Ghani’s Leaked Letter to Nawaz Exposes Af-Pak Strains

By Rana Banerji

President Ashraf Ghani’s May 29 missive to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, deliberately leaked to international media, warned that Afghan patience was wearing thin.

This, even as the Afghan Taliban spring offensive intensified and Pakistan was seemingly unable to exert adequate pressure on them to hold off.

The ultimatum to otherwise reverse Afghanistan’s diplomatic outreach to Pakistan within three weeks is a sequel to the furore which broke out in sections of Afghan civil society.

Read more » TheQuint
See more » http://www.thequint.com/2015/jun/02/ghanis-leaked-letter-to-nawaz-exposes-pak-afghan-strains

We are “cruel & dishonest. The rest of the world sees it.” – Julian Burnside

Rohingia
Rohingya

Julian Burnside: Now is the time to stand up for justice

We need to face the fact that we are being cruel, selfish and dishonest, and the rest of the world sees it.

Our treatment of asylum seekers is unjust. Like many people, I am profoundly concerned about Justice. Campaigning for the just treatment of boat people has had strange consequences, including death threats and hate mail. I am liked by some people, and loathed by others because I stand up for decent treatment of refugees. It is an uncomfortable thing to be publicly vilified.

At a glamorous social function, the wife of a very senior and respected colleague sidled up to me and asked:

“Do you think it appropriate that a member of the bar speaks publicly about these matters?”

I answered, with more wit than preparation:

“Do you think it appropriate to know about these matters and remain silent?”

There the conversation ended.

Australians don’t usually get noticed by overseas media, unless it concerns sport.

But a recent exception to that was a favourable piece by Katie Hopkins, in an article published in the London Sun. Her admiration of Australia’s refugee policies looked less flattering when she described boat people as “vermin” and “cockroaches”. Presumably someone forgot to remind her that they are human beings.

The British Medical Journal recently published an article titled “Refugees: time for moral leadership from the Western democracies”. Its subheading was “Australia sets a disgraceful example in its treatment of refugees”.

It is a striking thing for Australia’s refugee policy to attract such sharp commentary in an international journal of such high standing.

Continue reading We are “cruel & dishonest. The rest of the world sees it.” – Julian Burnside

Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective

religionby Michael Cook

Why does Islam play a larger role in contemporary politics than other religions? Is there something about the Islamic heritage that makes Muslims more likely than adherents of other faiths to invoke it in their political life? If so, what is it? “Ancient Religions, Modern Politics” seeks to answer these questions by examining the roles of Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity in modern political life, placing special emphasis on the relevance–or irrelevance–of their heritages to today’s social and political concerns.
Michael Cook takes an in-depth, comparative look at political identity, social values, attitudes to warfare, views about the role of religion in various cultural domains, and conceptions of the polity. In all these fields he finds that the Islamic heritage offers richer resources for those engaged in current politics than either the Hindu or the Christian heritages. He uses this finding to explain the fact that, despite the existence of Hindu and Christian counterparts to some aspects of Islamism, the phenomenon as a whole is unique in the world today. The book also shows that fundamentalism–in the sense of a determination to return to the original sources of the religion–is politically more adaptive for Muslims than it is for Hindus or Christians.
A sweeping comparative analysis by one of the world’s leading scholars of premodern Islam, “Ancient Religions, Modern Politics” sheds important light on the relationship between the foundational texts of these three great religious traditions and the politics of their followers today.

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Silenced – the day my daughter was shot in front of me

Sabeen01Sabeen Mahmud was a passionate supporter of free speech. She ran a space in a Karachi cafe for people to talk freely about politics, society and human rights – but six weeks ago, in the latest of a string of attacks on liberal activists in Pakistan, a gunman killed her as she drove home. Her mother, Mahenaz, who was next to her, talks about her remarkable daughter.

I hadn’t visited the space for quite a while but that day I just wanted to be around her – it was just a feeling, “I have to go today, and I have to be around, just to show her my support.”

This image keeps going round all the time in my head – these eyes looking, and this gun coming out. I said to Sabeen, “Just look, I mean these guys, what do they want?” I thought it was a mugging actually, I thought they wanted a handbag or phone, because that’s pretty common in Karachi. But then I heard the gun shots, the glass shattered and Sabeen was gone and they disappeared.

I took two bullets. One bullet actually is one of the bullets that Sabeen took, because they fired at such close range – we were stationary because we were at a traffic signal which was red. There were people all around us, and this motorcycle rode up a bit too close for comfort at Sabeen’s side and they fired from there and one of the bullets went through her, out and into my arm and out of my arm. That is one. She took five.

The other one, the police believe it came in and ricocheted somewhere in the car and it went into my back. I must have moved forward to look at her. I was saying to her, “Sabeen, can you hear me? Say something, we’ll just get you to the hospital.”

Continue reading Silenced – the day my daughter was shot in front of me