Stories about Beijing

Zia thought he was going to China to sell his liver, but he didn’t know what was waiting for him

Being a journalist in Pakistan, I frequently come across crimes committed, sentences pronounced, culprits getting caught, and in many cases, culprits getting away. Thought I may not be physically present every time, I rely on certain ‘sources’ within the respective setup to bring forth the facts, if not the whole truth. On July 30th, I was contacted by one of my sources within the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) who informed me about a poor soul and a ring of criminals caught at the airport. I asked for adequate information on the issue, and in response, I was not only ...

Read Full Post

Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

Read Full Post

Have you heard about the “Chinese” dish called Chicken Manchurian? Because people in China haven’t!

Pakistan is known for its desi-flavour infused Chinese dishes. Chicken Manchurian is a popular dish in Pakistan but funnily enough, people living in China have never heard of it, let alone consume it. This came as a surprise to me when I was visiting Beijing, China for a documentary shoot. My hosts from China Central Television took great care of my needs, including my meals and accommodation. At the end of the first day, when we were sitting in a halal restaurant in Beijing, my hosts asked me if I had a specific dish I wanted to have for my dinner. Since ...

Read Full Post

Chabahar: Without Pakistan, there is no stability or growth in landlocked Afghanistan and Af-Indo relations

We can bypass neither our history nor our geography – we have to live and deal with the consequences of both. Europe has a bitter history of war and dissensions among its member countries, with France and Germany, for instance, having had a long history of animosity and distrust. They fought many battles against each other, but by learning from their history and accepting their geography, they decided to come together for the common good of their people. Today, South Asia resembles this pre-World War II era, with historical animosities defining the political wisdom of South Asian states. The distrust is so deep that countries ...

Read Full Post

Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement may be Donald Trump’s only success story

In the cold and grey Washington, the news cycle has been eternally hot lately. The fire refuses to simmer down. The breathtaking pace at which events occur makes it tough to keep up with the war of words from the movers and shakers in a town where, post November 9, 2016, things have been constantly on the edge. While it is safe to say that all politicians are born actors and blatant liars, Donald Trump’s White House has legitimised the art of lying and given an official seal of approval to “alternative facts” – a term that essentially masks any untrue statement ...

Read Full Post

Given the Pakistan-India rivalry, how pragmatic is it for IOK to be part of CPEC?

The dominant view from Indian-held Kashmir is that the disputed region could greatly benefit from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Provided both Islamabad and New Delhi declare all parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (Kashmir Valley, Ladakh, Jammu, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B)) as a ‘single free economic zone’. Cutting across the ideological lines, leading stakeholders from India-held Kashmir argue that, “Kashmir can in fact become a gateway for India to be part of the CPEC, provided there is a settlement of the dispute first.” Without a whisker of doubt, the multi-billion dollar CPEC will definitely impact the socio-political and economic landscape of a certain part of the erstwhile ...

Read Full Post

India’s absence from the OBOR forum is testimony of Modi’s failed foreign policy

China hosted a massive two-day international event between May 14 and 15 in Beijing to formally launch its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which plans to connect Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. More than 65 countries participated in the summit and nearly half of them were represented by their heads of state and government. World powers such as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and even Japan too were in Beijing. Apart from Bhutan, which does not have any diplomatic ties with China, all other South Asian countries took part. However, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government decided to give it a miss in spite of China’s repeated overtures. Nothing can explain this self-inflicted isolation of India except PM Modi’s ...

Read Full Post

In this day and age, can we truly survive without social media?

In a world where we so heavily rely on social media, it’s difficult to fathom a world where it would cease to exist. Until recently I was immersed in a life where social media is central to our existence. I was part of a world in which we live, eat, breathe and sleep social media. According to statistics, any given individual will check their phone on an average of 100 times a day. (I took the liberty to count one day, and it’s close enough!). We spend a mindless number of hours scrolling through our news feeds, checking the latest ...

Read Full Post

My love affair with language (barriers) in Beijing

Beijing is a heady place for a tourist who can’t speak Mandarin. This was the uncontrived truth that surfaced during long conversations with friends and extensive Google searches on what to expect from the metropolis. I had been warned that the city’s sights, sounds, smells and flavours would not appeal to me unless the pull of a common language could bind me to them. As my trepidation grew into sheer terror, I contemplated the possibility of learning a few words in Mandarin to placate my fears and fit into my new orbit. Before I had boarded the six-hour flight from Karachi ...

Read Full Post

With Vietnam’s astonishing human rights record, is lifting the arms embargo a smart call?

President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Vietnam and his monumental full removal of the arms embargo was a clear signal that the leader of the free world will not be content with adopting a laid-back approach in his final year in office. He’s alive and kicking and means business! While the race for the White House gets nastier by the day, the president carries on strongly spreading goodwill and doing damage control as much as he possibly can both at home and abroad. Every nation has its own foreign policy goals and the US is no exception. Those goals may not necessarily fundamentally agree with the aspirations of other ...

Read Full Post