Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Rajneeti ka alphabet soup

Disclaimer: This article is not a ‘Dummies Guide to the Muslim Leagues of Pakistan’. Any attempts to construe it as such will only lead to great embarrassment for the said pretentious newspaper reader.
Seriously though, I don’t think anyone knows how many incarnations there are today of the hallowed All-India Muslim League that, as all Pakistan Studies flunkers will know, came into existence in 1906. According to the Selection Commission of Pakistan – the most ‘authentic’ source

M J Akbar

The strength of cool

A seller of sweetmeats can either celebrate Diwali or sell his mithai. He cannot do both. The goddess of wealth will enter his door only if he keeps his shop open, not if he goes around bursting crackers. That is the nature of his compulsion; or, if you want to get theological about it, his dharma. Barack Obama comes to India on the night of Diwali not to enjoy a much-needed holiday after the woes of defeat, but to turn the Great American Hardware Store into a mall.
He was buoyed

Sarmad Bashir

Words, just words

Rehman Malik is an incurable gossip. Nobody thought he could ever talk about taking action against corrupt officials in the government departments. And he proved he couldn’t. Somehow he has mastered the art of balancing the disadvantages of corruption with its advantages. Three days ahead of the formal launching of the covert operation against the corrupt officials, due from tomorrow, the Director FIA Lahore was sacked. It happened because he had not only ruffled many feathers while

Humayun Gauhar

Predator State

Pakistan is not a failed state. It is a predator state. All states are predators, of two kinds: those that prey on other states and those that allow themselves to be preyed upon. The former enrich themselves by plundering smaller states, become developed and are thus able to look after their own people. The latter only have their own people to prey upon, also in two categories: the predator class and the prey, the people. Pakistan and most Third World countries fall in this

Aziz-ud-Din Ahmad

Asma at the SCBA

Throughout Pakistan’s history, lawyers have played a prominent role in support of democracy both as individuals and as a social group. The show of power they put up in defence of an independent judiciary between March 2007 and March 2009 was however unprecedented. What is more, successive chairmen of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) like Munir Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan and Ali Ahmad Kurd were in the forefront of the struggle. The SCBA was thus reincarnated into something altogether

Raoof Hasan

Need for accountability

It has become patently predictable for the prime minister to keep repeating, ad nauseam, that his government will complete its five-year term. Of late, he has been adding spice to his perennial harangue by insisting that there will be no martial law and those dreaming of mid-term elections are enemies of the country. While he seems to have ample time to think of forces that may be working for the imposition of military rule in the country when there are none, one wonders whether he

White Lies

The problem with the rat race, they say, is that even when you win you are still a rat. However the rodents operating in Islamabad have no problems with such labels. We hear this new genre of deal makers have two distinctions. They are sons of VVIPs and they work as a consortium. They also make their moves in broad daylight with fond fathers pushing the right buttons in the corridors of power. And, of course, they count their blessings and profits every night. The case of a night club

Arif Nizami

Jilted lover?

Barack Obama’s sojourn to India – sixth by a US president, starting today, is causing jitters in Islamabad. Our India-centric foreign policy mandarins and defence analysts are worried that the visit will be detrimental to Pakistan’s vital interests.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, sounding like a jilted lover in a recent interview with the Time magazine, complained that as a longtime ally and friend, Pakistan has been consistently spurned by the US.
The symbolic

Agha Akbar

Nawaz Sharif’s dilemma

In his present avatar, Nawaz Sharif seems to be infused with a crusader’s spirit in taking on the establishment while always making a deliberate attempt to further reinforce his own democratic credentials. And his espousal of popular causes means that he is consciously trying to forge a new identity for himself and for his party.
Given the PML’s profile (of whichever hue, this has forever been a handmaiden of the establishment), this is an awesome undertaking. To be fair to him,

Imran Husain

Money matters

There are those times when one is thrust in an environment where nationalism is at such a height that one is forced to look deep within oneself, review the attitude of your own people and environment.
Today’s Pakistan is ravaged by natural disasters of immeasurable magnitude. The devastating floods descending even before the chance of recovery from the deadly earthquake. Add to this the aftermath of almost a decade of frivolous financial management and the political turmoil of

Ejaz Haider

Of Mora and morals

This is interesting! A Saudi Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud has written a letter to the Supreme Court of Pakistan accusing the Ministry of Religious Affairs, known by the most unbecoming acronym Mora, of making money off the pious Pakistanis who go to perform Hajj.
The worthy prince has charged the ministry with rejecting his lower bid for pilgrims’ residences and renting them for more than double the price offered by the prince. (Aside: I had no idea Saudi

Nazir Naji

On Obama’s trail

The Mumbai Airport is the fifth largest airport in the world and it is host to more or less all the biggest airlines in the world. After two days, this airport shall be closed to all flights. On the 6th of November, the US President Barack Obama is coming to India for a visit. As you read this, the Mumbai Airport has been in the control of American security guards for the past two days. On the night of 5th November, every Indian security guard will be ineffective. Anybody with an

Rabia Ahmed

The lender beware

We appear, as a nation, to have some difficulty recognizing the thing called ‘a rule’ [plural: rules]. For a start, we cannot figure out why rules exist, and then, if they must exist we’re quite happy to accept them for others but not for ourselves. In a strange contradiction of this fact, we are always on the look-out for new rules to impose upon ourselves, and turn all kinds of things into rules, when they’re not. But once we grasp the fact that we have a genuine rule in front of

Hassaan Ghazali

Water rights and wrongs

The United Nations may have lost its relevance in the twenty first century but it is certainly adept at hitting the headlines from time to time. This year we saw the UN General Assembly pass a resolution recognizing water and sanitation as a human right. Perhaps next year, the UN can also confirm that the Sun rises in the East. It is after all a master of the obvious but one cannot help but wonder why the UN would go through the trouble of a resolution when such a right was already

Shirin Sadeghi

Silvio and other old men

In the heart of Lahore, just behind the ancient fort and its mosque is a restaurant where respectable families stop by for a feast in the shadow of sacred things.They whisper by the high walls of the fort, tip-toe up the many narrow stairs of CooCoo’s restaurant and look over the minarets as they relish their kabobs and their naan by candlelight.
It is romantic and graceful floating above the red light district of Heera Mandi. Below them is a world very different than theirs, so

Mayank Austen Soofi

The crusader of all things

Does any country deserve to have Arundhati Roy? The Booker prize-winning novelist of The God of Small Things is running amok in the reckless rage of a suicide bomber. This month she will turn 49, but it seems she is growing up without a brief. (She doesn’t even colour her graying hair. )The woman just doesn’t know how to be an ‘acclaimed author’. Instead of quietly working on her next novel, she writes provocative, mocking and long essays that upset the flow of the Rising India

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Mapping terrorism

The absence of a universally accepted definition of terrorism does not mean that there is no understanding of what terrorism represents. Terrorism is the deliberate, planned and systematic use or threat of use of violence and coercion in pursuance of some definite socio-political or politico-religious agenda. It is an attempt to force a change of behavior or policy output of, or subjugate an individual, group, community and an established authority by intimidation, violence and damage