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Tuesday, 02 September, 2014

Politicians make mistakes and some even learn a thing or two from them. If they are exceptionally intelligent, they might learn something from each other’s mistakes and visions. Soon after John F. Kennedy became President, there was a plan to overthrow Fidel Castro, the leader of the communist government in Cuba. A communist country so close to the United States was seen as a threat to American security and safety. President Kennedy approved the plan to invade Cuba, and an army of exiled Cubans landed at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. The invasion was a complete failure; more than a thousand ...

Islamabad was the scene of a tragedy on the night of 30th August when PTI and PAT protesters, armed with batons, stones and cutters and led by Imran Khan and Allama Tahir-ul-Qadri respectively, clashed with law enforcement forces in their attempt to march on the Parliament House and the PM House. According to media reports, the clashes led to three deaths, two of them in PIMS, and injuries to several hundred including policemen, when the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to stop the protesters from marching into the government buildings. The clashes continued during the next two days ...

Irony – noun – \ˈī-rə-nē also ˈī(-ə)r-nē\1: A bunch of notorious politicians who are former ministers want to be back in power and call it change.2a: A party that supported a referendum in which a military dictator received 97.97 percent votes rioting for fair electionsb: A party that supported a referendum in which a military dictator received 97.97 percent votes criticizing Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s elections every day for two weeks in a rowc: A party that supported a referendum in which a military dictator received 97.97 percent votes comparing a civilian ...

The past politics of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PMLN) have been far from ethical or principled. We grew up with images of Mian Nawaz Sharif as the trusted man of a dictator who was later exposed to be working with “individuals from the ISI” to forge an election alliance of almost all political forces just to erase the Pakistan Peoples Party (Mehran Gate). Then, to name another, there was a Hudaibiya Paper Mills Corruption Scandal.In the politics of the 1990s, PMLN was seen to be involved with the deep state for not only deposing PPP governments but also forging cases of ...

Monday, 01 September, 2014

Political culture is the set of attitudes, beliefs and values, which shape the behaviour of individuals in a particular political system. It plays a pivotal role in determining political ideals and operating norms in any polity. Without adequate knowledge of political culture, there cannot be any qualitative or comparative analysis of the political system of a country. The democratic political system of Britain cannot be understood without evaluating the entire evolution of the political conventions and traditions prevailing in the country over a certain period of time. In the absence of a ...

In bi- and sometimes tri-lingual societies such as ours, we navigate several languages all the time with a fair amount of ease. Most of us speak English and Urdu, with a regional or cultural language like Seraiki, Gujrati or Farsi thrown in. Many of us speak a provincial language- Punjabi, Pushto, Sindhi, Balochi that we may have picked up at home, in the marketplace or at school. Those amongst us who are adventurous and may have lived abroad may have added a foreign language to their repertoire as well. We may not realize it consciously, but we are surrounded by language of all kinds, and ...

In March 1940, a resolution was passed at the annual session of the All India Muslim League, held in Lahore. This famous resolution called for the establishment of a separate homeland for Muslims of India. Following the Second World War, Britain was shedding its colonies because of monetary burden and India—the Jewel in the British Crown—had to be abandoned. In August 1947, India and Pakistan became two independent countries. Ever since the separation, the relations between the two countries have remained fraught, culminating in four major wars and numerous skirmishes. One of the ...

Having lived a life of exploitation, from a humble beginning in extreme poverty to the corridors of lobbyists raising the grievances of his community, Ramesh Jaipal is in double jeopardy both as a Hindu minority and a sub-sect of Hindu community. As a Dalit, he is the founder of the Scheduled Caste Rights Movement. Resistance to such minority demands in the power-circles is due to fear of affecting and disrupting constituencies that have remained unchanged in favor of current electoral status quo. Jaipal has been mobilizing and raising awareness for his community on the need for political ...

Sunday, 31 August, 2014

Amidst the chaos of political developments, breaking news, and constantly changing deadlines, it is hard to be certain about what might be happening behind closed doors, and more importantly what is going to happen in the coming days and weeks. This uncertainty lends itself to exploitation. Numerous television anchors, political actors, bureaucrats, and other functionaries of the State have constantly made their predictions about the future of the current government, and more generally that of democracy in Pakistan. Most of these opinions, and predictions, in light of shifty sources and ...

While ‘dharna’ fatigue may continue to consume us for some time, it is appropriate to take a break and peep into Afghan affairs. This year was touted as the year of transitions for Afghanistan to be followed by a decade of development leading to wellbeing and prosperity. However, this myth is melting down on all three counts of transition: political, military and economic. Presidential election has neither been able to accrue due acceptance within Afghanistan nor requisite credibility amongst the comity of nations. Earlier in August, an insider attack killed a Major-General, the ...

For all its sound and fury, the war of attrition that is currently raging on in Islamabad is merely a pale reflection of the truly cosmic battles that are taking place on social media. Indeed, the invective hurled by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri against the PML-N and its leaders is the picture of restraint and collegiality when compared to the abuse that has been hurled by partisans on both sides of the digital battlefield. When looking at the incredibly polarized online political discourse, as well as the heightened emotions it invariably seems to generate, one can only marvel at the extent ...

They cling to power in spite of no moral justification to do so. They epitomize a state of mind built upon dynastic longevity, deceit, personal gain, nepotism and the notion that justifies all manner of means to reach their ends. They fail to comprehend the fact that everything they do, runs contrary to the ideals that our Founding Father held close to his heart. Their morally bankrupt nature seduces them to issue rhetoric watched by millions of television viewers only to act contrary to what they have stated publicly. These my dear readers, are Pakistani politicians, who have ruled this ...

