A Must Read Book By A Young Girl From Pakistan Who Gives Voice To Honor Killings

I Should Have Honor is a must read book by a young girl, Khalida Brohi, from rural Pakistan who gives voice to honor killings. So often, honor killings in Pakistan and in other Islamic countries take place in the name of male pride and/or religious fervor. It's wrong. It's wicked. And it's still widely practiced.  See her short video clip for a powerful message - We should all have honor, says … [Read more...]

3 Reasons Why the Conflict in Kashmir Should Not Be Ignored by Anyone

The Kashmir conflict has raged on for more than 70 years and cost thousands of lives as well as put the entire South Asia at risk of war, which is why the conflict in Kashmir should not ignored by anyone. The conflict in the valley of Kashmir is a human tragedy. Nuclear-armed countries India and Pakistan have proven incapable of finding a viable political solution to an ancient conflict. And … [Read more...]

A Message To The Army: You Just Can’t Kill Anyone

A month ago, there was a siege in a village. A contact, who will remain unnamed for security reasons, gave me a horrific account of the military madness that took place in the pristine valley of Kashmir.  They did it again. They shot four boys in our neighborhood. One was fifteen-years old. Oh God, I thought. He is too young to die. He belongs to someone. I could not (did not want to) … [Read more...]

The Pakistan I Thought I Knew: Part Four

There is an image that lingers on silent nights. The shifting patterns of house lights in play in Azad Kashmir, or Free Kashmir, situated in northern Pakistan in the city of Muzaffarabad. The suffocating closeness of that city to refugee camps and rain-glazed trees where leaves sagged toward another winter leave an indelible mark.The city is the strangest place I have ever visited. To many, it is … [Read more...]

Pakistan: The View From Abbottabad On A Recent Trip (Part One)

The old adage that some things never change is true of Pakistan. Or at least parts of the country remain stagnant, as locals continue to manage expectations in a black-and-white world. The same expectations that something bad is going to happen in a village, town, city--a country shattered momentarily by bomb blasts, natural disasters, and crude awakenings.Outside the capital city of Islamabad, … [Read more...]

The Women of Kashmir Survive the Spoils of War

For years, I lived Kashmir. I dreamt of the women featured in this book. For awhile, they were like family. I knew intimate details of their lives. Even though I was their American guest, they gave me more than stories to be recorded in a book. They gave me a slice of modern history--the untold histories of women, the survivors of a 60-year-plus conflict. The women of this book form a community … [Read more...]

The Story of Mughli, A Mother Who Died Searching For Her Son

An enlarged black-and-white photo hangs in my home office. When I see her, I am reminded of why I write about women inc conflict. Many years ago, I had written a post about Mughli, a woman in Indian-held Kashmir who never stopped looking for her son. I write about women in war because women like Mughli deserve to be known. When a mother like Mughli loses a child, she no longer wants to live.Women … [Read more...]

An Inside Look At The Film “In The Footsteps of Bin Laden”

Last week, I tuned into CNN and watched the documentary, "In The Footsteps of Bin Laden." With a counter-terrorism background, I thought I had learned everything about Usama bin Laden or UBL, for short, the world's most wanted man before the rise of ISIS and UBL's death in Pakistan. Over the years, I had watched every video recording UBL had released; read every transcript and article from his … [Read more...]

Tashfeen Malik, The Female Terrorist We Should Have Known

Every time a woman participates in a terrorist attack, analysts and authorities (and curious journalists) look back. We search for clues, trying to find the 'tipping point' to explain how and when a seemingly normal-looking (girl or) woman turns rogue. In San Bernardino, when Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people, the media began to look for new ways to understand female terrorists. Some … [Read more...]

Human Rights Challenges for Women in Indian-Held Kashmir

Raising awareness on women in conflict is one small way to inform and invest in a community that is grappling with unspeakable and unthinkable acts of violence. For over a decade, I have interviewed Kashmiri men and women--some in the valley and others from afar--to understand their struggles and sacrifices. To the Kashmiri people, including famed writer Basharat Peer, the conflict has become … [Read more...]

How I Learned To Speak In Front of Thousands of People

In the heart of Texas, I used to be the shy girl in kindergarten who didn't know how to speak English. I understood some of what the teachers were saying to me, but most of it was jibberish. Born in the cultural city of Lahore, Pakistan, I spoke fluent Punjabi and then learned Urdu, the country's national tongue. And then something happened in the third grade. I began to read novels, poetry, … [Read more...]

The Other Side of Pakistan is Modern and Moderate

Pakistan is misunderstood. It's been called the ally from hell, a hard country,  and one of the worst places to be a woman. I've spent my entire life traveling back and forth to Pakistan, the country of my birth. To talk to people. To meet relatives. Most of all, I go to Pakistan to look beyond the headlines that defines Pakistan as a country ruled by the Taliban, thugs, and terrible politicians. … [Read more...]

Can We Separate Moderate Islam from Militant Islam?

This question is centered on the premise that moderate and militant Islam are both valid. The truth is only one Islam exists, despite its varied interpretations, schools of thought and sects. Diversity in Islam is permitted so long as the core of the faith--its basic principles and values--do not change. Because militant Islam deviates from Islam's core, it can not be called Islam. The Core of … [Read more...]

Elections in Kashmir Set a Historic Precedent

In winter 2014, elections in Indian-held Kashmir should have been a benchmark for change. But the opposite occurred. The local government came to a standstill. And the Indian Army took control of the valley until the Governor stepped in. The French historian Alexis de Tocqueville said, "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness." For decades, Kashmir looked as … [Read more...]

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