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

Hostages to the past

The urge to write on relations between Pakistan and India came after watching coverage of the visit of Chinese Premier Wan Jiabao to Pakistan this week. The dignitary’s visit to Islamabad had been preceded by a State visit to India. While covering the event, the State electronic media declared repeatedly that the visit was coming on the back of a visit to India which was a failure. No one felt the need to substantiate this judgment, which was delivered with unthinking certainty by the

Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Bhai-chara at the top

In our neck of the woods, no one gets raped and plundered more than principles. Ladies, gentlemen, boys, girls and children of all ages get to ride them, which is more than one can say about the village bicycle or the local doodhwala’s donkey cart. Lawyers, doctors, politicians and shoe-makers, all have used and abused certain principles, bent them according to their own needs and purposes (using oxyacetylene flames and shoe-horns where necessary) and shoved them where the sun doesn’t

Rabia Ahmed

A regional grand opera

You’d think with its present culture of shootings and suicide bombings Pakistan would discover an alternative method of welcoming VIPs, but no, the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arriving in Pakistan was treated not just to a normal gun salute, but to a gunshot for each step he took. That may be our idea of honouring someone, but the Premier, poor man was probably a nervous wreck by the time he wobbled off the tarmac and into his car, in no fit state to handle his chopsticks for quite

Hassaan Ghazali

Up in smoke

A lot can be said about the graphic warnings on cigarette packs that have started appearing to discourage smokers. Maybe a pat on the government’s back followed by a sharp kick in the derriere would be considered fair payback for scaring the daylights out of a pack-a-day smoker just going about his business. Yet, there it was at a luncheon in the deepest darkest Punjab that our host pointed out the new images and in return got ones with the latest rendition of a startled guppy fish at

Imran Khan

The Shia Question

The term “Jewish Question” has been used in a variety of ways, but its most common usage has been an anti-Semitic one; where it refers to all the “problems” that have been created because of the mere existence of the Jews. It was the Nazis who proposed a “final solution” to this question, a solution that they carried out in the death camps of Nazi Germany.
If you are a Sunni in Pakistan, it is very often that you might hear of problems such as the Shia domination of decision

The Reko Diq fiasco

The interesting thing about the internet is that it is as great a force-multiplier for ignorance as for knowledge. Take, for example, the Reko Diq project. The average Pakistani newsreader is convinced that (a) the Federal Government is an evil stooge of western interests; (b) the people of Balochistan are being ripped off yet again; and, (c) it is now up to the Supreme Court to save us. All three beliefs are completely wrong.
Here are some facts about the Reko Diq project.<br

Humayun Gauhar

No lessons; no solutions

December 17 has just come and gone again, so let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was a young slave boy. His masters decided to get him married to a young girl, though she was not the one he would have chosen. Once married, they would be set free. The girl was the one who had fought for freedom more than the young man. But though she was very intelligent and very beautiful, inside and outside, the young man did not think so, for where he came from beauty meant fair

Kuldip Nayar

A bit of a mess

India is in the midst of scams running into an astronomical figure. The one relating to 2G spectrum comes to $2 billion. The estimate about corruption in the Commonwealth Games held recently in Delhi is around $5 billion. Bureaucrats and some foreign firms have been found indulging in over-invoicing or high-jacking the cost of works. There are also a few housing scandals. In fact, one scam or the other has been tumbling out of the government closet at regular intervals in the last