Usman Ali Virk

Usman Ali Virk

The author hails from Lahore and is a lawyer by profession. He recently graduated with a Masters in Law from the University of California, Berkeley.

When a white “terrorist” is awarded a privilege 1.8 billion Muslims are denied

If the world can largely agree on one thing, it is the need to defeat terrorism. However, the frequency of unity seen when condemning terror does not echo beyond that, for every state of the world is employing its own methods (or lack thereof) of tackling this daunting, multi-faceted predicament, and hence achieving varying degrees of success. The first and probably most pivotal step in the fight against terrorism is to clearly define what constitutes as terror and who is actually a terrorist. Failure to reach a singular consensus on this starting point will invariably lead to utter confusion amongst the ...

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A ‘progressive’ Saudi Arabia that practises moderate Islam – possibility or a sham?

Is Saudi Arabia turning over a new leaf, or are these new policies just an anomaly; perhaps a misdirected confidence of an individual who is trying to change the society in his own image? Only time will tell. The recently appointed crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS), has embarked on an impressive but debatable development plan for the oil-rich country. This plan will see Saudi radically transform from its archaic system of governance and develop an over-the-top modern, high tech city which, according to MBS, is “The first capitalist city in the world… this is the unique thing that will be revolutionary.” This effort, ...

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Silence of the lambs: Pakistan is doing its fair share for the Rohingya refugees, but what about India and Bangladesh?

One wonders what is more appalling – Myanmar’s systematic genocide of its Muslim minority, or the inexplicable manner in which the world stayed numb while a small country, wielding hardly any politico-economic clout in international affairs, went about openly violating all norms of international law. Let us forget about the world for a second, what exactly has the “Muslim Ummah” done to stop the killings of our Rohingya brethren? It is because of the inaction of Muslim governments in times like these that the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) is often referred to as “Oh, I see”. If Muslim countries had ...

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Today, Jinnah and Allama Iqbal’s noble profession is being held hostage by rogue elements

The practice of law is considered a noble profession in every society, pursued by those for whom reading, writing and interpreting sentences, words and even punctuation marks is second nature. Lawyers breathe life into the sacrosanct Constitution and other legislated statutes, construing them in different ways when presenting their cases before judges. The reverence for legal practice lies precisely within this sophistication. Today, the profession of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal is being held hostage by a few rogue elements that have slowly crept into the system. Misbehaving with judges and locking them up in their chambers is now a ...

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Why the only face-saving way out for the US is a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan

To quote the Chinese proverb, “He who seeks vengeance must dig two graves – one for his enemy and one for himself.” Afghanistan is in a state of utter chaos. Unless there is a drastic change in the current Afghan strategy, this proverbial ‘graveyard of empires’ seems set to add the United States in the list of countries that failed to control this area. Donald Trump’s aggressive policies on North Korea and Syria have shown that he is not a man of dialogue or negotiation. Thus far, he has followed the militarist route for resolving international issues, with little to no success to show for it. After Trump’s election, the US ...

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Dear Pakistani selectors, why do you keep picking the same old, tried and failed players?

In sporting terms, as with perhaps all aspects of national life, Pakistan is probably amongst the few unfortunate nations that have regressed, not progressed, with time. There was a time in the 1992, when Pakistan was the World Champion in not one, but four different sports – cricket, hockey, squash and billiard. But as merit started taking a backseat, and mediocrity, incompetence and favouritism reigned supreme, today we see the former champions finding it hard to even directly qualify for the cricket World Cup. Oh what a fall! Pakistan lost the first ODI against West Indies, raising a lot of questions about our nonsensical selection policies. You ...

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The only nation where Malala Yousafzai is a contentious figure is her own

Of the numerous fault lines that exist in our society, none is as divisive as society’s opinion about Malala Yousafzai. A revered symbol of liberation and women empowerment across the world, sadly the only nation where she is a contentious figure is her own. But why would anyone have a negative opinion about a teenage girl who stood up to the Taliban and even took a bullet for her convictions?  In the following lines, I shall respond to some of the accusations presented against her by her critics. Perhaps the most pervasive sentiment observed is, “why only her”? The argument goes that Pakistan has lost more than 60,000 ...

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I applaud Trump for inspiring such great progressive moments in the US

Post 9/11, the world became a very different place. However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe. On their part, Muslim Americans were naturally traumatised to witness the sudden thoughtless rise in islamophobia and hatred towards their community. So they internalised their fears and saw merit in distancing themselves from all national socio-political discourses. Barack Obama’s progressive policies did bring some relief for Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, his sincere efforts at instilling confidence within the marginalised Muslim ...

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In four years, PTI did more to restore faith in democracy than PML-N or PPP did in decades

Whether Imran Khan wins the 2018 General Elections or not, he has given to our democracy what he gave to his down-and-out team during the World Cup of 1992, and to millions of despairing cancer patients across Pakistan – hope. If we move the clocks back to the last quarter of 2011, we can distinctly recall the sense of utter frustration that was prevalent in the country. People had voted for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with great expectations to get the nation back on its democratic footing. Unfortunately, Asif Ali Zardari and company wasted this golden opportunity to strengthen the transition to democracy. In fact, they made a mockery of the ...

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What is so similar about Nawaz, Modi, Erdogan, Duterte and Trump?

The new millennium has hardly started, and already we are witnessing unsettling tectonic shifts in politics all over the world. One such example is the emergence of a covert, scheming approach towards attaining power, embodied by certain group of people, who under different circumstances, ended up occupying the highest seats of power in their respective countries. We will pivot our discussion around five such individuals: Nawaz Sharif, Narendra Modi, Rodrigo Duterte, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump. Though each of them was elected to office democratically, ask any unbiased political analyst or academic, and they will invariably conclude that these five leaders have all the makings ...

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