Amit Julka

A student from India currently pursuing his Masters in South Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He blogs at

The words that Sirajuddin Haqqani used

It couldn’t have been a coincidence. As I was surfing the internet today for my daily dose of khabrein, two stories appeared side by side. The first story was about the growing suspicions of theUS government that the Haqqani network had links to Islamabad. [[]] Yawn! On the not-so-other hand, the second story was about a recent statement of Sirajuddin Haqqani, in which he claimed that the group was no longer active in Pakistan. In his interview with Reuters, he claimed:  “Gone are the days when we were hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Now we consider ourselves more secure ...

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Overcoming our colonial legacy

On August 12, Pakistan finally came to grips with its colonial legacy. The Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), a draconian law framed by British to govern the ‘unruly tribal areas’ on the border with Afghanistan has finally been scrapped. The British viewed the frontier regions as a buffer zone for the empire, beyond which lay the territories of Afghanistan. The frontier tribes were never brought under complete suzerainty of Britain, although indirect rule was exercised through tribal chiefs and intermediaries. The Pashtuns, historically allergic to foreign occupation offered strong resistance to the British. Thus naturally, the brutes and savages had to be ...

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South Asia’s forgotten art: Dastangoi

The good thing about the internet is what it does to distance. It can bring the flavour of your des or watan (land) right to your apartment in London. Whilst I was on one of my random internet strolls one day, I chanced upon a clip of a recent Dastangoi event organized in Delhi. For those of you who don’t know, Dastangoi was a form of storytelling practised in Delhi and the Urdu speaking areas of the Indo-Gangetic plains. The concept was pretty simple. In the olden days, when the idiot box was still not invented, a Dastango (storyteller) would recite the tales of Amir Hamza and Tilism-e-Hoshruba, whilst his audience ...

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Afghan drawdown: The vultures descend

Now that the die is cast and the United States is finally stepping up the process of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the vultures are finally swooping down to ensure that they get a piece of the carcass. Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia; all seem to have a stake in Afghanistan’s future. Out of these, Pakistan and India are arch rivals and have conflicting interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which often views Afghanistan as an extension of its own backyard seeks to play out the game of strategic depth in the country. India, on the other hand is taking a more indirect route. ...

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Indo-Pak relations: Back to normal

After the recent brouhaha over cricket diplomacy, it looks like India-Pakistan relations have again slipped into their comfort zone of allegations and counter allegations. Last month, as I saw Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani in Mohali, I was reminded of David Grey’s song “This year’s love had better last.” But then, in typical Ross and Rachel-esque fashion, statements by our diplomats have begun to resemble “We were on a break” and “No, we weren’t”. The fact that Osama Bin Laden died only complicated matters. Soon after the news of Bin Laden’s death spread, Indian news channels went into overdrive. Predictably enough, ...

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Between food and opium: What Pakistani liberals fail to understand

There’s something Newtonian about the way Pakistani political discourse is being carried out these days. At one end is the ‘ghairat brigade’, with their twisted ideology and their usual diatribe against the liberal fascists – a term which is about as meaningful as a Vegan BigMac. On the other end are the liberals ( fascist or otherwise) who might not be as reprehensible as their bearded cousins, are equally redundant with their staid arguments, essentially revolving around the ‘Quaid’s vision’ and his speech to the Constituent Assembly. Fundamentally, I do not have an issue with the arguments of the liberal ...

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