Stories about america

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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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