LAHORE: Prof. Jamil Umar, Central Secretary General of Awami Workers Party, has passed away. He was a well-known intellectual and renowned writer of left, activist and liberal thinker of Pakistan. His funeral will take place @ 5 Usman Block, New Garden Town, Lahore, on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 5pm.
Media group opts for self-censorship on terrorism after Taliban admits murder of three employees for critical reports on militants
When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the house newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis.
A newcomer to a market dominated by conservative-inclined papers, it made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.
But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by the Pakistani Taliban.
The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January.
The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.
SEATTLE — People are used to liberals running things around here. But nobody reckoned with Kshama Sawant. Ms. Sawant, a 41-year-old economics teacher and immigrant from India, took a left at liberal and then kept on going — all the way to socialism.
When she takes a seat on Seattle’s nine-member City Council on Jan. 1, representing the Socialist Alternative Party, she will become one of the few elected socialists in the nation, a political brand most politicians run from.
But Kshama Sawant (pronounced SHAH-mah sah-WANT) heartily embraces the label. Ask her about almost any problem facing America today, and her answer will probably include the “S” word as the best and most reasonable response. Socialism is the path to real democracy, she says. Socialism protects the environment. Socialism is the best hope for young people who have seen their options crushed by the tide of low-wage, futureless jobs in the post-recession economy.
“The take-home message for the left in general is that people are looking for alternatives,” she said in an interview, discussing her victory over a veteran Democrat by a margin of 3,100 votes of about 184,000 cast in a citywide contest. “If you ask me as a socialist what workers deserve, they deserve the value of what they produce.”
KARACHI: Ali Hassan Chandio, a Sindhi nationalist and Chairman Sindh National Movement (SNM), passed away after prolonged illness at the South City Hospital on Wednesday night. He was suffering from kidney problems coupled with diabetes.
According to his friend Asad Chandio, Hassan started his political life from Democratic Student Federation (DSF) and also remained active in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during which he was sent to prison where he was subjected to lashing. Ali Hassan was considered the youngest prisoner of conscience in Pakistan.
India: Sundri Uttamchandani (سندري اتم چنداڻي), said to be the most well-known Sindhi-Indian of our times and Sindhi language’s prominent writer has passed away in India. She was born in Hyderabad, Sindh on September 28, 1924. She was a Sindhi secular liberal writer herself and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in Sindhi for her Book Vichhoro, a compilation of nine short stories, in the year 1986, given by Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters.
She married Assandas Uttamchandani (A.J.Uttam), a Freedom fighter, with a keen interest in Sindhi Literature with clear leanings toward Marxist Philosophy and, who become in the later years one of the leading writers of Sindhi progressive literary movement, A J Uttam, was one of the founders of Sindhi Sahit Mandal in Bombay/Mumbai. Sundri accompanied him to weekly literary meetings which were presided over by a fatherly figure, Prof M U Malkani, who was a fountain head of encouragement to new and upcoming writers.
This exposure to Sindhi writers and their creative works were to become source of inspiration for her and in the year 1953 she produced her first novel “Kirandar Deewaroon” (Crumbling walls). This proved to be path breaking. She shattered the near monopoly of male domination in literature by her one feat, while on the one hand, she won the accolades and acclaim of all senior writers for use of ‘homely’ language, a folksy- idiomatic language used by women folk in their household and thus brought in a new literary flavour in Sindhi literature. The theme and structure of the novel was mature and it has distinction of being reprinted many times over. This Novel was translated into many Indian languages and brought her acclaim by literary critics of those languages, thus elevating her from a writer of a regional language to writer the of All India fame. Her Second Novel “Preet Purani Reet Niraali” came in the year 1956, which has run into 5 reprints, which amply speaks of its merit and popularity.
By ROGER COHEN
LONDON — Heba Morayef voted for Mohamed Morsi last year. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate was an unlikely choice for a liberal Egyptian woman, the director of the Human Rights Watch office in Cairo, but she loathed Hosni Mubarak’s old guard, wanted change and believed Morsi could be inclusive.
“I have been extremely conflicted this past week,” Morayef told me. “I don’t support the military or coups. But for me as a voter, Morsi betrayed the trust that pro-reform Egyptians placed in him. That is what brought 14 million people into the streets on June 30. It was not so much the incompetence as the familiar authoritarian agenda, the Brotherhood trying to solidify their control by all means.”
Morsi misread the Arab Spring. The uprising that ended decades of dictatorship and led to Egypt’s first free and fair presidential election last year was about the right to that vote. But at a deeper level it was about personal empowerment, a demand to join the modern world, and live in an open society under the rule of law rather than the rule of despotic whim.
In a Muslim nation, where close to 25 percent of Arabs live, it also demanded of political Islam that it reject religious authoritarianism, respect differences and uphold citizenship based on equal rights for all.
Instead, Morsi placed himself above judicial review last November, railroaded through a flawed Constitution, allowed Brotherhood thugs to beat up liberal opponents, installed cronies at the Information Ministry, increased blasphemy prosecutions, surrendered to a siege mentality, lost control of a crumbling economy and presided over growing sectarian violence. For the Brotherhood, the pre-eminent Islamist movement in the region, the sudden shift from hounded outlaw to power in the pivotal nation of the Arab world proved a bridge too far.
Iqbal Tareen delivers keynote speech at the first Anniversary of Shaheed Bashir Khan Qureshi held in New York on April 6, 2013. This event was hosted by Sindhi Academic and Cultural Association of North America.
1. Two Nations Theory: From its cradle to the grave
2. GM Syed and Pakistan Resolution in 1938-40 – intent to create United Nations of Pakistan
3. Jinnah’s arguments refuted
4. Individual and national freedoms
5. Empowerment of women a must to free a nation
6. Nation of Sindh defined
7. An inclusive vision of new Nation of Sindh
8. Separation of State and religion – a must for progressive and tolerant national transformation
Police in Jerusalem on Monday detained 10 women for wearing the tallit, a Jewish prayer shawl traditionally worn by men, while praying at the Western Wall.
