NAWAIWAQT GROUP
Columns
Thursday, 24 April, 2014

A vast number of my media colleagues are as frustrated as I am with regards to our domestic environment and the apparent inability of the Government to do anything about it. Prevailing conditions are lending strength to the conclusion that in their headlong rush to amass power and wealth in the shortest possible time, those ‘wearing the crown’ have thrown the fundamentals of good governance out the window. It is for this reason that those mandated to rule must relearn the fundamentals embodied in the ‘A to E of Governance’.A is for Accountability: In ethics and ...

When I went to secondary school well over a generation ago in Norway, we were serious students to such an extent, that one of our old teachers (or at least we thought he was old) had to remind us that entertainment and cultural activities were not a luxury. They were simply essential for a healthy and balanced life. Lecturer Knag stressed that we should not just sit in class, and read our textbooks in math, english, french, history, physics et al. We should engage in sport, go dancing, watch movies, play music and attend art exhibitions, and many other extracurricular activities. Lecturer ...

First, I would like to share with readers an extract from one of my columns titled “How Will the Cookie Crumble?” that appeared in The Nation on December 24, 2009. This extract is reproduced for the purpose of retrospection on the state of affairs in which present-day democratic Pakistan exists. This analysis assumes even more importance because of a recent Zardari-Sharif meeting with the explicit purpose of expressing PPP-PMLN political solidarity specifically on the emerging nature of civilian military relations in today’s Pakistan.“Social scientists spend their ...

Call Me: Till I was 26 years old, I lived my life in Lahore within the confines of a posh locality. I completed all of my education in the city, worked 30 minutes away from where I lived, got married and moved 10 minutes away from my parent’s house. Everything centered on my life in Lahore. Each street had hidden secrets, and every nook and cranny had a special story. I was at work from 9 am to 6 pm, and then at my parent’s place. Home for dinner. Watch TV. Sleep. Repeat. Weekends were interspersed with lunches at Cosa Nostra, trips to the tailor, family gatherings where aunties ...

Wednesday, 23 April, 2014

Hamid Mir, our courageous colleague, has survived but after six bullets have been pumped into his body. His exceptionally alert driver deposited the grievously injured Hamid within minutes to the Agha Khan Hospital. God saved Hamid but his family and friends realized how easily he could have been dead. Understandably, Geo took Hamid’s brother Amir Mir on air who merely repeated what his brother had told him and several colleagues- that Hamid had said, in the case of anything happening to him, the ISI was to blame. Many of Hamid’s colleagues recalled the same conversation. Instead ...

The Privatization policy of PML(N) on the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) continues to draw mixed reactions, both from economic analysts and the public in general. The notion that the government should not be in the business of running businesses, though partially true, needs to be looked at from the perspective of the ‘history of economic management’, which tends to define the strengths and weaknesses at a given period of the government’s role in a management chain. The history of the dawn of capitalism is full of ventures where governments took upon themselves to assume ...

In 1971, Mohan Chakravarty, an Indian-American, and his employer, General Electric, applied for the patenting of a genetically-engineered “oil-eating” bacterium. He took genes from three kinds of bacteria and transplanted them into a fourth to do whatever he wanted it to do. The Patent Office rejected their application because it was understood that living organisms could not be patented, although the UK where they’d also applied, granted it. They went to court and the US Court of Customs and Patent Appeals overturned the Patent Office’s decision in Chakrabarty’s ...

Call Me: I am speech and hearing impaired. All my life, I have heard people mouth “deaf and dumb,” when they are explaining my condition to each other. In the middle of large gatherings, I sit and smile, staring ahead. Some times I cannot be bothered to pay attention to the people everywhere around me. That is when I use my impairment as an invisibility cloak. When I was very young and my mother would get upset with me, she would often yell loudly. I could make some of her words out, and when it got too much, I would simply switch my hearing aid off. It was better to exist inside ...

Tuesday, 22 April, 2014

A ceasefire between the government and the Pakistani Taliban will continue as part of a deal in which the two sides will give each other more time to crumble on their own, tribal elders privy to the deal have said.Analysts say the withdrawal of Taliban threats to journalists is part of the agreement, which will allow Pakistan to kill its own journalists.“The government has been able to persuade the military in a recent meeting that Taliban hideouts in dangerous strategic locations can be located and destroyed, and their key leaders can be identified and targeted by other Taliban ...

After the shameless attack on our senior colleague Hamid Mir last Sunday, the entire narrative on the media is now about Mir’s employer versus the ISI, the spy agency that Mir had suspected would attack him long before the attack happened. The usual suspects that are normally made to come forward whenever spy agencies or its parent institution is in need, have quickly jumped in to safeguard the honor of country’s most sacred institution. Seems like the customary male euphoria to preserve and protect the purity of a helpless and fragile maiden.The unfortunate assassination attempt ...

“Where does a wise man hide a leaf? In the forest. But what does he do if there is no forest? He grows a forest to hide it in.”–Gilbert ChestertonEarth Day was founded in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a senator and naturalist to create awareness among the people about diverse environmental issues facing the earth. Some 20 million Americans from thousands of schools, colleges and civil society took part in the celebration. Denis Allen Hayes, 25, an enthusiast, hitchhiked around the globe to get first hand knowledge of the impact of industrial and agricultural revolutions on the ...

‘Guilty unless proven innocent’ is the negation of established canons of criminal justice.History always repeats itself and indeed, it is repeating itself now. Each time we are faced with the same futile exercise and after its reversal the nation is caught up in a quagmire. The essence of wisdom lies not in repeating botched ventures of the past at the expense of constitutional supremacy.It was 1992 in the first reign of the caliph of South Asian dominion, and the urgency was the eradication of rape and armed robberies. The government came up with the Speedy Trials Act and the ...

