From June, 2019

Empathy: When is it a force of good and when not?

  Yesterday, a friend and I talked about the violence against peaceful protestors in Sudan. She said she can’t believe what is happening to innocent people. What is worse, she said, is no one cares about them. No one is helping. I said I share your sentiments. But the problem is not that no one cares; it is just that such conflicts are quite complex. Yemen, Syria, Libya and other cases are before our eyes. Intervention or no intervention. People have been dying. She said but why can’t we do something. Why can’t we be with them, so they don’t…

America is unlikely to pressure the Pakistan Army, but PTM should knock on all doors for justice 

Since the onset of the rights-based Pashtun Protection Movement or PTM in February last year in Pakistan, its supporters have hopes from America to pressure the Pakistan military establishment to accept their demands. The PTM is a nonviolent movement that is demanding justice for war crimes committed against Pakistan’s largest ethnic minority— Pashtuns. The PTM supporters have protested in various cities of the U.S., including in front of the White House in the federal capital, Washington DC. The Trump administration has not issued a single condemnatory statement on the issue. From such a lack of interest, it is clear that…

In search of identity

  The last time I saw my family was six years ago, before coming to the States. I talk to them over the phone now but it does not feel real. A lot has changed since then. New members have joined the family. Some family members have died. Their widows and young children are on God’s mercy because that is how life is in a small, poor village in rural Pakistan. My mom has grown weak and old. One family member, I was told recently, is terminally ill. There have been tragedies which I keep mourning. And there have been…

What would Orwell say about Pakistan Army’s repression of Pashtuns?

  The British novelist and essayist and critic of authoritarianism George Orwell opens the second chapter of his book Why I Write with the following quote: “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me. They do not feel enmity against me as an individual, nor I against them. They are ‘only doing their duty’, as the saying goes. Most of them, I have no doubt, are kind-hearted law-abiding men who would never dream of committing murder in private life. On the other hand, if one of them succeeds in blowing me up with a…

4 ways in which unarmed insurrections may weather repression in nondemocracies

The emergence of movements or challenges for political change threatens the interests of regimes, especially in nondemocracies or pseudo-democracies. According to Kurt Schock, authorities may respond in four possible ways to these challenges: Ignore, conciliate, reform and repress. When a challenge expands and gains momentum, authorities can not ignore anymore because it undermines their legitimacy. When authorities can no longer ignore the challenge, they seek conciliation. Conciliation may take the form of “symbolic gestures,” channeling or cooptation to encourage challengers to adopt institutionalized political channels such as contesting elections and etcetera. If conciliation fails, then political reforms may become an…