BANGKOK: Tens of thousands of Thai opposition protesters occupied major streets in central Bangkok on Monday in an attempted “shutdown” of the capital, escalating a campaign to unseat the embattled premier.
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BANGKOK: Tens of thousands of Thai opposition protesters occupied major streets in central Bangkok on Monday in an attempted “shutdown” of the capital, escalating a campaign to unseat the embattled premier.
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by Anwar Iqbal
WASHINGTON: The United States never thought of consulting Pakistan before raiding the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad because it feared that the ISI was protecting him, writes former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
Of textbooks, extremism and Mohammed bin Qasim
Nationalism is a dangerous thing. It requires antagonists to thrive upon it. Consequently, it needs heroes as well. It constructs for those heroes intricate mythologies that are then nurtured, protected and propagated through all channels available
Of late, there has been enough buzz about the ‘comparative religion’ episode in a local school and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s introduction of jihad in textbooks. Though deplorable, these events do solicit a much-needed discourse, which may lead to a positive change. Such radicalisation is inevitable in a society where dangerous notions like ‘Pakistan the fortress of Islam’ are adopted as state narrative. The state is a territorial entity in which the boundaries of the state play a key role in defining nationhood. In contrast, religion is a reality that cuts across all local, national, ethnic and linguistic boundaries, and brings into existence a wider community based on faith. By making religion the ideology of the state, you render loyalty to territory secondary and leave its citizens confused in terms of their allegiance. What is a Pakistani Muslim soldier, for example, supposed to do if he encounters a Muslim soldier from the Indian army in a state of war? Who would you support when Danesh Kaneria, a Pakistani Hindu cricketer, is bowling to Irfan Pathan, an Indian Muslim cricketer during a cricket match between India and Pakistan? Would you not subscribe to the Pakistani factor over the Muslim factor in both cases? After all, the spirit of nationhood is defined by the geographic confines one represents and not the religion one follows but if one were to ask that, going by the same logic, should our loyalty not lie with Raja Dahir instead of Mohammed bin Qasim, the answer would be different. The indoctrination a Pakistani has endured through the distortion of Pakistan’s history to justify its existence on the basis of Islam has left our judgment severely impaired.
The first lesson we are given in Pakistan’s history is that Mohammad bin Qasim (MbQ) was the flag-bearer of Islam in the subcontinent. There are deep un,derlying problems with this narrative on several levels. First, what nobody realises is that MbQ was a general of the Ummayad Dynasty, the same dynasty which was a sworn enemy and killers of the offspring of the Prophet (PBUH). It is the dynasty that Yazid, the murderer of Imam Hussain (RA), also belongs to.
We are told that Hajjaj bin Yusuf al Thaqifi, a tyrannical governor of Iraq for the Ummayads, sent his nephew Mohammed bin Qasim on a mission to Sindh to rescue some Muslim damsels in distress from the evil clutches of Raja Dahir. It would be worthwhile to mention that Hajjaj is the same man to whose credit is the murder of numerous companions of the Prophet (PBUH), like Abdullah bin Al-Zubayr (RA) and Jabir bin Abdullah (RA), because they fought for the right of the Prophet’s (PBUH) descendants to the caliphate. Hazrat Asma, daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr, reported, “I heard Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) say: ‘Allah will fill a corner of the corners of the fire with the hypocrite of Thaqif (Hajjaj) for he will throw stones at the Kaaba. May Allah curse him’” (Al-Imama wa al-Siyasa, volume two, page 45). The hadith points towards the war against Abdullah bin Zubayr (RA) in which Hajjaj bombarded the Kaaba, damaging it severely. The question that begs attention here is: can a tyrant like Hajjaj start a war against Raja Dahir just to rescue some fair maidens? The earliest source mentioning MbQ’s adventure in Sindh is Baladhuri’s ‘Futuh al-Buldan’. No maidens are mentioned therein and they found their way into historical accounts centuries later.
