Stories about war

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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A Hiroshima survivor’s message to the nuclear world

What happens when a nuclear weapon is used? And what are the implications the day after? Scientists tell us that as an atom splits, a burning sun erupts from its heart, descends from the sky to engulf a city in its flaming wrath. It chars houses, melts skin and poisons the mud. The sound could be mistaken for the angel Israfeel’s promise to end the world with his trumpet. A few weeks ago, Tufts University held a conference on the peril and promise of ‘Our Nuclear Age’. I had the opportunity to listen to some distinguished speakers answer interesting questions. Hiroshima survivor ...

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An Indian view on Kashmir: Do we deserve this valley?

A visit to Kashmir will remind you of Kabul: a war torn region where the penetrating eyes of hostile security forces watch your every movement. Over the past half century much has changed in India and Pakistan but not the persistent conflict over the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiris have continued to gradually lose trust in the Indian government’s ability to give them a fair deal. This raises the question of how successful Indian democracy has been in dealing with the wishes of a people who want to be maintain a unique identity. In the valley political protest is seen as ...

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Davos Diaries: The West is not working

As I attend speak to various members of the 2,200 business elite, top politicians and journalists who have gathered at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos there is a sad realization in the air: the West is not working. The global polarization between the haves and have-nots is taking its toll on progress and if the Western world seeks to move forward it must bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. Former President of the United States Bill Clinton addressed a gathering here. He said: “My concern is that businesses and governments in this difficult environment will see the ...

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A Liberian story of liberation

Martin Luther King Jr was not the only dreamer, there are others too; people who turn their dreams into reality. One such woman is Leymah Gbowee, who led the women of Liberia to end war in a thoroughly non-conventional but highly replicable way. The war in Liberia was vicious, far worse than even we – living in a land of suicide bombers – can imagine. Even the women of Liberia had taken up arms to fight in the civil war, killing sporadically, and it was Leymah who united them against their dictator Charles Taylor. Dressed in white, the women gathered to besiege ...

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Wake up America, Islam is not the enemy

“Pakistan is going down.” This was the headline that appeared on the screen on a CNN broadcast as I prepared to board the 16 hour New York – Lahore trek, returning to a country I’ve grown to love deeply but that the newscaster was condemning as the most dangerous country on the earth. Squirming tirelessly on the flight, I thought about all that’s happened over the past few months I’ve been in Pakistan – and particularly the flooding gap between the liberals and radicals, which the international media has so loudly proclaimed – and felt an overwhelming sense of restlessness. How could the international ...

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Everyday Af-Pak: Skateistan, Slackistan and more

The recent release of documentaries and films about Afghanistan and Pakistan cover a wide array of topics. Filmmakers are trying to alter the negative image of these countries, or at least showcase a more nuanced angle by showing everyday life in those areas. Here are some films that Everyday life in troubled countries Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul Who would have thought there is a skateboarding school in Afghanistan? Produced and directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, this film tells the story of a country’s (and the world’s) first non-profit and co-educational school of this kind, providing youth “with new opportunities in cross-cultural ...

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December 16: Bangladesh’s day of liberation

The newspaper headlines in Dhaka on December 16 gave me pause: “day of liberation”, “victory day” they proclaimed in big black letters emblazoned across the masthead of the papers. In Pakistan, isn’t this day perceived as a somber occasion where Pakistan was rent asunder by the forces of evil? The answer that was evading me while scanning the newspapers came to me when I saw these words of a Bangladeshi columnist. “The 16th of December 1971 was a day of transformation. It turned caged birds into free birds. On a single day, our life changed for the rest of our ...

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Afghans point finger at US: Who’s corrupt now?

Many Afghans, from government officials and parliamentarians to the common man are disgruntled with the US officials relentlessly accusing them of being corrupt – while ignoring their own government’s fraud and misappropriations in the $56 billion development budget approved by the Congress for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Afghans deem US responsible for corrupting their society. For Obama’s administration, ‘corruption warnings’ are a new blackmail tool to use against the Karzai government. There has been constant rhetoric to “eradicate corruption” and “stop misusing US tax payers’ money,” without realising that only 20% of the allocated funds are at the disposal of ...

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Chhote Ustad: Make love not war

I was flipping through channels on TV the other day and came across the season finale of Chhote Ustaad, a show that was recently filmed in India. For those of you who are not aware, it was a singing competition for children. That’s not it; the different thing about this show was that each team comprised a Pakistani contestant paired up with an Indian one. Before the winners were announced, the final few contestants were given the opportunity to speak into the microphone. One of them, a Pakistani child merely ten years of age, took this opportunity to say something ...

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