Watandost in Urdu, Turkish and Farsi means "friend of the nation or country". The blog contains news and views about Pakistan and broader South West Asia that are insightful but are often not part of the headlines. It also covers major debates in Muslim societies across the world.
NATO Summit and the Deteriorating US-Pakistan Relations
US, Pakistan Row Over Border Crossing Reveals 'Outstanding Problems'
While activists clashed with Chicago police to protest the NATO summit in Chicago this week, the U.S. and Pakistan were having their own stand-off inside the meeting.
According to reports from the conference, U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari barely spoke despite an ongoing dispute concerning Pakistan’s decision to block a supply route for NATO troops into Afghanistan. The country has blocked the passage to protest NATO killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
While U.S. officials may be hopeful that Pakistan will open the border to NATO the situation may not be cleared up so easily, Asia Society Senior Advisor Hassan Abbas said on an Al Jazeera program.
“I’m not very hopeful that something will happen very soon because Pakistani military and civilian leadership are not on the same page, and I think that is an issue,” said Abbas, a former Pakistani government official who is directing an Asia Society project on police reform in Pakistan with a report to be launched in June 2012. "When it comes to Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani group, the most important group, there is a disconnect — the civilian side, the civilian law enforcement, the political leadership, even if they want to do something about it they cannot."
Two problems have been making the Pakistan-U.S. relationship difficult, added Ahmed Rashid, author most recently of Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The issue from the U.S.-side is that Pakistan has been harboring high-level Afghan Taliban leaders who may return to the country once combat troops withdraw. Meanwhile, Pakistan officials feel they have been left out of the decision-making process when it comes to the wind-down of NATO and U.S. military operations in Pakistan.
“Essentially these are the two outstanding problems that have been getting worse and worse,” Rashid said.
Inside Story about Musharraf-Mahmood Tussle Hassan Abbas: September 24, 2006
General Pervez Musharraf’s memoir In the Line of Fire is expected to generate a lot of debate and discussion in the days to come. Except some western journalists and Musharraf’s close friends (three ghost writers) hardly anyone has had a chance yet to read the book from cover to cover. The excerpts of the book leaked through Indian media and General Musharraf’s statements to some American media outlets however have already created some controversies. In the United States, controversy is considered a positive thing, so the book is bound to become a bestseller here, but in Pakistan probably the opposite is true.
This article is not a review of the book (as I haven’t got hold of a copy yet), but it endeavors to throw some light on the widely reported Musharraf comment about the Armitage threat conveyed through Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed, the then Director General of the ISI. I had done research on this speci…
Confronting Extremism Through Building an Effective Counter-Narrative This article was originally published in the Development Advocate Pakistan on April 25, 2016.
While Pakistan is using kinetic means to push back terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Tehrik-i-Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), it is still struggling to find an antidote to religious extremism and bigotry that provides space for extremist thinking and consequent violence across the country. The ideas of pluralism, religious harmony and openness to diverse political views have slowly given way to narrow mindedness, sectarianism and intolerance. The democratic experience is equipping Pakistan to revive its balance in the socio-political domain, but it is a fact that the social space in the country today is highly contested between extremist and progressive elements of society.
The blame for these trends within the media and policy circles of Pakistan is often directed towards regional confli…
Daily Times, February 9, 2006 Zuljanah, O zuljanah, come to my house!’ By Ali Waqar
LAHORE: Zuljanah, a pet horse symbolically named after Imam Hussain’s (AS) steed, is a major source of inspiration for mourners recalling the martyrdom at Karbala.
“Zuljanah, O zuljanah, come to my house,” children chant, waiting for the sacred horse on the processional route or outside their houses. The tradition of brining a zuljanah to selected houses in Muharram 10 processions is still practiced in many Pakistani towns, but in large cities like Lahore, the zuljanah has gradually been decentralised.
The procession is usually taken out on Muharram 9 and 10, to commemorate Imam Hussain’s (AS) martyrdom at Karbala 1,368 years ago. The tradition began in the subcontinent about 800 to 1,000 years ago, with Taimurlane’s arrival. It was gradually adopted throughout the subcontinent and became a religious icon, becoming a fundamental part of Muharram 10 processio…