Tag Archives: European

Democracies running on Stalinist lines!

The west’s crisis is one of democracy as much as finance

The spirit of dictators like Ceausescu is finding new life in the response of the European elite to pressures in the eurozone

By: Slavoj Žižek

In one of the last interviews before his fall, Nicolae Ceausescu was asked by a western journalist how he justified the fact that Romanian citizens could not travel freely abroad although freedom of movement was guaranteed by the constitution. His answer was in the best tradition of Stalinist sophistry: true, the constitution guarantees freedom of movement, but it also guarantees the right to a safe, prosperous home. So we have here a potential conflict of rights: if Romanian citizens were to be allowed to leave the country, the prosperity of their homeland would be threatened. In this conflict, one has to make a choice, and the right to a prosperous, safe homeland enjoys clear priority …

It seems that this same spirit is alive and well in Slovenia today. Last month the constitutional court found that a referendum on legislation to set up a “bad bank” and a sovereign holding would be unconstitutional – in effect banning a popular vote on the matter. The referendum was proposed by trade unions challenging the government’s neoliberal economic politics, and the proposal got enough signatures to make it obligatory.

Continue reading Democracies running on Stalinist lines!

What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Popular anti-Muslim myths busted in new book

By Haroon Siddiqui

It started “in the far reaches of the Internet and the mutterings of the political right, then in increasingly mainstream and mass-market venues” and has since entered “the central corridors of European and American politics.”

So writes Doug Saunders in The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Alfred Knopf Canada), to be released next week. He is the European bureau chief of the Globe and Mail, and author of the much-acclaimed Arrival City (about the sprawling slums of Mumbai, Rio, London, Paris, Chongqing, Los Angeles, etc. — the first stop in the mass migration of millions from rural to urban areas).

Saunders was living in the U.S. during the Sept. 11 attacks and in London during the July 7, 2005, subway bombing. He has reported extensively on the war on terror and on Islamophobia in Europe.

Continue reading What’s being said about Muslims in the West is what was once said about Catholics & Jews in 19th & early 20th century

Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China won’t help finance the natural gas pipeline to Pakistan, apparently because of U.S. sanctions on Iran.

By Paul Richter and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan—

China’s largest bank has backed out of a deal to finance a proposed Iran-to-Pakistan gas pipeline that is opposed by the United States, a potential sign of the lengthening reach of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Pakistani officials confirmed Wednesday that Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had withdrawn from plans to head a consortium that would finance the $1.6-billion Pakistani portion of the cross-border pipeline, apparently over concern that the bank could be excluded from the U.S. economy.

Continue reading Chinese bank pulls out of Pakistan-Iran pipeline project

Handful of Baloch protestors in Geneva send Pakistan Military into panic mode.

Swiss, UK govts moved over Baloch leaders anti-Pakistan activities: FO

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office has moved the European countries providing asylum to Baloch leaders to make sure their soil was not used against Pakistan, Geo News reported.

Foreign Office Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit while replying to questions in his weekly press briefing here said, “Pakistan has raised this question with the concerned countries, adding a demarche has been issued to ambassador of Switzerland in Islamabad.”

Abdul Basit said Islamabad has also wrote to the relevant countries in this regard and was assured by them that their soil would not be used to hatch anarchy in Pakistan.

“We are cognizant of the developments in Balochistan and necessary steps have also been taken,” he added.

The spokesman said Pakistan s trying to handle the situation in the province politically adding “it is our internal issue and will be dealt with in accordance with the constitution and our own preferences”.

He said, “The foreign office and our missions abroad are engaged actively in order to ensure that this issue is not portrayed in any other context by the detractors.”

On the issue of Balochistan, the spokesman said Pakistan has been handling the situation politically in accordance with its own laws, priorities and constitution.

He also disclosed that years ago US embassy had applied for opening a consulate in Balochistan but Pakistan declined the request.

