Tag Archives: beyond

India-Pakistan: Zardari-Singh Meet and Beyond

By: Aparna Pande

Excerpts;

….. Ideological states can only be countered by attacking their ideology from within. While the U.S. followed many policies to counter the Soviet Union, the most effective one was whereby people in the country were convinced that their system did not work and it had to be changed. Pakistanis are fighting an ideas battle within their own country: whether to move Pakistan towards a civilian democratic country at peace with its neighbors or continue to remain an ideological state where jihad plays a role in foreign policy.

India would benefit by getting out of the trap of reciprocity in the case of Pakistan to gain strategic advantage. India’s unilateral moves may not convince the hawks and conspiracy theorists in Pakistan about India’s intentions and capabilities. However, if it helps re-ignite and provide fuel to a debate within Pakistani society on ties with India and the future direction of Pakistan, India will have strengthened its hand just as the U.S. did in dealing with the Soviet Union during the era of détente.

Read more » Huffington Post

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Beyond the memo affair – By Raza Rumi

Excerpt;

…. Citizens have a right to ask why three serving chief justices of high courts are investing huge amounts of their precious time in handling the bizarre claims (and counter-claims) made by Mr Ijaz, when they should be attending to their core mandates of managing the high courts and thousands of subordinate courts. There are roughly 1.2 million cases pending in Pakistani courts and the cost of litigation is soaring due to a virtually unaccountable legal profession and corruption in lower courts. The Supreme Court has time and again reminded us that it is representing the people’s will and is answerable to the people only. Perhaps, nothing is as pressing for the ‘people’ than the denial of justice they are facing.

The Urdu media and internet forums are full of edicts against Mr Haqqani and sections of the establishment feel betrayed by his critical book on the Pakistan military. The least we can do is not to expose a man of his intellect to the rogue elements in the country. For the record, I have never met Mr Haqqani and hold no brief for his past adventures with the intelligence agencies. All I know is that he deserves a fair deal by a country he has tried to serve and defend in difficult times when everyone and his aunt have been wanting to ‘punish’ Pakistan.

Read more: The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.

Political cases are wasting precious time of courts & embarrassing Pakistani state

Beyond the memo affair

By Raza Rumi

The memogate inquiry shows how political cases are wasting the precious time of the courts and creating one embarrassment after another for the Pakistani state. If media reports are to be believed, the military and the ISI have already backtracked on their earlier zeal to get this issue further explored. The architect of the memo controversy, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, has retired and one hopes better sense will now prevail. At the same time, the principal character, Mansoor Ijaz, has been exposed as a vacillating, and an unreliable ‘witness’ during the proceedings. Yet, our Supreme Court wants to proceed with the case and the inquiry commission has been given additional time to investigate the unsigned memo. …

Read more » The Express Tribune

Soldier of misfortune

By Khaled Ahmed

In the process of supporting a revisionist Army trying to survive, Pakistan as a state was damaged beyond repair

The Asghar Khan case was and is against ex-Army Chief General (Retd) Aslam Beg, not against late President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, even though the affidavits from Beg and General (Retd) Asad Durrani might imply that President Ghulam Ishaq, as the supreme commander, was at the root of the matter. As Younus Habib, the banker who carried out the ‘operation’ has made clear, it was Aslam Beg who was the mastermind; and the president was brought in later when a meeting was arranged at Balochistan House.

Continue reading Soldier of misfortune

BEYOND THE SACRED

I gave a talk called ‘Beyond the sacred’, on the changing character of ideas of the sacred and of blasphemy, at a conference on blasphemy organised this weekend by the Centre for Inquiry at London’s Conway Hall on Saturday. Here is a transcript. To talk about blasphemy is also to talk about the idea of the sacred. To see something as blasphemous is to see it in some way as violating a sacred space. In recent years, both the notion of blasphemy and that of the sacred have transformed. What I want to explore here is the nature of that transformation, and what it means for free speech.

For believers, the idea of the sacred is key to moral life. ….

Read more » Kenan Malik

Beyond Borders, a journey of friendship between India and Pakistan by Shariq Ali

The village was small and the entire community was tied together like a family, with common cultural values and traditions evolved over hundreds, if not thousands of years. They were farmers and knew very well as to how to work in the fields and love and sing together, but had poor understanding of the political realities of their times.

