ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Faisal Khan, a 15-year-old Pakistani, beams for selfies with lawyers and police. Thousands hail him in the streets as a “holy warrior.” His claim to adulation? Allegedly gunning down in open court an American accused of blasphemy, a capital crime in this Islamic republic. Khan is charged with murder, which also carries a death sentence. But while lawyers line up to defend him, the attorney for Tahir Naseem, the U.S. citizen, has gone into hiding. The teen, according to officials and…Continue Reading “‘Holy warrior’ selfies: Pakistan teen feted for killing U.S. blasphemy suspect”

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – When musician Zoraiz Riaz set up a Facebook group to help coordinate convalescent plasma donations for people fighting COVID-19 in Pakistan, he expected perhaps a few hundred responses. Within a month, however, the “Corona Recovered Warriors” group had more than 320,000 members, needing a team of 33 volunteers to manage posts from families of patients across Pakistan seeking advice. “Around 85% are looking for plasma,” Riaz, 27, told Reuters from his home in the eastern Pakistani metropolis of Lahore, one of the…Continue Reading “Drugs, doctors and donors: Pakistanis turn to ‘Corona Warriors’ Facebook group”

April 29 (Reuters) – In normal times, Pakistanis hungry for entertainment during the fasting month of Ramadan would avidly watch television game shows as contestants, urged on by rowdy studio audiences, compete for lavish prizes. But this is not a normal time. Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have meant there are no studio audiences, and contestants appear by video-link on some shows, while on others they phone in their answers, or send a text message. “But it is not as if we…Continue Reading “Coronavirus mutes Pakistan’s TV game shows over Ramadan”

For Science Magazine: ISTANBUL — International megaprojects that cost well over $1 billion generate most of the excitement in observational astronomy today: the 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope under construction in Chile, for example, or the Thirty Meter Telescope, controversial because of its proposed location on Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to some Native Hawaiians. But smaller telescopes still do cutting-edge science as well. And Turkish scientists are eagerly awaiting the completion of the new Eastern Anatolia Observatory (DAG), a 4-meter optical and infrared telescope expected…Continue Reading “‘We put everything into it.’ Modest telescope could have big impact on Turkish science”

For Foreign Policy VAN, Turkey—It’s been two years since Qadir fled Kabul, but the fear that someone will kill him for having worked with U.S. troops still haunts him in the Turkish city where his family has been allowed to stay and wait in hopes of reaching the United States. He doesn’t take the same way home from the odd jobs he can find and hasn’t called his relatives in Afghanistan since leaving. “I am afraid someone there will get my phone number in Turkey….Continue Reading “As America Shuts Its Doors, Afghan Refugees Are Stuck in Turkey”

Erdogan’s Attacks on His Old Ally Could Backfire

For Foreign Policy ISTANBUL — Parting ways with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not been easy for former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Since being forced to resign his post in 2016, Davutoglu has occasionally waded into the public sphere to offer careful criticism of Erdogan’s one-man rule that is threatening Turkey’s democracy. But over the last few months, Davutoglu has opposed Erdogan more forcefully, culminating in his public plans to form a new opposition party—an announcement that could mean a death blow to his…Continue Reading “Erdogan’s Attacks on His Old Ally Could Backfire”

For Foreign Policy ISTANBUL — In the run-up to Turkey’s ongoing operation against Kurdish nationalist forces in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presided over a sweeping crackdown on Kurdish mayors in Turkey, justified by the same impetus: connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. In Turkey, support for the PKK, which Ankara and Washington consider a terrorist group, has long been grounds for dismissal or imprisonment. But what exactly constitutes support is subject to the state’s discretion, and the line is by…Continue Reading “Turkey’s Crackdown on Kurdish Mayors Could Backfire”

For The Los Angeles Times AKCAKALE, TURKEY-SYRIA BORDER — Schools in the Turkish city of Akcakale, on the border with Syria, sat empty Thursday because it was too risky for students to gather in one place. Shelling in the area since Turkey’s incursion into Syria a week ago to push back Kurdish forces had disrupted a basic understanding for Akcakale schools: Turkish students attend classes in the morning and Syrian children go in the evening. But now no one was there out of fear. A…Continue Reading “Turkish incursion into Syria brings danger for residents along border”

For The Intercept Despite all the disastrous consequences of Donald Trump’s Syria policy, the U.S. president has in fact been right in one respect: The world has done far too little to find a solution for the individuals who once made up the Islamic State. In pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, Trump has said that Turkey is now responsible for the fate of thousands of ISIS fighters in the areas it is seizing, and he has threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara for its…Continue Reading “Nobody Has a Plan for Thousands of ISIS Fighters Detained by Kurds in Syria”

For The Los Angeles Times AKCAKALE, TURKEY — By the time U.S. forces withdrew Tuesday from the northern Syrian city of Manbij, it had become the prize in a race for territory involving a mix of fighting groups with changing alliances. The city, part of the territory controlled by Kurdish fighters backed by the United States until last week, appeared on the verge of being rushed by Turkish troops and Syrian rebel proxies gathered on the city’s outskirts. The Kurds, feeling betrayed by the U.S.,…Continue Reading “A race for control of Syria’s Manbij, with the U.S. nowhere in sight”