The actual reasons for the Umayyad interest in Sindh had nothing to do with spreading Islam but were the same as have been for any ruler/dynasty in any part of the world at any given time: power. The actual motive was to gain a foothold in the Balochistan and Sindh regions, not only to protect their maritime interests but also to punish the armies of Sindh for their participation, alongside the Persians, in battles at Nahawand, Salasal and Qâdisiyyah against the Ummayads. More importantly, the attack was carried out to capture the fleeing rebel chieftains, many of whom were Imam Hussain’s (RA) loyalists. These rebels had also fought alongside Raja Dahir against earlier Arab attempts to gain entry into Sindh. So those who think of Dahir as an Islam-hating psychopath should know that his army actually included Arab Muslims who opposed the Ummayad’s right to the Caliphate. The comedy of the contradiction here is that, on the one hand, we consider Imam Hussain (RA) a symbol of resistance against oppression while in the same breath we idolise his killers.
Secondly, even if one were to believe that MbQ attacked Sindh out of a genuine wish to spread Islam, who authorised him to do so by use of the sword? Islamic history is witness that the Prophet (PBUH) never imposed Islam through force on anyone. All the battles he fought were either in direct or in wider context of self-defence, or when Allah ordered through divine revelations. Most scholars agree that the directives in the Quran pertaining to war were specific only to Mohammad (PBUH) against the specified people of his time as a form of divine punishment. Therefore, after the Prophet’s (PBUH) time, there is no concept in Islam obliging Muslims to wage war for propagation or implementation of Islam. Hence now, the only valid grounds for war is religious persecution and that too when all other measures have failed. One may ask: how did MbQ arrive at the conclusion on his own if Raja Dahir deserved to be punished or not?
By Sean Nevins
WASHINGTON (VOR) — Recently, Radio VR took a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts to sit down and speak with Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky of M.I.T.
Dr. Chomsky is famous the world over for his work in linguistics but moreso his political philosophies and beliefs. He is a self-described anarchist, and more specifically, an anarcho-syndicalist.
Radio VR discussed a number of issues with Dr. Chomsky, including anarcho-syndicalism. Specifically, we inquired into what it is, how it arises, and how it can be applied by people that want to affect positive change in the world.
The transcript is below:
Sean Nevins: I kind of want to start off by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?
Noam Chomsky: Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism, in general, as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called ‘a general tendency in the history of humanity’ which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to determine, to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justifying and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers’ communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is my view and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.
Sean Nevins: So, you are talking about workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises of that work and expanding out into the community?
Noam Chomsky: It’s one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.
Sean Nevins: Workers controlling their own work — How is this organized? And how does it arise?
Noam Chomsky: Well, it’s all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the United States, in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they’re being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that’s Mondragon, a great conglomerate in Spain which is worker owned and the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.
Sean Nevins: Do they arise, kind of, spontaneously and is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves, like maybe in the US, like they do it one way, and then over in Spain, [at] Mondragon, they’ll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?
Noam Chomsky: There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Aragon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities in the way the take-over by working people, peasants of their own lives proceeded.
Sean Nevins: Let’s say that Mondragon wants to have an association with somebody in the Rust Belt…
Noam Chomsky: That is what is happening in fact. I don’t know how far it’ll go, but one of the major US unions, the steel workers, has now entered into some kinds of interactions with Mondragon to try to work out ways to develop Mondragon-type system in the old industrial sections of the US and revive them on the basis of worker-ownership and community-ownership in control.
According to a new analysis by OpenSecretsBlog, “Millionaires’ Club: For First Time, Most Lawmakers are Worth $1 Million-Plus”:
Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012, according to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and candidates. The median net worth for the 530 current lawmakers who were in Congress as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — an increase from last year when it was $966,000. In addition, at least one of the members elected since then, Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), is a millionaire, according to forms she filed as a candidate. (There is currently one vacancy in Congress.)
Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million.
Remember, of course, those in Congress who aren’t millionaires have a very good chance of becoming ones after leaving office — particularly senators — by becoming lobbyists or working for corporations.
By: Amanda Froelich
What comes to mind before you discard your banana peel? Certainly not the consideration of its use to reduce petroleum-based pollution and create bio-plastic, yet this is exactly what Elif Bilgin, 16, from Istanbul, Turkey, sought to achieve and successfully accomplished. Winner of the 2013 Science in Action award, Google’s third $50,000 annual competition, she addressed the need for environmentally friendly alternatives with practical resources and easy-to-attain banana peels.
TUNIS — Tunisia’s Islamist-dominated constituent assembly compromised on Saturday in rejecting Islam as the main source of law as it voted on a new constitution for the country that spawned the Arab Spring.
