Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Drone Attacks will Disrupt Pak-US Relations

Courtesy:- Sajjad Shaukat 

Pak-US relations deteriorated in 2009 when as part of US espionage network, hundreds of the American CIA spies entered Pakistan under the guise of diplomats who began anti-Pakistan activities through their affiliated militants by supervising and guiding them. 

On many occasions, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) helped in stopping the secret movements of the CIA spies who were traveling in vehicles, covered with black mirrors—showing themselves as diplomats. Sometimes weapons were also snatched from them. On the information of ISI, Pakistan’s establishment expelled several so-called diplomats, operating in the country. On the other side, US withheld $800 million in military aid to punish its military and ISI.

Besides, American top officials pressurised Pakistan to set free American national, Raymond Davis who killed two Pakistani nationals in Lahore on January 27, 2011. In fact, Davis was also an under-cover secret agent of CIA who entered Pakistan in guise of diplomat. 

After the May 2 raid, Pak-US ties further worsened when in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and without informing ISI, while setting aside intelligence cooperation, US Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. The relations between the two countries almost reached point of no return when the US-led NATO’s deliberate air killed 25 soldiers on Pakistan Army border posts on November 26, last year. In this regard, by rejecting US pressure tactics; Pakistan’s civil and military leadership took strict measures such as suspension of NATO supply to Afghanistan, vacation of Shamsi Airbase and boycott of the second Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pak-US diplomats continued their negotiations to repair the damaged ties between both the countries. In this connection, America was more interested in resumption of NATO transport route across Pakistan as earlier as possible because it is cheaper than that of Central Asia. Besides, NATO decided the withdrawal of their troops in 2013 from Pakistani side. In this respect, Pakistan remained firm on its stand for US apology in relation to the Salala checkpost incident, which American top officials had flatly refusing. 

With the formal apology from the US regarding Salala event, Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) on July 3, allowed reopening of the NATO supply lines across Pakistan to Afghanistan.

It is of particular attention that even a few days before and after the reopening of NATO supply route, drone attacks continued on Pakistan’s tribal areas. These predators’ strikes were commenced by President Bush, accelerated by President Obama. In the past few months, the CIA-operated unmanned aircraft, killed more than 70 people in North Waziristan.
During his visit to India and Afghanistan, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has repeatedly pointed out that drone attacks would continue on safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan. Even President Obama has defended these strikes on FATA under the pretext of American so-called counterinsurgency programme.

It is mentionable that recently, Pakistan’s political and religious parties conducted rallies, processions and long march regarding the resumption of NATO transport routes, especially drone attacks. In this scenario, the US policy of liberalism and democracy could badly fail, giving a greater incentive to the fundamentalist and extremist elements in Pakistan. In this context, the fresh wave of drone strikes has thwarted the recent efforts of militants and Pakistan government for peace talks, and provoked the tribal people, resulting into more recruitment of militants in FATA. Such a flawed policy has brought about more subversive acts inside the country. In this connection, the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has intensified acts of sabotage in Pakistan.

In this backdrop, with the full approval of the civil and military leadership, the Director General of ISI, Lt-Gen. Zaheerul Islam will visit America on August 1 and will meet CIA Director David Petraeus. It is the first time in a year that any Pakistani high-ranking officer like the ISI Chief will visit the US. 

Reliable sources disclosed that the Chief of Pakistan’s superior intelligence agency will emphatically ask his American counterpart to evolve some framework to end predators’ strikes on Pak tribal areas—the thorniest aspect of Pakistani-US relations. He will raise the question that unmanned aerial attacks are violation of the international law, and sovereignty of Pakistan, challenging a relationship that can actually accomplish a lot more on the ground than we are doing today in eliminating terrorism. He will especially indicate that these strikes are proving counterproductive to anti-terrorism efforts.

While pointing out public backlash inside Pakistan against the unmanned aircraft, DG ISI will make it clear that such American strikes are increasing resentment among the people.

Notably, quoting an official, AFP revealed that during his meeting with CIA Director David Petraeus, DG IS Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam would say, “We need this precision strike capability to avoid collateral damage and its political fallout. The idea is that the US develops the target and tells us, and we destroy it ourselves.” 

During his negotiations with David Petraeus, while talking on the other related issues, ISI Chief would discuss new mechanism for intelligence sharing and counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries.

