Activists of Ahle Hadees Ittehad Council protest during an anti-Shiite rally in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sept. 20. (Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, I sent a tweet — intended as a commentary on Pakistan’s problem of political abductions — that sparked a violent backlash of gender-based slurs, slut-shaming and death threats. By the next day, #ArrestMarviSirmed_295C became the top trending Twitter hashtag in my country, with countless people suggesting my extrajudicial murder. They took their inspiration from Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws. (Section 295-C makes it a criminal offense to use derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet.) The hatred and calls for violence sent me into hiding, fearing that vigilantes might take matters into their own hands. The mere accusation of blasphemy has become a license to kill in most of the Muslim world, particularly in Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan, was flooded in August after the heaviest rains in decades. Credit Shahzaib Akber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Karachi is home. My bustling, chaotic city of about 20 million people on the Arabian Sea is an ethnically and religiously diverse metropolis and the commercial capital of Pakistan, generating more than half of the country’s revenue.

Over the decades, Karachi has survived violent sectarian strife, political violence between warring groups claiming the city and terrorism. Karachi has survived its gangsters sparring with rocket launchers; its police force, more feared than common criminals; its rulers and bureaucrats committed to rapacious, bottomless corruption. Now Karachi faces its most terrifying adversary: climate change.

In August, Karachi’s stifling summer heat was heavy and pregnant.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 2017, fui candidata a la dirección general de la Organización Mundial de la Salud. Frente a los ministros de salud de todo el mundo reunidos para la 70.ª Asamblea Mundial de la Salud, advertí que tres cosas podían destruir el planeta: un fenómeno astronómico, una tercera guerra mundial o una pandemia.

La COVID‑19 no provocó el fin del mundo, pero es indudable que supone una dura prueba para las instituciones públicas y privadas. Además de sus terribles consecuencias sanitarias, hizo estragos en las economías, esquilmó las clases medias y arrojó a las familias de bajos ingresos a la miseria.

En Pakistán (quinto país más grande del mundo en términos de población) hay 24 millones de personas que trabajan por un jornal o están autoempleadas en la economía informal.…  Seguir leyendo »

The country’s most prominent media owner-editor is detained and incarcerated. The image-conscious prime minister ignores a letter from United Nations officials about the detention, which Time magazine lists among the “10 ‘Most Urgent’ Cases of Threats to Press Freedom in the Age of Coronavirus.” The media tycoon is held for over 100 days without charge; five bail hearings are postponed, and the bench assigned to hear his case is changed three times in as many months.

Even for a nascent democracy such as Pakistan, under military rule for much of its existence, the bizarre arrest and ongoing detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is novel and tragic.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »

Muslim devotees wearing protective masks offer Friday prayers at the Jamia Masque during the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Friday. (Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images)

Perform your ablutions at home. Bring your own prayer mats, place them six feet apart. Wear masks. Use the provided hand sanitizer. No handshakes or hugs allowed. No talking in the mosque. No one over 50 years old can enter. No children allowed.

These guidelines are part of a list of 20 standard operating procedures that Pakistan’s government issued on April 18, ostensibly in consultation with the country’s religious clerics, for mosque congregations during Ramadan. In reality, the government caved in to the demands of clerics, who earlier that week said that they would refuse to limit Ramadan congregations, despite a growing number of covid-19 cases in the country.…  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 »

Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement supporters protest the arrest of leader Manzoor Pashteen in Karachi, Pakistan, on Jan. 28. (SHAHZAIB AKBER/EPA-EFE/REX)

For two years now, the Pashtun Protection Movement (known as the PTM) has been taking to the streets to demand the observance of our constitutional rights. Above all we have been demanding accountability from the military, which has used the war on terrorism as an excuse to kidnap, kill and intimidate citizens living in the northwest, most of them ethnic Pashtuns. At 35 million, we are the largest single ethnic group in the country.

