Stories about Kabul

Pakistan and Afghanistan are in a dangerous stalemate — with no resolution in sight

Last month, Pakistan suffered its deadliest spasm of terrorist violence since 2014. Over a period of four days in February, militants struck all four Pakistani provinces and three major urban spaces. The bloodshed culminated on February 16 with an assault on a revered Sufi shrine that killed nearly 90 people. It was the deadliest terrorist attack on Pakistani soil since a school massacre in the city of Peshawar that killed 141 people, most of them students, in 2014. This killing spree has dangerous implications, not only for Pakistan, which has enjoyed a relative respite from terrorist violence over the last ...

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What is Afghanistan’s problem?

On Monday, the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, once again blamed Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in his country. The blame stemmed from a presidential statement following the Kabul terrorist attacks when Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called President Ghani. Despite the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff’s offer to share intelligence and cooperation with Afghanistan, in order to curb terrorism in the region, the president blamed Pakistan for the terrorism in his country claiming that the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. Afghanistan has been going through a period of transition since the United States’ (US) invasion post 9/11, when the US and its allies ousted the ...

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Mr Nawaz Sharif, you should not be the foreign minister of Pakistan

Since a foreign minister represents his or her country at all international conferences, he or she has to be highly educated. Sometimes a very experienced diplomat is appointed as foreign minister, at other times a popular politician is selected. Pakistan, being a nuclear armed state with plenty of problems of its own, is in urgent need of a foreign minister. But at present, it is Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (NS) who is doubling as the foreign minister of the country. We have had some very good foreign ministers, one of them being Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, the longest serving foreign minister of the country. Besides being a retired general, ...

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Killing patriarchy, one headscarf at a time

Every once in a while, I come across news that fills me with hope that patriarchy will indeed perish someday, and that all is not lost in vain. And the news about Iranian men donning hijabs, in solidarity with their wives was one of those rare moments. For the past few days, several men have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the hijab – and some even wearing the full burqa – to not only show solidarity with their wives, who have been forced to cover up in accordance with the strict ‘modesty’ rules of the country, but also to protest ...

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Why are Pakistani authorities silent over Mullah Mansoor’s death?

The second amir of the Taliban, Mullah Mansoor, has been dispatched to the hereafter by a hellfire missile fired from a Reaper drone or so claim the Americans. Others can neither confirm nor deny. Our own government is going through the same old motions. Denial. Conveniently a passport has been found unscathed. It is amazing how sturdy and fantastically fire-proof the material Pakistani passports are made of. If nothing else, this shows true ingenuity. Our passport might be considered the second or third worst passport in the world, but at least it can survive a drone attack. Imagine the potential. ...

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Will the US government establish a power-sharing government with the Afghan Taliban?

On April 19, 2016, the Taliban carried out one of its most deadly attacks in Kabul, claiming the lives of 64 innocent people. The attack, an extension of the on-going intense battle in Kunduz, came a week after the Taliban announced its own Spring Offensive called Operation Omari or OpOmari in honour of the late Mullah Omar, calling mujahideens to take forward his vision. Considering the deteriorating situation at hand, one wonders if the peace process between Pakistan and Afghanistan has come to an end. Where is Afghanistan headed? Has Pakistan lost its influence over the Taliban? Regional dynamics This land-locked, mountainous battlefield has proven to be much more ...

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Rahat Fateh Ali Khan deported: Is India sincere about improving Indo-Pak ties?

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (RFAK) is by far my favourite singer mainly because his bewitching and melodious voice keeps me under a spell whenever I listen to him. The man is surely gifted and there is definitely some magic in his voice which keeps one enchanted. Just recently, a Pakistani friend introduced me to yet another masterpiece of the legendary singer, Tere Bina Jeena Nahi Ve Soniya from the Pakistani movie Bin Roye, which yet again proved that RFAK has reserved his best for his own country. Notably, the song is my phone’s ringtones, adding to my never-ending list of ...

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The filthy culture of bacha bazi in Afghanistan

The Afghans call this revolting act bacha bazi, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Young boys usually ostracised from villages by their families because they were attacked by a paedophile, wearing flowing colourful outfits clad in bells, dancing in seedy places for older turban wearing bearded Afghan men, only to be sexually assaulted after the contemptible night takes a drug and alcohol fuelled turn. The Guardian stated, “Dressed in a flowing shirt and long, red skirt, with sherwal pants beneath and small silver bells fastened to hands and feet, the dancer stepped across the floor, face hidden behind a ...

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The Way Things Were: Is India’s past a mentor for its evolution?

Aatish Taseer’s latest book, ‘The Way Things Were’, is the first book of his that I have read, but its subtle tone and poetic finesse lured me instantly. The title of the book is based on the Sanskrit word ‘itihasa’, meaning history. The concept of ‘itihasa’ is utilised throughout the book, with a literal extraction of elements from the past, not to exploit the present or future but to transform current situations in a more cultural dimension. ‘The Way Things Were’ is a story that is cultivated in three phases – the Indian Emergency 1975, anti-Sikh riots of the 8os, and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. The story beautifully interweaves characters from the elites of Lutyens’s Delhi, Indian politics and Sanskrit, ...

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Should Afghanistan, India and Iran always blame Pakistan for their own mistakes?

It’s nothing but ironical that I’m writing this blog on the latest (if not the greatest), all intensive, simmering hot issue of yet another AfPak entanglement right around the time when one of the chief architects of Pakistan’s Afghan’s policy of the 80s-90s, General Hamid Gul, bade farewell to the world. The general, a villain to some and a hero to others, was by all means a controversial figure, one who left a deep impact on the regional politics for years to come. So when I hear the current crop of Afghan leadership screaming their lungs out with ferociously unsavoury, emotion-laden statements pointing fingers at the Pakistanis for ...

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