Terrorism / 04.08.2014

By Anjum Altaf Here are two disappointing questions with which Amos Oz, the grandfather of Israeli peaceniks, began a recent interview: QUESTION 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine-gun fire into your nursery? QUESTION 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family? The way this comes across is as if everything was going along swimmingly, we were the greatest of friends, and suddenly I discover you are sitting in your balcony pointing a machine-gun or digging a tunnel into my nursery. Clearly that’s not the way it is. Leave aside the contentious history stretching back decades about who's sitting in whose balcony at the end...

Identity / 25.09.2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall / Who is the Fittest of Us All?

The question, starkly posed, could be the following: Which country, India or Pakistan, has the better chance of survival, and why? In fact, the question is just an artifact to extend a discussion we have been having on this blog about the relationship of tolerance to survival. Our engagement with the issue has been at the very basic level of understanding but the very fact that we have been debating it leads us on to better and more sophisticated arguments. This, I strongly believe, is the beneficial outcome of discussions and conversations on a blog like this.
Analysis / 03.07.2009

We have gone back and forth on the issue of American intervention in developing countries and I wish to return to the topic to broaden the terms of the discussion. Reader Tahir had raised the issue in defense of Imran Khan’s position that was the subject of three earlier posts (here, here, and here). Let us see if a wider perspective improves our understanding and helps us think of better responses, both intellectual and practical. The evidence of American interventions is not in dispute. In his Cairo address, President Obama conceded American involvement in the 1953 coup in Iran that toppled a democratic government. And this is only one of many, many instances well known to all except, perhaps, a majority of American voters. Imran Khan is part of the multitude that sees through the American rhetoric of high morality.
Education / 24.04.2009

By Anjum Altaf

In earlier posts we have highlighted what we feel many schools in South Asia are doing (inculcating hatred) that is harmful to the social psyche of children. We have also discussed what we feel enough schools are not doing (proactively teaching tolerance) that would be beneficial for the social health of South Asian countries.

In this post we look at education from a different perspective and raise two questions that ought to occupy centre-stage in the debate over the public school curriculum: What are the rights of a child? And, how are these rights to be ensured?

There is much room for disagreement on the first, which should lead to a vigorous debate. This would be interesting, given that ‘rights’ cover the entire spectrum from the simple to the complex and from the obvious to the controversial.

Pakistan / 03.01.2009

The situation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is in a mess. It is being said that while Pakistanis refuse to see or accept the reality, a civil war is underway in the region to all intents and purposes. And the Pakistani state is losing this civil war. The Pakistani military has no credibility with anyone in the country and many see the Taliban favorably as either anti-imperialist or pan-Islamist. All this leaves the following question on the table: What will this mean for Pakistan when the new US administration raises the ante in Afghanistan as expected? Let us examine the various elements in this picture. It is impossible to deny that a civil war is underway and that the Pakistani state is on the losing end. Just the loss of control over territory makes this obvious. Less than five years ago residents of Islamabad...


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