Tag Archives: youth

Addressing the challenges – a short term agenda

Raza Rumi

Strange things are happening. Two months after a natural disaster hit millions of people and created essential prerequisites for an economic meltdown, the focus of Pakistan’s ruling elite — elected and unelected — remains on power politics. As if the utter lack of preparedness to cope with a disaster was not enough, the response to the disaster and its monitoring by a holier than thou media is baffling.

The primal cause of the post floods mismanagement, if were to believe the analysts on prime time TV and opinion piece writers from the press, is the corrupt clique headed by Mr. Zardari. Those with the most religious bent of minds have cited a divine wrath as a cause of this calamity. A few right wing newspapers have even blamed the United States and India to have caused this natural disaster to punish Pakistan for its nuclear weapons. The genesis of such intellectual confusion and distortion of public debate lies in the way the Pakistani mind has evolved into a hydra-headed, paranoid and militarised being. This has been the greatest contribution of the Pakistani state to shape and craft a society that places a premium on nuclear weapons over citizen welfare and which demonises the political process and celebrates religious militancy as a just cause. This is why militarism of a softer variety is back in full force.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan army has done a tremendous job in rescuing people and ensuring that relief efforts are well-executed. However, this is neither unusual nor a matter of surprise as it happens to be an organised institution. But to apply this success in an emergency situation by a force trained to deal with urgent situations onto the domain of national governance brings back the central issue of Pakistan’s statehood: the unresolved and now perhaps a permanent civil-military imbalance. It started with the TV channels eulogising army efforts and creating a binary between the army and the civvies — a half truth and a rhetorical polemic with little substance. This was followed by calls for army intervention by the MQM and its nemesis, Mr Imran Khan. Luckily, for Pakistan the Generals appear to be in no mood to intervene and rock the applecart. Well, at least for now. Continue reading

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A letter to the youth of Pakistan

Usama Khilji, a young activist from Islamabad addresses his contemporaries in Pakistan
Dear Young Pakistani!
I understand how these times are testing of your patriotism, but let me tell you how these times are actually a golden opportunity for you to prove your worth, your love for the country, and desire for a better future.

You must have been hearing a lot about how Pakistani society has degenerated into moral chaos, how we as a nation are worthless ‘cockroaches’, and how we as a nation are deserving of calamities such as the catastrophic flood. These are all baseless generalizations that you as the youth should take up as challenges, and rather than accepting such fatalism, prove them wrong instead.

For those of you who were disheartened by the beating to death of two brothers in Sialkot by a mob, don’t be disheartened. Use this event to realize the importance of justice, the importance of rule of law. Many of you went out on the roads of different cities of Pakistan demanding justice to the deceased brothers. Excellent. Be involved. Stand up and question any wrong that you see happening around you. Refuse to consent to injustice; otherwise you are one of the spectators of the mob-justice scene in Sialkot. Continue reading

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The GT Road Blog

NPR correspondents are taking the historic Grand Trunk Road  from the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Hindu Kush mountains in the west, across the Indian subcontinent.  They talk about life along the route. This is the first post from when they arrived in Pakistan, last month. We hope to reproduce, over the next few days, here on PTH, their thoughts and impressions on the journey through Pakistan.

In Pakistan, The Grand Trunk Road Is ‘An Expression Of Hope’

By Steve Inskeep

Our colleague Philip Reeves began this journey by struggling to find the beginning of the Grand Trunk Road. We had no such problem finding where it crossed into Pakistan. Here the highway crosses one of the more heavily fortified borders on earth. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Heritage, Identity, India, Pakistan, Travel

Room for optimism

[‘The audacity of hope’? ‘Hope dies last’? Or, just the reality of Pakistan in its many aspects? Here’s how Mohsin Hamid sees it. – PTH]

Dawn, Friday, 09 Apr, 2010
 
 EVER since returning to live in Pakistan a few months ago, I’ve been struck by the pervasive negativity of views here about our country. Whether in conversation, on television, or in the newspaper, what I hear and read often tends to boil down to the same message: our country is going down the drain.

But I’m not convinced that it is.

