Stories about Kabul

Killing patriarchy, one headscarf at a time

Every once in a while, I come across news that fills me with hope that patriarchy will indeed perish someday, and that all is not lost in vain. And the news about Iranian men donning hijabs, in solidarity with their wives was one of those rare moments. For the past few days, several men have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the hijab – and some even wearing the full burqa – to not only show solidarity with their wives, who have been forced to cover up in accordance with the strict ‘modesty’ rules of the country, but also to protest ...

Read Full Post

Why are Pakistani authorities silent over Mullah Mansoor’s death?

The second amir of the Taliban, Mullah Mansoor, has been dispatched to the hereafter by a hellfire missile fired from a Reaper drone or so claim the Americans. Others can neither confirm nor deny. Our own government is going through the same old motions. Denial. Conveniently a passport has been found unscathed. It is amazing how sturdy and fantastically fire-proof the material Pakistani passports are made of. If nothing else, this shows true ingenuity. Our passport might be considered the second or third worst passport in the world, but at least it can survive a drone attack. Imagine the potential. ...

Read Full Post

Will the US government establish a power-sharing government with the Afghan Taliban?

On April 19, 2016, the Taliban carried out one of its most deadly attacks in Kabul, claiming the lives of 64 innocent people. The attack, an extension of the on-going intense battle in Kunduz, came a week after the Taliban announced its own Spring Offensive called Operation Omari or OpOmari in honour of the late Mullah Omar, calling mujahideens to take forward his vision. Considering the deteriorating situation at hand, one wonders if the peace process between Pakistan and Afghanistan has come to an end. Where is Afghanistan headed? Has Pakistan lost its influence over the Taliban? Regional dynamics This land-locked, mountainous battlefield has proven to be much more ...

Read Full Post

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan deported: Is India sincere about improving Indo-Pak ties?

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (RFAK) is by far my favourite singer mainly because his bewitching and melodious voice keeps me under a spell whenever I listen to him. The man is surely gifted and there is definitely some magic in his voice which keeps one enchanted. Just recently, a Pakistani friend introduced me to yet another masterpiece of the legendary singer, Tere Bina Jeena Nahi Ve Soniya from the Pakistani movie Bin Roye, which yet again proved that RFAK has reserved his best for his own country. Notably, the song is my phone’s ringtones, adding to my never-ending list of ...

Read Full Post

The filthy culture of bacha bazi in Afghanistan

The Afghans call this revolting act bacha bazi, and it is exactly what it sounds like. Young boys usually ostracised from villages by their families because they were attacked by a paedophile, wearing flowing colourful outfits clad in bells, dancing in seedy places for older turban wearing bearded Afghan men, only to be sexually assaulted after the contemptible night takes a drug and alcohol fuelled turn. The Guardian stated, “Dressed in a flowing shirt and long, red skirt, with sherwal pants beneath and small silver bells fastened to hands and feet, the dancer stepped across the floor, face hidden behind a ...

Read Full Post

The Way Things Were: Is India’s past a mentor for its evolution?

Aatish Taseer’s latest book, ‘The Way Things Were’, is the first book of his that I have read, but its subtle tone and poetic finesse lured me instantly. The title of the book is based on the Sanskrit word ‘itihasa’, meaning history. The concept of ‘itihasa’ is utilised throughout the book, with a literal extraction of elements from the past, not to exploit the present or future but to transform current situations in a more cultural dimension. ‘The Way Things Were’ is a story that is cultivated in three phases – the Indian Emergency 1975, anti-Sikh riots of the 8os, and the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992. The story beautifully interweaves characters from the elites of Lutyens’s Delhi, Indian politics and Sanskrit, ...

Read Full Post

Should Afghanistan, India and Iran always blame Pakistan for their own mistakes?

It’s nothing but ironical that I’m writing this blog on the latest (if not the greatest), all intensive, simmering hot issue of yet another AfPak entanglement right around the time when one of the chief architects of Pakistan’s Afghan’s policy of the 80s-90s, General Hamid Gul, bade farewell to the world. The general, a villain to some and a hero to others, was by all means a controversial figure, one who left a deep impact on the regional politics for years to come. So when I hear the current crop of Afghan leadership screaming their lungs out with ferociously unsavoury, emotion-laden statements pointing fingers at the Pakistanis for ...

Read Full Post

Why now, Afghanistan?

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s revelation that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is dead — which had long been assumed yet never confirmed — a fundamental question remains. Why would the Afghan government make this announcement now? Specifically, why would Kabul jeopardise a peace process that it desperately wants to succeed and that has only recently gained steam? Surely, Kabul knew that announcing Mullah Omar’s death would bring long-festering tensions within the Taliban to the fore and trigger a deep and perhaps even existential organisational crisis — a messy, drawn-out, and possibly bloody leadership transition that will consume the Taliban’s energies and could limit its ability to focus on peace talks. So what ...

Read Full Post

No matter how you slice it, there can be no peace in Afghanistan

In recent years, attempts to launch peace talks with the Afghan Taliban have resulted in little more than false hopes and false starts. The ill-fated opening of a Taliban office in Qatar. A controversial prison exchange involving a US Prisoner of War (PoW) and five Taliban detainees in Guantanamo. Alleged secret talks initiated by then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Such efforts, while promising, ultimately all fell flat.   Then, last week, on the heels of a slew of informal meetings in China, Norway, and elsewhere earlier this year, Taliban representatives and Afghan government officials held what were described as their ‘first formal peace talks’ in Islamabad. The plan is to continue this dialogue next ...

Read Full Post

‘Kabul gets bombed 24/7’: Eight stereotypes about Kabul

A six-day long Afghan-Pakistan Youth Dialogue in Kabul changed my life forever, as I set off to a venture that helped me break stereotypes about Afghanistan. From their meritorious hospitality  to appetising cuisine, from their commendable social activism to unwavering dedication, I could pen down a novel about my week-long stay in Kabul. But for now, let me share some of the stereotypes which were shattered once I moved across Kabul myself, experiencing and collecting cherished moments. Not everyone gets bombed 24/7 Kabul is not a battlefield and rockets do not come falling over your head. Chances of you dying while driving in Kabul are higher than getting shot at. An Afghan man roller blades ...

Read Full Post