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Late marriage problem of educated youth2017/08/16

Mohammed Arifeen
Pakistan is facing a problem of late marriage in urban areas. As a result of being unemployed after higher education for a long duration our boys and girls are facing problem in getting suitable partners. Even the parents of their highly educated daughters find difficult to get a suitable match for their daughters ...

Path to progress2017/08/16
Moeed Yusuf

In recent months, I have used these pages to warn of the possibility of a rupture in US-Pakistan ties because of disagreements over Afghanistan. I have advocated candid bilateral engagement at the leadership level to iron out differences. Some readers have demanded that I explain the specific contours of such engagement and suggest a realistic way forward.
The starting point for both sides must be an acknowledgement of the ground realities in Afghanistan. Three stand out.
First, neither side can get anywhere close to an acceptable outcome in Afghanistan if the other opposes it outright. Pakistan will always retain sufficient power to spoil an outcome that it deems counterproductive to its interests. But denying the US victory doesn't equal an ability to dictate its own preferences. In fact, the more open the disconnect, the lesser the likelihood that the US will allow anything that favours Pakistan.
Second, there is no military solution in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban won't be eliminated on the battlefield. Nor can they run Afghanistan over like they did in the 1990s. Still, an insurgency that has continued to sustain itself won't give up unless there is an attractive enough offer on the table. At the same time, no Afghan government can afford to seek a deal with the Taliban if they continue to target innocent Afghan civilians. Charged public sentiment makes such a move politically suicidal for Kabul.
Third, for Pakistan, Indian influence in Afghanistan shall remain an anathema for the security establishment. But India is also set to persist as a US priority. Nor do the Afghans want to curtail India's footprint in their country. Corollary: India is there to stay in Afghanistan.
A workable formula for Afghan peace is not impossible.
If both sides can accept these, a workable formula for the US and Pakistan to secure peace in Afghanistan can be envisioned. 
It would entail a US strategy centred on a peace process that seeks to bring the Taliban into the political fold. Potent concessions to the Taliban could include their recognition as a political force, some share in power, and negotiations on the timeline for a US troop withdrawal. In return, they would agree to accept the Afghan constitution, end violence and operate strictly within the political mainstream.
Such a concerted negotiation effort would address Pakistan's scepticism about US sincerity towards pursuing talks with the Taliban. But unlike previously, Pakistan will not be asked to bring the Taliban to the table and force them to agree to a deal. This was never a smart approach - the Afghans do not trust a Pakistan-led process and the Taliban detest being seen as Pakistan's stooges. Asking it not to get involved would imply allowing any and every Taliban member that Kabul and Washington wish to engage to do so without fear of harassment. Such direct conversations will remove concerns about Pakistani micromanagement of the process while also eliminating Pakistan's concerns of being blamed in case the talks fail.
The US demands for Pakistani action against the Taliban and Haqqani network would now be narrowly focused on irreconcilable elements working to scuttle the talks. Since Pakistan will be supporting the peace process, it'll have a genuine stake in cutting the naysayers within the Taliban ranks to size. Still, the US would demand mechanisms to verify its actions, or even coordinate targeting, to ensure success.
Simultaneously, the US would have to find a way to address the elephant - the proxy battle between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. In the past, I have advocated a facilitated (jointly by the US and China) Pakistan-India dialogue on Afghanistan. To work, it'll have to be a fairly cold-hearted negotiation, involving the intelligence agencies of the two countries, on a formula for coexistence in Afghanistan. Both sides would have to articulate their red lines and find means to verify compliance. Realistically, both would want to maintain their spheres of influence in Afghanistan. The key would be for them to do so in ways that don't threaten the other, much less require them to actively undercut each other's interests.
All this is easier said than done. The good news is I haven't plucked this vision out of thin air. These are contours of a framework that has consistently found takers among those who truly matter in the US and Pakistan. The bad news is that this is a compromise solution being floated at a time when attitudes on both sides are as uncompromising as they have ever been. Washing-ton's discourse on Pakistan is consumed by finding ways and means to punish Pakistan; Pakistan's US debate is focused on a perceived US effort to use Pakistan as a scapegoat in Afghanistan. Such jaundiced environments don't produce visionary policy turnarounds, even if the need for one is clear. -Courtesy: Dawn

Higher education for the next 70 years2017/08/16
Muhammad Hamid Zaman

Seventy years ago, the number of universities in the newly created Pakistan were less than a dozen, and remained inaccessible to broad sectors of society. While progress has been made in the last seven decades in the higher education sector, but not nearly as much as we would have liked. But increase in number alone cannot be a metric of success. In some cases, it is hard to argue whether any real progress has been made at all. Can we honestly say that on average, our institutions of higher learning produce students of better quality than they did during the first decade? Are institutions more tolerant than they were during the early period of the nation? These questions may be uncomfortable, and the reasons may be complex and multi-faceted, but our ability to do better for the next seven decades rests on rigorous analysis and honest reflection.
As we deconstruct the political, ethnic, religious and self-serving interests that affect our institutions, we must also construct a clear vision of what a modern Pakistani university ought to be, and how it can both be a crucible for academic discourse and a force for national development. In my view, Pakistani institutions of higher learning should rest on three pillars. The first is quality, the second being access and the third is independence.
The issue of quality is the single biggest problem plaguing our institutions. Whether it is quality of teaching or scholarly work, there is a serious gap between what happens at our institutions and what is needed to reach a reputable international standard. We have to move from good enough, to good and very good. A high quality journal article is worth more than a million poor quality publications. Maintaining quality in hiring of faculty and administrators is just as important as recruiting the best students. There have been a string of recent university leaders, at some of our elite universities, who do not meet the most basic criteria of academic leadership. We have to push ourselves to higher standards and do everything in trying to maintain them. This requires concerted effort from faculty, students and university administration that have to set high standards and show the determination never to alter them. This would mean having a high bar in ethics and fairness, in addition to rigorous self-reflection.
The second pillar is that of access. Here, I do not mean to increase access at the cost of quality, but ensuring that higher education remains accessible to those who we have left behind. Urban and rural poor, minorities, those struggling with disabilities are all part of the national fabric and we have to ensure that the university remains committed to its social mission. Higher education continues to be a driver for social mobility and access to quality education can ensure that historically marginalized groups can be a part of a productive national fabric.
The third, and perhaps the most important part, is freedom and independence. Here I mean independence in a broad sense. The university must be independent of the bureaucracy of HEC. It must be independent to chart its own course and set its own vision. It must be free to discuss topics of high national and global relevance and create an atmosphere where ideas and topics can be debated. This may mean creating new models of financial sustainability and philanthropy, but the rising level of intolerance on campus, along with a weak, financially dependent university creates more problems than solutions.
Independence also means freedom from the transient trends of the time. The current fads of rankings, or thinking that sciences alone can offer solutions, are both dangerous to the long-term capacity of the university to create change, and freedom from these fads is critical for inclusive development.
Higher education requires investment of time, money and thought, but history tells us that this investment is well worth it. -Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Pakistan seventy years old2017/08/16

The long fight against militancy is nowhere close to an end. Balochistan is still bleeding. A suicide bomber targeted military personnel in Quetta when the country was about to celebrate Independence Day. At least 15 people, among them eight soldiers, were martyred and 40 others wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a military truck near Quetta ...

Broadcasting peace loving story overseas2017/08/14
Xiao Wang

In parallel to Master Xuecheng's effort to make traditional Chinese culture that emphasizes harmony and openness better understood by more people, China's Central Television (CCTV) has translated a popular five-part documentary into English ...

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