Tag Archives: Ideology

Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

By  M. Zuhdi Jasser

The terror attacks in Boston, perpetrated by the Tsarnaev brothers, have finally come to an end with the capture of the younger brother Dzhoakhar in Watertown on Friday evening. One hopes that Dzhoakhar survives just long enough to tell us whether he was working with any foreign or domestic Islamist groups before he hopefully meets the same fate of his victims. Our nation will certainly be resilient, and we cannot let terrorists achieve their goals of unraveling our society.

Perhaps Boston’s terror may finally be the impetus to begin the long overdue process of retooling America’s current counterterrorism strategies. Since 9-11, except for the Fort Hood massacre, we have been fortunate enough to avoid the kind of devastation and loss of life that we saw this week in Boston. That was certainly not for a lack of trying by our enemies, with over 300 arrests on terrorism charges since 9-11. Of these, over 80 percent were Islamists. I’ve said it before — after 9-11, after Fort Hood, and after Times Square, this is a Muslim problem that needs a Muslim solution.

The Tsarnaev brothers prove that the current Homeland Security “whack-a-mole” strategy is severely limited and rather flawed. The United States must address head-on the ideology of political Islam, which is the root cause of Islamist terrorism.

As details emerge about the identity and ideologies of the Tsarnaev brothers, it should quickly become clear that these individuals did not go to sleep one night normal American Muslims and wake up the next day al-Qaeda jihadists putting together pressure-cooker bombs. Their pathway towards radicalization will now be obvious to those who honestly connect the dots in retrospect. Far more important now is that leading reform-minded American Muslims, along with the U.S. government, the media, and academe, begin to confront and dissect the early stages of radicalization (Islamism), not just the last one (violent extremism).

Despite our devotion to our faith, I and other leading anti-Islamist Muslims were vilified by Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups in America, along with their choir on the left, for participating in Representative Peter King’s (R., N.Y.) hearing in Congress on American Muslim radicalization and the central role of Islamism. I believe history will show Chairman King’s hearings to be prescient. I was also vilified by those same groups for my role in narrating the documentary The Third Jihad, which happened to open with an illustrative scene from the terror in Beslan, Russia, in September 2004, when militant Chechnyan Islamists killed 334 civilians, 186 of them children, after a two-week standoff. The 2008 documentary was about the threat of militant Islamism to the West and the need for anti-Islamist Muslims to counter that threat. How many attacks like that suffered by the people of Boston this week must we see before we recognize the need to drill down against the separatism of the global movement of political Islam and their dreams of an Islamic state?

Continue reading Moderate Muslims Must Oppose Islamism

ECP rejects nomination papers of PML-N’s Ayaz Amir

LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan rejected the nomination papers of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Ayaz Amir, Express News reported on Thursday.

Amir had filed his papers from Chakwal.

An objection criticising Amir for writing articles “against the ideology of Pakistan” was filed against his nomination papers by complainant Babar Salim.

The decision against Amir’s nomination papers was taken by an ECP returning officer yesterday.

According to Pakistan’s Constitution, one cannot be a member of Parliament if he or she has “worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the ideology of Pakistan.”

Amir confirmed with local media that his nomination papers had been rejected. He said he would file an appeal against the decision tomorrow.

Amir is a renowned journalist and columnist who has contributed to Dawn and The News International.

He occupied the Chakwal district NA-60 seat.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/531062/ecp-rejects-nomination-papers-of-pml-ns-ayaz-amir/

U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

By Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst, and Jennifer Rowland, Special to CNN

Washington (CNN) — The word “terrorism” in the United States usually brings to mind plots linked in some way to al Qaeda, while the danger posed to the public by white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and other right-wing militants is often overlooked.

Militants linked to al Qaeda or inspired by jihadist ideology have carried out four terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, which have resulted in 17 deaths. Thirteen of them were in a shooting incident at Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.

Continue reading U.S. – Right-wing extremist terrorism as deadly a threat as al Qaeda?

Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria

In his latest exclusive dispatch from Deir el-Zour province, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad meets fighters who have left the Free Syrian Army for the discipline and ideology of global jihad

By: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Deir el-Zour

As they stood outside the commandeered government building in the town of Mohassen, it was hard to distinguish Abu Khuder’s men from any other brigade in the Syrian civil war, in their combat fatigues, T-shirts and beards.

But these were not average members of the Free Syrian Army. Abu Khuder and his men fight for al-Qaida. They call themselves the ghuraba’a, or “strangers”, after a famous jihadi poem celebrating Osama bin Laden’s time with his followers in the Afghan mountains, and they are one of a number of jihadi organisations establishing a foothold in the east of the country now that the conflict in Syria has stretched well into its second bloody year.

Continue reading Al-Qaida turns tide for rebels in battle for eastern Syria

Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

Takfir: the ideology of hate —Dr Mohammad Taqi

An ordinary Salafi may believe in the non-violent call to convert to their version of Islam but the Salafi jihadists are proponents of violent jihad. The doctrinal differences that set the jihadist group apart include practising takfir, i.e. labelling other Muslims as infidels or apostates

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that is pretty important” — Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Continue reading Takfiri Militancy A Threat to Pakistan

The real reason for the rot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There is absolutely no challenge to what the army does or has done in the past and this too is a natural corollary of the genesis of this state

Nations are products of long historical and evolutionary processes; most present nation states evolved thus. But when states are formed on an artificial basis of contrived nationhood or on the basis of religion, as was the case with Pakistan, Israel and Yugoslavia, they of necessity turn into fascist states, dominated by a militarist ideology. Serb-dominated Yugoslavia denied rights to other nationalities and eventually imploded. Pakistan by claiming to be the legatee of the glory of Islam burdened itself with heavy historical baggage, but then it could not have done otherwise as it was that claim that it wanted to justify its artificial existence with. Consequently, Pakistani rulers in keeping with its elite’s interests curtailed national rights of different nationalities, and forced them to rally under the banner of religion and to accept its ideology by upholding their brand of Pakistani nationalism.

