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Author Archives: Ahsan Butt

Assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason.

Independence or accession: thinking about Pakistan’s goals for Kashmir

Photo: The Hindu

Noted security studies expert Hafiz Saeed had this to say about developments in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, on this most auspicious of days: “No one could defeat the Muslims… If America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” said Saeed amid chants of ‘al-jihad, al-jihad’. Saeed expressed support for all Kashmiri leaders and ... Read More »

Why isn’t there a “Muslim party” in India?

Indian Symbols

When might we expect the development of an ethnic/communal/identification-based party in a polity? First, if the society at large is divided along ethnic or communal lines. Second, if other ethnic communities have already organized a political party on such bases. Third, if political demands in the society that happen to be couched in ethnic or communal terms find a more ... Read More »

Round and round we go

The right kind of dual national. Photo: Economist.

@takhalus We’ll see. If nothing important happens in the next 24-36 hours, you deposit $100 in my paypal account. Reverse if govt falls. — Ahsan Butt (@ahsanib) January 14, 2013 That, my friends, is what you call prescience. Yesterday I was quite sanguine that nothing important would actually happen today, that this whole TuQ thing was much ado about nothing ... Read More »

Some basic questions about talking to the Taliban

Photo: Express Tribune

Over the weekend, the Taliban killed twenty one of the twenty three levies they had kidnapped two days earlier. As mass executions go, this was unsurprising; the only mildly surprising aspect was that they weren’t beheaded, since that’s usually how these things end. Moreover, given recent discussions about peace talks and the like, an incident like this makes perfect sense ... Read More »

What is the endgame for Pakistan in the Taliban war?

Photo: Dawn

Over the weekend, Bashir Bilour was assassinated. It was sad but not shocking — he had survived two previous attempts on his life, and members of his party were one of the primary sets of targets for militants in the country.   As with all similar episodes, this led to anguish and outrage and a disbelief that the state and ... Read More »

Why haven’t we seen the Moneyball-ification of cricket?


I was reading this great piece on Grantland on the “Kobe assist”, and this part, comparing basketball to baseball, and why the latter lends itself to statistical analysis, struck me: Baseball analytics had its epiphany in part because Bill James and others realized that baseball was only barely a team sport, and really could be reduced to a discrete sequence ... Read More »

A conversation with Ayesha Jalal


A few months back, I exchanged a bunch of emails with Ayesha Jalal, renowned historian at Tufts, and a model for budding social scientists from South Asia and elsewhere. We discussed how she got into academia, why more Pakistanis don’t go into the social sciences and humanities, what the differences are between teaching Pakistani students at LUMS and American students ... Read More »

Hello and welcome to the new Five Rupees


In 2006, no one had a Twitter account, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hadn’t yet formed, and I didn’t know the difference between a “PhD student” and a “PhD candidate”. It was, suffice it to say, a long time ago. I bring this up right off the bat because in many ways, the deep substantive changes to the online and media landscape ... Read More »