India prides itself as a tolerant and multi-ethnic state, but is it really?

Recently, India has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Over the past three years, after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in a landslide, India has witnessed increased religious intolerance.  Beef has constantly been politicised and electoral rhetoric has constantly used the communal card to pull voters. During the Uttar Pardesh (UP) elections, communal rhetoric was couched in an extremely hateful language, and in the end, BJP chose a fire brand anti-Muslim to lead as the chief minister, despite the fact that it had other alternatives. After his elections, and despite his attempt to tame down hardliners, the law and order situation in ...

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How India and Pakistan are afflicted by the same madness of religious vigilantism

The issue of cow slaughter and the consumption of beef has been an issue that many orthodox Hindus have found an affront to their religion. Blasphemous speech, in regards to orthodox Muslims and their reverence for the Prophet (pbuh) and Allah (swt), produces a similar sentiment of outrage. This sense of outrage has led to the phenomenon of religious vigilantism. Yet, it seems that this malaise, which was once a rare occurrence in the early history of both India and Pakistan, has transformed and metastasised into a cancer that is permeating the very fabric of each nations’ respective society. Justification through legislation Pakistan In 1986, Pakistan, ...

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Of Pakistan’s strategic position and progressing economy

Pakistan’s geostrategic location is a major attraction for developed economies to invest in for lucrative returns. The country is strategically located in the crossroads of Asia with China as its neighbour in the north, India in the east, and Iran and Afghanistan in the west.  The country lies in a region which has great political, economic and military importance. Being in the same vicinity as two major powers, China and Russia, adds to its position. Similarly, Pakistan has an access to the six Muslim central Asian states through Afghanistan. These states are landlocked and Pakistan can provide a link between the Gulf States as well as African, European and Central Asian ...

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India’s neighbourhood-first policy is meaningless if it remains disengaged from Pakistan

The Kulbhushan Jadhav episode is no longer front-page news; it doesn’t even get air time on prime-time shows on various Indian and Pakistani channels anymore either. The issue once again brings to the fore how fragile the India -Pakistan relationship is. It shows how, in the absence of a mutual engagement, the subcontinent keeps careering from one flashpoint to another. India argues that Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan, has not been given a fair trial. Furthermore, Islamabad denied New Delhi’s counsellor access, despite repeated requests over the last couple of years. Pakistan says that he is a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) ...

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Had the United Airlines incident happened in Pakistan, there would have been no justice for Dr David Dao

Had the United Airlines controversy occurred a few decades ago, it wouldn’t have even made a drop in the ocean. But in the year 2017, everyone is armed with a smart device, and any unusual incident can be instantly shared across the world by bystanders on social media through posts, pictures and even live video. The controversy involving the forceful expulsion of Dr David Dao from United Airlines quickly trended on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms. Everyone was shocked to see how brutally the elderly doctor was dragged off the ‘overbooked’ flight by security personnel after he refused to ...

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For Syria, it is Armageddon

Slowly and ominously, the war drums started beating in America last week. The media warmed up with news of Donald Trump telling congressmen he was considering retaliation for the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. The pace picked up when Hillary Clinton told the ‘Women in the World Summit’ that America should “take out Assad’s air fields”. By the time the Tomahawks were flying, the media had reached its 2003 pre-Iraq invasion jingo mode. The stench of war was not restricted to conservative media either. Since 2001, there has not been an invasion, bombing or regime change that the so-called ...

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“If a rape victim marries her rapist, she will not have a bleak future”: Well done, Malaysia

“The thing is, they have an opportunity – with a marriage they can lead a healthy and good life.” These are the words of Shabudin Yahya, a Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) for the ruling coalition party, when referring to rape victims. The outrage doesn’t stop there, however, since the MP went on to say, “For a woman that was raped, if she can marry (her rapist) she would not go through such a bleak future. At least she has someone who can become her husband. So this will be a remedy for social problems.” Shocked as I was, I pushed the laptop to ...

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Is Afghanistan side-lining the US for its alliance with Russia, Pakistan and China?

It has become increasingly apparent that there is a strategic realignment of alliances within the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan has come to replace the United States with China, and hopes to include Russia, as it continues to be alienated within Washington through its policies. The possible tripartite alliance may also be extended to Iran, which is also interested in joining the group. If the Donald Trump administration’s “America First” policy continues to play a stronger role in American foreign policy, it may further invite additional players into the already dense region. The increasing ties between the United States and India have also led to several rumours of a souring of relations between ...

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With no medical reasons or links to religion, why are women still being circumcised?

Africa and certain parts of the Arab world are not the only places where the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) prevails, as Indonesia is currently on the hot seat for allowing female circumcision on girls as young as one-year-old.  On March 27th, a disheartening video of an Indonesian toddler surfaced which shook people around the world. In the said video, Salsa Djafar is shown decorated in a crown with ribbons and shiny clothes, ready to be circumcised. The video is not to be watched by the faint-hearted as it truly captures the pain of the little baby girl while ...

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Oh Canada…

Fear is an unusual entity. More often than not, it is unwarranted and unreal. But it becomes the biggest reality some of us will ever experience. And if we aren’t careful, it becomes us. It becomes the people around us.  A lot has already been said about Islamophobia. A lot has been spewed in the broad spectrum of bigotry, hate, prejudice, terrorism and intolerance. In Canada, in the wake of the recent racist attack on a Quebec mosque early this year, the Canadian government decided to pass an anti-Islamophobia motion known as M103. As per the bill, the government felt compelled to “recognise the need ...

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