One day, they saw the sunset as one community but at the dawn, realized that the village is divided by an invisible line created not by Hindus and Muslims, but by few British advisors called Radcliffe commission. And so was the territory of 88 million people of the subcontinent. ….

Read more » ValueVersity

Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination

– The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future

• Police tactics attacked as officers pepper-spray women
• Occupy Wall Street: the protesters speak

by

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. ….

Read more → guardian.co.uk

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Making the hard decisions to set our house in order

By Najmuddin A Shaikh

Last week, I had expressed hope that in the coming days we would make the hard decisions needed to prevent our country from sliding into anarchy and chaos. We would not then remain the country to which Muammar Qaddafi would point as an example of what could happen to Libya if his dictatorial regime was brought to an end.

Developments during the past week have not, to say the least, been encouraging. First we had the budget, in which no genuine effort seems to have been made to raise the tax base or to address impediments — energy shortages among others — and yet we have concluded that our deficit will remain under control and that growth will have an upward trajectory. Are we going to continue to go down the path of foreign aid dependency and have a government ‘of the elite by the elite and for the elite’ that taxes the poor and the now dwindling middle class mercilessly to nourish the ‘fat cats’ in the ranks of the bureaucracy and the political establishment? Can we not levy direct taxes that would bring the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 15 per cent? Can we not spend more on education and health? Can we not stop treating the defence budget as beyond question? …

Read more : The Express Tribune

The last rites administered? Not yet! – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Excerpt:

Since long alarm bells have been ringing in the world about the dubious role that Pakistan has played and this must have confirmed their doubts. They realise that they are up against a state which is delusional about its importance and its possible goals. When Mullen had criticised the ISI, he knew what he was talking about.

With Osama, Pakistan has lost a bargaining chip and the establishment must not be ruing the supposed sovereignty violation – banana republics have no sovereignty – and the egg on face, but the fact that the western purse strings may be tightened. They were out-foxed by the US on this count but then they still hope to play the Haqqani card and continue to prosper.

There always has been much ado in the establishment here about the sanctity of sovereignty and their determination to defend it. This US operation has destroyed many a myth and claim about the preparedness and the determination, which are forever forced down the throats of the people.

Anywhere else in the world, after embarrassment and humiliation on this scale and magnitude, there would have been mass resignations if not mass hara-kiri to remove the stigma, but here the positions seem to have been consolidated and instead of regret, the world is being blamed for an intelligence failure. Moreover, as they recover from embarrassment, warnings flow as if May 2 never happened.

It is also in the name of sovereignty and the writ of the state that the Baloch are regularly abducted and killed, but when it comes to a bigger bully, all are so very apologetic and contrite. Recently, three Sindhi nationalists were burnt to death in an attack in Sanghar, and a few days back nine Marris of the Sherani clan shifting from Hub to Karachi were picked up near the Northern Bypass and are unaccounted for. The Sindhi proverb, “Sher Shah’s hawk only kills the chickens at home” fits this state perfectly.

Here individuals and institutions that excel in bluff and bluster symbolise heroism because values and principles count for naught. In all quests to acquire power and pelf, conscience and compassion are always the first casualties and this makes the acquirers corrupt and cruel. Verily, corrupt and cruel people commit crimes without compunction and are beyond reform.

Read more : Daily Times

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Would GEO and Express TV disclose how much money they get from Americans?

By Farrukh Siddiqui
Editor, State of Pakistan blog
One of the objectives of Kerry-Lugar aid bill for aid to Pakistan is to “support for promotion of a responsible, capable,and independent media.”
According to this RT TV broadcast of March 10, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UQCki_nC9c ,  the US government planned to spend $50 million on this objective. According to another report  dated Feb. 27, 2010 by the examiner , “the Obama administration plans to spend nearly $50 million on Pakistani media this year to reverse anti-American sentiments and raise awareness of projects aimed at improving quality of life, confirms a Washington insider. “
The history of collaboration between the agencies of the US government and some “ independent “ Pakistani media organizations is old. But more recently it was GEO TV that went public with jointly produced programs with Voice of America.
The following press release  dated Nov. 13, 2005 ( http://islamabad.usembassy.gov/pakistan/h05111301.html) of the US Embassy in Islmamabad is self-explanatory:
VOA Launches Urdu TV For Pakistan

11/13/2005 Washington, D.C. – The Voice of America (VOA) will launch Beyond the Headlines-its new television program in Urdu-on Monday, Nov. 14. The half-hour program will air on GEO TV in Pakistan at 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and on selected international satellites, including AsiaSat (Virtual Channel 409) and IOR (Virtual Channel 420). …..

