Sindh: beyond symbols

BY BINA SHAH

SINDHI Culture Day was celebrated this month: television channels broadcast songs, shows and skits celebrating Sindhi culture and all its symbols: ajraks, Sindhi topis, rilis and matkas.

Poets and musicians recited and sung the verses of Shah Abdul Latif and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and we Sindhis were reminded of the greatness of our cultural heritage, which includes Mohenjodaro, Sehwan Sharif, the Thar desert and the Indus river. In Karachi, Jeay Sindh Jeay by Ahmed Mughal, the unofficial anthem of Sindhi Culture Day, blasted from loudspeakers and men dressed in topis and ajraks danced happily long into the night.

 

The writer is an author. binashah@yahoo.com

Read more: DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1074166

Why is Indonesia not in the Saudi-led Sunni coalition against terror?

Surely Indonesia, with a Sunni population of 200 million, would have an interest in joining

By Robert Fisk@indyvoices

The Saudis love coalitions. The Sunni monarchy had the Americans, the British, the French and sundry other oil importers on their side to drive Saddam’s legions out of Kuwait in 1991. Earlier this year, the Saudi military – for which read the youngest defence minister in the world and the ambitious Deputy Prime Minister, Mohamed bin Salman al-Saud – struck at the Kingdom’s Shia Houthi enemies in Yemen in yet another coalition. This included not only Saudi fighter-bombers but jets from Qatar, the Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan.

But now – with all the drama of a new Hollywood franchise – the Saudis have announced their new multinational military epic against the “disease” of Islamic “terror”, starring more Muslim and would-be Muslim states than ever before assembled since the time of the Prophet. Once more, as in the Yemen adventure (already plagued by humanitarian catastrophe and credible accounts of the slaughter of civilians under Saudi air attacks), Prince Mohamed, aged 31, is leading his country.

In all seriousness, he announced that the battle of this latest “coalition” – which includes countries as mythical as “Palestine”, as corrupt as Afghanistan and as powerless as Lebanon, with bankrupt Chad and the Islamic Republic of the Comoros thrown in for good measure – would require “a very strong effort to fight”. Few spotted, however, the curious absence from the 34-strong “coalition” of Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

This is very strange, since the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 mostly foreign civilians, brought al-Qaeda into Indonesia’s own “war against terror”. Surely Indonesia, with a Sunni population of more than 200 million, would have an interest in joining their fellow Sunni Muslims in this unprecedented “coalition”? Or could it be that with more than 30 Indonesian maids on Saudi Arabia’s death row after grotesquely unfair trials, the country wants an end to this injustice before committing its army to the Kingdom?

Pakistan is an interesting addition because the last time it was asked to fight for the Saudis, in the present disastrous Yemen civil war, the parliament in Islamabad rejected Saudi Arabia’s request after the Saudis insisted that only Sunni Muslim soldiers in the Pakistani army would be allowed to participate.

Read more » Independent
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-is-indonesia-not-in-the-saudi-led-sunni-coalition-against-terror-a6774551.html

Asia’s Bleeding Heart – That’s what Pakistan’s broken pledges have reduced Afghanistan to.

Written by Mohammad Taqi

The Heart of Asia Conference (HOAC) in Islamabad last week was bookended by two devastating attacks in Kandahar and Kabul. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was being honoured with a 21-gun salute in Islamabad, the Taliban were in the midst of a 20-hour-long assault on Kandahar airport that killed at least 54. And before the ink dried on the HOAC pledges, the Taliban penetrated the relatively secure diplomatic enclave in Kabul in a brazen attack on the Spanish embassy in which eight people died. The Afghan High Peace Council called it a slap in the face of the peace process. The Taliban is clearly sticking to the fight-talk-fight strategy even in winter. That the Taliban chose a key peace conference to shed blood is the jihadist group’s way of painting the Afghan government as weak and it’s the harbinger of yet another bloody spring and summer.

Read more » The Indian Express
See more » http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/heart-of-asia-conference-asias-bleeding-heart/

Saudis announce Islamic anti-terrorism coalition

Saudi Arabia has said 34 mainly Muslim nations have joined a new military alliance to fight terrorism.

A joint operations centre is to be established in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, state media reported.

Countries from Asia, Africa and the Arab world are involved in the alliance but Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival Iran is not.

It comes amid international pressure for Gulf Arab states to do more in the fight against so-called Islamic State.

Saudi Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman said the new alliance would co-ordinate efforts against extremists in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan.

Neither Iraq nor Syria, whose governments are close to Shia-ruled Iran, are in the coalition, nor is Afghanistan.

Two things stand out immediately about this new Saudi-based Islamic Coalition.

The Shia-majority nations of Iran and Iraq are noticeably absent, as is their ally Syria.

It is far from clear how, in practice, the coalition would conduct counter-terrorism operations in IS-plagued Iraq and Syria without the agreement of those governments.

Secondly, there is the question of the exact definition of terrorism. The Saudi authorities’ interpretation of it extends far beyond the violent actions of armed insurgents.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35099318