Continue reading Handful of Baloch protestors in Geneva send Pakistan Military into panic mode.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s internal issue, says EU envoy

Excerpts;

“… what is important is to say that in Balochistan, like in all other parts of Pakistan, international standards of human rights and fundamental democratic principles must be adhered to…. Trying to provide a democratic framework would ensure more stability and cohesion and would reduce conflict. This is essential anywhere in the world be it Balochistan, Sindh or anywhere else” — Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark of the European Union

To read complete News » Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/02/balochistan-is-pakistan%E2%80%99s-internal-issue-says-eu-envoy/

Sindhi Resource Grammar Released – funded by the European Union

We are happy to release the Sindhi Resource Grammar. It is 5th Indo-Iranian language added in the GF resource grammar library (Others are Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, and Nepali). The development took almost 6 months, and was developed as a Master thesis project. Sindhi belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family. It is widely spoken in Pakistan and India. In Pakistan it is the official language of Sindh (province of Pakistan), and in India it one of the scheduled languages officially recognized by federal government of India. There are more than 22 million native Sindhi speakers. In Pakistan Sindhi is written in Perso-Arabic script from right-to-left, while in India it is written in Devanagari script from left-to-right. Rich morphology, verb-compounding, relatively free word-order are the major characteristics of Sindhi.

Courtesy: http://www.molto-project.eu/story/sindhi-resource-grammar-released

Mansoor Ijaz ordered to pay $1.4m to bank in fraud case

NEW YORK: The credibility of Mansoor Ijaz, the principal instigator of the memo scandal, came in for another hit with the surfacing of court documents that show a European Bank accusing him of running a one-man business operation and obtaining loans that he was later unable to pay back on time.

Documents show that the Supreme Court of the State of New York Judge Charles E Ramos issued a judgement against Mansoor Ijaz on September 25, 2010, after Banca Sammarinese di Investimento (BSI) of San Marino filed a suit for the recovery of a loan obtained by Ijaz.

The suggestions of financial impropriety follow the emergence last month of a video in which Mansoor Ijaz acted as a commentator on nude women’s wrestling. These scandals are in addition to his contradictory claims about the memo and his inability to produce any email or BBM message that directly links any Pakistani official to the memo he admits to have drafted and sent to US officials on May 9, 2011. ….

Read more » Daily Times

In Unstable Fields

Comment by Omar Ali

The writer is a former Secretary of the Indian intelligence agency RAW (an agency no more capable than other arms of the Indian government, but thought in Pakistan to possess superhuman powers and very beautiful female agents who trap Pakistani patriots, or so we hope).  His views on things to come..

To read the article » In unstable fields by Vikram Sood » CLICK HERE

Via » Brown Pundits

Absenteeism in Sindh schools worries World Bank and European Union

Absenteeism at schools worries WB, EU officials

By Azizullah Sharif

SINDH – KARACHI, Oct 28: Officials of the World Bank and the European Union on Friday voiced their concern over the existence of `ghost` and closed schools in different districts of Sindh and absenteeism of teachers from schools.

This and other issues figured at a meeting held between Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and a joint delegation of the World Bank and European Union comprising Vishant Raju, Peter Poiter and Ms Louis.

Sindh Education Secretary Siddik Memon and Resource Support Unit`s programme managers Pervaiz Ahmed and Raeesa Ali were also present.

The issues concerning the closure of schools and long absence of teachers from schools were raised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and EU officials when the minister informed them that more funds were required to repair and renovate a large number of schools, which had been damaged in the recent floods.

The minister said that the Sindh government by appointing teachers in two phases had already made a number of schools functional. He added that many other schools lying closed would be reopened with the hiring of more teachers in a third phase ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

The season of revolts – By:Arif Ansar

Excerpt;

But the winter of discontent is still far off

The Arab Spring is now well underway and appears to have spread to other continents as well. Early signs of a European Spring are visible in UK and Greece, and there is an American version in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Meanwhile, Anna Hazare provided a glimpse of how an Indian Spring may look like. The underpinnings of these protests may be different but at a broader level they signify the widening gulf between governments and their citizenry. In other words, hidden in these protests is a modern crisis of the nation-state system.

What triggered these public uprisings is hotly debated. However, in the context of the Arab world and Pakistan, the WikiLeaks disclosures may have played a major role. These secrets revealed how governments are playing a duplicitous role, especially about their dealings with the US. ….

…. Like many other outcomes of the linked and globalised world, these public revolts are also transnational in nature. There appears to be two contradictory forces at work: on the one hand the technological advancements and social media are making the borders increasingly irrelevant, and on the other, worsening economics is causing nationalism to resurge. The future of nation-sate structure is dependent on how it reconciles the pulls and tugs that emanate from within, with those that act upon it from outside.

