Stories about Osama bin Laden

A mosque named after Mumtaz Qadri? Well done, Pakistan!

I was spending a lazy afternoon lounging in the Osama bin Laden library, bemoaning the dire lack of buildings honouring our local murderers, when my Smartphone informed me of this fascinating new development. I learned of a mosque being erected in Faizabad that is to be named after the man who killed the former governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer. The very idea of a mosque, a sacred house of worship, being named after a man who attained his glory by murdering another man in cold blood, may reasonably offend certain people. Certain people like, say, Sherbano Taseer, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Mehreen Zahra, who expressed ...

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Four Pakistani conspiracy theories that are less fictitious than you’d think

Last year, Pakistani journalist Nadeem F Paracha published an article titled Malala: The real story (with evidence) on the website of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. The article argued that schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai was shot not by the Pakistani Taliban but by the CIA – and with blanks. The shooting had been completely staged. The triggerman? Robert De Niro “posing as an Uzbek homeopath”. Paracha was clearly satirising Pakistani conspiracy theories but some of his countrymen took him quite literally. One obscure newspaper, The Lahore Times, even published an article which was later removed from its website, reporting Paracha’s article as fact. Dawn eventually posted a disclaimer noting that the article was fictitious. One ...

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Pakistan beyond Bin Laden

In her most recent article in The New York Times, Carlotta Gall, has shunned the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and military establishment of Pakistan in an attempt at assessing the troublesome relationship between Pakistani institutions and Islamic extremists. The article titled “What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden” explicitly accuses the ISI of harbouring Islamic extremists for its own selfish reasons, with a special mention of Osama bin Laden who she believes had been under the protection of the ISI until he was killed during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad in 2011. Considering the blatancy with which Gall points fingers ...

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Give Shakeel Afridi a fair trial!

Sometimes I think Pakistan and Pakistanis suffer from a collective national identity crisis. A few days ago, I happened to meet a rock-ribbed writer, known for his patriotic approach. I asked him who he considered to be the biggest enemy of Pakistan. Immediately, he replied, “USA.” I changed the subject and diverted the conversation to different topics, from agricultural science to astronomy and finally I asked, “Do you remember which year we stepped on the moon?” With a smile on his face, he replied,  “Some time in 1969.” “We stepped on the moon?” I exclaimed. Everyone and I mean everyone knows that Apollo 11 was a US ...

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What did the US accomplish from the invasion of Afghanistan?

The year 2014 has marked the start of NATO’s withdrawal of its combat troops from Afghanistan, 12 years after the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban began, in the autumn of 2001. Many explanations were given as to why the invasion of Afghanistan was vital – from the necessity of finding and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11, to liberating Afghan women and eradicating the opium trade. Time and again, politicians and the media tried to legitimise the war in the eyes of the public. We were told in the weeks following 9/11 that the invasion was an act of self-defence, by former US president George W ...

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Is it time for Pakistan to reconsider the US as its ally?

Close to 50,000 deaths, over $100 billion in losses, and growing insecurity and fear among the citizens with each passing day. These are few of the highlights of Pakistan’s involvement in the US-led war on terror that has now been fought for more than 12 years.  This war which was initiated to target the militants in Afghanistan has haunted and continues to haunt, many innocent civilians, not only in Afghanistan but also in Pakistan. The United States, along with its allies, began this war to hunt down the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden and to put an end to the Taliban regime and its activities. However, in ...

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If Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was Pakistani, she would be doomed

Devyani Khobragade is one lucky, lucky lady.  To say that about someone who is possibly facing 10 years in prison and was arrested publicly in front of her daughter’s school over visa fraud, is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.  Khobragade, 39, is an Indian diplomat living in the United States. She is the deputy consul general in New York and currently out on bail. She is someone Pakistani diplomats should be jealous of. Not because she allegedly made USD100, 000 per year. Not because she gets to live in New York. But because as soon as she was publicly humiliated ...

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When did Malala become a geo-political and defence expert?

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old girl who was shot last year by the Taliban gained international fame for her memoir – a multi-million dollar book titled I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. However, in Pakistan, a large proportion of the populace has labelled it to be a controversial book as well as a disgrace to the country. Co-authored with British journalist Christina Lamb, I am Malala, has propelled its readers to talk either in favour of it or against it. Although many of her fans were excited to read it, the book ended up disappointing a major section ...

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Making sense of the Musharraf indictment

On Monday, Nawaz Sharif addressed the nation. He spoke of staggering challenges: a paralysed economy, a crippling energy crisis, the existential threat of terrorism.  The implication: there’s much to be done, with not a moment to lose. The very next day, Pervez Musharraf was charged in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Is this unprecedented indictment of a former army chief a resounding victory for democracy in Pakistan? Absolutely. But is it also an ill-timed move that smacks of revenge politics? Certainly. What else to make of the fact that the leader of a cash-starved, energy-deprived, militancy-choked, flood-ravaged nation has chosen ...

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Abbottabad Commission Report: An apt summary of why we may be a “failed state”

Now that we know the details of how we harboured the world’s most wanted man for nearly a decade, before letting a foreign power invade our territory without being detected, let alone countered, the term “failed nation” has a deeper resonance for us. Osama Bin Laden entered Pakistan in 2002, and after loitering in Peshawar, Swat and Haripur, made a cozy, comfy, illegal home with his wives, children and grandchildren in Abbottabad. Here, he helped plot al Qaeda initiatives through electronic communication. Protected from arrest and tortured by the laughable incompetence of Pakistani law enforcement agencies, he encouraged his grandchildren ...

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