Tag Archives: Middle

Egyptian uprising. Democracy & Freedom for All!

We are with our brothers and sisters in Egypt. We Salute you and want you to know that we are by your side in this struggle against Tyranny. Be strong, we are with you. The whole world is watching you and it is by your side. Dictators of the Arab world listen the voice of the people. People will Prevail, and Tyrants in the Arab world will Fall. We are with you People of Egypt.

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Apathy and rage — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The surviving Arab rulers and their western mentors will certainly embark on a course to neutralise and thwart this struggle because they see the end of their rule and fear that Israel will no longer enjoy the tranquillity it has seen since Camp David and will have to contend with the people of the region rather than power-hungry autocrats …

Read more : Daily Times

A thuggish security state

A lesson in thuggery: how the security services control Egypt

A one-time Egyptian resident describes the operation of a thuggish security state that controls through everyday brutality

His bastards

Who are the “pro-Mubarak” protesters who have been engaged in running battles with democracy activists throughout Egypt? Why did they come to the demonstration carrying not placards and tracts, but machetes and sulphuric acid? And why were some of them riding on camels? Frederick Bowie explores the murky world of the counter revolution …

Read more : OpenDemocracy

How Democracy Can Work in the Middle East

By Fareed Zakaria

When Frank Wisner, the seasoned U.S. diplomat and envoy of President Obama, met with Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday, Feb. 1, the scene must have been familiar to both men. For 30 years, American diplomats would enter one of the lavish palaces in Heliopolis, the neighborhood in Cairo from which Mubarak ruled Egypt. The Egyptian President would receive the American warmly, and the two would begin to talk about American-Egyptian relations and the fate of Middle East peace. Then the American might gently raise the issue of political reform. The President would tense up and snap back, “If I do what you want, the Islamic fundamentalists will seize power.” The conversation would return to the latest twist in the peace process.

It is quite likely that a version of this exchange took place on that Tuesday. Mubarak would surely have warned Wisner that without him, Egypt would fall prey to the radicalism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Islamist political movement. He has often reminded visitors of the U.S.’s folly in Iran in 1979, when it withdrew support for a staunch ally, the Shah, only to see the regime replaced by a nasty anti-American theocracy. But this time, the U.S. diplomat had a different response to the Egyptian President’s arguments. It was time for the transition to begin. (Watch a TIME video on the revolt in Egypt.)

And that was the message Obama delivered to Mubarak when the two spoke on the phone on Feb. 1. “It was a tough conversation,” said an Administration official. Senior national-security aides gathered around a speakerphone in the Oval Office to listen to the call. Mubarak made it clear how difficult the uprising had been for him personally; Obama pressed the Egyptian leader to refrain from any violent response to the hundreds of thousands in the streets. But a day later, those streets — which had been remarkably peaceful since the demonstrations began — turned violent. In Cairo, Mubarak supporters, some of them wading into crowds on horseback, began battering protesters.

It was a reminder that the precise course that Egypt’s revolution will take over the next few days and weeks cannot be known. The clashes between the groups supporting and opposing the government mark a new phase in the conflict. The regime has many who live off its patronage, and they could fight to keep their power. But the opposition is now energized and empowered. And the world — and the U.S. — has put Mubarak on notice.
Read more: Time

Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani insisted that Pakistan was not Egypt or Tunisia. “Our institutions are working and democracy is functional,” he said. The economy, while under pressure, is not in crisis.

But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter.

If no one expects Pakistan to be swept by revolution this week, the big question on many minds is how, and when, a critical mass of despair among this nation’s 180 million people and the unifying Islamist ideology might be converted into collective action.

Some diplomats and analysts compare the combustible mixture of religious ideology and economic frustration, overlaid with the distaste for America, to Iran in 1979. Only one thing is missing: a leader.

“What’s lacking is a person or institution to link the economic aspirations of the lower class with the psychological frustration of the committed Islamists,” a Western diplomat said this week. “Our assessment is: this is like Tehran, 1979.”

Mr. Gilani is right in that Pakistan held fairly free elections three years ago, when the democratically based Pakistan Peoples Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, won.

But the return to civilian government after a decade of military rule has meant little to the people because politicians have done nothing for voters, said Farrukh Saleem, a risk analyst and columnist in The News, a daily newspaper.

As it has been for all of Pakistan’s more than 60 years of history, Parliament today remains dominated by the families of a favored few, who use their perch to maintain a corrupt patronage system and to protect their own interests as Pakistan’s landed and industrial class. The government takes in little in taxes, and as a result provides little in the way of services to its people.

“Ninety-nine percent of Pakistanis are not affected by the state — it doesn’t deliver anything for them,” Mr. Saleem said. “People are looking for alternatives. So were the Iranians in 1979.”

