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Category Archives: Ahsan Butt

Some thoughts and questions on the elections


Well, that was fun. Here are some initial thoughts and questions. The MQM wants its corners I always tell people when discussing The Greatest Show In The History of Time (TM) that The Wire taught me more about politics than my entire graduate education, which is not a dig at U Chicago (promise). But tell me I’m wrong. Tell me ... Read More »

What to expect (and not to expect) from May 11th


In 1999, I won my first and last elections, and promptly lost faith in the democratic process. The elections in question were for the student council in my school, the CAS. Unlike most other schools, the council wasn’t chosen by the teachers based on who had the best scores/tutta-lifting abilities, but rather a relatively diverse set of students were nominated ... Read More »

Nationalism and post-colonial states’ security in the 20th century


The standard story IR and security studies tells us is that states are better able to protect themselves in the age of nationalism. The argument goes that because states could, post 1789, rely upon mass armies, constituted by people fighting for the “motherland” or the “fatherland”, deterrence was more likely to hold. This was because territorial grabs by sovereign states ... Read More »

Grading the PPP government and looking towards the future

Maaf kar dey bhai, bohat ho gaya hai. Photo: OneIndia News.

For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the national assemblies completed their tenure, a very significant accomplishment. Here are some brief thoughts on this government’s performance, followed by The Official Five Rupees Endorsement. Big picture/constitutional stuff Undoubtedly this government’s greatest strength. First, the substance: by passing the 18th, 19th, and 20th amendments, the PPP-led government ensured, amongst other things, that ... Read More »

Ten years on from the Iraq war


This month marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war (I wonder what Iraqis call it?). I recommend reading James Fallows’ piece on the whole thing, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates’. Of course, trying to remember something — especially things as amorphous as “thoughts” and “feelings” — from ten years ago is a perilous exercise. But if ... Read More »

Arming your cake and eating it too

By: Freedom House - CC BY 2.0

I came across a news report on what third party forces are planning on doing next in the Syrian civil war, and came across this frankly absurd nugget: Officials in the United States and Europe have said the Obama administration is nearing a decision on whether to provide non-lethal assistance to carefully vetted fighters opposed to Syrian President Basher Assad, ... Read More »

Thinking aloud about measures to protect Hazara Shias


With depressing inevitability, today saw another devastating attack against Hazara Shias in Quetta by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Some moments after blast…intensity was so high entire area almost flattened&fire broke out. v @hdpofficial #Quetta… — Haider Changezi (@Aushpaz) February 16, 2013   There is no doubt that a lack of political will has a great deal to do with the continuing threat ... Read More »

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 »