Stories about Cuba

The Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme is a great initiative, but can it survive the curse of corruption?

In keeping with the theme of ‘change’, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government recently launched the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, aiming to build five million homes in five years. It is evident from the very start that a project of this magnitude will require a lot more input than just land, which the government will be providing. And while they say they will not be involved in construction directly, arranging funds to provide basic amenities to residents alone will be a herculean task. We have launched our most ambitious, landmark housing policy of building 5mn homes in 5 yrs. InshaAllah this ...

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16 years after 9/11: Its tragic memory, surreal aftermath and the insecure world it left behind

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, young men like me who had posed as ‘Marxists’ across the 80s were overwhelmed by a sense of both sadness and dread. And yet we knew that things in our beloved Soviet Union were not quite like what we had imagined – a socialist Utopia in which the working classes (the proletariat) had risen above economic, religious and social biases to consolidate their own rule according to the noble dictates of Marxist-Leninism. I was 22 in 1988 and about to head out to a university in Moscow on a scholarship. The plan was ...

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Is Fidel Castro’s life really worthy of commemoration?

In what was a political paradigm dominated by plump dictators and disengaged philosophers, Fidel Castro and his accomplices gave new life to the left-wing. Their irresistible charisma, packed with unshakable ideological commitment and trademark physical appearances inspired an entire generation of revolutionaries. Although Fidel may have lost out to his fellow Che in the T-shirt revolution, in the larger historic-political context, Castro’s impact and significance far outweighs his former comrade. Escaping an estimated sum of 689 assassination attempts, the man built a communist state at the door step of the United States, sustaining it for almost six decades and out-lasting almost 11 American presidents. The ...

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Novus Ordo Seclorum – Hindsight

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. Boundaries shift, new players step in, but power always finds a place to rest its head. History is written by the victor and here I am thinking we’ve won. You bring down one enemy and they find someone even worse to replace him. Locations change, the rationale, the objective. Yesterday’s enemies are today’s recruits. Train them to fight alongside you, and pray they don’t eventually decide to ‘hate’ you for it, too.” – General Shepherd. If you have ever been a fan of the First-Person shooter genre, you must have ...

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What Donald Trump gets wrong about North Korea

One of Donald Trump’s latest contributions to the 2016 presidential contest is an offer to talk with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator who keeps 25 million people enslaved and commands an arsenal that some experts say could have more than 20 nuclear weapons by the end of this year.  “I would speak to him,” the presumed Republican nominee told Reuters in an interview. “I would have no problem speaking to him.” Such an overture would be a major shift in American policy. No sitting American president has ever met a North Korean leader. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Mr Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, on ...

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If US and Cuba can do it, can Pakistan and India make peace with history?

“I know the history, but refuse to be trapped by it,” so said President Obama on his epically momentous trip to Cuba – the first by a sitting US president since 1928. Leaving behind Republican rhetoric, hate speech and fear-mongering, for two and a half days Obama managed to block the noise, break protocol and made an overarching effort to mend fences with the old enemy by walking the streets of Havana, addressing the people of Cuba and indulging in baseball diplomacy. This journey was long overdue, one that was destined to wash away bitter memories and intense rivalry between the two nations. It proved that if there is a will, there ...

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Making sense of terror attacks anthropologically

On the evening of November 13, 2015, Paris suffered the worst terrorist attack in modern European history, killing over 120 people. The scale and sheer barbarity of the attacks is unprecedented. The French society is in trauma. The world is in shock. Paris, still reeling from the aftermath of the deadly Charlie Hebdo attack earlier this year, will no longer be the same city. From holding vigils to changing Facebook display pictures in French flag colours, the attacks have prompted an exceptional display of solidarity with the victims by the global community. The western leaders have been quick in showing support for Paris, calling it ...

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Rural India’s poor healthcare is a reflection of our economy

It has rightly been said that India resides in its villages. Rural India is the mirror of our economy. Healthcare is an imperative prerequisite for human development and is an inseparable component for the overall well-being of mankind. India bears the load of roughly 17.5 % of the global population, one-fifth of the world’s share of all diseases, one-fourth of maternal conditions, and one-fifth of nutritional disorders.  Apart from this, one cannot deny the fact that India has achieved truckloads in advancing healthcare and overall health standards over the past six decades. Public financing of healthcare sector and budgeting schemes for a healthy rural India is important, but seldom ...

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68th Independence Day: Liberation from the prejudices of the past

This weekend, India and Pakistan celebrate their 68th Independence Day as two independent nations. Such a solemn occasion is also a time for one to reflect upon and evaluate the journey taken so far. One wonders whether the fury, rage and bloody madness that gripped the countries prior to the independence were justified? Were the killings in the name of religion perpetrated by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs justified? You cannot avoid these piercing questions. History would not allow us to forget the guilt and living in guilt is an unbearable pain. It is time to reflect upon how much damage the collective guilt and refusal ...

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Pakistan should put its own house in order before jumping into an arms race

I’m a peacenik and I’m happy in my skin. As an active journalist, I have covered enough wars, had my fair share of good and bad fortune, experienced torture and witnessed people maimed, lamed and face the ultimate fate of death. I got emotionally drained and ultimately decided that it was time to say goodbye to the action and adventure. In my quest to understand life better, I used spirituality as my crutch. I realised that all we need is to counter hatred with love, aggression with passion and hostility with peace. I learnt that the beast of vice is ...

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