Thursday, May 22, 2014


Modi and Nawaz must listen to their people and their true well wishers instead of troble makes like Bruce Reidel

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA man and now affiliated with a Washington think-tank is no friend of Pakistan. This much was always clear from his writings. Now an article written by him and published in India’s Hindustan Times seems to indicate that he is no friend of India’s either. What he has proposed as an agenda for India’s new Prime Minister could lead to a disastrous situation in South Asia.

Mr Riedel and many others in the think-tank community are in a time warp. Their mind sets have not changed. They refuse to believe that countries like India and Pakistan can ever think straight and that they are forever condemned to stew in their own juices. They cannot see the changes sweeping the region or refuse to see those changes because if they did how would they justify the dire predictions that they need to make to stay in their think-tank jobs. There are many such experts around. One of the funniest sights on the Track II circuit is a group of eminent Indians and Pakistanis sitting around a table in discussions moderated and funded by Western think tanks with a ‘paleface’ telling the ‘Indians’ what is good and what is not good for them. Sad but true.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gauging PPP’s 5 year performance

Is third time really a charm in Pakistani politics?

Democracy has been a tough challenge for Pakistan. In its 65 years of history, the democratic process has been hijacked four times by military coups. When elected governments did manage to acquire power, they failed to complete their term. This time was different. This time a democratically elected government was successful at completing its 5 year tenure. 

While this is surely a monumental achievement, it is not enough. How much the PPP government work to improve the economy, security and international standing of Pakistan and how far was it successful?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Conversations with Badami Bagh residents

Badami Bagh is no less than a ravaged town awaiting life once again. Along the sides of the roads are little yellow tents set up for the Christian families who lost their homes when an angry mob set fire to the entire residential area.

These little tents are filled with people. It is as if the little tents have become portable homes for the citizens who have nothing else left. Little toys, water bottles, a pile of clothes – Badami Bagh residents have begun to reconstruct their lives within the temporary homes provided to them since there is no knowing when their real homes will be ready for them to go back to. 

Parveen Rehman and the growing might of Land Mafia

No militants, no ethnic drama, Parveen Rehman’s death was a consequence of the land mafia politics that has consumed Karachi to the core. Parveen, an architect by profession, switched her field under the guidance of her mentor since, Akhter Hameed Khan, the founder of Orangi Pilot Project. Since 1982 Rehman had worked her way up the ladder at OPP, uplifting slum communities using microfinance, minimizing the need for World Bank loans building bridges between the government and the community.

The nature of violence in Pakistan, and especially Karachi has been labeled ethnic and political one after the other. According to Parveen Rehman the bloodshed was not ethnic, but land related. A bold social worker, though media shy, she openly criticized the establishment, and the police forces for being party to the land mafia. Drug mafia armed the people. The news of a pathan firing spreads like fire in the media, but seldom do people ask: who armed them? The drug mafia disappears when they sniff an operation and ambiguous claims of ethnic and sectarian differences fill the empty spaces.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Pakistan shamed

The picture on top says it all. A mob in the background and an exultant youth in the foreground with smoke,fire and burning homes all around. This was the scene in the heart of Lahore when Christian homes were set on fire because of alleged blasphemy by a Christian who had already been booked under the Blasphemy Law by the police on the complaint of a Muslim. The mob that went on the rampage looting and burning homes was apparently venting their rage. No one died and no injuries were reported but Pakistan’s image was destroyed beyond repair—collateral damage from the point of view of the bigoted and the intolerant but a mortal blow to Pakistan for those whose heads hung in shame.

Friday, March 8, 2013

English Medium only

Basant in Lahore

This spring yellow kites were replaced by yellow balloons and a rush of language and pros that Lahore has long awaited. As the hub of cultural commotion for centuries, and the birthplace of many internationally recognized writers and poets like Bapsi Sidhwa, Mohsin Hamid, it is quite bizarre that such an event has never been held before. Literary Festivals have become the rage in South Asia since the Jaipur festival was established in India in 2005. Festivals have sprouted all over the region since.

