Stories about war

Believing in one’s own propaganda: Newspapers of Dhaka and the war of 1971

During a recent visit to Dhaka, I had the opportunity to do research in the National Archives of Bangladesh and the Library of Dhaka University. Although the creation of Bangladesh was not the focus of my research, I was anxious to learn more about the tragic events resulting in the death of countless civilians and the dismemberment of Pakistan. For this purpose, I picked up the files of two English newspapers, Morning News and Pakistan Observer, published from Dhaka and examined their contents for the months of November and December. I looked at the headlines, feature articles and advertisements printed in these newspapers between November ...

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The day Lascaux cried

The first light of dawn was setting on nature’s various wonders and the tribe of Shamosis was waking up to the incessant chirping of early-morning birds. The water in the nearby lake stood motionless. Serenity prevailed: nature reigned supreme, humanity remained at peace. The Shamosis had been travelling for the past six months now without a stop. Usually, Closett used to initiate a gathering of elders whenever an area was discovered fit for encampment but the last such gathering had been a long time ago, when they had left the territorial fringes of modern-day Turkey and entered what one today ...

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Today, we take solace in the hope that #PorteOuverte has offered us

When a calamity strikes, be it an earthquake, a flood, or a terrorist attack, headlines are made all over the world, a certain meta-narrative grips us all. We are told that a certain number of people died, a certain amount of damage was done, a certain type of people was responsible. We become transfixed with questions like ‘what happened?’, ‘why did it happen?’ and ‘who did it?’ We become consumed with the pathology of violence. They answers we seek are what we call ‘primary’ pellets of empirical information that are intertwined to form a story that conforms to the framework of ...

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Pakistan has laws against rape and adultery, but what about incest?

Writing about the sexual abuse of a little girl is hard. Writing about the little girl’s incestuous relationship resulting in years of rape at the hands of her father is harder. In all the history of humankind, all societies have considered incest abhorrent, shameful and worthy of criminal sanction. But skirting around the uncomfortable topic of incest comes hand-in-hand with its social sanction. And in no place is incest slipped under the proverbial rug so eagerly as it is in the shame and honour based culture of Pakistan. This is because in a shame and honour based culture, the shameful action of one ...

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China’s WW2 parade has attached more shame onto humanity’s shoulders

Wars may be designed to destroy nations; however, they play a critical role in building them as well. Is that what China has attempted to do today? China’s commemoration of the Second World War took place today in the city of Beijing. India too, is planning a festival to memorialise the 1965 war with Pakistan. 2015 seems to be the year we’re all celebrating war. China put on a grand display of its military strength and laid bare its hegemonic ambitions in the Asian region. The Chinese administration has asserted that the intention of the parade is to remind the world of the sacrifices the Chinese people ...

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Dear American Media, the Israel-Palestine conflict is your doing

Dear American Media, I’m just asking you to tell America what’s going on in Gaza. Reveal without decreasing Palestinians to dehumanised numbers and rough generalisations, as have oppressors all through history. I am not requesting that you quit loving Israel but rather give Palestinian suffering the same weight as Israeli enduring, and report all the facts. I understand.  This is hard for you. You’ve been recounted to one tale about the Israeli-Palestinian clash your whole lives.  However, you’ve most likely started to notice that the latest advancements do not generally line up with that story. You realise that accusing Israeli government approaches can be harmful to American politics, and you are ...

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“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Was Obama mincing words when he refused to pin the ‘Islamist’ tag on to terrorism? His unequivocal statement that the war on terror was against people perverting Islam drew him a lot of flak from a predictable group who see the world as black and white, and discern no shades (not 50) of grey.  In any case, why would the West be at war with Islam when many Muslims are doing a pretty darned good job of it themselves? Look around, groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda are painting towns, villages, cities, and actual battlefields red with blood; mostly of their own countrymen and ...

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16 photos that prove India and Pakistan are just the same

Conflict isn’t the only thing common to India and Pakistan. We are just like neighbours who might quarrel but always have each other’s back. We are like neighbours who may not be too happy with the noisy parties the other throws but who would still like to be a part of each other’s happiness. This article is an attempt to focus on the everyday, the little things which unite us as a people. Forgive me if I come across as stating the obvious. But sometimes, the best of us tend to forget the obvious. And then it’s always good to remember, and to ...

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My bleeding heart for my bleeding Pakistan

Before I introduce myself, I would like to add a quote by one of my favourite human beings, Maya Angelou: “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” I am a visually impaired citizen of my beloved country, Pakistan, and this quote has a strong influence on me. I try to do good as much as possible and try to spread love and harmony by my actions. I have a ...

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Remember, remember, the fourth of December!

I remember that day. It was December 4, 2009. The residents of Rawalpindi were in shock. How could a mosque right next to the military headquarters, surrounded by military bungalows with a busy local market nearby be attacked in broad daylight? There were frantic calls made; mothers called their children’s schools, fathers held their sons by their hands in the mosques and brothers who had not spoken for years hysterically reached out to each other. First the family, then friends, then colleagues… was everyone we knew fine? They weren’t. Rawalpindi is a small city. A family member, a friend, a colleague, a friend of ...

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