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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


Ejaz Haider

Sock it to ’em

Noted lawyer and human rights activist, Asma Jehangir, has won the Supreme Court Bar Association election with a narrow margin of 38 votes, becoming, in the process, the first-ever woman president of SCBA. Congratulations! In the larger scheme of things, however, this win is more than just a celebration of any feminist victory against entrenched patriarchy. It has to be seen in the backdrop of hardnosed politics.
The Pakistan Peoples Party government’s fight against its


A rubbish way to handle garbage

Who can possibly resist an opportunity to exchange rags for riches? Or garbage for gold? Apparently, the Punjab government can, since it has proved to be immune to such temptations. How else can you explain the inaction of various city governments as well as the Urban Development Unit of the Planning and Development Department in the face of offers by private sector entrepreneurs to not only remove waste from their landfill sites but also to pay them for it.
The opportunity has


Nazir Naji

An inalienable right?

If the trend of using the violation of human rights as a basis of litigation continues, it won’t be long before blackmailers, kidnappers and thugs will be asking for their basic rights to be guaranteed in court. The right of being a turncoat, or as we call them in Urdu vernacular: a lota, is also one of these so-called basic rights. Some people have brought the case to court which argues that their party leaders have stripped them of their basic rights by asking them to adhere to


Shirin Sadeghi

Off the fat of the land

Last week, just before Hillary Clinton pledged billions of American dollars to Pakistan’s military, she complained that “it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people.”
She seemed right of course: Pakistanis who can should be helping each other and there is certainly a massive gap between the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor in Pakistan. Between those who have money to spare and those who spare no


Hassaan Ghazali

On big government

Parliament has thrown down the gauntlet with the passage of the 18th amendment to our Constitution and it seems political quarters are bracing for impact of the Supreme Court verdict on the matter. One of the critical issues has been the abolition of the concurrent role of the federal government in certain legislative matters. On the political menu for quite a while now, it appears greater powers stand to be devolved to provincial governments at a time when both the extent of


M J Akbar

Congress in transition

The question begs to be asked. Has the Congress changed its view of Jaya Prakash Narayan after 35 years, or has the Congress changed its view of Rahul Gandhi after 35 months? An official spokesman of the party has, after all, compared Dr Manmohan Singh to a national hero, a veteran of the Congress Socialist Party, the leftist group that became a power within the party in the 1930s, and a freedom fighter whose last fight for freedom was to liberate India from the censorship, suspension


Mayank Austen Soofi

Connaught Place

The last time I went to Pakistan was in April, 2010. Walking aimlessly in Lahore’s Mall Road, I met a mechanic. When I said that I was from India, his eyes turned dreamy, and he started second-guessing my name. He asked me, “Is your name Rahul, Vijay, Raj or Anil?” The mechanic had learned these names from Bombay films. When I told him that I was from Delhi, he started asking me questions about the city. That made me wonder what his responses would be if he actually visit the Indian


Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

The Afghanistan dilemma

The third round of the Strategic Dialogue between the United States and Pakistan, held on October 20-22 in Washington, provided an opportunity to their senior officials to expand their relations against the backdrop of the on-going differences on how to deal with the militant groups based in North Waziristan, Taliban activists in the Quetta area and Pakistan’s security concern in Afghanistan. The U.S. agreed to provide new military equipment to strengthen the Pakistan army’s


Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Stop, look… KABOOM!

Allow me to put things in context. We live in a country where it is possible to stop just about anything. Education, check. Industrial progress, check. Love marriages, check. Power supply, double check. Actually, the only thing apart from terrorists that we haven’t been able to stop is the rapidly multiplying population of rabbits that inhabit this country. I’m talking about the 17 crore-something (and counting) muhib-e-watan Pakistani mules that wake up every morning and go to work


Imran Khan

Killing Karachi

For the past few years, the good people of Karachi have been hunted down by the dozens and that too on a regular basis. The lines are mostly drawn on the basis of ethnicity; till July during this year the break up of the victims of these killings show that, 48% of them were Pashtuns, while 33% were Urdu-speakers. A joint investigative report of Sindh Police, Special Branch, IB, ISI, Rangers and the Interior Ministry, that came out in May this year, blames political parties for this


Averting a political precipice

The Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict last Thursday on one provision of the controversial 18th Amendment may have helped the government to return for the time being from the brink of the rock but not from the precipice of a larger politico-judicial crisis over the still unimplemented verdict of the apex court on the notorious NRO.
The 17-member full bench of the Supreme Court has referred Article 175-A back to the parliament for a review of the new procedure of appointing judges


Waqqas Mir

Treading new ground

The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in a most historic ruling on 21st October, 2010 has sent the newly incorporated Article 175-A of the Constitution back to the Parliament to ‘proceed and re-examine the matter in terms of the observations’ in the Order. The reactions to this have been mixed; some are celebrating while the others are either relieved or scratching their heads. The Order ‘reads in’ certain bits and lists suggested amendments to this Article. The question being


Kamran Rehmat

The Jolie effect

Getting wobbly in the knees when meeting a beautiful woman may be some sort of a national vulnerability but acting funny before a global celebrity in the highest echelons of power, where the fare is ever so likely to find its way to a fifth column, betrays poor judgment, if anything.
Almost every time Tomb Raider flies into Pakistan, she makes pygmies out of Tarzans from the country’s political jungles…err offices, who bend over backwards to please her – for their gloss


Basharat Hussain Qizilbash

Traditions of tolerance

During the past few months, the Punjab has been projected as another region of religious militancy in Pakistan by the Western governments and their mainstream media. A number of terror attacks including the one on the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri, commonly known as ‘Data Ganj Baksh’ – the most influential eleventh century sufi – is quoted as an example of this disturbing trend in the province. Moreover, the attacks on the shia religious procession in Lahore are also cited to reinforce

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