Throughout our campaign for change we have observed strict principles of nonviolence, and we have worked to keep our actions rigorously within the framework of Pakistan’s constitution, which explicitly allows for freedom of speech and assembly.…  Seguir leyendo »

How Pakistan’s Politicians Help the Military

Since its foundation in 1947, Pakistan has spent more than three decades under military rule. Even when out of power, the military has exerted behind-the-scenes influence to maintain its firm grip on politics and national security. Establishing democratic institutions, including civilian control of the military, has thus been an arduous process riddled with uncertainty, backsliding and reversal.

The military has often found civilian politicians willing to do its bidding. Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the uniformed autocrats, they undermine the trust of the people, damage the long-term prospects for democracy and further enhance the military’s power.

On Aug.…  Seguir leyendo »

The treason case against Pakistan’s former President and army Gen. Pervez Musharraf had languished for so long that it seemed that there would never be a verdict. On Tuesday, six years after the case had been filed, a Special Court in Islamabad finally delivered their verdict and sentenced Pervez Musharraf in absentia to death for high treason.

The decision threatens to throw an already restive Pakistan into political tumult as the judiciary sets up for a battle of wills against the military.

The charges of which Musharraf was convicted stem from the 1999 military coup that toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.…  Seguir leyendo »

Easily corruptible, dominated by dynastic politics and weakened by decades of repeated military coups, Pakistan’s democracy still finds a way to fight back when it wants to make a point. And what a point it made this week when a Pakistani court sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason for suspending the constitution in 2007. The ruling marks the first time in Pakistani history that a military general is held accountable for undermining democracy. It also boldly states that no matter how powerful or influential, the military is not above the law.

Before Musharraf, Pakistan endured two earlier periods of military rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pervez Musharraf in 2013.Credit...Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

This week, in a verdict that was described as historic by opposition politicians, a special court in Pakistan sentenced the former military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason.

The Pakistan Army responded with a statement that also was historic: It said that its rank and file felt “pain and anguish” over the decision. The military leadership didn’t talk about the national interest or regional security as it usually does, but instead used the poetic language of a long-suffering lover. How could you do this to one of us? it asked, in essence. A man who “has served the country for 40 years, fought wars for the defense of the country can surely never be a traitor,” its statement read — and with that single sentence, the army dismissed the country’s courts and Constitution.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of one of Pakistan’s largest religious parties marched across the country in October seeking the removal of Prime Minister Imran Khan.Credit...Rizwan Tabassum/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

If an airplane took off a dozen times only to come crashing down each time, the only logical conclusion would be that the aircraft requires a fundamental redesign. Pakistan’s economy, like the airplane, has crashed 13 times in the last 60 years, each time requiring an International Monetary Fund bailout.

It wasn’t always so. During the 1980s, in per capita terms Pakistan was richer than India, China and Bangladesh by 15, 38 and 46 percent. Today Pakistan is the poorest. Its most recent gross domestic product growth estimate was only 3.3 percent, barely sufficient to keep pace with population growth.

Pakistan’s federal government is effectively bankrupt.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cómo un tribunal arbitral

Fondos especulativos y abogados de Wall Street han convertido un arcano mecanismo procesal de los tratados internacionales en una máquina de hacer dinero, a costa de la gente más pobre del mundo. El último botín es un fallo por 5900 millones de dólares contra el gobierno de Pakistán y a favor de dos empresas mineras internacionales (la chilena Antofagasta PLC y la canadiense Barrick Gold Corporation) por un proyecto que Pakistán nunca aprobó y que nunca se ejecutó.

He aquí los hechos.

En 1993, una corporación minera estadounidense, BHP, firmó un acuerdo con la Autoridad de Desarrollo del Baluchistán (BDA, por la sigla en inglés), una corporación pública en la empobrecida provincia pakistaní del Baluchistán, para una operación conjunta de prospección en busca de oro y cobre; de hallarse yacimientos prometedores, el acuerdo también preveía el pedido de una licencia de explotación.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters in Pakistan continue demonstrating into their third week, first demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan and then calling for new elections. What began as a large-scale caravan into Karachi and led to a 13-day sit-in in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, is now moving to other parts of the country, where the protesters plan to block major roads and highways.

