The term ‘Political Islam’ is an academic concoction. It works as an analytical umbrella under which political analysts club together various political tendencies that claim to be using Muslim scriptures and historical traditions to achieve modern political goals.
The term most probably emerged in the 1940s in Europe, to define anti-colonial movements that described themselves as Islamic in orientation. It is a 20th century construct and its first prominent expression is believed to be Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, formed in 1927.
Even though as a political tendency, Political Islam covers a wide range of movements involving various Muslim sects, sub-sects, nationalities, leftist as well as rightist rhetoric and narratives; it is the commonalities in these varied movements that make analysts study them as a single ideological entity.
There is a rightist and a leftist side of Political Islam.
Till about the late 1960s, movements associated with rightest aspects of Political Islam were largely intellectual pursuits with limited political influence.
12th century Islamic thinker, Imam Ghazali, who advocated an end to ‘ijtihad’ (independent reasoning) with the view that Islamic thought had reached completion.
They were seen with suspicion, even by those movements and groups that adopted the main aspects of Political Islam and fused them with varied leftist ideologies.
Thus one can also suggest that during the Cold War era (1949-90), the central theological and political tussle in most Muslim countries was not exactly between ‘Islamists’ and secularists, or between religious political groups and communists; the main conflict was between the rightest expressions of Political Islam and its leftist versions.
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: Sardar Ramesh Singh, the first Sikh member of the Punjab Assembly, tabled a resolution requesting that the birthday of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, be made a public holiday.
Ramesh Singh is a member of Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) and the resolution was approved in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday.
The passing of the resolution comes just a few days after members of the Sikh community stormed through the gates of Parliament House to protest …
Read more » The Express Tribune
He asked why the Rangers did not act against anti-government protesters in Islamabad who were involved in attacks on government buildings in the capital.
Raising questions concerning the recent arrests of MQM workers carried out by Rangers in Karachi, Altaf asked if the MQM, like some political parties, would be similarly allowed to protest in the high-security Red Zone of Islamabad for a period of 40 days?
Read more » DAWN
A British pensioner who was sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy, has been shot and injured by a policeman inside the Pakistani jail where the 70-year-old was on death row. A Christian pastor was reportedly killed in the same incident. Muhammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh and whose family says he has a history of mental illness, was shot in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning by a member of a specialist police unit allegedly using a concealed weapon. Pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed in the same incident, Reuters reported.
Mr Asghar was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January this year after a disgruntled tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet. During his trial, his family tried to present evidence that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
A lawyer for Mr Asghar, who asked not to be identified, said they had been told the pensioner had been shot in the back at 8.30am by a police constable attached to a specialist unit.
More » The Independent
SP also ‘punished’ for stopping general’s car
LAHORE, Oct 16: Model Town division SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi was transferred and directed to report to the central police office (CPO) in the wake of an incident on Tuesday night when a police team stopped the car of a major-general’s family at a picket near Ghalib Market, Gulberg.
Model Town division ASP Muhammad Ali Nikokar has already been asked to report to the CPO. Besides, Ghalib Market SHO Shahid Chaddar has been suspended and Constable Nazir booked under Section 506.
The police had stopped the car on Tuesday night to remove its tinted glass, which was banned by the Punjab government for security reasons following the murder of MNA Maulana Azam Tariq.
The driver, who was reportedly in army uniform, introduced the family on board. But constable Nazir Ahmad refused to let them go because “no body was exempted from the ban”.
This led to an argument between the two which attracted other policemen present there who intervened in the matter and allowed the family to go with the tinted glass still intact.
Before leaving, the general’s driver reportedly threatened the policemen with dire consequences. His threat meterialized within minutes as the senior army command got into action and asked the police hierarchy to take strict action against the constable, Ghalib Market SHO and Model Town division SP and ASP.
The police command not only booked constable Nazir Ahmed but also allowed the army to take him to the corps headquarters handcuffed for “further interrogation”. He managed his release on Wednesday after getting bail from a local court.
Sources said SP Syed Ahmed Mobin Zaidi did try to use his connections in the army but failed to stop his transfer due to “enormous pressure” on the police hierarchy.
According to an army official, the action has been taken to “condemn the police conduct at pickets”. Soon after the incident, vehicles of the army and the judiciary were exempted from the ban.
The video of two parliamentarians being forcibly offloaded a PIA flight from Karachi to Islamabad has gone viral. The incident is generally being viewed as an indicator of how a peculiar behaviour, which was associated with old style patronage politics, will get challenged. The national carrier may find it increasingly difficult to treat its passengers differently — trap over two hundred souls in an aircraft while allowing VIPs to sit in a comfortable lounge as the aircraft recovers for two hours from its technical problems. Surely we can all clap at the event as a forward movement, this also indicates militant attitudes creeping into our political and social lives. Here I am not taking a position for or against but only suggesting what has changed.
