Bina Shah

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Pakistanis Like Me Are Losing Faith in Democracy

This is a critical week for Pakistanis. On Thursday we will vote in federal and provincial elections, with the future of our democracy in question. We are not the only country facing such a moment this year. National elections will be held in more than 60 countries, which account for nearly half the global population.

But I suspect that millions of voters around the world are, like me, wondering whether they even believe in the promise of democracy anymore. Pakistan has never been able to get it right; next door in India, the world’s biggest democracy, elections a couple of months from now are likely to extend the grip of Narendra Modi’s Hindu-supremacist government, and Donald Trump is on the upswing again in America, which votes in November.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seven years have passed since Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was assassinated in Rawalpindi, on Dec. 27, 2007. Her legacy and significance in world history continue to hold a special place in the hearts of the millions of Pakistanis who mourn her death as much as they mourn the death of the dream of what Pakistan might have been had she lived to rule the country just one more time.

As with that of many political icons, Ms. Bhutto’s sudden death left a void in both leadership and inspiration; no politician in Pakistan has been able to fill it. She also left behind a checkered past, with allegations of corruption that still linger, unproved in court for lack of evidence.…  Seguir leyendo »

I had just landed at Jinnah International Airport on July 7, and was walking toward the baggage claim area when I saw the bullet hole.

There it was, a single hole in one glass pane, probably from a stray bullet, fired hundreds of yards away. It was the only visible reminder of the firefight on June 8, when members of the Pakistani Taliban invaded the old terminal building where cargo and private flights now operate. Through the night, they fought a pitched battle with security forces that ended with 36 people dead, including the 10 militants. Another casualty, now permanently scarred, was our collective sense of security about our airport.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is a certain poetry in the final moments of worshipers who were killed by Islamic militants as they prayed at the holy site of Data Darbar and shrines to Abdullah Shah Ghazi and other Sufi saints in Pakistan over the past year.

I imagine them focused on their task — appealing to the saints for intercession with God — as they whispered their prayers, or left talismans tied to the doors and trees, or danced in ecstasy on a heated night, connecting to the Divine in ways that have been passed down through generations, linking the mysticism of Islam with the mysteries of their own lives.…  Seguir leyendo »