Tag Archives: Islamabad

Floods and the Existential Threat

By Adnan Syed

 The existential threat comes from disowning the democratic structure, giving up on it and looking yet again for another instant messiah in face of tremendous adversity and hopelessness.

 We were wrong in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s when the elected governments were overthrown. And if we continue with our mindless obsession with artificial stability, we would be wrong in 2010 yet again.

 (AZW)

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Filed under Army, baluchistan, Constitution, Democracy, Judiciary, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, public policy, Rights

A Vicious Circle

By Adnan Syed

Pakistan is passing through a vicious negative feedback loop that is beginning to gather momentum. The vicious circle is a result of country’s inability to provide for the basic individual rights of its citizens. Combine that with a burgeoning population, and the rampant nationalist tensions within the society that have been suppressed in the name of religious identity, Pakistan is staring at a nightmarish scenario in the coming decade. Pakistan needs to realize that the existential threat is coming from the failure of its society and not due to the external influences that consume majority of the resources of our nation. Unless we start spending on providing for the four basic rights to our citizens, the chaos will just feed on itself in the years to come.

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Filed under Citizens, Constitution, human rights, Identity, Islam, Islamabad, musings, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Rights, state

Islamabad tragedy – a close call

Raza Rumi from Islamabad

Ten minutes before the air crash this morning I was in a PIA aircraft that was unable to land at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport for 45 minutes. We were meant to land at 8.50 am but the pilot informed around 9 am that he was unable to land. He kept on circulating around Islamabad avoiding a major storm, heavy rain and lack of visibility. The passengers were quite petrified. Even I woke up from my early morning nap and could not help wondering if these were my last moments. It was rocky, turbulent ride.

The plane finally landed at 9.45 am. The pilot was clever as he took different air routes and navigated the plane well. As we landed, my phone started to ring and just outside the airport when the news broke out, my friend from overseas called to inquire if I was OK. I had no clue that this horrible tragedy had occurred. Several calls followed.

While we were landing, it makes me shiver that another aircraft had lost contact with the control tower in Islamabad and was about to crash amid thick fog and heavy rainfall.

As I drove to Islamabad, smoke from the rain-washed Margallas was visible. The onlookers were terrified to see this tragedy unfold in front of their eyes.

At present,Margalla Road (also known as Khayaban e Iqbal) is closed for traffic as the rescue operaitons are underway. Thank God there are survivors many of them have been air-lifted. But this is going to be a long and arduous operation given the scale and the problem of accessing the hills via road.

It is a sad day – raises several questions about airlines’ regulation, the aviation industry and of course our ability to manage disasters and emergencies.

My prayers are with the families of the deceased and the injured survivors.

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Filed under Pakistan

Water Dispute Increases India-Pakistan Tension

The article from today’s New York Times highlights the water problem that will increasingly take center stage as populations in Pakistan and India grow in the coming years. For the first sixty years, we have lived under the shadow of the Kashmir dispute which to this day is unresolved. Hopefully water problem will not grow into another problem between the two nations over the next few decades.

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Filed under India, Islamabad, Pakistan, strategy

Daily Times: Nationalism: inclusive versus exclusive — II —

By Ishtiaq Ahmed

When the Hindu members of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly expressed their worries about ‘sovereignty over the entire universe belonging to God’, Liaquat Ali Khan assured them that a Muslim state should have no problem in having a non-Muslim as prime minister. However, this was not true

Jinnah wanted to establish a Muslim-majority state, but not a Muslim-majoritarian state that would privilege Muslims over non-Muslims in their status and rights as citizens; hence he spoke of Pakistani nationalism and not Muslim nationalism when on August 11, 1947 he addressed the Pakistan Constituent Assembly:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state…We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”

Stanley Wolpert, who is considered a sympathetic biographer of Jinnah, has noted that when Jinnah was delivering his address even his immediate disciples were visibly confused and shaken. What Jinnah was doing was repudiating the basis of nationhood on which he had demanded Pakistan: that Muslims were a separate nation from other communities of India. Now, he seemed to champion inclusive nationalism. Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur mentioned (‘Whose progeny? — I’, Daily Times, June 20, 2010) the 1928 Nehru Report as having made the same pledge. In fact, this was explicitly stated in the Nehru Report: “There shall be no state religion; men and women shall have equal rights as citizens.”

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Filed under Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, History, Identity, Islam, Islamism, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan

Daily Times – Nationalism: inclusive versus exclusive — I

At PTH, we have argued for the partition as a nuanced set of events that were characterized by extreme mistrust between the two major political forces of that time. These major parties harboured deep distrust against each other. The Muslim League politics increasingly focused on the idea of Pakistan as a bargaining chip to win the rights for the sizeable Muslim majority within the United India. The British hurry to leave the United India, emergence of Muslim League as the sole spokesman for the Muslims, and Congress unwillingness to recognize the Muslim nation demands within the United India resulted in a bloody and messy partition. We still live with the scars of the partition that resulted in one of the largest uprooting and human migration of modern times. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Democracy, Egalitarian Pakistan, History, Identity, Islam, Islamabad, Islamism, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Religion, secular Pakistan

Saving the Capital

The recent decision of the Supreme Court to order closure of a multinational food chain restaurant in Islamabad is path-breaking

It has become a cliché to praise the Supreme Court of Pakistan these days. Clichéd, because many partisan agendas find resonance within the all-embracing spectrum of judicial activism. Those who have been critical of judges turning into activists must rethink their misgivings. While the dangers of such blanket approval of the workings of a state institution are apparent, it is still a welcome change in a country known for its culture of impunity. This is why the recent decision of the mighty Supreme Court to have ordered the closure of a multinational food chain restaurant in Islamabad’s ill-designed public park is path-breaking.
First of all, the fact that a municipal matter reached an overburdened superior court speaks much about the dysfunctional executive that manages our lives. That the court had the wisdom to uphold the rights of ordinary Islamabadites marks a new beginning which, if taken to its logical end, would mean that all public spaces in Pakistan should come under intense judicial scrutiny. Lastly, the court’s effort to enforce accountability could very well turn out to be a new beginning in our murky public affairs.
Effective municipal management requires that we revisit the urban governance frameworks that are now outdated to handle the population growth, changed needs of the population and dwindling state capacity to enforce regulations. Notwithstanding that Islamabad is fifteen kilometres away from the real Pakistan, the management practices are no different from the rest of the country. Essentially, the Islamabad saga reveals a case of serious governance failure. Continue reading

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Filed under Islamabad, Nature, Pakistan, public policy, Rights