This is not even an isolated incident. Those enjoying video evidence must also see the manner in which the police have been taking a thrashing from the ‘Naya Pakistan’ protestors. While we can all sympathise with Imran Khan’s right to change the political tone, it would be worthwhile for him to envision how he would, if he did become the prime minister of this country, put the genie back into the bottle. Much that he likes to compare himself with Jinnah, Imran would not be able to ensure that the same police, which get battered and bruised during the rule of his opponents, will get respected when he becomes the man in charge. No one seems willing to tell the story of the tired policemen who have been doing their duty for the last 30 days with little to boost their ego.
By USMAN CHEEMA
Islamabad – A wild boar faced the wrath of supporters of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri on Tuesday morning when they captured the animal near the Parliament House, brutally thrashed it with sticks, tied it with cables and wrote “go Nawaz go” on its body in a distasteful form of political protest.
Islamabad is no stranger to wild boars, often seem roaming the roads near the hills late in the nights – and sometimes the cause of accidents. But the sight of a boar during daytime is rare. Boars are considered impure according to Islamic injunctions.
Around 11:00am on Tuesday, the wild boar emerged on the Constitution Avenue and immediately set off an enraged fury amongst the followers of the cleric. It was caught within seconds and then dragged through the street as a jubilant crowd shouted and jeered the hunted animal.
A slogan against the prime minister was inscribed on the thick hairy skin before the boar was subjected to a slow, painful death, sticks raining down on it in quick succession. By doing so, Qadri’s workers not only exhibited a disturbing form of violence against a defenceless animal. The boar did not survive the torture, and died surrounded by a crowd of protestors celebrating its agony.
Qadri, just like Imran Khan, is threatening the government that his workers can get out of his control and attack the government buildings and law enforcing officials. He has also threatened that his workers will collect all the looted money from them. He has never directly said that his workers might kill the prime minister and others among his cabinet but his language exhibits extreme hatred for the elected government. Some fear that the cleric’s followers might do something unexpected and unlawful as frustration with their lengthy and yet un-concluded protest sets in.
Courtesy: The Nation
Cricketing hero’s anti-Sharif campaign is overstepping the mark
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Imran Khan was a true cricketing hero for Pakistan. He was an exceptional all-rounder, a graceful batsmen and a formidable fast bowler. But as a politician – seemingly hell-bent on becoming prime minister at whatever cost to his country – he makes a far less edifying spectacle.
Read more » Financial Times
By Shaikh Aziz
The news of Z.A. Bhutto’s conviction shocked the PPP workers and supporters who hadn’t thought that Gen Zia would stoop so low. Though some violent protests took place in parts of Lahore and Sindh, the general law and order situation was not seriously affected as the government had taken measures to prevent the breaking out of any violence. For some reason the upper leadership of the party remained out of the scene, leaving the PPP workers directionless.
The military courts became over-active in handing down punishments of jail time and lashing. It was clear that the government wanted to send a message to the top PPP leadership that they could also be arrested in order to keep the administration working smoothly.
Two days after the judgment, on March 20, 1978, retired Gen Tikka Khan was arrested under martial law regulation No 33 for his involvement in political activities. Benazir Bhutto who was under house-arrest at her Karachi residence moved the Sindh government to arrange her meeting with her father at Lahore jail. The meeting was arranged for March 25.
The military regime cracks down on protests in the wake of Bhutto’s conviction
The PPP lawyers worked round the clock to prepare an appeal to be filed in the Supreme Court. Some PPP leaders were of the opinion that there was no need to file an appeal against the verdict; instead they wanted to approach the military government through friendly circles to settle the matter amicably. However, saner elements in the party prevailed and finally an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court on March 25.
As the foreign minister in Ayub Khan’s government and later as the prime minister, Bhutto had developed friendships with a number of world leaders, especially in the Third World and the Arab countries. Now facing a death sentence he hoped they could prevail upon Gen Zia to spare his life. While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.
While meeting foreign leaders Gen Zia always made sure that the meeting took place without any aide. It was, therefore, impossible to make out what the contents of the talks were and what transpired, leaving the people guessing.
Relieved of a major task of handling Bhutto which was now being done by the courts, Gen Zia focused his attention on strengthening his position politically. However he camouflaged his attempts in such a manner that he could not be blamed for being too ambitious. In this regard he was equally helped by some political leaders. He also began studying the lives and working styles of eminent dictators, like Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Marshal Tito and Mussolini, who stayed in power for many years without being challenged by the people. He apparently wanted to learn how these dictators managed to retain power for so long. He also used to engage some of his associates in debates on what style of governanvce would work in Pakistan.
While messages from world leaders were coming in calling for a pardon for Bhutto, Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi’s envoy, Abdul Ali Ubaidi, called on Gen Zia and conveyed to him a message from his president. Zia told him that at this stage the matter was pending with the highest court and he did not want to interfere in it.