Read more : http://www.yousufnazar.com/?p=1219

Losing the battle for Pakistan

by Sher Ali Khan

A few days ago, the progressive-leaning parliamentarian Shabaz Bhatti was shot down in cold blood for advocating a moderated stance against a draconian law in Pakistan. The changing societal dynamics comes in the backdrop of a struggling democratic government, which is failing to assert itself for Pakistan’s survival.

It was almost a month ago when I wrote a report for the Express Tribune about the Christian community yearning for a ‘more tolerant’ Lahore. After exploring various pockets of the society, it was sad to see that the community had become insolent and rather afraid to even interact with general population.

If one spoke to historians regarding the character of Lahore say not sixty but thirty years ago, one would have found a completely different social structure in Lahore. Though Islam had rapidly become a majority entity, communal activities were not exclusive rather they were inclusive.

The story of Pakistan’s road down the conception of Islamic state has only hardened differences between various communities to the point Pakistanis cannot be considered Pakistanis without obeying to a certain brands of Islam.

For years, the army and the ISI have provided safe havens for militant groups as part of a greater plan to maintain a strategic and military presence in Kashmir and Afghanistan. It is clear with the confirmed death of Colonel Imam, the so-called father of the Taliban that the dynamics of these relationships have changed over time. Increasingly these militant groups have become rouge thus functioning beyond the scope of the state. …

Read more : View Point

Historical Look at Hingol : Hinglaj Devi was last mother queen of Matriarchal era of Indus Valley

Another name of Hinglaj Devi is Goddess Naina which is very akin to Goddess Nania of Sumerian Civilization

by Jagdeesh Ahuja, Hyderabad, Sindh.

Originally Hinglaj has nothing to do with religion or nationalism. Hinglaj is the historical monument of Sindhu Civilization. Hingol was one of the great many kingdoms of Sapta Sindhva (Sindhu des of seven rivers) and Hinglaj Devi was last mother queen of matriarchal era of Indus Valley. Another name of Hinglaj Devi is Goddess Naina which is very akin to Goddess Nania of Sumerian Civilization. The great poet of Indus Valley, Shah Latif called her “Nani Ama(n)” and after then Hinglaj Temple became famous as Temple of Nani Ama(n) especially in the Muslim populace. And Hinglaj Yatra has now got a great new altitude beyond religious divide.

We are unfortunate people who disown our own history. Ironically people of India own our monuments of ancient civilization as their sacred religious shrines and we are ever ready to give up our past and destroy our future. What a great alienation and ignorance of our own history! How can one weigh the advantages of destruction of Harappa, Taxila or Mohen-jo-daro!? Hinglaj is even more ancient than these historical sites. Mehargarh and Hinglaj are the monuments of advent of civilization. Legend of Shiva Parpati explains the transition of matriarchal era to patriarchal era. Shiva is the first male god of Sindhu Civilization whose whole Shakti (Power) was enshrined in his spouse Parpati (Hinglaj Devi) that is why she is also called Shakti Devi. It is well known fact that Shiva was the Lord of Indigenous Dravidian people of Indus Valley. When they were forced to migrate to Ganges Valley by Central Asian Aryan invaders, they continued to worship their Lord Shiva there. Long after the Aryans settled in Sapta Sindhva and owned Shiva along with their Lord Indra (God of Storm), people of Ganges valley started to visit the land of their ancestors. Hence the tradition of Hinglaj Yatra took place.

We must not forget the fact that the word Hindu itself is nothing but Sindhu. The Persians pronounced Sindhu as Hindu. And later Greek invaders pronounced Hindu as Indu, thence words Indus and India came into existence. Due to our ignorance we have lost sense of our history. Religious and nationalistic narrow mindedness has blurred our vision. Hinglaj doesn’t belong to any single religion or nation only, it is a great asset of Indus Valley and heritage of whole humanity, which should be put in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.