Stories about refugees

How the NRC further widens the religious fault lines in India

What happens when a myth comes face to face with a harsh reality? A nation which has been fed a myth feels betrayed when that lie is finally exposed. The National Register of Citizens (NRC), an exercise intended to compile data about the citizens of the Indian state of Assam, has been chasing a myth.  The original aim of the NRC was to determine which individuals who settled down in Assam after 1971 are illegal immigrants, regardless of their religion. But with time, the NRC became an exercise aimed at weeding out illegal Muslim immigrants who had come in from ...

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Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini: A father’s lament of the barbarity we call human beings

“My dear Marwan, I look at your profile, In the glow of this three-quarter moon, my boy, Your eyelashes like calligraphy, Closed in guileless sleep. I said to you, ‘Hold my hand. Nothing bad will happen’.” These are a few verses from the context of Sea Prayer, the fourth book by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini is a well-known author of three books, including the international bestseller The Kite Runner, and is the Goodwill Ambassador to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Sea Prayer is a 40-page book, or rather, a free verse poem beautifully complemented by Dan Williams’ illustrations. It can best be described as a ...

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#SayNoToWar: Airstrikes, blackouts and bunkers – that was my childhood

Learning new vocabulary and songs on the first day of school is a part of growing up; it’s a part of childhood memories. When I recall my memories, they are a little unusual. They are of war; the war of 1971 when East Pakistan was attacked. The lyrics of some of the ‘askari naghme’ (patriotic songs) sung by Madam Noor Jehan, such as Ay watan ke sajeeley jawanon (O brave men of the country) were the first to be embedded in my mind. Words like anti-aircraft, missile, trenches and blackouts were some of the first ones I learned in the English ...

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From APS to Sahiwal: Does Pakistani media have an empathy problem?

Humans are not naturally empathetic creatures – a primary reason behind cataclysmic wars, the rise in extra-judicial killings, as well as the growing hostility towards people escaping calamities. As the world spirals into chaos, the ability to consciously acknowledge the condition of individuals undergoing distress and mentally processing their misery has nearly vanished. But then again, did such an ability exist to begin with?  There is a silent conflict between those struck by a persisting crisis and those privileged enough to smoothly slither their way out of it unscathed. Humans are prone to living completely autonomous lives, but it seems ...

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Is Pakistan ready to grant citizenship to its Afghan and Bengali refugees?

Policy and governance are most effective when idealism morphs into realism to tackle challenges and go after opportunities in the real world, while also aspiring for utopia. It is in the middle ground between these poles where effective governance happens. Thus, Imran Khan’s announcement that Pakistan would grant citizenship to refugees of Afghan and Bangladeshi origin should be seen in the same vein as his other policy decisions since his victory, many of which he has backtracked on. Atif Mian’s resignation from the Economic Advisory Committee is a case in point. The decision to oust him was a solid ...

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With Donald Trump’s travel ban 3.0, is America any safer?

Today, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban to be fully enforced. This ban restricts visas from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations. The premise: ‘national security’. But does such a ban really make Americans safer? Here are five points all Americans need to understand. 1. Religious extremism, not Islam, is the real threat There is no denying the fact that religious extremists, and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), pose a grave threat to the United States. These groups pervert religion for ulterior geo-political agendas. Their violent rhetoric – advocating for the killing of homosexuals, ‘blasphemers’, apostates and anyone who disagrees with ...

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How Laila saved Eid this year

“Could I hit him if he groped me again?” she thought to herself as she made a fist and punched thin air around her. Cursing under her breath, she returned to the pile of clothes she was rummaging through. She could hardly see anything inside the dark tent. Making a blind choice in the dark, she pulled out a piece of cloth and turned around to leave. She was about to miss her truck. Cautious as to not literally step on anyone’s toes, Laila hopped about the tent silently, avoiding crushing her family members who were still asleep. On her ...

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Pakistan’s asymmetrical response to Trump’s tweet is a clever way to flip the tables on Afghanistan

Donald Trump is soon going to regret what he tweeted about Pakistan on New Year’s Day, in accusing it of giving safe haven to terrorists, since Islamabad is poised to hit Washington with an asymmetrical counterpunch that it surely won’t forget. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018 The Pakistani ...

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A life sentence for Ratko Mladic, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, is no cause for celebration

The Bosnian war is one of my earliest childhood memories. I remember watching the coverage on our small TV screen in our living room. It was the 90s – I must have been seven or eight-years-old – and I distinctly remember it was the first time I saw my dad cry. It was around this time that I also remember some newcomers to our class at school. I had overheard one of my teachers saying, “Exciting day today, the Bosnian refugees are joining!” He seemed genuinely jubilant, in a kind and anxious sort of way. I will never forget the bright blue parka coat ...

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Can Islam and democracy coexist in today’s world?

Germany has given its verdict and elected Angela Merkel for the fourth consecutive term. Her victory has relieved many as her popularity took a nosedive after her brave decision to take in refugees in 2015. However, at the same time, the reduced margin of her victory has also raised alarms. The German far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has accumulated 13% of the total votes, becoming the first such party to win so many seats in more than 50 years. The improvement in its vote tally is remarkable, given the fact that it only won 4.7% of the total votes in the 2013 elections, narrowly missing the ...

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