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…

The Pashtun Black Decade-and-Half in Pakistan

In the 1990s, in the civil war between Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and the Islamic Salvation Front Party (FIS), 200,000 Algerians lost their lives. The period came to be known as the “Black Decade” or the “Red Decade” due to the spilled blood of the innocents. Both the government forces and FIS were accused of committing atrocities again civilians. They particularly targeted Algerian intelligentsia and journalists. In the wake of 9/11, the people of Pakistan, particularly, the Pashtun ethnic group met a similar fate at the hands of the Taliban and the armed forces. It is public knowledge…

The nature of political power

In politics, power is referred to as the ability of the ruler to dissuade the ruled from doing something they want to do or to persuade them to do something they refuse to do. Referencing Robert MacIver’s work The Web of Government, Gene Sharp, in his book The Politics of Nonviolent Action, defines political power as “the total authority, influence, pressure and coercion which may be applied to achieve or prevent the implementation of the wishes of the power holder.” An example of this would be the tussle between the Pakistan army and the rights-based movement called the Pashtun Tahafuz…

Turkey, Kurds and the Angry, Old Man

It was 7:10 in the morning when I returned to my room from a nice and warm shower. I noticed that I had just received a missed call. It must be the driver, I thought. But then I thought he said yesterday that he would pick me up at 7:40. I was going to have a minor procedure at a clinic in another town. The clinic provided pick and drop service. I called back right way. “Hello, Muhammad! I am here,” an ultra-masculine voice in a seemingly thick Arabic accent on the other end spoke. “Hi, Thank you, but I…

PTM has Won the War of Narratives Against Skeptics

    The skeptic says, “PTM is an anti-Pakistan movement engineered by the “enemy” and that Manzoor Pashteen is the agent of RAW and NDS.” But, the skeptic relies only on accusations. They don’t provide evidence in support of these allegations. According to the skeptic, PTM is anti-Pakistan just because it is criticizing the army and its spy agencies for human rights violations against Pashtuns. Their this argument is the most outlandish. The skeptic does not substantiate their claim as to why is PTM a foreign-funded conspiracy. They don’t say exactly how RAW and NDS support it? The blames are…

Pakistan’s Fascist Bogeymen  

Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, had a name for popular beliefs of the time that were used to frighten children: “bogey” or its plural “bogies.” A bogey, also known as a bogeyman, was a mythical creature used by adults to scare children into behaving. The bogeyman had no well-defined physical appearance and people had varied notions about it. However, it was commonly depicted to be a monster, which Socrates also called “the monsters under the bed.” If Socrates were alive today, about two and half millennia later, he would describe the popular beliefs of many countries bogeymen. One would not…

Neglected and Oppressed: Are Pashtuns South Asia’s Kurds?

At the beginning of last year, a group of young university graduates from Pakistan’s northern areas protested the State’s policy of oppression and neglect in the Pashtun region that they represented. Led by the charismatic and heroic young tribesman Manzoor Pashteen, the protest soon turned into a great agitation in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and marked the beginning of what came to be known as the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)—or Pashtun Defense League. PTM accused Pakistan’s army of atrocities against the local population during the dubious military operations in the Pashtun-populated northern territories. It demanded justice for the Pashtun missing persons,…

Coffee, long walks and reading Camus: The things I would do if I didn’t have to read for school

  It is 7:00 P.M. and I am in the Alexander Library at Rutgers University where I go for my Ph.D. My carrel overlooks the busy highway and the river past that to my right. I am looking out the window and thinking about what to do, as I have a million things on my mind. By the way, I came here to read and take notes for the class that I will be teaching in the spring semester, which is around the corner. I enjoy school and reading for my classes. I really do. But, sometimes it gets meaningless…

My 2018 lesson for you: “where there is a will there is a way”

You may be fed up with the oft-repeated proverb, where there is a will there is way, but to me, it rings true every minute of the day. In 2015, I graduated with a master’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies from the University of San Diego. I spent two years looking for a job but could not find one apart from part-time gigs here and there. For those years, I worked side jobs at a gas station and in restaurants. I washed dishes, cleaned toilets, worked as a server and delivered sandwiches on a bicycle. This may be something…

“No matter what people tell you words and ideas can change the world”

  James Allen says, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” Ideas or sparks are the bedrock of your character. You are who you think you are. Earl Nightingale says, “We become what we think about.” Take a moment and reflect on what you think about on most days. Then reflect on whether what you think about determines in any way what you do most of the time. If you think about becoming a writer, you will write. But if you think about becoming the best basketball player, you will…