The Baloch, Bengalis, Sindhis and to a certain extent, the Pashtuns resented and resisted this imposition in varying degrees. The Bengalis having had the advantage of distance and a sympathetic neighbour went their separate way in 1971, while the Baloch after an initial period of freedom have borne the brunt of military operations because of their refusal to accept the artificially imposed ideology of a Muslim nation and have so far thwarted the attempts to crush their determination for a separate entity status. The Sindhis, at first taken in by state-sponsored ideology, gradually realised that their interests did not coincide and have resisted it though erratically at best since.

Continue reading The real reason for the rot – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Brown Pundits – Pakistan; the sausage factory is getting exposed

Pakistan: the sausage factory is becoming dangerously transparent

By Omar

The latest scandal in Pakistan involves the leading business tycoon of the country spending (he claims) 340 million rupees on the son of the chief justice of Pakistan. Said tycoon Riaz Malik used to be a struggling contractor who hit paydirt with high-end housing colonies named “Bahria colony” (the name means “navy”…and some admirals are said to have sold him access to that name and the authority of Pakistan’s smallest armed force). Now one of the richest men in the country, Malik Riaz has been profiled in this documentary by TV anchor Sohail Warraich.

Suggested names for this scandal include “bahriagate”, “familygate” and, more originally (from lawyer Feisal Naqvi) “liti-gate”! Conspiracy theorists are busy trying to figure out if this whole thing was orchestrated by the army (unhappy over the chief justice’s asking questions about missing persons in Balochistan) or by Zardari or by the CIA and Mossad and RAW.

But whatever the details, one thing is clear to an outside observer. The walls of the sausage factory are becoming dangerously transparent. 11 retired generals work for Malik Riaz. Many admirals and generals smoothed his path to wealth. Many journalists are being accused of being on his payroll. And its not just this scandal. The son of the prime minister is accused of smuggling controlled substances. The brother of the almighty army chief is being targeted in a whispering campaign. Secret agencies, hidden camera videos, trips to Monte Carlo with mysterious women…its all out in the open or threatening to come out. All this has happened in other countries (well, maybe some of it has). but times are tough, the economy may tank, the security establishment has got itself into a fight with its traditional American patrons. There was never a real national ideology behind the claptrap taught in 6th grade. What will hold the center? These things can get out of hand.

Continue reading Brown Pundits – Pakistan; the sausage factory is getting exposed

Saving Pakistan via India

Saving Pakistan… and India?

by Omar Ali

Pakistan is in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan has always been in the throes of an existential crisis. Pakistan’s interminable existential crisis is, in fact, getting to be a bore.  But while faraway peoples can indeed get away from this topic and on to something more interesting, Pakistanis have little choice in this matter; and it may be that neither do Indians.

The partition of British India was different things to different people, but we can all agree on some things: it was a confused mess, it was accompanied by remarkable violence and viciousness,  and it has led to endless trouble. The Paknationalist narrative built on that foundation has Jihadized the Pakistani state, and defanging that myth is now the most critical historic task of the Pakistani bourgeoisie.

Well, OK. We don’t actually all admit any of those things, but all those are things I have written in the past. Today I hope to shed my inhibitions and go further.

First, the crisis. Some friends think I am being unnecessarily alarmist and the only crisis is the presence of American infidels/imperialists in the region. Let America leave and all will be well. Others believe that if the army had a “free hand”, they would have things under control within days.  Let us dispense with both theories. The crisis is not primarily American generated (though they have a long and glorious history of feeding dollars to the crisis) and no one is in complete control.  The existing corruption-ridden state is a British colonial creation struggling to get by alongside an unstable mix of Islamist ideology and a very shallow and self-contradictory foundational myth. Even though the karma of the Raj is potent stuff, it will not last forever against these forces. When it goes, the next step will not be the dawn of Chomskyan enlightened anarchy or democratic socialism; it will either be Salafist Islam or the dissolution of the state. Dissolution being physically and diplomatically difficult (who will handle the scramble over borders that would follow?), Salafist Islam administered by the army (perhaps with a charismatic cricketer as its public face) is the likely option.

Unfortunately, it is not likely to work very well. In fact, it is incapable of sustaining even the bare minimum of modern statehood. Unlike Iranian Islam (which is literate, modern and sophisticated compared to Salafist fantasies) there is no there there.  A militarized salafist Pakistan may hold together a few years in the name of war against the infidels, but after the war (and who wants a war that could go nuclear?) we are left with little more than the vague notion of a rightly guided caliph, the whipping of uppity women and the accelerated cleansing of undesirable smaller sects. After all, if you have a religious state, then you cannot have ten different interpretations of religion (not to speak of ten different religions). Which vision is in charge has to be clear. The state must enforce religious uniformity or become secular. There is no third option.  One can see this principle in operation in Pakistan ever since General Zia started Islamizing in earnest.  Ahmedis were already beyond the pale, but Shias, a sect that provided the founder of Pakistan and were an integral part of Pakistan, now face the prospect of second class citizenship or worse. If you happen to believe in the Salafist project you may find this a desirable endpoint, but everyone else will want to stop this process and reverse it if possible.

Continue reading Saving Pakistan via India

The Future of History – By Francis Fukuyama

Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?

Stagnating wages and growing inequality will soon threaten the stability of con­temporary liberal democracies and dethrone democratic ideology as it is now understood. What is needed is a new populist ideology that offers a realistic path to healthy middle-class societies and robust democracies.

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

THE DEMOCRATIC WAVE

Social forces and conditions do not simply “determine” ideologies, as Karl Marx once maintained, but ideas do not become powerful unless they speak to the concerns of large numbers of ordinary people. Liberal democracy is the default ideology around much of the world today in part because it responds to and is facilitated by certain socioeconomic structures. Changes in those structures may have ideological consequences, just as ideological changes may have socioeconomic consequences

Read more »Foreign Affairs

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136782/francis-fukuyama/the-future-of-history

Christian girl, 12, kidnapped, beaten and raped for eight months until she converted to Islam

Asian Human Rights Commission claim girl was lured on shopping trip by friend before she was kidnapped.

