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Showing posts from June, 2015

Gilgit-Baltistan's Transition

BY SAJJAD AHMAD - Orignally Published on Dawn News.

GILTI-BALTISTAN goes to polls tomorrow to elect members to its legislative assembly. The first successful and democratic transition from one government to the other in the post-2009 set-up makes the election particularly important.
Election fever is running high in the region. Gilgit-Baltistan is flooded with party flags, which in the run-up to the polls have been frequent rallies and public gatherings. In fact, the political ‘great debates’ in Hunza and Skardu - titled “Why should we vote for you?’ - have brought rival contestants to one table to share their election manifestos in front of voters. The videos of these debates were broadcast through local cable networks to make them accessible to a larger audience. Such democratic steps have rarely been witnessed elseqhere in Pakistan.
Visit by opposing contestants to each others’ offices in many contestants to each others’ offices in many constituencies and disciplined gathering…

On the periphery

By AASIM SAJJAD AKHTAR - Originally published on DAWN News.

IT is one of the most used and abused ideas in the contemporary world. Just about everyone talks up and even authoritarians are compelled to at least pay lip service to it. Indeed, a healthy dose of rhetoric about it is the minimum requirement for political legitimacy. It is thus that we are said to be living in the ‘age of democracy.’
Much has been written - both in academic and popular realms - about the hollowness of democracy under the aegis of neo-liberalism. The assumption that democracy is best served by a ‘free market’ economy run by ‘good governance’ experts makes mockery of earlier philosophies of emancipation that have inspired so many democratic movements around the world.
But that debate is for another time and place. Here I want to focus on how democracy means something very different in the peripheral regions of the country as compared to the heartlands.
While the rest of the country flirts with local govern…