What is Ramadan?


Good morning from Cambridge, Massachusetts,

Today I thought it would be interesting to explore the question on everyone’s mind – what is Ramadan? Is there more to it than fasting? Why do Muslims even fast at all?

Ramadan is the ninth month on the Islamic calendar, which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, the month that is used to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Mohammed as well as Mohammed’s ascension to the lowest heaven. The observance of Ramadan or sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam, which are five basic acts in Islam that are considered mandatory by believers. During this month, Muslims fasting (abstain from drinking water and eating food) between the hours of sunrise and sundown.Fasting is not obligatory for several groups of people for whom it would be problematic and damaging to one’s health. For example, diabetics and nursing or pregnant women are not obligated to fast.

One of the holiest nights of Ramadan, and arguably one of the holiest nights in Islam is called Laylat al Qadr. It was on this night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet. It is on this night that Muslims believe that all prayers are answered, and sins are forgiven.

Food and drink are not the only things that Muslims abstain from while fasting. They also refrain from having sexual intercourse, smoking and doing drugs. Furthermore, Muslims who are fasting should not indulge in obscene speech,  falsehood in speech or action and slander.

Ramadan is a month of spiritual growth, abstinence, and fostering feelings of empathy for those who do not have access to food and drink due to poverty or other circumstances.



Notable Women in Pakistan (Part 1)


Hello readers! A lot of stereotypes have been generated in the last few decades about women in Pakistan, and other Muslim countries. We at Barakat would like to make you aware of Pakistani women who have really stood up for themselves and their beliefs, have become leaders in their respective professions, leaders of the communities, and positive influences for other women in their home country and all over the world.

Benazir Bhutto was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 in her first term and 1993-1996. She was the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country. Benazir was born into a political family – her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Prime Minister, and was removed from his leadership position in a military coup in 1977. Benazir attended the prestigious Radcliffe College at Harvard University, where she studied comparative government. Benazir continued to fight for her beliefs and her party even when she was in exile in the 2000s, and her persistence became very apparent when she returned to Karachi in 2007, to prepare for the 2008 national elections. Benazir was killed on the 27th of December 2007, while she was leaving a campaign rally.

Malala Yousafzai was born on the 12th of July 1997 and hails from Swat, Pakistan. She harnessed public attention when she was shot by a Taliban gunman for her role as a social activist promoting female education. Yousafzai is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and continues to spread awareness for education, especially for women, in Swat valley, where women were unable to go to school, due to the Taliban’s influence. At the young age of 19, Malala has co-written her memoir, received dozens of awards for her bravery and leadership, and founded the Malala Fund. The Malala Fund works to secure a girls’ right to quality education.

Recent Events in Afghanistan: MOAB


Good morning from Cambridge, wishing you all a great week ahead!

The last few weeks have been rather troubling and turbulent in Afghanistan. There has been a lot of political unrest in the country, and relations with Pakistan have also been quite strained recently, which has also put pressure on the government as trade has been interrupted and civilians’ livelihood his being affected. More recently, however, the United States military, under the direct orders of President Donald Trump, carefully organized the drop of a MOAB on the Achin district in Afghanistan, which has had a number of repercussions, both physically, socially, and politically.

About the MOAB:

On April 13th the Untied States military dropped its “most powerful conventional bomb” on caves in the Achin district that, based on United States intelligence, was used by affiliates of the Islamic State.

What to know about the MOAB bob?

  • Nicknamed the “mother of all bombs”
  • America’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb
  • Weighs 21,600 lbs
  • Targeted ISIS tunnel and cave complex and personnel in Afghanistan

To read more please visit this page.

Results of the MOAB:

“Gen. Dawlat Waziri, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said initial information indicated that 36 militants had been killed and three large caves destroyed in the bombing in Nangarhar Province. However, Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor’s office, said 82 militants had been killed.”

The blast was felt and heard by tens of miles away, a tribal elder who lives less than two miles from the targeted area believed that his village had been the target as they physically felt the blast, and shrapnel and rocks as heavy as five pounds fell on his house, the tribal leader said.

To read more please visit this page.

Reactions to the MOAB: 

The MOAB, though carefully orchestrated by the United States sparked international controversy. Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai called the use of the MOAB as a “brutal act” against the sovereignty of Afghanistan and criticized President Trump’s orders and advocated for the immediate removal of American troops from Afghanistan. Although it has been claimed that 90 Islamic State militants were killed by the weapon, Karzai called the event “an inhumane act, a brutal act against an innocent country, against innocent people, against our land, against our sovereignty, against our soil and against our future… A bomb of that magnitude has consequences for the environment, for lives, for our plants, for our water, for our soil – this is poison, a poison that will be there for years.” Karzai is not the only person to speak out on the attack, many are criticizing the United States’ aggressive approach in trying to eliminate ISIS, especially since it is costing innocent civilians their livelihood as well as the livelihood of future generations.

