has pooh-poohed the initiative calling it a new joke while PML(Q)’s Faisal Saleh Hayat has dubbed it as a ploy aimed at diverting media’s attention from the issue of corruption. Conversely, the MQM and PML(Likeminded) have welcomed the move. Presumably, the government being under

PIA and Pakistan

The odds really are against the striking staff of PIA. Even the comrades of the unions (yes, there is more than one) in the national airline agree that all is not well there. That drastic steps need to be taken, just not the ones that the management is taking at the moment.
What is happening at the PIA is, in some ways at least, a microcosm of the problems the country itself faces on a larger scale. Those in government, once the problem hits them in the face, start advocating

The wrath of the US

What Washington fails to realise is that it is adding to its unpopularity by jacking up pressure on Islamabad to seek Raymond Davis’ release without trial. What is more, it is helping to destabilise an elected government which is cooperating with it in fighting terrorism. Reports about Ambassador Munter having conveyed a stern message to President Zardari would be interpreted as an attempt to browbeat the government; so would the report regarding Secretary of State Clinton having

The fire burns

A massive fire at Lahore’s Shah Alam Market that killed three persons and completely destroyed many buildings and the merchandise worth billions of rupees on Monday is a serious comment on the firefighting capacity of the city district government. Fire crews spent most of Tuesday struggling to put out the blaze which left more than 25 people injured.
There have been instances in the past where the fire caused by electrical short circuit or for some other reason could be

Another list

The politics of deadlines and n-point agendas is flawed and played out for longer than it should be. But it has to be admitted that the PPP Punjab wing’s 19-point agenda to the PML(N) is a spot of fun. Taking a leaf out of the League’s book, the PPP has not only indulged in some unrealistic populism of its own (ensure the minimum wage or else!, Give provincial ministers 10 marla houses and give the rest to poor government servants or else!) but it has also demanded the ouster of

Munich Conference

The annual Munich Conference on Security which ended on Sunday, brought together political and security leaders from around the world. While Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani were scheduled to represent Pakistan at the important meeting, the foreign minister could not attend presumably because of the announcement of an impending cabinet reshuffle in Islamabad. It would have been embarrassing for Qureshi to be told during the Conference that he no more represented his

To a degree – An educated bureaucracy

An unexpected development but few could (legitimately) find fault with it. The Prime Minister’s orders for scrutiny of the academic qualifications of government officials have set many pulses racing and many observers wondering. Though the hunt for fake degrees amongst our legislators wasn’t started exclusively by the bureaucrats but they sure were enjoying it. Well, what goes around, comes around and it is certain that the hunt for fake degrees amongst civil servants would yield many

Hopeful in Thimpu – Sustainable development

We only want to talk about Kashmir and the Samjhota incident. The Indians only seem to want to talk about Pakistan-based militant outfits. The flexibility: we can let go of our heavy tilt towards the whole Kashmir thing in exchange for a well-rounded composite dialogue that will include Kashmir, amongst other things. The Indians, on the other hand, couldn’t be bothered, really. Basking in the glow of rising eminence in the international economic arena, the Indian diplomatic corps has

The moment of truth – It’s 5, 7 and 10

Saturday, Feb. 5, at Doha the ICC tribunal surmised that it had enough evidence to pronounce its guilty verdict on Pakistan’s tainted trio. Despite the ICC pushing for the maximum sentence, which would have meant life bans, Amir has been handed the minimum punishment of a five-year ban, Asif has gone for seven years and Salman for 10. The players have the right to appeal in the IOC’s Court of Arbitration but there, history suggests, the hope of a reprieve is scant. And in the absence

Lean and mean – Good things come in smaller packages?

Two interesting things about the Friday meeting of the PPP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), convened to ratify the proposal to reduce the federal cabinet’s size, were the presence of Aitzaz Ahsan and the announcement of the decisions by Jahangir Badr. Both are old timers with unblemished records of loyalty to the party. The presence of the first in the CEC meetings had been less than regular since 2008 while despite holding the office of the Secretary General of the party the

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