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Pakistan
Every winter, Lahoris are used to thick fog descending upon the city, and on certain days, drastically reducing visibility and their mobility. In the last few years, however, the annual winter fog has morphed into something more aptly described as smog. Additionally, a smoky haze can now be found hanging over the city even during the summer months. One can now notice Lahoris emulating citizens of other heavily polluted cities, like New Delhi or Beijing, by wearing flimsy masks, which do little to filter the toxic air.  
 

Originally, this was to be a piece on parliament, which is supreme and which must try to accommodate all points of view. But then speaker Ayaz Sadiq intervened with his gag order. He said ‘no Panama’. He said the subject was sub judice. He was quite abrasive in his tone. That must have left the old believers to deal with insurmountable doubts. What to write about then?

 

It has taken almost two weeks for Pakistan’s newly appointed army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to affect his first major reshuffle of senior generals, filling key slots that had fallen vacant, where he would like to have trusted aides of his own choice. This would indicate he was forced to proceed cautiously, given the manner of his elevation to the top post on November 28, 2016, superseding at least two other eligible contenders from the rather top-heavy cohort of the 62nd PMA Long Course — Lt. General Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Corps Commander, 2 Corps, Multan, and Lt. General Javed Iqbal Ramday, till lately Corps Commander, 31 Corps, Bahawalpur.

 
Is Nawaz Sharif’s autumn of despair over? The Panamagate inquiry seems to have hit a snag after the judges decided not to give up their ‘hard-earned’ winter break with a new chief justice due to take charge during the vacation. The transition in the army leadership and major overhauling in the top brass has brought some respite to the embattled government.  
 

Tragedies, it is said, tend to unite nations. In Pakistan, each tragedy exposes the faultlines and polarisation in society. Every few months a bloody reminder of the divisions racking the 180 million-strong South Asia nuclear-armed state is served. Junaid Jamshed was the latest.

 

News is such a fickle business. One day we are told that one of the city’s major hotels caught fire and eleven people died in the blaze.  The city’s main road – Sharae Faisal, had to be closed down owing to the intensity of the fire. Our TV vans reach the site and report live. Some enterprising reporters use their cell phones to gain footage from within the hotel. We expect action. Nothing happens.

 
Eras and institutional decades can seem contrived and imposed ex post, a too-convenient way of explaining the past and divining the future. Sometimes, though, they are helpful shorthand that tease out inflection points and bracket phases. With two new chiefs in two months in two institutions, a subtle shift in eras may be upon us in the Army and the Supreme Court.  
 
Eras and institutional decades can seem contrived and imposed ex post, a too-convenient way of explaining the past and divining the future. Sometimes, though, they are helpful shorthand that tease out inflection points and bracket phases. With two new chiefs in two months in two institutions, a subtle shift in eras may be upon us in the army and the Supreme Court — a shift into and away from two pivotal figures in the two institutions.
 

Even in the best of times our television news coverage leaves a lot to be desired with agenda-driven hysterics and histrionics often dominating the screens. If, heaven forbid a tragedy occurs, the chase for ratings inspires such ludicrous ploys that the viewer is filled with despair.

 

The Salam declaration created a positive example to rival the ground realities at the grass roots, and it left many wondering about how to tackle the latest Sharif stroke. And the old-mould thinking had a lot to do with how various people dealt with the unexpected in this case.

 


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