During this time it appeared that the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was heading towards a break-up; Asghar Khan and Maulana Noorani had already parted ways. After the overthrow of Bhutto’s government, the PNA had decided to keep away from any interim arrangement offered by the military government. They remembered the performance of the Advisory Council Gen Zia had formed on Jan 14 to run the affairs of the government. Though the task of the council was to help in handling state affairs, Gen Zia himself supervised everything which negated the purpose of the council.
By Irfan Haider
ISLAMABAD: On the second day of a purported crackdown against protesters of both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), both Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri decried the role of police and told them to “get your act together or face the consequences”.
Dr Tahirul Qadri, in an impassioned outburst, challenged the police to come after him. “Let them come to arrest me and we will see what happens. My protest will be the death of their regime, it’s just a matter of days,” he declared from atop his container on Constitution Avenue.
In his own outburst, Mr Khan called out the Islamabad police chief, saying, “I will not spare you Tahir Alam, when I become prime minister of Pakistan.”
Read more » DAWN
The protest site, within walking distance of many embassies and ministries, is in a sorry state, littered with rubbish, with the stench of human waste hanging in the air.
On the edge of the protest site, men line up every day near a burst pipe and take showers one by one. Women complain that they have hardly showered more than a few times in the last month. Some fear an outbreak of mosquito-borne dengue fever among the protesters.
“The disease can rapidly spread,” said Dengue Expert Committee Chairman Javed Akram. “There is no proper sewerage facility in the area. The vulnerability of the sit-in participants has increased because of the unavailability of a waste management system.”
At least three women protesters, all of them domestic workers, said they had been paid to come to the rallies when they were first launched. One of them, with three children under the age of six, said mothers were paid 2,500 rupees ($25) more.
“You got paid more if you have a child,” said Rukhsana Bibi, one of the women. “They wanted more women with children to join the rallies so the pay for that was higher.”
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robert Birsel)
After imposing its brutal rule in swathes of Iraq and Syria, Isil is claiming Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of its ‘caliphate’ in direct challenge to al-Qaeda
The Islamic State is challenging the Taliban and al-Qaeda in its Afghanistan and Pakistan heartlands and claiming both countries as part of its ‘caliphate’.
Islamic Slate leaflets proclaiming the group’s intention to bring its barbaric form of Islam to Pakistan and Afghanistan were posted throughout Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa frontier province, in the last few days, and have also been distributed to nearby Afghan refugee camps.
The leaflets, published in the local Pashto and Darri languages and bearing the Isil ‘Fateh’ (victory) flag, said the ‘caliphate’ it had established in Syria and Iraq extended to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some Muslim central Asian republics.
Read more » The Telegraph
By Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON: The anti-government protest in Pakistan has reversed the country’s struggle to establish a sustainable democratic system, says a report prepared for the US Congress.
The report — “Pakistan Political Unrest” — warns that “any overt military ouster” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could trigger another round of democracy-related US sanctions on foreign assistance to Pakistan”.
This could put “an indefinite halt to what has been one of the highest-priority American aid programmes since 9/11”.
The report also warns that the unrest could impact Pakistan’s relations with India by increasing the army’s influence in foreign policies.
“The Pakistan Army’s more openly direct control of Pakistan’s foreign and security policies may, over time, shift Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan further into a policy framework that seeks to counter Indian influence there,” warns the report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Read more » DAWN
Q 1: Sir, you have always maintained that militants are taking innocent Pakistani lives because the militants are being attacked by American drones. But the militants insist that they would “kill everyone and anyone who stands against the imposition” of their version of Islam. In essence, the militants are convinced that they are fighting for ‘Islam’ while you continue to maintain that militant actions are actually reactions to American drones.
Q 2: Sir, if anyone wishes to negotiate with the PML-N, he would naturally have Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan or Senator Pervez Rasheed in mind. You have always favoured negotiating peace with the militants. Please name just four names representing the militants that are in your mind with whom you will negotiate peace.
Q 3: Sir, you have promised that Prime Minister Imran Khan shall wipe off militancy from the face of the country. Can you please name just two militant organisations that you plan to wipe off?
Q 4: Sir, you have been rightly pointing out that more than 40,000 innocent Pakistani lives have been lost in what you say is ‘America’s war’. Can you please identify by name the forces and groups responsible for the loss?
Read more » The News
MULTAN Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen have killed three people, including a senior military official, at a mosque frequented by minority Shi’ite worshippers in the Pakistani city of Sargodha, police said on Monday.
Sectarian strife has been worsening in Pakistan, where Shi’ite Muslims make up about 20 percent of the 180 million population. Sunni Muslim militants frequently attack Shi’ites they see as infidels who deserve to die.
