Azeem Ibrahim

An International Security and Geopolitics Lecturer at the University of Chicago. Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding and a former Research Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and World Fellow at Yale. He is the Strategic Policy Advisor to Imran Khan and he tweets as @AzeemIbrahim (

Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

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January 18, 2017

Who is committing the worst atrocities against, us, Muslims?

Who is responsible for the greatest numbers of deaths against Muslims today? Who commits the worst atrocities against Muslims? It is not the West that claims the highest headcount nor is it Israel. The sad truth is that today Muslims kill the most Muslims around the world. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in late 2010, more than 100,000 have been killed. Many of these deaths were in Syria, where thousands more languish in prisons expecting similarly grim fates. And with the rise of ISIS and the threat that it poses to regional stability, many more are expected to ...

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An open letter to the UN secretary general on Rohingya persecution

Dear Mr Secretary General, I am writing to you to express my deep concern over the fate of the Rohingya people of Myanmar. I am certain you are familiar with their extremely precarious situation, as we have seen them teetering on the edge of genocide since at least 2012. Since the series of attacks against the border guard outposts in October 2016, the police and army in the local state of Rakhine/Arakan have carried out over 100 indiscriminate extra-judicial killings of Rohingya – including old men, women and children. The fear on the ground is that the violence may now escalate ...

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Myth of Russian power

It is fair to say that Russia is doing its best to be the biggest thorn to prick the US and NATO in recent years. It is almost as if Russia was offended by how little attention the world was paying to them in the 90s and early 2000s, after the West spent half a century fearing and dreading them. And now they are doing their best to frustrate and annoy “Western interests” wherever they find them. President Vladimir Putin likes to claim that this is purely defensive, of course. In the wake of the Iron Curtain collapse, the Western sphere expanded substantially into ...

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Pakistan must not pay the price for PM Nawaz’s honour

The government of Saudi Arabia has formally asked Pakistan to help militarily in the on-going crisis in Yemen. And Pakistan has been quick to offer its aid to the Saudis. Now this is not based on strategic necessity for Pakistan, even though there is an argument that the Saudis could do with the extra help on ground. The reasons why Pakistan has been so keen to get involved are rather more prosaic. Also, much more misguided. They are largely grounded in the personal relationship that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has with the Saudis from the time they persuaded the then president, Pervez Musharraf not ...

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By destroying relics, ISIS is committing the greatest blasphemy

Yesterday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroyed an ancient Christian monastery which has been described as the equivalent of Canterbury Cathedral. ISIS have allegedly blown up the monastery of Mar Behnam near the town of Qaraqosh built by Assyrian king Sanharib. — EnaLolena (@EnaLolena) March 19, 2015 Just weeks earlier, it raided Mosul Museum and filmed themselves destroying all the relics on show, including priceless, irreplaceable Assyrian statues. This is a throwback to the infamous episode of when the Taliban destroyed the ancient great Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001. The rationalisation is the same. In typical Wahhabi-inspired nonsense, ...

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Why do jihadists hate women but love pornography?

One of the defining aspects of our culture right now, though it is rarely acknowledged and discussed, is the problem of the young man. We often reflect as a society on the way in which our culture, especially as it is articulated in the media, has very strong and very negative consequences for our young women. From the way in which our media is affecting our cultural understanding of normal body image, to the psychiatric disorders (including but not limited to eating disorders) that ravage a shocking proportion of our teenage daughters, to the ways in which this new ...

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“No one in the Pakistani government is interested in change”

So, Chaudhary Mohammad Sarwar has finally resigned as the governor of Punjab. This has not been exactly unexpected. Rumours had been circulated for many months that he was deeply unhappy with those that surrounded him at the top of Pakistan’s political power structure. I can also explain just why he has become so disillusioned. My first experience in high-level policy making taught me an invaluable lesson about Pakistani politics. Many years ago, when I was but a wide-eyed PhD researcher starting my fellowship at Harvard’s Kennedy School, I managed to secure a private meeting with a Pakistan cabinet minister who ...

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Why US is leading the war against ISIS

One of the ironies of geopolitics today is that, after spending the last decades complaining about US interference or the various interventions in the Middle East, everyone is now waiting for the US to lead in the conflict against ISIS. In ISIS we have a phenomenon that, for once, is uniting in a common cause every other state in the region, whether Sunni, Shia or secular. We also have regional players that, in principle, should be able to lead from the front on this issue, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, even Iran – if it comes to it. A coalition of ...

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Rallying behind Imran Khan

I believe we can all agree that Pakistan needs, above all else, strong state institutions and the rule of law. These are the only way in which a proper modern country can function. They are necessary to ensure the social stability necessary for a functioning democracy and a prosperous market economy. But when powerful individuals can sway the institutions of the state to serve themselves, when they can bend the rule of law and use the mechanisms of the state for private gain, then that can no longer be called a modern state. When there are individuals, business leaders or politicians ...

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