Columns


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


Mansoor Alam

The minorities

The status of minorities is well defined in Islam. Throughout the Islamic history, starting with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), minorities in an Islamic state were accorded equal status with the Muslims except that they had to pay the jiziya or poll tax for their protection and exemption from war services.
The Meesaq-e-Madinah signed by the Prophet (PBUH) with the residents, including Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims, granted them full freedom to observe their religious practices


Murtaza Mohsin

Oil and chocolate

A leader wilfully ignores the will of his people. His security forces cut down protesting civilians in a hail of fire. His actions are condemned by his neighbours and the United Nations warns that the African country is on the brink of civil war. While this may describe the infamous Colonel Gaddafi of Libya currently being pounded from the air, it in fact refers to Laurent Gbagbo, the President of the Ivory Coast since 2000; he has ignored election results and defied the censure of


Syed Hassan Belal Zaidi

Generalists in journalism

Over the years, the line between being a journalist and a ‘generalist’ has become thinner and thinner, in that journalists are now expected to have all the answers. At least that is what the coming of the electronic media has done to the people of my country. The press corps is no longer treated as what they are stereotypically supposed to be, i.e., independent and detached observers reporting on what they see. In theory, a good reporter must never draw conclusions from incomplete


Urooj Zia

Of gangsters and politicos

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) likes to refer to Lyari’s [now defunct] People’s Amn Committee (PAC) as a group of ‘gangsters’. The MQM’s own gun-toting cadres, on the other hand, are identified as ‘political activists’. In marking this division, however, politicos ignore the ‘systemic violence’ that has been the bane of Lyari’s existence for decades; as such, they give too much credence to middle class morality at the expense of objectivity. In the multiple narratives that define


Dr Mubarak Ali

The third wave – Ground-up instead of top-down

The Arab world is politically in turmoil. The massive demonstrations in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordon and Palestine have surprised not only the world but also the dictators and autocrats ruling there. After enduring decades of repression and exploitations, people showed their anger and power. The question is that what ideology is playing behind this: religious fundamentalism or nationalism?
To trace the history of the Arab nationalism, we have to analyse the


Umair Javed

On myths and exaggerations

Every state, every nation, and nearly every social collective goes through the process of imagining its own roots and history. Similarly, every state, every nation, and nearly every social collective has its own heroes and, in a few cases, heroines. The process of creating history is partially done by the purposeful efforts of a few intellectuals, and partially done by the organic celebration of certain symbols and myths, and in nearly all cases, significant departure from, what we


Kamran Rehmat

Ode to a fictional state

There is a scene in Gulzar’s Ijazaat where Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha are stranded at a railway station reminiscing about their broken lives with heavy rain holding up things outside the waiting room. Shah decides to go out and fetch something for them to eat but the bicycle he is supposed to ride has its chain broken. Ever the master of symbolism, Gulzar deftly uses the angle to showcase how the twain wasn’t going to meet.
The Raymond Davis saga is just as rich in symbolism.

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