Driving through Chitral on Monday at about 5pm, each town and village was just coming to life. It was only two hours to go before iftar. Vats of hot oil bubbled at the side of the road as young boys bought bags of samosas and pakoras with which to break their Ramadan fast. But best … More The ice man cometh etc
Had a rather excruciating telephone conversation today with a press officer of a, well, let’s call it a major organisation. I’ve already had plenty of those 10min conversations setting out my questions, only at the end to be told: Great, so if you could just set all that down in an email we’ll get back … More Does anyone else still use the phone?
Pakistan’s troubles with extremism start not with the Islamic constitution adopted in the 1970s and the banning of alcohol by a government that needed the hardliners to shore up its feeble position; nor do they stem from the growing Islamisation under General Zia, when hardliners took over the military and its intelligence agency, channeling cash … More The TTP, IMF and Pakistan
Going through a bit of a novel reading spree at the moment. Dozens of non-fiction books on Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East are piled by my bed and in stacks a foot and a half high on top of the bookcase in my office. But all I really want is a good yarn. In … More A Hologram for the King
Was that a coup or not? That’s the question people and governments across the Middle East have been contemplating since Egypt’s military capitalised on a popular uprising to oust – and detain – the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Really? Because the answer seems to be in the second sentence. Which might be why … More Was that a coup…
Much of the Abbottabad Commission report makes for rather humdrum reading. So Pakistan through incompetence – rather than conspiracy – failed to find the world’s most wanted man? Really? And the air defence systems are set up to watch India rather than the Afghan border? Didn’t I read that somewhere before? There are nice details … More Quick thoughts on Abbottabad Commission report