The Cognitive Backyard

Foreign Policy in a Changing World

In the arena of international relations, there is no such thing as equality. The perception of state’s power and national interests set the stage of how states interact with each other. Coincidently, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United States coincided with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United Kingdom. The difference of reception of both leaders by their host countries is a classic example how states perceive other states and treat them accordingly.

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NGOs and Challenges for the State

ABSTRACT:

The dawn of 21st century has seen a growing interest in civil society organizations and their potential role in achieving development goals and sharing the burden of governance and public management. These civil society organizations have shaped up in the backdrop of modern concepts such as public accountability, policy advocacy and social and political change, and have also played their role in defining the new paradigms of public administration and global governance. Pakistan has seen a remarkable growth in the number of civil society organizations as well as their scope and role in the public space. This paper lays the foundations of exploring the idea of civil society, its philosophical connection with political liberalism and various challenges it poses as new social and administrative phenomena. The paper argues that NGOs, with their organized mobilization of citizenry for social and political change on the one hand, and while competing for provision of public goods and services due to privatization and contractualism on the other hand, have become a powerful tool of political and administrative control. Continue with reading

Change and the ‘Self’

This is another of the many Urdu articles I wrote before and after Pakistan National Elections in 2013.

This one, titled Muasharti Tabdeeli Aur Humara Nafs (transliteration: “Societal Change and Our “Self”), was written after the elections on June 7th, 2013, discussing briefly how we want to bring “change” in the country without changing ourselves for the better – which, in my opinion, is our gross national folly. Continue with reading

Social Justice and Motivated Violence

In a very stimulating recent article, David Dubois of the INSEAD has studied the patterns and reasons of bad behavior in different levels of social classes. Initially, he refers to the anecdotal evidence that suggests that people higher in social class are more likely to behave unethically; he goes on further to acknowledge that people in the lower social class can also have unethical behaviors. However, what differentiate the two are the reasons for which people in different social classes behave unethically. David Dubois’ work “found that higher-class individuals are more likely to cheat when the unethical behavior benefits the self but lower-class individuals are more likely to cheat when the unethical behavior benefits another person”. Continue with reading

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