NAWAIWAQT GROUP
Columns
Wednesday, 23 July, 2014

Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif must focus on major issues rather than trivialities so as to make best use of his third term as Prime Minister. One is hard pressed to say it, but there is a thing or two he could learn from former President Asif Ali Zardari; like keeping his cool. In spite of diversity and complexities of issues and ever growing crises, it is indeed possible to build a unified national outlook.Imagination is key here; imagining and preemptively creating the future. The fast changing environment in which institutions work today points to the need for continuous renewal and coping with ...

The first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem. PML (N)’s economic governance ratings have been plummeting over the last few months and serious concerns are being raised on the sheer ability of its policy makers to take sound management decisions. More importantly, as the government’s management falters, so do the country’s economic fortunes. Pakistan’s debt has increased manifold in the last 14 months but with little bearing on improving national productivity and competitiveness. As a result, growth continues to be low, current account deficit is on ...

Last week, after 70 years of financial subterfuge and economic exploitation which the South finally realized wasn’t going to change, a treaty was signed to create an alternative to the World Bank and IMF— the BRICS development bank, the acronym taken from the five countries that came together to form it – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Other South countries are expected to join eventually.Terms for lending to other South nations, especially poor countries, are expected to be humane and manageable. The greatest thing to cheer will be the absence of ...

call me I suppose most would call me a cynic, though really all I am is realistic. All my life I have failed to understand the fatal attraction of romance novels or the lure of candlelit dinner dates for two. Unconditional love? Immortal affections? Limitless desire? If I had a penny for every time a person called me emotionless, I’d have been a millionaire at age 20. No, I’m not at all exaggerating. I’m known in my family to have the emotional range of a teaspoon. Waking up to the same person for the rest of my life? No thanks. Lovingly, standing alongside him as a pillar ...

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

A whopping 92.36 percent of all political and social surveys carried out by newspapers, government departments and organizations in the development sector are unreliable and 87.34 of the statistics that they cite are fabricated, according to our latest survey.An overwhelming majority of Pakistanis – 75.33 percent – hates filling survey forms, reveals the poll designed by veteran journalists and social scientists who spent weeks filling thousands of survey forms to ensure that people from all walks of life and all strata of the society were given appropriate ...

Israel is on a rampage again in Gaza. As a result of Israel’s air and naval bombardment which commenced on 8th July followed by the launch of an Israeli ground offensive on 18th July in Gaza, 438 Palestinians, mostly civilians, had been killed and another 2600 had been wounded by last Sunday. The casualties on the Israeli side were much lower including 18 soldiers and two civilians. As Israel continued its air and ground offensive and Hamas continued its rocket attacks on Israel, there were no signs of an early cease-fire. Meanwhile, a humanitarian disaster of huge proportions was in ...

It started with a simple message: “I am master of the lands of the rising sun while you rule those of the setting sun. Let us conclude a firm treaty of friendship and peace.” The year was 1218 A.D and the message was sent from Genghis Khan to Ala ad-din Muhammad, ruler of the Khwarizmi Empire. Genghis then sent a caravan consisting of 500 Muslims to establish official trade ties with Khwarzemia. Members of the caravan were arrested by the governor of the Khwarzimean city, Otrar. Genghis Khan then sent a second group of three ambassadors (one Muslim and two Mongols) to demand that ...

call me I’ve always been fascinated with words. As a child, when I listened to songs, I focused on the lyrics, and I wrote some of my favourite ones down. After some time, I tried to write my own using the tunes from pre-existing songs. Then these imitations turned into creations. And songs turned into poems and poems into stories and finally a novel.In between then and now, I found out much more about the sanctity, and comfort, of words. I discovered that I could relate to most of the characters in the novels I read. Later when I was diagnosed with a mood disorder, it started to make ...

Monday, 21 July, 2014

About a week ago, I was captive audience to an all-infant battle on board a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight to Manchester. The wailing began before we took off from Lahore, it continued through the course of the flight, and sometimes still echoes in my head. After seven long hours, I realized I had another four hours ahead of me to Marlborough College, the wedding venue.In the four hours en route to Marlborough, I slipped in and out of oblivion to make the odd conversation with Pip – the bride’s friend from Yorkshire who volunteered to fetch me en route to the ...

It is interesting to wonder who will have the last laugh in the political transition of Afghanistan: pay master John Kerry, over ambitious Abdullah, dark horse Ashraf Ghani, or the Taliban. In a fire fighting pursuit, John Kerry was able to work out a truce between Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani to become partners in grabbing whatever is left of the Afghan state, society and treasure. If history is a guide, in Afghan culture, such patch-ups are quick to come by and quicker to evaporate. Just days after Kerry brokered an arrangement to end the crisis, the deal has run into trouble because of ...

With the ‘Azadi March’ nearing, sloganeering about changing the ‘Nizam’, the end of dynastic politics, election rigging conspiracies, and talks of midterm elections are abound with every passing day. Which political parties and leaders will jump on the bandwagon as the “big day of change” nears will be an interesting plot in this unfolding political drama. Will the police bring out their batons, will it be an extended sit down, can something like this cause an elected government to fall, or will it all end in anti-climax? With all the questions and a ...

On August 14th, comrades of change will march on to the capital of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. From Qayyum Khan’s long march of October 1958 to the mammoth movement for restoration of the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) in 2007, the country has had a history of marches. And perhaps this is the only civilized country in the world that is afraid of its own people. There is a huge disconnect between the rulers and the ruled and as such every march has been effective with the proposed “Azadi March” being no exception.The nation must learn from history and realign its ...