It is pertinent to note that in a debate with Douglas Lute, President Obama’s top adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman called on July 28 for an end to the CIA drone strikes ahead of an intelligence summit in Washington between the two countries. She added, “We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that.” 

Earlier Sherry Rehman stated on July 6 that Pakistan and the US were set to resume broader talks on other issues in the wake of an agreement to reopen NATO supply routes. She remarked, “I certainly think, it opened the door to many other issues…both sides can use this opportunity to build a path to durable ties.”

While, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has repeatedly pointed out that Pakistan would continue talks with the US over drone attacks.

However, intermittent attacks by the US spy planes on tribal regions will cause drastic impact on the US war on terror. These strikes will undermine international efforts of stability both in Afghanistan and Pakistan including peace dialogue with the Afghan militants, jeopardising American interests, while the foreign forces seek complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. In this respect, US top officials, particularly Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have repeatedly said that America needs Pakistan’s help not only for peace process with the militants, but also for stability in Afghanistan in the post-2014 scenario.

Nevertheless, the much awaited meeting between the spy masters of Pakistan and the US will be of greater significance at this critical juncture, when both the countries are trying to further minimise distrust between them.

In these terms, during the meeting with his counterpart, DG ISI Lt-Gen. Zaheerul Islam will take a firm stand especially on the drones’ issue as he has full backing of the Pakistani government in this respect. 

If despite his talks with CIA Director David Petraeus, predator’s strikes on FATA continued, these could create a greater impediment in settling other issues between Pakistan and America. Ultimately, drone attacks will disrupt Pak-US relations, even taking them to the point of no return. 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Welcome to Pakistan

Courtesy:- Let’s Love Pakistan – a New Resolution (IV)

Dholkis, maiyon, mehndi, valima and post-wedding dinners; Pakistani weddings are an experience like no other! 

27. Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Edhi:

Abdul Sattar Edhi began his ambulance service in the 50s, and has since then been a busy, busy man. Today, Edhi Foundation runs the world’s largest radio-linked ambulance service all over Pakistan, and operates countless old age homes, orphanages, clinics, women’s shelters, rehabs and mental asylums. The duo has won dozens of local and international awards and honours but they’ve also been targets of some serious criticism over the years. This does not seem to faze the heaven-sent couple though, and they seem to have only one agenda in life: to serve the disadvantaged. As if all this wasn’t enough, Edhi also holds the world record for working for the longest time without taking a single holiday, and they live humbly—and happily—in a two-bedroom flat within one of their orphanages. Isn’t it time we honour them with some serious appreciation?

28. Shan masalay (spices):
These Rs50 magic boxes have rendered every Pakistani mum an expert chef with a knack for creating the most delicious desi dishes with consistency and extreme precision. Looks like good things do come in small packages after all!
29. The geniuses with all those As:
Sure they make us regular nitwits look like a bunch of idiots, but let’s face it; these geniuses are doing us mighty proud globally. First, Ali Moin Nawazish set a world record with his 22 A Levels A grades; then Ibrahim Shahid went on to secure 23 As in his O Levels. But the wonder-kid who put teenagers everywhere to shame was a boy from Taxila, Syed Zohaib Asad, who created headlines with his 28 A grades in O Levels recently! Just imagine: if he kept ten of those As for himself and donated the rest, he could secure university admissions for at least five good-for-nothing nitwits! Respect? Definitely!

30. Madam Noor Jehan:

She came, she sang, and she conquered. Sometimes it’s hard to believe she’s been gone for over a decade. The woman’s legacy is unmatched, just like her tunes, distinctive voice and larger than life personality—all of which are reminiscent of one of the greatest singers to be born in the subcontinent. And Pakistan was lucky enough to have inherited her!

31. The Pakistani cricket team:

Granted every Pakistani cricket lover’s heart probably looks like a piece of antique china in a frat house by now, but really, there’s something about the boys in green that you just can’t hold a grudge against for long. So what if they’re caught treating fans like piñatas and striking match-fixing dealsthat land them in jail? They’re the closest thing to superheroes we’ll ever get, and for that they deserve our unapologetic, unconditional support.

