NAWAIWAQT GROUP
Editorials
Wednesday, 23 April, 2014

It was only four years ago when the Interior Ministry of Pakistan estimated that at least 1,100 people “disappeared” under the government label of “terrorism suspects” since the 9/11 attacks. A majority of them belonged to the province of Balochistan. The number is argued to be “almost certainly an underestimate.” In a recent Human Rights Watch report, it is added that the previous Zardari administration promised to resolve those cases but made, as is obvious, negligible progress. After all, ours is a country where there has yet to be a ban on enforced ...

While much of the media, public, and politicians’ attention in recent days has centred on the attack on one prominent anchor from one prominent media house, the country’s ‘existential war’ against terrorism seems near forgotten. But a deadly reminder came this week in the form of an explosion near a police vehicle in Charsadda, killing three people and leaving over 30, including 14 policemen, injured. While scores of people were at the Tehsil Bazar when the explosion occurred, the target of the attack was clearly the police. Indeed, the attack is being seen as part of ...

Self-immolation is not a recurring phenomenon anywhere in the world and there is a simple reason behind it; the physical pain of burning to death. One of the most excruciatingly painful ways to die, self immolation is hardly a convenient suicide option. Amina bibi, an 18 year old girl from Muzzafargarh who set herself ablaze in front of a police station and died the following day of severe burns, didn’t die because she wanted to put on a good show, or because she was ignorant of the pain, or because she had conquered the fear of pain. Instead, a greater fear had overcome her; that of ...

Tuesday, 22 April, 2014

42 more people needlessly lost their lives in a high speed collision between a bus and a tractor-trolley in Sukkur, Sindh. Accidents such as this and their alarming frequency makes them more than mere accidents, and reveals a serious lack of road safety on highways and roads all over Pakistan. Driving while adhering to the rules and road safety guidelines is seriously lacking, and the result of this carelessness is there for all to see. The drivers that drive recklessly not only endanger themselves, but those that are travelling with them, and all others on the road that encounter them. The ...

While tensions remain high between the Nawaz government and the country’s military over the slow-moving treason trial against him, Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf has flown to Karachi for an unspecified period of time. Allegedly, it was due to issues concerning Mr Musharraf’s health that kept him from making much smaller trips from his farmhouse in Chak Shehzad to the courts in the capital. Now, the same concerns have prompted him to travel all the way to Karachi. Here, the former President hopes to benefit from the expertise of the competent doctors practicing at the Pakistan Navy Ship ...

Initially expected to formally take up the case of Pakistan in its third quarterly review of the 6.78 billion dollar bailout packages under the Extended Fund Facility, IMF currently expresses its contention with the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Act 2014. The basic qualm arises with the government seeking to grant greater autonomy for the State Bank. Chief of IMF mission in Pakistan, Jeffery Frank, claimed that the issue lies within the amendment act itself. The IMF expressed the need to “revise” the legal changes made. In more bare terms, the government plans to seek full ...

Monday, 21 April, 2014

The shooting of the high profile journalist and TV personality Hamid Mir on Saturday, led as it rightly should have, to a frenzy in the media. The news channel, Geo News, to which Mir belongs was the frontrunner in reporting after the incident. In a country where the narrative on democracy is newly maturing, the symbolism of an attack on a journalist is not lost on many. This, and other recent attacks on journalists, are being increasingly debated as attacks on democratic institutions, on the principles of free media and free speech. Though this is important, what is occurring alongside is a ...

Multan road has been revamped, but the drain in the centre of the road remains, filled with plastic bags and other waste materials. This drain, and many thousands like it across Pakistan, will inevitably become a breeding ground for the dengue virus if the concerned departments do not take timely action. The Punjab government has recently taken some measures to control dengue. Messages to help prevent the disease are being displayed in various parts of Punjab, on billboards, banners etc. Special cells have been established in Islamabad, to coordinate with other departments to treat and ...

The Prime Minister’s speech at Kakul for the graduation ceremony of PMA students was widely watched for hints on whether the relationship between the government and the army is really as fractured as it is being made out to be. Given Nawaz Sharif’s history with the military this is only to be expected, and the entire country sits up straighter every time one is talking about the other. At the same time, looking too much into what is being said is not going to shed light on where the two Sharifs stand in reference to each other, and what lies in store for the country in the ...

Sunday, 20 April, 2014

The Punjab Police has surpassed expectations by arresting a gang of sectarian killers linked with the outlawed terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The group is allegedly involved in the assassinations of several members of the Shiite community, and for the murder of Sunni Tehreek leader Khurram Raza Qadri, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Punjab chapter leader, Shamsur Rehman Mauvia, and attempts on the life of writer Asghar Nadeem Syed and renowned journalist, Raza Rumi.Investigations reveal that the gang’s leader, Abdul Rauf Gujjar, received his orders from the notorious LeJ ...

Zavicaj” refers to the intimate home, local homeland or - quite simply - the place of belonging for someone in Serbian language while “Bordeure” - the olden French etymological root of border - literally means a line. Hence, the zavicaj and bordeure have played a profound role in defining home – as well as its uncomfortable antonym displacement - for humans around the world. In a more relevant sense for us, both have been a source of pain and frustration for Sikh pilgrims for the past 65 years.Recently, approximately 800 Sikh yatrees performed their religious rites at ...

The cabinet has unilaterally decided to hand the LNG terminal construction contract to EPTL in addition to giving the go ahead to import gas from Qatar after the first LNG terminal has been built in Karachi. If we were to look back five or ten years into the past, LNG would not have been the best available option for Pakistan to reduce the gas shortage. Now, since every other initiative has been abandoned, only LNG can fuel Pakistan’s spluttering dreams of prosperity.Elengy Terminal Pakistan Limited (ETPL), an auxiliary of Engro Corporation Limited, is expected, by conservative ...

Saturday, 19 April, 2014

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senators are following a completely different line compared to their colleagues in the National Assembly. While the former raise a hue and cry over varying issues as a matter of routine, the latter appear far too co-operative for members of the leading opposition party. This good cop bad cop exercise was on full display yet again when PPP senators raised the issue of the newly appointed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Mehtab Khan Abbasi’s statements made soon after assuming the office. Governor Abbasi had suggested a general amnesty for all terrorists willing to ...

In 2008, Edhi Foundation's headquarters reported taking in about 300 abandoned babies annually while some 50,000 children at any given moment depended on the foundation for their basic survival. That was six years ago; one can imagine the number of abandoned children in 2014. In a recent announcement to take up the issue of deserted children’s adoption cases, the Supreme Court seeks a mechanism to address the rights and modalities of adoption for parent-less or abandoned children. The issue, replete with its many dilemmas, zeroes in on NADRA.According to Abdul Sattar Edhi, the National ...

Fake pharmaceutical drugs have been found in Lahore once again. The rise in domestically produced pharmaceuticals have led to a decrease in the checks and balances placed on companies that make them, and this has led to a flood of cheaply produced drugs that have no use for the people that buy them. This has happened before as well. Over a 100 people died in 2012 because of counterfeit drugs given to heart patients in Lahore. More died the same year, as a result of cough syrups that made their way into the hands of consumers completely unchecked.The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan is ...

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 ...

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