Atle Hetland

  • In last week’s article, I wrote about symbols of national identity, because it was my home country Norway’s national day on 17 May and because we still have a King and Queen in Norway, yes, who both just had their 80th birthday party. It is an outdated institution, yet, it does have ...

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  • Yesterday, it was Norway’s National Day, usually just called the 17th of May. I am a patriotic Norwegian, where I was born – and also, a patriotic friend of Pakistan, where I have lived a lot for many years. I take special pleasure in writing today’s article, and I want to share ...

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  • Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to listen to a foreigner, a British working in Pakistan, talking about his book manuscript about his host country for the last five years, his Canadian wife’s childhood land, and their three young children born in Pakistan. Matthew Vaughan had set out to ...

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  • When Pope Francis, on his way back from Egypt this week suggested that, for example, Norway could help negotiate some solution in the North Korea situation, I felt quite flattered, being a Norwegian myself. The Pope must have taken up the issue since it is in the news now, as it has been for two ...

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  • Many people have today begun questioning if the left-right political axis really exists and is a useful political divide in practical politics, notably where ‘left’ means socialist, even communist, and ‘right’ means conservative and capitalist, even ultra-conservative with ...

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  • The Islamabad Literature Festival is for me a barometer of what goes on in Pakistan. What people are thinking about and doing, tweeting, writing, and creating. The writers present make us listen to what they have to say; they ask questions and sometimes give answers. They make us think and be ...

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  • When Usman Rana, a young Pakistani-Norwegian, last year wrote a book entitled ‘Norsk islam – hvordan elske Norge og Koranen samtidig’, in English, ‘Norwegian Islam – How to Love Norway and the Quran at the Same Time’, he made it clear that he was not going to ...

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  • In all countries, language is an important political and cultural issue. Sociolinguists, sociologists, anthropologists, educationists and many others in the hyphenated language disciplines, as well as politicians, know this well. The insightful left-wing American linguist, Noam Chomsky is one of ...

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  • The European Union (EU) is celebrating that it is 60 years of age. Let me first congratulate EU on its birthday; it has done a lot of good, mainly for itself, and some for the rest of the world. It has done quite a bit of the opposite, too. People who are for, or against, the ‘rich ...

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  • 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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