The Women of the Wall have been fighting for years for permission to worship in the manner that men do at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism for prayer. The stone structure is part of the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
Men and women both pray at the wall, but in separate sections and under rules set by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, a body appointed and funded by the government. It is headed by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Shmuel Rabinowitz.
Twitter alert: Marvi Sirmed attacked!
By Web Desk / Umer Nangiana
SLAMABAD: A columnist and human rights campaigner, Marvi Sirmed, escaped unhurt when the car she was traveling in came under attack on Friday in Islamabad as suggested by users of social network Twitter.
Columnist Nusrat Javeed tweeted that Marvi’s car, being driven by her husband Manzoor Sirmed, was fired at. However, the couple remained “unharmed but shaken”, tweeted another user.
Geo News Urdu tweeted quoting Marvi as saying that she has survived the attack and has informed the police about it.
Marvi Sirmed told The Express Tribune that as they were traveling, they encountered a car with black tinted windows parked in front. Someone pulled out a gun from within the car and fired twice at them. Marvi said that they ducked and turned their car around. At this point the assailant fired at them once more. She said that they approached the nearest police checkpost, but by the time they returned to the scene of the crime, the assailant’s car had disappeared. Marvi said that she did not know who could have attacked her.
The attack on Malala has pushed liberal Pakistan to re-ascertain its face. However, the important thing to see is whether Pakistan restructures itself as a liberal moderate democracy.
THE TALIBAN attacked Malal Yousafzai due to her denial of their barbaric codes of self-described and imposed religious taboos. Unlike on the brutal murder of Salman Taseer, the people of Pakistan vociferously denounced this heinous act and stood by her – a good omen for the country, which is living in misery between devil and the deep sea.
Pakistan, which has been historically an Indus country in the past, and once was known as Sindh, have a deep background of secular ethos that until the recent past remained unchanged. The beginning of perversion in Pakistan kicked off with the adaptation of state-religion. In the social and cultural context, it began when the people of Pakistan were pushed through socio-cultural engineering by imposing Arab terminologies in spite of the local ones – replacement of Maseet with the Arabic word Masjid for a mosque and word Khuda with Allah for the God. It was the cultural fanaticism, which came first through sponsored Tabligh (preaching) and was gradually introduced during General Ziaul Haq period when he started altering historical Indian cultural roots of Pakistan and resisted possible Iranian influence- thus the Arabic terminologies, and Salafi school of thought was blended with the Sunni Hanafya majority of the country.
Pakistan’s musician Taimur Laal on massacres of liberals in the “Land of the Pure” by the “guardians of the Religion of Peace!?” Laal’s video on the trials, tribulations, and sacrifices of the people of Pakistan in the struggle against extremism in our society. Religio-fascists! how do you claim that the battle is over in which we have not even taken the very first step! You can crush All of us. But you can not stop the spring.
Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Directed by Dr. Taimur Rahman.
Courtesy: Laal » YouTube
FSP for a secular Pakistan
KARACHI: The Forum for Secular Pakistan (FSP) has been constituted by liberal progressive social activists and like-minded people to struggle for a secular Pakistan.
This was announced by FSP President Iqbal Haider at a press conference held at Karachi Press Club (KPC) here on Sunday.
Journalist Zubaida Mustafa, chief guest Sardar Sherbaz Khan Mazari, Vice President of forum Hasil Bizenjo, KPC President Tahir Hassan Khan and others were also present on the occasion.
Addressing the press conference, Iqbal Haider said that Pakistan’s critical situation was just because of us forgetting the principles laid down by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He said that FSP was a national forum being supported by people throughout the country. Secular system in Pakistan can change the situation of the country, he said adding that people from Sindh, Punjab, Azad Kashmir and other areas are being encouraged to join the forum.
Haider said, “Non-Muslims also gave us an opportunity by joining the forum,” adding that Pakistan came into being on secular basis where all were supposed to have equal rights. Hasil Bizenjo said that time was ripe for the people to consider secular system seriously. He said that secularism was a part of various parties’ manifestoes in 1970s, but eliminated later on, giving rise to extremism. People, who termed secular system as Kufr, favour it in India, he said. He further added that they would try to promote secular system through the forum. Earlier, Haider read the declaration of the forum in which he also quoted speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Courtesy: Daily Times
Pakistan’s existing political and administrative system is based almost entirely on Western models. but the official national ideology is ambivalent or even hostile to Western civilization and its innovations. In the past this was less of a problem since “national ideology” was not very well developed (Jinnah himself was famously confused about what he wanted and while the Muslim League used Islamist slogans freely during the Pakistan movement, a number of its leaders and ideologues were happy to go along with vaguely left wing justifications for the state once they were comfortably in power after partition), but ever since the time of General Zia, there has been a steady push to establish a particular Islamist version of Pakistani nationalism as the default setting. The process has not gone entirely smoothly and significant sections of the super-elite intelligentsia remain wedded to Western left-liberal (and more rarely, frankly capitalist/”neo-liberal”)) ideologies while the deeper thinking Islamists tend towards Salafism, but it has gone further in the emerging middle class and within the armed forces. There, a superficially Islamist, hypernationalist vision has taken root and can be seen in its purest form on various “Paknationalist” websites.
This “paknationalism” is an extremely shallow and rather unstable construct. It is not classically Islamist but it regards Islam as the main unifying principle and ideological foundation of the state. In practice, it is more about hating India (and our own Indian-ness) that it is about any recognizable orthodox form of Islam. It is also very close to 1930s fascism in its worship of uniforms, authority and cleansing violence. People outside Pakistan rarely take it too seriously and prefer to get their versions of Pakistani nationalism from more liberal interpreters, but the “Paknationalists” are serious and one of these days, they are going to have a go at Pakistan if present suicidal trends persist in the civilian elite. Their interlude may not last very long, but it is likely to be exceptionally violent and may end in catastrophe.