To read complete article » Pakistan Today

The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims

A new paper shows 18th- and 19th-century Ottoman rulers decriminalised homosexuality and promoted women’s education

by Tehmina Kazi

Hardline Muslim groups often portray the Ottoman empire as a magic template for a global caliphate. This is then used as a springboard for grandiose arguments that paint a caliphate as viable, and deem it as the only credible model of governance for the future. These arguments are based on a belief that the empire adhered to a single interpretation of sharia (Islamic law) for over 600 years, and – crucially – that its success was contingent on this.

But a paper by Ishtiaq Hussain, published by Faith Matters on Saturday displays a very different picture. Ottoman sultans, or caliphs, in the 18th and 19th centuries launched secular schools and promoted the education of women. The period of reformation known as the Tanzimat saw customary and religious laws being replaced in favour of secular European ones. More surprisingly, homosexuality was decriminalised in 1858 (long before many western states took their cue, and over a century before the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a mental illness in 1973). Contrary to the claims of hardline groups, religious authorities approved many of these measures.

In terms of broader social change, the Ottomans made strong attempts to integrate non-Muslim communities. On the cultural front, it is well known that a minority of people claim that Islam frowns upon artistic expression. However, the last sultan/caliph, Abdulmecid Efendi (1922-1924) has numerous paintings on display in Istanbul’s new museum of modern art; many others were also keen musicians and played a variety of musical instruments. It is therefore clear that the sultan/caliphs enunciated a progressive vision for a secular Muslim society, many years before al-Qaida and similar groups came into existence.

Continue reading The Ottoman empire’s secular history undermines sharia claims

Is Democracy as We Know It on Its Way Out?

By Frank Viviano

A decade ago, only paranoid alarmists would have posed that question.

 Today, it may be an expression of cold, brutal realism.

Is Western democracy coming apart at the seams? A decade ago, only paranoid alarmists would have posed that question.

 Today, it may be an expression of cold, brutal realism.

On both sides of the Atlantic — from the fires that raged in large stretches of London, to the political chicanery that brought the U.S. economy to its knees in early August — the institutional framework that came to define modern democracy in the 19th century is in deep trouble.

The principal organs of financial oversight and management are in tatters. Ferociously xenophobic political movements, an entire constellation of Tea Parties, now play important roles in nearly every European nation, as well as the United States.

Faith in elected leaders and legislatures, the central and defining institutions of democracy, has never been lower.

According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of the U.S. public expressing trust in the federal government has fallen from just under 80 per cent in the late 1960s to barely 20 per cent today. 

….

Read more → AlterNet

Are we innocent?

by I. A. Rehman

THE carnage in Norway last Friday shocked the world’s conscience. It has also posed some extremely tough questions for European societies, the world’s Muslims in general, and the people of Pakistan in particular.

Europe will do itself and the world at large great injustice and harm if it dismisses the matter as the isolated work of a deranged mind. It must look deep into the factors that led to Anders Behring Breivik’s reliance on perverted intelligence.

The unpardonable doings of Al Qaeda, the other so-called jihadists and Muslim megalomaniacs have certainly contributed to the spread of Islamophobia in Europe and other parts of the western world, but it would be wrong to limit the list of culprits to them. It may be necessary to probe the extent to which the tone and tenor of the war on terror may have contributed to the growth of both militancy in parts of the Muslim world and reckless Muslim-bashing in the West. The idea is not to shift blame from one party to another, it is only a plea for keeping the indigenous sources of terrorism in Europe also in mind.

The world cannot possibly forget the rise of European fascism that built its power by fanning racism and persecuting certain religious and ethnic communities (Jews and Blacks). Nazism is a disease many parts of Europe are still afflicted with. The Norwegian people themselves have had anxieties about neo-Nazi and other extreme-right gangs for more than a decade.

These facts make it necessary for European societies to take note of elements who may be exploiting the public sentiment against terrorists and immigrants to impose on them new and more horrible forms of right-wing tyranny.

