Shujaat Bukhari: The saner voice in a place where insanity prevails

On Thursday evening, barely a day before Eidul Fitr, senior and most respected journalist Shujaat Bukhari was killed just outside his office in Press Enclave, Srinagar. Bukhari was the editor-in-chief of English daily Rising Kashmir published from Srinagar I was not far away from where the incident occurred. I was in the newsroom, where I along with rest of the staff was working on Friday’s edition of our newspaper when we heard gunshots. Panic gripped us, but one of my colleagues mentioned that it couldn’t have been gunshots, Eid was nearing, and maybe kids were out playing with firecrackers. Thinking ...

Read Full Post

Today is Eid, and I want to be home, not abroad

For every other day of the year, deciding what to wear early morning would be a task in itself, but not today. A kurta is hanging in the corner of my wardrobe. The entire year, I pretended it wasn’t there, but not today. Today is Eid in New York. It begins by embracing a traditional outfit to feel somewhat closer to home. A shower early morning and as usual a rush to the mosque is the norm. While trying to beat traffic to catch Eid prayer, a call back home to my parents is my favourite part. Each year, my mom asks my ...

Read Full Post

Annihilating Raqqa while allowing thousands of IS terrorists to escape – who was the US trying to kill?

Amnesty International released an explosive report last week, which described the US-led coalition’s disproportionate and indiscriminate war in Raqqa as the US-led “war of annihilation”. The report confirmed what some people have suspected for a while but few have dared to even talk about. Namely, that the United States and its allies have completely destroyed a Syrian city, and left almost nothing but death and destruction in their wake.   In coming to its conclusion, Amnesty researchers visited 42 coalition air strike sites across the city and interviewed 112 civilian residents who had survived the ordeal. The results of their investigation ...

Read Full Post

Are forced marriages a form of modern-day slavery?

In one of the old dictionaries I’ve been using since my school days, the definition for ‘forced marriage’ is: “A marriage in which one or both of the parties is married without his or her consent or against his or her will.” Growing up in Britain and in an Asian community, I’ve heard countless stories of young girls – at the young age of 16, even before they’ve received their exam results – being taken abroad for a ‘family holiday’, only to discover one evening that the very next day was their wedding. It even happened to one girl I ...

Read Full Post

If Pakistan follows Saudi Arabia’s footsteps, why not take a leaf from its sexual harassment law also?

One would think that the loose cannon that is the rising monarch of Saudi Arabia, long since the world’s Muslim hegemony, would not have thought all its radical initiatives through. And with good reason too. But recent endeavours are making us think otherwise. From where we stood, the lifting of the decades-long driving ban for women, only weeks from being set into motion, was nothing if not far flung. But it’s now being tailed by an impressive pre-emptive measure. Put short, Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) Vision 2030 might just be a concrete plan, and not just a ludicrous ...

Read Full Post

Lesvos: From a tourist heaven to the ‘refugee island’ of drowned boats and lifejackets

I recently had the chance to visit Lesvos, a tiny Greek island located a few kilometres from the Turkish Riviera. This picturesque island, which was once a tourist heaven, is now commonly referred to as the refugee island, given the high influx of refugees since 2014 following the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Whilst there as a volunteer, much of my time was spent realising how borders can sometimes prove fatal.  As I visited the shores of Skala, I could see Turkey through my binoculars. While many refugee boats arrive weekly from Turkey, at one point in 2015, an average total ...

Read Full Post

South Korea is my home away from home, but not during Ramazan

Pascal Mercier once said, “We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place; we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” Thus, it goes without saying that people who move to foreign countries, where they perhaps enjoy a better system, modern technology, a peaceful environment and numerous social benefits, will also undoubtedly miss the true colours of their homeland. No matter how wide your social circle is, or how awesome the foreign land you have moved to is, when it comes to ...

Read Full Post

When the gun is the law, how far are you willing to go to save your children?

Friday, May 18th. My 17-year-old says to me, “A 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student died in the Santa Fe school shooting. I saw it on social media.” These Are The Victims Of The #SantaFeHighSchoolShooting. Let us remember them:Sabika SheikhAnn PerkinsAngelique RamirezShana FisherKim VaughanChris StoneCynthia TisdaleChristian "Riley" GarciaJared Conard BlackKyle McLeod pic.twitter.com/8ceg889DP4 — Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) May 19, 2018 I immediately checked the headlines on leading newspapers from Pakistan, unreported at the time. It was a little after 4pm in the US. The first thought that crossed my mind was, do her parents know? What if they don’t? What if they find out from social media? Why did this have ...

Read Full Post

A new dawn for the monarchy: Will Meghan Markle follow Princess Diana’s footsteps?

On Saturday morning, inside St George’s Cathedral, situated in the grounds of the historic Windsor Castle, Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana Spencer, exchanged his wedding vows with Meghan Markle, now Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. This very Anglo-American tying the knot represents a poignant moment in the contemporary history of the British Monarchy, which according to the tabloid press, has entered into a new age of ‘multicultural traditionalism’, as foreign cultural mores seem to have joined in a comfortable union with the emotionally reserved and aristocratic English sensibility. The Americans, ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post