Stories about Islamic state

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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Because extremists don’t criticise extremists

Human emotions are really weird sometimes; well most of the time, to be honest. We hate everything we don’t like, fear everything we don’t understand, and blindly love everything we identify with. We let our feelings cloud our understanding of the world, and we unfortunately could not continue thinking rationally even if we wanted to. Before anyone decides to deride my tongue-in-cheek critique of human emotions, I do wish to categorically state that our emotions are a part of us and are essential to our existence. They are what make us human after all. However, our use of our emotional ...

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The Pulwama attack is more than a massacre – it’s an unfortunate reminder

The recent killing of 44 security personnel belonging to the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) outside Srinagar has opened up a can of worms, and everyone should be bothered at this development. It’s not that this is the first time there has been an attack on Indian security forces in the valley, inflicting serious damage in terms of casualties. However, this attack is quite significant for the many issues it reveals, not necessarily for the lay person. The first and most important problem we need to confront is the attitude of the Indian state and its unofficial auxiliaries who have ...

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The US may withdraw its troops from Syria but the war is far from over

Not too long ago, US President Donald Trump shocked the world when he made the announcement that just this once, the US would decide to act in accordance with international law. The announcement in question was that US troops stationed in Syria would now be returning home to their families. This declaration in turn shocked what has become a war-loving media that never once questioned America’s military presence in a sovereign nation to begin with. Not many Americans appear to know this (nor do they appear to care, by some accounts) but the US military has occupied approximately one third of Syria for some time now. Conveniently, the ...

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Tahir Dawar’s brutal murder and the possible existence of IS in Pakistan is a wake up call

Squeaking with laughter while speaking to a journalist, then concluding with a sardonic snide, Iftikhar Durrani, Imran Khan’s spokesperson, claimed with confidence that SP Tahir Dawar was “safe” in Peshawar on October 28th. Unfortunately, however, with the recent discovery of the policeman’s dead body, that arrogant snide should only linger as a haunting memory for the prime minister’s top aide. The note from the Islamic State (IS) found alongside the late SP’s body is what makes matters worse than one could potentially begin to imagine. The latter being so, specifically because the government has repeatedly claimed that neither IS nor any direct ...

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Pakistan’s FATF grey-listing should not come as a surprise to anyone

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meeting in Paris has reportedly decided to keep Pakistan on its grey list; a decision that has surprised many in Pakistan. Pakistan has been kept on the so-called grey list which includes countries accused of financing or aiding terrorism. The FATF was established in 1989 – with its headquarters in Paris – and its main objectives include combating financing of terrorism, money laundering and other elements pertaining to the integrity of the international financial system. Even though Pakistan has surely not done enough to get off the grey list, the FATF failed to bring ...

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With Donald Trump’s travel ban 3.0, is America any safer?

Today, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban to be fully enforced. This ban restricts visas from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations. The premise: ‘national security’. But does such a ban really make Americans safer? Here are five points all Americans need to understand. 1. Religious extremism, not Islam, is the real threat There is no denying the fact that religious extremists, and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), pose a grave threat to the United States. These groups pervert religion for ulterior geo-political agendas. Their violent rhetoric – advocating for the killing of homosexuals, ‘blasphemers’, apostates and anyone who disagrees with ...

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Hiring John Bolton may lead to more war, but as long as it’s not on its soil, America doesn’t care

John Bolton’s recent inclusion in the Trump administration as his new national security advisor is a slap in the face of every Trump supporter who voted for him on his non-interventionist campaign platform – particularly in relation to America’s failures in Iraq (Bolton being one of the leading architects of the war in 2003). Unfortunately for the Middle East and the rest of Asia, Bolton is a man so hawkish that his appointment received open warnings from the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Vice News, Vox, and Foreign Policy magazine, just to name a few. All of these western outlets have championed US-backed ...

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Pakistan and Russia: From Cold War foes to budding allies?

It is no secret that Pak-US ties are experiencing a downward spiral. However, there is some good coming out of this mistrust between both countries. The ongoing tensions have motivated Pakistan to reach out to regional stakeholders other than China for potential partnerships, and one such partner being actively pursued by Islamabad is its former Afghan-jihad foe, Russia. Who would have thought that after almost three decades of Soviet disintegration and Pakistan’s active role in the former’s defeat in Afghanistan, both countries’ foreign ministers would be warmly embracing each other in Moscow? Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif – who recently concluded a three-day visit to Russia and signed a number of ...

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