32. Our political gullibility:

For years, us Pakistanis have been played by crafty statesmen; so much that it has virtually choked our self-esteem, turning us into an easily excitable nation of masochists that thrives in its own blatant ignorance, misfortune and helplessness. Three cheers for sweet surrender, because after all, what else can we do?

33. The Pakistani wedding:

Complete with half a dozen dholkis, a maiyonmehndi, valima and post-wedding dinners, Pakistani weddings are an experience like no other! Even more so if you’re a close relative and your family is uninhibited when it comes to having some pure, unadulteratedhullah-gullah: the real desi wedding style!

34. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:

Ignoring the heaps of nonsensical (not to mention unfair) negative comments, I present you all with one simple question: What other third world country that’s burdened with perpetual shame and misfortune like our poor Pakistan can claim to have accumulated immense international acclaim by winning an Oscar and an Emmy? And all thanks to the same woman! Cherry topping: Sharmeen’s inclusion on this years’ Time 100 list!

35. Joint families:

Among other invaluable things like strong familial bonds, love, respect and division of labour, when it comes to cooking, cleaning, compromising and looking after each other, think of the money we Pakistanis save by opting to live with Ammi and Abbu in our enormous ancestral homes. Who says goras are born with all the luck?!

Pakistan may face water crisis, warn experts

Courtesy:- Khaleeq Kiani 

ISLAMABAD, July 30: Despite having some rains this week, Pakistan may be heading towards an ‘acute water crisis’ which will seriously affect winter crops and create shortage of drinking water in some areas, warns a veteran weather pundit.

Sensitising the president, prime minister, provincial governments and relevant agencies and ministries, Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhry, adviser to the ministry of defence on meteorology and climate affairs, called for precautionary measures to deal with the looming crisis.

A truly democratic future

Courtesy:- Farahnaz Ispahani

For the first time in its history, Pakistan is close to a democratic transfer of power. One directly elected government will go through the electoral process again in the first quarter of 2013 and a new, elected group answerable to the people of Pakistan will be sworn in to govern it and determine its future.

Losing war against polio to ‘counter-insurgency’

Courtesy:- Naveed Hussain

Alarmingly, Pakistan is one of three countries where polio is still endemic. More alarmingly, the country is not going to be polio-free anytime soon. This year, over 350,000 children under five years of age in the tribal belt — particularly North and South Waziristan and Khyber agencies — might not be immunised against the virus. A Taliban insurgency and paradoxically, counter-insurgency efforts, too, are to blame for this bleak scenario.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

World silent as Muslim massacre goes on in Myanmar

World silent as Muslim massacre goes on in Myanmar

Courtesy:- Kourosh Ziabari

Mohammad Hossein Nikzad, a close personal friend and a senior student of political science just called me a few hours ago, worriedly talking about the dire situation of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the atrocities the Buddhist Rakhines are committing in the East Asian nation.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Media in the line of fire

Courtesy:- Mohammad Jamil

Over the past two centuries the media have contributed to the promotion of democracy and making it stable throughout the world. In early 17th century, when printing machine was invented, the only role of the print media was to inform the people. Symbolically, media are considered as the fourth pillar of the state; nevertheless constitutionally the Parliament, Executive and Judiciary are the pillars of the state, and their powers and responsibilities are outlined in the Constitution. 

Pakistan in the role of Asian glue

Courtesy:-  Shahid Javed Burki

In terms of providing for the economic well-being of its citizens, Pakistan, today, is the poorest performing economy in south Asia. It is not doing well when its performance is measured in terms of a variety of economic and social indicators. It has had a declining rate of growth for almost 50 years. The trend started in 1965, when Pakistan fought a brief war with India over the issue of Kashmir. But punctuating this declining growth trend were a few spurts, each lasting for about three to four years. All of these occurred during military rule and all were associated with large foreign capital flows.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Welcome to Pakistan

Courtesy:- Lets Love Pakistan  A new resolution (III)

I'm making a list of 65 reasons I love this poor, broken, taken-for-granted country we call Pakistan

In September last year, I took up the challenge of making a list of 65 reasons why I love Pakistan—the poor, broken country I and everyone else I know takes for granted. The idea was simple, but its execution, not so much. Which is why it’s taken me all these months to come up with the third set in the series.
With 26 reasons down, I now plan to complete the list in a number of quick and regular posts by August 14, 2012—Pakistan’s 65th Birthday.
So, here goes, again.
16. Thanda Pakola
Inspiringly green with a distinctively refreshing taste and smell, this purely Pakistani pop drink is perhaps one of the most prominent brands to come out of our country, ever. For the past 62 years, dildefinitely bol raha hai… Pakola (My heart definitely says, “Pakola”).
17. Mithai
If you’re going to say you don’t light up at the sight of a pristine box of chum-chums and gulab-jamans that softly call on you to come closer and have just one (more!), then I’m sorry; you need to work on your Pakistaniat.

