Stories about middle east

What will happen to the stock market if the PM resigns?

In 2007, I underwent a six-hour-long marathon panel interview at the London office of one of the (then) largest hedge funds in Europe called XYZ Capital*. A senior partner – perhaps a PhD holder – drew the entire map of the Middle East, East Asia and Europe, and tested my knowledge about the current affairs of each country turn by turn. After a gruelling session, the partner remarked, “An investor may have the best of quantitative minds but markets don’t make sense if the political factors don’t make sense.” I engraved it then but have only felt it now. Surviving through the minor speed breakers ...

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Are we going through the South Asian Complex?

When Israel resumed its onslaught on the people of Gaza, social networking sites became a medium of protests from around the world. But in Pakistan, there were mixed reactions. Some were quite exasperating, to be honest. Despite hearing the news about Israeli jets hovering over Gaza like death angels, carrying out experimental strikes on local residents, some Pakistanis have been quite thick-skinned. There were those who disregarded the issue as an international dispute, while others felt that Semitism is the root cause of the conflict, although both Arabs and Jews are Semites. But the most juvenile counter arguments I found were the ones which ...

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You realise you’re in a Pakistani flight when…

The sky is dark and you’re airborne, eyes transfixed on the entertainment system. Suddenly the plane takes a gravitational drop downwards, and then picks itself up a second later. The lights in the airplane go up, and the seatbelt sign appears. The flight attendant, passing through the plane, requests all passengers to remain seated, pull up their seats in an upright position and avoid heading to the lavatory for a few seconds. Most of the passengers follow none of these instructions. Welcome to an international flight carrying Pakistani passengers. Air travel isn’t the most comfortable thing in the flight, especially over long distances, unless of ...

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An ‘Hummazing’ way to eat right in Ramazan

Chop the veggies, whip up gram flour with seasoning, make a paste with water, dip the veggies and fry! Fasting and pakoras are insanely intertwined. Roadside vendors, kiosks, and general stores – all have flaming hot oil pans, centered neatly on busy roads, frying away these crunchy, deep mustard, vegetable fritter devils. Admittedly, they are best eaten after a hot day of fasting, right after gobbling up a mushy sweet date and right before sipping a deep red cold drink. The scrunch, the spice and the saltiness are all addictive. But I protest against this addiction. And this alluded me to think ...

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Previously ‘The Arab Spring’, now ‘The Faulty Revolution Bandwagon’

I was once asked by my professor to give a few examples of modern day revolutions. Without pondering for a fraction of a second, I quoted the famous Arab Spring which included a change of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya along with a bloody civil war which is still in progress in Syria. The Arab Spring was an inspiration to many including myself both, in and outside the Middle East. So inspired was I that I even wrote a blog a couple of years ago praising the revolution and change in Egypt which resulted from the Arab Spring. However, it was not ...

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US-Iran renewed ‘friendship’: What’s in store for Pakistan?

On November 24, six major powers agreed with Iran on a landmark interim accord over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has committed to halt uranium enrichment beyond five per cent in return for some relief from sanctions, signalling the beginning of reconciliation with the major powers that would make the world safer. Some reports suggest that the P5+1, a group of six world powers including US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany, dialogue was merely a show. It was the Obama administration’s secret diplomacy that succeeded. This shows the willingness of Washington to resolve the long-standing dispute through diplomacy. The interim deal, for six months, has benefited both sides. Iran has ...

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Global powers have to stop playing political chess with Syria

It has been quite a while since the people of Syria began to assert their rights and demand freedom from the clutches of dictatorship. However, as time passed things have taken a turn for the worse. Although the initial uprising was inspired by Syrian neighbours – both, immediate and distant – unfortunately, this simple and just assertion was turned into a global issue by the Big Five countries in the United Nations. These nations played politics at the cost of innocent human lives and even Muslim countries have shown helplessness in stopping the ruthless and continuing massacre of Syrian civilians. On the one hand is Bashar ...

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Pakistani and vacationing in the Middle East? Think again!

I am sure you have had one of those conversations in which you end up making a random plan with a friend. Well, that is what happened to me. I have a friend in Jeddah and while talking to him, we realised that we had not met in a long time and hence, I made a plan to take a short trip to Dubai. He was going to travel from Jeddah and he managed to find a flight but I could not get a ticket. However, I have crossed international borders before by road, to the Far East and to ...

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Iraq’s civil war: Fueled by Kurdish oil, tied to Iran

As the civil war continues to ravage Syria, another civil war looms over its neighbouring country Iraq. Instead of looking towards the heavens and questioning fate, one need only look into the oil fields of Iraq to see the reason behind the impending civil war. After the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003, the Kurds have been gearing towards achieving independence from Baghdad and already run a semi-autonomous region through the Kurdistan Regional Government. This region has its own ministries and a parliament with its capital city being Erbil (also called Hewler in Kurdish language). Oil is one the reasons ...

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Calls for peace in Palestine but not Syria?

In December 2010, a man in Tunisia self-immolated to protest against the treatment he received from the police. The incident served as a catalyst and what followed was an extraordinary year, which saw pro-democracy rebellions erupting across the Middle East. The wave of popular unrest sweeping the Arab world came late to Syria, but since the first protests in March 2011 in the city of Deraa, at least 40,000 Syrians are thought to have been killed. It is difficult to see a clear winner emerging from the ever-bloodier civil war in Syria. After thousands of casualties, however, the question is, “Is the Arab spring still ...

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