Tag Archives: facing

‘Low-caste Hindus facing discrimination in relief distribution’

Low-caste Hindus in Sindh are faced with discrimination in the flood relief distribution programmes initiated by the government in the affected areas, observed Upgrade Minorities for Integrated Development (UMID), an NGO, at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club here on Tuesday. Pakistan has a population of three million Hindu …

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Cleric sentenced to death in blasphemy case

By Nabeel Anwar Dhakku

CHAKWAL: A ‘blasphemy’ accused was sentenced to death and also to 10 years’ imprisonment on Monday, sources told Dawn.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq of Talagang town had been facing the charge since 2009.

On Monday, an Additional Sessions Judge of Jhelum sentenced him to death and 10 years’ imprisonment and fined him Rs200,000.

Soofi Mohammad Ishaq was settled in United States where he worked as a cleric. He returned to Talagang in 2009 and was given a warm welcome by hundreds of his disciples. His followers also kissed his feet, but some people objected to the act of “bowing down before Ishaq” and later accused his followers of branding him a prophet.

Later, Ishaq’s rivals launched a campaign against him and a young man named Asadullah, allegedly at the behest of his Deobandi mentors, lodged a complaint at the Talagang police station. He accused Ishaq of committing blasphemy.

Police booked Ishaq under sections 295A and 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code and his case was heard by Chakwal’s Additional Sessions Judge Sajid Awan.

After completion of hearing, the judge set a date for announcing the judgment, but later he wrote a letter to the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench, informing it that he could not announce the verdict because of security risks. “Judge Sajid Awan pleaded to the LHC that as he is deputed in Chakwal, he cannot announce the verdict because of security risks and, therefore, the case should be referred to another district,” said Advocate Chaudhry Mehmood Akhtar, the counsel of the accused.

The LHC referred the case to Jhelum’s district and sessions judge, who marked the case to his subordinate Additional Sessions Judge Chaudhry Mumtaz Hussain, who announced the verdict on Friday.

Informed sources told Dawn that Soofi Ishaq had been appointed Gaddi Nasheen of the shrine of Pir Fazal Shah. This, according to sources, infuriated complainant Asadullah, who belonged to Pir Fazal Shah’s family, and he used the opportunity to register the blasphemy case against Ishaq.

“My client pleaded to the court that he cannot even think of committing blasphemy.” He told the court that he believed that the holy prophet (peace be upon him) was the last Messnger of Allah,” Advocate Chaudhry Akhtar Mehmood said.

When contacted by Dawn, Asadullah claimed to have seen followers of Ishaq bowing their heads before him and heard them chanting slogans of “Yaa Rasool Allah”. When asked why other religious leaders did not move against Ishaq, he said: “I was the first to see the way Ishaq’s followers behaved and I recorded it on my camera. And Allah has given me the courage to move against the blasphemer.”

Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?

By Shuja Nawaz

Internal militancy and insurgency are the immediate threats to Pakistan’s security.

Pakistan’s polity is fractured and dysfunctional, allowing the military to assert greater control over Pakistan’s response to this growing internal threat.

Civilian authorities have missed numerous opportunities to assert control over security matters. Miscalculation by the current civilian government in its attempt in 2008 to exert control over the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate soured civil-military relations at a time when the new army chief favored keeping the army out of politics.

The military’s interests are expanding to newer sectors, including economic policymaking, since a shrinking economy could hurt military interests and lifestyles.

An opportunity to improve security sector governance exists in the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority, which the government has unduly delayed.

This report reflects the views expressed during a conference entitled “Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?” hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center on April 19, 2011. Speakers at the event included the author, Professor Hassan Abbas of Columbia University, and Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The report discusses the complex political landscape in which Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities operate, often vying for power and supremacy; identifies the challenges facing Pakistan’s civilian government in the face of the military’s expanding role; and suggests a realignment of roles, increased expertise for civilian officials in security matters, and better civilian-military coordination. …

Read more » U.S. Institute of Peace

China is not eager to jump in Afpak conflict

– Analysis: China to keep Pakistan embrace at arm’s length

By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING: (Reuters) – Pakistan, facing a crisis with the United States, has leaned closely to longtime partner China, offering its “all-weather friendship” with Beijing as an alternative to Washington.