18. All those Guinness World Records
I have to admit I couldn’t find the exact number of world recordsPakistan has held since 1955 when the annual reference book first started coming out. However, a little Googling confirms Pakistan’s top notch status as one of the most competitive countries in the world. Whether it’s for standing tall (literally) or shooting down five fighter jets in less than a minute; throwing balls that travel faster than your average Rawalpindi Express or simply squeezing 19 girlies into a two-door smart car; you name it; we’re on top of it!
19. The mangoes
Although I personally fall in the category of those oh-so-famously denigrated by Ghalib, I can’t deny the fact that our LangrasSindhrisand Chaunsas  are, without a shred of doubt, the kings of fruit everywhere!
20. Sufi culture
Sufism has played sitar with our veins right from its introduction in the subcontinent in the 8th century. The magnanimous contribution of mystical Sufi saints in conveying the message of peace, love and divinity through their philosophical teachings and excerpts of poetry of wondrous depth is virtually irrefutable.
Pakistan was lucky enough to inherit the shrines of some of the most prominent Sufi giants of the region, and their resting places continue to draw disciples in the thousands, providing them with food, shelter, peace, and most importantly, inspiration—something this world fails to offer.
21. The Moin Akhtar, Bushra Ansari, Anwar Maqsood trio
I think this one’s pretty self-explanatory and any attempt to explain or justify the troika’s significance for Pakistan would only be able to serve feebly.
22. Sunday Bazaar
Sunday Bazar has practically got something for everybody and boy, is it addictive!
You can come here for the dime-a-dozen books, cheap stationery, imported china and kitchenware, or simply enjoy browsing the “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” section after raiding the “I can’t believe I found a barely-used designer shoe in my size for Rs500!” section.
23. Saddar in Karachi
Speaking of good bazaars, Saddar in Karachi has got to be the one stop solution for all your needs—literally!
Whether it’s pets or fruit, prosthetic surgeons, orthodontists or stolen televisions and imitation cosmetics; if you want it, Saddar’s got it; and at implausibly decent prices too! I’m sure the legendary Bara markets in Rawalpindi are Peshawar are equally accommodating to their visitors.
24. Mehdi Hassan
A few weeks ago, the man who was best known for capturing hearts as he sang his own out, passed away after spending years running in and out of hospitals for various ailments.
We’ll never really be able to recover from the loss. Mehdi Hassandebuted on Radio Pakistan in 1957, and spent the next fifty years building a reputation as the unassailable king of ghazals. He finally made a grand exit by recording his last ghazal with living legend Lata Mangeshkar in 2010. A musical gem to be proud of? I definitely think so!

25. “Loose” police-walas, government clerks and traffic wardens
No matter what you say or how guilty you feel for taking advantage, living in a country where a 100 rupee note unfailingly doubles as a truce flag, you’ve got to stop and thank your parents for not relocating to Amreeka or some other law-abiding country in the 80s!

26. Muslim Shower
Need I say more?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Biometrics in Afghanistan The eyes have it

