Who is Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? This article explores the life and troubles of the Pakistani scientist who has been at the center of a global controversy. By all accounts, Dr. Siddiqui’s story is known to be of grave injustice and tragedy.
Nufaisa Garba Ahmed primarily sets out to examine the nature and character of the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. In doing so, she brings to the fore some of the grave violations against the civilian population by the Nigerian military in the fight against the Boko Haram Terrorist Group (BHTG) in Nigeria’s Northeast, as reported by credible news outlets. The aim of this opinion piece is to bring to light some of the salient issues of civilian protection and proffer some good practices and lessons to be adopted for more credible and transparent operations by the military in armed conflicts.
In May 2022, when President Sheikh Mohamud was elected president of Somalia amidst the political turmoil, one of his top priorities was the elimination of Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group that has been waging war against the country. Adam Abass analyses the president’s strategy against Al-Shabaab, the current military offensive being launched by his government, Al-Shabaab’s counter-strategy, and the possible challenges ahead that can thwart the progress being made against the group.
In South Asia, Pakistan has been subjected to growing criticism over the insecurity posed by its nuclear infrastructure. However, what’s commonly ignored is that the region houses another nuclear state—one that presents greater and deadly nuclear concerns.
The Taliban regime came into power by overtaking the Afghan government in August 2021. Despite the fact that Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the Taliban government, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have remained contentious since then. Deadly cross-border exchanges at the Chaman border on 13th November, 11th December, and 15th December have alarmed the people of the two states who fear a dramatic escalation of the conflict.
Brig Syed Mushtaq Ahmed (Retd) dispels four virulent myths that have been making the rounds. These include: 1. Balkanization of Pakistan 2. Pakistan is a failed state 3. Pakistan is an epicentre of terrorism 4. The threat to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. He believes that the common objective is to debilitate and defang Pakistan—the only Muslim nuclear power that could threaten US, India, and Israel.
Edited by Maleeha Lodhi and several other contributors, Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ was published in 2011. The book effectively embarks beyond terrorism and natural disasters. Instead, it addresses the country’s contemporary security dynamics, demographic pressures, energy shortages, and lack of political will.
Since the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri in a US-authorized drone strike on July 31st, there has been speculation about Pakistan’s alleged participation in the attack. Hamra Tariq assesses the allegations which continue to persist regardless of Pakistan’s continuous denial of its involvement. She argues that, instead of Pakistan, there might be other actors entangled in Al-Zawahiri’s death.
In “The Silent Coup: A History of India’s Deep State,” Josy Joseph explains India’s democratic erosion and the role of India’s security agencies, politicians, and media in this decline. Through the case of Wahid Ali, he demonstrates how the three are intricately linked in the world’s largest democracy.
Despite several years of relative calm and stability, the spectre of terrorism is rearing its head in Pakistan again. With dozens killed and several more wounded in just the past few months, many fear that Pakistan is going down a dark path back to its past, a past riddled with too many bullet holes. The Declaration of the United States’ War on Terror in the aftermath of the 9/11 bombings has resulted in untold carnage and death, most particularly in the countries of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
For years, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Police has remained the target of militant violence, targeted killings, suicide attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings by terrorist organizations like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). In the last two decades, more than 1,500 officers of the KPK Police have embraced martyrdom in the fight against terrorism in Pakistan. Among these martyrs are AIG Safwat Ghayur, SP Tahir Dawar, DIG Malik Saad, DSP Farid Hussain Bangash, and AIG Muhammad Ashraf Noor. Knowing the risks and challenges involved in this battle, the unsung heroes of the KPK Police have valiantly served their nation and sacrificed their lives.
Madiha Afzal’s “Pakistan under Siege” explores extremism, terrorism, and the narratives of the state in Pakistan. She notes how religious radicalism has strongly influenced the political actors in the country. The author also offers an incisive view of the actors’ deep-rooted relationships with terrorism.
While state-perpetrated terrorism can be traced back to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution, terrorism itself is rooted deep into human history. The author notes that the phenomenon of terrorism has undergone significant development since its usage by the Sicarii in the 1st century. The author relies on David Rapoport’s model of the four waves of modern terrorism to explain how the aims, motivation, rationale, and methods of achieving the aims have changed from the 1870s till now. She argues that while states have adopted measures to counter the current wave of religious fundamentalism, terrorism itself cannot be completely eradicated.
When it comes to human rights and democracy, the United States of America tends to place itself on a high pedestal. The US’ false sense of righteousness and its tendency to ignore its own crimes while calling out other states has allowed it to remain on its high horse. The author, Sarmad Ishfaq, notes that the US has actively supported insurgencies and covert regime changes, initiated a nuclear arms race, and killed 22,000 civilians in airstrikes. No incident can better represent the US’ war crimes and hypocrisy than its bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, despite it killing hundreds of thousands of people, the world turns a blind eye to America’s transgressions.
In the past decade, Syria’s stability and economy have plummeted to the ground. Terrorism is rampant in the failed state, with the regime of Bashar al-Assad itself perpetrating violence against the civilian population and destroying the state’s infrastructure. Asadullah Khan Wazir, a broadcast journalist, notes that through the use of state-sponsored terrorism, the Syrian regime aims to prevent the population from supporting the rebel groups and offering an alternative regime. As a result, 83,500 civilians have been killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its allies since the Syrian war first started.
Palestinians and their supporters have realized that the most effective way of fighting against Israel is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement. By boycotting Israeli products and pushing for divestment and sanctions on Israel, the movement aims to exert international pressure on Israel, the world governments, and international institutions to dismantle Israel’s apartheid wall, ensure the rights of the Palestinians, end the colonization of Arab lands, and impose the UN Resolution 194. The author, Muhammad Hamza Tanvir, explains that since the drive is a threat to Israel and its allies, the western media, has labelled the movement as “racist”. He further explains that supporting the movement will not only benefit the suffering Palestinians but also the people of the countries backing it.
In the last decade, Islamophobia has been on the rise in France. The situation worsened after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, called Islam a “religion in crisis”, defended blasphemous caricatures, and declared that he would make Islam “compatible” with French republican values and liberate it. The author notes that although the French government claims that it introduced policies like the hijab ban and the religious disassociation in schools, offices, and public areas, to curb radicalism, separatism, and Islamism, they marginalized the entire Muslim community in France. The author asserts that France witnessed a 53% increase in religious violence last year, and if the gap between the French Muslims and the rest of France continues to increase, the Muslim population will become easy targets for terrorist organizations.