Stories about US

Revisiting Manto’s biting ‘Letters to Uncle Sam’ – Part 1

In this two part series, Raza Naeem translates passages from Manto’s nine Letters to Uncle Sam and discusses their enduring legacy. Read Part 2 here. ~ Saadat Hasan Manto passed away on a foggy morning today, 65 years ago in my native city of Lahore. A few months shy of his 43rd birthday, his frail body had been consumed by alcohol and his spirit was exhausted by the many battles he fought in independent Pakistan against the state’s courts and critics, who shunned, marginalised and victimised him. Among the victims of his acerbic pen in his final years were Uncle Sam and the ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 2: Intellectuals, imperialism and human nature

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Media, intellectuals and imperialism Hassan Mirza (HM): In a famous BBC interview of yours with presenter Andrew Marr, you told him that if he believed in something different and was more independent-minded he wouldn’t have been hired by the BBC. He called you a conspiracy theorist after ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 1: American culture and politics

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ My email exchange with Professor Noam Chomsky began in 2017. I had read many of his writings and was curious about his views on a variety of topics. I sent him an email out of curiosity and what had started as an occasional email exchange at first soon ...

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Pakistan’s role in the Middle East conundrum

Sitting 8000 miles across the Pacific from my hometown Islamabad, I had to take a break from work for an early afternoon stroll along the Santa Monica Beach to make sense of recent developments in the Middle East and their wider implications. My country of origin, Pakistan, has already seen the aftermath of indulging in proxy wars at a staggering human, social and economic cost. Hindsight in our case has unfortunately never been 20-20. Even after the relative de-escalation of tensions following President Donald Trump’s address last week, one still cannot dismiss the potential of one hasty tweet or one cyber-attack to ...

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Visiting Tehran after the death of Qasem Soleimani

Though the skies were clear and the sun was shining brightly, the heaviness in the air was evident when I departed Imam Khomeini International Airport on the morning of January 5th. I was told it had snowed the previous day and hence the air was chillier than what the weather forecast had predicted last week. We crossed a bridge decked with the national flag of Iran fluttering in the wind, surrounded by black banners on either side. The latter signalled the tragedy which had befallen the country recently. As we neared the city centre and the traffic grew, I could see ...

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Lessons in tenacity: Why Pakistan should learn from Turkey

When faced with the seemingly unyielding support of its ostensible NATO ‘partners’ for Kurdish secessionists in the Syrian-Turkish border regions, Turkey faced a veritable conundrum. Turkey’s  successful October 9-24, 2019 Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria against entrenched, US military-protected Kurdish fighters came after setting red lines regarding its national security, acknowledging that lack of respect afforded to those red lines by traditional partners necessitated threatening core foundational assets of its ties with them, recognising its advantages and constraints and hedging its bets with new foreign allies. In numerous ways, Turkey’s negotiation of the ordeal vis a vis the Kurds and ...

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Cyber warfare or ‘How to win a war without fighting’

Sun Tzu’s first rule in his famous treatise ‘The Art of War’ was to win, if possible, without fighting at all. Since his time, warfare has evolved through many generations – where first generation warfare saw brave generals and their forces fight face to face in pitched battles, second generation warfare ushered in the age of indirect fire and combat between adversaries who could not even see each other. The second generation morphed into the third generation as adversaries attempted to infiltrate each other’s lines to create havoc among their counterparts’ ranks, and it then gave way to fourth ...

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As Asian economies take centre stage, how can Pakistan cash in?

The economic map of Asia is changing at a fast pace, shaped by trade disputes between the United States (US) and its trading partners, and by commercial developments in Asia, especially in China. The Trump administration is using tariffs, and the threat of higher tariffs, to leverage its bargaining positions and extract trade concessions through negotiations with China.  While policymakers in the US and China are struggling to come up with a joint communique, business executives are going to the drawing board to decide what to do next.  A key decision for these businesses is what to do with ...

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Modi has no one to blame but himself for Imran-Trump’s successful meet

Narendra Modi disastrously bungled India’s famous policy of so-called ‘non-alignment’ over the past year and ensured that the summit between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and American President Donald Trump was an unprecedented success in changing the strategic chessboard in South Asia. Afghanistan, trade and Kashmir All of Eurasia is still trying to process the grand strategic implications of what took place last week during Imran’s unprecedentedly successful summit with Trump. The American leader praised his counterpart for “extricating” the Pentagon from Afghanistan, committing to invest even more in the South Asian state, and even surprisingly offering to mediate the on-going Kashmir ...

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Imran Khan wins America

It was a Sunday night and Washington’s large Capital One Arena was packed. But it wasn’t packed for basketball or a music concert; it was 20,000 people who came to listen to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. It was at this moment when on a cultural level, decades of mistrust and bad blood between Pakistan and the United States (US) evaporated. Prior to the formation of Imran’s government, Pakistan’s prime ministers were the kind of people who could only fill large public squares at home by mobilising a network of bribery and patronage. Such politicians could not attract any great ...

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