The new Taliban government in Afghanistan represents the realization of the 155-year-old Deobandi movement’s objective of establishing a regime led by religious scholars. Over this time, and possibly much like the Taliban today, these religious clerics oscillated between jihadism and pragmatic politics.
Afghanistan itself was a sideshow in which money and careers could be made and repatriated. In the meantime, an artificial economy was created there to service birds of passage, from diplomats and aid workers to military officials and outside contractors.
Throughout the last decade, as internet penetration deepened and the number of social media users grew in Kashmir, a young generation of militants emerged from the ashes of a dying movement. This generation weaponized social media, setting the stage for a unidirectional conversation in which the insurgents showcased their lives and ideology.
A hilly, snowcapped terrain leads to the village, which has witnessed one of the harshest winters in the Kashmir Valley in decades. The Forest Department managed to cut the trees before anyone could protest, as people had been braving subzero temperatures inside their homes.
For the Mughal rulers, whose control covered much of the subcontinent, India could be imagined as something close to a unified state. However, for the millions of people beneath their rule, no sense of a “nation” or being part of “India” is evident.
Bangladesh’s independence was, and remains, a taboo topic in Pakistan, and much of it is blamed on the Cold War, Bhutto, and Indian political machinations. I had to reassess that post-independence propaganda I had been fed in later years. And, of course, the biggest shock was my discovery at 11 that Muhammad Ali was not Bengali!
In the three weeks of strict lockdown that ended up being extended to three months, millions of Mumbai residents watched the bare bones of the mega city being revealed.