There is little question that the images from Egypt and Tunisia are reverberating through Pakistani society, and encouraging workers to speak up and vent frustration in ways that were unusual even three months ago.

“There’s no electricity, no gas, no clean water,” said Ali Ahmad, a hotel worker in Lahore who is usually a model of discretion. “I think if things stay the same, people will come out and destroy everything.”

When a young banker in a prestigious job at a foreign bank was asked if Pakistan could go the way of Egypt, he replied, “I hope so.”

At the core of Pakistan’s problem are the wretched economic conditions of day-to-day life for most of the people whose lives are gouged by inflation, fuel shortages and scarcity of work.

They see the rich getting richer, including “the sons of rich, corrupt politicians and their compatriots openly buying Rolls-Royces with their black American Express cards,” said Jahangir Tareen, a reformist politician and successful agricultural businessman.

Food inflation totaled 64 percent in the last three years, according to Sakib Sherani, who resigned recently as the principal economic adviser at the Finance Ministry. The purchasing power of the average wage earner has declined by 20 percent since 2008, he said.

Families are taking children out of school because they cannot afford both fees and food. Others choose between medicine and dinner.

A middle-class customer in a pharmacy in Rawalpindi, the city where the powerful army has its headquarters, told the pharmacist last week to sell him only two pills of a course of 10 antibiotics because he did not have enough money for groceries. …

Read more : The New York Times

A Tunisami hits the Arab world — Razi Azmi

. Islamists are gaining popularity not because they wish to destroy Israel or the US, but because they give vent to the genuine grievances of their people against incompetent, corrupt and oppressive regimes.

A political tsunami has hit Egypt. Call it a Tunisami, after its place of origin. A contagion of mass revolt is gripping the Arab world. The popular upheaval that started in tiny Tunisia has now engulfed Egypt, the giant of the Arab world. Who would have thought that events in a quiet, small, insignificant country situated on the fringe of the Sahara would have such repercussions? But they have shaken the most populous Arab country and sent shockwaves not only in other Arab capitals but also in Washington and Tel Aviv, but for very different reasons.

While Arab regimes are now worried about their own survival, Washington is sleepless with a different anxiety — instability or an Islamist government in Cairo (and, heavens forbid, in Amman) might threaten Israel’s security. …

Read more : Daily Times

Raymond Davis … deja vu

An excerpt from the Khomeini’s Speech that he delivered after an incident similar to the recent Raymond Davis event took place in Iran in 1964.

Khomeini’s Speech Excerpts “The Granting of Capitaluatory Rights to the US” – 27 October, 1964

….I cannot express the sorrow I feel in may heart…Iran no longer has any festival to celebrate; they have turned our festival into mourning…They have sold us, they have sold our independence; but still they light up the city and dance…The dignity of the Iranian Army has been trampled underfoot! A law has been put before the Majlis according to which we are to accede to the Vienna Convention, and a provision has been added to it that all American military advisers, together with their families, technical, and administrative officials, and servants – in short, anyone in any way connected to them – are to enjoy legal immunity with respect to any crime they may commit in Iran. If some American’s servant, some American cook, assassinates your marja in the middle of the bazaar, or run over him, the Iranian police do not have the right to apprehend him! Iranian courts do not have the right to judge him! The dossier must be sent to America, so that our master there can decide what is to be done… They have reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of the American dog. If someone runs over a dog belonging to an American, he will be persecuted. But if an American cook runs over the Shah, the head of the state, no one will have the right to interfere with him. Why? Because they wanted a loan and American demanded this in return.

Source: Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, p 181-188.

Revolution in Pakistan? Is it possible?

by Aziz Narejo, TX

On the contrary, it is highly likely that if the longstanding ‘national question’ is not solved to the satisfaction of the constituents and the provinces are not accorded the rights as promised in the famous 1940 Lahore Resolution which came to be called ‘Pakistan Resolution’, then there is a real time possibility that the country may soon face disintegration.

One hears about a call for revolution in Pakistan every now and then. Recent uprising in the Middle East and Northern Africa has given an impetus to such sentiments in Pakistan. But is a revolution really possible in a country like Pakistan, which is home to divergent and dissimilar cultures and where people are constantly at loggerheads on different issues?

The question can also be appropriately answered if one knows ‘what’ kind of revolution its proponents want.

It is not easy to call for and build a consensus for a revolution in the countries which are not ‘nation states’ or homogeneous. One should be realistic and very clear on this subject. For all practical purposes, Pakistan is a multi-national country. It is home to different people who have distinct cultures with their own languages and history. Their interests are in conflict with each other and they even have their own heroes. Heroes of some are villains for others. How can such a divergent country stand united to fight for a revolution?

