The partition story ~ Kuldip Nayar

Partition of the Indian subcontinent is 66 years’ old. On August 14, 1947, the states of India and Pakistan came into being in the wake of division. Even today they have not settled down as neighbours, much less as friends. Borders are bristling with troops and clashes are inevitable. A few days ago, five men from the Indian army were killed. The Pakistan army may not be directly involved. But it helps the jihadis and even the Taliban in their plan to destablise India. It looks the Pakistan army is not interested in conciliation between Islamabad and New Delhi. One incident or the other always takes place before the talks between the countries begin.
What surprises me is that no front-rank politician, historian or any other person of eminence has given me a cogent reason, much less a convincing one, to explain why the two communities, Hindus and Muslims, separated after having lived together for more than a thousand years.
The radicals may claim that they maintained peace because they were the rulers. Yet the fact is that Hindus and Muslims had developed a composite culture which recognized the mingling of two civilizations and which had overcome the pulls of polarization. Social contacts were regular and festivals of the two communities were celebrated jointly. Still it did not take the articulators of religious identity to tear the fabric apart from the thirties. Was pluralism only a cover to hide differences? And in reality, the two communities had never occupied the common ground and had remained distant from each other.
Had this been the case, why the exchange of population was ruled out when the separation was contemplated? Even Muslims on their own did not raise any objection that those left behind in India would number more than the ones in the Muslim homeland, Pakistan. Hindus left Pakistan and Muslims from Punjab and a few other cities in the north. It was a forced eviction.

Britain 2013: children of poor families are still left behind

By and Taytula Burke

Special report: More than four decades ago a groundbreaking report, Born to Fail?, highlighted the extent of child poverty in Britain. Since then, despite the pledges of successive governments, things have only got worse. Where now for the next generation?

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/24/child-poverty-britain-40-years-failure

Undeclared warfare between Iran and Turkey

By Mahir Zeynalov

Turkey’s strange ties with Iran, still presented as a significant pillar to the region’s stability, have deteriorated into virtual unacknowledged warfare, with two countries literally waging a proxy war beyond their borders in the region.

Throughout the last century, Iran and Turkey had difficult times to understand how they relate to each other but couldn’t risk severing ties despite numerous confrontations over a wide range of regional issues. In the past few years, Turkish government officials used a treaty signed between Ottoman and Iranian delegates in the city of Qasr-e Shirin to describe how the borders of the two countries have remained unchanged since the agreement was signed in 1639, a widely accepted myth.

Turkish officials frequently refer to the Qasr-e Shirin agreement to illustrate how their relationship is solid and based on mutual respect. Since the famous agreement, six states have been established in both countries (two in Turkey and four in Iran) and the borders had changed for ten times, the last time in 1931. Presenting the Qasr-e Shirin myth as a cover for a number of wars the two countries fought in the past four centuries also characterizes today’s relationship between Iran and Turkey.

Unrestrained

While Iranian political and military officials are unrestrained in their critical remarks about Turkey, often tantamount to threats, Turkish officials are much softer while talking about their relationship, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two nations. It is unclear how false description of ties helps prevent further confrontation at a time when the two nations are even fighting a proxy war in Syria, where more than two years of civil war has left at least 100,000 people dead, mostly civilians.

When Turkey kicked off its ambitious foreign policy in the region under the leadership of its popular prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his then adviser and later Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu tried to assure the neighboring countries that Turkey’s rise is peaceful and that it only aims to advance peace in the region. Davutoğlu’s goal was to cultivate relations among countries in Turkey’s vicinity by abolishing visa requirements, creating free trade zones, and constantly holding high-level political consultations. Deepening ties with Iran was a cornerstone of this project that is now crumbling after Iran has started to sabotage Turkey’s interests in the region.

Continue reading Undeclared warfare between Iran and Turkey

Pak state rapidly withering away

Nadeem F ParachaBy Nadeem Farooq Paracha

Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan

‘The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity,’ says Nadeem Farooq Paracha.

Born in Karachi, Nadeem Farooq Paracha is a leading cultural critic, political analyst, and a columnist. In the 1980s, he was active in student politics at college with Peoples Students Federation (PSF). Twice, he was arrested under the Zia dictatorship. For ten years he worked with the Jang Group (first with Weekly Mag and then with The News between 1990 and 2000). Currently he is doing regular columns for the DAWN, Dawn.com, The Pioneer and Indian Express. In an interview with Viewpoint, he discusses the character of Pakistani state. Read on:

Ayesha Siddiqa in her book Military Inc (2007) describes Pakistan as a Praetorian state. In his recently published Pakistan: The Garrison State (2013) Ishtiaq Ahmed describes Pakistan as a ‘Garrison state’. Pakistan is also described as the ‘National security state’ in journalistic narratives. How would you characterize the Pakistani state?

I wonder if Pakistan really has any kind of a state left anymore. Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned expressions like Praetorian, Garrison and National Security State are basically mediations on a similar concept. By and large, Ayesha and Ishtiaq Ahmed are talking about the same thing. I’d say Pakistan is a National Security state. Same thing.

Do you think Pakistan can also be described as a Rentier state? After all, it has been renting out military services to Gulf sheikhdoms. Post-9/11, it has rented out military facilities to the USA True, the rent is not on regular basis as stipulated by Hossein Mahdavy who propounded the theory. However, Pakistan has largely been under an autocratic rule. Your comments.

I think any state with a large and, if I may, an entrepreneurial military would have a prominent rentier side to it as well. And ironically, the Pakistan military has performed better as a rented entity in other countries than it has as a national army in Pakistan.

