M J Akbar

The Radialogue wound

New words are an annual media byproduct without a balance sheet. The profit is not immediately visible, and loss not worth the count. The New York Times has produced a thirty-plus list that seems more obligatory than essential. Most words show the strains of artifice. Fortunately, terms like “sofalize” [socializing from home, through the net] will die a natural death after their fifteen seconds of fame. The hideous “mansplainer” just might get fifteen minutes of life, since it denotes

Ejaz Haider

Our Veena problem

Pardon me for being slow on the uptake, but I am trying to understand the brouhaha about Veena Malik. Is she being accused of what or who she is or being herself while on the ridiculously named Indian reality tv show, Bigg Boss?
This matter of clarification is important because if she is what she is then she would be what she is regardless of where she is. That is to say, if the woman is generally not looked upon as marriage material and can’t be taken home to one’s mother while

Sarmad Bashir

Closing ranks

Better late than never. President Asif Zardari took some time to reply to the letter written by Mian Nawaz Sharif a little more than a month ago in a bid to re-engage the PML(N) at a time when the PPP government was facing trouble from some of its coalition partners.
If Mian Nawaz’s letter put across a critical review of the federal government’s overall performance since assuming power, the President’s was a simple let’s-bury-the-past-and-be-friends-again response. But both sides

Arif Nizami

The Machiavelli

Barring the lone nay vote of Kashmala Tariq, the 19th Constitutional Amendment has gone through the National Assembly unanimously. This rare consensus has only been reached on the process of judicial appointments and not on other contentious issues. Hence too much should not be read into it.
But even on this count, the parliament has jealously guarded its supremacy by not granting the superior judiciary a veto over judicial appointments. After the exit of the JUI(F), the real

White Lies

A cynic once said “Friendship is an arrangement by which you undertake to exchange small favours for big ones.” Is that what is happening between a certain senator with a huge LPG whack (quota in local lingo) and a VVIP family that has the power to cancel or enhance it? Apparently this PPP senator, one of a family trio that got tickets for parliament, has been given a crucial assignment. That is, taking the VVIP family shopping and picking up bills for their retail therapy. Now we

Raoof Hasan

Meaningless words

Those green-rob’d senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir…
(Hyperion – John Keats)
The last few days witnessed a mini upheaval on the political front with Maulana Fazl ur Rehman staging a walk out on the PPP-led coalition at the centre. Ostensibly, the move came at the sacking of a JUI minister from the federal cabinet in the wake of the Hajj scandal that was generally received with a

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Strange bedfellows

The PPP decided to induct the MQM, JUI(F) and PML(F) into the ruling coalition after the PML(N) left the government in 2008. The decision looked odd to many as the PPP had identified the three parties with the establishment whereas it projected itself as a democratic force opposed to military rule.
The partners adopted by Zardari had remained a vital part of the Musharraf set up for six long years. The MQM, along with the PML(F) had joined the military controlled coalition

Ahmed Rashid

Date with the enemy

In separate interviews, four former Taliban officials, now living in Kabul, recently told me that the Taliban leaders want to open a political office in a third country that is not Afghanistan or Pakistan, so that they can start talks with the Kabul regime, the US and NATO. All four occupied high office in the 1990s when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan and cannot be identified for security reasons. They remain in touch with the Taliban leadership based in Pakistan and have facilitated

Murtaza Mohsin

A royal intrusion

The WikiLeaks disclosures shattered many illusions. One of the more surprising revelations of the cache has been the alarming extent of Saudi influence in Pakistan’s affairs. In the words of the Saudi ambassador to the US, “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.”
Cable after cable has laid bare the hard reality of the true nature of this special friendship. Some would invoke Islamic brotherhood to quash any legitimate debate on the issue; but for

Imran Husain

Honeymoon’s over

Two outstanding editorials in a Bangladeshi daily this week made me aware of the amazing similarities in the political drift of our two countries. Whether to call them striking similarities or just plain natural connection is a call one will have to eventually make.
It appears it is the turn of the sub-continent to figure on the Chinese radar screen this month. Apart from the highly sensitive and important visits of the Chinese PM to India and Pakistan, it is the turn of the

Mashaal Gauhar

Sindh’s magnificent past

Interpreting the Sindhi World, Essays on Society and History edited by Michael Boivin and Matthew A. Cook captures the diversity, beauty and rich heritage of Sindh. Before the searing effects of British colonisation and Partition, Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists were well integrated in Sindh.
Hindu-Muslim unity is exemplified through the emergence of the legendary Jhuley Lal as the principal saint for the Sindhi Hindus who revere him as Udero Lal. Among Muslims, Jhuley Lal

A friend indeed

China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has just completed a three-day visit to our country as yet another high water-mark in Pakistan-China relations. A large number of agreements and MoUs signed during this visit will no doubt further reinforce and expand the multi-dimensional cooperation between the two countries reflecting a continuously upward momentum in their relationship which has over the years grown in its dimension and scope.
The depth of this exemplary relationship,

Erum Haider

A peaceful Ashura

Every year, tens of thousands of people across Pakistan participate in Ashura processions. In Karachi, the procession winds its way down one of the city’s major boulevards and ends in the historical district of Kharadar, at the Imambargah Husainian Iranian. The neighborhood is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets and buildings dating back to pre-Partition Pakistan. During the rest of the year these streets are choked with buses, cars, motorcycles and pushcarts, with many gullies

Dr Faisal Bari

Poor dad, poor son

Raza Khan is a driver working for a relatively affluent family in Lahore. His family lives in a village in Southern Punjab. He is the son of a landless tenant. He did not get any education, worked till his 20s in the fields to help his parents, and then went to Karachi to find work when work became scarce in the village, learnt driving and made that his profession. His father’s family lived below the poverty line. With four children he is also living below the poverty line, and his

Kuldip Nayar

It’s a dirty game

Politics in India has been so much denigrated that it has become a topic of contempt. Both the Congress and the BJP, the two main parties, are responsible for it. They have come to the level of hurling abuses at one another, much to the exasperation of the people.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been of little use. When both the right and the left parties have united, which is a rarity, and have stuck to the demand

Humayun Gauhar

Countering the nexus of evil

While rendering enormous sacrifices and suffering extensive collateral damage, Pakistan’s “war against terrorism” cannot shrug off the damaging international perception of not being fully committed and dragging our feet about eliminating Al-Qaeda safe havens involving both counter-insurgency (COIN) and counter-terrorism (CT). While COIN operations have been quite successful, our CT operations have almost totally failed because these are largely ad-hoc and have not been conducted by a

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

The Afghan policy review

The latest review of the United States policy in Afghanistan, released on December 16, does not set out any new goals but reiterates its policy to “disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat Al-Qaeda in the region (Afghanistan and Pakistan) and to prevent its return to either country.” It also endorses the decision taken at the Lisbon Conference in the third week of October 2010 to pull out NATO-US troops by the end of 2014 after transferring security responsibilities to the Afghan