Courtesy:-   The Economist 

EVEN as the dining room smouldered, soldiers moved about taking fingerprints and scanning eyes of the corpses of Taliban fighters. The ghoulish ritual followed an attack, on June 21st, on a restaurant beside Qargha Lake in Kabul. After the scans, the information was compared with a biometric database.
Gathering such data, even from the dead, is now standard practice in the Afghan war. Soldiers learn that usable scans can be harvested as late as six hours after death, depending on the heat. Investigators were confident of finding a match at Qargha Lake, and did so. Their success underlines the growth of the database and the ambition of those behind it.
In this case an unnamed suicide-bomber had been scanned two years earlier, in Logar province, because he was looking suspicious, said Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Anwar Muniri, who leads the Afghan programme. However, he was not detained. A list of “martyrs” released by the Taliban after the attack in Kabul confirmed he was from that province.
His details could equally have got into the database in other ways. Few of Afghanistan's 30m people have a birth certificate, a second name or can read. Yet America's army and the Afghan government have collected digital records of more than 2.5m of them. Anyone arrested or imprisoned, or who seeks to join the army or police, is scanned. So are those, such as labourers, who attempt to get into a coalition military base. Each is checked against watchlists of suspects. Last year biometric machines were also put at all border crossings. In hotly contested areas any “fighting-age males”, meaning those between 15 and 70, may be scanned compulsorily.
Some patrols call all men from a village out of their homes and line them up by a mosque to be logged. At other times buses are stopped arbitrarily and all the men are taken off and scanned.
Elsewhere such intrusions would have caused an outcry. But few Afghans, so far, have protested. American officers praise the technology as a helpful counter-insurgency tool: if opponents can be identified, they can be separated from the wider, law-abiding populace. They cite examples of its usefulness. Nearly 500 Taliban prisoners tunnelled out of Kandahar's Sarposa prison last year, but they had previously all been scanned. Within a month 30 had been recaptured because of random biometric checks.
The data are passed on beyond Afghanistan, to America's army, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Agreements to share data exist with dozens of allied countries. American soldiers in Ghazni once described scanning a dead insurgent, then two days later getting a call from the CIA to say that his record matched someone first scanned in Iraq.
Yet as the system grows, so do worries about it. It is involuntary and shrouded in secrecy. It is easy to come across Afghans who claim that they were wrongly denied foreign visas or jobs after a biometric scan flagged up their presence on some watchlist. Evidence held against them is rarely divulged, nor is it clears how they can challenge it.
“There is a vetting process to be put on a watchlist,” says Sergeant-Major Robert Haemmerle, of the American army's Afghanistan biometrics programme. “It's not just a matter of ‘I don't like this guy'. There is a deliberate policy and process to ensure that people's rights are respected, that it's not abused.”
Yet those policies and processes are kept classified by NATO and America's Defence Department. Jennifer Lynch, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group based in San Francisco that keeps a watch on how digital technology encroaches on civil freedoms, also questions the quality of the data. She fears that scans done quickly in the field, or by inexperienced technicians, could lead to cases of mistaken identity.
Neither Afghan nor American officials have described their ultimate plans for the project, nor whether they want to log the whole population. Talk of a new national identity card has fallen quiet. But the more people who are scanned, the more powerful the database becomes.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Dividends of consensus

Courtesy:- Malik M Ashraf 

In the backdrop of the renewal of traditional animosity between the ruling PPP and PML (N) after a short-lived bonhomie brought about by the signing of COD between Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif, the political pundits and those who had watched the political duels between these two major parties in the nineties had started painting a very bleak picture about the future of democracy in Pakistan. The split between them encouraged the elements inimical to democratic norms to make bizarre predictions about the collapse of the democratic system and even time-lines were given in this regard. People witnessed an incessant and well orchestrated campaigns to denigrate and discredit the government on unsubstantiated charges of corruption designed to give a cue to the predatory forces to make their move. 

Welcome to Pakistan

Courtesy:- Let’s love Pakistan: A new resolution (II)

Ghich-pitch and totally kitsch, these brilliant canvases on wheels depict the true zinda-dil colors of Pakistan and its people perfectly! 

Pakistan has five out of fourteen mountain peaks of height over 8,000 meters. 
I have no doubt that everyone will agree when I say that Arfa and her legacy is indeed one of the 65 reasons we’ve got to love Pakistan.
I have no doubt that everyone will agree when I say that Arfa and her legacy is indeed one of the 65 reasons we’ve got to love Pakistan.

