NAWAIWAQT GROUP
Editorials
Friday, 18 April, 2014

Only three days after Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan informed the nation that the ‘peace talks’ with the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) were about to enter a “comprehensive” phase, the TTP has announced that it will not be extending the ceasefire. Considering how much time and effort the good minister spends defending terrorists before the people they routinely kill, they really ought to be more considerate towards him. He says that Islamabad is a safe city, and they bomb the capital within a week. He claims that the peace talks are about to enter the next level, and they ...

Shahbaz Sharif’s commitment to increase the enrolment rates of schools in the Punjab certainly sounds commendable but it is missing a few important pieces. Perhaps it was fitting that he compared the enrolment campaign to the construction of the metro bus service, because it exposes the limitation of how this government approaches complex issues: it deals in hardware solely. What about the big important questions that the government is not asking? Sure, they may successfully build thousands of new schools in the Punjab to accommodate the surge of enrolling students, but what incentives ...

Wednesday’s meeting between PPP’s de-facto chief Asif Zardari and Premier Nawaz Sharif has been interpreted as a show of political unity and cooperation. Part of the meeting included delegation-level consultation between both parties on the controversial and allegedly draconian natured PPO. Upon the insistence of PPP, the Premier was suggested that further amendments be made to the PPO for two cogent reasons. One: To allay the well-guided apprehensions of the opposition, including the PPP. Two: Given the blatant transgressions made in our country in the name of law itself, the PPO ...

Thursday, 17 April, 2014

How does the government expect to curb rising sectarianism when it allows sectarian elements to operate with impunity? Does it really expect to be deemed credible when it expresses its resolve to counter sectarian violence simply for public consumption and simultaneously forms alliances and accommodates those who pose the greatest threat? This co-operation takes many forms; from sending monthly stipends to the family of an infamous sectarian leader as he faces a murder trial to securing a seat in the Parliament for an equally infamous individual. All this is done for a few votes from cities ...

A hundred kilograms of heroin, ten million liters of liquor, 40 million rupees caught in a small car at a checkpoint in Ghaziabad and around 815 million eligible voters. Money used in luring voters in this election season surpassed the 1.9 billion rupees. The amount of opium and liquor being confiscated in parts of India show only a small portion of the larger picture: A cash-for-votes system whereby politicians of various parties can secure votes in advance with the help of, you guessed it, cold cash. And it’s nothing new. Diplomatic cables published by The Hindu consisted of Wikileaks ...

Despite the creation of some hype by organizers of the literary festival in Islamabad due to open on April 25, and a list of over 60 sessions, (many of them star-studded), consensus still rests with the case that the ILF cannot compete with its Lahore and Karachi installments. Despite the kind of money and sponsorships that will no doubt be spent on attracting supporters, the reason the ILF failed to draw impassioned crowds last year rests fundamentally on two things. First, that the city does not have the monopoly (or even the perceived monopoly) on writers and artists, that the other cities ...

Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

The much anticipated auction for 3G and 4G licenses in Pakistan, which was estimated to boost foreign reserves by at least an additional $2 billion, will realistically bring in a dismal $850 million in comparison. By the time bidding closed at 4pm on Monday, the facts were very different to estimations coming in from the IT Ministry, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was so utterly in shock, that he threatened to call the auction off entirely. Only 4 out of 5 mobile companies submitted bids for 3G licenses (Warid held back), and not a single bidder showed any interest in 4G licenses. So how ...

It was bound to happen: Without the presence of a regulatory mechanism, schools throughout the country, specifically in Punjab, have resorted to embracing market mechanisms as a way of redefining aspects of school life. The fact shocks no one that the minimum fee being charged from a student is more than one month’s salary of an unskilled worker (fixed at a pathetic Rs 1000). In addition to tuition fee, these schools charge gigantic amounts in the name of admission fees, fees for security, building maintenance and transport fees – amongst other expenses. In bare and simple terms, ...

Cannibalism invites both horror and revulsion, but there is a need to draw a distinction between crimes committed by free intent and those resulting from psychiatric illness. Cannibalism is recognised as an incurable mental illness by the world’s psychiatric community. The intention, if one can call it that, is thus formed by compulsion, not free will, as is the case in most crimes. Here, a line must be drawn between the afflicted and the affliction because only then is it possible to employ procedures that allow the right and fair treatment of the patient. This is not to suggest any ...

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014

In the endlessly eventful theater of politics in Pakistan, the relationship between the civilian government and the military establishment has been that of tacit compromise, occasional exchanges of thinly-veiled jabs and, as we have witnessed at least thrice, Martial Law. Therefore, the current attempt by Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan at comforting an increasingly cynical public with reassurances that all is well between the khaki uniform and the starch-stiff black vests, comes as no surprise. In fact, one begins to expect the standard clarification from the Interior Ministry shortly after yet ...

A man lies buried underneath his own house in Multan, in a 50 foot hole he dug searching for treasure. He did this, we are told, at the behest of a spiritual leader. An eleven year old girl is in hospital with her feet burnt because a local “pir” was using kerosene to ‘exorcise her demons.’ Her “delusional ramblings” which led to this, were later diagnosed by doctors as a symptom of typhoid. There are a plethora of cases like the ones above where so-called spiritual leaders have used their titles to manipulate those that follow them blindly. How many more ...

It has become a matter of routine for liberal and moderate voices to receive death threats for merely being exactly those two things; liberal and moderate. Many a times, it is not even a question of opinion that certain sections may strongly disagree with or even find abhorrent, but of verifiable facts. An opinion can be liberal or conservative, but facts are neither. They may appeal to those two sections differently but that has absolutely nothing to do with the authenticity of the given fact. But, this distinction holds little meaning for those who find it reasonable to call for the murder ...

