Stories about extremism

What does the IS have in common with the US?

After 9/11, the US administration decided to go on a mass “witch hunt” to locate and exterminate culprits whom they believed were behind the attacks on the World Trade Centre. The ultimate culpability and responsibility for the attacks was placed on Osama bin Laden, the then head of al Qaeda. Although the prime suspects for the 9/11 attacks were led to be of Arab descent, the location where it was believed that Bin Laden and his associates were residing was Afghanistan. Afghanistan, at the time, had gone through a series of internal struggles during their war with the USSR, in which Afghan Mujahideen had fought ...

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How can we stop our children from being radicalised by extremists?

I ask this question because all around me, our kids are being brainwashed by adults who are scared that Islam will disappear from the world if the younger generation is not trained to kill for the sake of religion. “Dada, you will not go to heaven if you do not keep a beard, Mehroze Khan Chacha told me”. “Nana, you should wear shalwar kameez when you go to the mosque, not jeans and T-shirt, Akmal driver Chacha says so.” “Dadi, you should not watch TV, Allah will punish you for it, our Quran teacher told us.” “Mummy, why don’t you wear a burqa, our Islamiat teacher says your prayers ...

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Why Pakistan is ranked third in slavery, women rights and terrorism

As per the latest surveys, Pakistan is ranked as the third most dangerous country for women, third on the human slavery index and third on the global terrorism index. Although this country is enormously blessed, be it with coal reserves, ideal geographical location, warm water, or mountainous buffer zones, its foreign image is downsizing, its economy is attenuating, trade deficit is flattening and the only label due to which it is mostly known is through its brand of ‘terrorism’. The crux behind many of these issues lies in our denial – denial of evolving fascism, denial of accessing true culprits, ...

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Memories of Shikarpur, the Paris of Sindh

The news of a bomb-blast at an imambargah in Shikarpur rocked the nation on Friday. But the attack was particularly shocking for my family. They remember a different Shikarpur – a land of peace, tolerance and Sufism, a land once called the ‘Paris of Sindh’. Many a wars have been fought by people coveting dominion over the emerald city. In the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1841, Lieut. Postans describes Shikarpur as, “The most important town in the country of Sindh in point of trade, population and influence”. My father was born in Shikarpur, my grandfather was born in Shikarpur, as was his father ...

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Aao Parhao – Why I chose teaching over a ‘dream job’

Teaching students at the college and high school levels has been a constant in my life since I graduated from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in 2011. Apart from working as a sub-editor at The Express Tribune in the year 2011-12, I was also teaching Sociology as a part-time faculty member. I have chosen to continue with the latter occupation for a variety of reasons. I went into teaching because I was inspired by John Dewey and his work on the education system in Turkey, whereby he completely reformulated the country’s education system according to the demands of the modern world. Not only ...

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24 absurd beliefs Pakistanis have

Norms are beliefs about how members of a group should behave in a particular context. They are informal and often ‘invisible’ understandings and rules that govern a group’s behaviour towards particular religious, social, cultural, political and socio-economic triggers. Norms generally define what is acceptable in a society or group and are the building blocks for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, ideologies and narratives. These rules are generally implicit. In addition to what is considered normative in societal, political or cultural context, there are smaller groups within a society which endorse a particular norm. On one hand, norms define how to move, what to wear, how ...

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Why was Dr Shakil Auj shot?

A year ago, I began working on a small report about various Islamic Studies syllabi at public universities (which, unfortunately, never made it to print owing to some editorial bottlenecks). I rang up Dr Shakil Auj, the dean of the Islamic Learning department of Karachi University, and asked if I could bring some questions to him. “No beta, I am very busy these days, maybe next week.” “Please, it won’t take long.” He agreed. I reached the Karachi University’s Islamic Learning department on a Friday morning. Not many classes are scheduled for Fridays. Girls, most of them heavily veiled, were perched on benches, ...

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Contradicting the Constitution (il)legally

“Wherein adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practice their religions and develop their cultures… Wherein adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes… No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law… All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law… There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex… No child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment… The State ...

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Balochistan: Self-inflicted misery?

My fondest childhood memories are of rolling down the landscaped gardens of the rest-house located beside the Quaid-e-Azam’s residency in Ziarat. The undulating open space spotted with the frosted looking juniper trees provided an ideal environment for the equally inviting wooden dens; and the fresh dew on the grass under the clear blue sky was then so tempting for us to feel. Visiting these dream homes used to be the highlight of our summer vacations. The short picnics to Hanna Lake, Ziarat and Wali Tangi were enriching and peaceful to say the least. Quetta, I should say, was one of the most ...

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Has Harry Potter made us all extremists?

JK Rowling took the world by storm when she wrote the Harry Potter saga that spanned over seven books and was published in hundreds of countries in countless languages. Pakistan was not alienated from this magic and when Potter arrived here, the series began to fascinate the populous with the fictional world Rowling had created. I can still vividly recall getting swept in the Potter-fever as I read and re-read all the Potter books, hoping to one day own a wand, a flying car and other magical objects. As I grew up, Potter stayed with me and I consider it to be one of the defining factors in my life. ...

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