Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Of rulers lost & found

Disclaimer: The following article is excerpted from communications between the Bosnian embassy in Constantinople and the Sumerian Embassy in Lima, Peru. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is just sheer bad luck.
Rulers, they say, not only represent their subjects, but also reflect their values in certain ways. For example, Silvio Berlusconi reflects the womanizing-then-lying-about-it lifestyle of the Italians. He is also a thief and cheat, as is the Italian way.

M J Akbar

Silence and noise

It is entirely appropriate that the man in charge of India’s volume control, Pranab Mukherjee, should have uttered what is unarguably the comment of the year: our democracy has become too noisy. Through a long career stretching from the 1960s, Pranabda (as he is fondly known) has always preferred the brain to the lung. Noise has been neither in his temperament nor his bhadralok-Brahmin culture. His metier is ministerial; he is a fish out of water when his party is in Opposition. He

Sarmad Bashir

Meddling in politics

You don’t have to keep piecing the puzzle together. The freshly released WikiLeaks cables have made it clear that given the continuing dominance of its military-intelligence complex, Pakistan is still a long way from achieving political stability. The elected leadership has yet to rid itself of the pressures coming from the GHQ.
Generals, they say, are always ambitious for power. And Kayani is no exception. The initial impression that he was there to salvage the army’s image,

Humayun Gauhar

Ship of fools

Sometimes there’s talk of devaluation. Other times there’s talk of raising rates. One would thank God for someone like Hafeez Shaikh in this sinking ship of utter fools, but is anyone listening to him? Equally to the point, is he listening to us?
Currency is devalued to raise exports, but only if exports increase by more than a factor of one? Devaluation makes sense only if imports come down provided a country’s imports are price elastic. Our main imports are totally price

White Lies

The US ambassador’s effort to win the hearts and mind of Lahoris by having breakfast in open air at a popular eating joint in Lahore cantonment was a great success. The gesture went down with the Lahoris just like the halwa puri on the menu does. His Excellency seemed to enjoy this high calorie diplomacy as did the media there to record every minute and morsel. Such publicity suddenly put the restaurant on the must visit list of those who go to eat where they can see and, more

Arif Nizami

Friends but masters

While the David vs. Goliath saga continues, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is clearly the winner. The sole superpower and its allies, with all their might and advances in cyber technology, have not been able to block the outpouring of information from the trove of downloaded cables.
While it is still being assessed whether Pakistan’s vital interests have been compromised by the leaks, the people are being treated to a wide variety of information that they could not have even

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

The minority report

Incidents of violence against minorities, which continue to take place with an awesome regularity, indicate that there is no let up in their persecution. The amendments introduced in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), a culture of intolerance promoted by radical clerics, sections of media and the curriculum taught in schools combine to create an environment hostile to religious minorities. What is more, instead of discouraging anti minority sentiments, most political parties succumb to

Raoof Hasan

Dodging the straight path

International Anti-Corruption Day in Pakistan coincided with the epic confession of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs in the Supreme Court: “Even if there is corruption, it is far less this year than what had been committed previously”. In any civilised society, this would have been reason enough for the incumbent to apologise to the people and quit forthwith. Not so in our country. He remains adamant that he is not responsible for the horrendous mess and, therefore, should


Amidst the tsunami of controversy generated by WikiLeaks’ dissemination of ‘sensitive’ information and as frantic communications scurry across diplomatic and state channels; many wonder what the fallout shall be. The age old debate of what limits the media is afforded in the name of responsible journalism is reignited.
WikiLeaks is an international non-profit media organisation that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous sources and leaks. Within

Imran Husain

Christmas cheer

As the annual festive season draws nears for the dominant world, there is the usual spate of visits designed to bring those in the larger net and unable to share the festivities closer and bring them the renowned “Christmas Cheer”. Most important of these visits has been this week’s unannounced trips to neighboring Afghanistan bringing cheer to the multitude of troops from multiple nations forming the NATO forces assigned to bring a semblance of control in that country.

Ejaz Haider

Our ‘what-abouters’

The post-World War II global system was created and is being perpetuated as a grand American conspiracy against the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular. I am convinced. Either that or some of the analysts who appear on various tv channels, and write for newspapers, are fops at best and charlatans at worst.
Some benefit of the doubt is in order because Hanlon’s Razor says that “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”. So, perhaps

Kuldip Nayar

The Fourth Estate up for sale

Credibility is like virginity. Once it is violated, it is gone forever. This is the most important lesson that the media must learn because it is the custodian of values and concerns of the nation. In a democracy, where faith stirs response, journalists cannot afford to have even an iota of doubt raised about what they say or do.
Unfortunately, some top talented journalists have not come up to the standard they are expected to maintain. In the few cases which are in the public

Rabia Ahmed

He wikicised us

Ever since WikiLeaks started figuring big in the news here, people have been getting really indignant about the King of Saudi Arabia criticising the President of Pakistan by calling him (Mr Zardari) ‘corrupt’ and ‘an obstacle to the progress of Pakistan.’
There were angry comments on Facebook and in the papers about the matter. A letter to the Editor in one of the English dailies has a retired colonel of the Pakistan Army saying that he feels ‘hurt’ by the monarch’s remarks. He

Mashaal Gauhar

Agrarian reforms needed

With Pakistan’s agricultural heartland destroyed by the catastrophic floods, the issue of food security looms large. One need only venture out into Pakistan’s rural areas where the reality of the country’s blight becomes overwhelming.
In the wake of the flood, the time has come for some radical rethinking. Wide-ranging agrarian reforms are desperately required which give a central role to the redistribution of large areas of productive land to the rural poor. Land reform must

Dr Faisal Bari

First things first

There is a broad consensus in society that the education sector needs reform. There is also an agreement on a) within education reforms it is the public sector that, for a variety of reasons, needs to be focused on, and b) while there are plenty of sub-areas that need focus and they are interconnected, we cannot have good public sector schools unless we have qualified and trained teachers, and these teachers have proper monitoring, evaluation, accountability and support structures to

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Leaders and democracy

The present elected civilian political arrangements will complete their third year in March 2011. Their survival is an achievement in the face of the pressures from the non-elected state institutions like the military and the judiciary.
However, the political leaders and parties have not been able to create a credible civilian alternative to a military dominated political order that attracts voluntary loyalty of the people on a sustained basis. This deficiency makes the future of

Shirin Sadeghi

The US vs Khan

New Year’s Eve 2010 was the worst day of Kareem Khan’s life. And now the whole world knows about it.
He has made international headlines of the disaster that will continue to plague him for the rest of his life, a disaster many other Pakistanis have experienced in the last few years: the drone attacks that have killed thousands of civilians – people like Khan’s eighteen-year-old son and Khan’s brother who he says were innocently sitting in their homes when a remote-controlled