Stories about war

The Breadwinner: A story unafraid of uncomfortable truths

The women and children of Afghanistan have perhaps paid the price of war most heavily. The ongoing conflict leaves nearly half of the children in Afghanistan out of school, while 87% of women in Afghanistan experience physical, sexual or psychological violence during their lifetime. It is against this backdrop of war and devastation that we find the heartfelt film, The Breadwinner. Based on the book of the same name by Deborah Ellis and produced by Angelina Jolie, the film follows the story of 11-year-old Parvana (Saara Chaudry), who navigates her life disguised as a boy, and attempts to survive ...

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A soldier, lost in translation

An endless wave of nothingness arrives: The storm, the red eye and the golden nose; The plunge of the people and the nosedives; Waving upon the wild cherry crossbows, The warm air in the engine cools me down, The colour changes; from black to nut-brown, The air foresees a mist from the western hallows; The tail of the behemoth creeps upon the shadows.   The jarring men wiry and scathing, Skin measled with scrawling screws; Itching toes rubbing against gunmetal swarf The ears bellow in the wailing sound, sucking the air from the atmosphere. The blades grumbled and crumbled against the flesh that trudged the gruntled wind, The brass that lent itself to ...

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If US foreign policy were consistent, America would be bombing Israel right now

The Syrian civil war, we have been told, began as part of the Arab Spring and really took hold when Syrian government forces allegedly opened fire on protesters across the country in early 2011. This pattern of indiscriminate violent behaviour against civilians has been a talking point in the western media’s regime-change narrative. The media often goes so far as to claim that the government led by Bashar al Assad has lost all legitimacy. What, then, should we make of Israel’s decision to open fire on protesters in the Gaza Strip this past week, killing over 60 protesters and wounding 2,700 more in the process? According ...

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In the war against the Taliban, why are we okay with children always being collateral damage?

Who in this world heeds the cries of children? A week filled with images of Syrian children gasping for life, after yet another chemical attack launched by their own leader, making this the world’s bloodiest conflict in recent memory. Even Afghanistan, and the long war once waged by the US, has now faded in memory in comparison. Thus, the murder of young children, among the more than 70 lives razed to dust by air strikes in Kunduz, Afghanistan, did not penetrate the American news cycle, at a time when we are dealing with our own collateral of a presidency in near free fall. Al Jazeera reports that the madrassa, ...

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Of the push-up controversy and our collective intelligence quotient

News flash just in: Oxford dictionary has added a new meaning to the word push-up. “A grave national security threat”. Wait? What? Push-ups? Did I hear this one correctly? Well apparently, yes! Over the years, we have all read some ridiculously dense statements coming in from our law makers, but this one literally took the cake. Instead of focusing their energies on the recent Quetta carnage, one of our legislators was still fixated with the in-vogue celebratory style of the Pakistan cricket team. Chaudhry Nazeer Ahmad, a ruling government MNA during an Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee meeting came up with the wise idea that ...

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A dispute over water, a lifetime of war?

When the Indus Water Treaty was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Ayub Khan in September 1960, President Eisenhower described it as the, “One bright spot…in a very depressing world picture.” Only eight months after independence, in 1948, India had first begun diverting water from the Pakistani canal system emanating out of the Indus water system. After about a decade of conflict over water (which also saw the two countries reject a proposal for unified basin development that would have brought Pakistan and India together in many ways), it fell to the newly installed military regime in Pakistan and Jawaharlal Nehru in India ...

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Pakistan’s long distance relationship with Afghanistan will never end

Banaras Khan was eight when he came to Pakistan in 1979, shortly after the Russians arrived in Afghanistan. He was the second eldest son, who crossed the Pak-Afghan border at Mohmand by foot with only his mother. His father had two wives – and he chose to settle down with Banaras’ stepmother in Peshawar. Banaras and his mother came with nothing to a country completely foreign to them. They took refuge with an old Afghan neighbour who was already residing in a rented home in my neighbourhood. His mother borrowed some money in the hopes of starting their life again. She began to ...

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Sea cemetery: The height of human folly

Do you know you can smell death? Yes, you can. It smells like blood. It smells like bones. It smells like Syria. In six years, it has claimed more than 400,000 lives and alas, we are still counting! The land has literally shrunk from abundant horror of burying human flesh. For thousands, the waves of the Mediterranean have become the final resting place. These are the unfortunate citizens of this doomed country who try to scramble out and move to a land with no war. But the ferocious waters, devious boat captains and inadequate supplies toss them into the merciless ...

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Maria Toorpakai’s life sings like a Khaled Hosseini novel

Cut off my locks….my pretty black locks…. Throw away my frocks….my pretty bright frocks…. I will ditch my bangles and my dainty shoes…. I will run as a boy and let myself loose…. They will spare my life if I turn into a boy… And if I remain a girl, they will kill my joy… Birds of a feather flock together. But if you aim to fly high, you have to leave the flock first. Such a bird is Maria Toorpakai. Her life is nothing short of a Khaled Hosseini’s novel; the war struck her home town, the high profile political family and the strangest dream ...

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A Syrian refugee’s message to the European Union

When we first got here we had money to buy a little food. Now it’s gone. We stand in line for hours for a sandwich. My husband told a journalist recently, “People are fed up. Maybe tomorrow they will break down the gate and flood across the border.” The journalist said, “How many weapons do you have?” If we knew how to carry weapons or wanted to carry weapons we would not have fled Syria. We want peace. We are sick of killing. We fled a war, and now the European Union is making war against us, a psychological war. When we hear rumours that we’ll be let ...

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