Stories about Russia

The problem with “collateral damage” in a “surgical air-strike”

The questioning gaze of that drone victim, who lost one of his family members – with eight others injured – on the fateful day of October 24, 2012, in a drone strike at South Waziristan, still haunts my memory every time a new strike occurs. Just today, four more people were killed in North Waziristan; they too shall be termed as “collateral damage” of a “precise air-strike” against “terrorists” hiding in the “safe havens”, and forgotten or not even talked about as individual human beings in the first place. When will this loss of innocent human life stop? Who will make the American government accountable for this ...

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Don’t write off Obama just yet!

Despite severe opposition from the Republicans, President Barack Obama finally did what he should have done years ago – he announced a plan to stop deportation of almost five million undocumented migrants from the US.  Faced with a crisis of confidence and a defeat in the November mid-term elections, Obama, a Democrat, recently lashed out at the Grand Old Party (GOP), a republican party, and said, “They have the ability to fix the system. What they don’t have the ability to do is to expect me to stand by with a broken system in perpetuity.” Immigration reform has been ‘way overdue’. The president’s announcement does not, ...

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Why US is leading the war against ISIS

One of the ironies of geopolitics today is that, after spending the last decades complaining about US interference or the various interventions in the Middle East, everyone is now waiting for the US to lead in the conflict against ISIS. In ISIS we have a phenomenon that, for once, is uniting in a common cause every other state in the region, whether Sunni, Shia or secular. We also have regional players that, in principle, should be able to lead from the front on this issue, like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, even Iran – if it comes to it. A coalition of ...

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Dear US, before fixing the world, fix yourself!

At a time when the United States forces are grappling with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) scourge, it may not be the most appropriate moment to write this. However, recent events, such as the incident in Ferguson, Missouri, happening within the US, have prompted many to ask a rather critical question – does the US really need to go to foreign lands, sacrifice lives, dole out billions and play the role of a fixer when the country itself is domestically faced with issues of monstrous importance? As international affairs have significantly evolved, Washington continues to tow a somewhat outdated line. ...

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FCR: Man playing god with the people of Fata

FATA is home to approximately 10 million people. These people may be called ‘Pakistani’ citizens, but the reality is – they are not. Even after 67 years of independence, despite being a strategic part of Pakistan, the constitution of the country simply does not apply here. Why? Good question. What is worse is that the laws that do, in fact, apply are a set of colonial laws formulated and enacted by the British more than a century ago! Some of these date all the way back to 1893, when the Durand Line was drawn by colonialists. A single visit to Fata will demonstrate ...

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How to fall in love with a city: Embrace the adventure, Marco Polo ki aulad!

As I sit on the plane headed for Pakistan before moving to Paris, I silently grieve for what was home for two years and go over some of my most memorable moments as well as my mental notes about the place. Suddenly, on the jazz music channel (thank you, noise-cancelling headphones) I hear Carmen McRae crooning ‘The loveliness of Paris…’ and then Ella Fitzgerald ‘April in Paris’. All I needed was this nudge from the universe to begin to look forward to a new adventure. Sometimes we do things right instinctively. Sometimes we need a teacher. Sometimes we need to make a ...

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Of footballs ‘made in Pakistan’

As Pakistanis, by now we all know that while Pakistan is not playing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we are still part of this great event, watched by billions of people around the globe. In fact, I would say that we play a vital part in this year’s World Cup as the official FIFA footballs were manufactured and supplied by Pakistan this year. Here are four interesting parallels about the world ‘using and kicking our balls’ that will make you cringe, make you angry perhaps and then, hopefully, make you feel proud and hopeful as a Pakistani. 1. Our ‘balls’ are being kicked by ...

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Will North Korea consider this blog an “act of war”?

Facing what could be his harshest critic yet, Seth Rogen’s upcoming film, “The Interview”, has been rated 4.5 nukes by the fuming Supreme Leader of North Korea whom it has satirised.   A spokesperson for the dictatorial regime has accused the Obama administration, which allegedly ‘masterminded’ the movie, of “provocative insanity”, and deemed the movie an outright “act of war”. According to the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “If the United States administration tacitly approves or supports the release of this film, we will take a decisive and merciless countermeasure.” It is unlikely that the “merciless countermeasure” would be a caricature of ...

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Will we ever see a nuke-free world?

Despite numerous calls and rhetoric to move towards global nuclear disarmament, no significant progress has been achieved to this day. Instead, all these efforts have met with a tragic end. The recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report has shown a very dismal picture with regards to this. All nine nuclear states are currently in possession of 16,300 nuclear weapons, which includes 4000 operational ones. P5 countries, which include the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, are upgrading their nuclear arsenal and spending a hefty amount on the development of new weaponry systems. Though, we have seen a ...

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If India supports freedom in Crimea, why not in Kashmir?

Over the past week after the Russian annexation of Crimea, global politics have completely changed. The annexation which took place after a controversial ‘referendum’ shows that the aspirations of people are more powerful than politically drawn borders. Yet, many political observers see the Russian backing of the referendum as damage control after Moscow lost its ally in former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych after many weeks of protests. India which is an important and old time ally of Russia, faces a new predicament and a new set of worries after the Crimean annexation, the dilemma being, do they back Russia – their oldest friend – or oppose it? ...

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