SHEEPISH SHEEP
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Fatima Rizvi
Area 14/8
SHEEPISH SHEEP

As the day of sacrifice approaches the numbers of bovine creatures become more and more visible. They await their fate helplessly as religious fervor increases by the day. Looking at these animals one wonders if the vast majority of those who live in this land are any different from them—except,of course,for the obvious fact that they are humans. Humans,yes but like sheep in many ways but unlike sheep singularly cruel towards other helpless creatures.

We have an elected government but no opposition. The great white hope,Imran Khan,joined them when he decided to form a government in KPK. Since then he has turned himself into a cross between the TTP and the Jamaat e Islami. What this will do to KPK and by extension the rest of the country is anybody’s guess. The MQM and the PPP are again the government in Sindh and the ANP is quiet because it has no real clout. So the tigers of PML(N) are free to roam the jungle that the country is fast becoming. Already their status of ‘tigers’ is being questioned after 100 days of confusion.

The US scattered Al Qaeda all over the world when it invaded Afghanistan without sealing the exits. The Karachi operation has scattered criminals and militants all over the country. This is evident from the gruesome incidents taking place — rapes of minor children,wanton killings,kidnappings for ransom and armed dacoities in broad daylight in Punjab and elsewhere. It is also evident from the few arrests made in Abbottabad and Lahore. No one and no place is safe—not the motorway and not even your own home. Fearing inside jobs people are not employing servants and guards adding to the legion of frustrated unemployed. The sky rocketing cost of living is forcing even law abiding citizens to grab what they can from whom they can. Economic activity is virtually at a standstill. So why should we be surprised when the State Bank tells us that $ 25 million is leaving the country every day. So are those who can — in droves. Predators,criminals,kidnappers,extortionists,militants and mafias prowl the street diluting the writ of the state as never before. Parents worry about the commute to schools and back and schools send warnings of dire threats to safety.

Power is switched off at will without any schedule for hours;It was off for seven hours without warning in parts of Lahore Cantonment on Thursday October 3rd. — a weekly feature under the garb of ‘maintenance’. Complaint centers do not answer. Massive increases in power and fuel prices were not preceded by any explanation from any of the multitude of functionaries enjoying security and perks at the tax payers expense but not answerable to them. Why should anyone pay taxes in such a callous environment?

The international media tells us that the Pakistani passport is third from the bottom in terms of acceptability,that Pakistan is third from the bottom in the list of countries suitable for retired living and that that we are also somewhere at the bottom in terms of network freedom. Our country is already classified as one of the most dangerous places on planet Earth. Is anyone doing anything to turn our international image around?

We are divided as never before on what we want to do in response to the threats that face us. Surrender and talk? Fight and talk? Or just talk and hope? No real proposal or strategy has been fleshed out. The much touted security policy is nowhere in sight nor has a decision making and policy formulation tier been put in place. No one knows who makes an assessment of the national threat and in its absence we talk of the mindset,the external hand,and the traitors in our midst,the media,the ISI and the military. We do not even know our assets from our liabilities. State control has been lost — just see the mayhem on the streets and the traffic wardens and police lounging on the sidelines. Gone are the police patrols,the smart military policemen on motorbikes in the cantonments and the enforcement of laws that gave us discipline and an image of sanity. No longer do people take pride in their appearance,their fitness and their behavior. They line up like sheep at senseless check points where the shabby looking checkers make asses of themselves.

The gated communities within which the privileged live and the long security tails behind every one who considers himself a ‘target’ stand out as sore thumbs — mocking those struggling to survive. The majority gapes and gawks at the tiny minority stuffing themselves in clubs,burger joints and fashion malls — held out as examples of the nations resilience but actually an escape from reality. No one protests because sheep never protest — they just suffer.

It is time to start putting our house in order. Reforms,recovery,peace and prosperity can come later. Let us first discipline and harden ourselves so that our image starts changing. The tigers now in charge have to burn bright otherwise they will have to slink off with drooping tails.

Pakistan flaunts first female fighter pilot ready for war
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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With an olive green head scarf poking out from her helmet, Ayesha Farooq flashes a cheeky grin when asked if it is lonely being the only war-ready female fighter pilot in the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

Farooq, from Punjab province's historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade - there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat.

"I don't feel any different. We do the same activities, the same precision bombing," the soft-spoken 26-year-old said of her male colleagues at Mushaf base in north Pakistan, where neatly piled warheads sit in sweltering 50 degree Celsius heat (122 F).

A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change.

"Because of terrorism and our geographical location it's very important that we stay on our toes," said Farooq, referring to Taliban militancy and a sharp rise in sectarian violence.