Abductors drove her 120 miles before raping her, then forced her to sign marriage papers

Victim managed to escape eight months later, but police refuse to prosecute rapists because they are tied to militant Islam group

By Wil Longbottom

A 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for eight months in Pakistan by a man who then falsified marriage documents with her, it was claimed today.

The girl was lured on a shopping trip in Lahore by a friend, before she was driven 120 miles to Tandianwalla and raped by the friend’s uncle in January this year.

Two days later, she was forced to sign papers consenting to marriage with the man and beaten for refusing to convert from Christianity to Islam.

She was then held against her will for eight months, before managing to escape and contact her family.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said the rapists have not been arrested because of their affiliation with a militant Muslim organisation – the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.

It claims the police have refused to order a medical check-up on the girl, and have warned her parents that it would be better for them to hand over the girl to her ‘legal’ husband or a criminal case would be filed against them.

An investigation into the kidnapping found the girl’s father reported her disappearance in January and made complaints against her abductors, but police took no action for eight months.

Last month, the girl – who has not been named for legal reasons – called her family from Tandianwalla and told them she had been abducted, but had escaped and was hiding at a bus stop.

The girl’s parents travelled to the town and rescued her, before taking her to a local magistrate to give a statement.

The rapists then contacted the police through their religious group and produced a marriage certificate that claimed to show one of them was married to the 12-year-old.

As a result of their complaint, the Christian family has gone into hiding as members of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba are searching for them.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2048261/Christian-girl-12-kidnapped-raped-beaten-converted-Islam.html#ixzz1qVn3aSFg

What is the worst thing about Pakistan’s media?

By Jahanzaib Haque

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) deserves a pat on the back for its bold move towards greater transparency in their online complaints section – they’ve given the public access to the complaint log.

To be frank, a pat on the back for Pemra and a cold shiver down one’s spine is unfortunately the order of the day. Let us delve into this treasure trove of the Pakistani complainant’s mindset.

First of all, the top 10 list of offenders:

No Name Complaints
1 Samaa TV 450
2 Geo News 147
3 Geo Ent 95
4 Express News 32
5 AAG / Geo Aur 26
6 ARY Digital 21
7 HUM TV 13
8 Dawn News 11
9 Dunya TV News 11
10 AAJ News 8

That is a total of over 800 complaints; again, an encouraging sign for an accountability service that has a very narrow reach and hasn’t been marketed heavily. Leaving aside the Maya Khan phenomenon that accounts for over 400 complaints alone, what is it that Pakistanis with internet access complain about the most?

[Key: Below is a rough estimate, as some complaints overlapped in subject matter, and some have been rounded off]

Against ideology of Islam/Pakistan: 150+ complaints

Yes my friends, the biggest problem in Pakistan’s media – if the complaints are to be believed –  is the channels being anti-Pakistan, anti-Islam or the flip side of that coin: pro-India or pro-Israel.

Sample comment 1:

Promoting Hindu Ideology, Destroying Islamic Identity and Two Nation Theory and ALLAMA IQBAL Status. Making Propaganda against PAK ISI and Armed Forces which are defending Pakistan, Severe Restrictions must be put on these channels to operate to restrain them from harming Pakistan

Sample comment 2:

I would like to lodge a complaint against channels which are playing with the emotions of the common people. It is showing too much Indian content which is directly killing the ideology of Pakistan. They are ignoring all the sacrifices our ancestors gave at the time of Partition, in 1965, 1971 and 1999. It uselessly shows Bollywood filth in all its news bulletins, they should be given warnings or otherwise they should be banned. They are promoting nudity now. It’s seriously looking like if this continues for few more years they will show sex on their channels…long live Pakistan

Sample comment 3:

No time, during in every breaking news firstly they show “One Eye” before starting the breaking news and this is a sign of Jewish. Our beloved prophet Hazarat Muhammad PBUH quoted regarding the sign of one Eye as a sign of Jewish. Please stop it.

Fueled by a foul mix of twisted mindset, outright hatred and the arrogance of a simpleton with a fancy red cap, this is the Pakistan we have come to know and love. Ah, the ol’ scum of the Earth, always there when you need them to set the agenda and mindset dead backwards. Classy. This is definitely the media’s biggest problem. ….

Read more » The Express Tribune

No future of Sindh in Pakistan

By Gul Agha

A complete meltdown of Sindhi culture and no future of the thousands years old Indus civilization in Pakistan — Sindhis will not only lose their essential diversity, but be reduced to a minority in much more of Sindh with another 10+% of its Sindhi Hindu population forced to migrate to India and other countries by the reactionary deep state which is influenced by AL-Qaeda ideology. Mullahs must be countered.. they have huge support from the government agencies and through the educational system which tries to brainwash children through a ridiculous ideology in … and Pakistan studies courses.

Via – adopted from Facebook

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20 Hindu girls forced to convert in a month: HRCP

Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

By Khaled Ahmed

Origin of our national mindset

The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.

The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state

The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.

The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.

Continue reading Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

When rickshaws turn jihadi

By Raza Rumi

Why is the Lahore city administration not taking note of these vile messages? Some of the images are visually disturbing for children who are frequent users. Is there no other way to articulate our concern for water scarcity and ‘war’ with India? Extremism is slowly destroying the culture Lahore was once proud of.

Newer and popular expressions of jihadi ideology are impositions from the above and do not reflect the imaginations of the artists and drivers. Our public spaces are turning into haunting grounds of militaristic might and jihadi discourse. Challenging it is the first step towards changing our country.

To read complete article » The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.