“Brigadier Fazal Zahoor was shot by masked gunmen while taking part in a religious ritual at the mosque,” said police official Farooq Hasnaat, adding the attack took place late on Sunday. “The gunmen arrived on motorbikes and burst into the mosque. They identified the brigadier and shot and killed him, his brother Fazal Subhani and a third man called Mohammad Ayub.” The mosque is located in a military cantonment. Hasnaat said the brigadier had received threats from the banned organization Sipah-e-Sahaba, which says it want to expel Shi’ites from Pakistan.
Read more » Reuters
By Najam Sethi
The “conspiracy” to get rid of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been exposed. Although the circumstantial evidence was compelling, no one, not even the government and parliament, had hard-core facts to prove who was doing what and why. That’s why the government’s political and administrative response to the unfolding crisis was confused, weak and vacillating. Then the Heavens parted and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi descended like an angel to “save” the government by making a clean breast of things. The story can now be stitched up safely.
The old guard in the military left behind by General Ashfaq Kayani – a master spy who occupied both high offices in ISI and GHQ by turns and fashioned the military’s strategic policies for over a decade – was unhappy with the proposed foreign policy initiatives of Nawaz Sharif towards India, Afghanistan, USA, and his stance on non-state actor “assets” and the war against the Pakistani Taliban. Mr Sharif’s choice of General Raheel Sharif as COAS, number three in the lineup and totally apolitical to boot, also queried their pitch. The dye was cast when Mr Sharif hauled up ex-army chief General Pervez Musharraf for treason because this move threatened to drag in General Kayani and many other senior military officers who had backed the coup maker. It was also feared that, come October 2014, when several key generals from the “Kayani guard” would face retirement, Mr Sharif would appoint another relatively apolitical general to the powerful DG-ISI post, thereby seizing the “national security” initiative from the military. It may be recalled that the fear was not unjustified: on two previous occasions as prime minister, Mr Sharif had taken exactly such steps when he sacked Lt Gen Asad Durrani in 1991 and appointed Lt Gen Javed Nasir as DG-ISI and when he appointed Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt as DG-ISI in his second stint as prime minister and later tried to make him COAS and triggered a coup by General Musharraf.
Islamabad can’t fix its many problems until the government, the opposition, and the military learn to respect the rule of law.
After paralyzing Islamabad for days, the crowds at boisterous protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are starting to thin out. But even if Pakistan’s current political standoff comes to an end, the country’s deeper political crisis won’t.
Read more » FP
THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.
But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.
Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.
People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.
Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.
From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.
What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.
It is reported on Dawn news channel that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has asked Pakistan army to intervene in the political crisis in the country during an interview on Friday September 5, 2014. He also claimed that former Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was involved in the rigging in 2013 elections.
Pakistan Muslim League (Q) leader and senior politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is directly asking Pakistan army to take over the government as current political government is taking the country towards destruction.
PML (Q) leader said that army dictatorship is better than the existing democracy in Pakistan. He said that he does not recognize Nawaz Sharif’s democracy.
Chaudhry Shujaat claimed in the interview that Retd. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was personally involved in the rigging of the general elections in 2013.
PML (Q) politician is siding with Tahirul Qadri in the protest against the government of Nawaz Sharif in a bid to topple the government.
Courtesy: News Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 5 (Reuters) – Weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful army’s 11 Corps Commanders that it was time for them to step in and force embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
According to a minister close to military circles, top generals met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in nearby Islamabad. Thousands of protesters had just tried to storm Sharif’s residence.
At the tense, four-hour conclave, Pakistan’s democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.
But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force.
Soon afterwards, the army issued a brief statement, reaffirming its commitment to democracy, and the threat of a coup, at least for now, had passed.
The minister, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of discussing the inner workings of the military, said at least five generals had been pushing for weeks for the army to take a more “active role” in defusing the crisis.
“The time for the army to be neutral is over,” was how the minister summed up the message from dissenters around the table.
Two military sources confirmed this version of events. They, like the minister, spoke on condition of anonymity.
A senior security source added: “Raheel Sharif is not interested in direct intervention. The tanks aren’t going to come rolling in. This army believes in compromise.”
The army’s media wing confirmed Sunday’s meeting but declined to share details. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Reuters the army was a “monolithic institution”. “What comes out from the army is ultimately one opinion,” he said. “And … they have supported democracy.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-2745005/Army-chief-holds-generals-seeking-Pakistan-PMs-ouster.html#ixzz3CS3QguyO
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While the security establishment had played footsie with domestic, regional and transnational jihadists for decades, it threw the decision to act against them in the PM’s lap
The so-called neutral umpire that the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Imran Khan had been looking up to for a decision was neither neutral nor an umpire and now has fallen flat on its face. None other than the veteran politician and the elected president of the PTI, Mr Javed Hashmi, took the wind out of Imran Khan and his umpire’s sails. Mr Hashmi vented his spleen not just about the dictatorial tendencies of Imran Khan but also ripped apart the PTI’s ‘clean politics’ facade. The maverick from Multan flayed to shreds the sordid collusion between certain leaders in the PTI, its fellow travellers and the establishment. What Mr Hashmi, popularly known as the baghi (rebel) for bucking both the civil and military demigods, said has been known since at least this past April. The original plan was to unfold right after Ramzan but was delayed due to the military operation in North Waziristan. However, hearing it from the horse’s mouth vindicates everyone who has suspected that Imran Khan was merely the establishment’s 12th man who had been fielded to do its dirty work.
