Polio Nearly Eradicated Despite Pakistani, Afghan Suspicions

Polio Nearly Eradicated Despite Pakistani, Afghan SuspicionsHuma Shazif had just vaccinated five children against polio in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar when gunmen attacked. They sped off on a motorbike as her colleague lay dying on the ground after being shot in the abdomen, while she was hit three times in the leg. "It was painful,” she told IRIN. “I had…

A Tide of Immigrants in the UK’s Birmingham

A Tide of Immigrants in the UK’s BirminghamThe television news has just broken the news of the murder of 86-year-old French priest Father Jacques Hamel while he was saying Mass. I walk outside to one of the main commercial streets in central Birmingham. A man walks over; around his waist is a banner reading “Ask Me about Islam.” “Can I interest you…

Pakistan Lit Fest Offers Hope for Moderates

Pakistan Lit Fest Offers Hope for ModeratesThe hope that one day Pakistan will escape from the clutches of jihadist terrorism, corrupt politicians and an overbearing army presence came alive last weekend at the Lahore Literary Festival, where mostly young audiences averaging 25,000 people a day applauded criticisms and wider worries about the functioning of the country as well as enjoying other…

Polio cases surge in Pakistan

Polio cases surge in PakistanPakistan is starting to learn the folly of Islamic militants who are blocking polio vaccine personnel from doing their jobs, heading for one of its worst years for polio in recent times.  According to figures from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), 166 cases of polio have been verified this year, compared to 28 at…

Pakistan’s polio fight goes under the radar

Pakistan’s polio fight goes under the radarA few torn remnants of a government poster advertising an anti-polio drive conducted in 2012 are still visible on the gate of Sajjida Bibi’s house, and the impression given to passers-by is that years of vaccination drives have come to an end. Bibi has delivered polio vaccines to children for over 12 years as part…

Pakistan’s Youth: Source of Growth or Radicalization?

Pakistan’s Youth: Source of Growth or Radicalization?Last May 11, about 60 percent of eligible voters went to the polls in Pakistan’s national elections, a figure far exceeding the 44 percent who turned out for the country’s previous election in 2008. Yet one of the most defining features of the voting population was its youth. About a fifth of Pakistan’s 85 million…

Pakistan’s Ghost Schools

Pakistan’s Ghost SchoolsIn partnership with Unicef, Pakistan has promised to educate all of its girls by 2015 – but it’s a promise that appears almost impossible to fulfill, and not just because of Taliban and other militants trying to actively intimidate girls from going to school. The situation, for boys, is better, but not much better. Across…

Pakistan’s Missing Middle Class

Pakistan’s Missing Middle ClassIn most countries, it is the middle class – the bourgeoisie – who form the bulwark against radicalism because of their vested interest in property, business and the country’s institutions. In Pakistan, what middle class there is, and there isn’t much, is fragmented and almost irrelevant, which spells danger. Only 17.33 percent of the population…