Prospects for peace seemed especially bleak at the beginning of 1989. Detente appeared on the brink of collapse. Washington showed a clear hand in the Soviet Union’s protracted war in Afghanistan. A scheduled meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Deng Xiaoping meant a possible end to the Sino-Soviet split, and a renewed alliance against the US. (More…)

While David Cameron’s recent wreath-laying ceremony in Amritsar was a welcome gesture, his failure to apologize sent an ugly message. Though the Prime Minister rightly acknowledged that the 1919 massacre by British forces was “deeply shameful,” such an act remains worthy of contrition. (More…)

While I was in Lahore, I met a relative for the first time. Noting my academic interest in Islamic militarism, he asked to hear my views. Eventually, this led to a blunt question: “So what do you think about the way the Jews control everything and ruin everything for people?” (More…)

Death is in vogue. Since the Taliban-led insurgency against NATO‘s occupation of Afghanistan began, Pakistan has fallen victim to a desperate security situation. Over the last decade, 15, 503 civilians have been killed in terrorist violence in addition to 4, 884 security personnel and 25, 347 insurgent fighters. (More…)

It is Muharram again, the beginning of the Islamic lunar year, literally meaning ‘sanctified,’ as it is one of four months in the Muslim calendar when fighting is forbidden. Its first ten days also mark the garrison and slaughter – 1,373 years ago this month – of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Hussain, and other members of his family by the armies of the despotic Umayyad ruler, Yazid. (More…)

In the pogrom-like atmosphere gathering apace in Pakistan, the religious majority – Sunni Muslims – do not perceive that what is at stake is not an ‘altruistic’ concern for weak, insignificant minorities. The market, and its partner nationalism, make us think that ‘conscience’ is reserved for exceptional moments of humanitarianism, rather than being part of everyday life. (More…)

Soon the Great British Olympic moment will be over. The closing ceremony was held last weekend. This year’s Paralympics will be finished by early September. By the turn of the season, the magic will finally have faded. The nature of the legacy left in its wake, for London in general and the people of Newham in particular, remains to be decided (NB: some locals have already complained about being short-changed.) (More…)

The Sri Lankan government is expected to be taken to task at a session of the UN Human Rights Council currently underway in Geneva, over its failure to convincingly probe allegations of abuses committed in the final weeks of its bloody civil war. (More…)

We are sitting in front of a large flat-screen watching video footage of the Japanese earthquake disaster.  Jianhua is perched on the end of the bed, wearing the metallic fabric smock she wanted to protect her pregnant midriff.  She is worried about fetal effects of EM from televisions, laptop computers, and cell-phones. (More…)

It was the middle of January. It had rained all day, but the sun had finally broken through. There was a noticeable dearth of tourists in Piazza Venezia, even for such an offseason time of year. On the lookout for customers, the guys in gladiator outfits were more aggressive than usual, stopping anyone they could find who happened to be carrying a camera. (More…)