The problem of Pakistan

The following article is by a regular contributor to the blog, Chaste. The article is a comprehensive analytic exploration of the extent of problem that we face in Pakistan, and a considered exploration of the possible alternatives. I will first sketch the history of and the situation in Pakistan, and then suggest a range of options. Throughout the piece, I… Read more →

Pakistan Military Budget

Over the past 20 years, Pakistan has spent at least 16% of its budget, and often substantially more, on operational military costs [See Pakistan’s Military Budget by Year ]. The number doesn’t include the often times substantial capital expenditure, mostly subsidized by the West (US), that amounted to on average at least another 10% of the budget. Read more →

Pakistan’s reponse to Mumbai: Beyond denial, and incapacity

“Nearly 200 people lost their lives in the serial bomb blasts in India’s financial capital of Mumbai..deliberate planned massacres have this cruel meaninglessness to them that rile up the hearts of even the stoics.,” I wrote two years ago right after the serial train blasts. Now another atrocity of similar magnitude has spurred me to write another column. The message… Read more →

Interview with Saira Wasim

Saira Wasim is a noted US based contemporary artist from Pakistan. Ms. Wasim has carved a niche for herself with her innovative and meticulously crafted Persian miniatures, which she employs to make devastating political and social commentary. Ms. Wasim’s work has been widely feted, and has been exhibited at numerous prominent art institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art,… Read more →

The General’s Report card: Education under Musharraf

Investment in education, especially in developing countries, has long been shown to produce a variety of socially desirable outcomes including reduction in child mortality (esp. maternal education), lower fertility rates, better environment, and increases in gender equality etc. Funding for education however suffers deeply, especially in South Asia. What the politicians haven’t accomplished in deed, they have accomplished in words.… Read more →

Musharraf by Numbers: Corruption

Hard data on Pakistan is hard to come by. Where available, doubts exist as to its veracity. For example, it is widely believed that the government numbers on inflation are fudged. The census numbers are hugely controversial for it is used as a basis for distribution of funds, jobs, and enrollment in colleges. Sometimes the numbers offered by different government… Read more →

The General, Bhutto, and Sharif, and what lies ahead

It was only a little more than a month ago that Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, after nearly eight years in self-imposed exile, to a rapturous welcome, and a stark threat of violence. Within days, however, emboldened by her reception, the largely salutary attention from the media – both national and international, and her pragmatic assessment of Musharraf’s rather limited… Read more →

Mohajirs, Karachi, and Pakistani politics – part 2

Mohajir Quami Movement In 1978, Altaf Hussain formed a student organization called the All Pakistan Mohajir Student Organization (APMSO). The nascent student organization quickly leached students from Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. In doing so, it sealed its future as an adversary of IJT. APMSO and IJT regularly clashed on the college campuses in the early 80s, and… Read more →

Mohajirs, Karachi, and Pakistani politics (part 1)

Pakistani politics cannot be understood without paying close attention to the deep ethnic cleavages that line its polity. The seminal moments in its brief history – the 1971 war with India which led to the creation of Bangladesh, the horrific violence that rocked Karachi in the mid-90s– both are a reflection of Pakistan’s inability to transcend narrow ethno-linguistic boundaries in… Read more →

Interview with Bapsi Sidhwa

Bapsi Sidhwa is the acclaimed Pakistan-born author of Cracking India, and The Crow Eaters, among others. Ms. Sidhwa’s personal account of partition, Cracking India, has come to be regarded as a seminal account of the watershed event. Ms. Sidhwa currently lives in Houston, Texas. This is a quirky way to start the interview but I have always wanted to know… Read more →