The leaders of Islamic thought and Muslim public opinion on their part cannot shun reality by simply telling the Europeans to put their house in order. Nor can they get away by declaring that terrorists constitute a small minority among Islamic scholars and lay Muslims both, however true this statement may be. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Via → WICHAAR.COM

The arrest of Dr Fai, may appear as isolated legal action of the US government but the scratch below the surface is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions

On the course of retributions

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM

The arrest of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, and arrest warrant of a Pakistani national, Zaheer Ahmad, may appear as isolated legal actions of the US government against its citizens for unauthorised lobbying for Pakistan. However, scratch below the surface and it becomes clear that this is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions.

The matter has been brewing and coming to the boiling point since Raymond Davis’ arrest and then jailing of those who helped the US in nabbing Osama bin Laden. In recent days, the US media has been reporting that the US is pressuring Pakistan for the releasing of Dr Shakil Afridi who was reported to be arrested for undertaking a fake vaccination campaign to get blood samples of bin Laden’s kids for DNA match.

Every Washington circle that had anything to do with Pak-American-Kashmir affairs was well aware of Dr Fai’s activities in the community, think tanks and on lobbying with Congress and Senate members. Most activists among the Pakistani-American community have been speculating about Dr Fai’s connection with Pakistani government and/or Inter Services Agency (ISI). Therefore, the allegation of having received about four million dollars from Pakistan and making over four thousand phone calls to his alleged handlers from ISI will not be totally perceived as concocted charges even among Pakistani expatriates. Pakistan embassy’s claim that Dr Fai is not a Pakistani citizen—he came from India and sought amnesty in the US—is not going to lessen the impact of such a damaging development.

Dr Fai’s activities on the Capital Hill and his arrangements of large and expensive conferences involving key people from Pakistan and India were quite open. It can be safely assumed that he was giving heart burns to Indian diplomats and lobbyists and they must have been pressurising the US government to rein him in. However, the US had chosen to look the other way for a decade and never bothered with his activities. But, now the parameters have changed. Probably because the US wants to send the message that it has some options to retaliate in Pakistani style as well.

It is well known that Pakistan has its own human intelligence assets in the US. Of course such assets must be a fraction of what a sole world superpower, the US, would have in Pakistan. The US financial power to buy human assets in Pakistan, Europe and from the rest of the world cannot be matched by a poor developing country. Nonetheless, the party with meager resources gets hurt more when mutual retributions occur.

Before Dr Fai’s arrest Washington’s diplomatic circles were subtly pointing out for such retribution. According to very reliable sources, the US side was arguing with Pakistani diplomats that millions of Pakistani-Americans live in America—some of them are Green Card Holders and technically, Pakistani nationals—and the US issues hundreds of thousands of student, visiting, business and work visas to Pakistanis while Pakistan is raising questions about a few hundred visas.

A thinly veiled threat is that if Pakistan continues restricting movements of its diplomats and citizens, the US can do the same putting Pakistani diplomats’ work in jeopardy and creating problems for visitors. Technically, the US can cancel Green Cards on very flimsy grounds, through finding any trivial fault with application process, and send thousands of Pakistanis back home. It is not very likely to happen but if things get too far it is not out of question either.

If the US expands the scope of retributions the diplomatic make-up of staff at Pakistani embassy may change as well. Pakistan may not be able to appoint ranking officials from intelligence agencies as ‘head of community affairs’ or under other such covers. The set of military mission in the embassy may be realigned as well. Most of all, the US agencies, particularly tax authorities, can be used to scare prosperous Pakistanis, mostly physicians, who hold fund raisers for the US lawmakers and arrange their meeting with Pakistani diplomats and incoming Pakistani officials. Such moves will certainly hamper little efforts Pakistani-Americans make to provide bridge between the two countries.

If the negative perception of Pakistan further deepens, the US may not be able to use drones in Pak-Afghan border areas but it will hit Pakistan’s financial system with stealth bombers. Besides stopping the financial aid, the US can harm Pakistan’s foreign currency earnings by creating difficulties for transmitting the remittances of Pakistani expatriates. Presently, Pakistani expatriates contribute a significant portion of foreign remittances of Pakistan. Furthermore, it can issue guidance to donor agencies, European partners and other private financial institution to hold back on financial transfers to Pakistan.