Pakistan received a major setback when at the initial stages, the indigenous people and their languages & cultures were completely ignored and outside culture and language were imposed on the country. Resentment to such move was natural. The undemocratic moves to overthrow provincial governments in the initial days in East Bengal, NWFP (now PK), Sindh and Punjab at the whim of the Central government & forcible annexation of Balochistan were harbingers of what was in store for Pakistan. …

Read more : Indus Herald

Tunisia Unrest Inspires Jordan Protesters

Written by: VOA

Demonstrators in Jordan say they are preparing for more protests.  Massive demonstrations inspired by unrest in Tunisia have shaken what historically has been one of the most stable nations in the Middle East and raised questions about the future role of the country’s popular monarch. Some protesters in last Friday’s demonstration waved pieces of bread.

It is rising food prices, unemployment, and anger over corruption that prompted thousands to take to the streets of Amman last week. …

Read more : EurasiaReview

Yemen protests: Thousands call on president to leave

Thousands of Yemenis are demonstrating in the capital Sanaa, calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for more than 30 years, to step down. This comes after mass protests in Egypt and a popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted its long-time leader. Yemeni opposition members and youth activists gathered in four parts of the city, including Sanaa University, chanting anti-government slogans.

They also called for economic reforms and an end to corruption. Yemenis complain of mounting poverty among a growing young population and frustration with a lack of political freedoms. …

Read more : BBC

The hijacking of culture

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

After the mid-1970s, rural migration to urban centres increased manifold. A new middle class, which had recently become urbanised, provided the basis for Zia’s Islamisation and, later on, jihadi projects.

I am not sure if Veena Malik was the most articulate person in characterising the mullah and questioning the cliché of Pakistani culture, but I do know that she was brave in speaking the plain truth. If our media is concerned about how Pakistani culture is portrayed abroad, then they should ask the world whether Veena Malik or the jihadis of different stripes and their supporting network of religious parties are giving a bad name to the country. They should ask the world if sentencing Aasia Bibi to death is more troublesome than Veena Malik’s entertainment stint in India.

Ms Malik was not the first one to have said that mullahs sexually exploit in the mosques, it was the greatest Punjabi poet, Waris Shah, who created the mullah’s character in the epic love story of Heer Ranjha to denounce the theocracy, and said the same thing. In one of the dialogues with the mullah, Waris Shah (stanza 37) characterises the mullah and in the last line he says exactly what Veena Malik said:

“(Mullah) Your beard is like a pious scholar and you act like a devil. You condemn (even) the travellers for nothing. …

Read more : Wichaar

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

Toronto, Canada : International Center for Peace and Democracy (ICPD) is a Toronto based think tank advocating secular democracy and peace in South Asia . Executive Director of ICPD, Muhammad Mumtaz Khan, who comes from Pakistan, administered Kashmir (PAK), has a thirty-year experience in the field of rights’ advocacy. Currently, he also represents International Kashmir Alliance (IKA) and All Parties National Alliance (APNA) in the European Parliament, North America and the United Nations.

Continue reading SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

Most of the leaders of third world countries on sale, but Pakistan’s ruling elite is exception & it is very lower level satrap and slave

ANALYSIS: Schamlosigkeit! — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

….. Here, our easily purchasable politicians and bureaucrats do not hesitate to barter away their souls and, in Reko Diq’s case, the asking price is not their souls but the easily dispensable rights and future of the Baloch people.

The rights of the Baloch people seem inconsequential to the centre and they flout them with brazenness. Recently, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Mohammad Aslam Bhootani minced no words and exposed the immense pressure being put on them by the Prime Minister’s House to allot 70,000 acres in the environs of Hingol National Park to Arab princes for rest and recreation. He emphasised that the Balochistan government had earlier refused this land to a federal security institution because of the local people’s opposition. The Arab princes would do well to remember that in Balochistan they will not enjoy the tranquillity that Cholistan offers because here the people will definitely resist their unwanted presence.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, president of the UAE, alone has been allotted hunting permits in Zhob, Ormara, Gwadar, Pasni, Panjgur and Washuk districts. Pakistan is a signatory of the UN Bonn Convention on migratory species, which protects the endangered Houbara Bustard. But expecting respect for ‘bird rights’ where ‘human rights’ suffer immeasurably is infantile fantasy.

The Arab royalty have also been granted tax exemptions for all their property and imports for hunting purposes. The Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) clarified that “similar exemptions were also given to the United Nations, charitable organisations and diplomats”. The Arab rulers certainly qualify as ‘charitable organisations’ for the rulers and politicians here. They give them asylum and plead their case with the US.