Some idea of the ambitions and self-image of the Paknationalists can be gauged from a few recent examples; Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Nations, senior diplomat Munir Akram, penned a piece in “DAWN” on 27th May in which he repeated the usual “Paknationalist” themes but went a little further than usual by explicitly suggesting that if the US picks a fight with Pakistan, it may face an “asymmetrical nuclear war”. This, unfortunately, is not an isolated example of an Ambassador Sahib wandering off the reservation. Former director general of the ISI, Lieut. Gen. Assad Durrani, wrote a bellicose piece a few days earlier in which he suggested (among other things) that we could exchange Dr Afridi for Aafia Siddiqui and then give Aafia Siddiqui the Nishan e Haider (I am not kidding, check it out for yourself). Certified Paknationalist Ahmed Quraishi suggested that the CIA has been at war with Pakistan since 2002, though interestingly he also said that the CIA is doing this to “poison Pakistani-American ties”, (perhaps in a rogue operation not supported by the “good” or soft-touch faction of the US regime?). Earlier, Humayun Gohar of “In the Line of Fire” fame wrote an exposition on the rules of Jihad in which he argued that siding with the US in 2001 was good Jihad, but opening NATO supplies now would be a violation of the rules of Jihad. I could go on and on with this, but the bottom line is that the Paknationalist faction of the Pakistani state (let us assume that the state has other factions, as Ahmed Quraishi implied about the American state) seems genuinely upset at the US and is in a confrontational mood. This is evident not just from the fusillade of op-eds issuing from their favored mouthpieces, but also in actions like the refusal to open NATO supply routes, the well-timed sentencing of Dr Afridi and the acquittal of the Faisal Shahzad co-accused.
But what is sending shivers up the remaining sane spines in Pakistan (see Nusrat Javeed’s superb column in the “Express”) is the fact that this confrontation is not going smoothly. These coordinated efforts could be read a sign of desperation, even of losing the script. Just see how the Afridi affair has proceeded: First he was sentenced to 33 years in prison for treason and the words “waging war against Pakistan” were used. Trial and sentence were handed out in the tribal areas, using archaic British-era laws (the Frontier Crimes Regulations or FCR) with zero transparency (even the charges were not fully revealed when the sentence was announced). When this led to a backlash in the US (and ironically, just as liberal American, British and Pakistani columnists had stepped forward to defend the right of the ISI to punish a traitor working for a foreign intelligence agency), the news suddenly changed. In a move worthy of a Lewis Carroll book, the charges upon which Afridi had been sentenced were revealed several days after the sentencing! And lo and behold, he had not been charged with working for the CIA or running a fake vaccination scheme at all. He had instead been sentenced for being in cahoots with notorious Pakistani Taliban militant Mangal Bagh. That Dr Afridi had spent time in Mangal Bagh’s captivity and paid him ransom was apparently evidence of his “support for Islamic militancy”.
By: Nadeem F. Paracha
Born in 1956, Fauzia Wahab was enjoying a fiery career as a passionate human rights worker and one of the most prominent voices of reason in the often chaotic, judgmental and fiercely patriarchal world of Pakistani politics and sociology, when her life was cut short on June 17, 2012.
Belonging to Pakistan’s largest political outfit, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Fauzia’s fame was nothing like that of former PPP Chairperson, late Benazir Bhutto, and nor was she known so well outside of Pakistan like the country’s other famous women activists and democrats like Benazir or Asma Jahangir.
Fauzia’s fame was largely local, rooted deep in whatever that is left of the tradition of progressive politics and liberalism in the country’s urban middle-classes – a tradition that was triggered by the rise of the PPP in the late 1960s and gave large sections of the Pakistani middle-classes a left-leaning and almost revolutionary dimension.
Although Fauzia was in school when leftist student organisations and trade, labour and journalist unions rose to successfully challenge the rule of Pakistan’s first military dictator, Ayub Khan, in the late 1960s, she was quick to join politics when she entered college in 1972 and then the Karachi University in 1975.
A glimpse into her career as a student politician can be an insightful exercise to understand the kind of a charisma she possessed that continued to make her stand out without requiring her to be a leading political figure or an ideologue.
A PPP colleague of hers once described Fauzia as a smiling rebel who had a natural knack of balancing her traditional side with her rebellious streak without looking or sounding contradictory or confused.
The same colleague (who was talking to me late last year in an informal chat), thought that Fauzia’s first act of rebellion was actually against her own ethnic background.
Coming from an educated Urdu-speaking family settled in Karachi, Fauzia did not automatically support the Jamat-e-Islami (JI) or the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP) like most Urdu-speakers of Sindh and its capital, Karachi, did till the late 1970s.
Instead, when she joined college, she at once jumped into the ranks of leftist and progressive student groups, but without waving Mao’s Red Book or Marx’s Das Kapital.
Another colleague of hers who was with her in a progressive student group at Karachi University and then later joined the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), told me that Fauzia was always more interested in solving the problems of the students and challenging those who used faith to impose their politics than she was in leftist theory.
It was this attitude of hers that placed her in the leading ranks of the Progressive Students Alliance at the Karachi University – an alliance comprising of various left-wing, liberal and Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtun student groups.
But battling opposing student groups, especially those on the right, through student union elections and campaigning, was where it all started and ended for Fauzia – in 1978 she met and married another passionate progressive student politician, Wahab Siddiqui, who soon went on to become an accomplished journalist.
After marriage, Fauzia gladly became a housewife, raising her children and supporting her husband’s career as a journalist. But her love for politics, the liberal ideals that had driven her as a student and her romance for Karachi remained intact.
Some early recruits of the MQM claim that Fauzia almost joined the MQM when it suddenly rose to become Karachi’s leading party in the late 1980s. Though this was never mentioned by Fauzia herself, it is however true that she eventually became a kind of a pioneer of a little known but important strain in the workings of the PPP in Karachi, Sindh.
