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Pakistan's Islamic Take On “Millionaire” Game Show Is Nightly Sign Of The Times

As many as 40 million Pakistanis tune in every night for “Alif Laam Meem,” an Islamic version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” The trivia show’s popularity is just one example of how dominant a role religion now plays in Pakistan.

Pakistan's 'Millionaire' host is a devout Muslim (Geo TV)
Pakistan's "Millionaire" host is a devout Muslim (Geo TV)
Emmanuel Derville

ISLAMABAD -- Every evening at 7:30 p.m., Geo TV, the most watched TV channel in Pakistan, broadcasts an Islamic version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." The show is called "Alif Laam Meem," three letters from the Arabic alphabet that can be found at the beginning of some suras (chapters) in the Koran.

"Salam Alaykoum (good evening)," says the presenter, Junaid Jamshed. A 36-year-old former singer, Jamshed used to be clean shaven. Now he wears a prayer hat and sports a long dark beard, evidence of his recent rediscovery of Islam. In the audience, women wear veils or niqabs.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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