Author’s Interview on NBC Television the Day After

The author’s interview to NBC television was recorded at the home of mutual friends in Virginia, a day after the heinous incident against Jawaid Bhutto. In it, she speaks about how the couple had elected to live in Anacostia, DC since 2003. They kept good relations with all the neighbors, believing in the essential goodness of human nature regardless of race, color or faith.

During the interview the reporter, himself an African American, steers the questioning to the mentally challenged nature of the attacker.

However, it was only later that the facts have painted a clearer picture about what occurred on March 1, 2019. A meeting with the state prosecutor revealed that Jawaid’s assassin – Hilman Jordan – had actually murdered his own cousin in 1998. Thereafter he was committed for treatment to St Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital. Even during probation, he returned to the hospital with a gun where he attempted to kill a worker. Despite that, in December 2015 he was released and began living in the apartment below us in South East DC.

All these facts were kept hidden from Jawaid & myself, who owned the unit above the condo rented out to the killer and his family. Its owner, Joe Holston had rented that unit to Jordan and company without informing residents that he was a killer who had spent half his life in a mental asylum.

We would see Jordan hanging out in the porch, obviously unemployed… smoking pot… but without being aware of his dangerous past. Despite that we kept up our friendly nature, wishing him well whenever we parked and walked up to our apartment.

As details begin to emerge, US media and the law need to dig out the different levels at which the US systems miserably failed us. As a nation that prides itself on providing security to its citizens, the US needs to answer why it allowed a human catastrophe to occur within a gated community. That the end result was not only a personal loss, a loss for Sindh but for the civilized world.

The Origins of Imran Khan’s Rise to Power

The Pakistani Taliban routinely used terror attacks on civilians and army targets as a lever to stop US drone strikes, and expand their hold on territory. A decade after 9/11, their guerrilla tactics became bolder. At times they acted in concert with army insiders to carry out a stunning number of terrorist attacks at military and naval bases, airports, docks and other strategic locations.

As the Pakistani Taliban grew, they attracted Uzbek, Tajik, Chechen, Uighurs, Southeast Asian, Arab and North Africans jihadis. Pakistan became the global hub for jihad. It was not just the madressahs but higher academic institutions that bred anti-modernity. The absence of governance let sectarian groups kill Shias, Christians, Hindus and religious minorities with impunity.

The army’s high wire attempts to keep the `good (Afghan) Taliban’ separate from the `bad Taliban,’ — Pakistan’s militant Pakhtuns — threatened to implode the state.

With the Obama administration’s announcement of a draw down of troops from Afghanistan, the time was ripe for Pakistan’s army to revise its military strategy. A new chapter was added to its `Green Book’ relating to `sub-conventional warfare,’ which underlined the “internal threat.” Army Chief Gen. Kiyani articulated what people in Pakistan had known through a decade of suffering — that the Taliban and multifarious sectarian, ethnic and secessionist groups had become “a greater threat to Pakistan than even India.”

But the army also needed sweeping powers which would override the civilian government’s authority. Who could serve them better than the twice elected prime minister and businessman born from their womb — Nawaz Sharif? They also needed a politician like Imran Khan, who was ready to `flog the US horse’ and support the Taliban, or not… as long as it gave him access to power.

In May 2013 the army gave the Pakistani Taliban a license to become `king makers.’ In this electoral strategy, the Taliban refrained from violence against public rallies of right wing politicians like Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan… while gunning down candidates of secular parties like the Awami National Party, Pakistan Peoples Party and Mutehidda Qaumi Movement.

Bereft of a populist leader like Benazir Bhutto, the PPP mostly hunkered down. While the ANP, MQM and independents made the ultimate sacrifice, losing candidates and sympathizers to the rampaging Taliban. Knowing that the good times wouldn’t last, the Taliban sought a `quid pro quo’ from the government they had helped to elect. They demanded an end to US drone strikes and the army’s withdrawal from FATA and the territory adjoining Afghanistan.

