Stories about america

What the NATO Summit achieved

The Pakistanis came, they didn’t quite conquer, and now they’re leaving. At the end of the day, the NATO Summit in Chicago produced no news, and yet there was much to report. With hundreds of media personnel camped at the massive media centre at McCormick Place, the venue of the summit, the subject of the day remained Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reporters tried to work out whether Pakistan would announce the re-opening of the supply routes, an issue that has been raised in nearly every press conference that took place during the summit. All that work really was in vain – Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

A year after Bin Laden: Could it happen again?

A year after the Abbottabad raid that plunged the US-Pakistan relationship to a new low, one big takeaway is that America’s general public is finally familiar with the name of at least one Pakistani city (though this does not mean we and our media have a handle on its geographical location). But on a more serious note, could there be an Abbottabad redux? Could there be another unannounced assault on Pakistani territory to take out a big-ticket terrorist? If there is one thing President Obama has demonstrated in recent months, it is that he is influenced by the hard-line rhetoric emanating ...

Read Full Post

Pak-US ties and those who matter most

At a joint sitting of the parliament the debate is on. The representatives of the people of Pakistan are discussing the new set of terms of engagement with the United States in the aftermath of the November airstrike on Pakistan’s Salala check post. A joint parliamentary committee on national security dished out some 40 recommendations which ostensibly would lay the basis on which the future Pak-US relations would stand. One runs through the proposals and after a lot of sifting through three visible contours emerge. 1) The US must submit an unconditional apology for the strikes; 2) the drone attacks must end ...

Read Full Post

Use or abuse: How far will social media activism go?

On 26 February 2012, an unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin was shot in the chest by George Zimmerman. Minutes before the shooting Zimmerman called 911 and allegedly said – as has been proved by the release of dispatch tapes – that Trayvon “looked suspicious.” He claimed self defense and no charges were filed, however when police arrived on the scene all they found with Trayvon was a can of iced tea and a bag of candy. This incident did not explode on  mainstream American media for a while. But the uproar was loud and clear on social media platforms. It became big on Twitter, Facebook ...

Read Full Post

Obama’s unfulfilled promises

For Americans and a huge chunk of non-Americans who (sometimes unwillingly) are affected by American policy and rhetoric, the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address makes for important TV. Oh, except that one time in 2010 when that episode of Lost was nearly delayed thanks to competing airtime forcing many to directly question the President’s Office if their president was even aware of this pending catastrophe. Very kindly, the White House assured America’s citizenry that President Obama would “not pre-empt the premier of the show’s final season”. Returning to tonight’s SOTU. On January 24, 9 pm President Obama’s third address to ...

Read Full Post

A journalist in Peshawar: My encounter with a militant

Six armed men surrounded my vehicle and asked me to get out of my car. Two of them seemed like people from the locality. The rest were shorter, had sharper features and Mongolian faces and spoke a language I couldn’t decipher. One of them, who spoke Pashto in a coarse voice, roughly ordered me to get out of the car Shaken, I replied: “Walay? Sa chal shaway de? Za sahafi yema.” (Why? What happened? I am a journalist.) He looked at me and asked: “Aren’t you an American?” I don’t know why he assumed so – I am as Pakistani as it gets. My guess is ...

Read Full Post

Dharna dude meets Jaali jihadi

The characters: Dharna Dude: Loves X-Box, facials and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Jaali Jihadi: Hates the Jews, likes the Taliban, loves Jamat-e-Islami (JI), and also Katrina Kaif (secretly) Dialogue ensues sometime in the future, at a “Shukrana Rally” called by PTI and JI to celebrate the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Dharna Dude: Helloooo JJ ma man! Whats happening Bro? We did it didn’t we dude? PTI and JI are like BFF man. Americans are tu bhago-fying (the Americans are running). Jaali Jihadi: Asalam o Alaikum bhai jaan. Thanks to Allah we have succeed. We must do shukrana (gratitude) Nawafil, as it is holy day of Friday. Dharna Dude: So true ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post