Stories about peace

I am okay but let me drown myself

There is our body, and then there is our soul. When I wake up, both of them seem to take up a life of their own, leaving me out of the equation. My body refuses to move and my soul retaliates from inside, leaving me woozy and heavy-headed. They tell me it is just my hormones and this is how things are at my age. I ask them, is this how you felt when you were in my shoes? Were you even wearing the same shoes back then? The exact same fit, thread to thread, emotion to emotion, skin to skin? As children, ...

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“We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Was Obama mincing words when he refused to pin the ‘Islamist’ tag on to terrorism? His unequivocal statement that the war on terror was against people perverting Islam drew him a lot of flak from a predictable group who see the world as black and white, and discern no shades (not 50) of grey.  In any case, why would the West be at war with Islam when many Muslims are doing a pretty darned good job of it themselves? Look around, groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda are painting towns, villages, cities, and actual battlefields red with blood; mostly of their own countrymen and ...

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Will Ukraine benefit from the Minsk deal?

Seven days ago, when Russian, German and French leaders, accompanied by the Ukrainian and Belorussian president, met in Minsk, a deal was signed to provide Eastern Ukraine with a glimmer of hope for peace. Eastern Ukraine, soon after the pro-Russian rebel uprising last year, had started circling an orbit that was destined for chaos and failure. Even with last year’s Western sanctions, aimed at constraining Russia from supporting rebels, things were not improving in the region as the rebels were marching towards government held territories. But with this recent deal, coming on the back of last year’s failed accord, can there be hope for peace in Eastern ...

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I am a ‘jihadi’ in Australia

He was drunk and it was apparent from the way he walked towards me. After a few steps, he put his elbow on my shoulder and stood next to me with a glass of red wine in his hand. We were both in our service dresses and I did not expect this. I held my breath instinctively because of the smell of wine as he spoke in a slur, “Hello sir, I hope you won’t mind having a chat?” This guy was a sergeant who spent a year in Afghanistan with NATO forces and was working in my office with the ...

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Pakistan cannot afford to kick its Afghan refugees out

Pakistan’s recent policy of repatriating illegal Afghan refugees from its soil, as a reaction to the Army Public School (APS) attack in Peshawar, is being appreciated in many circles around the country. Many believe that this step would lead to a decrease in the wave of militancy that is currently gripping Pakistan. These circles believe that Afghan refugees have injected the so-called “Kalashnikov culture” in Pakistani society; that they have introduced heroin and other drugs in Pakistan, which has destroyed millions of young lives. To these people, the root cause of every crime in Pakistan is these refugees. To them, ...

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Are we the new slaves of American imperialism?

2014 is being celebrated as the birth centenary of prominent Indian Progressive writer, Krishan Chander (1914-77). He completed his postgraduate education in Lahore until 1947, when he migrated to India. Saadat Hasan Manto is often credited with being the only Pakistani writer of his generation to foresee the patterns of Pakistani state and society, especially its ruling elite’s increasing political opportunism and its ties to US imperialism, and the increasing intolerance in our society. In India, it was Krishan Chander who acutely foresaw patterns of political corruption, as well as increasing Americanisation of its huge middle-class, symptoms of which had started appearing in the ...

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Muslim is the new black

This past Monday I watched CNN’s Don Lemon question Sam Harris sympathetically, almost apologetically, about Ben Affleck’s defence of the Muslims of the world. Lemon asked Harris loaded questions, encouraging him to spew his ignorant half-true rhetoric about Islam. And this claim I do not make condescendingly, rather Harris’ knowledge appeared lacking because of its biased subjectivity rather than studied objectivity on the subject of Islam, his simplistic rambling sounded amateurish and very myopic. A discussion on religion within the same religion is fundamentally complicated, let alone in comparison to other religions, hence to make the dialogue intellectual and fair, the media must play a responsible role and have ...

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Today, let’s celebrate Malala Yousafzai

“Live, Malala!” I remember seeing this line somewhere on social media when Malala was shot. I remember sitting anxiously, watching the television, while channels aired the live coverage of Malala being shifted to a hospital in England for treatment. I remember the moment I found out that she was shot. I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe the news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. October 09, 2012 – almost exactly two years ago, she was returning from school when a masked gunman had asked her name and shot her at point blank range thrice. Thrice. She was just 14. There were many ...

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A French, a German, a British and an awesome Pakistani

“Pakistan? Where are your burqas?” “We don’t wear one”, I gestured to my friends and myself. “Yeah, of course – not on holidays. But you know, the ones you’re forced to wear in Pakistan.” Laughing with disbelief, we shook our heads. “No, we don’t. It’s usually a personal choice.” “But…” his voice trailed off. A pause, and then he threw more questions at us. I spent seven weeks this summer interning overseas. There I was asked these questions, surprisingly by an Indian, a fellow ‘desi’ living only a border apart. Here he was, asking eagerly about how it was to live in a rocky, gun-strewn desert. He was pretty ...

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Bringing FATA into the mainstream

The much talked about and supported military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, has been initiated in North Waziristan with the objective of clearing the region from local and foreign Taliban sanctuaries. The military strategy has already displaced thousands from the war-torn region at a time when the internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected from previous conflicts and disasters haven’t returned to their homes yet. Up to 30,000 soldiers are involved in the current operation, while more than 800,000 people have fled the area over security and an uncertain future. The operation was launched after the failed attempt at peace talks and demands from the ...

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