Stories about america

Muslims in America, Christians in Pakistan

I don’t know much of the specific background of the anti-Christian rampage last week in Lahore. But is there anything I don’t know that would mitigate or excuse it? A major theme of my writing and public speaking is an insistence on distinguishing between what I call the Pakistan I know and love – a rich, diverse, fascinating smorgasbord of humanity – and the distorted, two-dimensional Pakistan that most Americans see on TV. But when what they see on TV is Muslim Pakistanis burning crosses in a Christian neighbourhood, it makes it even harder than usual for me and other ...

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The hurricane diaries

RANIA NASIR NEW YORK: As Sandy passes through New York, everyone is trying to prep the best they can for her visit. Grocery stores have long lines, where soup, bread and water aisles are empty. A bunch of Facebook posts and memes have emerged pointing out how prepping for the storm in New York meant stocking up on wine and cheese rather than flashlights and water. Hurricane parties have started cropping up everywhere. I am just relieved to have this break after the midterms. What’s impressive and quite different from Pakistan is how fast information flows here. Students are getting separate emails from the ...

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Aren’t we already a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’?

Last week, major media outlets reported that the Obama administration was considering designating the Haqqani network a “terrorist organisation”. The New York Times, meanwhile, pointed out that the United States was considering the decision’s impact on its relationship with Pakistan. The article added that “such a move would seem to bring Pakistan a step closer to being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism”. Let’s address the issue of Pakistan being declared a “state sponsor of terrorism”. On the list of terrorist organisations available on the US State Department’s website are familiar names like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkatul Mujahideen, Jundallah and ...

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Hello, any moderates out there?

After reading the Reuters report on dance parties in Pakistan and watching the daily shenanigans of the religious extremists on television, I’m starting to feel lonelier and lonelier in this extremely dichotomous and polarised society. I do not know how it happened but it certainly happened sometime in the last few years when practically all Pakistanis chose their sides. Today, a person is either the ‘I’m-better-and-smarter-than-all-of-you’ type of liberal or he or she is a ‘we’ll-blow-your-head-off-if-you-ask-for-any-rights’ type of religious fundamentalist. So now, the debate is always on miniskirts versus the hijab and on dance parties or dars. In their liberal or ...

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10 things Pakistanis hate to hear

One of the biggest disadvantages of living in a nation as homogeneous as ours is that it is very seldom that you get to hear alternative narratives on history, religion, culture and society in general. People who try and present narratives that are different from the main stream are labelled as agents, heretics or even worse, traitors. Here I have made a list of ten things that average Pakistanis just don’t want to hear. 1. America and Israel cannot be blamed for all the miseries of the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular. For a country that was hand in ...

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Let’s not make the ‘gora’ our benchmark

Growing up, I was taught that goras could do no wrong. Whether this was preached in talk shows on our TV channels; in the columns in leading newspapers; in the examples given by professors in educational institutions; one is bound to notice an increasing defeatist mentality gripping the minds of opinion makers regarding their very own nation. Any problem is presented and our society is automatically compared to the Western society; the former is depicted as the worst nation ever to exist on planet earth and the latter is presented as the pinnacle of human dignity, professional excellence and moral height. I was deputed on a ...

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‘Firaaq’: When the suppressed resort to terrorism

Since the year 2004, Pakistan has seen its North-West tribal agencies recurrently get bombed by American drones. After a total of around 300 drone strikes, about 3000 people have lost their lives. Though the United States proudly claims these attacks to be instrumental in eradicating the terrorist activities in the region, drone strikes still invite the debate as to whether they actually serve this purpose and this purpose only. More so, a wide majority of Pakistanis─ the tribal population included─ question the casual use of Pakistani air-space by the American military. Though people complain that these attacks ridicule the sovereignty of Pakistan, there ...

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Subliminal mockery and the devils advocate

A recent encounter with a firangi journalist made me realise that I have proudly joined the cult of perverse Pakistanis. Anyone who bears an accent and worships another deity must face the ‘us’ and ‘them’ complex. We will, at all times, find or literally pluck out a thread of sublime mockery from well-structured declarations of a love for Pakistan and every time these foreigners show us the positive side of Americano, we want to throw a brick at their Cau-caustic face. The jingoistic journalist started off the session just fine but then started chanting ‘bombs’, ‘bullets’ and ‘rape cases’ in ...

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Splitting atoms: Can your nukes save you?

Pakistan’s nuclear program, much like Pakistan itself, is always a headline grabber. And like Pakistan, it’s usually for all the wrong reasons. Certainly, there are all the perfect ingredients for a pot-boiler present –the potential death of millions, espionage, conspiracy, the threat of pilferage and/or outright takeover and so on. Also predictably, very few of us really see eye to eye on the usefulness of this programme. Those to the left of the political spectrum see it as a wasteful, dangerous and unnecessary tool, while the rightists amongst us see it as an indispensable asset and a laudable achievement. There ...

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The wailing wall of Israel

Perhaps we have all heard the oft repeated joke; when an American tourist came to Israel with the intention of visiting the Kotel (the Wailing Wall) but he forgot what it was called. When he stepped into a taxi, he said to the driver, Can you please take me to the place where all Jews cry? Do you know where this is? The taxi driver answered, Beseder – I’ll take you there. And he drove him straight to the taxation office! When I stepped outside the Easy Jet terminal on Tel Aviv International Airport, I felt chills travelling down my spine. They were partly ...

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