The whispering campaign against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) started when elected Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif refused to give the former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf a free pass in the treason trial. The PM, appointing Khawaja Muhammad Asif, a man that the security establishment has despised for his clear anti-dictatorship stance, did not go down well with the boots. Attitudes hardened when the PM made peace overtures at his Indian counterpart’s inauguration. The tipping point, however, was PM Sharif’s courtesy visit to the wounded television anchor-journalist Hamid Mir who had implicated an intelligence agency in the attack that he narrowly survived. The battle lines were thus drawn. It was more about the security establishment losing face due to General Musharraf’s trial and ceding domestic political space to the civilian PM in appointments such as that of the defence minister than just about foreign policy. A decision seemed to have been made then that PM Nawaz Sharif had to be reined in. The PML-N’s comfortable parliamentary majority and former President Asif Ali Zardari’s judicious decision to divest the president of his powers to dissolve the National Assembly, made undermining the PM ‘constitutionally’ impossible.
PESHAWAR: In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.
The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.
Read more » The Express Tribune
Either way, barring any new surprises, the coup by other means appears to have run its course. It was a tawdry affair. An elected government and prime minister were chastened by a mob — a mob, moreover, that was very possibly encouraged by the military.
When protesters converged on the Pakistani capital of Islamabad to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, many were quick to see the hand of the military pulling the strings behind the scenes. Sharif, who became prime minister in 2013 after Pakistan’s first full transition of power from one democratically elected government to another, irked the army during his first year in office. He put former military ruler Pervez Musharraf — who overthrew Sharif in a 1999 coup — on trial for treason. He tried to carve out an independent foreign policy — the traditional preserve of the army — including promising better relations with India. The protests, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cult religious leader Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri looked like a means of putting Sharif in his place.
Then, with Sharif refusing to resign and the protesters turning increasingly violent over the weekend, the showdown appeared to be following a familiar course. If Pakistan became ungovernable, the Pakistan army would be “forced” to intervene and take over to restore order. It had happened before. In 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq seized power ostensibly to end a political crisis. Throughout the 1990s, elected governments were repeatedly changed as political parties moved through a revolving door pushed by squabbling politicians and spun from on high by the army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
This time around, however, events are not following the script. In what could become a watershed for Pakistan’s fragile democracy, civilian politicians are fighting back. Political parties, with the exception of Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), rallied behind the government. PTI’s own president, Javed Hashmi, broke with his leader to accuse him of acting on the behest of the army in the hope of forcing fresh elections. A statement released by the army — which appeared to draw equivalence between the mob besieging Islamabad and the elected government — was quickly called out by the English-language media. The army statement advised the government against the use of force and said that if the situation were not resolved quickly, it would play its part “in ensuring security of the state” — an apparent warning that it could take over. In response, a remarkably forthright editorial in Dawn pointed out that “it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.” The Nation also declared the army to be out of line and pointed out that the military would not hesitate to use force if violent protesters besieged its own headquarters. On Tuesday, the government called a joint session of both houses of parliament to reaffirm support for democracy.
So what happened to the script? Has Pakistan’s democracy matured to the point where civilian governments can no longer be so easily dismissed? The answer may not be entirely clear for a few days or weeks yet, and will depend on Sharif’s own ability to show flexibility in accommodating opponents inside and outside of parliament.
Or did this coup, by other means, stumble not just because of the resistance of the democrats, but also because the military itself was hesitant about delivering the fatal blow? Are some parts of the security establishment eagerly cheering on Khan and Qadri while others ready themselves to settle for a weakened prime minister still in place? After all, retaining the trappings of democracy would avoid the international disapproval and U.S. sanctions that might follow an outright coup. (Officially, the army denied backing theprotesters in a statement that insisted it was an apolitical institution.)
Pakistan’s security establishment — a term that covers everyone from army chief General Raheel Sharif, to his fellow Corps commanders, to the ISI, to retired officers who may or may not be acting under official orders — is notoriously opaque. All that can be said, then, is that Khan has been useful to the security establishment in the past, but either has a tendency to go his own way, or draws his support from particularly hard-line elements.
