Stories about america

Stop bashing, copy a model that works

From observing conversations on Facebook and Twitter, I am sure that all my Pakistan-watching friends genuinely want ‘change’. There are many ideas – everyone is passionate and wants to throw in their two cents, and that’s how it should be. However, when I comment on these threads my friends often remind me that I should not have an opinion. This is because either: 1) I live in the West 2) I do not propose an alternative Both streams of criticism are fair. I do live in the fairly developed state of New York – in a city (NYC) that I love and in ...

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Masjids and more: An American in Lahore

As an undergraduate in college, I spent almost every waking hour learning Arabic—if I wasn’t in my daily Arabic class, I was practicing the language with my peers over a warm cup of coffee. We were given a hefty amount of homework each night, and the wee hours in the morning always found me in the library with my head buried in my Arabic textbook. Still, the effort was worth it, because after three years of learning the language, I was able to do what I had always wanted; read and understand the Quran in its original language, Arabic. If I may ...

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Fasting in America

Ever wonder what Ramazan is like in America, with 14-hour long fasts, and store-bought parathas? Here are the three things on my mind this Ramazan, and what I miss most about home: 1. Mothers From the first sehri of the first roza to the final iftaar before Eid, I see my mother everywhere. As a child, I always woke up to my mother’s soft nudge an hour before sunrise. I vividly remember avoiding the cold tiles of the kitchen floor by wearing bright, layered socks, with Mama shouting in the background, “put on your shoes, you’re going to get sick!” Mama embraced the schedule ...

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Ryan Crocker: Afghanistan’s Lawrence of Arabia

As the military drawdown begins in Afghanistan, the Americans are upping the diplomatic ante. They want a neat transition and a solid presence in Kabul after the exit. It was in this connection that Ryan C Crocker was sworn in as the new United States (US) top diplomat in Afghanistan on Monday July 25. Crocker’s earlier stint in Kabul involved reopening the US embassy in 2002, after the Taliban government was replaced by that of the Northern Alliance. In his new assignment Crocker may actually be talking to the Taliban. Crocker’s predecessor, Karl W Eikenberry, was a former general, whose ...

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CIA, polio drives and responsibility

In April 2011 I was made part of a World Health Organisation (WHO) team to monitor effectiveness of a community vaccination drive carried in different districts of Karachi. I spent the day with my team visiting a set of clusters in the Baldia Town area of the city. At the cost of sounding alarmist, I’d regard it as my firsthand experience of observing the enormity of community vaccination in Pakistan – it almost felt undoable. I was seeing the face of Karachi I had never seen before – rural, ethnic, rugged and a whole lot more like Afghanistan on CNN. We ...

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US withdrawal: Implosion, or peace for Afghanistan?

All military campaigns have lifecycles. Some are short while others drag on for years but the end is always inevitable. It is this inevitability that currently overshadows American military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The war in Afghanistan has been America’s longest war. It has been costly in terms of money and lives for all countries involved. George W Bush invaded Afghanistan to avenge the 9/11 attacks; he also took the opportunity to take the war into Iraq, to pre-empt Sadam Hussain from using his alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction. After Bush’s two terms as the ‘war president,’ the ...

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Afghan pullout: Pakistan needs to revise its role

Opinion pages are full of analysis emphasising Pakistan’s role in bringing to an end the Afghan conflict, without whom, it is argued, the negotiations are bound to fail. The Pakistani establishment however continues with its short term, self defeating policies towards our neighbouring country. As a result our region will remain unstable and insecure after the United States (US) and its allies depart. Pakistan wants to ensure that the Afghan government remains pliant to its strategic needs. We want any negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict to include the Taliban, but on our own terms, keeping us in the loop. Non-Pashtun ...

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Tribute to ‘Hazrat Sheikh Osama’…really?

On May 2, 2011, when President Barack Obama went on international television and announced to the entire world that Osama Bin Laden was dead, and that US forces had found the world’s most wanted man hiding safely ensconced in a luxury compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, many things changed. Especially, for Pakistan. As a nation, we had to collectively swallow the bile of many-a-public boast regarding our unquestionable allegiance to the United States government in its War on Terror and our repeated claims that we were the greatest of US allies, in said struggle. Above all, was the mixed response to ...

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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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Musings of a ‘Westernised’ Pakistani

We often blame “the West” for constructing and perpetuating unjust stereotypes about Muslims and Pakistanis, while not realising that we’re constantly returning the favour without even knowing it! So, on behalf of the “burger-society,” I’d like to speak a little in defense of “the West.”  Ready your rotten eggs if you must. Let me start by saying that “the West” does not exist. If it does, could someone please delineate it for me? Is Japan included in your definition of the West, despite being a Far-Eastern nation? What about Russia, industrialised China or Romania? When radicals make blunt statements like, “the West is waging a ...

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