Stories about Palestine

Lessons from Abbas Town: Stick together, whether you are Shia or Sunni

In a town where Shias and Sunnis had lived together peacefully for years, worshipped just down the street from one another, played cricket and often sat together in the evenings to chat, a sign survived amongst the rubble which read in Urdu, “A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim.” It symbolised the brotherhood of the town’s Shias and Sunnis. It was such a town in Karachi, home to outspoken women and communal harmony that was struck by terror one year ago today. “It looks like Israel bombarded Palestine,” exclaimed one man from Abbas Town as residents had approached Hamid Mir with one heart-wrenching account ...

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Shahzaib Bajwa: More than just a name in the papers

A few months ago, I wrote a piece that appeared on this site about my experience as a Palestinian, in Chitral and how my view of humanity had changed for the better. Not only did I have the chance to explore an area of the world that not many Pakistanis have been to – much less foreigners – the way I viewed the world drastically changed and that is not a minor thing. The time I spent in Chitral changed my life and I will be forever thankful for the experience. My objective for writing this blog, however, is because one of ...

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I entered Jerusalem as a Pakistani Muslim

While I was planning a trip to Jerusalem, I knew that I was taking the risk of losing my money on hotel bookings and transport, as well as the time and effort that went into planning the trip. I visit Pakistan quite frequently and had been to Lebanon, which Israel is technically still at war with since 1948. I planned to enter Jerusalem via Jordan so that in case Jerusalem did not work out for me, I could fall back on Plan B and start my trip to Jordan earlier than scheduled. I set out at 7am from Madaba in central Jordan, still doubtful ...

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Support minorities and save St Joseph’s Hospice, they need our help!

I wrote an article on street beggars and how they are more greedy than needy yet we still keep stuffing their pockets by directing our charity to this flourishing business of begging. The comments, numerous ‘likes’ and the feedback I received acknowledged how people agreed with my suggestion of giving charity where it’s deserved – to organisations that truly work for the poorest of the poor. But ironically, we have places like St Joseph’s Hospice in Rawalpindi that tirelessly work for people whose own families are either unwilling or unable to support them due to limited resources. For 50 years, St Joseph’s Hospice has been ...

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From Palestine to Chitral: Miracles do happen

In an age in which reading or watching the news is enough to turn any normal human being into a raging lunatic or a hardened cynic, the smallest piece of good news is often like a breath of fresh air and can do wonders for restoring a positive outlook on life. Rooftops near North Jerusalem. Photo: Abdullah Saad I am originally a Palestinian from Jerusalem, and like many Palestinians, I suffer (or perhaps benefit) from a severe case of Wanderlust. Dome of the Rock. Photo: Abdullah Saad This means that we have to remain on the move ...

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Who poisoned Yasser Arafat?

In November 2012, when forensic teams exhumed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s remains for examination, few expected such a shocking outcome; an outcome that would not only shake the world, but also possibly put a severe dent in the already stalled Palestinian peace process. According to the investigation reports, there were indications that Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned (with Polonium), and thus, previous claims of his natural death were refuted. Arafat died after his health severely deteriorated in his compound in Ramallah, in 2004, where more than 250 Palestinian leaders and officials were besieged and bombarded by the Israeli forces. The mysterious nature of Arafat’s death always ...

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Celebrating Eidul Fitr: Same sentiments, different places

“Haw, it must be so boring spending Eid away from home!” This is something I have heard on more than one occasion throughout my life: elders of the family pitying those who have left home, particularly for ‘non-Muslim’ countries. As a child, it made me imagine a horrible picture of life abroad where Ramazan would be spent in dark lonely corners, having no halwa on Eid Miladun Nabi, and no one to check out your new crisp dress on Eidul Fitr. The reality, however, is far from that, and I realised this as I grew up. Working for a news organisation literally opened ...

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Is Israel really Pakistan’s enemy?

Growing up in Peshawar, a slightly conservative city of Pakistan, my sentiments as a child were nothing different from those of others in most parts of the country. I had a slight disliking for India, and sheer hatred for Israel. Words such as ‘Jewish lobby’, ‘Zionists’, ‘Freemasons’, and many others – whose meanings many of us did not even know – kept ringing in our ears through religious scholars, teachers, friends and peers, and we used to associate all of them directly with Jews, especially Jews of Israel and those having major shares in US corporations. The Indian intelligence agency Research and ...

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Is Obama’s visit to Israel going to change history?

“Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this; political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see.” This was one of the highlights of Obama’s speech, who was addressing Israeli students and youth in Jerusalem, during his three day trip to the holy-land, his first as a US president, where he tried to reach out to the people of the region, rather than giving the spotlight to political leadership. Although most parts of his speech came as expected, it also had chunks of surprises for the Israelis and ...

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Palestine: The audacity to hope

I remember an evening in November, 2011. I was sitting at a meeting of the Model United Nations Society at the University of Westminster on Regent Street in London. While the society had always been my favourite extra-curricular activity at university, as I sat their waiting for the proceedings to start, I was feeling very depressed. In the course of studying International Relations, realism — the notion that world is driven solely on basis of self interest — is one of the first theories taught. But when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) rejected the Palestinian bid to gain recognition as ...

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