Stories about South Asia

India and Pakistan need to win peace, not arguments

Following the scrapping of Article 370 of the Indian constitution by the Indian government on Monday, there is a sense of déjà vu among the ruling party, a strong section of the majoritarian community and a section of the media. They are rejoicing that the ‘Kashmir problem,’ a legacy of history, has been ‘resolved’ once and for all by discarding the legislature since it was a hindrance in the final integration of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK). The problem with this argument is that it disregards history, ignores the larger reality of geo-politics and completely discards the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir. Can ...

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It’s not Jadhav who is in prison; the subcontinent is the prisoner of paranoia

If anyone thought that India and Pakistan’s reaction would have been different had the verdict in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case been different than what it is, then they are being delusional about the postmodern history of the Indian subcontinent. We are now conditioned to react without thinking. Both of us derive pleasure in humiliating each other – be it on the sports field or in the arena of politics. Newspapers on both sides of the border painted their pages with the titles that suited their national interests. Indian media celebrated the verdict in the same way they did when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ...

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Raw and poignant, A Place for Us beautifully sheds light on familial love

It had been some time since I cried while reading a book. And A Place for Us changed that. Fatima Farheen Mirza’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of a South Asian Muslim family living in America. The family members find themselves torn between discovering their individual selves, while also grappling with their respective roles within the family. As a result of living in a deeply polarised American society, the characters in the novel are in a constant battle with themselves, their family and the world around them, each looking to find relevance, liberty and peace. Interestingly, one of the main talking ...

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Nusrat Rafi is to Bangladesh what Jyoti Singh was to India – a rude awakening

Nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi should be doing what any other average teenager does in their day: sitting their exams, stressing about their results, surrounding themselves with piles of books, and spending time with their friends. Instead, 19-year-old Nusrat is being mourned by her distraught family after she was doused in kerosene and set on fire. Her crime? She filed a police complaint against the headmaster of her madrassa who sexually harassed her. In Bangladesh, like many other conservative countries, sexual harassment is a taboo subject and women are reluctant to speak out against those who harass them, for fear of ...

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Divided by borders, united by Bushra Ansari: Why Humsaye Maa Jaye should be an Indo-Pak anthem

Amidst skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC) and a threat of further military escalation between Pakistan and India that could lead to the menace of nuclear conflict in South Asia, a flicker of hope appears in the form of a satirical rap song by the dynamic sister duo, Bushra Ansari and Asma Abbas. Illustrating the harsh realities and craving for amity, the song Humsaye Maa Jaye has gone viral on various social media platforms and is immensely appreciated by Pakistanis and Indians alike. The Punjabi song is written by Ansari and Abbas’ elder sister and poetess, Neelum Ahmed Bashir. It ...

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Why is the US making a mountain out of the Masood Azhar molehill?

The United States has introduced a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to blacklist Masood Azhar as an international terrorist. Azhar is the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (banned in Pakistan since 2002) and has been blamed by India for masterminding February’s Pulwama incident, even though no evidence has been produced which links Azhar to the incident. China has refused to list Azhar as an international terrorist after careful consideration of the definition of international terrorism according to international law. China has made this position absolutely clear and as such, it would appear that the US is looking to transform the UNSC ...

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Why India does not want any US-Afghanistan peace talks

The clearest indication of how the Indian military, intelligence and diplomatic bureaucracies (‘deep state’) truly feel about US’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban can be seen in India’s Major-General (R) Harsha Kakar’s recent article on this topic written for The Statesman. Intuiting India’s interpretation India, which hasn’t shied away from sounding off about all manner of international issues ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about its attitude towards US’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban. This led many observers to intuit that it’s extremely unhappy with this process but is applying the age-old wisdom ...

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“Nothing changes here! Pakistan was, is, and will always be the same”

In 2015, I left to pursue my Fulbright scholarship aspiring to conquer the world and change the landscape of research in Pakistan. I have always found the general pessimism that prevails in our country to be severely problematic. For instance, how we as a country lack unity amongst ourselves and can never rise above gender differences, religious discrimination amongst the people and the innate negativity against the government. Two years of Fulbright gave me a whole new perspective on life. I discovered a world where things such as age, race, colour, gender and other such superficial constructs were irrelevant and ...

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When “holy men” become sinful predators

Growing up in South Asia, we are taught about our religion from a very young age. Be it Islam, Hinduism or Christianity, we are all instructed to do right by our religion by abstaining from evil and taking the path of righteousness, as intended for us by God. Children are made to understand the significance of religion, for it is through religion that parents teach kids about the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil. Of course, children are naïve. They genuinely believe that because their religion is pure, then surely the ones teaching it to them must be ...

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Is Saudi Arabia “taking over” Pakistan?

Earlier this year, when the election campaign in Pakistan was running at fever pitch, I found myself listening to an old classic by The Who. The song was Won’t Get Fooled Again and the line that got me pondering was “meet the old boss, same as the new boss”. I shuddered when I heard this line while watching parties push their candidates. It was literal horse-trading as politicians scrambled to capture the number of seats required to secure the government for themselves. We are barely a few months into the new government and people are already questioning and debating the current government’s decisions. For example, take the ...

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