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Some basic questions about talking to the Taliban

Photo: Express Tribune

Over the weekend, the Taliban killed twenty one of the twenty three levies they had kidnapped two days earlier. As mass executions go, this was unsurprising; the only mildly surprising aspect was that they weren’t beheaded, since that’s usually how these things end. Moreover, given recent discussions about peace talks and the like, an incident like this makes perfect sense ... Read More »

What is the endgame for Pakistan in the Taliban war?

Photo: Dawn

Over the weekend, Bashir Bilour was assassinated. It was sad but not shocking — he had survived two previous attempts on his life, and members of his party were one of the primary sets of targets for militants in the country.   As with all similar episodes, this led to anguish and outrage and a disbelief that the state and ... Read More »

Why haven’t we seen the Moneyball-ification of cricket?


I was reading this great piece on Grantland on the “Kobe assist”, and this part, comparing basketball to baseball, and why the latter lends itself to statistical analysis, struck me: Baseball analytics had its epiphany in part because Bill James and others realized that baseball was only barely a team sport, and really could be reduced to a discrete sequence ... Read More »

A conversation with Ayesha Jalal


A few months back, I exchanged a bunch of emails with Ayesha Jalal, renowned historian at Tufts, and a model for budding social scientists from South Asia and elsewhere. We discussed how she got into academia, why more Pakistanis don’t go into the social sciences and humanities, what the differences are between teaching Pakistani students at LUMS and American students ... Read More »

Hello and welcome to the new Five Rupees


In 2006, no one had a Twitter account, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hadn’t yet formed, and I didn’t know the difference between a “PhD student” and a “PhD candidate”. It was, suffice it to say, a long time ago. I bring this up right off the bat because in many ways, the deep substantive changes to the online and media landscape ... Read More »