Stories about India

Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 1

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 2 here. ~ Saadat Hasan Manto passed away on a foggy morning today, 65 years ago in my native city of Lahore. A few months shy of his 43rd birthday, his frail body had been consumed by alcohol and his spirit was exhausted by the many battles he fought in independent Pakistan against the state’s courts and critics, who shunned, marginalised and victimised him. Among the victims of his acerbic pen in his final years were Uncle Sam and the ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 3: Pakistan, India, religion, and climate change

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Religion and spirituality Hassan Mirza (HM): Did religion have any big influence on you when you were growing up? Were your family members religious? Noam Chomsky (NC): Judaism did, religion didn’t. My parents were not religious in the usual sense. Deeply rooted in Jewish/Hebraic culture, somewhat observant. HM: What do ...

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Pakistan’s role in the Middle East conundrum

Sitting 8000 miles across the Pacific from my hometown Islamabad, I had to take a break from work for an early afternoon stroll along the Santa Monica Beach to make sense of recent developments in the Middle East and their wider implications. My country of origin, Pakistan, has already seen the aftermath of indulging in proxy wars at a staggering human, social and economic cost. Hindsight in our case has unfortunately never been 20-20. Even after the relative de-escalation of tensions following President Donald Trump’s address last week, one still cannot dismiss the potential of one hasty tweet or one cyber-attack to ...

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What will be the consequences of the rising US-Iran tensions?

In the popular TV show House of Cards, American President Franklin Underwood faces a hostage situation with a group of extremists loyal to the Islamic Caliphate Organisation. The loyalists can easily be taken out and the hostage freed, but the president uses the public death of the hostage as political capital. Because of investigations into the president’s tainted past, he raises an effective disinformation campaign against the terrorist organisation, rallies Congress, and declares war. The American people are scared and choose to place their faith in the president, forgetting any accusations of foul-play, corruption, and murder. In the real world, ...

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Lessons in tenacity: Why Pakistan should learn from Turkey

When faced with the seemingly unyielding support of its ostensible NATO ‘partners’ for Kurdish secessionists in the Syrian-Turkish border regions, Turkey faced a veritable conundrum. Turkey’s  successful October 9-24, 2019 Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria against entrenched, US military-protected Kurdish fighters came after setting red lines regarding its national security, acknowledging that lack of respect afforded to those red lines by traditional partners necessitated threatening core foundational assets of its ties with them, recognising its advantages and constraints and hedging its bets with new foreign allies. In numerous ways, Turkey’s negotiation of the ordeal vis a vis the Kurds and ...

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Pakistan’s precarious waltz with the FATF

A quick internet search reveals a litany of news articles, twitter rants, and opinions regarding the presence of Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) infamous black and grey lists. Back in October, the global watchdog posed 150 questions which Pakistan had to respond to. While it remains to be seen as to how many issues the government has actually addressed, the subject in question goes beyond the scope of clamping down on terror financing and money laundering for Pakistan. Major shifts in the global balance of powers, geopolitical conflicts and diplomatic duels have significantly affected the FATF ...

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We are fighting to protect India’s soul from a majoritarian regime

There were many question marks surrounding Narendra Modi when he was making a bid to become prime minister of India back in 2014. Would he be able to devote his attention towards the development of the country? Would his slogan ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ (together with all and development for all) translate into a reality? At the time, many went against their instincts and voted for him, confident that his past would not hinder the construction of a new beginning in Delhi. But few could have foreseen the dark turn the Modi regime would take in the years to come. Sometimes our worst fears really become a reality, and India today ...

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Is geography the primary determinant of foreign policy?

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “If you know a country’s geography, you can understand and predict its foreign policy said.” If we view the modern world through a lens of realism, we will notice that every nation-state is acting to ensure its survival. Principles of idealism can only exist in countries where national interests do not collide with the interests of powerful international actors. Major global events of the last decade indicate that Morgenthau’s and Mearsheimer’s realism has indeed prevailed. Throughout this article, I shall attempt to prove how the foreign policies of world players have revolved around their geographical placement. Western analysts portray ...

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Can Pakistan hold India responsible for religious discrimination?

A couple of days ago, the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha (upper house and the Rajya Sabha (lower house) of the Indian Parliament. Due to the discriminatory and exclusionary nature of the act, the Indian government is getting a lot of heat from the international media. Internally also, India has received and continues to receive flak from the liberal sections of the Indian press, Muslims and from populations of the northeastern states of India, who fear that the aforementioned bill will endanger their indigenous culture and languages. Several international humanitarian organisations, such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Amnesty ...

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The Citizenship Amendment Bill has tarnished India’s secular ideals

When a government considers itself to be the sole arbiter of a nation’s destiny then it has become a prisoner of its own hubris. At the time of his reelection in May, there was hope that the renewed mandate of Narendra Modi and his regime could perhaps usher in some positive change in India and South Asia. But that was not to be. The bloated ego of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strengthened the belief in the party that its agenda is far more important than the aspirations of the people. The abrogation of Article 370  was part of the ...

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