I can vouch for this because I, as an active member of the PPP’s student-wing, the PSF (in the 1980s), too got involved in what Fauzia would ultimately represent within the PPP as a Karachiite.
When Benazir returned to Pakistan from exile in 1986 and then went on to become the country’s first woman prime minister in 1988, she at once recognised the importance of having the MQM as a ‘natural ideological partner’ and a party that could keep governments afloat with the seats that it was able to win in Karachi and Hyderabad.
I was at the Karachi University in 1989 when Benazir constituted a team of Sindhi and Urdu-speaking members of the PPP to negotiate a coalition deal with MQM chief Altaf Hussain. I remember how this policy created a kind of a rift within the ranks of the PSF in Karachi.
One faction was totally against Benazir’s move, while the other faction saw it as a way to unite secular forces so they could reclaim the political space they had lost to the ‘reactionaries’ and religionists during Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship.
Though a Punjabi from my father’s side, I was born and bred in Karachi. So I decided to side with the latter group and was ultimately ‘expelled’ from the university by the former faction.
Of course, the coalition collapsed and dozens of students lost their lives in the deadly clashes that followed between the PSF and MQM’s student-wing the APMSO.
However, even while an operation was underway against MQM militants under the second Benazir regime (1993-96), I am witness to the fact that Benazir’s idea of creating a bridge (made up of ideological similarities as well as pragmatism) between Karachi chapters of the PPP and MQM was very much alive.
And here is where Fauzia came in. After the tragic sudden death of her husband in 1993, Fauzia found herself returning to politics. Her husband had played an active role as a journalist against the Zia dictatorship and this drew the attention of Benazir who made Fauzia the Information Secretary of the PPP’s women’s wing in Sindh.
An articulate and educated person from a respected Urdu-speaking middle-class family, Fauzia was to become that bridge between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi. Later on, Fauzia, along with another prominent PPP Karachite, Faisal Raza Abidi, would play a prominent role in helping Asif Ali Zardari strike a coalition with the MQM after the 2008 elections.
Though a passionate Karachite and proud of her ethnic background, Fauzia was first and foremost a Pakistani who wanted to use the platform of a large political party to continue raising human rights issues, especially those related to women.
Fauzia became a close confidant of Benazir Bhutto. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Fauzia was the person Benazir banked on to continue building links between the PPP and Urdu-speakers in Karachi as well as being one of the faces in the PPP the MQM was most comfortable with.
But it wasn’t until during the Musharraf dictatorship that Fauzia was thrown into the limelight of Pakistani politics. Being made an MNA during the 2002 elections, she played an active political role against the Musharraf regime.
This was also due to the eruption of privately owned TV news channels in the country. Fauzia became a prominent fixture in most political talk shows, passionately criticising the Musharraf regime and articulating her party’s understanding of the situation.
After Benazir’s shocking assassination in 2007, Fauzia managed to survive the PPP’s new chairperson Asif Ali Zardari’s changes within the party structure. In fact she became an even more prominent figure in the party.
Along with Faisal Raza Abidi and Qamar Zaman Kaira, Fauzia became one of the fiercest defenders of the PPP regime’s polices in the electronic media. But unlike many other politicians who also became regular fixtures on TV talk shows, Fauzia retained a cheerful witty attitude.
However, she wasn’t only about defending her party’s regime. Along with famous human rights activist and lawyer, Asma Jahangir, Fauzia was one of the few prominent Pakistani women who never held back while lambasting crimes of hate committed by religious nuts and terrorists.
She openly condemned the murder of Punjab Governor, Salman Taseer, by a crackpot who wrongly accused Taseer of committing blasphemy. She was threatened by a number of fanatical clerics and their supporters for this.
Fauzia continued highlighting the threat to Pakistanis, especially women and those belonging to minority religions, faced from radical religious groups. She continued to remain a target of the abuse and menacing threats that came her way from religious outfits.
But she marched on, still holding her balanced mantle that seamlessly mixed passionate oratory with reason and hearty wit.
We condemn threats to Asma Jahangir’s life by Pakistan army generals
Assassination plot against Asma Jahangir exposed
If there was only one person worthy of respect in Pakistan, it had to be Asma Jahangir. She must be protected from those afraid of her.
Not unlike millions of peace loving, progressive Pakistanis, LUBP editors and team members are concerned over threat to senior human rights activist Asma Jahangir’s life. In Kashif Abbas’s TV program today (Off the Record – ARY TV), Asma Jahangir detailed a plot by the military to assassinate her. Apparently, in view of Asma’s detailed revelations, Kashif took a break, but the show ended.
However, later on Geo TV’s Aapas Ki Baat, Asma did manage to speak to Najam Sethi about the plan by Pakistan army (ISI in particular) to assassinate her. In that show, she clearly stated that senior level army generals were planning to kill her.
Apparently, those with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman!
In Habib Jalib’s words: dartay hain bandooqan walay aik nihatti larki say (men with guns are afraid of an unarmed woman)
They want to eliminate her the way they killed Benazir Bhutto, Shahbaz Bhatti, Salmaan Taseer, Murtaza Bhutto, and thousands of other unnamed Balochs, Shias, Pashtuns and other citizens of Pakistan.
Condolence meeting in London for Ghazala Siddiqui Shaheed of Mohabat-e-Sindh
A condolence meeting of Workers Party Pakistan UK was convened in London to condole the sad demise of Ghazala Sadiqqi at the hands of fascist mafia’s attack on peaceful rally in Karachi, Sindh. The meeting was presided by Ahmad Nawaz Wattoo, convener WPP UK and attended by Dr. Iftikhar Mehmood, Dr. Tuheed Ahmed Khan, Rizwan Kayani, Mian Rashid Aslam, Munib Anwar, Yahya Hashmi, Mian Imran Latif, Atif Jamal and Rehan Khushi.
