Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world.
The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of Isis and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. Isis now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country.
The suicide bombing of the Sehwan shrine is an ominous development for the world, in a region that badly needs stability.… Seguir leyendo »
Ever since Malala Yousafzai recovered from her shooting by the Taliban last year, she has been universally honored: As well as a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, she has been given everything from the Mother Teresa Award to a place in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Malala’s extraordinary bravery and commitment to peace and the education of women is indeed inspiring. But there is something disturbing about the outpouring of praise: the implication that Malala is a lone voice, almost a freak event in Pashtun society, which spans the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and is usually perceived as ultraconservative and super-patriarchal.… Seguir leyendo »
On March 10, Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, shocked Western leaders by declaring that recent attacks proved that the Taliban “are at the service of America.” The implication was clear: terrorists were colluding with the United States to sow chaos before America’s planned withdrawal in 2014. American and European leaders, mindful of the blood and treasure they’ve expended to defend Mr. Karzai’s government, were baffled and offended.
But to students of Afghan history, Mr. Karzai’s motivation for publicly spurning foreign powers was quite obvious. A Taliban news release on March 18, which received little notice in the Western press, declared: “Everyone knows how Karzai was brought to Kabul and how he was seated on the defenseless throne of Shah Shuja,” referring to the exiled Afghan ruler restored to the throne by the British in 1839.… Seguir leyendo »
Few forms of conflict are so damaging to a country or its people as a prolonged civil war. By 1939, when Franco’s forces had finished mopping up the last Republican resistance in Spain, more than half a million lay dead and some of the most beautiful city centres in Europe had been destroyed.
A similar pattern played out in 1970s Lebanon, which saw 150,000 casualties and the almost complete destruction of the elegant villas of Ottoman Beirut. In Afghanistan it was not Soviet invasion or occupation that killed most people or wrecked Kabul, but the internecine street fighting that followed in the early 1990s.… Seguir leyendo »
Yesterday’s violence in Cairo marks an ominous development in the story of Egypt’s unfinished revolution. It is very bad news for several reasons. First, it demonstrates more starkly than ever the dubious role being played by the army. Eyewitness reports are clear that it was firing by the army, followed by the repeated crushing of unarmed demonstrators by an armoured car, that turned a peaceful demonstration for justice into a violent altercation that left 24 people dead. Twitter and Facebook networks are alive with conspiracy theorists speculating whether this is the army looking for excuses to delay the elections, or just clumsy crowd control by heavy-handed officers, but it marks a more direct face-off between army and demonstrators than we have seen for several months.… Seguir leyendo »
President Obama’s eloquent endorsement on Friday of a planned Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center, followed by his apparent retreat the next day, was just one of many paradoxes at the heart of the increasingly impassioned controversy.
We have seen the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to ending “unjust and unfair discrimination,” seek to discriminate against American Muslims. We have seen Newt Gingrich depict the organization behind the center — the Cordoba Initiative, which is dedicated to “improving Muslim-West relations” and interfaith dialogue — as a “deliberately insulting” and triumphalist force attempting to built a monument to Muslim victory near the site of the twin towers.… Seguir leyendo »
The name Gandamak means little in the West today. Yet this small Afghan village was once famous for the catastrophe that took place there during the First Anglo-Afghan War in January 1842, arguably the greatest humiliation ever suffered by a Western army in the East.
The course of that distant Victorian war followed a trajectory that is beginning to seem distinctly familiar. In 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan on the basis of dubious intelligence about a nonexistent threat: information about a single Russian envoy to Kabul, the Afghan capital, was manipulated by a group of ambitious hawks to create a scare about a phantom Russian invasion, thus bringing about an unnecessary, expensive and wholly avoidable conflict.… Seguir leyendo »