Stories about middle east

Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

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It is about time General Raheel Sharif recuses himself from the Saudi-led military alliance

When former General Raheel Sharif, shortly after taking office, started and pursued Operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists, the entire country applauded his efforts. Similarly, when Operation ‘clean up’ started in Karachi, large sections of the Urdu speaking population applauded General Sharif’s efforts despite the sometimes heavy handed tactics of the Rangers. This even included some long-time supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The lawlessness and violence in the streets of Karachi had just become too much for everyone. If it took the dismantling of some formations of the MQM and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) (for example, the Aman committee) to bring it down, so be it. General Sharif’s single-minded devotion to his job and his statement that he will not ask ...

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What globalisation?

Although globalism itself remains safe from doomsayers, they have started congregating at the gates of globalisation. Take the bogged down Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) designed to remove 98% of trade tariffs between Canada and the European Union (EU). It was stuck there by the dissenting voices of three of Belgium’s French-speaking regions. Consequently, Belgium had to withhold assent, thus preventing EU unanimity, a prerequisite for ratification. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council tweeted: Together with PM @JustinTrudeau, we think Thursday's summit still possible. We encourage all parties to find a solution. There's yet time. — Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) ...

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Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte: An effective leader or a despotic one?

Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  First, he has been accused of large scale human rights violation, where tens and thousands of people have lost their lives due to extra judicial killings, drug trafficking, rape, murder, arson and other related criminal activities. The second incident relates to an interview he had given, where, when asked how he would react if Barack Obama were to criticise him for extra judicial killings of over 1,000 persons involved in drug trafficking and other acts of crime, he responded with cuss words against the president. Although Duterte realised his faux pas and expressed regret over his ...

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The World Wide Web of terrorist infrastructure

The past 12 months have been a difficult period for many around the world. If before it was possible to believe that terrorist attacks were rare and isolated incidents aimed specifically at those Western powers that intervene militarily in troubled majority Muslim territories, that theory no longer stacks up. The wave of attacks over the past year has been thick, fast and brutal and it has targeted countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia for reasons wider than simple military revenge. Since the start of August alone, there have been three vicious attacks in countries outside the western states ...

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Ephesus: City that rivaled Rome

Rome has existed as far back as the eighth century. The Roman Empire covered most of Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During its peak, this empire rivalled existing empires. Due to the expansion the Roman Empire, new cities evolved and flourished. The city of Ephesus was one of the major commerce centres that strengthened the Roman foothold in Asia. Ephesus existed since before the Bronze Age and had lived through the Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods. But it was during the Roman period that this harbour city progressed, and ultimately became the second largest city ...

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Novus Ordo Seclorum – Hindsight

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. Boundaries shift, new players step in, but power always finds a place to rest its head. History is written by the victor and here I am thinking we’ve won. You bring down one enemy and they find someone even worse to replace him. Locations change, the rationale, the objective. Yesterday’s enemies are today’s recruits. Train them to fight alongside you, and pray they don’t eventually decide to ‘hate’ you for it, too.” – General Shepherd. If you have ever been a fan of the First-Person shooter genre, you must have ...

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Is the Chabahar Port agreement failing India?

Indo-Iran relations have been abuzz these days. Modi’s take away from Tehran, baskets of agreements and the trilateral agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan, has caused panic in Islamabad. There are ample reasons for this panic: these agreements and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) are an index of India’s increasing influence in West Asia and Central Asia and a means to outflank Pakistan. However, these agreements do not make the ground for any facile assumption that Modi’s take away from Tehran has better positioned India vis-à-vis Pakistan or Afghanistan. All these agreements appear good on paper but, in practice, they face a lot of resistance. The real challenge ...

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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. ...

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Donald Trump as US president would trump rationality and tolerance

The distinction between the religious right-of-centre and the loony religious right is more pronounced in the west as compared to India and Pakistan, where the difference is usually a blur. An example of this is David Cameron referring to anti-Muslim bigots engaging in violent hate crimes. He said this amounts to them being no different to jihadists. The conventional interpretation about endorsing a holy war against evils within oneself or an armed struggle in case of violation of one’s rights against the specific aggressors only after peaceful modes of conflict resolution have now been exhausted. Furthermore, former Muslims’ endorsing violent interpretations should not ...

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