Imran Khan, who formed the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province — which included much of the territory under army control — became the “soft power,” to negotiate the Taliban’s demands.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convened an All Parties Conference in Islamabad, where political parties agreed to hold “peace talks” with the Pakistani Taliban. Their precondition to the TTP, then led by Hakeemullah Mehsud, was that the Taliban cease all terrorist attacks.

But flush with ill-gotten wealth, weapons and foreign fighters, the Pakistani Taliban killed innocent people and issued demands side by side. Unlike the Afghan Taliban, who still had an ideology against `foreign occupation,’ the Pakistani Taliban had turned into a loose assortment of criminals.

Dismayed, people saw politicians cower before the Taliban. The TTP network stretched between 30 factions headed by Hakeemullah Mehsud in North Waziristan and Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan. Hakeemullah had cemented the perfect union between the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan and their sectarian affiliates.

The Taliban warned that their real intent was to overthrow the constitution of Pakistan and implement their interpretation of Shariah — the pre-Islamic and customary laws they had enforced in Afghanistan. Just two weeks before he was killed, Hakeemullah gave a rare interview that Pakistan’s close relations with the US had made it necessary to attack the state.

Army insider, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned the Taliban that failure in talks could result in sustained army action. But Imran Khan rose to their defense. Even after Christians were massacred in a church in Peshawar, he demanded that the Taliban be allowed to open an office for negotiations.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s army held its high moral ground against US drone attacks. In October 2013, it sent victims to Washington to testify before Congress.

US House Foreign Affairs Committee member, Alan Grayson, who presided over the testimony, called its bluff when he delivered a left-handed compliment to Pakistan about its “very powerful” air force.

“With all due respects to an ally, it is well within Pakistan’s capability to end those drone strikes tomorrow,” he told the media in the nation’s capital.

Playing Politics Like a Game of Cricket

For most of 2014, a reality TV show played out across Pakistan, as the media covered cricket star Imran Khan’s demand that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign for presiding over “rigged elections.” TV channels competed for ratings, as they covered the PTI chief, standing atop a container in Islamabad, where he spoke unscripted and at times ranted abusively against the prime minister.

Sharif was no stranger to rigged elections — having secured his victory against Benazir Bhutto through rigging, as acknowledged by army insiders. But the twice elected prime minister and wealthy businessman possessed slick election support. One contestant from Lahore told me, he was aghast to find the stupendous amounts spent by the Sharifs during their 2013 electoral campaign.

As Nawaz Sharif became prime minister for the third time, he faced rivalry not only from Imran Khan but Pervez Musharraf — the military chief turned president, who ousted him in a coup in 1999. Musharraf had returned home in time for the elections, hoping to carve out a new political career. But the `commando’ faced serious charges of suspending the constitution and presiding over the assassinations of Baloch tribal chief, Nawab Akbar Bugti and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Arriving at Karachi airport with a couple of hundred loyalists from overseas, photographs show Musharraf with raised hand… as if saluting the imaginary millions swarming to welcome him home. Instead, as a frowning policeman looks on, the picture speaks a thousand words.

That, alas for Musharraf, was the reality that greeted him upon return. In a Shakespearean drama, the tables turned as Musharraf was put on trial by the very prime minister he had ousted.

It was an uncomfortable position for the army establishment to have one of their own, tried in court like a commoner. Musharraf’s supporters turned to aggressive tactics, fighting off the photographers and reporters who tried to document his historic downfall.

Even though party loyalists had dwindled, they apparently had a plan to “rescue” Musharraf. It intrigued me when his party’s chief praised a religious cleric, Tahir ul Qadri, who had just then flown from Canada to Islamabad to mobilize against Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister. The quirky cleric, whom I had encountered in the ’80s, would occasionally `parachute’ into Pakistan to mobilize welfare recipients of his Islamic schools, for select causes.

For months Imran Khan and Tahir ul Qadri rallied supporters in Islamabad on a one-point agenda: removal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Flanked by party leaders, the unlikely pair fired up crowds from their respective containers for the August 14 climax — Pakistan’s Independence Day — when Khan hoped that the `umpire’ would rule in his favor.

