Why is the world embracing right wing politics?

In 2019, Modi’s re-election in India alongside Bolsonaro in Brazil added to the growing list of right-wing populist leaders around the world. With Trump serving as the president of the United States, Israel’s Netanyahu becoming the country’s longest-serving prime minister and a resurgent European far-right, the rise of populist strongmen as leaders in several countries has become a subject of intense scrutiny especially focused on why these changes are taking place. In order to understand the issue at hand, I shall look at studies from the 90s to the 2000s, which will also be complemented by current research and then applied to political ...

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Who really wants the US-Iran war?

The tussle between Iran and the United States of America nearly reached a boiling point after the aerial assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3rd. Immediately, the Gulf states pleaded for urgent de-escalation, knowing full well that a conflict could be disastrous for all the countries close proximity to Iran. Even the Saudis made it abundantly clear that they played no part in the deadly drone strike which claimed 10 lives. The USA duly obliged and President Donald Trump’s speech, after Iran’s limited missile attack on US bases in Iraq, was marked by restraint. The Gulf ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 3: Pakistan, India, religion, and climate change

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. ~ Religion and spirituality Hassan Mirza (HM): Did religion have any big influence on you when you were growing up? Were your family members religious? Noam Chomsky (NC): Judaism did, religion didn’t. My parents were not religious in the usual sense. Deeply rooted in Jewish/Hebraic culture, somewhat observant. HM: What do ...

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The Saudi-Iran conflict and the challenges it poses for Pakistan

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, recently visited both Iran and Saudi Arabia at a time when the region is on the precipice of imploding. The timing of the visits was no fortune coincidence. In fact, it showed Islamabad’s intent to maintain peace in the region, further exemplified by its attempts to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the past. Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the two countries in a bid to ease tensions after drone attacks targeted two Saudi oil facilities. The fact that Pakistan is actively trying to preserve regional stability suggests that there are ...

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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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What can Pakistan learn from Bangladesh?

Henry Kissinger, the secretary of state during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations, ominously dubbed Bangladesh a basket case, and the moniker stuck, causing disappointment and dismay among Bangladeshis. In the 1970s, the derogatory appellation painted a dire picture of a country struggling with negative growth rates, dismal export potentials, empty coffers, and, to top it all off, the burden of meeting the needs of a traumatised population. The future of Bangladesh, at the time, looked very bleak indeed. Five decades later, Bangladesh has come out roaring. It has become one of the leading Asian economies and has, for ...

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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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Trump’s imperial arrogance will have disastrous ramifications

The spectre of war is haunting the Middle East. In the American diplomatic and military circles, there’s only a single line of discussion: how is Iran going to retaliate? The question has moved a little further from ‘if’, and the reason for that is Donald Trump’s addiction to late night news punditry which leaves him with a mad whirlwind of emotions, especially if it has anything to do with a perceived slight aimed at either him or the military prowess of the United States (US). On December 27th, an American contractor was killed because of rocket attacks at a military ...

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What will be the consequences of the rising US-Iran tensions?

In the popular TV show House of Cards, American President Franklin Underwood faces a hostage situation with a group of extremists loyal to the Islamic Caliphate Organisation. The loyalists can easily be taken out and the hostage freed, but the president uses the public death of the hostage as political capital. Because of investigations into the president’s tainted past, he raises an effective disinformation campaign against the terrorist organisation, rallies Congress, and declares war. The American people are scared and choose to place their faith in the president, forgetting any accusations of foul-play, corruption, and murder. In the real world, ...

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