Free wireless internet along Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard for all is announced
Downtown Dubai’s visitors and residents will now receive free wireless internet connectivity across the 3.5 km long Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard. Emaar has announced that they have teamed up with Du to offer complimentary WiFi for all.
INEQUALITY is rising in Pakistan — in all its unsavoury dimensions. While we may have had a less-unequal society, in relative terms, for much of our existence, that sliver of solace is fast disappearing. The more worrying aspect is that inequality is no longer ‘cyclical (if it ever was) — that is, relating to income disparities arising out of a slowing economy and fewer jobs.
It has institutional as well as structural roots that the elite have been very comfortable with perpetuating, most shamelessly via a duality of education systems — one, near-world class for their own children, the other, a shambolic excuse for a minimal fulfilling of the state’s responsibility (and failing at that too). Hence, through a variety of channels and means, both wittingly as well as unwittingly, a large swathe of Pakistan faces permanent exclusion from economic, social as well as political voice and opportunity.
The statistic that most captures the public imagination with regard to inequality relates to income disparity. On this front, the share of income of the bottom 20pc of the households is around 8pc, while that of the top 20pc households is almost six times larger, at 45pc. Over the past 10 years or so, incomes of the top 20pc households have grown faster than for the others.
The full text of the new Seattle city council member’s inauguration speech.
Editor’s note: At a ceremonial swearing-in on Monday, Kshama Sawant became Seattle’s first socialist city council member in almost a century. The full text of her inauguration speech is below.
My brothers and sisters,
Thank you for your presence here today.
This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.
This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, fifty million of our people—one in six—live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.
This is the reality of international capitalism. This is the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street. In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99%.
Despite recent talk of economic growth, it has only been a recovery for the richest 1%, while the rest of us are falling ever farther behind.
HANGU: Perhaps the only way a parent can deal with the loss of a child is to believe that it was for a cause. This is how Aitizaz Hasan’s parents console themselves: reminding each other, their family and friends that their child is a martyr and he died saving hundreds of lives.
Aitizaz reached school late on Monday morning and was not allowed to attend the morning assembly as punishment. He was standing outside the gate with two other schoolmates when a man aged 20-25 years approached the Government High School Ibrahimzai in Hangu and said he was there to take admission, said Aitizaz’s elder brother, Mujtaba.
It was during this conversation that one of the students spotted a detonator and Aitizaz’s schoolmates ran inside. But Aitizaz stood his ground and got hold of the bomber who then detonated his vest.
“I had never thought that my brother would die such a great death. He sacrificed his life to save humanity,” Mujtaba said in an interview with The Express Tribune on Wednesday.
The school is the only one in Ibrahimzai, a Shia-dominated area in Hangu. There were nearly 2,000 students in the school at the time the attack occurred. Later in the day, the bombing, which was the first suicide attack at a school, was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Aitizaz was the second of his siblings and had two sisters. He was a friend to many, respected and loved in his village, where the news of his death spread rapidly.
His father Mujahid Ali works in the UAE. He says he has not come back home to mourn his son’s death, but to celebrate his life. “My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
Wednesday #sgroundup: Free WiFi from mid-2014 at 28 MRT stations in Singapore
Come mid-2014, there will be free WiFi at 28 MRT stations in Singapore
Come mid-2014, the city-state’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) will implement a trial for free WiFi at 28 Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations for commuters to take advantage of. The wireless broadband initiative started by Infocomm Authority of Singapore, Wireless@SG, will be made available at “all the North East Line platforms and 12 other stations with high commuter usage”. The 12 stations are Jurong East, Raffles East, City Hall, Dhoby Ghaut, Bishan, Serangoon, Buona Vista, Outram Park, Paya Lebar, Orchard, Choa Chu Kang and Harbourfront.
by Som Sharma
Do you want to use internet for free? Of course yes! But none of the companies gives the facility to use free internet. But, here I am giving you the most useful tips to use free internet on your computer. If you own a Nepal Telecom’s prepaid SIM card then you can use internet for free. Surprised….???
Madrid — Spanish King Juan Carlos’s youngest daughter, Princess Cristina, has been hurled into the centre of a corruption scandal that swept up her husband, Inaki Urdangarin, and outraged the nation.
