Nature granted me a front seat to the northern lights and it was everything

The place was a sharp contrast to what I had experienced over the past three days, trekking through the Southern Highlands of Iceland. I had traversed through 30 kilometres of landscape made of black volcanic ash with little vegetation but fragile moss, rainbow-coloured rhyolite hills that belched sulphurous steam, dark clouds hovering low and foreboding a rainstorm at every moment, and no signs of life but the occasional audacious hiker. The daytime scenery was the most incredible I have seen in my travels through the European Alps and highlands, but it was the much famed night-time spectacle that I ...

Read Full Post

Of Halala marriages and the sexual exploitation of Muslim women

According to a BBC undercover investigation, some Muslim women in South Asian diasporic communities in England are facing exploitation, blackmail and sexual abuse via various online accounts. These accounts provide services for divorced women to fulfil the requirement of a so-called Halala marriage, in order to remarry their former spouse after they have been divorced through the ‘triple talaq’ process. Triple talaq takes place when a man says ‘talaq’ (divorce) three times in a row to his wife, convincing many Muslims that this ends an Islamic marriage immediately. These online services let women pay to marry strangers, consummate the marriage with them and then divorce them, after which they are ...

Read Full Post

The 126 innocent lives lost were mere collateral damage to them, nothing less and nothing more

Beads of perspiration glistened on his forehead. Wiping it clean with the back of his hand, he stared around. “It is overloaded,” he thought to himself as he pulled his five-year-old up on his lap. His wife had fallen into a slumber. After days of abject disappointment, the call for rescue had finally come. They were being sent outside Aleppo to safer refugee camps. He felt sad to be leaving his village but the gory streets made it easier to do so. It didn’t look like his home anymore. It was like a page out of a war-torn story with red blood anguish and ...

Read Full Post

Is Theresa May really thinking about what is best for the UK?

As England starts paving its way towards Brexit negotiations following the trigger of Article 50, another bombshell was dropped on Britain’s political arena.  Theresa May, in an act of complete surprise, declared that she was calling for snap elections to take place in June.  A mere 50 days away, the country is now being hastily prepped to deal with the upcoming general elections. May’s sudden U-turn has been a surprise manoeuvre considering she said no snap elections would take place.  The general election, which was to take place in 2020, will now be pushed to 2022.  May’s decision stems from her ...

Read Full Post

Is Turkey transforming into a fundamentalist religious state?

Turkey has given its verdict in the referendum paving the way for a powerful Tayyip Erdogan presidency. Although the margin of victory is close and is contested by the opposition, but it does not really matter. Erdogan has gotten what he wanted. If one has to draw an analogy with Pakistani politicians of the past and present, it would be apt to say that Erdogan is on his way towards becoming what Ziaul Haq had been in the 1980s, what Nawaz Sharif wanted to be in the late 1990s, and what Imran Khan perhaps wants to be in the future – an autocratic religious head of the state. In Turkey’s ...

Read Full Post

Is Trump aware of the catastrophic consequences of fighting a war with nuclear-armed North Korea?

These days, for the most unfortunate reasons, there’s no dearth of events clamouring to grab the headlines in the US. A perpetual flow of rudimentary as well as impactful (read ‘incendiary’) news keeps on piling stress and frustration on those who dare to care. From the Sean Spicer gaffes to airline functionaries literally trying to beat their passengers to death, to the never-ending Russian hacking saga, the news cycle is as bizarre as it gets. While the plight of conscientious governance is too hard to miss, what’s worth noting and most incredibly intriguing is how conveniently the Donald Trump administration has within a matter of few days managed to manoeuvre ...

Read Full Post

Why Pakistanis are happier than Indians

The World Happiness Report, released by the United Nations on March 20, 2017 – to coincide with International Happiness day – has ranked India at the bottom of the pyramid, in terms of happiness of its citizens. India has been ranked 122 out of 145 countries, even below Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. These findings are based on evaluating the responses to a structured questionnaire sent to around 3,000 respondents who were asked to rate their happiness on a scale of zero to 10, where zero represents the worst possible life and 10 the best. The questionnaire covers six key variables like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), life ...

Read Full Post

Modi does not believe in unity in diversity but divisiveness in diversity

Let’s be blunt – India is under the reign of a Hindu extremist government. For the first time in independent India’s history, you have a government which is openly repugnant to the idea of secularism, pluralism and liberalism. What is happening in India today is not normal. The systematic targeting of Muslims in the name of cow protection or love jihad is the new norm in the largest democracy of the world. This is not happening at one place but all across the country, particularly in the states rules by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last week, the news came from a village in Jharkhand, an eastern Indian ...

Read Full Post

The strange myth of America’s ‘humanitarian’ wars

In March 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a forgetful 71-page report, calling out Israel’s indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. No rhetoric of bringing the oppressor to justice was heard within the American halls of power, and no tomahawk missiles were launched the following week. The perversity of President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes speaks for itself. It’s fair to assume that if Assad’s regime had been backed by powerful western interests, the latest unwatchable video of Syrian children suffering from the effects of chemical warfare would have invited the same response as Israel’s hawkish policies consistently do – Assad ...

Read Full Post

For the US, friends and enemies aren’t important, only interests are

Growing up, we form friendships, alliances and enmities in playgrounds and classrooms. There are clear rules that govern our interactions and attitudes towards those we call friends and those we regard as enemies or our friends’ enemies. It’s mostly cut and dry and there’s very little room for ambiguity. As we grow up, we begin to see shades of grey and the thick dividing lines that existed in our minds begin to blur. However, somewhere that conditioned perception of a clear demarcation between good versus bad and friend versus enemy persists in our psyche. International relations are complex. There are layers and subtexts that ...

Read Full Post