Stories about terrorist

Attack in Islamabad: Where did the Pakistan I grew up in go?

How many deaths will it take for our government to wake up and realise that our country is doomed if they don’t wipe out these terrorist groups once and for all? The recent attack in Islamabad sent shivers down my spine. My wife used to go to the katcheri (lower/district court) regularly to get documents attested just a few months ago. My younger sibling’s school is in F-8, not too far away from where the blast took place. I know I sound selfish at the moment thinking about what could have been, considering the dozen lives that were lost the other day. My heart goes out to the families ...

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How is Pakistan doing, you ask? Why don’t you ask the victims of Abbas Town?

“Oh you’re from Pakistan? How is your country doing?”  Asked a classmate here at the London School of Economics (LSE) two weeks ago.  The question took me back to a different time… somewhere in the past, someday not too long ago, when I had gone with a few friends to visit a locality in Karachi called Abbas Town. “This wall will fall unto this wall, this pillar on this pillar and then, we’ll all die…” Said a little boy sitting on a plastic chair in a hall with paints on his hands. That was a normal conversation and imagination for him. He had lost ...

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Lessons from Abbas Town: Stick together, whether you are Shia or Sunni

In a town where Shias and Sunnis had lived together peacefully for years, worshipped just down the street from one another, played cricket and often sat together in the evenings to chat, a sign survived amongst the rubble which read in Urdu, “A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim.” It symbolised the brotherhood of the town’s Shias and Sunnis. It was such a town in Karachi, home to outspoken women and communal harmony that was struck by terror one year ago today. “It looks like Israel bombarded Palestine,” exclaimed one man from Abbas Town as residents had approached Hamid Mir with one heart-wrenching account ...

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Putting journalists behind bars (or in coffins) – the loss is yours!

Last week, a delegation of foreign journalists visited our newspaper’s thrice-attacked office in Karachi, Pakistan. As we hustled to make them feel comfortable while simultaneously trying to explain the newsroom dynamics, one of them asked us in a matter-of-fact tone. “Do you support the current government?” There was a nervous silence as each of us lingered over the question for a few seconds. Until one of my colleagues responded, “We try and support no one. Our job is to report things as is.” All of us nodded in unison. In a simple sentence, she had summed up the essence of what journalists all across ...

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Express News attack: Zip your lips or we will kill you

It sounded like thunder. My colleague and I stared at each other for a good 30 seconds, wondering what that noise could possibly be. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. “Maybe someone was moving furniture upstairs”, offered my colleague to my quizzical expression. And then the storm came. Chaos. Panic. Fear. That wasn’t thunder, nor was it people moving furniture; somebody had emptied entire magazines on our office. The Express Tribune was under fire, literally. They say when you are scared, you go numb and every minute feels like an hour. Let me tell you that I have never experienced fear ...

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Sikandar wasn’t the real Blue Area villain, it was the media

Yesterday, an armed man entered Islamabad’s Red Zone with his wife and two kids. He opened fire on police and later, kept the forces occupied, demanding the overthrow of the current government and implementation of Islami Nizam (Shariah law) in Pakistan. Clearly, such behaviour cannot be a product of a sound mind. Cases of lunacy such as this are not a new phenomenon either. Considering the triviality of such incidents, we hardly get to see them making breaking news and headlines unless of course they involve exceptions such as the Heaven’s Gate cult by Marshall Applewhite or more recently the Dark Knight Rises shooting ...

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Dear CNN: Lailat al-Qadr is not a ‘security risk’

I was putting my shoes on, leaving for my evening prayers, when my phone buzzed with a text: “Saw a CNN byline linking ‘Night of Power’ to the recent terror alert. Talk of sensationalism.” You know how it goes. The story was largely accurate – prompted by fears of a terrorist attack, in an unprecedented move on Sunday; the US closed 21 embassies  across the Middle East and North Africa. Add a strategically implanted – and inaccurate -analysis by CNN’s Peter Bergen, who alleged that Sunday was the “Night of Destiny”, making it an auspicious occasion for al-Qaeda extremists to die. Social media dies for ...

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Taxi driver shot dead: The Rangers are not to blame

Most of the time, law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are blamed for corruption and for being in cahoots with criminals. However, recently, the elite contingent of Pakistani law enforcement – which is usually called in when the situation becomes too big to handle for basic level officers – has come under fire for allegations of extra judicial killings and for sporting a general “hair trigger attitude.” The reference here is, of course, to the Rangers and the spate of recent incidents that have involved shooting at presumably innocent people. The Rangers first drew media attention after they opened fire on an unarmed young man ...

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Deported from Israel for being a Muslim who visited Pakistan

Destination: Israel Purpose: To visit Jerusalem and everything within it which ‘drives men mad.’ I had spent months preparing for my trip to the country with the primary aim of visiting Jerusalem and seeing the great historical landmarks such as the Al Aqsa mosque and Wailing Wall. I had purchased clothes appropriate for the sweltering heat of the Middle East, booked my flight well in advance and converted almost all of my remaining savings to Israeli Shekels in an almost hyperactive state of eagerness. It was in this mood that I reached Ben Gurion airport on the morning of the 24th of ...

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Dancing with the Taliban

I am not a national security expert – I could not intelligently drop one relevant term if I wanted to. Thanks to my mother’s geographical coordinates when she gave birth, I have a green passport (for which I signed away the religious rights of over three million Pakistanis). I feel like someone is about to sign my rights away as our politicos endorse negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Again. On February 14, as the world celebrated One Billion Rising (OBR), marching and dancing in protest against women’s rights being violated, a room full of (mostly) men decided talks with a ...

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