San Bernadino Terror Attack

by Omar Ali On December 2, 2015 Syed Farooq Malik, a young American of Pakistani origin (born in Illinois) was attending his workplace holiday party in San Bernadino. He left the party early (it is not clear if there was an argument of some sort before he left) and then returned with his wife, Pakistani-American…

Killing Shias…and Pakistan

by Omar Ali I have written before about the historical background of the Shia-Sunni conflict, and in particular about its manifestations in Pakistan. Since then, unfortunately but predictably, the phenomenon of Shia-killing in Pakistan has moved a little closer to my personal circle. First it was the universally loved Dr Ali Haider, famous retina surgeon,…

Pakistan: Negotiations and Operations… and Islamicate rationality

by Omar Ali This headline refers to two separate (though distantly related) subjects. First, to Pakistan. Apparently the Pakistani army is now conducting some operation or the other against some group or the other in North Waziristan and other “tribal areas” infested by various Islamic militant groups under the umbrella of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).…

The Polio Jihad

by Omar Ali Polio is an ancient scourge that spreads only within human populations and can cause paralysis, most frequently of the lower extremities, but can also be fatal when the paralysis extends to the muscles of breathing. For reasons that are not completely clear, the disease erupted in huge epidemics from the late 19th…

Aftermath: Pakistan Elections 2013

by Omar Ali The May 11th elections in Pakistan represented the first time that a civilian regime completed its term in office and held elections in which power will be transferred democratically to a new civilian regime. In a country where the security establishment has a long history of throwing out elected regimes and manipulating…

Pakistan and Its Stories

by Omar Ali I recently wrote a piece titled “Pakistan, myths and consequences”, in which I argued that Pakistan’s founding myths (whether present at birth or fashioned retroactively) make it unusually difficult to resist those who want to impose various dangerous ideas upon the state in the name of Islam. The argument was not that…

Shias and their future in Pakistan

by Omar Ali Shias (mostly Twelver Shias, but also including smaller groups of Ismailis and Dawoodi Bohras, etc.) make up between 5 and 25% of Pakistan’s population. The exact number is not known because the census does not count them separately and pro and anti-Shia groups routinely exaggerate or downgrade the number of Shias in…

Interlude in Brown?

by Omar Ali Pakistan’s existing political and administrative system is based almost entirely on Western models. but the official national ideology is ambivalent or even hostile to Western civilization and its innovations. In the past this was less of a problem since “national ideology” was not very well developed (Jinnah himself was famously confused about…