Peshawar. If just the name of this city conjures images of bomb blasts, terrorism and political myopia in your head, know that you are not alone. For Peshawar, this ‘city of flowers’, a gem of a place with a historical past that only a few other cities can match up to – has been caught in the whirlwind of misfortune for quite some time now. But I’ve duly noticed on my trips throughout the country that the people of Lahore and Peshawar have an endearing, almost fierce, sense of belonging and ownership for their cities. Accordingly, for every “Lahore, Lahore hai”, there’s a ...Read Full Post
The geopolitical tension between India and Pakistan has resulted in numerous cinematic potboilers that have all the ingredients of tragedy, jingoism, xenophobia and grief. Sarbjit is no different. The movie is based on the real-life account of the ill-fated Sarabjit Singh who was arrested by Pakistani police on the Wagah Border in 1990. This unfortunate Indian or dumb scout (as some conspiracy theorists allege him to be) was accused of being an Indian spy who had orchestrated terrorist activities in Lahore and Faisalabad. He was eventually thrown into prison. In between the capricious rapport shared by these two countries along with cross-border political ...Read Full Post
Things have been really tough for the Americans since 9/11. All those people in and out of the country speaking so many languages, and if you’ve never gone beyond your local 7/11, how on earth would you be able to tell this language from ‘that’ one. You know, the one that all terrorists speak; Arabic! Which explains what happened to Guido Menzio. Menzio took an American Airlines flight from somewhere to somewhere, right? And the intelligent woman next to him caught him writing something and how was she to know what it was? Acting on the principle, that anything that does ...Read Full Post
The music isn’t loud enough to drown The grief, the whimpering sounds. I know not what their names are, Just that they got caught up in this bloody war, And I hope all the blood spilled, Every penny the poor souls had paid, Will be justified at the end of time. Bodies to be seen for this unthinkable crime, They will pay the price for this heinous deed, Not fear, but of strength they planted a seed. From each bullet hole will come out a rose, And each scream will be wind that blows. High above the empty town that didn’t lose, Just rumpled from a little misuse, They give the light to diminish any trouble, To ...Read Full Post
A damning report places Pakistan as third in the list of countries where the most number of executions took place in 2015, after China and Iran and before Saudi Arabia and the United States. In other compelling statistics, in 2014, the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan ranked third in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe. In 2012, we had the most number of people (28 million) affected by war and conflict. Along with other South Asian countries, Pakistan ranks high in hunger and malnutrition statistics, with about 41 million people undernourished in the period 2014-16, a whopping 22 per ...Read Full Post
Are more children going to pay the price for Pakistan’s indecisive stance towards religious extremism?
Back in December 2014, Taliban terrorists attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 151 people, most of them students. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s terrorism-tortured history, and prompted some Pakistanis to describe it as their 9/11. National leaders, meanwhile, described the massacre as a turning point in the nation’s approach to terrorism. They vowed to crack down more robustly against all terrorists in Pakistan— not just those, like the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), that strike in Pakistan, but also those like the Haqqani Network that strike only in neighbouring countries. To an extent, Pakistan did indeed intensify its campaign against terrorism. It ramped up military operations against the ...Read Full Post
In a broken down house in some sleepy part of Lahore, a man woke up knowing it was the very last time he was ever doing so. Perhaps he watched the sun rise one final time, perhaps overwhelmed by its beauty for a few seconds he doubted himself. Perhaps he wondered how many people will miss him, perhaps he looked forward to what he was promised after death, perhaps he was just tired. We don’t know anything about him, not his identity nor his dreams, ambitions, fears and above all his demons. We don’t know who he left behind; a ...Read Full Post
Downing Street raises the Belgian flag and we tweet for Brussels – but where was this sympathy after Ankara?
Yet again Europe has been shaken by the impact of a terrorist attack – and, once again, it has responded in a way that we have come to see as tragically routine. On social media we have Facebook safety check-ins, Twitter hashtags and sharable cartoons. In real life the Belgian flag will be hoist or projected over the national monuments of neighbouring European countries. The responses have taken on the morbid ritual of a funeral. And arguably, they are important to help us process the inexplicable horror and to give us some tools with which to communicate defiance in the ...Read Full Post
Is this really Nawaz Sharif? The religious-right choked on their tea when Nawaz Sharif shared his vision of a more ‘liberal’ Pakistan during a speech to the international business community in late 2015. Some thought he misspoke. Others felt he was pandering. When hours later, in response to the anger, the Pakistani prime minister clarified his statement, it seemed like Nawaz was caving in. But, no. Over the course of his leadership, it has become clear that rather than deep frying, Nawaz Sharif believes in slow roasting a chicken. In this hyperventilating country, perhaps this is what Pakistan needs. Case in point: When Imran Khan ...Read Full Post
Here we go again, yet another tediously mindless sequel. If torturing us with the 2013 action thriller, Olympus Has Fallen, wasn’t enough the producers come up with a bigger and dumber version. Was there even a demand for it? I mean come on, is anyone in here even aware of the predecessor let alone calling out for a sequel? Why, just why? The original featured terrorists taking over the White House, with Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) having to rescue President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) while averting a nuclear cataclysm. Aaron Eckhart.Photo: Screenshot Banning’s battlefield has now shifted ...Read Full Post