Deteriorating security in neighbouring Afghanistan, where U.S.-led troops are preparing to leave by the end of next year, and an uneasy relationship with arch rival India to the east add to the mix.

Farooq, whose slim frame offers a study in contrast with her burly male colleagues, was at loggerheads with her widowed and uneducated mother seven years ago when she said she wanted to join the air force.

"In our society most girls don't even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft," she said.

Family pressure against the traditionally male domain of the armed forces dissuaded other women from taking the next step to become combat ready, air force officials said. They fly slower aircraft instead, ferrying troops and equipment around the nuclear-armed country of 180 million.

"LESS OF A TABOO"

Centuries-old rule in the tribal belt area along the border with Afghanistan, where rape, mutilation and the killing of women are ordered to mete out justice, underlines conservative Pakistan's failures in protecting women's rights.

But women are becoming more aware of those rights and signing up with the air force is about as empowering as it gets.

"More and more ladies are joining now," said Nasim Abbas, Wing Commander of Squadron 20, made up of 25 pilots, including Farooq, who fly Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jets.

"It's seen as less of a taboo. There's been a shift in the nation's, the society's, way of thinking," Abbas told Reuters on the base in Punjab's Sargodha district, about 280 km (175 miles) east of the capital Islamabad, home base to many jets in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India.

There are now about 4,000 women in Pakistan's armed forces, largely confined to desk jobs and medical work.

But over the last decade, women have became sky marshals, defending Pakistan's commercial liners against insurgent attacks, and a select few are serving in the elite anti-terrorist force. Like most female soldiers in the world, Pakistani women are still banned from ground combat.

Pakistan now has 316 women in the air force compared to around 100 five years ago, Abbas said.

"In Pakistan, it's very important to defend our front lines because of terrorism and it's very important for everyone to be part of it," said avionics engineer Anam Hassan, 24, as she set out for work on an F-16 fighter aircraft, her thick black hair tucked under a baseball cap.


PIA and Airports
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Ghalib Sultan
Area 14/8

This is a true narration of facts. I went to the PIA website to make reservations for a flight from London to Lahore. The website indicated that only two seats were available in Business Class on the flight. I quickly asked my travel agent to make the reservations. He did so. Once the flight departed I looked around and found that half the seats in business class were empty. I casually mentioned this to the bursar on the flight. He informed me that a mafia controlled marketing and sales in PIA. The agents of this mafia booked all seats on the lowest fare well in advance and sold them at the last possible minute at the maximum fare at this time. If any seats remained unsold the loss was PIA's and they were not bothered. The bursar asked me to look in the Economy Class too. I did and saw many seats vacant.

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ZoneAsia-Pk: Democracy Roars?
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Minahil K.
ZoneAsia-Pk

The triumph of the tiger whilst a seemingly déjà vu experience, marks a new era in the democratic history of Pakistan. Pakistan's 65-year narrative has taken a turn for the better: the nation has explicitly expressed its will to survive as it exercised its voting rights and a government has completed its five year tenure. A care-taker set-up is in place, anxiously waiting to hand over the burden of state responsibility to the victor. The care-takers with their lack of public mandate have managed to keep things buoyant and have on purpose, refrained from tackling difficult challenges. Perhaps, it is this role only that is suited to them and the bold decision-making falls best within the domain of a government that is voted into power by the masses.

The tiger, though a solitary hunter in its natural habitat now has to carefully select a pack to legitimize the awarded mandate. There are no official announcements as yet but the rumor mills are abuzz with talk of possibilities. While the nation speculates and finds entertainment in placing bets on the likely inductees, it is important to be well-informed about the credentials of the key cubs in question.

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Area 14/8: The Upside to Divisive Power-play
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Z. FEROZE
Area 14/8

While western scholars deem it necessary to permit a revolution in Pakistan, the question of whether or not we require a messiah has often boggled the intelligentsia. While nationalism and tradition hailed in Balochistan and Punjab respectively, a ghastly series of repercussions garnered results such as the killing of PTI leader Zahra Shahid Hussain in Sindh. Common sense dictates that Sindh is desperately in need for a political messiah to alleviate the town in lieu of target killings, ethnic violence harboring separatism and a scraped social fabric and security. The general disputation among the intelligentsia regarding the failing political situation of Karachi, the hub of the most influential political party in Sindh, has been to chalk out the cause and effect of the town's social tumult. Without doubt, MQM is an important power-player that has repatriated ethnic devises and fuelled ethnocentrism of the Muhajir, directly as well as indirectly. Reduced to victimized manipulation, the people of Karachi have fixated on this politics of division and extortion. With an alarming number of people losing their lives to a lack of social security, the solution to a monochromatic political representation of Karachi has been wishy-washy. The Election of 2013, however, reworked the political dynamics of Karachi and managed to considerably compromise the strain exacted by the MQM influence on the region.

