Stories about Taliban

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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PTI’s vague and static foreign policy will only worsen Pakistan’s standing in the world

Historically, Pakistan’s foreign policy has been a domain in which elected governments have been allowed very little space and scope to work in. Our founding father envisaged a foreign policy based on peaceful relations with our neighbours – including India – and one that would value our sovereignty. Contrary to his vision, Pakistan has not been able to devise a balanced policy that can be termed entirely beneficial for its own national interest. The current government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) also finds itself in a position where Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is symbolically heading foreign affairs while ...

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Could the withdrawal of US troops make the Afghan war worse?

President Donald Trump’s shocking announcement that he was first withdrawing troops from Syria, and then Afghanistan, has drawn almost compete outrage from the mainstream media. US Defense Secretary, James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis more or less resigned in protest. The Guardian called Mattis’s resignation a “bad day for America”, describing him as a “voice of reason” in the White House. This is, of course, the same military general who once exclaimed that it is “a hell of a lot of fun to shoot some people,” referring specifically to the Afghans.  The proposed withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan has individually been confirmed by a US ...

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Tahir Dawar’s brutal murder and the possible existence of IS in Pakistan is a wake up call

Squeaking with laughter while speaking to a journalist, then concluding with a sardonic snide, Iftikhar Durrani, Imran Khan’s spokesperson, claimed with confidence that SP Tahir Dawar was “safe” in Peshawar on October 28th. Unfortunately, however, with the recent discovery of the policeman’s dead body, that arrogant snide should only linger as a haunting memory for the prime minister’s top aide. The note from the Islamic State (IS) found alongside the late SP’s body is what makes matters worse than one could potentially begin to imagine. The latter being so, specifically because the government has repeatedly claimed that neither IS nor any direct ...

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India’s problem isn’t Imran Khan, but its own media

Of all the Pakistani celebrities India is familiar with, Imran Khan has been the most recognisable and for a time, the most popular. As an extremely talented and good-looking World Cup winning captain, Imran has been a byword for leadership and charisma in the subcontinent. Indeed, in the 80s, Imran appeared in several Indian advertisements endorsing products like Cinthol and Thumbs Up. The improbability of a Pakistani advertising for an Indian brand today points to the tragic deterioration in relations since then, but it also points to the popularity Imran enjoyed among Indians once. 1987 :: Cinthol Soap Advertisement Featuring Imran Khan "Pace ...

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Home Fire: A Muslim love story for the modern world

The latest novel by Kamila Shamsie has won numerous accolades, the most recent one being the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction. The novel, based on the Greek tragedy Antigone, delves into the modern-day spasms of jihad and terrorism, and also examines the concept of loyalty, belief and love. Not having read Antigone, Home Fire came across as a juxtaposition of the notions that have been shuffling in religious and political debate of late. The cover of the book – one of the most profound covers out of the books in my possession – is a simple maze of red-orange fire with two ...

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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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The Breadwinner: A story unafraid of uncomfortable truths

The women and children of Afghanistan have perhaps paid the price of war most heavily. The ongoing conflict leaves nearly half of the children in Afghanistan out of school, while 87% of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence during their lifetime. It is against this backdrop of war and devastation that we find the heartfelt film, The Breadwinner. Based on the book of the same name by Deborah Ellis and produced by Angelina Jolie, the film follows the story of 11-year-old Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who navigates her life disguised as a boy, and attempts to survive ...

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The downfall of Bahria University: From a prestigious institute to the “six-inch university”

“Men and women are to maintain a distance of at least six inches while sitting/standing together.” Imagine reading this somewhere, or hearing about it. What would your first reaction be? Perhaps something like, “Oh my God! The Taliban are back! They must have started enforcing their version of Shariah, and are probably planning to bring the days of terror back to the country!” If so, relax! This notice wasn’t issued by those fanatics, but by a renowned semi-government university, and is applicable only within its premises. It all began when a notice was issued by Bahria University’s (BU) director, requiring male and female ...

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509 Hazaras killed in five years and Pakistan is still not ready to wake up

According to a report, released in March 2018, by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), around 509 people from the Hazara community have been killed and 627 have been injured in Quetta during the last five years. The Shia and Sunni sectarian rift started in Pakistan by the then military dictator General Ziaul Haq in a bid to legitimise his martial law. Pakistan has since been facing ethnic and sect-based wars between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Members of the Hazara community are easily recognisable due to their distinct features that separate them from other communities. The banned Sunni outfits, mostly backed ...

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