I don’t dispute for a second that these are hard times. Thousands of us died last year in terrorist attacks. Hundreds of thousands were displaced by military operations. Most of us don’t have access to decent schools. Inflation is squeezing our poor and middle class. Millions are, if not starving, hungry. Even those who can afford electricity don’t have it half the day.

Yet despite this desperate suffering, Pakistan is also something of a miracle. It’s worth pointing this out, because incessant pessimism robs us of an important resource: hope.

First, we are a vast nation. We are the sixth most populous country in the world. One in every 40 human beings is Pakistani. There are more people aged 14 and younger in Pakistan than there are in America. A nation is its people, and in our people we have a huge, and significantly untapped, sea of potential. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Economy, Education, Identity, Judiciary, Languages, Media, Pakistan, Religion, Society, state, Terrorism

Frustrated Strivers in Pakistan Turn to Jihad

By Sabrina Tavernise and Waqar Gillani

Published: February 27, 2010

Cross Post from The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/world/asia/28youth.html?hp

LAHORE, Pakistan — Umar Kundi was his parents’ pride, an ambitious young man from a small town who made it to medical school in the big city. It seemed like a story of working-class success, living proof in this unequal society that a telephone operator’s son could become a doctor.

Lahore has enduring social problems like chronic unemployment.

But things went wrong along the way. On campus Mr. Kundi fell in with a hard-line Islamic group. His degree did not get him a job, and he drifted in the urban crush of young people looking for work. His early radicalization helped channel his ambitions in a grander, more sinister way.

Instead of healing the sick, Mr. Kundi went on to become one of Pakistan’s most accomplished militants. Working under a handler from Al Qaeda, he was part of a network that carried out some of the boldest attacks against the Pakistani state and its people last year, the police here say. Months of hunting him ended on Feb. 19, when he was killed in a shootout with the police at the age of 29.

Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Army, Economy, FATA, Islamabad, Lahore, Pakistan, poverty, psychology, Taliban, Terrorism, USA

Interview: Pakistan, “The Gender Discourse Needs to Be Linked to Local Realities”

Heinrick Boll Stiftung, The Green Political Foundation

Due to the offensive by the military only a few weeks ago, Pakistan came into the focus of the international public again. The power of the Taliban in connection with the attitude of the society was widely discussed, but once again gender and women issues were not highlighted. Durre Ahmed, chairperson and senior research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Gender and Culture in Lahore, about the current situation and development of the gender discourse in Pakistan.

In the current debate especially one phenomenon referred to as ‘radicalization’ or ‘Talibanization’ of society was often mentioned. What is the effect of this seemingly growing radicalisation of society on gender issues? What effect does it have on people’s psyche?

Durre Ahmed: As expected the effect is extremely negative. Where radicalisation is violent and obvious, the suppression of women is similarly violent and obvious. By its very nature, radicalisation is what I call a “hyper-masculinised” worldview of which religion is an important aspect. It has come into people’s psyches – of both male and female – through different mechanisms. At one hand, it expresses itself in rejection of women and of women’s bodies particularly. At another level, radicalisation understood as a mindset traps men in a vicious, arrested state of adolescent machismo.
 
But the gender discourse in Pakistan isn’t talking about any of these things. It remains stuck in a very narrow understanding of Islam and it selectively picks up ideas – which are there in all religions – to then suppress women. This is something, which I have been discussing and writing about for 15 years. I talk about it in Pakistan but because the gender debate is absent, there is only a small audience. However my work is trying to generate and create this discourse, trying to explain what is patriarchy, what is religion and how should it be understood psychologically.

Full interview can be found at http://www.boell.de/navigation/asia-8072.html

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Filed under Activism, Citizens, human rights, Islam, Islamism, Pakistan, Terrorism, violence, War On Terror, Women

Report documents widespread frustration, alienation of Pakistan’s youth

By Ali Ismail by WSWS
9 December 2009

A new report commissioned by the British Council reveals widespread dissatisfaction and frustration among Pakistani youth. Based on interviews with 1,500 18-29 year-olds from across Pakistan, the report also sheds light on the bleak socio-economic prospects facing the vast majority of young people due to unemployment and underemployment and the lack of basic public services, including quality schooling.

The report warns that unless Pakistan drastically increases access to education and creates millions of new jobs for its young people, social and political upheavals are almost inevitable in coming years. Continue reading

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