A few years ago, for example, Khan became one of the most vocal campaigners against drone strikes in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and against the U.S.-led campaign in neighboring Afghanistan. His campaigns were particularly useful to an army that liked to tell the United States that domestic opinion — albeit domestic opinion it had helped manufacture — prevented it from doing more against Islamist militants. Yet more recently, his insistence on holding peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban annoyed some in the army who believed they should be fought more aggressively. Khan’s commitment to defending the people of FATA was conveniently forgotten as soon as the Pakistan army launched its own military operation this year in North Waziristan, which produced one million internal refugees.
In the run-up to the elections, Pakistani media suggested that Khan was a particular favourite of Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, then head of the ISI. The former cricketer, not well known for his critical thinking, happily espoused the army narrative that all of Pakistan’s problems could be blamed on its corrupt politicians, while disregarding the military’s own powerful role in setting policy. Yet moving Khan from a single issue player as an anti-drones campaigner to the national political stage proved extremely hard even for a powerful intelligence establishment with many friends in the media. Khan picked up genuine support from those tired of existing political parties, particularly from a younger, urban generation. His unseen friends in the security establishment made sure he was given ample coverage in the Pakistani media, while the international media duly promoted a man with a glamorous international playboy past and pukka English.
ISLAMABAD: The government registered treason case on Monday against PTI and PAT leaders Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. According to media reports the case was lodged at Pak Secretariat Police Station. Several sections and clauses, including section 124-A which pertains to treason, have been invoked in the FIR. Both Imran and Qadri were also charged with incitement to violence, attempted murder, robbery and interfering in the affairs of the state. PTI ally Shaikh Rasheed and party leaders Jahangir Tareen, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and others said to be booked in the FIR registered at Secretariat Police Station over rioting in Red Zone of Islamabad and attack on Parliament House.
Read more » Daily Times
Kuj sheher dey log vi zaalim san. Kuj sanu vi maran da shauk si (Azim Muneer Niazi)
The kind of government Pakistanis want is entirely their choice. Democratic, dictatorial, camouflaged military, Islamic, socialist or controlled. The rest of the world may like one or the other but will have to deal with the reality, in its own way. Attempts by others to change systems are messy, with little guarantee of success or permanence.
However, if the people of the country have decided that they wish to follow the route of free and fair elections and to be ruled by a democratically elected government then the present turmoil in Pakistan is not only inexplicable but also dangerous for Pakistan. When political leaders rely on unconstitutional support for political survival and encourage their followers to disregard established norms and institutions then they encourage chaos and unending violence. This ultimately destroys them because the institutions that protected them have ceased to exist.
Chaos rules in Pakistan as conflicting reports come from Rawalpindi and the streets are controlled by the followers of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan while the Prime Minister remains invisible. The Army’s initial ambivalence,instead of a forthright support for Nawaz Sharif, indicated weakening support for him. Quite obviously, Nawaz is being punished for pursuing former Army chief General Musharraf.
There are conflicting reports emanating from Islamabad about the future of a democratically elected Nawaz Sharif. The highest judiciary has stepped in with its advice, the parliament has been called to session tomorrow and Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have been booked for treason. The entry into PTV offices and the PM’s house despite the Army’s presence in Islamabad indicates a seriously dysfunctional government.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif announced he is not quitting after his three hour long meeting with the Army chief General Raheel Sharif seems to have strengthened Nawaz’s position. Latest reports indicate that protests in Islamabad have resumed. The protests have lasted 18 days and requires considerable organisation and cash flows to sustain this campaign. The Khan-Qadri duo must be flush with money or have unknown benefactors. The disclosure by PTI President Javed Hashmi that Imran Khan had decided to move to the Prime Minister’s after receiving a ‘message’ via Sheikh Rasheed and Saifullah Niazi, is telling.
The carefully constructed veneer of neutrality that the army leadership had constructed through much of the national political crisis instigated by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri has been torn apart.
First, came the army’s statement on Sunday, the third in a series of statements in recent days on the political crisis, which quite astonishingly elevated the legitimacy and credibility of the demands of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and their violent protesters above that of the choices and actions of an elected government dealing with a political crisis.
Consider the sequence of events so far. When the army first publicly waded into the political crisis, it counselled restraint on all sides — as though it was the government that fundamentally still had some questions hanging over its legitimacy simply because Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri alleged so.
Next, the army crept towards the Khan/Qadri camp by urging the government to facilitate negotiations — as though it was the government that was being unreasonable, and not Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.
Now, staggeringly, the army has ‘advised’ the government not to use force against violent protesters and essentially told it to make whatever concessions necessary to placate Mr Khan and Mr Qadri.
It is simply extraordinary that it is the PAT and PTI supporters who want to break into and occupy state buildings, but it is the government that has been rebuked.
It’s as if the army is unaware — rather, unwilling — to acknowledge the constitutional scheme of things: it is the government that is supposed to give orders to the army, not the other way around.
The government has already issued its order: invoking Article 245.
On Saturday, as violent thugs attacked parliament, it was surely the army’s duty to repel them.
