Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the state has been in a constant state of turmoil, the brunt of which Afghan women had to face. The status of women’s rights worsened after the Taliban first came to power in 1996. The women of Afghanistan were forced to marry Taliban soldiers, deprived of their right to education, healthcare, and employment, and were subjected to violence and public executions. Despite the claims of the current Taliban regime, the past cannot be erased. After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the relative freedom that Afghan women had gained over the years is being threatened, and they fear for their lives once again.
About 40% of Afghanistan’s GDP and 75% of its public expenditure depends upon foreign aid. Since the Taliban takeover, the foreign assistance to the state has taken a plunge and the US government has seized over $9.5 billion worth of Afghan assets, worsening the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan. Given the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the US and the Taliban have, once again, decided to cooperate and pursue a second round of talks in Doha. Although the Taliban regime has not been recognized by the US, the former is hopeful that the two-day talks will start a “new chapter” in their political relations.
Abdul Sattar Edhi, born in 1928, was Pakistan’s most notable philanthropist and humanitarian. From a small dispensary in Karachi, Edhi built a foundation that now extends to several countries and provides ambulances, shelter homes, clinics, asylums, maternity homes, blood banks, adoption centers, schools, and orphanages. The author, Alina Fayaz, notes that the Edhi Foundation, which relies on private donations and local volunteers, is breaking religious and social barriers. Through his hard work and untiring efforts, Edhi placed human life at the forefront of everything and helped people without any discrimination. This has continued to inspire people to donate to the cause, even after the death of Abdul Sattar Edhi. Edhi’s dedication to his work has won him several awards, but most of all, it has won him the hearts of the people.
In 2010, a disastrous landslide claimed the lives of 20 people in the Gojal region of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. This very landslide resulted in the water from the Hunza River being blocked for five months and formed one of the most beautiful lakes in Pakistan – the Attabad Lake. Today, the existence of the Attabad Lake reminds many of the tragic loss of life but its beautiful turquoise water surrounded by snow-capped mountains also provides the tourists and locals with a sense of tranquility. The author, Alina Fayaz, notes that the treetops in the middle of the lake are a constant reminder of the natural disaster which created the lake. She explains that despite the lake’s history, the scenic view of the lake and the numerous tourist activities attract foreign and local tourists alike.
The positive image of a state certainly depends on the political culture and hence it is vulnerable to political conundrums that raise questions about the legitimacy of the state. Since 2014, Pakistan has been targeted for its ‘Dharna Culture’ which affects the masses, the politics, the economy, and whatnot. In fact, the country has witnessed a surge in this culture in recent years. The author, Alina Fayaz, considers the ideology of resolving crises by staging dharnas, to be a dangerous one.
The revival of the Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) corridor after 10 years will herald significant transit trade opportunities and cost-cutting in transportation. In fact, the ML-1 railway line, a major project under CPEC, will connect with the ITI corridor, thus increasing China’s regional influence.
Multan, located in the southern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province, serves as the resting place for many Sufi saints. Being one of the oldest living cities in South Asia, its culture is a blend of the new and the old. The author, Alina Fayaz, notes that in recent years, Multan has taken steps towards modernization. One such step is the establishment of the Garrison Public Library in Multan—one of the largest public libraries in Pakistan. The library is the brainchild of the late Lieutenant-General (R) Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmad HI(M) who was the mastermind behind Operation Zarb-e-Azb. A bibliophile himself, he wanted to establish a library that would help preserve the literary, historic and cultural heritage of Multan region. Today, this stunning library stands as his gift to Pakistan’s booklovers. The beautiful architecture and the library’s facilities attract locals and tourists, all the while providing a comfortable environment for women and children – and particularly for individuals with special needs.
The tensions between Taiwan and China escalated since the beginning of this month when Chinese military jets entered the air defence zone of Taiwan for four consecutive days. The author, Alina Fayaz, claims that China has become more emphatic in the region, and that the invasion of Taiwan will turn out to be the biggest threat to world peace in a generation. China’s muscle-flexing in Taiwan through increased military over the last few months has raised an international concern as the fate of the island will reshape the order in the region because of its potential.