The festival was held in Alhamra Arts Complex, and more than 30,000 people showed up for the various panel discussions that covered topics from literature, arts, and poetry to social issues and political dilemmas. Who would have thought a female Kathak dancer (Naheed Sidiqqui) would lure the audience with her elegant moves from an art lost in the Mughal era, in the middle of a terrorist-fest state? For the New York Times and other mainstream newspapers and journals a literary, artsy ambience propping up in Pakistan was odd, amusing and unforeseen. After all where do ‘books’ fit into the Mullah and Militant outlook that is seen.

Tsunami version 2.0

Elections in Pakistan have a terrifying effect. Like a lie detector, it has been known to expose true sentiments, rivalries, morals and ruthless strategies to guarantee victories. It seems to be doing the same with Pakistan’s rising star, PTI. News about disruptive behavior and violence at PTI’s intra party elections has been popping up time and again. While rival politicians preyed on this disorder as proof of PTI’s poor management skills and experience, the civil society questioned the party’s competence in participating in elections and if elected, its ability to lead democratic processes in the country. 

It wasn’t long ago when Imran Khan had taken Pakistan by storm, or in his terms, by a “tsunami”.  Since then he and his party have been trying to clean the corrupt system and revolutionize democracy. So far they have introduced an economic, educational and industrial policy. They have refused to form alliances with other parties at the risk of compromising their stand against violence, corruption and inequality.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sehbai on Kayani: Can’t Live…with or without you

It seems Mr Sehbai is not clear in his own mind about the role he wants the Army to play. He blames Gen Kayani for sitting on the sidelines and letting the country slide into the current mess. Yet he blames 10 years of Army rule which incidentally except for first three years of Musharraf was actually run by politicians allied with Musharraf ,for a bad legacy for the current rulers. He calls Gen Kayani a Gorbachev for letting Pakistan reach this failed state situation but at the same time is against Army intervention. It seems he is constrained by the oft repeated slogan of Democracy is our future irrespective of the results that we are reaping. I think Gen Kayani has done well to clarify so many doubts sown about the Army actions/ inactions spread by our media. By talking directly to the media and clarifying the Army role in the last 5 years,he has briefed them about the true state of affairs. Hopefully this should at least reduce the unjustified criticism and doubts about the Army,s role and specially his own role as Chief . Let this election bring up some fresh and well meaning leadership for if that does not happen,we should have a fresh look at our systems specially our brand of parliamentary democracy which has failed again and again in providing good Government to the country. Gen Kayani has brought some truths to the notice of our opinion makers. Let it not be said by any one that he/ she did not know these things. Now it is upto our media to educate our public on all major issues facing the country.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Propaganda: the (blatant) Indian way

Indian media can be called many things - free, vibrant, opinionated – but if there is one thing it cannot be called is subtle. The Indian media has had a long history of bias, Pakistan-bashing and a general lack of uniformity on national issues.

When the gang rape story broke in December, there was an intense media debate in India about the consequences of the tragedy on the country. The Indian Express advocated reform and called for a safe environment in the country on its Op-Ed pages. The Hindu, on the other hand, took off on a different tangent and discussed the need for death penalty and castration for rapists. The Times of India chose to remain on the fences, calling for “long term solutions.” The Asian Age focused on the political fall-out of the gang rape. Navbharat Times, on the other hand, filled its Op-Ed pages with a debate on the oppressed classes of the Indian society and raised an entirely existential question. Nai Dunya, went off in a completely different direction, and called for an end to protests since laws could not be “made over night.”

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Civilized West!

Denmark is involved in a shameful practice. The sea is stained in red and currently it’s not because of the climate effects of nature.

It’s because of the cruelty that the human beings (civilised human) kill hundreds of the famous and intelligent Calderon dolphins.