The Pulwama attack is more than a massacre – it’s an unfortunate reminder

The recent killing of 44 security personnel belonging to the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) outside Srinagar has opened up a can of worms, and everyone should be bothered at this development. It’s not that this is the first time there has been an attack on Indian security forces in the valley, inflicting serious damage in terms of casualties. However, this attack is quite significant for the many issues it reveals, not necessarily for the lay person. The first and most important problem we need to confront is the attitude of the Indian state and its unofficial auxiliaries who have ...

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Why India does not want any US-Afghanistan peace talks

The clearest indication of how the Indian military, intelligence and diplomatic bureaucracies (‘deep state’) truly feel about US’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban can be seen in India’s Major-General (R) Harsha Kakar’s recent article on this topic written for The Statesman. Intuiting India’s interpretation India, which hasn’t shied away from sounding off about all manner of international issues ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election in 2014, has been uncharacteristically tight-lipped about its attitude towards US’s Afghan peace talks with the Taliban. This led many observers to intuit that it’s extremely unhappy with this process but is applying the age-old wisdom ...

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No, India, Pakistan cannot and will not be bullied into silence

India has summoned Pakistan’s ambassador, whilst New Delhi has warned that communications between Islamabad and political leaders in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) will have “implications”, after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the leader of Kashmir’s All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Pakistan’s government responded to India’s protests by reminding New Delhi that Pakistan frequently corresponds with political and community leaders in IoK. The fact of the matter is that it is not just perfectly appropriate but it is necessary for Pakistan to retain open lines of communication with politicians and community leaders in IoK. To suggest ...

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After Trump’s Cambridge Analytica, Modi brings India’s first ‘WhatsApp Election’

What happens when those responsible for spreading propaganda and lies end up becoming the rulers? The lies become institutionalised. Modern India has never witnessed a propaganda onslaught of the sort that it is experiencing just before the general elections that are scheduled to take place between April and May of this year. We have moved far beyond old school newspapers and other such forms of print media. We now resort to electronic media and online platforms to wage war against our political opponents. This war has now even started invading our private spaces. The commonly-used WhatsApp messenger has become the latest ...

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Is Venezuela the new Afghanistan?

Three days ago, the first United Nations (UN) rapporteur to visit Venezuela in 21 years told British media outlet The Independent that US sanctions on Venezuela are illegal and bordering on “crimes against humanity” under international law. No one in the international media will say it, but sanctions are always the precursor to war. Never mind Washington’s barbaric sanctions on pre-2003 Iraq, which are estimated to have killed 1.7 million Iraqi civilians, including 500,000 children. Not many people acknowledge this fact, but before the Pearl Harbour attack during World War II, the US had targeted Japan’s rapidly developing economy heavily with economic sanctions, forcing Japan to respond ...

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Govt shutdown: While the world is building bridges, an isolated US stands alone behind walls

Where do I begin? Who do I pin the blame on? How did we get here? What happened to my United States of America, where from the time I came of age until now, in the twilight years of my life, I’ve held on to the belief that this is it; this is the land where I belong; this is home, the values of which I am wedded to. Where did we go wrong? How did this completely unworthy and unruly under-achiever manage to get elected to the highest and most revered office of the country? We’ve had several government ...

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Germany’s highest peak was beautiful, but Pakistan’s ‘majestic beasts’ are incomparable

My love for mountains grew last year when I got an opportunity to climb Baaushal Peak (5,720 metres) in Pakistan and became part of the first female expedition of the country. Mountain climbing still hasn’t garnered much attention in our part of the world, even though the natural beauty Pakistan has to offer is breathtaking and incomparable. I can say this with confidence because I recently climbed the highest peak in Germany known as the Zugspitze Peak (2,962 metres). There are more technical routes to the Zugspitze Peak but I decided that going through the Reintal Valley was my best ...

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To Baku and beyond: A melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture

Known as the city of winds, Baku offers warm hospitality, rich culture, inspiring architecture and natural beauty to amuse all kinds of travellers. The city is soaked in history, and almost every turn you take will give glimpses of its glorious past and aspirations for the future. The architecture and food are inspired by the millennia of cultural influences from Romans, Mongols and Turks. Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture. Baku ticks all the boxes on the list of any discerning traveller and I couldn’t resist the first opportunity I got to visit ...

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The US may withdraw its troops from Syria but the war is far from over

Not too long ago, US President Donald Trump shocked the world when he made the announcement that just this once, the US would decide to act in accordance with international law. The announcement in question was that US troops stationed in Syria would now be returning home to their families. This declaration in turn shocked what has become a war-loving media that never once questioned America’s military presence in a sovereign nation to begin with. Not many Americans appear to know this (nor do they appear to care, by some accounts) but the US military has occupied approximately one third of Syria for some time now. Conveniently, the ...

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Walking with the Incas in Machu Picchu, a land where the ancient gods still reign

“Ama Sua. Ama Lulla. Ama Quella.” “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy.” This age-old quote from the Andean highlands defined the code of life for a nation that rose from oblivion to become one of the greatest cultures of its time – the Inca. Today, after 500 years, one of its architectural marvels, Machu Picchu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cusco, the ancient capital of Inca, was my first stop on the way to Machu Picchu. Situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres, this acted as a stopover and helped me acclimatise to the ...

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