Stories about India

A tale from across the border: How India is dealing with COVID-19

India has suddenly fallen silent. Some of the prominent cities where life never stops have come to a standstill. The chants of endless community prayers have ceased. An eerie silence pervades the country ever since the nationwide lockdown was declared on March 24th. However, beyond the surface of this deepening quiet is a disquiet and the sense of unease over the success of this unprecedented lockdown. Never before in the annals of human history have 1.3 billion people been confined to their homes like Indians are today in an attempt to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19). Today the ...

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Was Nawaz Sharif really soft on India?

Former Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in a recent interview claimed that not only was former prime minister Nawaz Sharif soft on India himself, he directed the Foreign Office to not highlight India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Balochistan or mention Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian spy who had been arrested in the same province. She also went on to allege that Sharif was soft on India due to his business interests in the country. These claims have since been rubbished by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif, while Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has seconded the allegations.  Was Sharif ...

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The problem with Iran’s statement on Delhi’s anti-Muslim violence

At the expense of sounding morbid, one can say India’s state-abetted anti-Muslim pogrom in New Delhi earlier this month presented an opportunity for Iran. In the context of downward trends in Indo-Iran ties in recent times, the potential for Iran to establish its credentials as a Muslim power in South and West Asia through a strong stance on India’s brazen anti-Muslim policies has risen considerably. However, Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent statement on the Delhi pogroms failed to build upon strong rhetoric from Iranian state clerics last August when India annexed occupied Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). It, in fact, has harmed Iran’s thus-far ...

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Remembering Habib Jalib on his 92nd birthday with his iconic poem ‘Dastoor’

Habib Jalib, who was born 92 years ago today, was a Pakistani resistance poet par excellence. I have written elsewhere on the themes of resistance and revolution in his poetry and also about why his work has an urgent appeal even in the 21st century, despite most of it having been written in the middle of the last century. Instead, I want to focus today on Jalib’s iconic poem Dastoor (Constitution) which not only became an anthem of protest for a whole generation during Pakistan’s first military dictatorship of Ayub Khan in the 1960s, but gained a new lease of life ...

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The scenario for Afghanistan after the US-Taliban deal

The tentative deal signed on February 29, 2020 between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban after almost two decades of war hinges on a successful execution of four main points. Firstly, America has to gradually withdraw its troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months, with 5,600 troops to leave the country within 135 days. Secondly, the Taliban and the Afghan government (which was not a party to the deal) must open direct talks, which will be preceded by the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners currently held by the Afghan government and the release of 1,000 prisoners in Taliban captivity. Thirdly, the Taliban ...

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The US-Taliban deal will only benefit America

The deal between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban in Doha last Saturday is bound to have lasting repercussions across the region. Under the agreement, the US is committed to reducing its number of troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the deal, and the full withdrawal of forces will take place considering the security situation in the country and the Taliban’s commitment to not creating any more security threats in the region. However, it seems that President Donald Trump has made this deal in a hurry in an attempt to strengthen his chances ...

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Can Pakistan’s economic decay be halted?

Expectations were sky-high when Imran Khan took over Pakistan’s reins in 2018 with most voters hoping that their financial well-being would improve. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government has now been in power for approximately 18 months, and therefore, it would be a good time to gauge whether the hopes of their voters were misplaced or warranted. More importantly, if the aforementioned hopes were misplaced, it is advisable for us to take a look at what measures need to be undertaken to bring stability to the economy. After trying and subsequently failing to balance the books with the help of friendly ...

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Is America’s outlook towards Pakistan changing?

Predictably, President Donald Trump’s 36 hour visit to India generated a lot of hype not only in the country but also in the United States (US). Despite the trade deal remaining elusive, both parties seem to have gained from the optics of the visit. In his election year, President Trump will benefit from the pomp and show that his campaign will showcase to the domestic audience as proof of his international publicity and stature. The visit will also help him gain the support of the four million strong Indian-American community. Similarly, although some might say that Narendra Modi fiddled around ...

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India is at war with secularism

Let’s not call what happened in Delhi communal riots or a sectarian conflict. Let’s call it what it was: a systematic attack against the Muslims of India. What  happened in Delhi between February 23-25 was an organised and planned offensive against the Muslims. Both Hindus and Muslims are among the 42 people who have been declared dead so far; evidently, violence, once it begins, assumes its own character and does not discriminate on the basis of religion. Ever since protests erupted against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December last year, a parallel campaign has been running, aimed at increasing divisiveness and furthering the agitation. The CAA redefines Indian citizenship on the ...

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Revisiting Josh Malihabadi’s tribute to Urdu on his 38th death anniversary

Shabbir Hasan Khan ‘Josh’ Malihabadi (1898-1982), who passed away 38 years ago today, was the patron saint of the Progressives, who conferred upon him the fond honorific Shaayar-e-Inquilab – the poet of revolution. And he returned the compliment in his own way by summing up the agenda of the Progressives pithily: “Kaam hai mera taghayyur, naam mera hai shabaab Mera naara inquilaab-o-inquilaab-o-inquilaab” (My name is youth, and upheaval is my mission My slogan: Revolution. Revolution. Revolution.) Josh was a freedom-fighter and was part of the movement which called for the end of British rule in India. Despite being close friends with Jawaharlal Nehru, and being awarded the ...

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