But the soldiers stationed there did nothing and the army leadership the next day warned the government instead of the protesters — which largely explains why the protesters were able to continue their pitched battles with the police and attacked the PTV headquarters yesterday.
If that were not enough, yesterday also brought another thunderbolt: this time from within the PTI with party president Javed Hashmi indicating that Mr Khan is essentially doing what he has been asked and encouraged to do by the army leadership.
It took the ISPR a few hours to respond with the inevitable denial, but a mere denial is inadequate at this point. The functioning of the state stands paralysed because a few thousand protesters and their leaders have laid siege to state institutions.
Where is the army condemnation of that? Would the army allow even a handful of peaceful protesters to gather outside GHQ for a few hours?
The army is hardly being ‘neutral’. It is making a choice. And, it is disappointing that choice is doing little to strengthen the constitutional, democratic and legitimate scheme of things.
Read more » Dawn, September 2nd, 2014
Crisis in Pakistan could become unmanageable
The ongoing violence prompted the top generals of the nuclear-armed state to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, August 31. The army – which has directly ruled the nation for more than three decades collectively – voiced support for democracy, but also “expressed concern.”
Pakistani military – back in charge
But many people in the country think the army’s “concern” is part of the script that the generals have written themselves. Pro-democracy activists believe Khan and Qadri have the full backing of the army, which is wary of Sharif’s cordial moves towards the country’s regional arch-rival India. The PM and the army are also not on the same page over the Islamic Republic’s Afghanistan policy, nor on the future of Pervez Musharraf, former military chief and ex-president, who is currently detained.
The military, which has been in control of the country for most of its recent history, enjoyed limited power during the five years former President Asif Ali Zardari was in office. The generals fear that if Sharif remains in power, they may further loose grip on the country’s defense and foreign policy.
Read more » dw
Atta Ul Haq Qasmi on Azadi & Inqalab March
We know from history that the skill, wisdom and effort (and oodles of luck) needed to build and sustain a working democratic system (whatever you may think of the pros and cons of such a system is a separate and interesting discussion) in one of the ex-colonial countries is orders of magnitude greater than the skill needed to just run a functional government for a few years. Saddam, Gaddafi, Ayub Khan, they all ran functional regimes and even made their Universities conduct their examinations on time. But none had a system with adequate checks and balances or the mechanism to transfer power smoothly from one elite clique to another without having to shoot the other clique first.
It may be possible to repair the effects of poor governance by this or that democratic regime in a few years, but if the system as a whole is undermined and devalued, then it may never get working again, or may take decades to repair. Political authority (like money) is a shared (useful) illusion. Puncture the illusion and what is left is naked force (or, if enough of asabiya exists, a monarchy; whether called a monarchy or under some other name).
Given our history, it is a significant achievement that all parties participated in a reasonably (by our standards) fair election under reasonably (by our standards) neutral caretaker administrations and an actual transfer of power took place peacefully. All that progress can be (and is) being undermined by this sustained campaign against democracy and civilian politics (with TUQ playing a conscious and Imran Khan a characteristically semi-conscious role in the undermining). That the Sharifs are not the best rulers is hardly debatable, but that the system should be wound up on that account is a disastrous step beyond the punishment of the Sharifs for any specific crime or misdemeanor. They must be removed from within the system or else they must be tolerated for their term. There is no third choice.
We know very well from our history that the next step in the paknationalist (aka PMA) framework is a “technocratic government of all talents” and we also know that in short order that will prove worse than the poor Sharifs and will lack even the rickety checks and balances that limit the damage done by the Sharifs or any other democratically elected crook. Beyond that, we also know that the institutional biases of the Pakistani army in particular are utterly opposed to the rights of smaller nationalities and are determined to pursue suicidal and extremely disruptive policies with respect to relations with our neighbors and with the wider world. The Sharif brothers dalliances with ASWJ notwithstanding, it is the army that is most responsible for creating and sustaining various sectarian and islamofascist tendencies in the body politic. For all these (and other) reasons, this latest farcical soft coup is very bad news.
Finally, it is good to keep in mind that it is not all fun and games…there really IS a bottom. One fine day the whole shithouse could go up in flames (as East Pakistan did in 1971); and what follows could then cause significant discomfort even to those whose low opinion of the Sharifs or of bourgeois politics or of the current politicians, makes them look kindly upon any disruption to the system...
I would add that I have come around to agreeing with those who think that NONE of the major VISIBLE players really had a detailed plan or a script that has been faithfully followed during this farce. But that does not mean that there is no one with a coherent agenda. There are people with coherent agendas and they make hay while the sun shines on Imran Khan’s empty chairs. Just as the ASWJ terrorists are pursuing their agenda, the “Paknationalists” in the intelligence agencies are pursuing theirs. Sharifs (including Raheel Shareef) may have no plan and may be blundering in the dark, but some people have plans and most of them are dangerous…
Courtesy: Brown Pundits
On the website of the leading Pakistani daily Dawn, two (of the four) articles in the section dedicated to editorials are as follows: ‘PTI’s bizarre proposals‘ and ‘The mask of anarchy‘.
