Author: Rehan Zahid

Why The U.S. Is Failing In What It Is Doing

  Walking in a desert, concentrating on the mirage, the wanderer looses sight of what he had set out to do. He walks away from his destination lured by the mirage, embracing fiction than fact. Like the wanderer, the focus of United States foreign policies seemed to have drifted from the path to the mirage. Rather than eliminating the world from all evils, it has prolonged the terror of evilness. Instead of concentrating on making the world a safe place, it has declared regions as “war-zones” that were in peace before. Is the world a safer place today? The presidential candidates were asked this question in their foreign policy debate, and both of them generally thought that it was. I tend to disagree. Indeed, the U.S. has more enemies now than they have friends in that region. What is ironic is that most of it has been a result of pursuing a poorly constructed and insensitive foreign policy. The policies are so not because United States doesn’t have the expertise to construct them but because they have forgotten what the policy was to be made for. The case of Pakistan is a blatant example. North West Pakistan is home to a proud people — the Pathans. The tribes have been organized so even before the conquest of Alexander the Great and have always ruled according to their values, norms...

Read More

Re-thinking Poverty

U.S. welfare policy is based on short-term goals; most welfare programs provide short-term assistance but their ability to support upward movement in the labor market is limited. The reason for this is the way poverty is viewed and understood in the United States. For more effective policy we need a thorough understanding of what poverty is. It is common to see people moving from one welfare program to another, becoming “dependent” on welfare. Critics allege that these programs create distortions in the labor market in the form of disincentives to work. Building on this argument some people advocate against welfare programs. From the standpoint of a society with deeply rooted beliefs in the power of the markets, these critics believe the cure to poverty (something viewed by many in the United States as a simple lack of income) is to participate in the market. Thus, programs creating distortions in the market are not good generally or for reducing poverty, as is understood by most. Poverty, however, is not only lack of income; it is deprivation. It is multidimensional, and a policy to tackle it needs to be holistic. Health, nutrition, emotional and psychological well-being, access to clean drinking water, a healthy environment, happiness and rights are all things that determine what poverty is. A welfare program with work requirements might force a participant to get a job that he...

Read More

The Dry Seed of Democracy in Pakistan

“My mother always said democracy is the best revenge,” remarked Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after reading his mother’s will, which declared him Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Like her son, Benazir Bhutto was also appointed chairman of the PPP without elections. It is somehow ironic that these strong advocates of “democracy” were not themselves elected. Democracy is not a tree that can be transplanted in new soil. It needs to grow from a seed planted within that soil. While much has been written about the importance of democracy in Pakistan, not much has been said about the preconditions required for this system to work. For too long, it has been easy to blame the system without regarding what is wrong with the underlying societal factors. Political participation is low for different groups in Pakistani society for many reasons, but with two underlying themes—the first being mistrust and the second lack of hope. The root of these themes can be traced to the lies and neglect people have been subjected to for so long from their leaders. The poor are willing to sell their votes and their futures to gain a little food or money as they have no hope for long-term benefits, while the majority of the middle class refuses even to participate due to the lack of trust they have in their leadership. A brief view of...

Read More

Quick Jump