The meeting condemned the fascist mafia’s attack on the peaceful protestors in Karachi during Muhabat Sindh rally on 22 May 2012. Due to the firing of the fascist terrorist mafia a bullet hit Ghazala Siddiqquie, a brave progressive woman, mother of three children, a loving wife and niece of comrade Usman Balouch, member Central Committee Workers Party Pakistan. The participants of the meeting offered their condolence and solidarity with Comrade Usman Balouch and bereaved family and friends of Ghazala. The participants demanded the arrests of the culprits of fascist mafia immediately. The meeting also opposed the division of Sindh.
Comment by: Sahar Gul
We request our liberal Urdu speaking brothers, sisters and friends to come forward join hands with us and strongly condemn the attack on peaceful “Muhabbat-e-Sindh” Rally, leaving over a dozen peaceful protesters killed. With the support of our liberal urdu speaking brothers, sisters and friends we will narrow down the space gained by fascist terrorists.
By Tarek Fatah
Last Sunday, 50 men, women and children protested on Front Street about an issue that has escaped the attention of most of the world. If there isn’t a massive outcry soon, it could result in a massacre that would remind us of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1944. I’m talking about the town of Lyari in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, Sindh.
Imagine an area smaller than Ajax, yet inhabited by 1.5 million people, most of them working-class poor, cramped in homes separated by alleys little more than three metres wide.
Surrounding this dense cluster of humanity is a force of 5,000 para-military police in tank-track APCs, armed to the teeth, firing automatic rifles indiscriminately into residential areas.
For over a week, Lyari — inhabited mostly by Karachi’s Sindhi-Baloch and Black African population, the indigenous residents of the city — was cut off from the outside world with no electricity, water, telephones or Internet links.
The government of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari justifies this medieval siege by insisting the area is a hotbed of drug gangs and a crime mafia that has resisted the “writ of the state.”
This from a government that refuses to send its troops into North Waziristan, where a fully-equipped renegade army of the Taliban wages war on next-door Afghanistan.
In a week of armed clashes, the residents of Lyari have blunted all attempts by security forces to enter their ghetto.
Forty people have died, including children as young as seven, while scores were injured or left to die on the streets. But no one is listening to their cries for help. Remember the April, 2002 siege of Jenin by the Israel Defense Forces in which 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers died? The Muslim and Arab world erupted in outrage. But there has been nothing from them about the April, 2012 siege of Lyari.
Zaffar Jawaid of the Baloch Human Rights Commission, who organized last Sunday’s Toronto demonstration, asked me, “Are we Baloch Muslims children of a lesser God? Are we not as Muslim, as Palestinians or Arabs, to deserve an outcry by the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), to tell the Pakistan government to stop the massacre of its Baloch population?”
Speaking to me on Newstalk 1010, Jawaid said there are deeper reasons for the government’s security apparatus to lay siege to Lyari.
He claimed the Baloch are a thorn in the side of Pakistan’s Islamist movements that take billions of dollars from the West and then fund the Taliban, who kill Canadian and NATO troops in next-door Afghanistan.
According to Jawaid, the Sindhi & Baloch people of Lyari and the next-door province of Balochistan are probably the only segment of the population that has stood up to the Islamofascist agenda of Pakistan’s establishment, including its often corrupt military.
“We are secular, liberal Muslims who have rejected the path of the Taliban and Al-Qaida, so we (are) being punished by the Pakistani security apparatus, both in Lyari and Balochistan. They want to wipe us off the map, but we have been here for a 1,000 years, long before Pakistan came into existence or its puppets in al-Qaida and the Taliban. Pakistanis can fool the naive governments of Canada and the USA, but not us. We are Baloch; we are not for sale.
Courtesy: Toronto Sun
By Sarah Jaffe and Anna Lekas Miller and Sarah Seltzer and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and Alex Kane and Joshua Holland
Yesterday, Occupy recaptured the public’s attention with rallies, marches, parties, and yes, arrests all over the country.
All over the world, May 1 is celebrated as International Workers’ Day. Yesterday, May Day also marked the reemergence of the Occupy movement, with events in cities all over America. AlterNet’s reporters were in the field — here are their dispatches from New York and the Bay Area …
Read more » AlterNet
Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?
Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of contemporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.
Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.
There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counternarrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.
THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE
Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences…
Read more »Foreign Affairs
No state today may embark upon an ethnic cleansing of a people and then invoke sovereignty as a shield against international scorn or humanitarian intervention
Pakistan’s modernity is structured along two axes: neo-liberal nationalism and right-wing radical nationalism. The meeting of the two trajectories has turned Pakistan into a hybrid-theocratic state which encapsulates a mix of economic neo-liberalism, pockets of social liberalism, formal theocracy and larger spaces experiencing informal theocracy
Read more » Friday Times
Shia massacre in Gilgit: Media apathy and misrepresentation of Shia genocide in Pakistan
Today’s massacre of at least 20 Shia Muslims in Gilgit brings the tally of murdered and injured Shias close to 250 since the beginning of 2012 and aside from two dedicated articles, both in the Daily Times, and both by two honourable Pashtuns, Pakistan’s “progressive”, “liberal” and “secular” media remains defeaningly silent on this topic. While Pakistan’s social media networks have been abuzz with Oscar awards, cricket matches, Maya Khan and Veena Malik, aside from the token tweet and sentence, Pakistan’s liberal media continues to ignore the ongoing Shia Genocide in Pakistan.
The PPP-led government remains both clueless and helpless to stop this ongoing genocide – while some of its elected representatives have spoken out against this but the world knows that it is not the elected Government in Pakistan that has enabled Shia Genocide – it is the military establishment. The ISI’s partnership with the nexus of interconnected extremist … groups (TTP, Jundullah, SSP-ASWJ-LeJ, JM, LeT) responsible for this has been formalized via Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC). Furthermore, alternate political groups like Imran Khan’s PTI are also complicit as evidenced by their open support for DPC. ….