A sketch of broad possible scenarios of US retribution–been started with Dr Fai’s arrest–is not to scare the new found patriotism in Islamabad. Patriotic feelings are very noble, worthy and respectable but one should know the cost as well. Before throwing stones at others while sitting in the glass houses, one should have thick tall walls to protect oneself. Are Islamabad and GHQ ready to build such walls if the US process of retributions expands? Does not seem like it.

Courtesy: → DAWN.COM

G. M. Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

Notes From My Memory, Part VIII: G. M. Laghari, Syed’s Birth Day in Jail, Living With Enemies, Palijo’s Ideology, Life in Jail

By Mir Thebo

Excerpt:

…. Living with ideological enemies: It is very difficult to live with an ideological enemy in one compound especially when there is just no way to avoid or escape him. And what do you do if that ‘ideological enemy’ is Rasool Bux Palijo who is always eager to pinch you with sharp and dreadful remarks? When we were in jail together (1968), as I mentioned in my previous note, R. B. Palijo came with the idea on 17th January to celebrate G. M. Syed’s Birth Day! I thought it was his ploy to criticize and condemn us [Communist Party (CP)] on the national question. Palijo arranged a birthday cake and some refreshments for the day. We all sat together including two muhajir comrades and paid rich tributes to Saaeen G. M. Syed.

When my turn came to speak, I compared Syed with other historical personalities like Dr. Sun Yat Sen, (Chinese nationalist leader, who played a great role in 1911 Chinese nationalist revolution, which overthrew the Qing dynasty in China), Jawahar Lal Nehru and Khan Ghaffar Khan. When Palijo’s turn came, he brutally attacked my comparison of Syed with those leaders and said, ‘Syed is far above than these leaders. Mir has tried to minimize G. M. Syed’s stature and his role.’ In rhetorical manner, he continued: ‘G. M. Syed is equivalent to Marx, Lenin and Mao’. He said: ‘these people don’t know how great G. M. Syed is’. I was flabbergasted by Palijo’s remarks. We knew how Palijo used Syed’s personality for his own narrow political interests. He himself knew very well the place of Syed. But, alas, that has been Palijo’s style all along.

R. B. Palijo’s political ideology: For political purposes, Palijo used Mao Tse-Tung whose little red book was

compulsory for every Chinese to carry during the cultural revolution (1966 to 1976) otherwise one will be labeled as counter revolutionary or an agent of the enemy. Thousands of people were persecuted especially the writers, intellectuals and middle class people. They were ruthlessly taken from their homes in the cities and were uprooted and sent to far-flung rural areas. They were humiliated under the guidance of the so-called vigilant party committees and people were forced to confess that they were anti-party and reactionary to bring them to shame in the public. Same thing was practiced in the Soviet Union during the Stalin period. They called it ‘The Great Purge’ to purify the party and the society.

Palijo found it easy to convince his workers through this sacred red book that all are enemies except his party people and that he can expel any leader or worker in the name of the great cause or the party. The same practice was common in our party too. It was actually a common practice in 3rd. world countries. Therefore almost all parties were divided in many groups and during that period Euro Communism emerged. The Western European parties denounced the Soviet system of one party rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat and the concept of democratic socialism and multi-party system emerged. New ideas emerged in 1980s in the Soviet Union too. They were called Glasnost and Perestroika (openness and restructuring) and M. Gorbachev declared a famous quote for the liberals that ‘Man is above the Ideology, the ideology is not above the man’. Those who are still Marxists and glorify the former USSR, consider Gorbachev the traitor and the one who brought down the grand empire of the UNION OF THE SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC.

Palijo brought Mao’s thoughts to his workers and Sindhi peasants and mixed it with Sindhi nationalism and formulated the idea of a Chinese model revolution in Sindh and repeatedly told his innocent workers the famous quote of Mao that “all political power comes from the barrel of the gun”. But Mao’s revolution was typical Chinese revolution. Mao didn’t copy the Russian model and he was against Russia. Both the communist powers even went to a war in 1969 over some piece of land along one of the longest international borders between the two countries although they both believed in the ideology that in future states will wither away and only universal communism will prevail. More funny thing is that it was America, the big capitalist enemy, who stopped Russians from attacking Chinese nuclear installations and Russians backed off (US journalist Harrison Salisbury reported that Soviet sources implied a possible first strike against the Lop Nur basin nuclear test site; and military documents of the time indicate that the USSR had more nuclear-attack plans against China than against the US. The United States warned the USSR against launching a nuclear strike against China. WIKI). Mao didn’t use even Marx very much. He brought the revolution in his own way as he convinced Chinese people how to fulfill difficult task through this old Chinese saying, ‘The foolish old man who moves the mountain’. ….

