Stories about terror

Indo-Pak relations: Back to normal

After the recent brouhaha over cricket diplomacy, it looks like India-Pakistan relations have again slipped into their comfort zone of allegations and counter allegations. Last month, as I saw Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani in Mohali, I was reminded of David Grey’s song “This year’s love had better last.” But then, in typical Ross and Rachel-esque fashion, statements by our diplomats have begun to resemble “We were on a break” and “No, we weren’t”. The fact that Osama Bin Laden died only complicated matters. Soon after the news of Bin Laden’s death spread, Indian news channels went into overdrive. Predictably enough, ...

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Confessions of a ‘heretic’

It was like a nightmare. Dark shadows, mysterious phone calls, dreaming of death -there should have been a reason for all of this, but there was none. I had been declared an accursed heretic. I could feel them chasing me down, chopping me into pieces and celebrating wildly afterwards. I could sense the happiness they would gain from spilling my blood. The days were getting darker. I was alive but there was a deadly silence around me. Suddenly, my friends had stopped talking to me and so called ‘moderate’ art teachers started discriminating against me. My once ‘liberal’ social ...

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A return to 80s-style Lahore

Last night I was supposed to attend a Sufi music festival organised by the good people of the Rafi-Peer  group. I didn’t. Why? Because it didn’t take place. That seems to be the story of Lahori cultural life of late. I can remember when things began to change. To someone who came of age in the Post-Zia Pakistan during the early ‘90s, this country was a happening place to be in – almost. In 1989, when PTV tentatively shed its mandatory dupatta, a live concert featuring Pakistan’s premier pop/rock bands was aired and young people danced next to the catwalk style ...

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With or without Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden may have died on May 2, 2011, but his relevance to global jihad and war against terror had ceased the day al Qaeda got its first recruits. Today, not only the graduates of religious seminaries, but also the urban middle class youth in Pakistan and most Middle Eastern countries is steeped in radical ideas and us-against-them thinking. This, more than the hunt for Osama, should have been the cause of concern for the Coalition of the willing. With Osama gone, they’ll have Ayman al Zawahiri and after him, someone else. The top slots on their list of most-wanted men ...

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Some answers, please

So the world’s most wanted man is dead, terror in the world is a thing of the past, and everything will be all hunky-dory from here on. Or, has a new can of worms just opened up? Now is the perfect time to look back at the almost ten-year long Afghan War and re-examine the war on terror, specifically, the winners and losers. The United States has gotten rid of public enemy number one, and given Obama an unexpected popularity boost. However, with Osama bin Laden gone, a new face will have to be found for the enemy. For Pakistan, ...

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Bin Laden is dead, but I want more

Osama Bin Laden is dead, but you knew that already. You’ve heard about it a million times by now and probably swapped inane conspiracy theories back and forth. It seems like a great moment in history doesn’t it? The most wanted man in the world, a six feet plus Arab who evaded and dodged the world’s most powerful military and intelligence sources for over a decade has finally been hunted down like a common criminal and eliminated once and for all. Pakistan awoke to the news with surprise. It seemed so surreal, so theatrically staged. Obama proclaimed the news with ...

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13 worrying facts about Pakistan and terrorism

1. Abbottabad is a military town that is home to three Pakistan Army regiments and thousands of military personnel and that is dotted with military buildings. The land mostly is owned by the Pakistan Army and retired army officers. 2. The house Osama lived in was 800 yards from the gate of the Kakul Military Academy, an army run institution where top officers train. The compound, which is worth $1 million, was surrounded by 12 to 18 feet high walls topped with barbed wire. 3. The map of the regions shows sections of nearby land marked as “restricted area,” indicating that ...

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We, the survivors of Osama

It has been almost a decade since 9/11 and now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, politicians will have meetings, intelligence services will brief each other, armies will re-strategise – but what will the rest of us do? We, the survivors of terrorism, the people who mourn loved ones on a daily basis and the people who live alongside drone attacks and bomb blasts – do we rejoice or do we look back over the last ten years and try to remember a world before all of this? My heart feels heavy – because even as I write this I know ...

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An American perspective: Osama’s death is not Obama’s victory

When Osama bin Laden was killed, I was at a dinner party given by an award-winning author, munching on sweetbread and chatting up brilliant filmmaker, writer and activist types. Though I’m in the country where Bin Laden was tracked and killed, for me the news ironically came from America. I read about his death in an email from Mississippi shortly after waking. My American friends are bombarding my Facebook wall – “What’s it like to be there right now?” Honestly, I feel happy, scared and fairly apathetic. As I rode to work,  I watched Defense pass outside my window—the mosque, the ...

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After Osama: The war continues

So, almost ten years on from the September 11 attacks, the alleged mastermind of the plan, Osama Bin Laden, was finally killed in the picturesque hill town of Abbottabad. The operation that eventually lead to his assassination had been under way since August of last year and was carried out with the support of Pakistan’s intelligence services. Hordes of Americans congregated outside of the White House and the site of the twin towers to celebrate the event. The question now on most peoples’ lips is what impact this will have on the so called ‘war on terror’ and the Islamist ...

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