Stories about extremism

2012: the year al Qaeda staged a comeback

Somewhere, out there on a dust-ridden road of Somalia a fighter of al Shabab is walking around, Ak-47 clutched in his hands, keeping a lookout for government troops. While hiding in charred and mangled remains of a building in Idlib in Syria, a sniper from Jabahat al-Nusra is calmly scanning the battlefield, looking for Syrian Army troops to show up. Meanwhile somewhere in Mali, a fighter belonging to AQIM (al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb) stands over the ruins of some destroyed tomb of a saint. Destroyed, because according to the creed he has been taught, worshipping and paying ...

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Congratulations on your inhumanity

Congrats on this morose day to you, Where the sky is a shade of gloomy blue, And birds rarely sing perchance, they attract glee, While everyone roams around in utter frenzy.   Congrats to you and your sterile emotions, To your faithless love and your empty notions, To your lifeless joy and your proud modesty, To your useful religion and your puritan negativity.   Congrats on having a mind cunning in all might, Congrats on having a heart colder than ice, Congrats on ruining houses, destroying love, And posing it to be a commandment sent from above.   Congrats in losing the little warmth left in you, In being cleansed of all human feelings too, On ...

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A girl and a boy out alone must mean trouble in Pakistan

Apparently the restrictions on what you can and cannot do in this country are becoming stricter and minds are gradually becoming narrower. I used to think that the ‘law’ of being caught with a member of the opposite sex had died with Ziaul Haq, and that people would gradually have become more open-minded about seeing two members of the different genders together without automatically assuming the worst. Unfortunately, I was to be proven wrong on both counts. There is a very famous poster that makes the rounds on social media. It says: “In the west, you can kiss in public, but not ...

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We are not Malala, we may be the Taliban

In order for terrorists to flourish, they need more than guns, funding and a geographical location to operate in – they also need an ideological space to occupy and work inside. That is how they persist; that is how they can win. This fact is one which the majority of Pakistanis have yet to come to terms with: the fact that we ourselves are often individually culpable and involved in the war being waged against the terrorists in our country. Tragically, we are often knowingly or unknowingly on the wrong side of the ideological front. Nowhere has this been better illustrated ...

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This is an ‘Islamic’ republic: You can’t sit next to your wife!

If you thought that of all the places to eat in Pakistan, McDonalds would be relatively safe from extreme behaviour, falsely made in the name of religion, sadly, you would be quite wrong. Unfortunately, I just found this out the hard way, and in an incident that left a worse taste in my mouth than the culinary abortions the burger joint had on offer. Just yesterday, a little after midnight on Sunday, my wife and I, coming back from a friend’s birthday party, decided to stop at Karachi’s newest McDonald’s restaurant at Defence Phase 1 for some Diet Coke. Rather ...

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G-B massacre: When will Pakistan really win independence?

Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is a natural splendour which Pakistan boasts as a tourist attraction for foreigners and expats. This mountainous terrain is adorned with snow capped  peaks, lush valleys and rivers that could revitalise your very soul. This place was heaven on earth; this place exists no more. G-B, which once stood as the most appealing attraction for tourists now stands amongst one of the most neglected regions of the world. Eaten away by sectarianism, extremism and militancy, our lush valleys of the North are embedded with fear and vulnerability. The presence of militant factions and clashes between rival sects have become ...

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Why are we allowing the Taliban an easy victory?

Call it brutality, insanity or ignorance, but what happened on June 25, 2012 will be remembered as yet another defeat in this war against terror which we are supposedly fighting. News stories day before yesterday stated that Taliban insurgents from across the border in Afghanistan – with the help of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – attacked a military patrol area in the Upper Dir district. Six soldiers were killed in gun battles and eleven went missing after the attack. Moreover, seven soldiers were reported to have been beheaded. Sickening and medieval, but so true and common in the Pakistan of today. An official of the security forces said that ...

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Thoughts on anti-vulgarism day: Dear Diary…

Dear diary, Today I came back from school after having an interesting day in my class. We, the fourth graders, learned about science, math and geography. We also had one man come to our class. He reminded me of Santa Claus but he wasn’t as nice. He was very strict. He told me that I can no longer sit with my best friend Mariam because it is wrong. I’m very sad about that. He said I don’t look at her in a nice way. I don’t know what he means but he’s older and everyone said he is very religious ...

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Another sad madrassa tale

The sun was shining down in all its glory on blossoming flowers which were ready to be plucked. Young children, not over the age of five, were seen laughing and giggling while birds flew and chirped overhead – creating a fusion that signified the beauty that this world holds. Three of those young children stepped forward to pull a few flowers for their teacher. However, fate had a sardonic way to disrupt the content that shone on their faces. This is not a movie script, nor is it an unraveling of a fictional story. This is a real life story ...

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Problems and progress: Reasons to celebrate Pakistan Day

Is Pakistan the most exciting place to live in the 21st century? On the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the Pakistan Resolution, the evidence appears to be stacked overwhelmingly in Pakistan’s favour. Consider this: the Pakistani people are frontline warriors in the greatest ideological battles of the 21st century. Whether it’s the war against religious extremism or the definitive showdown between democracy and entrenched dictatorship, the Pakistani people are playing an outsize role in shaping not just their own future, but also a new, post 9/11 world order. If you want front row seats to witness 21st century history in the making, Pakistan ...

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