The government held off a heavy handed approach, even shifting security barriers in front of parliament to accommodate the protestors. The climax came as TV cameras moved from the leaders and zoomed in on loyalists… as they battled riot gear police, and broke furniture in the headquarters of state controlled television.

Twitter lit up with comments from Pakistan observers when PTI president, Javed Hashmi… once imprisoned by Musharraf for being a Sharif loyalist… appeared to snap out of his stupor. Perhaps jolted by the realization that Musharraf may be using him to bring martial law, Hashmi turned into a whistle blower. He told the media that Khan had told the party’s internal meeting that he had received support from army generals to oust the prime minister.

The drama ended when army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif showed little appetite for dissolving Sharif’s government or taking over the reins of power.

Still, as Qadri flew back to Canada and Khan went home, the army got respite. Musharraf was no longer required to attend his court hearings. Instead, he was put under `house arrest’ in his sprawling house in Defense Housing Society, Karachi — with the
street closed off to the public. Like a bored tiger in a luxurious cage, he issued statements, spoke at events and attracted a clueless elite. Despite court cases that included charges of “treason,” in 2016 the former army chief was quietly allowed to fly overseas on “medical grounds.”

On the other hand, Imran Khan’s campaign left Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif weaker and the army establishment in a stronger position to control the pillars of democracy.

Interview on Freedom of Media in Pakistan

In this interview with Rehman Bunairee of Deewa (Pushtu) television, the author is asked about why the Pushtun Tahafuz Movement has been censored in Pakistan despite holding big rallies across the country.

Her answer, translated on the spot in Pushtu, states that the size of the rallies has brought newspaper outlets to cover the event. According to her, the PTM’s push for democratic rights including the right to be brought to trial instead of being “disappeared,” has raised public awareness. At the same time, the censorship of their rallies is a mark of the authoritarian style of governance in Pakistan that does not like to be criticized.

The author speaks about her presentation of the expanded edition of her book, `Aboard the Democracy Train,’ before the intelligentsia in Peshawar University in 2016. That event, she says, helped to expound on the events that occurred after the military operation of 2014, and which fueled suspicion about the relationship of the military with extremist elements.

When asked about the division of the media on ethnic lines, she says that journalists are also human beings and therefore personally influenced by the events around them.

However, she says that a good journalist needs to rise above personal biases to present the situation with clarity.

`Clouds of War Billowing from Attack on Syria’ – Sindh TV interview

In this current affairs program, the Washington based author speaks about how the US and European allies made a strategic decision to conduct a limited bombing of chemical weapons in Syria – with the express intent of regaining a foot hold in the Middle East.

Sindh TV anchor Fayyaz Naich interviews Nafisa Hoodbhoy on the US decision to intervene militarily in Syria and the impact this might have in expanding the theatre of war.

In the second segment, the author speaks on the domestic political situation. She talks about how Pakistan’s foreign policy failures have resulted in the establishment tightening its grip on political parties and which has according to her led to `one sided accountability’ against the ruling party.

Speaking from the lens of her book `Aboard the Democracy Train,’ she says that the Pakistan establishment’s failure to respect the mandate of the electorate has resulted in manipulation and corruption of political parties, without any benefit to the people.

The interview can be viewed as follows:


Jamshoro, SINDH: Zakia Ejaz from Dharti TV speaks to visiting journalist Nafisa Hoodbhoy about her background and what she experienced as the only woman reporter for Dawn under Gen. Zia ul Haq.

Now based in Washington DC, Hoodbhoy speaks about the draw of Pakistan and Sindh even while she lives and works overseas.

In particular, she analyzes the conditions for journalists today as compared to the single TV and newspaper medium of the 1980s.

She speaks about how she has a changed perception of Pakistan because of her work in anchoring daily radio talk shows to the region.

In this capacity, she recommends that Pakistan change its militaristic posture to one that conducts legitimate trade with its neighbors.

