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This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is submissions editor at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Polio wars: conspiracy and democracy in Pakistan

What better evidence that the country is a nest of terrorists than the murder of medics trying to wipe out a deadly disease... all because of a conspiracy theory?

El dinero sucio corroe la democracia: ¿Qué hacer?

Los fondos ilícitos pueden perjudicar gravemente a las instituciones democráticas en todos sus niveles y en todo el mundo, de Pakistán a Perú, de Mali a Myanmar. Pero hay maneras de impedir el daño, o al menos mitigarlo.  English. Português.

Dinheiro sujo, democracia ferida: que fazer?

Os fundos ilícitos podem danificar as instituições democráticas a vários níveis e em todas as regiões do mundo, do Paquistao ao Peru, do Mali ao Myanmar. Mas há maneiras de impedir ou ao menos limitar dito dano. English. Español.

Learning the lessons: 11 years of drones in Pakistan

The case of Pakistan, after a decade long drone war, shows how the appeal of drones as a “cost free” form of warfare is misguided.

Sabeen Mahmud: “I stand up for what I believe in, but I can’t fight guns”

Sabeen Mahmud alleviated intellectual poverty until the day she was murdered, 24 April 2015. In an interview with Karima Bennoune in 2010 Mahmud explained why she founded a politico-cultural space in Karachi.

When scarred female bodies demarcate the Indian subcontinent's polity

The Lightning Testimonies, an acclaimed feminist exhibition, comes to Assam, and its powerful images speak to the region's own legacies and women's often-sidelined stories.

Charlie Hebdo: the Prophet does not want to be avenged

Those who hold Muslims accountable for these acts, or demand that they apologize for them, are delusional. Beyond Europe, Al-Qaeda has declared open war against most Arab and Muslim-majority countries, especially those allied to the west. 

Pakistan’s 21st amendment: national consensus or soft coup?

The attack on the school in Peshawar in December shocked the world. In Pakistan, the upshot is a growing military shadow once more looming over a fragile democracy.

Using terrorism strategically

In the absence of effective political institutional input to set up mechanisms able to handle terrorism, Pakistan has given the military a free hand to maintain the status quo.

Pakistan school attack: years of inaction led to this atrocity

The Peshawar atrocity did not come out of a clear blue skythe foreboding context an inert, corrupt state ambivalent towards violence, hardly functioning public institutions and unregulated madrasas.

Pakistan’s minority-rights challenge

In theory, Pakistan’s constitution upholds equality of all its citizens, regardless of religion. In theory.

Between Scylla and Charybdis: life in Pakistan’s tribal frontier

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas touching Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan suffer a toxic mix of state and non-state violence and neglect. The consequences are unlikely to be good.

A sky full of drones

Western enthusiasm for Malala Yousafzai overshadows the fact that western policies deny children in Pakistan their most basic rights. The short-term memory of the media cycle, coupled with political self-interest and selective attention continue to marginalise the trauma of CIA drones.

Pakistan’s paradox: the minority dilemma

There is a central contradiction at the heart of the construction of Pakistan. A state that was created to protect a minority nation was, and still is, wholly unwilling to extend the same kind of protections to its minorities.

Drone strikes in Pakistan: laser or blunderbuss?

Attacks by US drones have often been presented as forensic, yet only one in 25 victims in Pakistan were identifiably associated with al-Qaeda.

Pakistan protests: underlying implications for India

As the political turmoil in Pakistan continues to unfold, the underlying implications for India-Pakistan relations are discouraging.  

Being Malala

Recipients of humanitarian awards often invite controversy. In Pakistan, religious and political identities are valued more than the contributions of such recipients. Malala Yousafzai may have the Nobel Peace Prize, but she remains the target of criticism from Pakistani conservatives and also many 'progressives'.

Pakistan’s democracy on the rocks

Just when many thought Pakistan was finally on the trajectory towards a functioning democratic system, unrest broke out in a number of cities and provided a stark reminder just how fragile the country’s politics remain.

Shadow of military looms large over Pakistan street protests

The military is never far from politics in Pakistanand it may be implicated in the latest political crisis, as opposition forces led by Imran Khan challenge the legitimacy of the government of Nawaz Sharif.

Unanticipated consequences: Polio and the hunt for Bin Laden

We need to subject intelligence gathering to similar rules that regulate the conduct of war regarding medics and Red Cross personnel. The exploitation of humanitarian efforts for intelligence purposes must be opposed.

Islamic law and the state: rearticulating Sharia in Pakistan

This statutory nature of the Sharia begins to emerge, paradoxically, in the colonial British courts.  It is this legacy that led to a reimagining of the role of Sharia, that now plagues the modern Muslim nation state.  

Sceptical silence: Pakistan’s operation in North Waziristan

Will the latest military operation launched by Pakistan against the Taliban in North Waziristan expose and loosen the ties between the military establishment and their jihadi protégés? So far a sceptical silence surrounds the operations, says Afiya Zia.

Droning on

Little is clear about the US renewal of drone strikes in Pakistan—except that they won’t be the last.

Rashid Rehman: chronicle of a death foretold

Defenders of Pakistan's blasphemy laws say the rule of law prevents rule by mob.  The May 7 murder of human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman - to prevent him from defending a young professor accused of blasphemy - shows the hypocrisy of such a defence, says Meredith Tax. 

How the US created the Afghan war - and lost it

The unreported story of how the Haqqani network became America's greatest enemy.

Pakistan’s authoritarian move

The government in Islamabad will face opposition in the coming week to its Protection of Pakistan Ordinance. Is it about protecting the citizen—or the state?

India: jostling for geopolitical control in Afghanistan

Forecasts past the withdrawal of US and British forces in Afghanistan tend to prize fears of violence and instability spilling over into Pakistan, obscuring the country's vital importance to both India and China. 

No sex, some lies and a video: Pakistan's Taliban impasse

It was not an act of violence against women but a macabre video that led to the abortion of this round of peace talks with the Taliban in Pakistan

India and Pakistan: time to call time on proxy wars

India and Pakistan’s zero-sum game is hindering development and the proxy wars in which the two states have indulged need to come to an end. If they do, big dividends would follow.

Pakistan: prospects poor for Taliban talks

The announcement of talks between Islamabad and representatives of the Pakistan Taliban surprised many. Few will however be surprised if they fail.

Suffering happens, but Pakistan's Afghan refugees are more than just victims

The word 'refugee' conjures up images of rows of tents, barefoot children and saddened faces. The reality is more complex. My research shows that Afghan refugees have developed lives alongside Pakistani nationals in Karachi's poor katchi abadi areas: marrying, working, loving and learning together. 

Is slavery invincible?

The right not to be enslaved is one of the two absolute human rights that cannot be violated on any ground whatsoever. However, 65 years after its denunciation, slavery continues to resist the corpus of human rights. Why the asymmetry ?

Pakistan: drones and duplicity

US drone attacks on Pakistan attract populist political protests. But official Pakistan is being less than honest, with public and private attitudes at variance.

Soon, finally, a new leader of Pakistan's military

Why is it taking so long for Pakistan to choose a new Chief of Army Staff - and who will it be? An insight into the politics and personalities of the brass in the running, and how the US and other allies will react. 

Muslims, Australian cricket and high politics: the case of Fawad Ahmed

From the outset Fawaz Ahmed insisted that as a Muslim he (unlike Usman Khawaja) would not wear the team shirt with the sponsor’s logo, that of Victoria Bitter.

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