To read more please visit this page.

Recent events in Pakistan and Afghanistan


Good morning from sunny Cambridge and wishing you a happy Wednesday. Today we would like to summarize recent events that have taken place in either Afghanistan or Pakistan respectively, or events that involve both countries.


Afghanistan tries to use natural resources to gain American support 

Under the new administration President Donald Trump has frightened many world leaders and their constituents, especially those who hail from or represent predominantly Muslim countries. Afghanistan has been made aware of that, and therefore the government is trying to harness support and grab attention of President Donald Trump by “dancing its massive and untouched wealth of minerals, including lithium the silvery metal used in mobile phone and computer batteries that is considered essential to modern life.” That is not all Afghanistan has to offer, in addition to the lithium it includes coal, copper, chromite, mercury, zinc, gems, including rubies and emeralds, as well as gold and silver.

Lithium and the mining of other raw materials and minerals could be extremely beneficial to Afghan’s, and potentially raise some much needed capital for the country. However, there is a catch. With the security situation in Afghanistan working and the Taliban seizing territory, it appears that the regions with the greatest lithium deposits are currently too dangerous to enter, let alone mine in. Despite the facts, Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani are hoping that they can catch Washington and President Trump’s attention, since the country has experienced enough turmoil and wants to have some recognition in the international community and give Afghanistan the credibility they need to revamp their image, especially to the United States and the new administration.

To read more please visit this link.


Deadly Blast Near Lahore Targets Pakistan Census Workers

A deadly blast took place on Wednesday March 5th in the city of Lahore situated in East Pakistan. The blast was targeting the country’ first national census in nearly two decades, and it killed four army soldiers, nice air force member and a civilian. In addition to the casualties 17 others were wounded.

To read more please visit this link.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: 

Afghanistan Reacts Angrily to Pakistan’s Fencing of the Border

As mentioned in the previous blog post, there tensions between India and Pakistan have been escalating over the last few months. It has gotten to the point where Pakistan has started fencing off the border between the two countries for reasons of being concerned about national security. Afghanistan is calling on Pakistan to stop this, otherwise the fear is that they will resort to military action. Islamabad’s “assertions that militants are entering Pakistan from the Afghan side to launch terrorist attacks in the neighboring country (Afghanistan) as per ministry spokesman Mostaghani are inaccurate and an excuse on their part to not open borders back up.

Afghanistan has also stated that the closing of the border is “unjustified” since the Durand Line, the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan established in 1896, serves both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghans are seeing the building of a fence as a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty but Pakistani officials argue that “the fencing is being undertaken “well within” their territory and once completed, will address mutual security concerns and improve understanding between the two countries.” Furthermore, Islamabad has also “dismissed Afghan objections over the international status of the Durand Line, saying Pakistan inherited it when the country gained independence from Britain in 1947.”

To read more please visit this link.


Recent events involving Afghanistan and Pakistan


Dear readers,

Instead of focusing individually on Afghanistan or Pakistan, today I have decided to combine the two given the fact that the two countries have been interacting politically quite recently.

Pakistani troops clash with militants near Afghan border

In a raid conducted by Pakistan’s military near the tribal region near the Afghan border, with wo soldiers and five “terrorists” killed. Evidence points to the fact that a Pakistani Taliban commander was killed in the raid. The Pakistan’s military has upped their anti-terrorism game in the last month following a “series of attacks that killed at least 125 people. It also closed its border with Afghanistan for more than a month, accusing Kabul of failing to crack down on militants.”

 To read more please visit this link.

Afghan, Pakistani Traders Demand Reopening of Joint Border

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has ordered that the two main (for trade) border crossings with the Afghanistan to reopen immediately. The concern at the moment is that the closure of the border crossings may result in what could become a large scale huminatorian crisis. For this reason the border crossings at Torkham and Charman were opened for two days amid these worries.

The initial reason for the closure was related to concerns of national security, there was a wave of suicide bombings across the country, that Pakistani intelligence reported, were planned on Afghan soil. There have been about 3000 containers that were to cross the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan and have instead been stranded in Peshawar by the Torkham border, while 2000 containers have been stuck by the Chaman border.

