Stories about United States

Tough guy syndrome: Ragging is not ‘shugal’ or some rite of passage – it has consequences

Underneath Barry Block’s ominous tress, at the grand Aitchison College, the “premier school in Pakistan”, they stand in a row. Five of them, those unimportant, annoying juniors. “Murgha ban kar beth jao saare ab,” the seniors order. (All of you sit in the chicken position now)   “Yeh tumhara baap hai. Tameez se beth, aur Sir ya Daddy bol. Yaar nai hain hum teray,” another senior exclaims pointing towards one of his batch mates. (This is your father. Respect him. Call him Sir or Daddy. We’re not your friends.) Amongst the hundreds of crises that every teenager faces, there are many fuelled by ignorant, toxically ...

Read Full Post

Considering torture is illegal as per US law, how is a brutal torturer appointed as the new CIA chief?

The CIA occupies an almost mythic space in the minds of those of us who watch Hollywood movies. Time and again, we come across movies that show a direct link between the CIA and various atrocities around the globe. Movies such as the Bourne series and the Mission: Impossible series bubble up plenty of theories regarding how the CIA operates. Specifically for Pakistan and the Muslim world in general, such movies are proof for drawing room analysts that the CIA has a one-point agenda: defeat the Muslims. Movies like Zero Dark Thirty showed a heroic account of the CIA ...

Read Full Post

Will Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un finally take their thumbs off the nuclear button?

Much of the world is still coming to grips with the news that US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un. Fortune described the news as being “nothing short of a miracle”, which aptly describes how the rest of us, who do not want a nuclear holocaust, feel. That being said, it must be asked, what is behind Trump’s intention of meeting with Kim, and why now, at this particular juncture in history? It wasn’t too long ago that reports were emerging that the US was secretly considering a direct military strike on North ...

Read Full Post

Afghanistan can accept the Taliban, but not recognise the Durand Line?

In an unprecedented move, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani surprised the world by proposing peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. He made this offer in his opening speech at the Kabul Process Conference, which was attended by the representatives of around 25 countries, signalling a major policy shift from his earlier belligerent stance. Ghani expressed his government’s willingness to accept the Taliban as a legitimate political group, and insinuated that factions of the Taliban will have to recognise the Afghan government and respect the rule of law, suggesting, “We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement.” The Taliban, who dominate a ...

Read Full Post

The Pakistan Army and Iran: A new dawn or a message for the Saudis?

The Pakistan Army has been drawing closer to Iran under its new chief, General Qamar Bajwa. Is Pakistan moving out from under Saudi Arabia’s orbit? Something quite remarkable happened with regards to Pakistan’s defence diplomacy recently – Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, made an official trip to Iran. It was the first visit by a Pakistani army chief in almost three decades. General Pervez Musharraf visited; not in his capacity as head of the armed forces, but rather as a president attending a regional summit. Similarly, General Raheel Sharif visited in January 2016, but it was just for a couple of ...

Read Full Post

Intriguing and intricate, Red Sparrow is well-crafted and different from today’s spy thrillers

There’s no denying that in recent decades, the spy film genre in Hollywood has shifted drastically towards the slick, fast-paced and action-heavy fare of films, like Casino Royale, The Bourne Ultimatum, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and the most recent Kingsman movies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, since these are all films that have represented the very best of the spy genre as well as the action genre in the past decade. But in the 70s and 80s, spy films had a very different look and feel, and were perhaps more interested in the boiler-pot suspense and intrigue rather than the action and slickness. Red Sparrow, the ...

Read Full Post

Will a black president make America great again?

After this year’s Golden Globe Awards, an overwhelming number of tweets and op-eds acclaimed Oprah Winfrey as a possible candidate for the 2020 US Presidential Election. It was indeed a justified reaction to her powerful acceptance speech, which sounded strong, optimistic and very presidential. Not to be outdone by a woman, President Donald Trump immediately responded to this media reaction by suggesting that while fighting an election against Oprah would be fun, he would beat her. No matter what one’s opinion on the possibility of Oprah 2020, it does bring several questions to mind. Would such a presidency do America ...

Read Full Post

Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ represents “anti-news”, only highlighting the dumb things Donald Trump did

When I was asked if I wanted to write about Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury:  Inside the Trump White House, my a priori response was, No! My curiosity does not extend to the contents of Wolff’s book, not to mention penning a whole blog on the topic. Thus I responded half tongue-in-cheek, “no thanks, but I’d be willing to scrawl a self-indulgent piece on why not to read the book.” The Express Tribune Blogs called my bluff, and thus here goes. There are readers, editors and writers that prioritise tabloid phenomena. Wolff’s book represents “anti-news,” a big ball of “nothing we haven’t heard before”. ...

Read Full Post

Sorry America, but Oprah 2020 is not the answer

On Sunday evening, at the annual Golden Globes award ceremony in Los Angeles, Oprah won hearts and minds with a rousing speech about speaking truth to power and advancing the position of women in society. It was an objectively powerful oration, and social media was promptly flooded with calls for Oprah to be the country’s next president. The newfound Oprah 2020 campaign drew support not only from NBC News, which eventually deleted a tweet referring to her as “our future president”, but also famous neoconservative war hawk Bill Kristol, who unleashed a Twitter storm of support for the beloved American icon. Oprah: Sounder on economics than Bernie ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan says the US is no longer an ally – and it’s a much bigger deal than you think

Donald Trump’s decision to ring in the new year by simultaneously demonising both Iran and Pakistan on Twitter has already backfired tremendously. Following threats that the US would withhold aid to Pakistan, the US confirmed it would withhold $255 million in aid (which has now become $900 million) and is now reportedly threatening a roughly $2 billion more as well. “We’re hoping that Pakistan will see this as an incentive, not a punishment,” a US State Department official told reporters. According to the Wall Street Journal, this recent animosity towards Pakistan has not gone over well. Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said in an interview that the US has failed to ...

Read Full Post