Do you think the Marxist notion of state as a particular expression of class formation instead of a “thing” or collection of individual social actors is relevant?

As a self-proclaimed Marxist during my student years, I was never comfortable with this concept.

To me this idea is too abstract. I’ve never been able to relate to it on an intellectual nor on an instinctive level. I think the whole concept of individuality finally managed to overpower at least this Marxian idea of the state in me, especially considering the fact I live in a country where religious sectarianism and ethnic nationalism have submerged the whole concept of class as being secondary.

Khaled Ahmed in his booklet Pakistan and Nature of State: Revisionism, Jihad and Governance (2009) claims: that unlike other states that have three mutually balancing centres of power i.e. the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, Pakistan has six ‘existential’ pillars of the state: ‘Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, Army plus Establishment, Media, and Jihadi Organisations’. Do you think Pakistan is an exception to rule?

Ahmed is correct. The state in Pakistan is reflecting the fragmentary nature of Pakistan’s society and polity. One can say that all six pillars usually feed off each other, but not always. And when this happens you get a situation like the one we are in these days.

This is certainly exceptional and exactly the reason why policy formation through a consensus is so tough in this country and also why most political scientists of the world have struggled to fully understand the political dynamics of Pakistan.

We have states within a state so much so that the conventional idea of having a state has rapidly withered away.

Continue reading Pak state rapidly withering away

LAVISH LIVING IN ISLAMABAD

By DR ALI AKBAR DHAKAN, Karachi, Sindh

On the top hill of Margalla mountain at the sight of Pir Suhawa, a Restaurant namely M O N A L has been established and opened in the night only by a highly influential retired Government servant. It is at the height of about 4000 feet and situated at the distance of about 20 kms fom Islam abad city where MNAs, SENATORS, MINISTERS, High graded bureaucrats, Contractors of big contracts, Business people, Ambassadors and Foreighners etc are residing having many resources and unaccountable money. They want to spend their money and resources lavishly on eating and entertainment visiting such dangerous heights in the darkness of the nights if not daily but usually on alternate nights along with their friends, family members, guests coming from other big cities and also foreighn countries. At night the position of the hotel area becomes very dangerous for lives of the visitors due to traffic jams, small and big vehicles in huge number and also countless huge number of people of young,middle and old age level male and female gentry. Up to 2am the people come and eat the dinner in the heavy rush to the extent that the tables for sitting purpose remain so busy that people coming late have to wait for their turn even mostly for hours and stand in big rows. The number of such tables for the visitors must be more than a thousand accomodating at least more than five thousand visitors.The items of edibles ordered by the hosts are so of lavish and expensive quantity that every group leaves about half of items or they order for packing the rest food for drivers or for their family members.The bill for each table must be about more than Rs ten thousand and total receipts of the hotel must be for about more than one crore per night.Now many questions arise from such lavish habits. Some are as under: (1) why such hotels and restaurants have been allowed at such dangerous places (2) why not such lavish activity taxed to discourage lavish expenditures (3) There is no security arrangement so it is very risky to visit such places in the nights. The concerned departments particularly the FBR,Home ministry, CDA and others may consider these points and take necessary steps to save the Pakistani nation from the self destructive activities.

Received via email – drdhakansindheconomist@hotmail.com

Sailing between Karachi and Bombay

By Ajmal Kamal

I have a happy dream. Sometimes, when I am particularly distressed by the politics that carries on in our sorrowful subcontinent adding to its various peoples’ misery, I allow myself to be lost in this delicious dream. I imagine myself sailing to Cox’s Bazar.

The small, beautiful ship starts every Saturday from the newly commissioned port of Gwadar on the western Makran coast. It passes through Karachi and picks up most of its Pakistani and some foreign passengers from here. But I have made it a point to travel on the coastal highway to the starting point and when the ship touches Karachi, look at the city of my residence without getting down, as someone travelling in a passing vessel would. I have a long and fascinating journey before me: we’ll pass through many ports and stop at some of them:

Dwarka, Porbandar, Diu, Surat, Daman, Bombay, Ratnagiri, Panjim (Goa), Mangalore, Kozhikode (Calicut), Kochi (Cochin), Trivandrum, Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari), Pondicherry, Chennai (Madras), Vishakhapatanam, Puri, Patuakhali, Noakhali, Chittagong and our final destination: Cox’s Bazar. Since such a thing is on no one’s agenda, it is safe to predict that it is not likely to be launched for as far as we can look into the future. Which gives me all the freedom to add delectable details without a care for whether they are sensible and practical.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1038269/sailing-between-karachi-and-bombay

Australia violated refugees’ human rights, UN says

By Michael Gordon

Australia has been found guilty of almost 150 violations of international law over the indefinite detention of 46 refugees in one of the most damning assessments of human rights in this country by a United Nations committee.

The federal government has been ordered to release the refugees, who have been in detention for more than four years, “under individually appropriate conditions” and to provide them with rehabilitation and compensation.

Consistent with Australia’s treaty obligations, the government has been given 180 days to assure the committee that it has acted on the recommendations and taken steps to prevent “similar violations in future”.

The UN’s Human Rights Committee concluded that the continued detention of the refugees, most of them Sri Lankan Tamils, is “cumulatively inflicting serious psychological harm” and in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Courtesy: Sydney Morning Herald

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/australia-violated-refugees-human-rights-un-says-20130822-2sdxq.html#ixzz2czBXeB00