In September last year, I took up the challenge of making a list of 65 reasons why I love Pakistan; the poor broken country we have begun to take for granted. The idea was simple, but its execution not so much, which is why it has taken me four months to come up with the second set of reasons. I plan to compile the list by August 14, 2012—Pakistan’s 65th Birthday. 
Here’s a short excerpt from my previous blog to establish the idea behind this otherwise puerile exercise:
Im going to try to complete the list (of)  reasons – some small; some serious, some funny; some definitive and some not so evocative or significant… but each in its own way a contributing factor to why that tiny spark somewhere inside each one of us still remains buoyant… because let’s face it we all love Pakistan
So, here goes.
6.  Truck art:
Granted it’s only found the kind of respect it deserves recently what with some goras giving it their stamp of approval a few years ago. However, I’ve always found this fascinating kaleidoscope of unapologetically flat motifs, wild cats and prey birds done up in rich, screaming colours to be rather dazzling. Ghich-pitch and totally kitsch, these brilliant canvases on wheels depict the true zinda-dil (lively) colours of Pakistan and its people perfectly.
7. “Free” media and journos
From merely three channels back in the 90s, Pakistani telly now comprises of a whopping 150 channels that are actively broadcasting their (mostly trash, but what can we do) content throughout the country. Whether it’s reporting or entertainment, our journalists and anchors have truly mastered their craft and continue to impress with their talent and prowess. There’s enough drama, godawful yetsadistically addictive morning shows, breaking news bulletins and highly enjoyable rabid mud-slinging prime time talk show ho-downs to keep us all well entertained throughout the day, every day… and if that’s not positive growth I don’t know what is!
8. All the drama!
Let’s be honest; nobody cerates drama like we do. Sure, we went astray for a couple of years a few years ago, but boy, are we back on track and producing some of the best television drama ever… Hum TV, Geo, ARY, and now Express Entertainment: the choices are virtually innumerable!
Soppy romantic shadi-biyah (wedding) fodder for aunties and teeny-boppers, check.
Conniving saas-bahu shenanigans for potential crafty saases and bahus, check.
Hard-hitting reality-check-type storylines for the art lovers, check, check, check!
9. Our landscape:
Pakistan has five out of 14 mountain peaks of height over 8,000m. That’s over 26,000ft! Murree’s altitude is merely 2,300m! These attract adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially to legendary K2 that stands at a staggering 8,600m. It is also the only mountain that has six names: K2, Savage Mountain, Mountaineer’s Mountain, Mount Godwin-Austen, Chogori and Mount Qogir.
10. Pushto cinema:
‘Nuff said.
11. All the repair men:
Seriously, in Pakistan, there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—that can’t be fixed; if you know where to find the right person to do the job, that is!
In Karachi, Saddar is usually a good place to start, and I’m sure there’s at least one such hub in all the other cities as well where you can go with your damaged possessions and return with a big smile on your face. Whether it’s your heirloom furniture or the circuit of the little red bulb on a Rs100 remote control; a cracked prosthetic limb or an otherwise disposable electronic gadget – Pakistan truly is the anti-spendthrift’s heaven!
12. All the random holidays due to political strife:
Don’t we just love the fact that, except maybe a few war-torn countries in Africa, we’re probably the only modern-day republic where children get more days off from school in a year than they do on? Moreover, the entire workforce only has to go to work an average of four days a week instead of five! Who cares about the kharaab haalat (bad conditions) as long as you get to laze around the house and watch all the action on live TV, right?
13. Cheap domestic help:
Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me with ‘whatever,’ do a little mental math: an average upper middle class Pakistani family these days hires two maids. At least one of these maids is likely to be a full-time employee earning no more than a four-digit salary (with perquisites like constant bickering and nitpicking, of course). The usual responsibilities of these maids usually include, but are not limited to everyday chores like sweeping, doing the dishes, washing clothes, ironing, cooking, looking after children, and sometimes even doing the groceries. The regular everyday help you’d very well have to be a member of the millionaires club to avail anywhere else in the world is right here in Pakistan!
14. Our resilience:
One of my readers pointed out our ability to be extraordinarily pliant by saying,
We are resilient in the face of adverse events like floods, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and Zardari.
I couldn’t agree more. We’re a tough bunch if there ever was one. Of course, some people may compare us to cockroaches, and rightfully so, but still, I think our deep-rooted resilience and infallible spirits have more to do with the belief that Allah Mian will eventually make everything alright (read: strong faith) rather than us simply having evolved to make the best of what we’ve got! We may not be rich in a lot of virtues, but resilience and faith are certainly not two of those.
15. Arfa Karim
Although it shames and saddens me to admit that I did not know who Arfa Karim was until a couple of weeks ago when news of her unfortunate illness started doing rounds, I now couldn’t be more proud of the young prodigy who was indeed, in retrospect, Pakistan’s very own miracle child.
Recipient of the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology, a Salaam Pakistan Youth Award as well as the Presidential Award for Pride of Performance, Arfa, as I’m sure we all know by now, was also dubbed the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in 2004. Her sad, unexpected demise at such a young age is a national tragedy and I have no doubt that everyone will agree when I say that Arfa and her legacy is indeed one of the 65 reasons we’ve got to love Pakistan.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Let’s love Pakistan: A new resolution

