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Showing posts from December, 2012

VIEW: A (Deep) State of Denial

First Published inDaily Times / 31 Dec 2012 (Monday)

By: Afrah Jamal

Thank you to the folks interested in publishing this in Urdu


Hapless polio teams are in the crosshair of extremists and people have come up with their own theories to explain the presence of health workers in the montage of violence. If a polio team does not reach any home, the residents can call a number and let them know. Many houses were left wondering about the fate of the drive this year after the three-day carnage that claimed nine lives, six of them women. A maulana on the media attributes the sudden spike in polio-related violence to government. More polio means more $$, he hisses confidentially. Twitter-sphere assigns the subsequent instability to the dreaded ‘deep state’.



According to them, it can sacrifice anything and anyone on the altar of national interest or in this case — the lure of more dollars. Every ‘whodunit’ begins or ends with a deep state cameo. Apparently, their interference is legendary, as is …

Book Review: Personal Histories of Choices: Documenting Renunciation

Published in Daily Times / Dec 15, 2012

Published Under the Title: First Rule of Jihad Club

Thank you Gulmina for the Review copy

Authors: Gulmina Bilal Ahmad, Dr. Anika Ahmed,
Yahya Ahmad, Zulfiqar Haider, Hamza Khan Swati
& a friend who wants to remain anonymous


Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

(The Print Ed has an error - hope they fix it in the online Ed, first para 3rd line that now says 'jihadists are willing' throws my sentence off balance. The 2nd Para has a misprint. not tnatives, natives!)

Unlike the first, second, third rule of fight club (you do not talk about fight club) – retired jihadists willing to open up about their past lives do exist. A dedicated group of researchers bent on tracing the path to radicalization needed no divining rod to identify people who have dabbled in jihad at some point in their lives.

This compilation of ‘confessions’ features interviews with fifteen former terrorists hiding out in the open and not as one would think, skulking in the shadows.…

VIEW: The True Cost of Drone Charades

First Published in SHE Magazine / Dec 2012

The other day cricketer turned politician Imran Khan was unceremoniously hauled off a plane and detained for questioning in Toronto over his anti drone stance.

Khan does not like drones.

The Taliban do not care for them either. Ordinary Pakistanis are passionate about sovereignty, and conflicted about how to handle the ‘safe haven’ situation, which leaves them reaching for the pitcher of outrage after every violation. The past six years has seen a noticeable spike in drone strikes followed by rising temperatures on the ground.

The people on ‘ground zero’ interestingly do not necessarily share these sentiments and might even go along with the idea of using targeted strikes to eliminate a common enemy. More on these people can be found in Irfan Husain’s excellent book Fatal Faultlines – Pakistan, Islam & the West.

WikiLeaks cables place the State on the scene when covert wars became an active part of the scenery. Pakistan is not the onl…

BOOK REVIEW: “After The Rain”: Short Stories for the SAARC Region

Thanks to Ayesha Zee Khan for the Review Copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, December 08, 2012

Also appeared in Google Books Section

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Compiled by: Ayesha Zee Khan

After the Rain is a compilation of short stories that pans over the SAARC region striving to bring a cross section of voices suited for its literary experiment into the fold. The collection houses five writers and ten entries. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is not coincidental since these offerings rely on personalised snapshots to project their exotic vision onto a fresh new canvas.

Budding authors and established names come together from Nepal, Maldives and Pakistan to showcase their range and the region’s rustic charm. This impromptu gathering of ‘the chosen ones’ boasts of names like Ibrahim Waheed ‘Ogaru’, the ‘writer-artist’ from the Maldives; Pushpa R Acharya from Nepal; Arbab Daud and Kiran Bashir Ahmad from Pakistan. Ayesha Zee Khan, the winner of the SAARC Literary Award 2012 f…