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A tale of lagging passports
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Z. FEROZE
Area 14/8

Amid the large number of applicants present at the Lahore Passport Office to get their Umrah Visas made for Ramadan,not only did my purpose for requiring a passport seem out of place,its urgency was also insoluble. While the Visa office has been making concessions for people and issuing them with Visas on expired passports,the ETS testing service has not been mindful to this sort of flexibility. With my Masters scholarship deadlines scattered right and left,initiating the procedure for an urgent passport to replace a lost one seemed like the only viable option. Moreover,sparing no expense to appear for my Graduate Record Exam was unavoidable. While I was full of resolution and partly in denial,a part of me was aware that our passport office is out of lamination paper;I was told that the normal waiting time for issuance of an urgent passport is likely to be stretched by up to two months. (The normal waiting time period is four to eight days). Nonetheless,I persevered.

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ZoneAsia-Pk: 100 billion dollars in a wink!
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Enum Naseer
ZoneAsia-Pk

The country is passing through a decisive period in history and this time, it's not a false alarm- it's a make or break situation. What is trifling in the current context is that the economy (according to Gallup Pakistan) gets only 6% of on-air time in talk shows. It is generally posited that talking about the economy can be a dry, even boring exercise for audiences that have in recent years found the sensationalism in mainstream talk shows addictive and that a discussion of the economy should be reserved for Sunday brunches in elite circles is very telling. Even though there is little point in asserting the all-pervasive effects of economic policies and its ubiquitous shadow in the daily troubles of the average Joe, it is needed. If the people don't take interest and if the debate becomes an elitist pastime, what incentive is there for governments today and in the future, to awaken from their catatonic stupor?

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Area 14/8: A Case of National Social Ignorance
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Z. Feroze
Area 14/8

As our nation in tatters cries out for a savior through the crevices of a skeptical general election, everyone seems to have something to say. While a number of analysts and PTI supporters tend to rationalize the despair through baseless discourses such as 'An illiterate nation chose an illiterate leader' and the more plausible, 'the elections were rigged. What a rotten, corrupt system', the trends of a loquacious and influential social media are left out. So let me ask, what is this social media? How did it become into a dreadful Lernaean Hydra that cannot be beheaded through a run-of-the-mill sword? Also, is there anything remotely Herculean about Mian saab?

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Khan hands over education ministry to JI, evokes criticism
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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In a shocking development for many people banking on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's slogan of 'Naya Pakistan', the PTI has decided to give the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) the provincial ministries of Finance, Education and Ushr and Zakat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after a deal was reached between the two parties on forming the government in the province.

The announcement to this effect was made by JI Secretary Information Anwar Niazi following a meeting between JI chief Munawwar Hassan and PTI Chairman Imran Khan at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital on Wednesday.

Hasan, along with JI General Secretary Liaquat Baloch and other party members, called on Khan to enquire after his health and discuss the formation of government in KP.

After the meeting, Hassan told reporters that as per initial negotiations, the JI will be given three ministries under one senior minister. He had then said that the details of the portfolios which will be allotted to the JI will be announced by Imran Khan later.

The news of the JI getting the Finance and Education portfolios in KP disappointed PTI supporters across the country and evoked criticism of the party's decision as Imran Khan had centred his election campaign on promises of bringing the education system at par with international standards.

Political observers said the PTI's decision to give the two most important ministries to the JI would reflect negatively on the party's slogan of 'Naya Pakistan' as not much change was expected from the rightwing JI.

"It's appalling that Imran has ceded Education Ministry to JI...you can now expect content in KP syllabi which would further foment extremism and hatred," said a commentator.


ZoneAsia-Pk: THE SHARIF ‘SIAPA’
Fatima Rizvi, Terrorism, Articles, Pakistan
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By Ghalib Sultan
ZoneAsia-Pk

'Siapa' is a wonderfully expressive Punjabi word almost impossible to accurately translate into English. It means a development or situation full of interconnected problems, difficulties, contradictions and intrigues - not easy to resolve and not easy to live with. Why should the elections that catapulted the Sharifs to power be a 'siapa'?

For starters there is the track record of their past stints in power. The first time around they had a President who was a thorough gentleman dedicated to democracy and ready to help them govern. There was also an army Chief who was a thorough professional with zero interest in politics ready to support in every way. The elder Sharif went into totally unnecessary confrontations with them egged on with the sycophants and jesters around him. He took the situation to the point where there was a ludicrous confrontation between the institutions that were a phone call away from each other. The result was an Army brokered arrangement with both the President and the Sharif departing ignominiously.

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