India and Pakistan: a death dance

A Hindutva-inspired jingoism has now taken hold in India, threatening all manner of punitive actions against its smaller neighbor. For good measure, Pakistani policy-makers keep reminding India of their nuclear option. Continue reading

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Dictators and despots – endangered but not extinct

In our this 21st century,  military coups have become rare, presidents for life have become an extinct species and shameless dictators, despots and autocrats with no end date are an endangered species. It will be a while, however, before the latter type become altogether extinct. In some countries, leaders find it possible to defy not only the law of the land, but also the laws of both political and physical wear and tear to prolong their stay at the top. Continue reading

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A tale of many “Stans” – a journey through Central Asia

Having said all that by way of an introduction, my purpose here is to describe my recent journey through the five Stans or, to be more accurate, four Stans: namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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A journey to Afghanistan

With such dire warnings from a Pakistani diplomat, in addition to the well-known dangers of travelling in Afghanistan, with a very heavy heart I almost decided against going. It would have been my second failed attempt to visit that country, barely three hundred kilometres from Islamabad, where I lived and worked for many years.

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The wretched lives of domestic servants

Anyone familiar with the duties of domestic servants in countless homes in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, would think that Romana Cacchioli is describing their plight, rather than those of slaves in north Africa. Continue reading

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Visions of mortality – deadly serious

Humanity is forever locked in the battle for life against death, whatever the religious belief or lack of it.  Man’s greatest preoccupation, the mission of his life, so to speak, is to live on.  From pope to layman, imam to miskeen, king to conman, sadhu to sanyasi, billionaire to beggar, it is a struggle for longevity. Continue reading

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Academic achievement and human dignity

Most migrants from Asia and Africa attribute the West’s success to their mineral wealth (Australia and Canada), colonial exploitation (England and France) or imperialism (USA).  Some mention “national unity” or “good/sincere leadership”.  Many reject even the notion of western superiority, speaking disapprovingly of its material progress and emphasizing instead the spiritual achievements of the East. Continue reading

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To Myanmar on a mission

I was very fearful, for we would be in very choppy waters, only a few kilometres from where the river meets the sea, and neither my brother nor I could swim. Besides, we could be caught by border guards on either side of the border, on water as well as land. Continue reading

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The Teknaf base that never was

It was a very dark and scary night.  A heavy downpour soon drowned out the cacophony of noises from insects and birds and left us wet, cold and confused.  Armed only with a few pickaxes, spades and kitchen knives, our only strength was our collective, revolutionary courage, which remained to be tested. Continue reading

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Sikdar, Samiullah and Sarbahara – II

Highly charismatic, intelligent and persuasive, Sikdar was bold and resolute. His disarming smile concealed a personality capable of ruthlessness in the pursuit of his goal. Which is why some who knew Sikdar very well think that had he succeeded in his goal of creating a revolutionary Maoist state in Bangladesh, he may well have resembled one of his rather infamous contemporaries, namely, Pol Pot of Cambodia. Continue reading

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