Stories about wars

#ETBlogs plays Independence Day trivia: How well do you know Pakistan?

Like every year, celebrations for our Independence Day have begun full swing. Patriotism can be felt in the air, with brands airing special ads in honour of our 71 years and TV channels airing dramas with an added twist of nationalism. With the creation of ‘Naya Pakistan’ falling around the same time as the creation of the old one, perhaps this year is extra special in how much and how visibly we choose to declare our love for our country. However, as we step into Naya Pakistan, how well do we remember the old one? We took to the streets of Karachi ...

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Why quality war movies are not Bollywood and Lollywood’s forte

South Asia’s film industries have failed to produce a war film of international impact that would contribute to the myths indispensable to a culture’s self-image and provide a viable soft power platform. Films narrowly focused on jingoism and self-righteousness only preach to the choir. They quickly degenerate into self-indulgence. The paucity of South Asian war films and their quality leaves much to be desired. Whining about Hollywood cultural assaults discounts the entertainment quality of its movies and the innumerable, politically anti-American, Hollywood war-movie fans worldwide. The Naked and the Dead, The Great Escape, From Here to Eternity, Platoon, Full Metal ...

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Is Trump aware of the catastrophic consequences of fighting a war with nuclear-armed North Korea?

These days, for the most unfortunate reasons, there’s no dearth of events clamouring to grab the headlines in the US. A perpetual flow of rudimentary as well as impactful (read ‘incendiary’) news keeps on piling stress and frustration on those who dare to care. From the Sean Spicer gaffes to airline functionaries literally trying to beat their passengers to death, to the never-ending Russian hacking saga, the news cycle is as bizarre as it gets. While the plight of conscientious governance is too hard to miss, what’s worth noting and most incredibly intriguing is how conveniently the Donald Trump administration has within a matter of few days managed to manoeuvre ...

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Why do Pakistan and India always have their daggers drawn?

Pakistan and India are locked in the conviction that each one wants the other’s destruction. Repeating the incantation is patriotic, questioning it, borderline seditious. Each country believes that its violence is only a defensive response to the other’s malevolent initiative. Both nations have separate historical markers to support their points of view and risk engaging in what each believes would be a just war. This smouldering fire is kept alight by the capability theory of judging intent by capability assessment. US General Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the 1990 First Iraq War coalition, believes that, “… You … judge your enemy based upon capabilities, not intent, you have to look at ...

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Is the Mughal Empire to blame for the schism created between Hindus and Muslims?

When we think of the Mughals, we immediately conjure images of artistic splendour, architectural grandeur, and military might. There is much to support the argument that the Mughal rule was the envy of the world at its peak with its efficient institutions, its system of Mansabdari, its large military, and its achievements in artistic and architectural design. The Taj Mahal, the Badshahi Mosque, Bibi ka Maqbara, Shalimar Gardens, the Deccan expeditions, the Rajput subjugation, the Maratha skirmishes – the list of accomplishments is as long as their tortuous and sometimes torturous reign. However, what classroom history often conveniently forgets is how different each Mughal ...

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I love the UN, but it is failing

I have worked for the United Nations for most of the last three decades. I was a human rights officer in Haiti in the 1990s and served in the former Yugoslavia during the Srebrenica genocide. I helped lead the response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Haitian earthquake, planned the mission to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons, and most recently led the Ebola mission in West Africa. I care deeply for the principles the United Nations is designed to uphold. And that’s why I have decided to leave. The world faces a range of terrifying crises, from the threat of climate change to terrorist breeding grounds in ...

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The responsibility of being a famous celebrity in Pakistan

Saif Ali Khan’s Phantom (2015) was a sad excuse for a movie, much like Shaan Shahid’s Musalman (2001). Movies that play on the very jingoistic sentiment, which have led us into various wars and thousands of casualties, do nothing but betray their audiences who otherwise wish and need peace in the region. Pakistan was right to ban the film as a sign of protest. I would expect the same from India but India being a much older democracy has been far more disappointing. Not only did it ban non-political movies and dramas from Pakistan, but our artists like Shakeel Siddiqui and singers ...

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What does the IS have in common with the US?

After 9/11, the US administration decided to go on a mass “witch hunt” to locate and exterminate culprits whom they believed were behind the attacks on the World Trade Centre. The ultimate culpability and responsibility for the attacks was placed on Osama bin Laden, the then head of al Qaeda. Although the prime suspects for the 9/11 attacks were led to be of Arab descent, the location where it was believed that Bin Laden and his associates were residing was Afghanistan. Afghanistan, at the time, had gone through a series of internal struggles during their war with the USSR, in which Afghan Mujahideen had fought ...

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A strong man

He really hated elbows on the table. It made him feel as angry as when they hid his cigarettes. But he had no choice in the matter. It was a conspiracy hatched by three women, against him, and not just any three ladies, but three headstrong, exceptionally sensitive and explosive women. So he let it go. But the matter of elbows on the table really got his goat. How difficult was it to just rest the forearms at an angle of 45 degrees with the wrists dangling gently over the cutlery? It wasn’t hard. He had done it for 28 years ...

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Down memory lane: Peace talks have never been ‘peaceful’

“The Romans never allowed a trouble spot to remain simply to avoid going to war over it, because they knew that wars don’t just go away, they are only postponed to someone else’s advantage.” These wise words were spoken by Niccolò Machiavelli – the Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. According to historical documents, when the Jews revolted against the Roman Empire inspired by ‘religious fervour’, the Romans responded with an intensity rarely witnessed in ancient history. The campaign against the uprising reached its final stage in AD72 in the province of Judaea with the Romans advancing ...

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