Atle Hetland

  • TThorvald Stoltenberg (1931-2018) was a prominent and loved Norwegian politician. He passed away last Friday after a brief illness. In his early working life, he was active in assistance to refugees, including from Hungary after the 1956 invasion by the Soviet Union. He was a key member of the ...

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  • TFollowing several interesting conferences and meetings last week, discussing international issues, research, education, and politics in the midst of it, I decided to share some stories and thoughts with you –so you can think more and deeper, and so we can begin to see some of the change and ...

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  • TWhen I discuss issues related to education (my main academic field along with development and migration studies), I often emphasise that we as teachers, parents and others guiding children and youth, we must always contribute to making them feel confident and proud of themselves. That is the most ...

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  • TIt is often difficult to get a grasp of the facts about international migration. Statistics are inaccurate and interpretation of figures and facts are tilted. Different sub-groups of migrants are lumped together, be it voluntary, forced and trafficked people; be it children, adults, men and women, ...

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  • TSince both Pakistan and Sweden have general elections this summer, their countries’ main political issues will be focused on, so that the voters can choose between the political parties. Sweden’s election is on 9 September, and politicians who want voters to come to the polls say that ...

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  • TIn the year 2000, I spent my first Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr in a Muslim majority country and community, notably in Islamabad, Pakistan. Below, I shall share a few stories from my meeting with Islam, living in multi-cultural lands, and how much I have appreciated it. In the end, I also reflect on ...

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  • TIn Spanish, a beautiful hymn is entitled ‘Un Pobre Forastero’, which in English translates to ‘A Poor Stanger’, or maybe better, ‘an outsider who is coming in’, a wayfarer who makes a stop, rests his tired soul and body, and brings gifts to his or her hosts, and ...

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  • TLast weekend, I came across two exciting programmes on PTV World, one after the other. The first one was an interview with a renowned Pakistani social scientist and educator, Professor Anees Akhtar, who is a former rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) and he is currently ...

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  • TThe role of religion varies from society to society and over time. In most societies, one religion has been either the majority religion or the only allowed religion. It is only in the last one or two hundred years, or even much less that we have become more multi-religious. We can reflect on ...

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  • TWhen I was a student in the social sciences at the University of Oslo in the early 1970s, it was required that we read anthropology professor Arne Martin Klausen’s book ‘Kultur: Variasjon og sammenheng’ (Oslo: Gyldendal 1970), which in English would translate to something like, ...

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  • TWhen I last week wrote about ‘Sweden in the world’, with reference to its national day, I had thought I would continue with another article this week, telling more stories and going into some further details. However, I have postponed that now, since I remembered that Sweden’s ...

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  • TThis week, the Swedish Embassy in Pakistan celebrates the country’s national day, which was until 1983 termed the Swedish Flag Day. The actual date is 6 June, and it is since 2005 a holiday in Sweden. Not to interfere with Ramadan, though, and summer holiday preparations, it is observed well ...

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  • TThe spring season is for literature – poetry, maybe more than prose. We have had several literary festivals in the country recently, since February, when Oxford University Press and others began the wave, where both prose and poetry have featured en masse, in Urdu and English. In Islamabad, ...

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  • TThey say that ‘power corrupts’, and that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Secrecy is part of it, of course, and power needs justification, so if prestige and privilege can be added, then the situation should be almost beyond questioning; people will believe that those ...

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  • TJane Kariuki was my good neighbour in Nairobi, Kenya, in the1980s. We lived in a block of flats near the city centre; the building had earlier been used as accommodation for senior British civil servants, and it had then been taken over by members of the Kenyatta family, Kenya’s first family ...

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  • TWinnie Madikizela Mandela, 81, passed away on Monday. She was one of South Africa’s greatest anti-apartheid leaders and became an icon already in the 1970s. She was the wife of the even greater icon Nelson Mandela, the country’s and world’s best-known prisoner for 27 years, who ...

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  • TIt is not only when we talk about Pakistan-India relations, or other big or small issues, that our thinking may be fixed and we have little doubt about what and who is right and wrong. Even if we have doubts, we don’t reveal that in public, maybe not even to close family and friends. If we ...

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  • TNowruz, the Persian New Year, is celebrated in Iran, Afghanistan the northern areas of Pakistan this time of year. It is also Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. It marks the end of winter, yes, in spite of a lot of snow still needing time to melt in the north of the world, and this year ...

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  • TWhen political parties and movements become weak, democracy becomes weak, too. It is important that political parties are organized around principles, ideas and causes, from where strategies, action plans,and concrete implementation follow. If parties and groups just have a list of things they ...

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  • TReverend Billy Graham has passed on at the age of 99, on 21 February 2018, 11 years after his remarkable and beloved wife Ruth Bell Graham was taken to heaven. They were married for 64 years in a marriage which seemed to have been made in heaven, as they say, and that was most likely part of the ...

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  • TLast week, I discussed a few negative aspects related to highly competitive elite sports, with special reference to the just ended 2018 Winter Olympic Games. I pointed out that sometimes, the margins between the top players are so small that it becomes meaningless to say that one is better than the ...

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  • TIt is always nice to win. Isn’t it? Indeed if it is clear that someone outclasses not only the next player but the whole pack. But sometimes, in sports and other fields, the differences between winners and losers can be minimal, yes, as minuscule as a fraction of a second, or one ...

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  • TLast Sunday was the first day of the time of fast in the Christian Church, or Lent, as it is called by the Catholic Christians. The time of fast leads up to Easter, the holiest event in the Christian Church when Jesus, Issa, was crucified, according to the Gospels of the Bible’s New ...

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  • TToday, the Norwegian Ambassador Tore Nedrebø hosts an event to unveil a collage painting made by children from Gilgit, showing the majestic mountains with the endangered snow leopards, and also depicting other environmental, climate change and social issues. It is a large painting mounted on ...

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  • TTo promise a miracle in good faith, or even something less, and then it doesn’t happen, is not ‘fake news’ – but to claim afterward that a miracle did happen, when it didn’t, that’s fake news. Last week, the rich, powerful and famous met for the World Economic ...

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  • TThe World Economic Forum (WEF) holds its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland this week. The theme is ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’. The January event, with some 400 sub-meetings, a third from developing and emerging countries, a fifth women, is a treat for all of us ...

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  • TEconomic development can be planned, at least its foundation, direction, and priority areas. Sector development, too, can be planned, in the various industrial and agricultural sectors. Education, also, can be planned, with allocation of funds and targets for implementation, content and exam forms, ...

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  • TInstead of only focusing on the #Metoo campaign about sexual harassment and some other areas of political, business and work cultures, as I had planned to do, I shall begin my article with positive issues related to politics and politicians. A few days ago, a former Norwegian Prime Minister, Odvar ...

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  • TThe Norwegian music group Vamp, based in Haugesund, Norway, has made many beautiful songs since it was established in 1990. A particularly melodious song, written by the group’s founder Øyvind Staveland and Ingvar Hovland, is the ‘Little Bird’, in Norwegian, ‘Liten ...

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  • TThis year, as every year, I have played over and over again, Jim Reeves’ beautiful ‘Christmas Songbook’, a collection of carols and popular songs that lasts almost a whole hour, recorded more than a generation ago. It begins with a song about feeling sentimental at Christmas-time, ...

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