But Pakistan will be disappointed if it hopes to replace American patronage with the same from China.

While China does not welcome the U.S. presence near its border, it wants stability on its western flank and believes an abrupt withdrawal of Washington’s support for Pakistan could imperil that. It also does not want to upset warming relations with India by getting mired in subcontinent security tension.

Maintaining that delicate balance, China will continue supporting economic cooperation with Pakistan but go slow on defense cooperation. While outwardly all smiles and warm pledges of friendship, China will quietly keep things at arms length.

“I think they see what’s going on in the U.S.-Pakistan front at the moment as reason to tread very carefully,” said Andrew Small, a researcher at the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Brussels who studies China-Pakistan ties and often visits both countries.

“They are taking extra care to make sure that what’s going on in the relationship is correctly understood, not reflecting any willingness to rush in or fill the gap or exploit differences.”

Pakistan’s brittle relationship with the United States, its major donor, has turned openly rancorous. Washington accused Pakistan’s powerful ISI spy agency of directly backing the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network and of providing support for a September 13 attack on the U.S. mission in Kabul. ….

Read more → Reuters

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.

It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.

The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).

Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

A model campaigner

Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.

Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.

Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.

The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). [1]

This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.

Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….

Read more → Asia Times

Military strategy and the flight of capital – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

The Malaysian Consul General, General Khalid Abdul Razzaq, told the press that in the last few years, about 700 Pakistanis had transferred Rs one trillion and 80 billion to his country in a specific programme. If one includes the most popular places for Pakistani capital in the Gulf States, Europe and the US, the transferred amount would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. If capital is flying out so ferociously, the Pakistani economy has a very dim future. The more depressing aspect is that the policies that created such conditions are not changing in the foreseeable future.

First of all, it is mindboggling how a country wracked by all kinds of law and order problems and power shortages can still generate such a mammoth surplus that is being transferred abroad. This reflects the vibrancy and tenacity of the Pakistani population that it can survive against all odds the way it has been doing for centuries. Probably, this is one of the reasons that our rulers, specifically the military, are continuing the perilous policies that they adopted three decades ago.

Last month, Pakistan’s economic division estimated that the Pakistani economy has suffered losses of about $ 68 billion due to the war on terror. However, the figure was based on certain unproven assumptions and less than solid stipulations. It seemed that the figure was touted in the international press to convince foreign governments about the cost Pakistan is bearing for the war on terrorism and tell them that their aid is too little when compared to the losses. One could have questioned Pakistan’s projected loss figure on various grounds but the capital transfer to Malaysia cannot be questioned because it is coming from the horse’s mouth.

Every economist knows such a huge surplus that is being transferred abroad is gained through extreme exploitation and skimming of the masses. The surplus, whatever way it is gained, is called ‘the savings of an economy’. And, if the savings are not invested back into the economy, the country can never grow — on the contrary it can only degenerate. Pakistan’s rate of inflation, rising poverty and unemployment, which may be as high as 70 percent if one includes the redundant rural workforce, is a manifestation of how the export of Pakistani savings abroad has jeopardised the revival of the economy.

The migration of Pakistani savings to other countries shows that its top wealth holders — whatever their percentage — do not see a safe future in Pakistan. Insecurity is the fundamental reason for such a prevalent view among prosperous Pakistanis. The rise of religious extremism and acceleration of jihadism through the Taliban, al Qaeda and other private militias is the root cause of insecurity in Pakistan. Therefore, the state institutions that have given rise to such forces are directly responsible for the disaster Pakistan is facing.

The flight of capital from Pakistan started during the 1970s and 1980s, long before 9/11 and the US invasion of Afghanistan. Rising sectarianism in the country and ethnic violence in Karachi, engineered by secret agencies with no US input, started scaring potential domestic and foreign investors. It is interesting that this violence-ridden environment opened another chapter of economic plundering in Pakistan by all kinds of exploiters. The attitude had been to squeeze as much as possible in the shortest period. Somehow, the deepening of anarchy provided more opportunity to the exploiting classes and we witnessed unprecedented accumulation of wealth and its transfer abroad in this period. Who is responsible for creating such conditions?