Monday, 21 April, 2014

In addition to the political, economic and historical environment, ultimately, factors determining the success of a nation are: an adequate institutional structure with an interrelated set of norms; an organizational culture – a system of shared meaning within an organization that determines, to a large degree, how employees act; and management as a set of activities that act on organizations’ resources to achieve given objectives with efficiency and effectiveness.Two otherwise similar societies will slowly drift apart institutionally. The differences created by institutional ...

It is difficult to believe that the cruel farce being staged by the Nawaz government in the name of dialogue is actually happening. Despite the TTP’s announcement to end the so-called ceasefire and its declared resumption of terrorist activities, despite its categorical rejection of Pakistan’s Constitution and unchanged resolve to attack the state, security personnel and people of Pakistan, the government’s enthusiasm to fall for the tricks of a deceptive devil continues unabated. There has to be some explanation for this behavior. Could it be the curse of the Dollar-god?It ...

Like Pakistan’s elections in 2013, high voter turnout is also the feature of ongoing elections in India and Afghanistan. It will be interesting to see how these heavily mandated governments perform in the field of regional stability. Both these countries constitute Pakistan’s troubled neighbourhood; and whosoever in on the helm of affairs will determine the future course of Pakistan’s bilateral relations with these countries. Political baggage limits the space available to diplomats and historic baggage limits the extent of initiatives which the political leadership of the ...

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died last week, and social media was flooded with tributes to the late writer’s astonishing literary talent. He was a wizard with words, able to tell stories with the flair of a dastaan-goh and an unerring eye and lyrical ear for the secret beatings of the heart. Most of us have read his work in translation, and I can only dream of what a line like “it was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love” would sound like in its original Spanish. Oh, the wonder of a book! The incomparable delight of a phrase, a ...

Sunday, 20 April, 2014

Amidst the din of Pakistani news channels and their proclivity for making mountains out of molehills, important issues are often neglected. One such issue pertains to the ongoing election processes across our eastern and western borders. The voting process for Presidential elections has ended in Afghanistan and preliminary results will be announced on 24th April, 2014. India has a lengthy voting phase, which started on 7th April. Voting will continue in different states till 12th May and results are expected to be announced on16th May. Another election took place in one of our current ...

It is unfortunate that the media lens has reduced the Internet Freedom and fundamental rights petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) to just the case for reopening Youtube. Therefore, it is important for the public to know that the petition has challenged not just the blocking of Youtube, but also other websites and URLs in their tens of thousands which are currently being blocked by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), with the list of blocked sites increasing every day. Even more important is the fact that there is no published list of sites or URLs that have been blocked, with ...

Respected Minister Sb. –In 2013, when your pensive charisma, purposeful voice and determined stare replaced Rehman Malik behind the seal of the Ministry of Interior, the entire nation breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, we all believed, some measure of sanity would be infused into our internal security policy, and in the manner that our law enforcement agencies are governed. The Police, as an institution, would be made independent and effective. Its capacity to counter terrorism, as well as to maintain law and order, shall be strengthened. Its officers shall be given security of tenure ...

In my professional capacity, I have often been asked to lecture in different institutions on a subject very close to my heart – history. I feel particularly honored, when I speak to audiences on the life and achievements of our Founding Father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This lecturing experience has on many occasions humbled me and reversed my role from speaker to student.It was a lovely spring evening as I found myself being driven by a friend on the (then) under construction Murree Expressway, many years ago. The overcast sky and lush surroundings overwhelmed me, making me forget completely ...

Saturday, 19 April, 2014

Dawn, 6:30 am. Mr. R is getting ready for breakfast. His office phone begins to ring.“Good morning!”“Hello, is this Mr. R, the research guy?”“Yes, this is R. Thanks for calling! You sound distressed buddy, what’s the matter?”“Well, I am. I haven’t been sleeping well, and my self-esteem these days is approaching zero. I was wondering if you could help my cause.”“I’ll put the food on the table and call you back within five minutes.”*A few minutes later*“Alright, I’m listening.”“Okay, R. You ...

Potable waterborne diseases in Pakistan have assumed endemic proportions without raising alarm bells. Children in infancy and mothers in childcare are most susceptible to these silent and unseen killers. Cattle that feed on fodder fed by contaminated water pass them to the food chain. Unhygienic water accounts for a wide range of stomach diseases, blood disorders and liver ailments that ultimately become cancerous. Waterborne micro-organisms and toxic heavy metals also cause deformity of bones, skin lesions and mental disorders. Health issues from Central Punjab to lower Sindh reflect ...

One of the most enduring paradoxes in Pakistani politics is the existence of a narrative about the state that is inherently contradictory. When looking at Pakistan’s abysmal record of social provision, its poor economic performance, its seemingly endemic violence and lawlessness, and its persistently high levels of corruption and institutional dysfunction, it is tempting to label it as a failed state faced with the prospect of a slow but inevitable collapse. This is a depiction of the state that is reproduced and reinforced every day in the local and international media, as well as in ...

The surprise Nawaz- Zardari meeting on Wednesday yielded a valuable consensus of the two leading political parties of the country to protect and strengthen democracy. It reinforced determination to commit to “undiluted democracy” as spelt out in the Charter of Democracy signed by Nawaz Sharif and late Benazir Bhutto in May 2006. According to a press statement released after the 15th April 2014 meeting at the Prime Minister’s House, “both the political leaders agreed in principle that both the parties would unite all political forces to block any adventurism in the ...

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