Pakistan, courts Islamometer

Islamo-meter in the courts…and Anjuman Shahzadi

By Omar Ali

Back in the 1980, General Zia was “Islamizing” Pakistan, primarily by having several thousand people flogged (mostly for political offences..including a barber in,if i remember correctly, Faisalabad, for putting up Zia’s picture as one of the available hairstyles). I happened to chat with Sharif Sabir Sahib, an observant, reasonably orthodox Muslim (known as “Molvi Sharif Sabir”) and a great scholar of Punjabi (who also taught Persian). I asked him what he thought of this Islamization? He said “son, take an islamo-meter to the district court. The day it registers an even slightly positive reading, I will personally wash Zia’s feet with rose water”. Of course, both of us knew this was a safe bet.

Osama Sameer surveys how things look in the district courts today, further down the winding road that is taking us away from British India and towards Pakistan, fortress of Islam.

I am not posting this to help “the world understand us better”. How “the world” understands us is the least of our problems. Frankly (and I hope this does not strike anyone as rude) that is the sort of bullshit that buffoon Musharraf was known for. The idea that “the world” has misunderstood our lovable self. That if we can somehow “promote our soft image” (this was a phrase Mushie used several thousand times) and show the world that we paint trucks, we pray in petrol stations, we walk half naked down catwalks, then all will be well. I think this whole shtick is meaningless in the larger scheme of things. The world that matters (the people who start wars, sell oil, buy countries) doesnt care about any of that and neither do most Pakistanis. All of that is neither problem nor solution. Even the s0-called “ideology of Pakistan” (which i attack at every opportunity and Samosa and Riaz Haq sahib will defend till they have something more urgent to do) is a problem mostly because taking it seriously causes other, more real problems. If we can confine it to schoolbooks (preferably grade 5 and below) we can safely ignore it.

btw, If the world wants to understand ”moderate Islamic Pakistani” closer to street level, here is a Pakistani Mujra (an art form slightly older than catwalk modelling) by Anjuman Shahzadi, complete with “Hajji brothers” logo proudly displayed in the background (Hajji means someone who has been for Haj to Mecca). She died last year, apparently of infection and diabetes. Who knows.

She could be incredibly crude:

Read more » Brown Pundits

Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

THE Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) has announced its aim of defending us against the dangers we face today.

But given the fact that the biggest threat to Pakistan comes from the extremist ideology of many of those who constitute the DPC, the question arises whether these holy warriors will confront the militants.

Don’t hold your breath: during a recent DPC rally in Karachi, speaker after speaker made it clear that their real enemies are India and America. This assembled galaxy clearly failed to notice the uncomfortable fact that over the last decade, well over 30,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 security personnel have been killed in terrorist attacks launched by jihadi militants. Such mundane truths often escape our religious brigade. While focusing on American drone attacks, which while controversial, have been the most effective weapon against the militants in the tribal areas, they have conveniently overlooked the real cause of militancy. The moment these realities are pointed out to them, they go on about how these casualties are the result of the American war in Afghanistan.

The composition of the DPC is interesting as it brings together a number of reactionary elements under one umbrella. Some of these, like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijaz ul Haq, have a semblance of respectability. However, this is based on the dubious proposition that cabinet positions, past or present, in Pakistan confer some degree of social acceptability.

On the other side of the DPC spectrum, we have characters like Malik Ishaq, released by the Lahore High Court and accused of committing several murders for the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba, an extreme Sunni outfit.

Hafiz Saeed is one of the stars of the DPC and head of Jamaatud Dawa, a supposedly charitable organisation banned for fronting for the Lashkar-i-Taiba. This terrorist group has been accused of being behind the deadly Mumbai attack of 2008, as well as other atrocities in India.

Qari Yaqub, the darling of admirers of his sermons on YouTube, also spoke at the DPC rally in Karachi where he warned journalists that he would turn the ground where he spoke into “a graveyard for the media” if they did not give the DPC ample coverage. So here I am, writing about the DPC to avoid an early grave.

Sheikh Rasheed, leader of his Awami Muslim League spoke at the rally, as did army dictator Zia’s son, Ijaz ul Haq. Hamid Gul, the retired general who was sacked as head of the ISI by Benazir Bhutto in 1989, also enlivened proceedings with his rant about the bright future ahead without a western presence.

So Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, felt right at home in this august company as the PTI’s senior vice president Ejaz Chaudhry’s presence showed.

Clearly then, the 40-odd (some would say very odd) members of the DPC at least appear to be on the same page where extremist thought is concerned. The question is what and who brought them together. Pakistan’s history is littered with the bleached bones of right-wing alliances formed and then ditched by their creators. The IJI, the PNA, the IDA, and the MMA spring instantly to mind.

Add to them the various incarnations and iterations of the Muslim League, and you have a veritable alphabet soup of political aspirations: Q, N, Z and Awami are only the current manifestations.

The common thread running through all these parties and coalitions is the past or current connection with our intelligence agencies. Retired general Asad Durrani, another erstwhile ISI chief, has admitted before the Supreme Court that he funneled millions to anti-PPP candidates during the 1988 elections. This confession emerged years ago as a result of a writ filed by Asghar Khan, but the case has been on the back burner until the Supreme Court resumes hearing it later this month. Watch this space for further developments.

Given the stellar credentials of these stalwart defenders of our country, we can all sleep easy. They have vowed to save us from those nasty Americans and Indians, but before I cancel my life insurance policy, I’m still waiting to hear that they will protect us from the Pakistani Taliban as well.

Seriously, though, what is this circus all about? Why have so many extremist-minded elements and their fellow-travellers suddenly emerged from the woodwork to muddy the political waters? Who’s paying for all these expensive rallies? Actually, scratch that last question: we’re paying for them via whatever shadowy agency that has cobbled this latest alliance together.

And why is Imran Khan’s PTI part of this reactionary group? I know he’s in lockstep with people like Hamid Gul and Maulana Samiul Haq, but why does he need to identify himself with the most violent and unsavoury characters in this coalition? Does he not see that after his recent reinvention as a popular, mainstream politician, he no longer needs to cosy up to the likes of Qari Yaqub and Hafiz Saeed?

