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Peshawar Attack



Back in Iraq

With the ISIS horror show tweeting murders and beheadings as it blazes through Iraq, pressure has mounted on world powers for new Iraqi intervention. This time they’re well equipped to attack remotely from up above rather than exposing troops to an extended ground assault. In his recent national address, President Barack Obama announced some measures to combat the terrorist group in Iraq. Air power will be used to seek and force out ISIS militants from various cities and towns they control across Syria and Iraq. There will also be an increased total of 1,600 American military advisers and others working with Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters, and sectarian militias to defeat ISIS. US Vice President declared “we will follow them to the gates of hell”. Despite confident words from the administration, almost 70 percent of Americans lack confidence that the US will achieve their stated goals in fighting ISIS. Recent history with similar tactics in Afghanistan has proven that a decade isn’t long enough to establish a dependable local police force. This means the president, and perhaps the next several, will need to somehow sustain US public support for an entire generation to give the plan any real chance at success.
In an effort to train and equip US allies to fight terrorists, Obama has requested $5 billion from Congress. $500 million of that money will be spent on training a new Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia. Even though Iraq demanded US assistance in fighting ISIS, and has even relented and promised immunity for US troops, the new Iraqi Prime minister made it clear that there will be no foreign combat forces on ground. This a day after US General Martin E. Dempsey recommended that American soldiers may be needed if current efforts fail.
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan have joined the US-led alliance against ISIS. Russia and China also appear likely to give support for an operation launched against the extremists. Broad consensus from strange bedfellows may be what sets this effort apart from recent conflicts waged in the area. Granted, the proposed plan is not yet unique or inspiring, but support from all global powers may give this effort unparalleled staying power. Temporarily beating ISIS back into hiding is one thing. Strengthening Iraq’s weak government and military to sustain the peace is another matter altogether. Although a new government has been formed in Iraq, not much has changed since the old players are still in power. Nouri al-Malaki, the former prime minister is now the vice president and previous policy makers have been reshuffled.
With Afghanistan and Iraq are unraveling, the fruits of interventionist policies have come to bear. During his election campaign Obama promised to end the wars since the economy was in ruins and the American public was fed up. However, ISIS’ rampage across the region is becoming harder to ignore and the US finds itself back in Iraq. As Colin Powell once stated about the US invasion of Iraq “If you break it, you own it”. Contrary to President Bush rushing into a declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq, Obama is reluctant to even define what success would look like in this case or even the aftermath of “degrading” ISIS. US politician Jim Moran sums it up as “the best of a long list of bad options”.


Revolution, Inqilab & Azadi

Unfortunately, “democracy” only exists in Pakistan either through the lineage of a Bhutto or Sharif. While the masses are 53fd731036526increasingly fed up with the regurgitated choices offered to them every election year, PTI and PAT’s march was doubtful to bring about the changes they seek. In fact, these protests were an ill-timed distraction. Pakistan is already besieged with an IDP crisis and a military that is enthralled in conducting the Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan. Yes, there was electoral fraud along with discontent about the poor quality of life, but a call for a “Tahrir square” revolution is not the solution. Can any rational person claim that present day Egypt is the ideal model for the future of Pakistan?

22959-imagex-1403774824-884-640x480Nawaz Sharif’s government has failed to curb electricity blackouts which share a large deal of the blame for the crippled economy. Add to that the gross lack of social justice, poverty, extremism and one arrives at a toxic mix with the right ingredients for an uprising. Case in point, the murder of eleven protestors this past June would be unthinkable in any democratic nation. However, enticing the crowd with whimsical promises such as housing and jobs for everyone is cruel and doesn’t achieve anything. Instead, energies should be focused on becoming a formidable opposition in the parliament and coming up with a realistic plan to tackle the root causes of the issue such as the ever growing population, illiteracy and corruption.

It is also important to realize that for a revolution to occur in Pakistan the nation has to be one. Since Sindh, Baluchistan,928627_287858068066215_491543121_a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are ethnic divisions within Pakistan, the very essence of revolution is missing. Rebellions are born amongst the people and not created overnight by foreign clerics in containers. For instance, the current crisis in Iraq is due to the fact that every single aspect of the Iraqi government was dismantled by the US, subsequently leading to a takeover of the country by ISIS. Iraq is now fractured along sectarian and ethnic lines possibly even facing disintegration.

