Showing posts from March, 2013

History in the making

On March 27, renowned journalist Najam Sethi was sworn in as the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab. Sethi’s name was nominated by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) but was agreed on by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as well after deliberations at the parliamentary committee level. Thus, he emerged as the consensus candidate to lead the caretaker setup of the most populous province of Pakistan, which is an honour in itself for our journalist community. The overwhelming support from all political parties and the public at Sethi’s appointment is a testament to the fact that people have full faith in him. Of course there are a few naysayers but that was inevitable.

When Sethi was taking oath as the caretaker CM Punjab, it was an emotional moment for many of us, especially those who want Pakistan to be a democratic and secular country. As someone who has known and worked with Najam Sethi, it gave me hope in Pakistan that a man who fought for his Marxist ideals, who has been lab…

Baby steps in great leap

A news agency headline read: “Parliament makes history by completing tenure”. Many papers carried similar headlines regarding the Pakistani parliament’s tenure. It is indeed a historic moment and nothing short of a huge achievement.

The Friday Times’ editor-in-chief and Geo TV anchor, Najam Sethi, said: “Despite acute hiccups, it is an unprecedented historical achievement that immeasurably strengthens the bond between political parties and civil society in quest of a consensus in the rules of democracy. That also explains why many people are still incredulous about a smooth transition via genuinely free elections.”

Sethi’s remark regarding a smooth transition is extremely important. Parliaments in the past have completed their tenures twice — once under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the last one under Gen. Pervez Musharraf — but the conditions were quite different under both regimes.

Bhutto completed his tenure but the announced polls were never held. The transition was disrupted and then hi…

A historic moment

There is little to celebrate in Pakistan. Every day you hear one depressing news report after another. There was another Shia massacre, this time in Abbas Town, Karachi. Hundreds of houses belonging to the Christian community were burnt in Joseph Colony, Lahore, right in front of the police. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has held the police and the provincial administration equally responsible for this grave injustice. On Wednesday, social worker par excellence Parveen Rehman was murdered in Karachi. A senior journalist in Lahore is being openly threatened by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) just because he belongs to the Shia Muslim community. All we do is express our anger and frustration till another tragedy occurs … and another … again and again. The horrible news cycle continues in Pakistan.

Amidst all this doom and gloom, one news item should lift the spirit of Pakistanis, which is: “Pakistan’s parliament made history Thursday by becoming the first National Assembly in …

Missing persons of Balochistan

Last month, two literature festivals were held in Karachi and Lahore respectively. The Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) and Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) were quite successful at attracting huge crowds.

Mohammed Hanif's new book, ‘The Baloch Who is Not Missing & Others Who Are’, published by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), on the ‘missing persons’ issue in Balochistan was launched both at the KLF and the LLF. I missed Mohd Hanif's book launch session in Lahore but was fortunate enough to attend it in Karachi. Hanif’s KLF session was moderated by Baloch nationalist and columnist Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur. Other panellists included Director HRCP I A Rehman and Farzana Majeed, sister of a missing Baloch nationalist.

This particular session was so powerful that many in the audience were literally in tears while others were struggling hard to control their emotions. A few years ago, such an open and frank discussion on the role of the military and its agencies…