Continue reading Save us from our defenders – Irfan Husain

ALAS! we don’t know when Nawaz Sharif will learn from history and will understand history and politics!?

Zulfiqar Halepoto of Sindh Democratic Forum, strongly condemn Mian Nawaz Sahrif’s recent statement in favour of more provinces on the basis of administrative lines during his visit to Bahawalpur district. Main Saheb’s latest move is to divide Siraiki Wasaib to Siraiki soba supporters and Bahawalpur state supporters.

The biggest tragedy of Nawaz Sharif is that he is unaware of historical realities and context of geographies and nations living in Pakistan.

The other tragedy is that he (Nawaz Sharif) is surrounded by fundamentalists who came from religious parties and especially Jamait e Islamai to control PMLn and who are ignorant of historical national rights and sovereign federating units.

Bahawalpur was a Princely state and princely states were the worst bribes of colonial powers to suppress peoples movements in Sub Continent. Those who sold their conscious (zameer), ideology, land (WATAN) and people (QOUM) were given lands and states as compensation of their treachery and GHADAREE.

Bahawalpur was, is and will remain part of Siraiki soba.

ALAS we don’t know when he (Nawaz Sharif) will learn from history and will understand history and politics.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, February 8, 2012.

A former pupil of a Jamaat – Personal accounts of 1971

Personal accounts of 1971

By Ajmal Kamal

This month brings memories of what happened between December 1970 and December 1971 with us as a nation — or rather with the diverse groups aligned variously along all kinds of fissures trying to imagine themselves as a nation. Much has been written on those events in Pakistan, Bangladesh and elsewhere: from political analyses to cover-ups to attempts at apportioning the blame for one of the gravest man-made tragedies of the century. There are personal accounts too, but in most cases written by West Pakistani bureaucrats or military personnel who are usually more interested in painting themselves in a kind light than honestly recording what they observed. Or, they carry a heavy ideological baggage and are in a hurry to make their description look politically neat as per their bent.

Continue reading A former pupil of a Jamaat – Personal accounts of 1971

Get out, leave Afghanistan to Pakistan

Get out, leave Af to Pak

By Shekhar Gupta

The sharply polarised political debate on the nuclear deal was the most significant instance of the so-called holy national consensus on foreign policy breaking in India. Some of this spirit keeps returning vis-a-vis Pakistan any time the government reaches out to Pakistan, or when there is another terror attack. But beyond that, the larger consensus remains intact. It is not healthy for a democracy, and particularly not when it has a strategic community that has had even greater continuity than its establishment economists, defying all changes of government, leaders, ideology. That is why the time has come to question, or at least intellectually challenge, some other aspects of this lazy “consensus”. Even at the risk of inviting the charge of apostasy, therefore, the time might have come to question the wisdom and prudence of our totally unquestioned, un-debated idea of engaging in a dirty little cold war with Pakistan in Afghanistan once the Americans withdraw from there.

Today, everybody seems to be accepting the idea that Afghanistan is of great strategic significance to India, and we can neither cede it to Pakistan, nor leave them to fill the power vacuum that the Americans will leave behind. Similarly, that this is the Great Game country, and we are back to the Great Game, somehow inheriting the mantle of the British power in the 19th century, except that we might have to deal with an additional distraction called Pakistan. Further, that Afghanistan is a resource (mineral)-rich land where we have future commercial stakes, and is a gateway to Central Asia, making transit rights of such paramount importance for us.

There is some truth to some, but not all, of these. But the larger picture may look very different on closer examination. Also, engaging in a policy that puts us permanently and, inevitably, violently at odds with the Pakistanis is an idea that is being accepted much too readily. As if this is our destiny, part of an ongoing blood feud. As if we have no choice.

All of this, frankly, is lazy, self-serving rubbish, dished out by a strategic establishment that suffers terminally from a cold war mindset, and does not quite know, like all bigger powers (the US included), when to declare victory, and when to cut its losses.

The more curious thing is, some of this is happening under a prime minister who never tires of exhorting his policy-makers to “think out of the box” and a national security advisor who has built a formidable reputation for doing exactly this, not just now but over many decades of diplomatic service.

What kind of strategic importance does Afghanistan have for us now? Yes, we need transit to Central Asia. But to reach Afghanistan, we have to first persuade the Pakistanis to grant us transit. The more we jostle with them for influence in Afghanistan, the lesser the chances of their being so nice to us. Yes, Afghanistan is resource-rich and the Chinese may get there if we are not there. But what are we, meanwhile, doing with our own mineral resources? So many of our mines are shut, or not accessible. We might get a hundred times more value by either fighting, or bribing (as everybody eventually does with insurgents in Afghanistan), our own Maoists to be able to exploit our own mines. And the Chinese will get there before us anyway. And yes, there will be a power vacuum in Afghanistan. It will still be a country of great strategic importance. But for whom, is the question. It will be of no strategic importance to us. None of our supplies or trade come to Afghanistan. None of our bad guys hide there. No Afghan has ever been involved in a terror attack on India. In fact, almost never has a terror attack on us been even planned in the more precise Af-Pak region. They have all been planned and executed between Muzaffarabad, Muridke, Karachi and Multan. Almost never has an Afghan, Pakhtun, Baluch, Tajik, any ethnicity, been involved in a terror attack in India. It’s always been the Punjabis. Ask anybody in the Indian army who has served in Kashmir and he will tell you that the intruders he fought were exactly of the same ethnic stock as the bulk of the Pakistani army he may have to fight in a real war: the Punjabi Muslims.

Yes, as we said earlier, Afghanistan is still a country of great strategic importance. But for Pakistan, and certainly not for us. Pakistan has a long, unsettled border with it and a more-than-latent irredentist Pathan sentiment on both sides of the Durand Line that it dreads spinning out of control as (and if) Afghanistan breaks up along north-south-west ethnic lines. From tribal ties, to funny trade-links, like gun and drug-running, an unsettled Afghanistan will be a permanent thorn in Pakistan’s side when six divisions of its army are already not able to get the measure of the armed anarchy in FATA. Why should India then get into this unwinnable mess? More importantly, why should India give the Pakistani army and the ISI just what they need, a great, holy, moral justification to pour into Afghanistan to “fight the Indian challenge”?