To read complete article: Indus Herald

Baluchs present their Case To US Policy Advisors

By: Khalid Hashmani

The Balochistan Society of North America (BSO-NA) organized a conference titled Balochistan Conference 2011 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Saturday, August 30, 2011. The conference focused on key issues faced Baluch including “Balochistan’s Case and Prospects”, “Human Rights Violations in Balochistan”, “Baloch Target Killings and Genocide”, and “Geo-strategic Importance of Balochistan for Peace and Security in South Asia”.

Continue reading Baluchs present their Case To US Policy Advisors

Baloch leader stopped from making speech by EU

by Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: The European Union (EU) accepted a Pakistani demand and cancelled the speech of an eminent Baloch leader to the EU Human Rights sub-committee, The News has learnt.

Mehran Baloch, son of Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, a Balochistan representative at the United Nations, European Union and many other international forums, was invited to speak by the EU Sub-Committee on Human Rights to Members of European Parliament (MEPs) on April 13 but, to his shock, he was told by organisers a few minutes before he was scheduled to deliver the speech that Pakistan had demanded to cancel the Baloch’s speech through European External Action Service (EEAS). …

Read more : The News

International Pressure on Qaddafi Intensifies

Qaddafi’s Army and Jets Strike at Rebels

By KAREEM FAHIM and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

BENGHAZI, Libya — Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back on three fronts on Monday, using fighter jets, special forces units and regular army troops in an escalation of hostilities that brought Libya closer to civil war.

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who earlier had claimed they were close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government still possessed powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

But the ease with which at least one assault, on the western city of Zawiyah, was repelled by anti-government forces raised questions about the ability of the government to muster a serious challenge to the rebels’ growing power.

An international campaign to force Colonel Qaddafi from power gathered pace on Monday as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions. As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.” …

Read more : The New York Times

We hypocritical Muslims – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Muslims have convinced themselves that they are super-humans. They believe that the world should be very attentive to the Muslims’ religious and cultural sensitivities while they can persecute any minority

On an international level, people from every religion exchange greeting cards to commemorate different occasions. We all know that most of these cards are meant for the wastebasket. What if a Christian or Jew saw a Muslim salesperson throwing his card with Jesus or Moses’ name on it and called the police to register a case of blasphemy against him/her and the police arrested the violator? Most western readers would laugh out loud at this unlikely scenario but it is not a laughing matter for a physician from Hyderabad, Pakistan, who, unwittingly, threw a Muslim’s visiting card in the trash basket. He apologised to the offended party and yet the police arrested him under pressure from religious fanatics.

The manner in which the religious parties are campaigning for Aasia Bibi’s hanging has given me many nightmares while living in the US capital. What if the Bible belt of the southern states in the US became as influential as the religious parties in Pakistan? The US Congress and Senate would add a constitutional amendment on blasphemy laws according to which anyone who believes in any prophet after Jesus would be sentenced to death. Under pressure from Washington, most European and South American countries and those with majority Christian populations would follow suit in making the Christian blasphemy law. Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religions would also be forced to pass such laws. What kind of world would we live in if all that should take place?

Whatever happens, the Blasphemy Law will be fully operational against Muslims because they were the ones who set the precedent. This means that the millions of Muslims living in non-Islamic countries would face persecution and may even be led to the gallows. Fundamentalists and extremists of every religion will justify Muslim persecution on the basis of their belief in a prophet who came after Jesus and other prophets and the way the people believing in this religion have been targeting Christians and other minorities in their own countries.

Lucky for the Muslims living in the US and other non-Islamic countries that no nation has blasphemy laws and Muslims can throw any greeting card in the wastebasket or even openly put down other religions without fear of reprisal. Of course, after 9/11, Muslims may be screened more at airports. Even the Indian ambassador to Washington, Ms Meera Shankar, was put through a body search for which India has lodged a strong protest with the US. One can see regular white Americans also being humbled at airports. Therefore, discrimination is there but Muslims never realise that they have worse practices in their own countries. They do not see a connection between the liberties they enjoy abroad in contrast to the persecution of minorities in their homelands.

