Stories about Kabul

Pakistan’s unstable, schizophrenic relation with Afghanistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy a ‘brotherly’ relationship that is nothing less than a theatre of the absurd. It has had its highs and lows and has had moments when people have scratched their heads and wondered about the emotionally unstable, schizophrenic handling of bilateral affairs by their erratic and volatile leaderships. With an extremely porous, almost non-existent border featuring a treacherous terrain of hills and rugged mountains standing between the two countries, the people of both lands have endured hard times since decades now. As if the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 70s was not enough with a massive influx of refugees spilling into Pakistan throughout the 80s, ...

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Islam would never allow Farkhunda to be lynched

I sat comfortably on a sofa browsing through Facebook; the ambiance was comfortable as was my state of mind. And then flashed an image of Farkhunda – a video clip recorded of the beating and the burning. I clicked on it, I should not have, but I did, I did, I did. And the realisation that Farkhunda must have hurt, she must have felt agonising pain, she must have screamed, she must have shouted, she must have cried ‘help’, she must have cried ‘murder’, she must have been shocked, she must have been scared, she must have been frightened, she must have known ...

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Ashraf Ghani – Bringing maturity back to international politics

Although no one will claim honestly, the new Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, for the most part, is a well-respected statesman amongst the Washington circles. Politicians are trained liars and Ghani’s predecessor was no exception to the rule. However, this guy is someone who comes across as less slippery, more adaptable to change and hence generally acceptable for his demeanours and policies. Earlier this week, Ghani was on his first official US visit as Afghanistan’s head of state. He is no alien to either US culture or politics. He studied, worked and played a prominent part in influencing Washington’s pre and post 9/11 Afghan policies. I ...

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What happened when 20 men in Afghanistan wore burqas?

Yesterday, March 8th marked the 104th anniversary of International Women’s Day as people all over the world found unique and creative ways to raise awareness about the rights, or lack thereof, of women, calling for gender equality and celebrating the achievements of women worldwide. These were done through social media, local and international events, educational seminars, political functions, etcetera. When it comes to commemorating global events like International Women’s Day, the sky is the limit.  However, the event that stood out the most for me, and even made headlines last week, was that of a group of 20 Afghan men, fully clad in blue shuttlecock burqas, marching ...

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When will India and Pakistan stop complaining to Uncle Sam?

In India, we live and grow with the belief that the ISI and several non-state actors in Pakistan are responsible  for terrorism in the country. That the trouble in Jammu and Kashmir is sponsored from across the border and people of the valley do not have their own grievances. That Islamic terrorism is spreading its wings in India, courtesy of our neighbour. That it is Islamabad which is responsible for the animosity between India and Pakistan and that the latter does not want to see peace in the region. Everything wrong on the security front is taken as a handiwork of Pakistan’s ...

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Will Ashraf Ghani be able to restore ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

There is no denying that foreign policies in the subcontinent region are rapidly transforming from what they were a few years back. One major factor for this are the new heads of states, especially in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, who have been elected over the past two years. What these new heads do will decide the fate of, not only this region but, all those who are connected with these countries. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of bad blood between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the two countries share a long history of mistrust and perpetual animosity, caused by a myriad of factors, including ...

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Afghanistan: A new dawn but old challenges

For over 30 years, Afghanistan has had to contend with political upheavals, foreign invaders, economic disruption and a ruthless insurgency. On April 5, 2014, Afghans went to the polls to choose a new president, in an election that was seen as crucial to the country’s future. Divided along ethnic fault-lines, instead of an inclusive and legitimate leadership who acts as a reflection of the mosaic nature of the Afghan society, what these elections produced in return was chaos and instability. For more than six months, the two rivals for the Afghan presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah had accused the other of ...

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Stop blaming FATA and take responsibility for the IDPs, Pakistan

After months of dithering, the Pakistani government finally approved the long-awaited offensive against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) last week. The decision came in the wake of the audacious terrorist attack on the country’s largest airport that reportedly killed at least 29 people. While the decision is a welcome move, the way it was arrived at revealed the ‘reactive’ nature of and the laxity and arbitrariness associated with the country’s policy-making process. Given the existential threat it poses, terrorism should have been the foremost priority of the new government and therefore must have been dealt with in a more pro-active and robust way. Unfortunately, ...

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Three Muslim films Pakistanis must watch

Pakistan might not have the best movie industry in the world but Muslim countries across the world have managed to spread some truly phenomenal messages and cultural insights through their films industries. The Iranian cinema’s popularity in European film festivals and their recent Oscar win, is but one example of Muslim cinema’s increasingly transforming and often very realistic nature. In light of that, here are three thought-provoking films from different Muslim film industries that are sure to leave you pondering upon the many facets of Islamic beliefs and Muslim cultures. They will also highlight the drastic parallelism between foreign Muslim societies and ...

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Overcoming adversity and reopening schools in Swat

As one travels, on the highway, from Peshawar to Swat, the lush green fields, dotted with tall poplar trees, appear breath-taking, and gradually the silhouette of the mountains become visible. The low-lying mountains gain height and the sound of water springs, gushing from the crevices of rocks create a melancholic music. Photo: Sameera Rashid   On a winding road from the Chakdara to Mingora, people are seen crossing the clear waters of river Swat, on makeshift bridges, and plum trees with delicate pink flowers bloom on the roadside orchids. Photo: Sameera Rashid Not only does Swat cast its ...

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