Leave Afghanistan to the Pakistanis. If the Pakistani army thinks it can fix, subdue and control Afghanistan, after the British, Soviets and Americans have failed to do precisely this at the peak of each one’s superpower-dom, why not let the Pakistanis try their hand at it? If they pour another ten divisions and half of the ISI into that hapless country now, isn’t it that much of a relief for us on our western borders? What could serve our strategic interests better than having the Pakistanis discover a permanent strategic threat/ challenge/ opportunity along their western borders? Won’t that be some relief?

And if the Pakistani army thinks it can succeed in a mission in which their mightier predecessors, the British and the Soviet empires and the Americans, failed, good luck to them. Because it will fulfil a fantasy of “strategic depth” they have nursed since they were rocked by totally fictional visions of massive Indian tank assaults through the desert cutting their mainland into two during General Sundarji’s Operation Brasstacks in 1987. It is since then that the Pakistani strategic establishment has been seeking “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. Now, if any army wants to seek the “depth” of Afghanistan for its armour, vital air force assets, or even nukes, good luck to them. In fact, it would be interesting to see how the rest of the world, particularly the Americans, would react if such a thing was even contemplated. Far from being a security asset ever, Afghanistan, for the Pakistani army, will be exactly what it has been for any other invading army in its history: a permanent Waterloo in slow motion.

So shall we leave the Pakistani army and ISI to their own devices in Afghanistan? Whether they fail or succeed, it will confirm only one widely held view in the global strategic community: that howsoever dashing it may be tactically, the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment’s strategic thinking emerges not from its brains but that some place lower down in human anatomy. Maybe then, the best way we can serve our own strategic interests in Afghanistan is to stay out of their way.

Courtesy » Indian Express

Indian Muslims feel secure under secularism

by Farooq Sulehria

“Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought,” says Seema Mustafa. A leading Indian journalist, peace activist and public intellectual, Seema Mustafa also contributes for Viewpoint. In an interview, she discusses different aspects of secularism in the Muslim world. Read on:

Why has secularism not taken root in the Muslim world? If Islam and secularism are incompatible?

Islam and secularism are totally compatible, as is any religion practiced in its true sense. Syria, Libya and Iraq earlier did try to develop as secular states keeping religion out of politics. Last month I was in Syria and in a long conversation, the Grand Mufti in Damascus made it very clear that there was no room for religion in politics, that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood were unacceptable so long as they insisted on mixing the two, and that the secular character of the Syrian state would not be compromised. …

Read more » ViewPoint

Something fishy going on: Human Rights in Sindh

“In January 1948—about four months after the creation of Pakistan—the federal government of Pakistan sponsored pogroms by refugees against Hindu Sindhis in Karachi, then the shared capital of Sindh and Pakistan. The pogroms resulted in the massacre of over 1200 Sindhis. When the Sindh government attempted to restore public order and return looted property, Pakistan removed the duly elected Sindh government from office. Today, exiled Hindu Sindhis are denied the Right of Return.”

“Of the approximately 30 million Sindhis living in Sindh today, approximately 3 million are Hindus and suffer particularly under Pakistan’s oppressive laws and dis-criminatory practices. Pakistan imposes the death penalty for blasphemy or apostasy.”

“With the connivance of the Pakistani authori-ties, tens of thousands of Sindhis, including a disproportionately large number of Hindu and Christian Sindhis, are held in virtual slavery as bonded laborers.”

“The last census systematically undercounted the number of Sindhis. The census forms in Sindhi were simply printed in insufficient quantities so data could not be collected in many remote villages. In addition, Hindu Sindhis were intimidated by Pakistani authorities who ac-companied the census takers in Sindh.”

“The Pakistani government has designated homes and businesses of Hindu Sindhis in this area as ‘Enemy Evacuee Property’ and seized the legal deeds to their properties.”

“Religious Studies has been made a compulsory subject for Muslims in all government and private schools. The officially mandated textbooks preach a fundamentalist and militant ideology, contravening the indigenous universalist Sufi beliefs of the Sindhis.”

“Pakistan controls all public and private advertising in newspapers through a government body called the Pakistan Information Board. In 2003, the government ordered a cut in Sindhi newspapers’ advertisement ‘quota’ by an additional 50%. Although Sindhi speakers account for about 20% of Pakistan’s population, Sindhi newspapers now receive less than 1% of the total advertising revenue.”

“In 1999, the largest circulation Sindhi monthly magazine Subhu Theendo (‘A New Day will Dawn’) was banned for spreading disaffection against the ‘ideology of Pakistan.’ The magazine focused on sustainable development and environmental protection.”

“A majority of the officials and government employees appointed in Sindh do not speak the Sindhi language. Pakistan refuses to allow the use of Sindhi in University entrance examinations or in job interviews for government employees in Sindh, and severely limits radio and television broadcasts in the language.”

“Pakistan has built several mega-dams and barrages up-stream that have impeded the flow of the Indus (Sindhu) River and its tributaries to Sindh. As a consequence, the floodplains that fed Sindh’s forests are gone, resulting in massive deforestation: less than 20% of the original 600,000 acres of forest land is now being regenerated. ”

“Water no longer flows to the sea; as a consequence, the mangrove forests have experienced a 90% decline—from 2400 square kilometers to 200 square kilometers. With-out protection from the mangrove forests, seawater has encroached—inundating 1.2 million acres of agricultural land and uprooting residents of 159 villages. The once plentiful seafood catch has been drastically reduced. The net result is that throughout Sindh, poverty levels, malnutrition and disease now match those in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

“The Sindhi national poet, Shaikh Ayaz (d. 1999) was charged with treason—a crime punishable by death—for advocating peace with India.”