The opposition protest is led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F). Leaders of Pakistan’s major opposition parties have pledged their support, although they did not join the Islamabad sit-in.

This protest is the first significant political challenge Khan has faced a little more than a year after his election.…  Seguir leyendo »

Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir region, was under guard last month days after India said it would revoke the area’s autonomy.CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a plethora of comments from Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan and senior officials of his government painting an apocalyptic picture of India’s reorganization of its province of Jammu and Kashmir — and raising the threat of conflict, including nuclear war, with India.

Under Prime Minister Khan’s watch, the people of Pakistan are reeling under economic depression, with inflation at a five-year high, national debt exceeding gross domestic product and an International Monetary Fund bailout for the 22nd time. Mr. Khan has, of course, every right to run his own economy into the ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

We vacation hard, my family. Ideally three weeks, and always a home rental, never a hotel. We settle in like we own the place, and have always owned the place. We start with a grocery store, a thrift shop for toys, a visit to the local library. We scope out playgrounds and children’s classes, make some friends, set up play dates.

The Google map I create during my research phase is color-coded, layered, intricate. We set up temporary lives everywhere from Greece to Japan. On our last trip, to Oahu, Hawaii, we did five grocery runs and nine loads of laundry, and spent the rest of the time washing dishes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Winston Churchill decía que el nacionalismo era la ideología de los imbéciles. Y admitiendo que estuviese en lo cierto, hay que plantearse que se ha producido un enorme aumento de la imbecilidad en la política. La excitación nacionalista se ha convertido en el argumento definitivo para la conquista del poder, sin duda porque el socialismo ha fracasado y el liberalismo es demasiado racional. Nadie escapa a ello, en Europa, en EE.UU., en Brasil o en China. O en el Himalaya. Para entender lo que hoy en día inflama a Cachemira y enfrenta a India con Pakistán como dos gallos de corral, hay que remontarse a 1947, el año en que un virrey británico con prisas por marcharse dividió el Imperio de las Indias.…  Seguir leyendo »

El problema de la alfabetización de Pakistán

En todos los países, la alfabetización ha sido esencial para respaldar un amplio rango de objetivos sociales y de desarrollo, desde la participación política hasta los buenos resultados en materia de salud. Entre las madres alfabetizadas, las tasas de mortalidad infantil caen significativamente. Los niños provenientes de zonas de baja alfabetización, por el contrario, no sólo tienen peores resultados en la escuela y, por ende, menos oportunidades económicas, sino que también tienen expectativas de vida mucho más bajas que sus pares en zonas con una alfabetización alta.

Sin embargo, en Pakistán, el impulso de la alfabetización siempre ha sido relegado, inclusive en comparación con otros objetivos educativos como mejorar la transición de la escuela primaria a la secundaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

The family of Fayaz Ahmed Mir, a tractor driver who was arrested, consoling his sister, Zahida Jan, earlier this month. Thousands of people were imprisoned by Indian security forces after India unilaterally stripped away Kashmir’s autonomy on Aug. 5. CreditCreditAtul Loke for The New York Times

After I was elected prime minister of Pakistan last August, one of my foremost priorities was to work for lasting and just peace in South Asia. India and Pakistan, despite our difficult history, confront similar challenges of poverty, unemployment and climate change, especially the threat of melting glaciers and scarcity of water for hundreds of millions of our citizens.

I wanted to normalize relations with India through trade and by settling the Kashmir dispute, the foremost impediment to the normalization of relations between us.

On July 26, 2018, in my first televised address to Pakistan after winning the elections, I stated we wanted peace with India and if it took one step forward, we would take two steps.…  Seguir leyendo »