Stories about Afghanistan

17 years later, can the US grow out of the 9/11 mindset?

Just about a couple of days ago, on the eve of yet another 9/11 anniversary, I was telling a friend how painful these past 17 years have been for the US. What happened that dreadful September morning was nothing less than a shock to the American system; a jolt of unprecedented proportions that we, as a nation, still haven’t been able to get over or recover from in more than several different ways. September 11, 2001 changed America and the rest of the world forever. It tore apart the settled norms and values. It uprooted age-old beliefs that America must ...

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Home Fire: A Muslim love story for the modern world

The latest novel by Kamila Shamsie has won numerous accolades, the most recent one being the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The novel, based on the Greek tragedy Antigone, delves into the modern-day spasms of jihad and terrorism, and also examines the concept of loyalty, belief and love. Not having read Antigone, Home Fire came across as a juxtaposition of the notions that have been shuffling in religious and political debate of late. The cover of the book – one of the most profound covers out of the books in my possession – is a simple maze of red-orange fire with two ...

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Can Imran Khan fix 71 years of failed talks, bloodshed and hatred?

Imran Khan’s victory in the recently concluded General Elections went as per preordained script. The arrest of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter in a money laundering case practically sealed the deal. The Supreme Court has debarred him from contesting elections for life, virtually putting an end to the political career of the former prime minister. It is alleged that Imran enjoys the confidence and support of the establishment which paved the way for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to emerge victorious. The opposition has questioned the legitimacy of the elections, especially where it is alleged that widespread rigging was allowed to take ...

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Why India will continue to be the world’s most dangerous country for women

India’s record on women’s safety is never too far from global attention. Over the years, India has developed a reputation of being an unsafe country for women. The latest spotlight on this has been cast by the recent Thomson Reuters Foundation survey that ranked India “the world’s most dangerous country for women due to the high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labour”. In a misogynist world that includes the likes of Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mexico, Pakistan and Afghanistan, getting the dubious distinction of being top ranked has understandably caused a great deal of indignation and ...

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Why Pakistan needs Imran Khan

It’s been a long journey for Imran Khan. He founded his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996, and for many years made no real progress. Many mocked him. The Guardian journalist Declan Walsh dismissed him as ‘a miserable politician’, whose ideas and affiliations had ‘swerved and skidded like a rickshaw in a rainshower’. PTI did make a limited amount of progress in the 2013 General Elections, when it emerged as the second largest party by national vote and with 30 parliamentary seats. Furthermore, Imran’s party secured control of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). But none of this was enough to challenge for national ...

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The Breadwinner: A story unafraid of uncomfortable truths

The women and children of Afghanistan have perhaps paid the price of war most heavily. The ongoing conflict leaves nearly half of the children in Afghanistan out of school, while 87% of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence during their lifetime. It is against this backdrop of war and devastation that we find the heartfelt film, The Breadwinner. Based on the book of the same name by Deborah Ellis and produced by Angelina Jolie, the film follows the story of 11-year-old Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who navigates her life disguised as a boy, and attempts to survive ...

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Lesvos: From a tourist heaven to the ‘refugee island’ of drowned boats and lifejackets

I recently had the chance to visit Lesvos, a tiny Greek island located a few kilometres from the Turkish Riviera. This picturesque island, which was once a tourist heaven, is now commonly referred to as the refugee island, given the high influx of refugees since 2014 following the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whilst there as a volunteer, much of my time was spent realising how borders can sometimes prove fatal.  As I visited the shores of Skala, I could see Turkey through my binoculars. While many refugee boats arrive weekly from Turkey, at one point in 2015, an average total ...

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How controversial is ‘The Spy Chronicles’?

The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, co-authored by former ISI Chief Asad Durrani, former RAW Chief AS Dulat, and journalist Aditya Sinha, has rightly created a buzz around the subcontinent. After all, two former counterparts from rival agencies coming together to compile a book on sensitive issues – especially pertaining to backchannel diplomacy and events relating to security and foreign policy matters – is a unique experience on its own. The book is narrated conversationally, where Sinha initiates the conversation between Durrani and Dulat. It has seven chapters, and each and every one is detail oriented. It ...

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Is Trump pulling out of the Iran deal a blessing in disguise for Pakistan?

US President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal – also known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – did not surprise many. However, the way in which this announcement was made was more dramatic than expected; especially how Trump simply announced the date of the decision in a tweet, creating suspense and leaving behind an air of doubt. I will be announcing my decision on the Iran Deal tomorrow from the White House at 2:00pm. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018 The Iran Deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, ...

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Hiring John Bolton may lead to more war, but as long as it’s not on its soil, America doesn’t care

John Bolton’s recent inclusion in the Trump administration as his new national security advisor is a slap in the face of every Trump supporter who voted for him on his non-interventionist campaign platform – particularly in relation to America’s failures in Iraq (Bolton being one of the leading architects of the war in 2003). Unfortunately for the Middle East and the rest of Asia, Bolton is a man so hawkish that his appointment received open warnings from the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Vice News, Vox, and Foreign Policy magazine, just to name a few. All of these western outlets have championed US-backed ...

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