Courtesy » Sonething fishy’s going on

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

Pakistan’s military and legislators plan peace talks with Taliban

– In the midst of bad and worsening relations with Washington, Pakistan considers new round of peace talks with Pakistan-based Taliban, arguing that ‘military solutions’ are making things worse.

By Owais Tohid

Excerpt;

……. But analysts believe that striking negotiations with Islamic militants will pose serious challenges. “We struck peace accords with militant commanders during the past and those blew up on our face,” says Peshawar-based defense analyst, retired Brig. Mohammad Saad. “Once you enter into negotiations, they [the militants] grow bigger than their size and start believing themselves as equal. The more the state talks to them, they will become a bigger problem in Pakistan.”

“Their agenda is different,” Brigadier Saad adds. “Their ideology is in clash with the norms and values of any modern civilized society.” …..

To read complete article → csmonitor

Religion And Rule Of Law In Pakistan

– By Dr. Khalil Ahmad

After military might, religion is the greatest alibi to defy the rule of law in Pakistan.

One of the most precious achievements of human civilization is the value of rule of law, as against the rule of man, ideology or faith. Herein is implied an inherent regard for the life and liberty of each person, his right to profess and practice any religion; in sum his right to live a life of his choice. It is as simple as that – that as against man, ideology and faith, rule of law is tolerant and accommodative of all creeds and all cultures, i.e. to all the individual differences of mind and body found in human beings. It looks upon each and every person as by birth endowed with certain inalienable rights, treats him as equal and without any discrimination; it provides equal protection of law to all; it gives every person right to be prosecuted under due process of law and prove himself innocent. That bestows the rule of law with an over-riding status. …

Read more → asinstitute

The ideology of thought control in Pakistan

By Maheen Usmani

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It has become something of a personality cult in Pakistan. Nowhere is this cognitive dissonance more visible than amongst the educated who refuse to accept facts and logic, clinging instead to a neurotic persecution complex. ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

Discussion – Was Pakistan created on a fake ideology by Dr Farooq Haider Maudoodi

Hasn’t the “Two Nation” theory proved wrong on 16 December 1971, the day Pakistan split. Hasn’t it proved that Muslims of West Pakistan could not even live with the Muslims of East Pakistan. Wasn’t the “Two Nation” theory just an excuse created by Muslim feudal class to come into power. The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: → Express News Tv (Pakistani talk show “Frontline with Kamran Shahid”) → YouTube

In her novel “Aag Ka Darya”, a world class urdu writer, Qurattulain Haider, had raised questions about Partition and had rejected the two-nation theory

– The misfits of society

by Waseem Altaf

Qurattulain Haider, writer of the greatest urdu novel “Aag Ka Darya” had come to Pakistan in 1949. By then she had attained the stature of a world class writer. She joined the Press Information Department and served there for quite some time. In 1959 her greatest novel ‘Aag ka Darya’ was published. ‘Aag Ka Dariya’ raised important questions about Partition and rejected the two-nation theory. It was this more than anything else that made it impossible for her to continue in Pakistan, so she left for India and permanently settled there.

Sahir Ludhianvi, one of the finest romantic poets of Urdu language settled in Lahore in 1943 where he worked for a number of literary magazines. Everything was alright until after partition when his inflammatory writings (communist views and ideology) in the magazine Savera resulted in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest by the Government of Pakistan. In 1949 Sahir fled to India and never looked back.

Sajjad Zaheer, the renowned progressive writer Marxist thinker and revolutionary who came to Pakistan after partition, was implicated in Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and was extradited to India in 1954.

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was a Pakistani citizen, regarded as one of the greatest classical singers of the sub continent, was so disillusioned by the apathy shown towards him and his art that he applied for, and was granted a permanent Indian immigrant visa in 1957-58. He migrated to India and lived happily thereafter. All of the above lived a peaceful and prosperous life in India and were conferred numerous national awards by the Government of India.

Now let’s see the scene on the other side of Radcliff line.

Saadat Hassan Manto a renowned short story writer migrated to Pakistan after 1947. Here he was tried thrice for obscenity in his writings. Disheartened and financially broke he expired at the age of 42. In 2005, on his fiftieth death anniversary, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative postage stamp.

Zia Sarhadi the Marxist activist and a film director who gave us such memorable films as ‘Footpath’ and ‘Humlog’, was a celebrity in Bombay when he chose to migrate to Pakistan. ‘Rahguzar’, his first movie in this country, turned out to be the last that he ever directed. During General Ziaul Haq’s martial law, he was picked up by the army and kept in solitary confinement in terrible conditions. The charges against him were sedition and an inclination towards Marxism. On his release, he left the country to settle permanently in the UK and never came back.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz, one of the greatest Urdu poets of the 20th century was arrested in 1951 under Safety Act and charged in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case. Later he was jailed for more than four years.

Professor Abdussalam the internationally recognized Pakistani physicist was disowned by his own country due to his religious beliefs. He went to Italy and settled there. He could have been murdered in the holy land but was awarded the Nobel Prize in the West for his contribution in the field of theoretical physics. Meanwhile his tombstone at Rabwah (now Chenab Nagar) was disfigured under the supervision of a local magistrate. This was our way of paying tribute to the great scientist.

Rafiq Ghazanvi was one of sub-continent’s most attractive, capable and versatile artists. He was an actor, composer and singer. He composed music for a number of films in Bombay like Punarmilan, Laila majnu and Sikandar. After partition he came to Karachi where he was offered a petty job at Radio Pakistan. He later resigned and spent the rest of his life in seclusion. He died in Karachi in 1974.

Sheila Ramani was the heroine of Dev Anand’s ”taxi driver” and “fantoosh” released in the 50’s. She was a Sindhi and came to Karachi where her uncle Sheikh Latif was a producer. She played the lead in Pakistani film ”anokhi” which had the famous song ”gari ko chalana babu” However seeing little prospects of any cinematic activity at Karachi, she moved back to India.