While it was clear from the start that the Azaadi march and Inqilab were not going to bring about a revolution or the 10384676_10152311034194527_5735778053886220120_nresignation of Nawaz Sharif, the last few days have still been a wakeup call for the current government which has been left weak. While the government has agreed to form a committee for electoral reform it has clearly stated that resignation of the prime minister and fresh elections are off the table. Even though Imran Khan’s cause is commendable, his methods have been irresponsible and his demands inconsistent. He should use his influence to focus on electoral reforms rather than the misconceived call for an Arab spring style uprising, civil disobedience and resignations. Sending this farce of a democracy packing is not going to bring about a revolution in Pakistan. Instead, as many citizens have mentioned, Imran Khan should impose his revolutionary ideas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and make that into a shining example for the rest of Pakistan to strive for. Without a proven path to pursue, rhetoric rings hollow. Pakistan can ill afford more empty promises and chaos at the moment.




CAIR press conference on American teen beaten by Israeli police

CAIR – The Florida chapter of the organization I work with held a press conference with the family of teen beaten by Israeli border police.


3000 Cups of Tea – The Mission & Madness of Greg Mortenson

Last year, I was interviewed for the  upcoming documentary on Greg Mortenson’s schools in Pakistan. The film is titled 3000 Cups of Tea  and looks into the allegations of fraud made by the CBS  news show called 60 Minutes. After visiting Korphe and witnessing CAI schools in action along the way I’m glad to see Jennifer and Jeff carry out extensive research to get to the bottom of the story. 60 Minutes has already destroyed its credibility last year by running a fake story on Bengazi and then a fluff  piece on the NSA.

Neither 60 Minutes or Mortenson’s biggest critic, Jon Krakauer traveled to Pakistan or Afghanistan to research the existence of these schools and that is baffling! Krakauer does good work, his research into the US military’s cover up of Pat Tilman’s death by friendly fire in Afghanistan was an eye opener. Hence, it is difficult to understand why Krakauer went after Mortenson without conducting adequate research before making these accusations.

“Throughout my trip in the northern areas of Pakistan, I came across numerous blue CAI boards marking their institutions. The kids at the school in Korphe now have opportunities that were otherwise beyond their reach before the charity began and the locals backed up every aspect of Three Cups of Tea that I could remember”…you can read more about my experience in Korphe here and view the trailer to the documentary below:


2013 in Review

This year flew by and as usual it was jam packed with travel, events, risks and rewards! I started the year off by interning with a grass roots level non-profit “Move to Amend” for six months. This internship allowed me to write on hot button issues in US politics such as the XL pipeline and the power of lobbying groups while also gaining experience as a co-producer of their weekly online radio show. We also prepared to make the big move to the east coast from the west coast, I applied for jobs in DC and we rented out our house so that we’d have the ability to move across the US quickly if required. Since I wasn’t having any luck applying online we decided to take a trip to the capital so I could meet people face to face instead of relying on a computer to pick up the key words in my resume. While catching up with friends and sightseeing in DC was great but as I already wrote in a post below, it was made clear to me during my meetings at different think tanks that interest in South Asia is dying down since the war in Afghanistan is coming to an end. Meanwhile, interests have shifted to the Middle East and Africa etc.

img_1850I’m glad for the DC experience but after returning and completing the internship with Mimg_1848ove to Amend, I accepted a position with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in California. I thoroughly enjoy working for this organization and have already been part of some incredible events. During CAIR’s annual banquet in November 2013, Glenn Greenwald joined us via video since he faced possible arrest if he flew into the US. Mehdi Hassan and Wajahat Ali also spoke at the event.

I’m happy to have found an excellent job in California. Living in the golden state was always our first preference and we’re also excited to be moving back into our home. Looking forward to finally completing a couple of projects we wanted to doDSC_0719 around the house.

Amidst all the hustle we did find time to watch Rodrigo y Gabriela perform live in San Francisco, their music is mesmerizing and it’s my favorite station on Pandora when I’m writing or reading and sippinIMG_1237g my coffee. 

My goals for next year include writing a novel and making time to read more books. I also plan on updating my blog more regularly along with keeping up with my articles for the Express Tribune biweekly on Mondays. Hopefully, I can stay true to my goals and this post will serve as a reminder. 

I’m looking forward to keeping up with my work for CAIR, reading more, writing, traveling and conquering new video games. A trip to Seattle is already in the works for early next year. Happy New Year!

img_1472My reading List:

Empire of the Moghul Series: Alex Rutherford

The God Delusion: Richard Dawkins

I am Malala

Game of Thrones series: George R.R. Martin

The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins

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