Stories about Afghanistan

The Citizenship Amendment Bill has tarnished India’s secular ideals

When a government considers itself to be the sole arbiter of a nation’s destiny then it has become a prisoner of its own hubris. At the time of his reelection in May, there was hope that the renewed mandate of Narendra Modi and his regime could perhaps usher in some positive change in India and South Asia. But that was not to be. The bloated ego of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strengthened the belief in the party that its agenda is far more important than the aspirations of the people. The abrogation of Article 370  was part of the ...

Read Full Post

Ahmad Shah Durrani and the misconceptions surrounding the Third Battle of Panipat

Today Panipat is a bustling city in Haryana state, but on January 14, 1761 it was the site of an epic battle — known as the Third Battle of Panipat — between Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali) and the commander of the Maratha army Sadashiv Rao Bhau. The battle has been referenced, albeit usually inaccurately, by Hindu extremists to play the victim card, and to drive the wedge between Hindus and Muslims. Lately, the Bollywood film ‘Panipat: The Great Betrayal’ has also drawn a great deal of attention to Durrani, whom many in Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Is a peace deal in Afghanistan possible?

After a month-long thaw starting from last September, the Afghan peace process has now started to gain some momentum. United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul yesterday to discuss the future of peace talks with the Taliban. On Friday, Moscow hosted Khalilzad, along with Chinese and Pakistani representatives, to find a way for the resumption of the negotiations with the Taliban. Last week, Khalilzad and European Union envoy Roland Kobia, issued a comprehensive communique acknowledging that “sustainable peace can only be achieved through a negotiated political settlement.” However, these intra-Afghan negotiations between the ...

Read Full Post

How successful are Imran Khan’s attempts at becoming an international statesperson?

“My son, look for a kingdom greater than Macedonia, for it is too small for thee.” Alexander the Great’s father, Prince Philip, said this to him when as a young boy he reined in the famous horse, Bucephalus, while everyone else who had tried to do so had failed. Now, while Imran Khan certainly is no great conqueror of lands, nor does he aspire to be, it is evident that Pakistan is too small a stage for him to play on. Even if he wants to dedicate himself wholeheartedly towards fixing Pakistan’s manifold problems and shuns all foreign commitments, it ...

Read Full Post

Why do we exoticise the Kalasha yet continue to ignore their woes?

The mountainous communities of Pakistan who inhabit the valleys of Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Himalaya are on the margins, ignored and side-lined; dependent on external centres of power for knowledge that define and decide their identities, policies and power dynamics. The people of Pakistan largely don’t know much about these communities, their languages, cultures and history. This was glaringly evident during the media coverage coming out of the valley during the recent visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to one of the Kalasha valleys in the Kalashadesh in Chitral. Some reporters associated with certain famous media houses even thought that ...

Read Full Post

Who will emerge on top after Afghanistan’s elections?

Amidst growing fears of violence during the elections, the people of Afghanistan will head to the polls September 28th to decide their future president. A country which has been riddled with war, tenuous stalemates, and terror since the Soviet invasion, finds itself having to now contend with an uncertain future because of the resurgence of the Taliban. The knife’s edge on which Afghanistan is precariously balancing at the moment received another shock recently when talks between the United States (US) and the Taliban collapsed. Donald Trump’s pledge to pull US troops out of Afghanistan seems to have fallen by ...

Read Full Post

Does the road to the Afghan peace process still pass through Kashmir?

One of Donald Trump’s election promises was that he would withdraw American troops from Afghanistan; a promise which led to the president engaging in dialogue with the Taliban in order to ensure a peaceful exit. Zalmay Khalilzad was appointed as the United States’ (US) special envoy for Afghanistan and it looked like Trump may well deliver on what he pledged. This policy objective had offered a window of opportunity for Pakistan to improve its relations with America since it had become evident that the US would require the help of the Pakistan government if they wished to withdraw troops ...

Read Full Post

Kashmir – a land marred by betrayals

The once heavenly abode of the Mughal kings, one of whom famously called it “paradise on Earth” – Kashmir today lies in tatters. It remains divided in bits and pieces. Its people seething in desolation and broken by the latest insult in a long list of insults. Dejected and disheartened by the apathy the world has shown while their political, cultural and religious identity has been assaulted and snatched. It has been 21 days since Article 370 was scrapped and an unprecedented communications blockade was put in place; practically insulating Kashmir from the rest of the world. Close to eight ...

Read Full Post

Remembering Pakistan’s sacrifices for securing Europe’s freedom

In the November of 1989, ordinary Germans began physically tearing down the Berlin Wall whilst the soldiers of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) stood by doing nothing. Throughout Europe, communist regimes that had been imposed on largely non-consenting populations were falling. The global media remarked that all of this happened without a shot being fired, the exception being Romania where two shots were fired — one into the head of the dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, and one into that of his wife. However, this seemingly neat and tidy story of how communism fell in Europe is rather illusory, because throughout the 1980s, there was ...

Read Full Post

The deepening crisis: child rights in a negative society

On July 17th every year, we celebrate the ‘World Day on International Justice’. Over 120 countries adopted this statute at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Rome, creating a permanent international court to task criminals. The anniversary is for taking a day out to reflect on the successes and challenges of bringing justice and countering violence. The recent United Nations (UN) casualty report has greatly undermined the gravity of the deepening crisis clearly demonstrating undue favouritism to certain countries that have been accused of the violation of child rights. One of the biggest casualty counts is the Yemen crisis, led by Saudi Arabia ...

Read Full Post