Shirin Sadeghi

Silvio and other old men

In the heart of Lahore, just behind the ancient fort and its mosque is a restaurant where respectable families stop by for a feast in the shadow of sacred things.They whisper by the high walls of the fort, tip-toe up the many narrow stairs of CooCoo’s restaurant and look over the minarets as they relish their kabobs and their naan by candlelight.
It is romantic and graceful floating above the red light district of Heera Mandi. Below them is a world very different than theirs, so

Mayank Austen Soofi

The crusader of all things

Does any country deserve to have Arundhati Roy? The Booker prize-winning novelist of The God of Small Things is running amok in the reckless rage of a suicide bomber. This month she will turn 49, but it seems she is growing up without a brief. (She doesn’t even colour her graying hair. )The woman just doesn’t know how to be an ‘acclaimed author’. Instead of quietly working on her next novel, she writes provocative, mocking and long essays that upset the flow of the Rising India

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Mapping terrorism

The absence of a universally accepted definition of terrorism does not mean that there is no understanding of what terrorism represents. Terrorism is the deliberate, planned and systematic use or threat of use of violence and coercion in pursuance of some definite socio-political or politico-religious agenda. It is an attempt to force a change of behavior or policy output of, or subjugate an individual, group, community and an established authority by intimidation, violence and damage

M J Akbar

Ghost in Obama shadow

The prevailing metaphor of Barack Obama’s relations with India is surely the sauciest gatecrash in the timeless span of diplomatic dinners. Michaele and Tareq Salahi probably deserve an Oscar for chutzpah in turning up, uninvited, for Obama’s grand evening in honour of Dr Manmohan Singh last year, and maybe the White House secret service now needs a tutorial from Delhi Police. But the hovering presence of an unwanted spirit has become the most unsettling factor in Indo-American

Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Closet corruption

It has become commonplace to hate on the government of Pakistan. But don’t think for one moment that this means the individuals running said government are the ones being blamed, “Oh No Siree!” They are, in fact, paragons of excellence, beacons of hope and saviours of the downtrodden. It’s just that they’re quite busy with matters of the state to fully understand the problems of their subjects, that’s all.
In any self-respecting country that is not run by monkeys or mussels, it

Fixing the fundamentals

Last month, Pakistan was involved as a key participant in two back-to-back meetings, one in Brussels and the other in Washington DC. Both were focused on how to assist this non-Nato ally in meeting its myriad challenges including this year’s monsoon flood disaster of Biblical magnitude. At the end of the day, a loud and clear common message was flagged in red from both meetings urging Pakistan to fix the fundamentals of its governance. There could not have been a greater service to

Waqqas Mir

Courtly quips

Firsts, for one reason or the other, are always memorable. That September morning, about 3 years ago, was my first interaction with the courts of Pakistan and the product of its legal system. I was assisting an Associate from the law-firm. The case related to a claim of inheritance and the opposing counsel looked calm despite the fact that he had hair growing out of his ears. He approached me with a not so subtle ‘I am sizing you up’ look. ‘Who are you?’, he asked. I told him we had

Kamran Rehmat

Helen of Roy

If life was a beach, Kashmir would have been just Cashmere, its soft fibers giving that signature warm feeling in dark winters.
However, as another chilly season descends on the Valley, Arundhati – that latter-day Helen of Roy to some – has sparked a self-righteous indignation across India.
Trust every word spoken by a celebrated rights activist that begs to differ from the state narrative to stir a hornet’s nest in this part of the world. Suffice is to say, you cannot

Dr Mubarak Ali

Taking down barriers

Twenty-one years after the fall of the Berlin wall, when the earliest sensation and the immediate aftermath is over, historians are in a position to assess and analyse the event and its impact on different parts of the world. I shall try to look at the significance of the event from a South Asian angle. The first impression was that the fall of the wall united divided Germany by peaceful means. The Wall divided both Germanys on the basis of ideology. In other examples, such as

Agha Akbar

She wins!

The hurdles were many: The quite visible split in the ranks of the mainstream lawyers, the stigma of the government’s tacit but active support, the vicious smear campaign, and the fact that Asma Jahangir was the first woman to contest the high profile office that for the last one year or so has become as contentious as it is coveted.
That is not to omit mention of a well-heeled opponent in Ahmad Awais, who was backed by that wing of the bar that has been in the forefront of the

Sarmad Bashir

Not-so-strange bedfellows

You can’t think of anything more inconsequential than Babar Awan’s political moves. Yet he stirs up public curiosity and offends political opponents.
The meeting he had with Ch Pervez Elahi early in Lahore last week is a case in point. The PPP and the Q-League have no love lost for each other. It was the circumstances rather than their own will which have brought them together. They came into contact when they felt being politically pressed in a vice. Both sides must be trying

Humayun Gauhar

Rascals, rogues, freebooters

Winston Churchill was against ‘granting’ independence to India and Pakistan just yet. They are not ready for it, he argued. On the eve of independence, he wrote:
“Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India and Pakistan will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Peace with India

Pakistan continues to lag behind in the race for social development because it fails to cut down its defence budget. To be able to improve its economy and come up to the expectations of its citizens, outstanding issues with India have to be resolved not through war but diplomacy. The problem is that those who continue to formulate policies on India and Kashmir are not trained in peaceful resolution of conflicts and tend to resolve every issue through recourse to arms.
Over two

Raoof Hasan

The moral factor

“We have two kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but do not practice, and another which we practice but seldom preach”.- Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (1928)
World history is replete with instances that when a leadership is driven by motives shorn of the moral component, it begins to lose credibility that, in turn, contributes to hastening its exit. In contemporary times, there is a growing awareness that morality is being accorded the lowest priority, if any

White Lies

We hear that Imran Khan has hit upon a novel idea. He plans to raise money for the flood affected, motivate children and revisit past glory in cricket, if not in politics, all in one go. A story has it that The Khan is launching a campaign to sell booklets at Rs. 15,000 a piece, recruiting school children as his salesmen. The fund raiser will end with a mother-of-all cricket match in a Lahore Stadium where all 20,000 spectators will be children. However the real attraction will be the

Arif Nizami

Politics of expediency

Confusion worst confounded! It all started with PML(Q) Chief Ch. Shujaat Hussain in a surprise move visiting Kingri House, the abode of octogenarian Pir of Pagara in Karachi and announcing the merger of his party with PML(F). Later on, this enthusiasm for ‘unifying the Leagues’ somewhat waned when the Pir cut a separate deal with the PML (Likeminded), a breakaway faction of the PML(Q).
Ch. Shujaat, through his emissary, made it plain to the Pir that the Likeminded were part of

Kuldip Nayar

The other Punjab

A Punjabi is known for living beyond his means. He may beg, borrow or steal, but he wants his reputation, however exaggerated, to stay. When it comes to the government in the two Punjabs, east and west, they are profligate. They spend less on substance and more on sustenance of prestige. That both the societies are losing their culture – and their mother tongue, Punjabi – does not bother them because they sincerely believe that what comes from elsewhere, especially phoren, is worth