Saturday, 30 August, 2014

In a pack of 52 cards, the joker is a perfect ‘Lota’. His card can be a part of any winning sequence but carries no points. In other words, it can propel the player to the victory stand but once there it is worthless. In Punjabi, the closest term is ‘Railu Katta’ (one that can play on either side). The use of the word ‘Katta’ has special significance. In villages ‘Kattas’ have no value as they are considered parasites who consume milk; a valuable commodity but with limited returns. Eventually they are slaughtered and consumed as young prime ...

The deepening crisis has thrown up a number of crucial questions.      Why does democracy fail to take root in Pakistan? Why do those hopes, raised after elections are held, start petering out on one count or the other and the country begin sliding back to square one? Is parliamentary democracy the right system for Pakistan? Why doesn’t it work satisfactorily for us?One has to go back to the early days. While it was indeed a people’s struggle for a homeland for Muslims in India, what kind of political assets and traditions did we begin with? Did we have ...

During the tense moments at Azadi Square yesterday, Arshad Sharif of Dunya News tweeted, “Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand“. He was referencing to Lady Macbeth who had assisted her husband Macbeth kill King Duncan in a rage of self-illusion created by his overheated brain and witchcraft. I retorted with a line from Macbeth’s soliloquy, just before the act of murder. “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing”. Had Macbeth waited a few ...

When the establishment is backing a movement, it seems it is still possible even in today’s Pakistan to protest, sing and dance on the streets without fear of harassment or violence. If old pictures of fashionable Pakistanis are proof that Pakistan was a liberal paradise before Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamist regime took over – a narrative that has become nearly sacrosanct amongst English-reading Pakistani audiences – then pictures of Imran Khan’s ‘Azaadi March’ could equally be used as evidence that Pakistan in 2014 had public spaces full of revelling women ...

Friday, 29 August, 2014

We are only truly free in the moment before birth. As soon as we step into the world, society begins to shape us in its own constantly evolving vision. By the time we are mature enough to exercise self-determination, we have already conducted life, for years, in line with what was expected of us, and so, to deviate from a path carefully laid out is already beyond comprehension. Conversely, the aberrations that are few and far apart have essentially three options: to conform; to become outcasts; or to opt out of the system altogether, which means one of three things: death, an indifference to ...

It is to the credit of both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri that their marches have lasted as long as they have, but it should be kept in mind that these marches represent a critique of democracy generally, and not solely as it is practiced in Pakistan. And all this without examining one of the main problems of modern democracy; that of campaign finance.Both the Azadi and Inquilab Marches show us one of the basic problems of democracy. What happens if one party does not accept the result? This is a phenomenon which Pakistanis have become increasingly used to, and have seen many safeguards ...

Fable reversing stuff is what Pakistani politics seems to be made of. Remember ‘Hare and the Tortoise”? Friends and foes of the government appear to be unified on a single point: PM Nawaz Sharif’s government was too slow to react to the storm visible on the horizon; it could have averted the disaster it faces today had it moved judiciously and nimbly. Yet, this unanimous verdict belies the conventional wisdom that lay in the stuff of fables. Remember ‘The Hare and the Tortoise?’ It holds no more. The Nimble shall inherit the world it seems.I was one of the first ...

The management of an economy is the most arduous task due to its connectivity with a myriad of economic and political variables, more so in developing countries where continued political instability has played a predominant role in decelerating economic progress. The result is that nearly 45.7 per cent of the population in Pakistan still lives below the poverty line, as per a survey conducted under the BISP programme during the last regime. And regrettably, our politicians continue to indulge in the politics of self-aggrandisement with criminal indifference to its likely impact on the economy ...

Thursday, 28 August, 2014

The situation in the Federal Capital is swinging pendulum-like to the brink of disaster and then back to the point where a glimmer of hope appears for a mutually acceptable solution. The pragmatists however, are right in saying that the positions taken up by the three direct stake holders in the crisis have left little or no room for maneuver, thus limiting options for a settlement. There can also be no second opinion that intervention by politicians to resolve the logjam will be governed more by personal political mileage than by anything else. These politicians would be cognizant of the ...

Just because Imran Khan is not leading it right, doesn’t mean that his campaign against our rigged democracy is not valid. Despite the gaping loopholes in his Azadi march, he’s managed to bring some of the most pertinent issues ailing our democratic process to the fore. The youngsters at his sit-in are happy to hear someone push issues close to their heart on to the discussion table, issues that the ruling party and its parliamentary friends would rather brush under the carpet. That’s why they are dancing.Imran might not be a revolutionary in the true sense of the word, but ...

I consider it a sheer stroke of good luck that I grew up in Lahore at a location which has been an eyewitness to Pakistan’s political, social, educational, and intellectual history, inclusive of all political movements that ever took place and that involved large-scale public participation. My family home at 5 Maclagan Road faced the red brick British Council building, now a bank. The Commercial Building was on its immediate left, and across the road was the YMCA. On its right side was the famous Pak Tea House, a minute walk from there, the Coffee House, and at a distance of 5 to 10 ...

Politics is about the big issues. About leaders, about the Constitution, about the laws of the land, international relations, trade links and much more. All this is important, but in everyday life, for common people, the big issues are often too big. It is the smaller issues that count; such as the prices of consumer goods, school fees and so on.I am sure that Khan and Qadri know that everyday issues are important, but why then is the focus on who should be Prime Minister and why the land needs a new Constitution? They want the PM to go; if he stays, they say there should be new proof that he ...

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