Huma Yusuf

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Many Pakistanis tempered this year's Eid greetings with words of condolence or prayers for the victims of coronavirus and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303.

The flight from Lahore crashed in a dense residential area adjacent to Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on May 22, killing all but two of the 99 people on board. Investigators have recovered the flight data recorder but the cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

The crash was a horrific tragedy at a time when the country is battling the mounting toll of the pandemic. But as with most things in Pakistan, it is also political.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinians pray the First Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as they keep distance next to the gate oa Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem's old city, on Friday, April 24.

Pakistan is entering its fifth week under lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus. But as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan starts this weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will congregate in mosques nationwide to offer special prayers.

The government's submission to demands from senior clerics and religious political parties for mosque exemptions highlights that Pakistan's fight against Covid-19 is more about managing political divides than saving lives.

As of Saturday, the country of more than 200 million people had at least 11,900 confirmed cases and 253 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. That's more than double the number of cases and deaths the country had on April 13.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a rare convergence of views, conservative religious political parties and mainstream liberals in Pakistan seem to agree it is a terrible idea to allow special military courts to try suspected terrorists. But they think so for different reasons, highlighting that once again Pakistan is both polarized and confused about how to respond to terrorism.

Last Tuesday, the National Assembly and the Senate unanimously adopted (with abstentions but no votes against) the 21st amendment to the Constitution: For two years, military courts will have authority to adjudicate cases involving civilians suspected of links to terrorist organizations. The president approved the law the next day.…  Seguir leyendo »

At a literature festival here not long ago, I bumped into a school friend who had recently relocated from Karachi, the southern port city where we both grew up. Karachi has all the buzz, and violence, of a megalopolis — more than 2,700 people were killed there in 2013 — and none of the greenery and historic charms of Lahore, the capital of Punjab Province. “I’m loving Lahore,” she told me. “I feel like I’ve moved to Switzerland after living in a war zone.”

The contrast is not as exaggerated as it sounds. In recent years, Punjab has suffered less than the rest of the country from the suicide attacks and bomb blasts that have killed some 49,000 people since 2001.…  Seguir leyendo »

A joke has been circulating among Pakistanis on Twitter: “How to negotiate with the Taliban: Blast. Condemn. Blast. Condemn. Blast. Condemn. #Fail.” It mocks the government’s swiftness at denouncing terrorist attacks while doing too little to stop them.

In 2013 alone, the Pakistani Taliban, a coalition of radical Islamists who want to overthrow the state and impose Shariah law, carried out 645 attacks in Pakistan, killing 732 civilians and 425 security personnel. And there can be no suicide bombing or gun attack, it seems, without politicians from the center, the opposition and even fringe parties joining a chorus of woe and regret.…  Seguir leyendo »