Stories about militancy

Afzal Guru: How India made a militant out of a med-student

Afzal Guru was hung on Saturday. As predicted, the Indian political fraternity and intelligentsia not only welcomed, but applauded the development. They saw it as a culmination of the legal process-the law of the land taking its due course. News channels repeatedly telecasted the footage of the attacks on the Indian parliament as if to convince themselves and their viewers that justice had finally been served. To borrow the words from the Supreme Court judgment, “the collective conscience of the nation” has been satiated. On the other hand, the reaction in Kashmir has been the polar opposite. Emotions resembling anguish, pain, desperation ...

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A tear for you, dear soldier

There are very few images which have the power to draw out the deepest emotions of the seer. These are the snapshots which really make you empathise with the subjects of the photograph – you try to imagine yourself in the same circumstances, under the same context and events pictured. One such image was that of the 15 FC troops killed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on January 5.  Fifteen men, all from less privileged economic contexts, standing hand in hand with the realisation firm in their bosoms that life ends at this moment. It is a sepoy, a ‘jawan’ who ...

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A tribute to my cousin, a brave soldier

A Nato attack on the Pakistani check post in Salala left 24 soldiers dead and 12 injured. Normally, these figures are mere numbers to me; with the war on terror, so many people die everyday that I am a bit desensitized about news of death. On November 26, 2011, the otherwise meaningless number of those killed held all the meaning in the world to me. You see, amongst the 24 dead was my dear bhai.  My dear cousin Captain Usman Ali died in this unprovoked attack by Nato forces. As I reflect on the transience of life, everything Usman bhai ever said to me keeps playing ...

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Tableeghi Jamaat: Playing politics

The Sharifs, who portray themselves as the torch-bearers of principled politics, have by their actions shown themselves quite otherwise. In other words, they have shown that when it comes to garnering votes, they have no problem courting the conservative and right-wing elements of society. A war of words keeps erupting between Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over issues of religious extremism, banned outfits and existence of the Taliban in southern Punjab. The former makes the allegations and the latter denies all of them, saying that no such thing is happening in his province. In the ...

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Learn to be Taliban: K is for Kalashnikov

Imagine that you learnt the alphabet and numbers with images of Kalashnikovs and tanks instead of apples and oranges. During the mid to late 1980s, a USAID funded project printed millions of textbooks in Peshawar. The funds came from Saudi Arabia and the books were distributed amongst school children in Afghanistan and in new madrassas across Pakistan. These textbooks were prepared to indoctrinate. Specialists from the Afghanistan Centre at the University of Nebraska Omaha received nearly $60 million to develop a curriculum, which glorified jihad, celebrated martyrdom and dehumanised invaders. By the mid-1980s, the Afghan mujahedeen were bleeding the Soviet Union, hastening her economic collapse ...

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It is time to reclaim the mosque

The battle for blasphemy reform is not over. It needs a change of strategy. Currently it has consisted of people demanding a change in the laws but to little effect. There is a need to get various influential lobbies and stakeholders involved. One of them is the mosque. The mosque, as a center of ideas, has been severely under-utilised by reformist Pakistanis which is unfortunate. I’m sure some of us go to the mosque once a week or so. It is time we should engage our maulvis into debate and discussion. Many of them will not change the way they ...

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Legitimising extremism: The state’s deafening silence

Despite fighting a long war against militancy the state seems to have displayed recent apathy towards the spread of extremism over the past year. Its inability and unwillingness to challenge jihadi groups has legitimised the cleric and his judgments. Sadly for minorities, this has turned into an increased threat as many feel that their connection to the country is rapidly deteriorating. Last month, the Federal Shariat Court issued a ruling that declared several sections of the Women’s Protection Act 2006 against Sharia law. The ruling effectively stated that “no legislative instrument can control, regulate or amend FSC’s relating to the Hudood ...

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Fear in Pakistan: Hitchcock, the Taliban and us

Sometimes I feel like I am Melanie Daniels from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” A 1963 suspense horror film,The Birds is depicts Bodega Bay, California, which is suddenly and for unexplained reasons, the subject of a series of widespread and violent bird attacks over the course of a few days. If you think about Pakistan, you can’t help but compare the birds in the film with the Taliban and militant groups . If only we could study what motivates them to carry out such acts. Of course, getting a terrorist to sit through a psychology experiment as a volunteer would be pretty ...

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Salmaan Taseer: The death of a governor

In life, Salmaan Taseer was never afraid of controversy and was never one to remain silent even when his stance on issues like militancy and the blasphemy law brought the venom of the right wing pouring on to him. Known as much for his ubiquitous dark glasses as his continuous sparring with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), he was a man you could love or hate, but never ignore. In a time when obscurantists and terrorists have tried to silence our voices and strike off the heads of those who dared oppose them, Taseer spoke without fear, condemning the blasphemy law ...

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Conspiracy theories surrounding Swat

Since Swat valley witnessed the ugly face of the Fazlullah-led Talibanisation movement, a hot topic for discussion has been the theory of unseen powers working behind the game. Be it street talk or scholarly analysis, the locals give vent to the perception that some ‘secret hands’ nurtured the mayhem that plagued the paradise on earth for years. Ironically, no one dares to expose any names of the actors responsible for the growth of what can only be called ‘barbarism’. Many are of the opinion that the Taliban and the security forces are two sides of a coin engaged in a game ...

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