Read more » LUBP
By Saroop Ijaz
….. there were calls by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Jamaat-i-Islami and others for the shutting down of an Ahmadi place of worship (I will be in breach of law if I say ‘mosque’) in Rawalpindi. I do not want to create a false binary here and I am glad that the snooping dame is unemployed now, and commend the people who played their part in bringing that about. Nevertheless, I find it astounding that the happenings in Rawalpindi escaped the notice of our liberal ‘intelligentsia’ almost completely, at least in mainstream public discourse; hence furnishing a near identical example of partially what the television anchor was guilty of. The alternate explanation is grimmer, that being that it was not for failure to notice, but rather fear. ….
Read more » The Express Tribune
By MICHELE DUNNE and SHUJA NAWAZ
ONE year after the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military is closing down civil society organizations and trying to manipulate the constitution-writing process to serve its narrow interests. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, where the military has also held sway for more than half the country’s existence – for much of that time, with America’s blessing – a new civil-military crisis is brewing.
For the United States, the parallels are clear and painful. Egypt and Pakistan are populous Muslim-majority nations in conflict-ridden regions, and both have long been allies and recipients of extensive military and economic aid.
Historically, American aid tapers off in Pakistan whenever civilians come to power. And in Egypt, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both resisted pressure from Congress to cut aid to Mr. Mubarak despite his repression of peaceful dissidents.
It is no wonder that both Egyptians and Pakistanis express more anger than appreciation toward the United States. They have seen Washington turn a blind eye to human-rights abuses and antidemocratic practices because of a desire to pursue regional objectives – Israeli security in the case of Egypt, and fighting Al Qaeda in the case of Pakistan.
The question now is whether the United States will, a year after the Egyptian revolution, stand by and allow the Pakistani model of military dominance and a hobbled civilian government to be replicated on the Nile.
Pakistan and Egypt each have powerful intelligence and internal security agencies that have acquired extra-legal powers they will not relinquish easily. Pakistan’s history of fomenting insurgencies in neighboring countries has caused serious problems for the United States. And Egypt’s internal security forces have been accused of involvement in domestic terrorist attacks and sectarian violence. (However, Washington has long seen Egypt’s military as a stabilizing force that keeps the peace with Israel.)
The danger is that in the future, without accountability to elected civilian authorities, the Egyptian military and security services will seek to increase their power by manipulating Islamic extremist organizations in volatile and strategically sensitive areas like the Sinai Peninsula.
Despite the security forces’ constant meddling in politics, Pakistan at least has a Constitution that establishes civilian supremacy over the military. Alarmingly, Egypt’s army is seeking even greater influence than what Pakistan’s top brass now enjoys: an explicit political role, and freedom from civilian oversight enshrined in law.
By Omar Ali
Asif Ali Zardari’s astounding survival as President of Pakistan is captured well in this poem by Mohammed Ayub (Punjabi, with English translation).
A friend’s comment on this topic:
BY Mohammad Hanif
What is the last thing you say to your best general when ordering him into a do-or-die mission? A prayer maybe, if you are religiously inclined. A short lecture, underlining the importance of the mission, if you want to keep it businesslike. Or maybe you’ll wish him good luck accompanied by a clicking of the heels and a final salute.
On the night of 5 July 1977 as Operation Fair Play, meant to topple Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s elected government, was about to commence, then Army Chief General Zia ul Haq took aside his right-hand man and Corps Commander of 10th Corps Lieutenant General Faiz Ali Chishti and whispered to him: “Murshid, marwa na daina.” (Guru, don’t get us killed.)
General Zia was indulging in two of his favourite pastimes: spreading his paranoia amongst those around him and sucking up to a junior officer he needed to do his dirty work. General Zia had a talent for that; he could make his juniors feel as if they were indispensable to the running of this world. And he could make his seniors feel like proper gods, as Bhutto found out to his cost.
General Faiz Ali Chishti’s troops didn’t face any resistance that night; not a single shot was fired, and like all military coups in Pakistan, this was also dubbed a ‘bloodless coup’. There was a lot of bloodshed, though, in the following years—in military-managed dungeons, as pro-democracy students were butchered at Thori gate (Thorri Phaatak) in rural Sindh, hundreds of shoppers were blown up in Karachi’s Bohri Bazar, in Rawalpindi people didn’t even have to leave their houses to get killed as the Army’s ammunition depot blew up raining missiles on a whole city, and finally at Basti Laal Kamal near Bahawalpur, where a plane exploded killing General Zia and most of the Pakistan Army’s high command. General Faiz Ali Chishti had nothing to do with this, of course. General Zia had managed to force his murshid into retirement soon after coming to power. Chishti had started to take that term of endearment—murshid—a bit too seriously and dictators can’t stand anyone who thinks of himself as a kingmaker.
By Omar Ali
Hasan Mujtaba’s famous poem on the occasion is an absolute classic. I have translated it with his approval (I have taken some poetic license at places, and I am not a poet… so beware):
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
This lament is heard in every house
These tears seen in every dwelling place
These eyes stare in the endless desert
This slogan echoes in every field of death
These stars scatter like a million stones
Flung by the moon that rises so bright tonight
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
The one you killed is now fragrance in the air
How will you ever block its path?
