Stories about Iran

Can Pakistan be polio-free?

People who know me well know that I often compulsively compare and contrast India and Pakistan by virtue of not just their close proximity, but because I consider both countries as my home. When the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India polio free on March 27, 2014, after it had not had a single case since 2009, I was filled with great pride. Knowing that India is densely populated, afflicted with poverty and has poor access to healthcare for millions, polio eradication was indeed something to celebrate. But as in every such situation, I naturally wanted to know how long it ...

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Pakistan and its BLA conundrum

The United States (US) has stated that the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) will now be considered a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGTS) group.  BLA has long been blamed for carrying out deadly attacks against its opponents, Pakistan’s security forces and labourers from other provinces, but it has been the recent spate of violence which catapulted the organisation into the spotlight. It appears that the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last year and a deadly attack on the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar earlier this year, has led to the US State Department declaring that,  “BLA is an armed separatist ...

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Why Afghanistan is Pakistan’s principal enemy

It may seem counter-intuitive to claim that a perennially failed state with illogical borders, an ethno-demographic ticking time bomb for a population, and a traditionally ungovernable periphery is the primary enemy of a nuclear-armed and exponentially militarily superior neighbouring state. But in the case of the failed state of Afghanistan’s relationship with nuclear Pakistan, this is the reality. Although traditionally India and Pakistan are considered supreme rivals, ultimately, modern Pakistan can handle India’s random acts of aggression, as was seen in the aftermath of February’s Pulwama incident. Moreover, if India truly seeks to take its place as a leading global ...

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Calling Iran’s bluff: Who are the real winners in the Gulf tanker crisis?

Iran has shot down what it claims to be a United States (US) spy drone in the Strait of Hormuz, accusing Washington of violating its airspace amidst escalating tensions between the two nations. Two days earlier, the US announced that it will deploy 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East in response to Iran’s “hostile behaviour”. The attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week marked a tipping point in their steadily deteriorating relationship, and although both countries insist that they want to avoid war, there are fears that recent developments could inevitably result in military confrontation. ...

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It is our inaction, not foreign involvement that is worsening the Balochistan conflict

Balochistan is once again in the grip of deadly violence. At least three people, including a prayer leader, were killed and 28 wounded in a remotely-controlled explosion inside a mosque an hour before Friday prayers. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings. According to security sources, the target was a religious cleric, while the bombing itself was a result of Taliban infighting. However, this information has not been independently confirmed. Given the nature of the attack, however, it is apparent this is the work of a religious fanatic group. Pashtoonabad is located on the outskirts of Quetta and is predominantly ...

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Is war between the US and Iran imminent?

Countries often behave like people, with the same psychological forces controlling and driving them. The United States (US) and Iran are no different. They are bitter rivals because of their differing ideologies but there’s something else at play too. From the very end of World War II, the US has tried to dominate the world’s political discourse and has dictated policies to every country it could get its hands on. From North Korea to Venezuela, the diktat has been the same – either accept our political supremacy or bear the consequences of not listening to us. Pax Americana is ...

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How Imran Khan and Donald Trump ruined Iran-India relations for good

Iran-India relations might be about to enter their worst-ever period in modern history, as a result of two very important and uncoordinated moves undertaken at almost the exact same time by the American and Pakistani leaders. Prime Minister Imran Khan just paid his first visit to Iran, where he and his hosts announced that they will enter into a new era of anti-terrorist cooperation. Geopolitical analyst Adam Garrie comprehensively analysed this in his recent piece on this breaking news event. The ball was indeed in Iran’s court to stop India’s anti-Pakistani Baloch terrorism, like I wrote the other day. To Tehran’s credit, its ...

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The consequences of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s words

Prime Minister Imran Khan finally paid a visit to Iran upon the invitation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and the two-day visit was very important considering the strategic importance of both countries combined with the extreme tension between them on their over 900-kilometre long border. During his visit, apart from meeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Imran addressed a joint press conference with Rouhani in which both countries stressed upon the importance of improving relations through bilateral dialogue, especially to combat the threats of drug smuggling and terrorism. This was a rather strange joint presser, as both Pakistan and Iran have ...

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Iran and Iraq may not be tourist hot spots, but they offer a spiritual journey like no place else

I was recently invited to a trip to Iran and Iraq by a group of close friends from Lahore, and as I had never been to these states before, I decided to take the opportunity to visit the shrines frequented mostly by Shia pilgrims. After all, how else was I going to be able to travel through war-torn Iraq (where the Islamic State has only recently been defeated) and gain access to the heavily sanctioned country of Iran? Mesopotamia – the cradle of civilisation and home to many Imams of the Islamic world – has been off-limits to most ...

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Erdogan embraced Trump’s politics to stay in power – has it finally failed him?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s embrace of Donald Trump-era populist politics not only appears to be nearing its inevitable end, but apparently has done Erdogan no favours in the long run. In mid-July 2016, an attempted coup in Turkey carried out by a faction of Turkey’s armed forces led to what can only be described as a brutal crackdown, as Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) crushed any potential resistance with an iron fist that made even some of history’s former despots pale in comparison. Barely two weeks after the coup, Turkey dismissed close to 1,700 military personnel ...

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