Monday, 14 April, 2014

The PML-N government believes that trade and the economy are their forte, and both have always been the cornerstone of all the policies undertaken in their regimes. This time it was no different, and one of the government’s primary aims has been to attempt to lift the economy out of the stagnant pool it currently finds itself in. Bolstering trade and export capabilities are seen as instrumental in the growth of an economy, and Mamnoon Hussain’s words recommending increasing trade with OIC seems to fall in with this train of thought. However, these words are still not giving ...

If recent reports by an international news agency are to be believed, religious seminaries or Madrassas, are plotting with the Taliban to execute terror attacks in the capital, in the event that talks with the government fail. The peace talks which kicked off in February this year, have proved to be largely ineffective. There have been few, if any victories for the PML-N government and at least 90 people have died in violent attacks since the declaration of the TTP ceasefire in March. Once viewed through the prism of probability, it seems likely, that the peace talks will indeed fail. When ...

Twenty-three years since he was last issued one, Mr Hussain has contacted the Pakistani High Commission in London for a new Pakistani passport. Whether this means he will be relinquishing his British citizenry is unknown. Perhaps Altaf Bhai plans to obtain the much-maligned dual nationality, so popular in Pakistan’s political circles, but before one is to consider what Altaf Hussain MNA could possibly mean for Pakistan, a measured and clear-eyed assesment of the MQM boss’ recent travel history is necessary.In self-exile since 1991, Mr Hussain’s opinions on issues of note in ...

Sunday, 13 April, 2014

When it comes to alleviating the living standards and the environment poor people inhabit and the revenue that historical architecture can generate from local and foreign tourists, we already know who takes precedence over the other in the benevolent eyes of the Punjab government. In the recent protest voiced by Justice Abid Aziz of the Lahore High Court, the Punjab government was stopped from constructing buildings inside the Walled City as it was a violation of the Walled City Act, 2013. It came under the notice of the judge after a petition was issued against illegal constructions and ...

The religio-political party, Jamiat Ulema Islam – Fazl-ur-Rehman (JUI-F), is well known for its tendency to join the ruling party of the day, and then quitting. Previously, the party left the PPP federal government over the Haj scam controversy, and now it has decided to part ways with the PML-N government over differences on “policy issues”. Its two ministers, who were still without portfolios months after joining the government, have submitted resignations.Considering the party’s outrageous response following the release of the National Internal Security Policy ...

In a bid to strengthen the confidence of foreign investors, the Punjab Government has announced that a new security force will be formed tasked with protecting foreigners in the province. While it is great that the government finally realises that it is their responsibility to protect foreigners as well as the general public, any initiative taken for protection should be extended across the entire country and not just in Punjab. The PML-N holds a majority in the provincial government of Punjab as well as the national assembly, so why is Punjab being given special treatment?Due to the high ...

Saturday, 12 April, 2014

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Mohmand chapter claimed to have murdered 23 FC personnel on 1st March 2014. A video was later released which showed the decapitated bodies of the slain soldiers who had been under the captivity of terrorists since 2010. 12 security personnel of the Khasadar Khyber Force responsible for providing security to polio vaccination teams and a child were killed in two separate attacks in Khyber Agency on the same day. 12 people, including an additional session judge and a female lawyer, were killed in an attack on F-8 district courts complex in Islamabad on 4th ...

Less than two weeks left till the long-awaited 3G and 4G auctions and yet another issue has been brought up to stall something the public has been promised for years. Opposition now has a contention with the number of PTA members on the panel, and they want one more to be appointed before moving on with auctioning the licenses. The auction that promises to generate at least $1.5 billion with the potential to change the face of trade through increased payment options, greater market access and more advanced communication has been delayed for the most trivial of reasons, and this small ...

Once again, we turn a bit more toward the east to talk economics. In his recent speech at the Boao conference in Hainan province of China, Premier Nawaz Sharif played his cards right on the need to revive the Silk Road as it would prove to be essential in enhancing the economic growth and prosperity of the region. It is undeniable that Pakistan would profit from the focus and improvement of the Silk Road as a country situated on the southern edge of the new Silk Road. It is after all the golden road for China to reach the warm waters of the Arabian sea and Persian Gulf; quite literally the ...

Friday, 11 April, 2014

Ishaq Dar and the economic specialists of PML-N have proved that they have a singular ability when it comes to raising funds. Getting gifts of $1.5 billion from mysterious friends, the procurement of the IMF loan that requires raising foreign reserves, making the World Bank commit to injecting $10 billion for development and now raising $2 billion through Eurobonds; it seems that Dar and his economist friends mean business. Arguments for the IMF loan and the ‘gift’ having been refuted on various occasions, it is prudent now to look at the new fund-raising scheme: the eurobonds ...

Making the rounds in United Kingdom’s media and ruffling quite a few Etonian feathers, Sajid Javid is here to – at least according to his fans – change the image of a close-minded, mostly-white cabinet with his Pakistani presence as Culture Secretary. Javid claims his mother instilled in him the zest to succeed and make life better along with his father who moved to Rochdale, Greater Manchester initially as a bus driver making his way to the top of Deutsche Bank trading operations. To the dismay of leftists, Sajid maintains that his politics remain on the right side of the ...

It is not a coincidence that statements from state ministers, interlocutors and the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) appear alarmingly similar following another blast at a vegetable market in Islamabad that left at least 24 people dead and more than a hundred injured. This remarkably high level of coherence, which remains completely absent between the state’s key institutions, has somehow been achieved with those who openly or covertly challenge its writ. The only section that appears missing from this ‘consensus’ equation is the general public which stands alone in disagreement ...

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