By Aslam Kakar

Aslam is a Teaching Assistant and Ph.D. student in Global Affairs at Rutgers University. In his free time, he reads, writes and manages this blog. His reading interests are positive psychology, philosophy, religion, war, culture, politics and current affairs.

Voice of America profiles my work: Here is the English translation of the interview in Pashto

I write on (human rights and social justice) issues in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA. I also write about terrorist violence in these regions. For example, in one terrorist attack in Balochistan’s capital Quetta, 75 people, among whom 55 were lawyers, were killed (in August 2016). The slain lawyers, who had faced hardships of poverty, lack of access to education and other challenges, but had at last succeeded in their careers, were the asset of the province. When I see these issues, I want to write about them. The problem…

Pashtun lawmakers and PTM leaders released after months in prison for a crime they had not committed

  Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar, the elected representatives of ethnic Pashtuns from Pakistan’s tribal areas and two of the central leaders of the rights-based Pashtun Tahafuz Movement or PTM, were released after four months from Haripur Prison on bail yesterday. The charges of terrorism against the two lawmakers were unsubstantiated and could not be proven in the court.   During the four months in prison, the lawmakers were treated like terrorists. In a tweet, Mr. Dawar said, “From May to Sep we were kept first at Peshawar jail & then at Haripur. During this transition the State decided to further increase its…

On the absurdity of being

One moment, there is excitement. One feels elated and on top of the world. Full of passion, energy and hope. But then a single text message or a call about the death or tragedy of close someone changes everything. It blows up one’s hope and elation and creates fear and despair in the mind, at least for a while. In such moments, one wonders why is life so absurd and fickle. Why can’t one refuse to suffer? Why is it that one can’t be in grief on their terms? Where is free will or one’s agency to erect a wall…

Notes from the train station

I have been to the New Brunswick train station in New Jersey State, where I live, hundreds of times in the past four years. For the past three years, I have boarded the train from here to work and school at least twice a week. During this time, it never occurred to me to sit and observe the place, people and their activities while waiting for the train, although I am generally curious about things around me. Today I went there and sat on a bench at a distance from people in the waiting room. I wanted to observe the…

Against Pakistan’s fake, selective moral outrage  

The Modi government’s recent revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir caused a moral uproar in Pakistan. Both the government and the people felt outraged at the revocation and Indian government’s continued atrocities against Kashmiris. No one with a sane mind and a little empathy in their heart would deny that condemning India’s atrocities in Kashmir is the right thing to do, morally. However, when moral outrage becomes selective, such as outrage over atrocities in Kashmir and deafening silence over egregious crimes against minorities inside the country, it should also be condemned. Why? What is wrong with selective moral outrage? Spencer…

What Nietzsche thought about the State?

What is the state? Why do we obey it? Should we obey even when it oppresses us? And what can we do for our freedom against its tyranny? These questions come to mind every time I see the appalling treatment of governments of their subjects. In quest for insights, I have read extensively, but nothing has struck me so profoundly as the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883). The book covers a multitude of themes but in one of the sections, “Of the New Idol” in Part I, Nietzsche talks about the state: “The state? What is that? Well…

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…