M J Akbar

Two and only

Bob Hope, that great, late Hollywood philosopher, once described diplomacy as the art of describing Jane Russell without moving your hands. Such wisdom cannot be fully appreciated without a fond knowledge of Jane Russell’s vital statistics, and Bob Hope had plenty of that. Jane was an actress who could, to put it mildly, stretch a blouse, and turned picking up unnecessary items from the floor into a tour de force: camera and cleavage had an excellent working relationship. Bob Hope

Arif Nizami

The Ides of March

President Zardari having the sole distinction of addressing the joint sitting of the parliament for the fourth consecutive year, the PPP government has completed three years of remaining in power. It is a rarity in our political milieu that elected governments are allowed to complete their terms. Most, except those under the wings of a military strongman, have lasted less than three years.
One of the reasons why Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed Benazir Bhutto’s government in November

White Lies

Of the Cricket World Cup restored the dignity of Pakistani cricketers, the series also exposed the morality of Pakistani bureaucracy. Caught on camera are some senior most Pakistani bureaucrats sitting as spectators in cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These “public servant” cricket enthusiasts have been identified as either heads of various public sector corporations that are sinking fast or board members of corporations and banks that were sinking and were privatised as

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Lahore Resolution

The Lahore Resolution has always baffled the overt and covert supporters of a strong centre and a polity based on religion. The establishment has consistently refused to implement it. Some have tried to minimise the Resolution’s importance by maintaining that a typographic mistake is responsible for the term “independent states”, which they insist was rectified at a much smaller Legislators’ Convention of the All India Muslim League (AIML) by changing the plural “states” into a

Raoof Hasan

A question of survival

In a disturbing revelation, the World Food Programme (WFP) Director in Pakistan, Wolfgang Herbinger, has stated that, according to a recent survey, people were taking out loans to pay for food: “You may have the country full with food, but people were too poor to buy it”. He went on to say that the WFP was “struggling a bit” to get the message across: “We are working a lot with the ministry of agriculture to explain to the minister that it is not enough to have production in the

Ejaz Haider

No need to be FMT-ed

A recent conference in Islamabad on the implications for Pakistan of the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty negotiations was an interesting experience. The 2-day event was held by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) and most presentations, especially by SASSI staff and speakers from the Strategic Plans Division iterated and reiterated two points: Pakistan’s decision to shun the process is correct as is Islamabad’s insistence that if a treaty on fissile material stocks

Imran Husain

The Oval Syndicate

To be mild, I’m nonplussed. Ok, the “allied” forces have attacked Libya and supposedly damaged its entire defense structure. Well done. Congratulations. So now what?
The question very quickly needing an answer is that are they aware of who or what they are dealing with? To a layman like me, this uprising trended whatever was happening in the region; a leaderless, popular movement that threatened to engulf. That movement has a very different aspect. The protestors are not armed

Agha Akbar

Greenshirts ascending

Even for the most hardened cynics and critics of the greenshirts, this World Cup has so far been an enormous and, for a change, most pleasant surprise. Pakistan breezed into the semis with almost effortless ease, along the way disposing of co-host Sri Lanka and the reigning champions Australia in the league and contemptuously crushing the Caribbean challenge in the first quarterfinal.
Looks of a champion? Certainly.
At least most of its opposition and critics so think, which

Dr Faisal Bari

Barriers to exit?

The Pakistan Education Task Force, co-chaired by Shahnaz Wazir Ali and Michael Barber, had a survey done on low fee private schools in Karachi. The full report of the survey is not on the website, but a presentation of survey results is. It argues that the school market, in the five low income areas of Karachi that the survey was conducted in, is competitive as a) there is effective choice between 5-10 schools for all children in these localities and b) barriers to entry into the

Silver lining to a dark cloud?

Believe it or not, if you look closely enough, there is a silver lining to the otherwise dark cloud of the Raymond Davis affair. To begin with, it vividly exposed the incompetence and clumsiness which seems to have become the hall mark of US foreign policy post 9/11. US State Department Spokesman Philip Crawley was the first off the starting blocks with a globally aired public statement that the name of the perpetrator of a double murder was not Raymond Davis. Whatever Mr. Crawley’s

Hassaan Ghazali

Our lost years

Just as authorities thought they were making progress at the nuclear power plant in Japan, more smoke is seen rising from the reactors. With growing concerns of total nuclear meltdown, it’s clear the crisis is anything but resolved. One originally assumed that the disaster in Japan would be dealt with relatively quickly, but it seems reconstruction and rehabilitation work in Japan could go on for years. Since the nineties, Japan has faced up to its economic challenges with all the

Rabia Ahmed

Sham morality

Rallies were taken out to protest the release of Raymond Davis by various political parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami, in Lahore recently. The case of Raymond Davis became a matter of ‘national honour’ ever since Davis shot two men in Lahore on the 26th of January, and even more so when the spy was acquitted under the diyat law and allowed a swift exit.
I wonder where all these people were when a few thousand other crimes were being committed in this country, crimes much

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Assertions of autonomy?

Raymond Davis, an undercover American security operator, was released by the trial judge in Lahore on March 16 and he left Pakistan within a matter of hours. His release was secured by paying compensation to the heirs of the assassinated persons under the Islamic law of blood money. This Islamic law was inserted into Pakistan’s legal system by the military government of General Zia-ul-Haq on the insistence of orthodox religious leaders in the early 1980s.
Though the legal and

Shirin Sadeghi

Of resolutions past

It is ironic that Pakistan Day falls this week, just days after Raymond Davis was released from punishment for his role in the deaths of three individuals and the destruction of their families.
Lahore, long before it was the scene of these crimes, was the location of the 22-24 March, 1940 general session of the All India Muslim League. It was in Lahore, on 23 March, 1940, that the League formally adopted a measure – known as the Lahore Resolution — calling for greater Muslim

Mayank Austen Soofi

Digby goes down

Do you know Simon Everard Digby? He was Delhi’s last eccentric. Born in Jabalpur to a colonial-era judge and a vagabond painter, British scholar Digby was a part-time Delhiwalla with a deeper understanding of Delhi’s history than most Delhi historians. He lived off-and-on in the subcontinent, traveled extensively in the region, and spent months reading on art and history in the museums and libraries of Bombay and Calcutta. He photographed monuments, picked old coins, collected

Blind spots of history

Today, on March 23rd, the Pakistani national cricket team takes the field in the World Cup Cricket quarterfinals. The attention of the nation is focused on the men in green and their determined gazes at the next round. This national team is a motley crew – young and old, new and experienced, hailing from various parts of the nation-state.
It may have been a bit slow coming but cricket fever is now everywhere. This enthusiasm is a fitting scene and a fitting scenario for the

Wajid Shamsul Hasan

Begum Nusrat Bhutto – a living legend

March 23 in 1940 in Lahore was the historic day when Muslims of India under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah resolved to seek an independent homeland on the basis of the right of self-determination to pursue their lives in accordance with the democratic egalitarian spirit of Islam, tolerance and peaceful co-existence with the sole emphasis on the equality to its citizens irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or gender.
It is, indeed, also a historic