I’ve often been accused of being a killjoy. I mean, I’m not inherently morose or anything cool like that; it’s just that I take the little anomalies of everyday life a little too seriously. This usually forces me to over think stuff, which leads me to notice again and again the not-so-proverbial glass in its half-filled ignominy, which in turn causes me to be incessantly bitter and irritable with the way things generally run in this country. Yes, living my everyday life in poor broken Pakistan certainly helps make things much, much worse!Last month however, a few days before the Independence Day, I decided to make a list of 65 things that compel me to love Pakistan. It was a personal exercise, really; one that I assumed wouldn’t just dust the dirt off my shelved patriotism, but would actually polish and dress it up for the big day as well. But boy was I wrong. Not only was I unable to go past 20 half-decent points to endorse my love for the country that is my home and identity, I felt much worse than before the brilliant idea came to me.And that’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to celebrate this Independence Day with the kind of sentiment it warranted. I feel that too much has happened over the last year alone for us to turn a blind eye—even if it is for a day—to the tragedies we as a nation have been forced to endure. Slowly, day by day, one after another. 

Monday, 16 July 2012

Pakistan Role in UN Peacekeeping

Courtesy:- Maimuna Ashraf

Peacekeeping, as defined by the United Nations is a way to help countries torn by conflict creates conditions for sustainable peace. UN peacekeepers—soldiers and military officers, civilian police officers and civilian personnel from many countries—monitor and observe peace processes that emerge in post-conflict situations and assist ex-combatants in implementing the peace agreements they have signed.

Taliban and people’s objectives don’t meet

Courtesy:- Babar Ayaz

Unfortunately, there is no sequencing of the existentialist problems faced by the country. The most serious threats to the country are terrorism by Pakistani Taliban, their al Qaeda inspired associates and the Balochistan militant separatist movement. They should be sequenced in that order. The government and the judiciary’s wrangling of power and the corruption/inefficiency of all the governments — federal and provincial — to me are the third and the fourth issues on the list of priorities.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

President Zardari and resolution of crises

Courtesy:- Rakshanda Rakhshy

Some were predicting a showdown between the judiciary and the executive, while others talked openly of the armed forces stepping forward and taking care of matters

The whole country was in the grip of a crisis and extreme tension mounted in the minds of every Pakistani on June 23, 2012 when the Supreme Court disqualified the sitting prime minister and a sudden vacuum was created in the political arena. All of a sudden, the country was without a chief executive and head of government, and it seemed as if the government was about to collapse and the whole system would come down like a house of cards. Dismay and frustration prevailed amongst the masses and it looked as though once again the democratic journey of our nation would be discontinued and some unconstitutional measures might be taken by unscrupulous persons to benefit those who would like to see the people back in the lap of dictators or other non-elected, non-representative persons. The hype created by some anchors on the media and other political pseudo-experts and pundits of doom, who were shouting hoarse that the government would collapse, and some were even urging the armed forces to step forward and fill the so called vacuum created by the exit of the prime minister, all proved premature. Others were hoping that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would ask the army to come and help to implement the decisions of the Supreme Court. Indeed, it was a very difficult and confusing situation and everyone (except the president of Pakistan as was proved later by his calm and cool handling of the situation) was at their wits’ end to find a safe, convenient and honourable way out of the dilemma.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The spy who confessed

Courtesy:-  S M Hali 
 July 04, 2012

As a gesture of goodwill, Pakistan released the septuagenarian Indian prisoner, Surjeet Singh, who had suffered incarceration for more than three decades in Pakistani jail, on June 28, 2012, and handed him over to the Indian authorities at Wagah border.