The one you killed is now a spell
That is cast upon your evil head
Every prison and every lock
Will now be opened with this key
She has become the howling wind
That haunts the courtyards of this land
She has come to eternal life by dying
You are dead even while being alive
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
You men in Khaki uniforms
You dark and long bearded souls
You may be blue or green or red
You may be white, you may be black
You are thieves and criminals, every one
You national bullies, you evil ones
Driven by self or owned by others
Nurtured by darkness in blackest night
While she has become the beauty that lives
In twilights last glimmers and the break of dawn
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
She was the nightingale who sang for those who suffered
She was the scent of rain in the land of Thar
She was the laughter of happy children
She was the season of dancing with joy
She was a colorful peacock’s tail
While you, the dark night of robbers and thieves
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
She was the sister of those who toil in the fields
The daughter of workers who work the mills
A prisoner of those with too much wealth
Of clever swindlers and hideous crooks
Of swaggering generals and vile betrayers
She was one solitary unarmed girl
Facing the court of evil kings
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
She was the daughter of Punjab
Of Khyber and Bolan
She was the daughter of Sindh
Karbala of our time
She lay drenched in blood in Rawalpindi
Surrounded by guns and bullets and bombs
She was one solitary defenseless gazelle
Surrounded by packs of ruthless killers
O Time, tell the long lived trees of Chinar
This tyrant’s worse nightmare will come true one day
She shall return, she will be back
That dream will one day come alive
And rule again. And rule again.
How many Bhuttos will you kill?
A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
Courtesy: Brown Pundits
By Ruth Marcus
Women are forced to board public buses from the back and stay there. Billboards with images of women are defaced. Public streets are cordoned off during religious holidays so that women cannot enter.
The rise of Imran Khan and memogate have enthused those who dream of a “reformed” democracy under the guiding hand of the army.
A few days ago, I was planning to write about Imran Khan. Pakistan’s most successful cricket captain and philanthropist had been trying to add “successful politician” to his resume since 1996, but after many years in the political wilderness he finally seemed to make a breakthrough with his large public meeting in Lahore. Pakistan’s educated youth, in particular, appeared to be very excited about a politician for the first time in their young lives. But they were not alone; even the ageing British Marxist, Tariq Ali, threw caution to the winds and announced that Mr. Khan’s gathering was a sign that the “Arab Spring” had finally made it to Pakistan and was even larger than the huge rallies of Benazir Bhutto and her father in days gone by. Comrade Tariq seemed to have forgotten that the Arab Spring had come to Pakistan many decades before it belatedly reached the Arab world and never mind the size of the rally, which bore no comparison to Benazir’s historic 1986 rally. But, Tariq Ali’s flights of fancy notwithstanding, the rally was clearly large and the arrival of Mr. Khan as a politician with crowd support was a major event.
But then President Asif Ali Zardari called his U.S. ambassador Hussain Haqqani to return to Pakistan to explain his role in “memogate,” the still mysterious affair in which he apparently gave international fixer Mansoor Ijaz a memo that was passed on to Admiral Mullen. It is not yet clear who was behind the memo and what he hoped to accomplish; did the Zardari regime really fear a coup at a time when the army was on the back-foot and faced real public humiliation in Pakistan in May 2011? And if it did, why pick this circuitous route to look for American help? And how would a regime that is unable to control the army and fears a coup be able to turn around and completely defang the same army with U.S. help a few days later? Is there more to the story? We don’t know, and may never know, but the story is not over yet.
Both stories may even be related; there are suggestions that Mr. Khan’s sudden rise is not just spontaneous combustion but involves some help from “the agencies.” Circumstantial evidence in favour of this suspicion includes the obvious sympathy he is receiving from pro-military websites and the fact that his extremely “liberal” and reasonable interview with Karan Thapar has not ignited any firestorm of protest in the “Paknationalist” community — a community generally quick to jump on anyone who talks of improved relations with India or admits that we do have militants and that they do need to be eliminated. Memogate is even more obviously a story about the civilian-military divide in Pakistan and it is no secret that it is the army that is asking for his removal. Is this then the proverbial perfect storm that will sweep away the current civilian dispensation and replace it with that old favourite of the army and the middle class: a “caretaker government” that will rid us of “corrupt politicians” and “unpatriotic elements” and make Pakistan the China of South Asia?
I have no way of knowing if the time is nigh, but the dream of a new start is not a figment of my imagination. The military and its favourite intellectuals (and large sections of the middle class) seem to be in a permanent state of anticipation of the day when the military will sweep away this sorry scheme of things and then we will have order and progress. If pressed about the nature of the system that will replace the current system, the naïve foot soldiers may think of the late lamented (and mostly imaginary) caliphate if they are on the Islamist side of the fence; or of “reformed” and real democracy, the kind that does not elect Altaf Hussains and Asif Zardaris, if they are on the smaller westernised liberal side of the fence. But the army’s own house intellectuals are more likely to point to China. That the history of China and the ruling communist party has no resemblance to GHQ’s own history of inept and retrograde interference in Pakistani politics is something that is never brought up; apparently this time, the GHQ will start where the Chinese are today, having conveniently skipped an intervening century of mass movements, civil wars and revolutions, not to speak of 4000 years of civilisation and culture.
Of course, the system as it exists is unnatural. Either the army has to be brought to heel under an elected civilian regime or civilians have to be pushed aside for a more efficient form of military rule (even if it is in the garb of a civilian “caretaker regime”). The current “neither fish nor fowl” system will have to evolve in one direction or the other, or crises like memogate will continue to erupt. Since most people think the army has the upper hand, the second outcome appears more likely to them. It could be that Mr. Khan offers them the chance to have their cake and eat it too; he is genuinely popular and if his party wins the elections and comes to power, the army may have the regime it wants in a more legitimate manner. But this middle-class dream outcome also seems unlikely. It is hard to see how the PTI can win a majority in a genuine election. And with no plan beyond simplistic patriotic slogans, any such regime will soon face the same problems as the one it replaces.
That brings us to the second prediction: the current atmosphere of crisis will continue unabated no matter what arrangements are made by the army. The really critical problem in Pakistan is not “corrupt politicians.” In that respect, we are little different from India, Indonesia or many other countries not thought to be in terminal existential crisis. The real problem is that an overpopulated third world postcolonial state has not yet settled even the most fundamental issues about the nature of the state and its institutions. The “hard” version of the two-nation theory and its associated Islamism have helped to create a constituency for millenarian Islamist fantasies. And 20 years of training militants for “asymmetric warfare” against India has created an armed force and a safe haven for that force. These two streams have mingled to the point where the state faces civil war against its own creations. It is also a war for which the deep state lacks an adequate narrative, having spent decades nurturing a virulent anti-Indian and Islamist ideology that glorifies the very people they are now forced to fight. But fight them it must because its own interests lie with globalised capitalism, not militants. They may imagine they can again direct the war outwards to Afghanistan and Kashmir, but the militants have other ideas, and will not go quietly into the night. Even if they did, the legitimacy of the 1973 constitution and its institutions within the elite remains low and so the crisis of governance would continue.
