Stories about america

Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 2

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 1 here.  ~ Fifth letter In his fifth letter, Manto brilliantly exposes America’s pretensions about maintaining world peace even after acquiring the capability to make hydrogen bombs: “I have heard that you have made the hydrogen bomb just so that there should be absolute world peace. Although God knows better, but I am sure of what you say because I have eaten your wheat and, after all, I’m your nephew. Although the young should readily obey the elderly, but I ask ...

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Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 1

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 2 here. ~ Saadat Hasan Manto passed away on a foggy morning today, 65 years ago in my native city of Lahore. A few months shy of his 43rd birthday, his frail body had been consumed by alcohol and his spirit was exhausted by the many battles he fought in independent Pakistan against the state’s courts and critics, who shunned, marginalised and victimised him. Among the victims of his acerbic pen in his final years were Uncle Sam and the ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 3: Pakistan, India, religion, and climate change

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Religion and spirituality Hassan Mirza (HM): Did religion have any big influence on you when you were growing up? Were your family members religious? Noam Chomsky (NC): Judaism did, religion didn’t. My parents were not religious in the usual sense. Deeply rooted in Jewish/Hebraic culture, somewhat observant. HM: What do ...

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Visiting Tehran after the death of Qasem Soleimani

Though the skies were clear and the sun was shining brightly, the heaviness in the air was evident when I departed Imam Khomeini International Airport on the morning of January 5th. I was told it had snowed the previous day and hence the air was chillier than what the weather forecast had predicted last week. We crossed a bridge decked with the national flag of Iran fluttering in the wind, surrounded by black banners on either side. The latter signalled the tragedy which had befallen the country recently. As we neared the city centre and the traffic grew, I could see ...

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Trump’s imperial arrogance will have disastrous ramifications

The spectre of war is haunting the Middle East. In the American diplomatic and military circles, there’s only a single line of discussion: how is Iran going to retaliate? The question has moved a little further from ‘if’, and the reason for that is Donald Trump’s addiction to late night news punditry which leaves him with a mad whirlwind of emotions, especially if it has anything to do with a perceived slight aimed at either him or the military prowess of the United States (US). On December 27th, an American contractor was killed because of rocket attacks at a military ...

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What will be the consequences of the rising US-Iran tensions?

In the popular TV show House of Cards, American President Franklin Underwood faces a hostage situation with a group of extremists loyal to the Islamic Caliphate Organisation. The loyalists can easily be taken out and the hostage freed, but the president uses the public death of the hostage as political capital. Because of investigations into the president’s tainted past, he raises an effective disinformation campaign against the terrorist organisation, rallies Congress, and declares war. The American people are scared and choose to place their faith in the president, forgetting any accusations of foul-play, corruption, and murder. In the real world, ...

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Lessons in tenacity: Why Pakistan should learn from Turkey

When faced with the seemingly unyielding support of its ostensible NATO ‘partners’ for Kurdish secessionists in the Syrian-Turkish border regions, Turkey faced a veritable conundrum. Turkey’s  successful October 9-24, 2019 Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria against entrenched, US military-protected Kurdish fighters came after setting red lines regarding its national security, acknowledging that lack of respect afforded to those red lines by traditional partners necessitated threatening core foundational assets of its ties with them, recognising its advantages and constraints and hedging its bets with new foreign allies. In numerous ways, Turkey’s negotiation of the ordeal vis a vis the Kurds and ...

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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 ...

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Can Imran Khan help ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

Acting upon a request from the United States to calm ongoing regional tensions, Imran Khan’s mission to engage in shuttle diplomacy with Saudi Arabia and Iran has presented a respectable image of neutrality, but this image alone is unlikely to facilitate peace. One would be forgiven for conflating Imran Khan’s impressive international image with productive foreign policy. A maiden visit to the United States this year, last month’s emotional United Nations General Assembly speech on Kashmir, and meetings with two of the world’s most bitter rivals – broken up only by a brief stop in Islamabad to welcome two ...

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Why should Pakistan change its export policy?

In the current inhospitable economic climate prevailing in Pakistan, leading to rising inflation alongside a worsening trade and fiscal deficit, the nation desperately needs a solution to these growing list of problems. While it is fairly simple to understand that an increase in exports will benefit the economy, the method through which this can be achieved is a slightly more tricky question to answer. Exports will help pave the way towards economic prosperity by improving Pakistan’s Balance of Payment (BoP), but policies which try to lead Pakistan in this direction can only be implemented once we address the question: why does Pakistan have ...

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