Ustad Daman, the ‘simpleton’ Punjabi poet had flair of his own. Due to his unorthodox views, many a times he was sent behind bars. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru offered him Indian citizenship which he refused. The reward he received here was the discovery of a bomb from his shabby house for which he was sent to jail by the populist leader Mr.Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Had Mohammad Rafi the versatile of all male singers of the Indian sub-continent chosen to stay in Pakistan, what would have been his fate. A barber in the slums of Bilal Gunj in Lahore, while Dilip Kumar selling dry fruit in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Peshawar.

Ustad Salamat Ali a bhagwan in Atari turned out to be a mirasi in Wahga all his life. Last time I met him at his rented house in Islamabad, he was in bad shape.

We also find Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who went to India and was treated like a god. His compositions recorded in India became all time hits not only in Pakistan and India but all over the world. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Faakhir, Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam frequently visit India and their talent is duly recognized by a culture where art and music is part of life. Adnan Sami has even obtained Indian citizenship and has permanently settled there. Salma Agha and Zeba Bakhtiar got fame after they acted in Indian films. Meanwhile Veena Malik is getting death threats here and is currently nowhere to be seen. Sohail Rana the composer was so disillusioned here that he permanently got settled in Canada. Earlier on Saleem Raza the accomplished singer immigrated to Canada. I was told by a friend that Saleem Raza was once invited by some liberal students to perform at Punjab University when the goons of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba attacked him and paraded him in an objectionable posture in front of the students.

After returning to Pakistan the chhote ustads of “star plus” who achieved stardom in India have gone into oblivion, while Amanat Ali and Saira Reza of “sa re ga ma” fame have disappeared. And ask Sheema Kirmani and Naheed Siddiqui, the accomplished dancers how conducive the environment here is for the growth of performing arts.

A country gets recognition through its intelligentsia and artists. They are the real assets of a nation. The cultural growth of a society is not possible without these individuals acting as the precursors of change. Unfortunately this state was not created, nor was it meant for these kinds of people. It was carved out for hypocrites and looters who could have enjoyed a heyday without any fear or restraint.

Read more → ViewPoint

Chronicles foretold – By Najam Sethi

– The cold-blooded torture and murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad by “invisible agencies” roused the journalists of Pakistan to unite and demand an independent and credible commission of inquiry to unearth the facts and punish the perpetrators. A media “dharna” outside parliament in Islamabad was aimed at securing an independent supreme court judge to head the inquiry instead of Justice Agha Rafiq, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court, nominated by President Asif Zardari.

Two questions arose. First, why did the media unite in such an unprecedented manner in this case when it didn’t do so in the case of the sixteen journalists so far killed this year in Pakistan? What was so particularly frightening or significant about this murder that compelled the media to stand up and be counted? Second, why did President Zardari originally pick a “Zardari-loyalist” to head this commission? Was this aimed at shielding any slip up or criminality on the part of the PPP government? And if it wasn’t, who was President Zardari trying to shield and why?

The answers are straight forward enough. Saleem Shehzad had recorded his problems with the ISI and left a testament indicting it if he was harmed. He was writing a book exposing the inroads into the armed forces and ISI made by retired or serving officers sympathetic to Al Qaeda’s violent ideology. Such exposure was deemed irrevocably embarrassing to the national security establishment. It explained the lack of preparedness on the part of the military to defend and protect itself — as evidenced in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Abbottabad in recent times. It also confirmed the fears of the international community about the security of the nukes, triggering scenarios of pre-emptive action against them in the event of their seizure by rogues allied to Al Qaeda. When Saleem Shehzad went ahead and published his book, he had to be silenced.

That, at least, is the media’s perception of what happened to him and why. Thus the media banded together to demand accountability so that the same fate did not befall any other journalist. If this perception was wrong, an independent commission of inquiry should have been able to establish the innocence of the ISI and redeem its credibility. If it was right, the ISI had to be chastened and cleansed of such elements. What is wrong with this way of thinking? Indeed, when an attempt is made to hide the facts behind a stooge commission, such suspicions and perceptions take deep roots and protests are inclined to become more widespread and violent. If President Zardari hadn’t finally heeded the journalists’ threat and appointed Justice Saqib Nisar to head the commission instead of Mr Agha Rafiq, the media was all geared up to announce a blackout of all government news and military press statements and advice.

Much the same sort of trouble for the government and military may be forecast for another commission of inquiry pledged by parliament to uncover the truth behind the Abbottabad debacle. In this case, too, the military seems to have leaned on the weak PPP government to desist from seriously inquiring into the mishap because it would deeply embarrass the “national security establishment” and conceivably jeopardise its “strategic relationship” with its Pentagon counterpart in the United States.

In both instances, however, there is one critical factor that threatens to derail the unholy nexus between a weak government and an arrogant military that are clutching at each other for protection. That is the opposition lead by Nawaz Sharif. The PMLN stood solidly with the fearful media in the first instance and will back the outraged public in the second. No less significantly, the sympathies of the newly independent judiciary are with the media, opposition and public. This is an inherently unstable and precarious situation. Where do we go from here?

The military has no option but to press the strategic “Paradigm Reset” button. The media and judiciary have joined the stake holders’ club. The military must realize that it is no longer capable of “managing” or “manipulating” or “blackmailing” the twice-bitten opposition to do its bidding blindly. The media too has been empowered by a wave of “citizen-journalists” who cannot be repressed. There are 20 million internet users in Pakistan and 4 million Facebook freaks and Tweeters. This organic new species had defied the dictators of the Middle East and smashed their censors. It is destined to do the same in Pakistan.

The situation is fraught with dangers of unmanageable upheaval. The military must adjust its sights accordingly. If, for example, the US were to launch any new unilateral action that outraged the Pakistani media, opposition and public, the military would be caught in the eye of the storm. It won’t be able to resist the public pressure but it also wouldn’t like to be savaged by America. Thus it could be the biggest loser in the game. Forewarned is forearmed.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

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