Furthermore, Muslims in the US and other European countries are not taking discrimination lying down; they are fighting for their equal rights. Nowadays, US-based Muslim organisations are campaigning for the US government to allow them to send zakat money to other countries. The US put many restrictions on such charities under the pretext that such money is being used to fund Muslim terrorist organisations. The point is that Muslim organisations can challenge such laws publicly despite American sensitivity about the role of charitable organisations in funding jihad.

While Muslims enjoy such liberties in the western world, they are intolerant towards minorities in their own countries. Religious parties take the most hypocritical positions at home and abroad. They agitate for equal rights in the west and demonstrate to maintain the Blasphemy Law and hang a poor rural Christian like Aasia Bibi in Pakistan. Religious parties want democratic freedom when it comes to their own interests but become fascists when it is someone else’s right. For example, the Jamaat-e-Islami wants pure democracy and transparency in the country but in institutions under their control, like the Punjab University, they become a corrupt, tyrannical force. A similar pattern is repeated wherever religious parties gain control, be it in FATA or an educational institution.

Aasia Bibi’s case does not make much sense. Having lived with many rural Christians — who are mostly very poor and are considered untouchables — I know that these poor souls are incapable of committing the crimes they are accused of. Most of the time, the grudging ‘Muslim masters’ register such cases to punish them for disobeying or refusing to do free work. Muslim organisations are up in arms to free Aafia Siddiqui for violating US laws but show no compassion for Aasia Bibi. Obviously, this is a crude example of double standards. …

Read more : WICHAAR

THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPETIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

South Asia is an intricate web of diverse cultures and socio-political systems with a history of invasions and colonialism. While the invading armies of Greeks, Persians, Arabs, and Mongols have left their mark on the land and its peoples; it was the European colonial powers, particularly the British that gave the region its modern political outlook and the problems that come with it. The departure of British colonial power with the division of subcontinent along communal lines ushered new era of unending disputes and tensions. The region is now the hub of global terrorism, extremism, and militarism.

ICFPD is hosting a full day discourse on the questions of extremism, terrorism, and conflicts that have plagued South Asia and the neighbouring areas for decades. We are inviting the best minds to investigate and examine the correlation between state politics, extremism, and terrorism. Analysing the role of state in advancing or curbing extremism and terrorism is often underestimated or downplayed and requires careful examination to understand possible options and barriers in dealing with it. Political systems, functioning democracy, and military dictatorships play a significant role in either confronting or promoting armed conflicts and insurgencies based on the nature and the interests of the states involved.

Speakers: Bob Rae, MP Libral (Farmar Premier of Ontario), Tarek Fatah political activist, writer, and broadcaster, Derek Lee, MP Libral, Kamran Bokhari, Hans Bathija, Dr. Zafar Boluch, Senge Sering (Gilgit Baltistan National Congress)

For more information : ICFPD

Shift in Turkey policy worries EU, NATO – By Shiraz Paracha

Keeping Turkey under control and on board is becoming a serious challenge for the United States and the European Union (EU) as the Turkish public and government are frustrated with Western double standards and hypocritical policies.

Turkey is transforming from a pro-Western state to a country that is bursting with anti-imperialist and anti-racist sentiments. The ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey represents the public feelings. The West, particularly, the EU has infuriated the Turkish public by blocking Turkey’s entry into the EU.

 

Turkey, an ally of the West and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since 1952, is now also looking towards East. The United States, the EU and Israel are watching Turkey with great caution and perhaps with certain nervousness.

Under the leadership of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has been building relations with its neighbors, under a doctrine called ‘zero troubles with neighbors’.

The Justice and Development Party pushes for Turkey’s EU membership but at the same time demands justice and respect from its European partners.

Europe accepts Turkey as a military partner, but the EU seems to have less appetite for a political partnership with Turkey. Germany and France, especially, have been creating obstacles in the way of Turkey’s joining the EU.

German and French opposition to Turkish membership of the EU is rooted in history. The attitude of the EU’s biggest states towards Turkey has its roots in religious and cultural hatred of Turks. …

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