So, after this doom and gloom, a faint “positive” prediction: There are better than even chances that eventually the deep state will be compelled to claw its way past all these problems to defeat the militants, make peace with India and establish a straightforward near-secular democratic system to run the country. All of that may look less than the paradise many Pakistanis are waiting for, but it’s what the world has to offer at this point in history and it is unlikely that the intellectual resources of GHQ will somehow produce an alternative that the rest of the world has not yet found. It will not be pretty, but it will be done.
Or they will fail, with unpredictable dire consequences for their own people and the region. Either way, India would do well to help positive trends and resist negative ones without losing sight of the big picture. I think Manmohan Singh realises that, I hope others do too.
By Omar Ali
I am delighted to see Imran Khan’s interview. Its a very good interview (transcript here as well:http://www.defence.pk/forums/kashmir-war/140450-put-kashmir-backburner-built-trust.html). It may be backpedalled very soon by Shireen Mazari and company..but if he sticks to these views with equal determination IN Pakistan, then the ISI-Paknationalist crowd (who have been excited by him recently, no doubt about it, look it up) will run away from him.
I will admit that I thought when push comes to shove, he will edge closer to the Shireen Mazari faction, not closer to the liberal faction. Lets see, maybe I was wrong. Either way, the excitement in the IK fans will split..his current rise is fueled by very disparate groups. When he starts committing, he will have to alienate some factions. It will be hard to make all of them happy. In THIS interview, he is clearly taking a very sensible line. If he sticks to it, I will become his supporter, but many others who are currently his vigorous supporters will no longer be with him.
The other problem that will invariably come up is that some part of his vision is unrealistic. He implies that he will deweaponise Pakistan and get rid of all militant groups. But armed groups are not disarmed by unarmed ones. He will have to use the army to do so. That part may turn out to be far nastier and harder than he seems to think. That remains one of my problems with Khan sahib. That he does not regard the Islamist jihadist network as a real force, with real supporters inside the deep state. He will be disabused of his notions I am afraid.
I will be happy to have been wrong about Khan sahib if he turns out to be a super-clever liberal who not only sticks to liberal ideas in power, but understands power so well that he manages to carry it off and disarm militants and get rid of their supporters in the state and use force where needed in a smart way and do all that while retaining the support of the Pakistani people. THAT will be wonderful and worth any humiliation as “an analyst who turned out to be wrong”.But my cynical side still thinks that he doesnt fully grasp (or even partly grasp) what the obstacles to such a course are likely to be..or that the “paknationalist” dream is itself a source of many of these problems and that any naive belief in Allama Iqbal, Jinnah and Pakistani nationalism is not compatible with the liberal vision he propounds here.
But good luck to him if this is what he is going to try….
btw, IK fans take note, the one possibility I am still avoiding is the one that he is so capable of double-talk that all this is a ruse. In some ways, I am more of an IK fan than most; I dont think he is flat-out lying.
some quotes from the interview:
… I am not only making a promise to the Indian people, I think I am making a promise to anyone. The biggest problem the United States faces, you know they worry about terrorism from Pakistani soil. Its not just India who is worried. If I cannot stop terrorism from Pakistani soil, I would rather not be the Prime Minister.
…Because I am the one who has received so much love in India. I grew up hating India because I grew up in Lahore and so there were so much massacres of 1947 and so much bloodshed and anger. But as I started touring India, I got such love and friendship there. All this disappeared. And then my closest friend who you also know, Vikram was Indian. So we became very close. So, as time passed I realised that we’ve so much similar history, culture compared to the western countries. We have so much in common. There is so much the people of two countries can benefit if we have civilised relationship.
By Khaled Ahmed
States released from colonial rule in the 20th century have by and large not done well. Today, most of them are either failing or failed states. Only a few have reached the finishing line of liberal democracy with a survivable economic model beyond the 21st century. Most of the Muslim states are included in the failing postcolonial model. Dictators with mental bipolar disorder — historically mistaken for charisma — who aimed to achieve romantic goals have crumbled, leaving in their wake equally romantic mobs of youths demanding what they presume is liberal democracy.
After Saddam Hussein, Iraq is in disarray; after Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is teetering; Libya promises nothing better. And after Musharraf, Pakistan’s democracy is dysfunctional. Among Muslims, only the market state in the Gulf may survive. In the Far East, too, it is the market state that looks like marching on. Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia may survive if they don’t exterminate their entrepreneur Chinese minorities under the spur of Islam. In Europe, when the dictator quits, civilisation takes over and the state survives. No such thing happens in the Muslim world. The premodern seduction of the Muslim mind prevents return to democracy. The blasphemy law is more powerful than any democratic constitution. …
Read more » The Express Tribune
by Farooq Sulehria
“Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought,” says Seema Mustafa. A leading Indian journalist, peace activist and public intellectual, Seema Mustafa also contributes for Viewpoint. In an interview, she discusses different aspects of secularism in the Muslim world. Read on:
Why has secularism not taken root in the Muslim world? If Islam and secularism are incompatible?
Islam and secularism are totally compatible, as is any religion practiced in its true sense. Syria, Libya and Iraq earlier did try to develop as secular states keeping religion out of politics. Last month I was in Syria and in a long conversation, the Grand Mufti in Damascus made it very clear that there was no room for religion in politics, that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood were unacceptable so long as they insisted on mixing the two, and that the secular character of the Syrian state would not be compromised. …
Read more » ViewPoint