With a queered pitch and biased umpires, Pakistan’s struggle for democracy is far from over

Haroon Bilour -s:o Bashir Bilour ANP

ANP’s Haroon Bilour, whose father was killed in the 2013 election campaign, was among those killed at an election rally in Peshawar on 10 July, 2018.

My comment contextualizing the politics of the upcoming Pakistan polls for India Today’s digital edition Daily O, shortly after a deadly suicide bombing at an election rally in Peshawar. The next day, there were two attacks at election rallies, one in Bannu which fortunately took no lives, and a bomb blast Mastung in which the death toll has risen to over 200.

Politics of the upcoming Pakistan polls

With a queered pitch and biased umpires, Pakistan’s struggle for democracy is far from over

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It all comes together: Kashmir Day, banned organisations, and a warped narrative

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

It all comes together. When the Sindh government agreed on Tuesday to the demands of the citizens observing a sit-in for over 30 hours in protest against the Shikarpur blast, probably everyone forgot about Kashmir Solidarity Day. It has been observed annually in Pakistan every February 5 since 1991 when the Nawaz Sharif government during its first stint in power demarcated it as a national holiday. Continue reading

Musharraf’s trial and Pakistan

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Musharraf and the famous fist. Photo T. Mughal/EPA

Below, my (un-populist) take on the Musharraf treason trial, in an opinion piece published in International Business Times, London, Jan 23, 2014. N.B. The recent attack on the bus in Mastung, Balochistan, that killed some 30  Hazara Shia Muslims, including women and children returning from pilgrimage in Iran is an example of the result of Musharraf’s policies of letting the home-grown ‘jihadis’ function. Plus I forgot to mention his role in the murder of Akbar Bugti… Continue reading

Pakistan Elections: Democracy, Dichotomies, and Shades of Grey

Here’s the piece I wrote for the Economic and Political Weekly, India, published on the web today, copied below with minor changes, photos and added links.

Lahore, Dec 9, 2007: (L-R): Nawaz Sharif. Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Imran Khan meet to discuss whether to boycott January 8, 2008 polls. "Boycott, and then what?" asked Benazir Bhutto who convinced Sharif to participate in the polls. The rest is history. Photo: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Lahore, Dec 9, 2007: (L-R): Nawaz Sharif. Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Imran Khan meet to discuss whether to boycott January 8, 2008 polls. “Boycott, and then what?” asked Benazir Bhutto who convinced Sharif to participate in the polls. The rest is history. Photo: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

The recent elections in Pakistan show that the country is finally on the right track notwithstanding the rigging, the violence and the brutal prevention of women from voting in some areas by representatives of all the political parties. The huge turnout of women and first time young voters risking their lives to exercise their right to choose is something to celebrate and strengthen Continue reading

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Welcome home Mr Ghanshyam

Kathak dancer Babar with his Ustad Sheema's Ustad Mr Ghanshyam, and Iqbal Alavi of Irtiqa Institute for Social Sciences at the last day of Tlism. photo: beena sarwar

Karachi, March 27, 2010 – Personal Political column for Hardnews, India

Beena Sarwar

One thing is for sure. Life is never dull in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) at the last minute backtracked from his support to the proposed 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Talk about bursting a bubble. Continue reading

See what Nawaz Sharif stymied… Zardari’s speech that never was

The proposed Constitutional amendment package that Nawaz Sharif backed away from at the 11th hour (after having promised to support it) was to have restored federalism, provincial rights, and Parliamentary sovereignty, besides doing away with the President’s powers to dissolve assemblies.

Here’s a front page report from The News, Saturday, March 27, 2010:

Zardari’s speech that never was

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Zardari was all set to deliver the speech before a joint sitting on Friday to take the lead in announcing the omission of Article 58(2)b, empowering the president to dissolve the National Assembly.

The draft of the speech (available with The News) nullifies the rumours that the president may have been reluctant to give away his power to dissolve the Assembly. Sources say that the president did not even interfere in the affairs of the constitutional committee leaving its head Senator Raza Rabbani absolutely independent in deciding things. Continue reading

The curse of living in ‘interesting times’

My recent column, published in Hardnews, India and The News on Sunday, Pakistan

PERSONAL POLITICAL

The curse of living in ‘interesting times’

Beena Sarwar

Visiting newspaper offices in Sweden some years ago, I was struck by the relative ease and routine manner in which journalists obtained information. Any envy was overtaken by the comforting thought that at least it’s never boring to be a journalist in Pakistan. Someone obviously threw the proverbial Chinese curse at us: “May you live in interesting times” and added, for good measure, “not just interesting, but downright dangerous”.

The roller coaster ride of Pakistan continues, with many passengers unsure whether the seat belts and the mechanisms are in working order. As I write this, speculations are rife about the ‘expected’ change of face in government. But then, if one were to believe the forecasts of newspaper and television pundits, this would have happened months after the first elected government in 12 years took over power in March 2008. Continue reading

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