No Expectations – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The state simply sees the Baloch aspirations and their demand for rights as an obstacle to their strategic and economic plans

The Supreme Court (SC) hearings on the missing persons in Balochistan are ending inconclusively without having done anything for the majority of the missing or reducing the agony of their relatives. Moreover, it seems that these hearings may become a reason for further aggravating the already bad conditions for the Baloch because the Chief Justice’s statement ‘there is a constitutional breakdown in Balochistan’ has serious implications. It implies that a constitutional breakdown requires special and emergency measures. Already one Baig Raj, president of Punjab Forum, in a national daily demanded that the government give it serious consideration and suggested that the situation in Balochistan be normalised by initiating a massive military operation after imposing governor’s rule. The Baloch are wondering if all these hearings were for laying the groundwork for justifying just this eventuality.

These hearings have been marked by the stubborn adamancy of the Frontier Corps (FC) in rejecting what the SC terms incontrovertible evidence against it. During the last hearing, the SC ordered it to produce the missing persons, but in a written statement, the FC submitted that it had conducted “internal inquiries” and found the group of missing people “was not held in the custody of FC”, adding that in many cases, insurgents dressed in FC uniforms committed “high profile acts of terrorism and heinous crimes…thus bringing (a) bad name to this federal organisation”. Period. End of story. They do not have the missing persons; moreover, imposters dressed in FC uniforms do evil to give the ‘saintly’ FC a bad name. Surprisingly, it also sought police powers to conduct a door-to-door search for the missing as if their vast arbitrary powers were not enough. Resorting to denial helps them because here no authority has the authority to verify and disprove their bogus denials.

Ironically, the FC’s claim that insurgents don their uniforms to kidnap people belies their other claim that insurgents have no influence in Balochistan, amply showing how inefficient the FC and police actually are. These unbelievable childish fairy tales are an insult to human intelligence. Simply put, the army and the FC want to persist with the policy of repression and brutality to subdue the Baloch. It seems that all these claims and disregard of law are aimed at prompting the SC to come up with a verdict about the need to right the situation created by the constitutional breakdown. It needs to be emphasised that as far as the Baloch are concerned, they are being ruled by emergency powers that the army and FC enjoy. The ‘constitutional breakdown’ verdict may just formalise the emergency powers but these will neither bring back the missing persons nor end the frequent sectarian attacks.

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Our doomed democracy

By: Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan’s gradual alienation from democracy and its irreducible secular conditionality is owed to the growth of the idea of Islamic governance, today showcased by the Taliban

Pakistan follows the rest of the Muslim world in thinking about the state. There was a time when it was normal for a Pakistani to say that he was a Pakistani first; now he says he is a Muslim first, little realising that he was negating the modern state. Most of the states in the Muslim world began as modern states but are now on the brink of choosing a pre-modern order that is stranger to democracy. Egypt that leads the Muslims of the world intellectually now manifests the following symptoms:

Democracy as ‘tyranny of the majority’:

1) On the role of religion in government, 61 percent of Egyptians chose Saudi Arabia as the preferred model.

2) Asked whether Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Quran, 60 percent said yes while 32 percent said it should follow the values and principles of Islam and only six percent said laws should not be influenced by the teachings of the Quran.

3) The survey found that 61 percent of Egyptians want to diplomatically de-recognise Israel, while only 32 percent think it should be recognised. The feeling against Israel has surged among the youth.

Another poll found that 52 percent of Pakistanis too wanted sharia and desired an increased role of religion in their lives. Pakistan’s wealth is in the hands of a conservative elite which controls the media. Once upon a time the state TV was extreme in its Islamic tilt; now PTV is moderate compared to the ‘free’ TV channels numbering nearly 80. A new book Radicalisation in Pakistan by Muhammad Amir Rana & Safdar Sial (Narratives 2012) tells us on the basis polls that 87 percent of the journalists think that radical elements ‘have an effect’ on the media. You don’t have to read John Stuart Mill to conclude that Muslims demand democracy to impose ‘the tyranny of the majority’ on their societies.

Urdu and conservatism:

Conservatism in traditionally tolerant Muslim societies has morphed into fundamentalism threatening enough to cause three categories of Muslims to shut up: secularists, liberals and the moderate. The nation in Pakistan is weaning itself from the bilingual ambience of the past despite an increasing trend in the private sector to employ persons proficient in the use of English language.

Urdu is the vehicle of Islamist view. Pakistan is moving towards the status of a single-language country because of the ouster of English-language TV channels. Most graduates from universities are less able to use English and tend to be conservative if not Islamist in their aggressive rejection of secularists and moderates. This trend is shockingly clear in the social media. Some analysts are frank enough to say that the youth that dominates the social media – facebook, youtube, twitter, etc – will threaten the modern state in the Muslim world.

Radical assault on social media:

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Bushra Gohar on Pakistan, FATA and the Status of Religious Minorities in Pakistan

 

At the end of her lecture, Bushra Gohar, central vice president of the Awami National Party in Pakistan, asserted her belief that Pakistan isn’t necessarily in a bad way; it’s just misunderstood. Terrorism, religious extremism and volatile tribal areas contribute to its reputation as a perpetual war ground. Gohar shares her unique experience as a woman politician in Pakistan to try to brighten the dark clouds that hang over her country.

Courtesy: Chautauqua Institution

Why I’m not celebrating US exit – by Pervez Hoodbhoy

Today there is only the cruel choice between continued American presence and Taliban rule

After a trillion dollars and 2000 dead Americans, there is precious little to show as the U.S. heads towards its 2014 exit. America’s primary goal had been to create a stable, non-hostile Afghan government and army which could stop extremist groups from once again using Afghan territory as a base. But Hamid Karzai is already on the way out, rapid desertions could collapse the Afghan National Army, and only die-hards like Marine Gen. John Allen say that the U.S. can win. The Taliban are smelling victory.

America’s failure drives many bearded folks – and Imran Khan’s thoughtless supporters – into fits of ecstasy. It also delights some Pakistani leftists at home and abroad; imperialism has been humbled. Some comrades imagine that a mythicalAfghan “working class” – whatever that might mean – will pop up from nowhere and somehow stop the Taliban from moving in as fast as the Americans move out. Do they also hope for snowflakes in summer?

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