National security is just one concern, but the abrupt border crossing has affected trade and economic well-being as well as basic needs of the Pakistani and Afghani people, respectively. A joint statement released after a meeting beween Pakistani and Afghan officials state that they have “fostered better understanding and cooperation” so the hope is that a solution benefitting both parties will be reached soon. It is important to note that this is the fifth time the borders have been closed since June 2016, this has resulted in millions of dollars of financial loss on both sides of the border, as well as a mutual trust deficit between the two countries.

To read more please visit this link, and this article from Reuters.

Terror-sponsor Pakistan is a destabilising factor in Afghanistan

Although Pakistan has been blaming Kabul of not paying attention to matters of national security, Kabul has been placing the blame on Islamabad in return.

Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani has come outright and said “slamming Islamabad for the destabilising factor in his war-torn country.” Rabbani recently attended a “US-sponsored anti-coalition group meeting, urged the Trump administration to put pressure on Pakistan to stop using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”

Although the relatively new Ghani administration has tried to forge new connections with Islamabad, the tensions are at a new high combined with the closed border and mutual mistrust and blame for issues in national security.

To read more please visit this link.

Recent events in Afghanistan


Dear readers,

Happy Wednesday. The Barakat team is wishing you a pleasant week ahead.

No End to Terrorism Without Better Pakistan-Afghanistan-India ties

In an article in the Express Tribune of Pakistan the conclusion that terrorism will not end without better Pakistan-Afghanistan-India ties is a strong, yet true statement in mending the region that has been plagued with extremism and war over the last few years. Without stronger multi-national relations between these countries it is virtually impossible to represent a a strong and unified strategic and military front.

All three countries have suffered from the rise of extremism, which has been attributed to foreign intervention and war in the last few decades. The article states that in “in the last 16 years, scores of terror attacks have killed about 61,700 people in Pakistan.” Furthermore, “India has suffered the Mumbai attacks, assaults on its parliament and security forces, as well as the recent Uri incident.” Afghanistan has also be subject to similar extremist activity with “severe militancy and heavy civilian casualties” as a result of the creating of the Islamic State and other organizations “with global agendas (who) are also active in the country.”

To read more please visit this link.

Australian aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan freed

Recent Events in Pakistan



Dear readers, we hope you are enjoying your week! Below are some articles about recent events in Pakistan over the last month or so. Enjoy, and as always we hope we are doing a good job at informing you all!

G7 Plus India and Afghanistan: Lead Economic Sanctions against Pakistan

The G7, which leads the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has warned Pakistan that if they are involved with terrorist financing (during the three-month warning they have been given) Pakistan will become a “no-go zone” for international banking. The threat of losing that status will put Pakistan in grave economic turmoil, and also effect many non-resident Pakistanis that live outside but choose to bank in Pakistan. Pakistan has a history of allegedly supporting the Taliban in times when the government needed a sort of paramilitary support.

To read more please visit this link.

Afghanistan urges Pakistan to reopen border, de-escalate tensions

The closure of the two major border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan has not only halted or impeded travel, but has also blocked trade supply. The border closures took place following an ISIL attack on a Sufi shrine that killed 88 people in the middle of February. The border closure is intended to put pressure on Kabul to look into the frightening increase of ISIL members in Afghanistan in the last few months.

Ambassador to Afghanistan Abrar Hussain has requested the borders to be re-opened, and he also stressed that “Afghanistan should take appropriate measures to deny “use of its soil by terrorists against Pakistan.” Hussain also suggested that both countries look into improving and strengthening their border management so future attacks can be halted before they become detrimental.

To read more please visit this link.


Pakistan Super League controversy

As some of you may know, cricket is not only a past time, or a hobby in Pakistan but it has become an institution of some sorts. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a club cricket league that runs a tournament every year. The games have been played across the UAE in Sharjah and Dubai, however the final is to be played on March 5th in Lahore. In the recent months Lahore has faced turmoil and has been victim to extremist activities, therefore many international players have decided not to participate if their team reaches the final. Also, many international renowned commentators will not be traveling to Pakistan for security reasons.

There have been many other complications to hosting the PSL final in Pakistan, for example the PSL broadcasting company has pulled out of covering the final (following the example of international players and commentators), competition will be unequal because many international players have decided not to play, there are evident security threats, in fact having an international event in general is a risk with “deteriorating security conditions of Lahore.”

The idea is to bring back international cricket to Pakistan, but the question to be asked is it really worth it and at what cost will this be achieved?

To read more please visit this article.