Pak-US Ties – An Uneasy Alliance

Since Pakistan’s emergence on the world map, Pak-US ties have been characterised more by mutual dependence than shared interests as is the norm. America to its credit has always made its concerns clear: Soviet Union being its favourite bugbear till the end of the Cold War and the deceptively ambiguous war on terror thereafter. Though Pakistan officially tows the same line, its commitment is diffused by the singular prism, that of India, through which it views all its assessments.
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A Time for Introspection

The Muslim ‘Ummah’, if it can be termed as such, is on the verge of imploding. Almost all countries in its fold are riven with strife, strife of their own making. The reason is not hard to find: a blatant disregard of the cardinal principle of unity as enshrined in the Quran, which enjoins the believers “to hold fast to the rope of Allah, and not be divided amongst themselves”. Divisions have always been, and continue to be, deliberately engineered by the ruling classes in a bid to indefinitely prolong their reign, using the clergy as a willing accomplice. Instead of the focus being on points of convergence, of which there are legion, the emphasis is regrettably on fomenting differences. Tribes are pitched against tribes and nation states against nation states; no heed is paid to the Quranic injunction about tribes being created ‘so that you may know each other’ and not be antagonistic towards each other. Sectarian feelings are deliberately inflamed, with minorities being at the receiving end, ignoring the Quranic caution to be patient and wait for Allah, Who alone knows everything, to reveal where we each erred. Patience is unfortunately not our strongest suit.
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Of Believers, Martyrs and Jannatis

Throughout the ages, Muslim scholars have in general displayed an infinite propensity for discussing subjects which are way beyond their mental and wisdom levels, things like the nature of Allah and His Prophet, the Adam and Eve saga, descriptions of heaven and hell, the number and nature of ‘houris’ as well as the vivid story of the ascendance(Meraj) of the Prophet, all of which, beyond the context of the Quran, have virtually no relevance in terms of imparting guidance on how to lead a fruitful life on Earth, which should be our primary focus. The end result is that the clear injunctions of the Quran are obfuscated by voices, which the louder they are, the more they tend to get heard and drown out the competing saner ones.
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The Malaise Within

The senseless attack on the Charlie Hebdo news office , its credentials notwithstanding, as well as an associated hostage drama, in which a total of 17 people were killed, galvanised the French public to the extent that over 3.7 million people, including 40 world leaders, turned up for the Unity Rally throughout France. Compare that with our lukewarm and divided response to a far graver tragedy that befell us some three weeks earlier: the indiscriminate and wanton slaughter of around 140 children, their Principal and their teachers, by mindless brutes. It was heartening to see though the new found resolve amongst our military and political leadership to combat terrorism of all shades, a far cry from its reaction to endless atrocities perpetuated on our hapless citizens over the past three decades. Constant exposure to information bombardment of a singular politico-religious kind, aided by the influx of billions of petrodollars, has desensitised us to the extent that we have become immune to pain inflicted on others and we have increasingly tended to favour the oppressor over the oppressed.
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Footnotes and Highnotes of a Meaningful Life

Robert Byrne

The purpose of life is a life of purpose

Arthur Caldwell

It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies

Albert Einstein

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value

Mark Twain

It is better to deserve honours and not have them than to have them and not deserve them
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Thinking Response to an Irrational Act – The Charlie Hebdo Affair

Incidents of sacrilege, whether in the form of a Salman Rushdie novel or a cheapskate U-tube video or the Charlie Hebdo cartoon affair, continue to provide grist to the mills of the hardline Muslim clerics, who use it to whip up a frenzy amongst their ardent followers and influence many others along the way. The general collective response is mostly emotional and if the perpetuators get killed by self-righteous ideologues to avenge the slight to the Prophet’s honour, most of us heave a sigh of relief. ‘They had it coming!’ we say.
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Deceptive Narratives – Proxy War

In the wake of the horrendous attack on an Army-run Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, the question uppermost in peoples’ minds is whether we as a nation can finally turn the tide against this dire internal menace that hangs like the Sword of Damocles over us all. The short answer: yes, we can, provided we can let go of the false narratives that have been constantly injected into our collective psyches and which we have unreservedly embraced without questioning.
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A Tragedy beyond Belief

The horrific events of this bloody Tuesday(‘Murder most foul’), which has finally succeeded in rousing the nation from its decades old stupor, contained elements of unimagined brutality and unbelievable valour. It was arguably for the first time in recent memory that such a large scale massacre of innocent schoolchildren was orchestrated without any political objective in mind. On the other end of the spectrum are tales of unparalleled valour: the Principal going back into the school after being rescued in solidarity with her wards and of an intrepid young teacher who formed a human shield between the brutes and her students. Such should be our true heroes rather than those mindless animals who behead our soldiers and play football with their heads. Mind-boggling as to how many of us still can’t distinguish between the two.
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From Dharna to Ubharna

If nothing else, the ongoing  PTI and PAT Dharna (peaceful sit-in) now nearing its third month has raised public awareness about the major ills plaguing our society that people either took for granted or felt too helpless to do anything about. It has also resulted in sharply divided opinions: one that favours the status quo and the other that agitates for change. Instead of the debate centring around personalities and point scoring, should we not focus on issues for a change?
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Religion and Science: An Uneasy Co-existence

Can Science and Religion co-exist amicably? There is no reason to suppose they cannot, though for some odd reason, the two have always been at odds with each other. The debate that we keep listening to on the subject is between two incompatible extremes: one group holds that the only true and complete source of knowledge lies in the Holy Scriptures and all scientific pursuits are therefore meaningless and misleading; the other believes that valid observations and their analysis form the only basis for deriving scientific theories.

Far from being incompatible, the two are actually meant to complement each other. Religion strives to improve an individual’s moral fibre, while science enables one to better understand himself and his surroundings(much further than the eye can see) through reason.
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