The Pakistan military’s doctrine of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban and al Qaeda added to the anarchy, insecurity and, strangely enough, economic exploitation. Military spending kept on rising at the expense of the impoverishment of the masses. Therefore, the policy of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan has caused misery for common Pakistanis from many angles.

Despite the international pressure and domestic rejection, Pakistan’s military is continuing its failed policy. Besides the US, every international power, including China, has asked Pakistan to clean up its jihadi mess and change its direction from India obsession-cum-seeking-strategic depth in Afghanistan to being friendlier towards its neighbours. Domestically, after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s declaration that we should end hostilities towards India and that the military should get out of civilian matters, other than a few religious parties no mainstream political party shares the military’s strategic vision. The PPP and ANP may be toeing the military’s line for opportunistic reasons for the time being but both parties are far from India-haters.

Therefore, it is the military strategy that is causing insecurity in the country and forcing Pakistani capital to flee. The quantity of outflow of capital is so huge that a few billion from the US, any other country or international agencies (the World Bank and IMF) cannot compensate the losses. Therefore, the first sign of stability in Pakistan would be seen when Pakistani capital outflows stop and domestic savings start getting reinvested in the country.

On the contrary, if the military keeps walking on the suicidal path, the economy will be squeezed and, if India grows steadily, Pakistan will become irrelevant in the region. The outcome of the ongoing military strategy of Pakistan will result in just the opposite of what is desired.

Courtesy: WICHAAR.COM

Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar

Ali Nawaz Memon : Sindhi Middle Class has Little Chance of Political Power

Ali Nawaz Memon describes exactly the political structure existed of today, and his concern supports the worst fears of today or tomorrow of the future power sharing and role of middle class, feudals, bureaucrats, and ethnic groups, his analysis depicts what Sindh is facing today but what about when things change … The language of the video clip is Sindhi.

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Letter from a Syrian Socialist

by Syrian Socialist

Events are beginning to move in the direction of revolution in Syria. Prior to today’s day of action we received this letter from a Syrian socialist that gives some interesting insights into the difficulties the regime is facing.

The situation in Syria is reaching a boiling point. The regime has used brutal repression in the city of Darr’a. The so called “Saraya Al-Difa’ (Defense Brigades) which are paratroops under the command of Maher Al-Asad, the brother of the president, were the ones who stormed the Omary Mosque and are the ones besieging the city, terrorizing, arresting, and shooting. It is believed that more than 100 martyrs have fallen so far and hundreds more have been arrested. On top of that, locals have reported that Farsi is being spoken among some members of the security forces and there is widespread belief that these are Iranian “Revolutionary Guards”.

Today, Boutheyna Sha’aban, was on TV. She is a prominent face of the Syrian regime who has occupied a number of ministerial posts in the past and who is currently, some sort of a counselor for the president. She seemed shaky and was mumbling during parts of her speech, although she was trying to look strong. She repeated all kinds of rubbish that the regime has been saying along the lines that the President respected the legitimate demand of the protesters and is going to respond to them and that the violence that took place was caused by “agent provocateurs” who took advantage of the peaceful protests to advance their own agenda which has nothing to do with the demand of the Syrian people, but only aimed at striking at the stability and harmony the country enjoys. She finished her speech with the most ridiculous concessions, nonetheless very reflective of the fears of the regime, which included the immediate establishment of all sort of “committees” to “study” the different economic and political demands of the Syrian people (!) and also raising the wages of public sector workers (and improving benefits) to meet their needs. But how to meet “their needs” and by how much the wages are going to be increased she did not say! When she was asked who was behind this “conspiracy” in Darr’a she could not figure that one out either!

Tomorrow [Friday] is supposed to be the Syrian day of a rage and is going to be a decisive day that could very well mark the beginning of a full scale revolution. There have been many calls on people to take to the streets and protest but the response has been very meek so far. What happens tomorrow is significant because after the atrocities …

Read more : Wichaar