According to her, this would also win the confidence of people who claim that their resources are being siphoned off to Islamabad, while they are `disappeared,’ and treated as hostile subjects in their own territory.

`Pakistan Risks Total Alienation if its Policies don’t Change’ – Author

In an interview with Awami Awaz editor, Dr Jabbar Khattak, the author discusses why Pakistan has come to a turning point where it has to choose to revise its policies or face total alienation in the international community.

During the wide ranging interview on foreign policy, Nafisa Hoodbhoy speaks about how the Trump administration views Pakistan on account of the perceived role it has played vis-i-vis Afghanistan and how changing alliances in the Middle East are shrinking options for the country.

The candid hour long interview centers around a US motion to put Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force list by June 2018, of nations that engage in money laundering and support terror outfits.

It advocates how the improvement of relations with neighboring countries could have a salutary effect on governance inside the nation as well.

The expanded edition of her book is also discussed during the interview.

The interview may be viewed at:

Hundreds of Copies of `Aboard the Democracy Train’ Sell Across Pakistan

The updated edition of Aboard the Democracy Train, Pakistan Tracks the Threat Within has sold hundreds of copies across Pakistan, with most of the sales having taken place in Karachi.

Published by Paramount Books, Karachi in 2016 in hard cover, the final edition brings the reader up to speed on the title originally published by Anthem Books, London in 2011.

The capture of Osama Bin Laden represented a turning point in US and Pakistan relations. Consequently, the author updated the book from her vantage point in Washington DC and had the final edition published in Pakistan.

In 2016, she launched the updated edition in Peshawar and Quetta – with the Peshawar University and Quetta Press Club events mostly focused on the attack on Army Public School and the Baloch insurgency.

Since then, the book has been purchased by schools, public libraries, military and business institutes, NGO centers and sold at book fairs and leading book stalls across the country.

The books have sold in Skardu, Bannu, Jhelum, Faisalabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Kohat, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Khairpur, Sukkur, Larkana, Hyderabad and Karachi.

They may be ordered online from the Liberty Book store (, at the Paramount Books website ( or from with cash to be paid on delivery.

`The Changing Colors of Pakistani Politics’ – Mustafa Jarwar KTN

`The Changing Colors of Pakistani Politics,’ was the theme of the KTN show hosted by Mustafa Jarwar on the situation inside Pakistan and as it is affected by international events.

Participants including outgoing PPP Senator Dr Karim Khawaja and visiting US based journalist, Nafisa Hoodbhoy.

The discussions covered Pakistan’s growing isolation in the international community, as it relates to placing the country on the Financial Action Task Force’s `grey list’ of nations sponsoring international terrorism.

The anchor also focused on an increasing trend amongst politicians to play along for the sake of obtaining power, while abandoning any principled positions.

It may be watched at the URL below:

US Foreign Policy Vis-i-Vis Pakistan – Interview on Awaz Television

US foreign policy and regional realignments were discussed in a television show hosted by Imran Mir of Awaz Television, with journalist and author Nafisa Hoodbhoy and ex PPP Senator Dr Karim Khawaja on Monday in Karachi.

The program, Jawab Do (Give an Answer) was a conversation between a PPP politician and the visiting independent analyst about why Pakistan finds itself in its current day predicament.

The full program may be viewed at the link below:

Evening Get-together by St. Louis community

An evening get together at a local restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri picked up on some of the issues raised by the author at the Ethical Society earlier on Jan. 20.

Convener Sohail Ansari introduced the author at the event, attended by men and women from all the communities that are represented in Pakistan.

During the evening address at Kababish restaurant in St. Louis, the author shared her observations about how the expatriate community tended to stay in their comfort zones – Sindhis with Sindhis, Mohajirs with Mohajirs and women with women – just like within their home country.

She said that change could take place only if the expats worked to bring change within their own lives.

Afterwards, the community raised comments and questions pertaining to the homeland. These included the dilemmas they face because of their multiple nationalities as US and Pakistani citizens.

The video may be watched by following the link below: