Atle Hetland

  • It is a pleasure to wish all Pakistanis, at home and abroad, Happy Pakistan Day, which is celebrated today, with main events in Islamabad and other major cities. The day is celebrated as a National Day of the country; in addition, there is the Independence Day of 14 August. After having been marked ...

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  • I have written about refugee issues many times, partly because it is a field in which I have professional knowledge and experience, and partly because refugee and other migration issues are among the most important in our time. The way we treat refugees and others who are uprooted and on the move ...

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  • Even if the cultural, social, economic and other beliefs about how to organise a society are the same or very similar, the implementation of it all may vary much from one geographic area to another, and certainly over time. We may belong to the same religion and read the same holy book, but the way ...

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  • I was glad last week, when a former Swedish politician, Carl Bildt, said that Sweden had become a better country thanks to a large number of immigrants having come to the land since the 1960s. Today, about 20 percent Swedes were born outside the country. Most live in the big cities. Yes, in ...

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  • It is easy to get stuck in old ways. The longer we live, the more we feel comfortable in doing things the way that we have always done them. We feel our habits are unnecessary and impractical to change, at least in everyday life. But what about the broader issues and the way we think; are we as ...

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  • In last week’s article, I discussed a few new trends in current politics. I wanted to look behind the veil of the manifestations we see in politics today, especially the populist and untraditional ways, hoping I could discover some reasons, explanations and trends – because the world of ...

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  • We have for several decades lived without the ‘isms”; communism, socialism, capitalism, liberalism, and more or less clearly defined ideologies and political thoughts. Added to this, should be the most popular version of ‘socialism-light’; social democracy, which is a mix of ...

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  • There is a beautiful Swedish hymn called ‘Barnatro’, Childhood Faith, by Einar Westling (1896-1971), which was popular in my childhood in Norway – and since Swedish, Norwegian and Danish are so similar languages, we have no problems understanding each others’ languages all ...

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  • The most commonly used calendar around the world is the Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. There are other older calendars. But this week, the Chinese lunar calendar is in focus, with the New Year to be welcomed this weekend on January 28. The exact date varies from year ...

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  • Donald Trump won the American presidential election by promising to “Make America Great Again”. But what did he mean by ‘great’, and when, in the past, was America great, since the slogan says that it shall be ‘great again’. America is in many respects one of the ...

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  • There is one week left till Donald Trump will be USA’s next president, taking the oath of office on January 20, 2017, in front of the powerful and famous in his land on The Mall in the park in front of the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington DC. The rest of us, at home and abroad, will watch ...

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  • My article today makes direct reference to the New Year’s speech by a head of state, King Harald V of Norway, who took up essential issues that are important to all of us, everywhere. He is the symbolic head of state of Norway, a constitutional king, as it is called, while the actual power ...

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  • We all like to talk about what we know especially if others don’t have the same knowledge. At the end of the year, which is now, we summarise and draw conclusions, and we predict what may happen in the coming year. We may have our New Year’s resolutions and prayers, making plans and ...

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  • Yesterday, I received an encouraging email from a newfound friend, Michael Bruckner, an Austrian musician and miniature photographer who visited Pakistan a few months ago. I wrote about him and his fellow musicians when they played at PNCA in Islamabad, and he also exhibited a handful of his art ...

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  • Today, I will tell a few stories about people and events that taught me lessons this week, making me reflect on issues and experiences along the road in our life’s journey. It is a gift to be able to see new things, to let other people touch us, and without boasting, being able to influence ...

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  • First, let me apologise for such a fancy title. Maybe I could just have called the article ‘new politics for new times’? But then, my real academic background – before I branched off to interdisciplinary development and social science studies – is education or pedagogy. ...

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  • More than half of the world’s population is less than 30 years of age, and the rest of us who are above that age, some even more than twice the figure, are ruling the world. In addition, we probably understand less than ever what we are doing and what we should be doing to shape the world so ...

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  • When I was a young student and teacher in development studies Norway and Sweden a generation ago, it was part of our education to be critical. True, there was a lot to be critical about in all fields, and indeed in my main field of study, notably education in Africa and Asia. We were critical to ...

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  • Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a great housewarming party in Islamabad, with the rich and the wealthy, the educated and thinking, and others. It was a mix of people, mostly from Pakistan, at least looking Pakistani, but some had spent as much time abroad as at home, for education ...

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  • Last week, Imran Khan and his party had planned to organise a large demonstration, dharna, in Islamabad. The police and other security agencies in the country were tasked with keeping the public and the demonstrators safe, did their work, blocking many demonstrators coming from other cities from ...

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  • When the World Health Organisation (WHO) opens its large conference in Delhi, India next week about tobacco and smoking, the whole conference site will certainly be tobacco-free, nothing less, of course, in the midst of the many puffing and tobacco-chewing poor Indians. The WHO conference goes ...

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  • A few days ago, I met Michael Bruckner, an Austrian musician who visited Pakistan for a brief week, along with three other friends in their music group called Nifty’s. They held concerts in Karachi and Islamabad, including with some Pakistani ustads. Sometimes, fusion concert sections are not ...

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  • On October 10, World Mental Health Day was marked all over the world, and the week after was termed the Mental Health Awareness Week. We should do this the rest of the year, too, keep up-to-date with the thinking about mental health issues and psychosocial wellbeing. It concerns us all. This year, ...

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  • Today, I shall reflect on issues related to exchange between religions and denominations, using Muharram and the relationship between Shia and Sunni Muslims as the main focus – noting, that today is the fourth day of the first month, Muharram of the New Year in the lunar calendar used by all ...

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  • Since there are many political events taking place this autumn, I shall today choose a few that I consider particularly important and offer my considerations and comments. First, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he again drew ...

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  • Today, I will reflect on moral leadership, not as opposed to religious leadership, although often moral leadership has a religious dimension or foundation, but it doesn’t have to; and it doesn’t have to oppose it either. But a set of principles is required for our moral values and ...

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  • Eid-ul-Azha is approaching, as all Muslims and members of other faiths are very well aware of in Pakistan and in most other countries around the world. It is also the end of Hajj for tens of thousands of Pakistanis and other men and women who are pilgrims in the holy sites in Saudi Arabia. In ...

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  • National, regional and local elections are important to a democracy, in the overall affairs of their country. We emphasise and talk a lot about general elections. They are indeed important, but the election systems are not always as neutral and fair as we make them out to be, not even in the old ...

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  • Today, I shall draw attention to the life and work of a significant Norwegian theologian and politician who passed away three days ago. His name is Per Lønning (1928-2016), and every Norwegian of my generation knows who he was and what he stood for. No, it is not true that religion is ...

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  • Democracy is a bit like religious faith or humanism; we are always en route, on the way. If democracy does well in some countries or fields, it may do poorly in other countries and fields, even regress in some. Democracy is something that must be protected, defined, refined, improved and expanded, ...

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