Bilal Ahmed

Bilal Ahmed is a writer and activist. He is currently preparing for his dissertation, which will compare tribal structures, and state relations, in Pakistan and Yemen.


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Payback For Empire

Payback For Empire

Congress Party lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has gone viral with an Oxford Union speech in which he outlines a case for British reparations to India (and, implicitly, other South Asian countries.) Commentators have gleefully reproduced the Tharoor’s finest moments, including flamboyant insults against his opposition. More»

Watching Z in Pakistan

Watching Z in Pakistan

Z is “no more about Greece than The Battle of Algiers was about Algeria,” said Roger Ebert, in 1969.  Ebert spotted parallels with the United States and South Vietnam, and last night, in the industrial city of Faisalabad, I spotted more than a few with Pakistan.  Indeed, the legendary drama feels timeless in its portrayal of political crises, and elites willing to undermine democracy. More»

Red Nostalgia in South Yemen

Red Nostalgia in South Yemen

From the conclusion of the Aden Emergency in 1967, to the end of the Cold War, southern Yemen was known as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and ruled by a Stalinist Politburo in Aden. Its ambitious domestic experiments, and Trotskyist foreign policies, were a constant headache for both its monarchical neighbours, and the nascent dictatorship of Ali Abdullah Saleh. More»

Pakistani Communist Teenager

Pakistani Communist Teenager

Malala Yousafzai is making news again, after urging world leaders to cut “eight days of military spending” in order to fund education. On Tuesday, the Malala Fund announced an estimate that $39 billion would be needed yearly to fund primary and secondary education for children worldwide. More»

Greece for Pakis

Greece for Pakis

“Let me tell you this,” former Greek Minister of Public Order and Citizen protection Nikos Dendias told Skai Radio in January 2014. “There’s a difference between Sweden facing immigration from the countries of the former Soviet Union, who have a certain level of education, who are Europeans in the broad sense of the word, and Greece, which is facing immigration from Bangladesh and Pakistan.” More»

Maududi's Germany

Maududi’s Germany

The Pakistani Islamist Abul Ala’a Maududi had polemical and highly complex views on the spiritual acceptability of democracy. Maududi’s criticisms were unmistakably protofascist, and framed the political outlook of Jamaat-e Islami, formed in British India, in 1941. More»

Development Delusions in Pakistan

Development Delusions in Pakistan

The construction of major highways in four provinces, as well as pressure to designate the Chinese-financed Gwadar as a duty-free port, has breathed new life into ongoing efforts for Pakistani development. More»

Oman Red Scare

Oman Red Scare

The United Kingdom fought one of its last colonial wars in Oman, between 1962 and 1976. The Dhofar Uprising was initially a tribal revolt in the fiefdom of Dhofar, which evolved into a Communist-led insurrection. The conflict is crucial for understanding the development of the Gulf monarchies. More»

Sectarianism in Yemen

Sectarianism in Yemen

Media analysts frequently overemphasize Sunni-Shi’i divisions in Yemen, as though they are longstanding religious problems, with crude, irrational origins. Such discourse purposefully clouds the complex tribal, regional, and structural conflicts in the country. More»

Metal Pakistan

Metal Pakistan

During the 1990s, numerous Pakistani bands arose from the nascent democracy that followed the end of the Zia ul-Haq era. Dusk was one of them: a Pakistani metal band with a sound that has evolved with the miseries of daily life. More»

Iran in Yemen

Iran in Yemen

The Saudi-led invasion of Yemen has opened new discussions on the Houthis, an alliance of tribal militants that are based in Sa’ada. Mainstream analysts have begun to insist that the group is nothing more than an Iranian proxy, which demands closer scrutiny. More»

Azans in UKIP Country

Azans in UKIP Country

On Sunday afternoon, I participated in an act of theatrical protest at Nigel Farage’s local pub: the George & Dragon in Downe. During the “Beyond UKIP Cabaret,” I recited the azan over a loudspeaker, while wearing a red-and-white keffiyeh. More»

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