The first, presumably written by the edit page staff of the paper, underlines the absurdity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s demands placed before the Nawaz Sharif government. Last week, the protest march, led by Imran Khan had stormed Islamabad’s red zone, proceeded towards the country’s parliament with next to no resistance from the government.
While, it was read as a victory for the protesters demanding Nawaz Sharif resign immediately the events that followed revealed that Sharif had played well. Because in the course of the next few days, the events unfolded in a way to make Imran Khan look increasingly vacuous, while Sharif held fort, quietly. From threatening to storming Sharif’s house, Imran Khan came down to demanding a temporary resignation, where he asked Sharif to step aside for a month so that the judicial commission’s enquiry into the alleged rigging in the country’s polls concluded without government pressure.
Naturally, national and international media reacted with ridicule. Almost in the way India’s media reacted when AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal first organised a dharna against his city’s police force, then quit the government and then decided to run for the general elections this year by challenging Narendra Modi. Like Kejriwal’s recent political trajectory in India, Imran Khan’s gimmicky ‘protest’ has not been received well by the media in Pakistan and abroad.
Understandably, therefore, the editorial in Dawn punches several holes in PTI’s stand on the Nawaz Sharif government by observing, “Consider that the very elections that the PTI is disputing were held under a caretaker government. Clearly then, even within the PTI’s scheme of things, if the PML-N was allegedly able to rig an election when not in office, could it not affect the outcome of a judicial inquiry when the party has governments at both the centre and in the principally electorally disputed province of Punjab?”
Almost as a nod to Dawn’s stand, an editorial on another Pakistan daily Express Tribune describes Imran Khan’s situation as ‘Lose Lose’. Talking about Khan’s grand announcements, the writer Saroop Ijaz says about PTI’s stir, “Everybody wants it to stop, except maybe Mr Imran Khan. One can only speculate on how those who truly care for him will be pained to see all this happening to him. It is all heading towards ending with a whimper; any banging sound will only be made by heads.”
The second editorial in Dawn spells it out without mincing words: “What is the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s great revolutionary idea that will fix our broken homeland? Replacement of Nawaz Sharif with Imran Khan? Is the PTI fighting for a goal larger than the political aggrandisement of Imran Khan?”
Writer Babar Sattar observes, “If its sole purpose is to fix a perceived unproven wrong inflicted on the PTI voter in 2013, this movement by definition is a narrow partisan struggle not aimed at empowering ordinary citizens but a means to snatch power from the PML-N and hand it to the PTI.”
And it’s not just Pakistanis who seem to be discomfited by Imran Khan’s flashy political rhetoric and confusing political message. New York Times’ Declan Walsh observes in a piece on the protest that the mood at the protests is mostly carnival-esque. He writes, “On the streets, Mr. Khan’s movement has the boisterous feel of a midsummer music festival. Pop stars introduce his speeches, which are punctuated by songs during which his supporters, many of them women, burst into dance. A disc jockey known as DJ Butt is part of his entourage.”
It’s almost impossible to ignore the glaring similarities with the anti-corruption movement started by Anna Hazare, steeped in rousing youth support. Like that movement was almost a performed, with all its pop culture ramifications, Imran Khan’s ‘protest’ seems theatrical, almost an elaborate attempt to confer heroism on Imran Khan, anew.
It’s equally hard to ignore, how, like the anti-corruption movement that AAP’s grandiose anti-establishment politicking ran out of fizz. And the latter got branded as ‘anarchists’ – a brand they anyway decided to flaunt with impudence. However, the petulance had its effect on the voters, reflected in the shoddy performance of the party in the general elections.
Imran Khan, might, well be headed in the direction. The Wall Street Journal notes that despite all the sound and fury, despite Khan promising at least a million protesters, the officials numbers could be anything between just 20,000 and 50,000. Definitely not more than 60,000.
Like we had noted in our live blog in the past, Khan’s call to stop paying taxes and utility bills was met were severe criticism from the business communities and intellectuals of the country who pointed out that he is encouraging the citizens to serve a death blow to their own country’s economy.
Also, PTI’s voters in Peshawar were reportedly wary of Khan’s theatrics and said that none of the promises made to them have even been taken up by Khan in the past few months. The region continues to suffer from the same old ills.
Walsh notes in The New York Times article, “Mr. Khan’s call for supporters to stop paying taxes and utility bills met with widespread derision because few Pakistanis pay income taxes, and the country is already crippled with power shortages.” Much like Kejriwal’s call to Delhi to stop paying bills was met with a fair amount of concern.
If the alarm bells ringing about Khan manage to shake his voters up, this protest movement might be just his undoing.
Courtesy: First Post
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