The blonde-haired, 48-year-old Cristina, once known for her easy smile, was summoned Tuesday to appear on March 8 before a court in Palma on the Mediterranean island of Majorca as a suspect in alleged tax and money-laundering crimes.
It will be the first time in modern history that a direct relative of the Spanish king has faced court as a suspect, dealing a grave blow to the prestige of the princess and a Spanish monarchy already reeling from a corruption scandal involving Cristina’s husband Inaki Urdangarin.
Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.
NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?
HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.
KARACHI: Scores of Sindhi writers, poets, journalists and civil society activists staged a protest at the British High Commission, handing over a memorandum of compliant against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, asking the British government to ask Hussain to avoid provocative and seditious speech in Pakistan.
The rally, which started from Do Talwar, was not allowed to proceed towards the High Commission by law enforcers due to security reasons. After negotiations between the police and the participants, the rally was stopped at a distance from the commission and four representatives of the Sindhi Writers and Thinkers Forum were allowed to meet British officials.
Two officials of the British Commission met Dr Akash Ansari, Prof. Mushtaq Mirani, Jami Chandio and Dastaghir Bhatti at the office gate where they complained that Hussain was trying to incite ethnic violence in Sindh.
The officials assured that the complaint would be sent to the British government today ….
Nick Hanauer is a very rich, wildly successful business man. His company, aQuantive, was purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. He founded gear.com, which merged with Overstock.com, and he was one of the first investors in Amazon.com in the 1990s.
Hanauer knows opportunity.
Hanauer also, it seems, both understands and is willing to articulate what most of our country’s wealthiest citizens refuse to acknowledge: that it is the middle class which creates jobs through demand, and that our country’s richest members of society need to be paying more in taxes so as not to undercut and destroy those Americans who ultimately determine our nation’s economic health.
Hanauer was interviewed recently by Henry Blodget of Yahoo! Finance, and it is an interview I highly recommend be viewed in its entirety. (I’ve embedded it below.)
Why? He displayed, in a number of shining moments, the type of progressive economic stances that our country needs to hear more from those within the one percent who view the current economic inequalities that exist in our country as both unsustainable and wrong.
Here’s Hanauer responding to the argument that taxing the rich at higher levels is akin to punishing the most productive members of society, those who drive job creation:
There’s this idea in our society that rich people are job creators, and if you tax them more, then they’ll create less jobs. This is simply a misunderstanding of how the economy works – it’s actually the middle class that creates the jobs with the demand that forces businesses to increase employment.
Excerpt; …. Referring to Altaf Hussain’s speeches in Hyderabad and Karachi, Bilawal said that neither “50/50” nor “Sindh 1” or “Sindh 2” formula is acceptable to the people of Sindh.
“No50/50,No number 1 or number 2, only Mother Sindh.All men are created equal.All Pakistanis should b treated equally in the eyes of the Law.”
As news filtered in about Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf falling ill on his way to the special court where he is being tried on treason charges, people wondered if he would be tried at all. The retired general, who was being taken from his palatial house in Islamabad’s suburbs to the court under heavy security of 1,600 personnel, is now comfortably ensconced in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), as it is suspected that he has developed some heart problem. A popular Pakistani twitterati even joked about it suggesting that: “AFIC has diagnosed Musharraf with court allergy and says it can only be treated abroad.”
There are many others who have voiced their concern about this episode as a precursor to the general eventually being flown out of the country under the pretext of medical treatment. Certainly, there is little faith among the ordinary people that Musharraf will be tried at all for his sin of imposing emergency measures in November 2007. This was the second time that he had imposed military rule in nine years. Notwithstanding the numerous legal issues of the case, its ultimate result will throw light on where civil-military relations stand in Pakistan today. Or if civilian institutions have become stronger, as it is claimed.
ISLAMABAD: After all the real and perceived threats to the life of the former military ruler, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf escaped a court appearance due to a reported heart attack on Thursday morning.
Mathira’s back with new music video ‘Jhootha’
By Zehra Nabi
The video is produced by Beyond Studios.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to fight “terrorists until their complete annihilation”, in his first comment on two suicide attacks in the southern city of Volgograd. The attacks, on Sunday and Monday, claimed a total of 34 lives.
Read more » BBC