The Pakistani politicians and the establishment are very fragile and vulnerable to pressures as is amply proved by the WikiLeaks or rather the ‘Wikitorrents’ that they have turned into. WikiLeaks certainly threatens to sweep away many a reputation and career around the world except perhaps in Pakistan and the Middle East where phenomenally shameless unashamedness or Schamlosigkeit exists as a unique quality in the rulers and establishments; the worse the reputation, the better are the chances of success.

The respect that the Arab princes and rulers accord to the rulers and politicians here is apparent from the choice epithets used for them in WikiLeaks. Some are considered dirty but not dangerous and others are dangerous but not dirty, and yet these shameless people go grovelling to their liege lords like serfs and subjects.

These rulers and politicians and the establishment sacrifice self-respect for material benefits; they cannot be expected to stand up for the rights of the Baloch people over their resources and land. And, moreover, because the Baloch do not expect them to protect their rights, they will resist Tethyan and the Arab princes’ encroachments on their land and resources in the same way that made, in spite of the huge military presence, Amoco Oil Company give up oil exploration in the Marri area in 1974.

To read full article : Daily Times

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

Barbaric punishments are in fact the only part of Islam that appeals to the Taliban and their supporters

Stoning to death —Ishtiaq Ahmed

The well-known English journalist Robert Fisk has presented a detailed investigative report, ‘The crimewave that shames the world’ in The Independent, September 7, 2010, about so-called honour killings. Not surprisingly, the highest incidence of such crimes is in the Muslim world, though even some non-Muslim Middle Eastern minorities and Hindus in India practise it. What I found particularly shocking was that after murdering a daughter or sister, a Muslim culprit can walk away scot-free because the Islamic law of qisas (retaliation) allows heirs to pardon the criminal. Thus, other family members can pardon the offender. All such relics of barbarism have to be done away with. Already in the 19th century, Maulvi Chiragh Ali wrote that the Quran is not a book of law. Justice Munir has also advanced similar arguments. Privately, most of the educated Muslims I talk to agree with me that hudood laws, blasphemy laws and many other such laws are anachronisms that have no place in the 21st century. More such voices need to be heard in the public space.

The task in hand for modern Muslims is to separate the spiritual, moral and ethical message of Islam from penal laws reflecting the sensibilities of tribal society of the seventh century.

Stoning to death is practised as a routine punishment for adultery in Iran and Saudi Arabia. When the Taliban ruled in Afghanistan, they too imposed it with a relish and did it with the same enthusiasm in their enclaves called Islamic emirates when they ruled in some pockets of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Swat valley. There is no doubt that the origin of this barbaric punishment is the Old Testament of the Jews. The Jewish Torah prescribes it for a host of other offences as well. It is not mentioned in the Quran. However, all the five schools of Islamic jurisprudence — Hanafi, Shafai, Maliki and Hanbali of the Sunnis and the Ja’afri of the Shias prescribe it for adultery. On this point of law, there is complete unanimity of opinion. I believe the Khawarji school of thought adheres to it as well. …

Read more >> Daily Times

States formed on the basis of religion can never survive a peaceful future (Bertrand Russell) e.g Pakistan and Israel!

Gandhi’s Advice for Israelis and Palestinians

By ROBERT MACKEY

Writing from the West Bank town of Bilin, where there are weekly protests against the path of Israel’s separation barrier, my colleague Nicholas Kristof has sparked a discussion of “the possibility of Palestinians using nonviolent resistance on a massive scale to help change the political dynamic in the Middle East and achieve a two-state solution,” in a column and a blog post.

As my colleague Ethan Bronner reported in April, some Palestinians have explicitly endorsed just that approach and Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, visited Bilin three months ago. Mr. Gandhi toured the West Bank with Mustafa Barghouti, a leader of the Palestinian nonviolent movement who explained the approach in an interview on The Daily Show last year.

Although Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948, Pankaj Mishra pointed out in an essay last year on “the eerie echoes between the formative and postcolonial experiences of India and Israel” that the Indian leader did speak out against the resort to violence by both Jews and Arabs in mandatory Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s.

Gandhi told London’s Jewish Chronicle in an interview in 1931: “I can understand the longing of a Jew to return to Palestine, and he can do so if he can without the help of bayonets, whether his own or those of Britain… in perfect friendliness with the Arabs.”

In 1937, after Arabs tried to stop Jewish immigration to British-administered Palestine by force, Gandhi repeated his view that a homeland for Jews in the Middle East would only be possible “when Arab opinion is ripe for it.”

In his most extended treatment of the problem, an essay called “The Jews,” published in his newspaper Harijan in 1938, Gandhi began:

Several letters have been received by me, asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question. My sympathies are all with the Jews.

That said, he counseled Jews in both Germany and Palestine to avoid violence, writing:

If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this, I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance but would have confidence that in the end the rest are bound to follow my example. […]

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart.

Read more >> The New York Times