Sunday, 20 July, 2014

The holy month of Ramzan, in addition to its boundless blessings, brings a wave of festivities and social gatherings. At least in Lahore, the month of Ramzan ushers in a thirty day culture of ostentatious Iftaaris, with elaborate menus and extravagant fashion. Iftaar becomes a daily celebration. Each day, friends and family gather at sunset, in homes and restaurants, celebrating their piety, with kids playing in the background, and laughter echoing across the summer evening.Click! This is the very picture of a pious, happy and virtuous society.But wait!! Zoom in a little… Who is that ...

The fifteenth of July saw the parents of Halima Rafiq saying goodbye to their daughter. She was seventeen, a small-town girl with talent who made it to the Pakistan Women’s cricket team with what must have been formidable fast-bowling skill. In societies like ours, girls playing any sport is difficult enough. To make it to a national team takes hours of intensive training, expensive coaching, acquiring the appropriate kit and equipment and an intense commitment to your sport. For a girl like Halima, to be playing for her country means that not only was she a determined young lady, but ...

Visitors to my study often pause before a shelf that displays almost the entire works of the legendary King of Humor, P.G. Wodehouse. I have read and reread these books with undiluted pleasure drawing strange looks from my family as they find me chuckling to myself in the process. I confess to have chuckled the loudest while imbibing Mr. Wodehouse’s golf stories masterpiece titled ‘The Clicking of Cuthbert’- a book that is dedicated, “To the immortal memory of John Henrie and Pat Rogie who at Edinburgh, in the year 1593 AD were imprisoned for ‘playing of the ...

It is difficult to even conceive of the humanitarian tragedy that is currently unfolding in Gaza. Over 300 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, out of which 71 were children. A further 2,200 Palestinians have been wounded and, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, 40,000 have been displaced and are currently seeking the dubious protection afforded by UN shelters across the length and breadth of the Gaza Strip. The 1,825 airstrikes conducted by Israeli forces in Gaza have leveled 1,600 homes, and wreaked havoc upon the territory’s ...

Saturday, 19 July, 2014

Pakistan’s preoccupation with internal turmoil was reflected in the sorry state that Martyr’s Day in Kashmir passed unnoticed. So have the Gaza crises. But even worse, the police violated all rules of engagement to subdue Dr. Tahir ul Qadri’s movement in the Model Town Lahore killing and maiming scores. Confrontation raised political temperatures catalysing prospects of cooperation amongst unlikely allies. Given Nawaz Sharif’s mindset, the posturing is not likely to abate till all options in PMLN’s arsenal are exhausted. Conflicting self-serving narratives at the ...

Caliphate of Islam, Beacon of Light, Land of the Pure: joy to believers around the world, Pakistan is fasting! Top question today, and all this month:“Yaar aapka roza hai?”For the spiritually inclined, Ramzan is a time to rejoice the blessings that this month brings. For the not so spiritually inclined, well, let’s just say it’s going to be a very, very long month.As one Muslim brother aptly put: “If you’re not fasting, at least have the decency to lie about it.”For the believers, here’s all you need to know to stay on the right side of Ramzan ...

If you are at all faint of heart, I strongly recommend you don’t proceed with reading this column. I have, uptil now, written one article after the other extolling the virtues of being raised in Pakistan - a country which, as I have repeatedly stressed, gives us access to both the English language (with all its incomparably powerful social science literature) and a (well, almost) first-grade marriage with the Islamic tradition upon birth. Many of my columns have fallen on deaf ears. The answer, I think, is simple: the above contention, well-founded as it may be from a theoretical ...

Gaza is a small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast with a population of 1.7 million mostly Muslim Palestinians. It is blocked on all sides, land and sea, by Israeli military and civilian outfits.During the last 10 days or so, Israeli bomber jets and gun helicopters have killed more than 200 Gazans with thousands seriously wounded while a large number of houses, mosques, schools and clinics have been destroyed. The Gazans are now being ordered to vacate their houses and buildings. Already, thousands of families have moved to schools and other places. As I write these lines, Israeli ...

Friday, 18 July, 2014

Staunch Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi propelled his right-wing party, the BJP to a stunning electoral triumph on May 16, 2014, with the biggest winning margin any government in India has enjoyed in the last three decades. The sudden meteoric rise of the BJP in 2014 exceeded all forecasts made before and during the elections. In the backdrop of Modi’s blemished past, most predicted a narrow win for the BJP but with 31% vote share, it bagged 282 seats in the 543-seat Lok Sabha, allowing it to form a government on its own strength without crutches provided by any other party. With its ...

That it took the US Secretary of State to broker a deal between the two candidates of the Afghanistan presidential run-off election shows a number of things its neighbours must be conscious of in dealing with the successor to President Hamid Karzai. The episode also showed the fragility of the democratic process.Perhaps the first thing the US showed was how heavily it was committed to the electoral process in Afghanistan. That interventions had to take place at such a high level revealed that its occupation of the country had failed to yield the result of getting the country to follow up with ...

When the operation in Swat and South Waziristan were conducted in 2009, the battlefield was restricted to these areas only. While the operations had succeeded in ending the domination of these areas by the insurgents, they had failed to prevent them from escaping to other Fata agencies and beyond. Adhering to the tenets of guerilla warfare, the insurgents avoided pitched battles and traded space for time to live to fight another day.Having regrouped and reorganized, this is precisely what they did with considerable success – raids on GHQ, Mehran Base, Kamra Base, Police Academy in ...

 Pakistan has over 25 million out of school children. The ones attending public and most private schools get an education devoid of developing critical thinking skills. Aimed at school going children, IlmAppsChallenge hopes to offer solutions to this persistent problem of utmost national importance and in the process create perhaps one of the largest experiments in e/m-learning in the world.  There are three reasons why we should be worried about state of public education in the country. The sheer number of out of school children is just staggering and will lead to a chaotic society ...

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