Two great pieces on the Ashura bombing in Karachi, and the violent aftermath. Here's Nadeem Paracha on some of the political ramifications; in particular, he discusses the constellation of political parties (MQM, PPP, ANP) in power in Karachi and the common anti-Taliban stance they have. I have to say that this is a prime opportunity for the MQM to demonstrate that they are merely anti-Taliban in their outlook and not anti-Pashtun as their detractors claim. If they can show some meaningful cooperation and amity with the ANP, I think that will go a long way in showing people they've grown up from the 1980s and 1990s. (Random aside: a friend's Facebook update elicited a comment from another person, in which he latter claimed the Taliban could not be responsible for the bombing; instead it had to be...wait for it...the MQM. This despite the Taliban actually claiming responsibility for the bombing in order to "protect the honour of the companions of the holy prophet").
Anyway, here's the second piece, a very well-written and heart-felt piece from Tazeen, on what the city means to her.
A hilarious piece in the Huffinton Post on some dude whose 12 year-old daughter is on a no-fly list because she shares her name with a notorious IRA terrorist.
Kalsoom rounds up the ten best Pakistan-related quotes of 2009. My favorite didn't make it to this list. It was Younis Khan during the Champions Trophy, saying, "If you want to play only fun cricket, play Twenty20. You cannot have one guy taking all the fun from all formats. You can't get married and have six girlfriends as well, because you will get stuck somewhere." My favorite non-Pakistan quote was Bristol Palin saying, "If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody." Clearly neither Younis nor Bristol ever talked to Tiger Woods.
A truly unbelievable (and immensely sad) story from India. I'm not going to try to summarize it. Just read the whole thing.
Gail Collins sums up the year in American politics and society. As usual, she's really funny. She and Frank Rich are the only two NYT columnists to bang out quality every time they write. Brooks is a neocon, Krugman is hyper-partisan and sanctimonious, Dowd is a gossip columnist, Friedman is just stupid, Herbert is boring and Kristof writes about things way too depressing (not his fault, mind, but still).
If you like comparing America's options in Afghanistan to a game of poker, this article is for you. I never got into the whole poker thing to be honest. Pretty much all my other friends play it pretty regularly.
Nate Silver crunches some pretty basic numbers on airline terrorist attacks and finds that in the 2000s, there is one terrorist attack (attempted) for every 11,569,297,667 miles flown (basically the equivalent of almost 25,000 round trips to the moon). But of course this is America, so people are losing their shit. Well let me join in the fun: take the War on Terror to Yemen, I say. Yglesias makes some good points too. And the airlines are now in trouble too; I'd feel sorry for them if they actually did anything for their customers.
Steve Walt worries that America is just making China's job in the world easier with respect to influence in Afghanistan. I'm actually beginning to think that Afghanistan will no longer be a playground for India and Pakistan to fight their squabbles, but in fact the arena for regional power competition between China and India. And nothing would give me more pleasure if that happens; almost every single foreign policy problem (and many domestic ones as well) have been caused by our meddling in Afghanistan.
If you didn't think Pakistani selectors and team management couldn't get dumber, I give you this.
So it turns out that Maggie Thatcher used to write in the margins of her ministers' reports the same way I grade my undergrads: tersely and strictly (some choice phrases: "thoroughly deficient in content", "this will not do" and my personal favorite, "no" heavily underlined).
Cricket fans should go and contribute to Newsline's test team of the decade survey (hurry up, it closes soon). I went with Sehwag, Hayden, Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar, Kallis, Gilchrist, Warne, Ntini, McGrath, Muralitharan. I gave this about five minutes of thought without looking up figures, and just going with my gut. Two thoughts: first, it's depressing that there are no Pakistanis there, but honestly, Inzi, Yousuf and Younis (the only real contenders) are nowhere near the Ponting-Lara-Tendulkar trifecta. The toughest omissions in the batting were Dravid and Sangakkara (in the Gilchrist role at 7). Second, look at the quick bowling options...aren't they pathetic? Can you really say I've missed someone obvious? God, I miss the 90s; this is the list of top-class quick bowlers who played at least eight years in the 1990s: Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose. How do you go about choosing two of those? And when you consider Pollock and McGrath came in halfway through the 90s...yikes. Hell, I remember even Heath Streak could bowl, and he played for friggin Zimbabwe!