Tag Archives: Modern

The Persian Paradox: Iran Is Much More Modern Than You Think

by Erich Follath

People in the West tend to have a monolithic view of Iran. But there’s a lot more to the country than the mullah-led theocracy, and it often gets ignored. And national pride is alive and well.

Read more » Spiegel International
See more » http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/caught-between-history-and-modernity-the-persian-paradox-a-1027050.html

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

LAHORE: National Industrial Parks (NIP) Development and Management Company has decided to establish a 25 megawatt (MW) power generation plant based on municipal and agro waste besides local coal or combination of these fuels for the electricity requirement of the industries at the Rachna Industrial Park on the main Lahore-Sheikhupura Road.

The Rachna Power Plant will be the first-ever power unit to be developed on the basis of waste as a source of energy. The plant’s primary fuel will be Refused Derive Fuel (RDF) prepared from a mixture of municipal solid wastes and agro wastes, while the coal would be used as a backup fuel.

The technology of an integrated recovery of recyclable materials and production of the refused derive fuel will be adopted for this power plant.

The concept of the modern waste to energy plant has been proposed for the Rachna Power Plant, which is very different from the old incinerators due to the technological progress of the last decade.

Chief Executive Officer Mohsin Syed at NIP meeting in which investors of the Rechna Industrial Park were also present said the municipal solid waste of Lahore and surrounding area and the agro wastes, which including rice husk, corn and wood waste of the adjoining areas would be collected and transported to recycle it into a real fuel that could be easily stored, transported and efficiently burned at the plant site within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park.

He said the power generation complex was proposed to consist of one unit of 6 MW and two units of 11 MW each with total gross capacity of the 28 MW and the net capacity at site would be 25.5 MW to provide operational flexibility and reliability in case of shut down of one or more units.

The power generation facility would be located within the premises of the Rachna Industrial Park located at 7.5 kilometers (km) Lahore-Sheikhupura Road on the Upper Chenab Canal. The site is at the distance of 18 km from the

Lahore-Shekhupura Motorway Interchange, 24 km from the Lahore city centre and 40 km from the Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore and an area of 10 acres has already been earmarked for the power generation complex at the Rachna Industrial Park, the NIP chief explained.

Continue reading Making energy from waste : 25 MW Rachna Power Plant on the cards

Reunification of India and Pakistan only solution to Kashmir: Markandey Katju

NEW DELHI: Press Council of India (India) chairperson justice Markandey Katju today said that the only solution to the Kashmir problem is reunification of India and Pakistan under a strong and “modern-minded” government which will not tolerate bigotry.

“The cause of the Kashmir problem is the partition of India on a totally bogus basis – the two nation theory, that Hindus and Muslims are separate nations….I don’t recognise Pakistan as a legitimate country because the whole basis is the two nation theory and I don’t accept the two nation theory,” he said.

Continue reading Reunification of India and Pakistan only solution to Kashmir: Markandey Katju

Once upon a time in Afghanistan

PART THREE – THE LOST HISTORY OF HELMAND

By: Adam Curtis

When you look at footage of the fighting in Helmand today everyone assumes it is being played out against an ancient background of villages and fields built over the centuries.

This is not true. If you look beyond the soldiers, and into the distance, what you are really seeing are the ruins of one of the biggest technological projects the United States has ever undertaken. Its aim was to use science to try and change the course of history and produce a modern utopia in Afghanistan. The city of Lashkar Gah was built by the Americans as a model planned city, and the hundreds of miles of canals that the Taliban now hide in were constructed by the same company that built the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Cape Canaveral. Here is what Helmand province looks like today. ….

Read more » BBC

“If a person has sex with a cow, a sheep or a camel … drinking their milk will be unlawful.”

Sex and the Single Mullah

Islamic scholars are prepared to answer questions and issue fatwas on almost any realm of modern life. Sometimes, it can get a little kinky.

BY JOSHUA E. KEATING

As Karim Sadjadpour recounts in his new article for Foreign Policy, an obscure cleric known as Ayatollah Gilani had a popular television show in the early days of the Iranian revolution during which he would opine upon the halal or haram status of various outlandish scenarios. His best-remembered went like this:

Imagine you are a young man sleeping in your bedroom. In the bedroom directly below, your aunt lies asleep. Now imagine that an earthquake happens that collapses your floor, causing you to fall directly on top of her. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’re both nude, and you’re erect, and you land with such perfect precision on top of her that you unintentionally achieve intercourse. Is the child of such an encounter halalzadeh (legitimate) or haramzadeh (a bastard)?

(It’s halalzadeh in case you were wondering.) ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

Via – Twitter

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

Politics of Azad – Haider Nizamani

YOU have to take a maulana seriously when he says that founding a modern state on the basis of religion is no guarantee of its success.

Continue reading Politics of Azad – Haider Nizamani

The United States of Prisons

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

By Rania Khalek

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….

Read more » AlterNet

The season of revolts – By:Arif Ansar

Excerpt;

But the winter of discontent is still far off

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

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

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

To read complete article » Pakistan Today

If USA attacks Pakistan…

– by Harris Bin Munawar

When America’s top military official hinted at direct US action in the tribal region where it believes Pakistan shelters and works with the anti-American Haqqani Network, among the first to respond was the network’s top leader. “The US would suffer more losses in the North Waziristan Agency than they did in Afghanistan,” Sirajuddin Haqqani said, daring the US to send its troops into the tribal region that the Pakistani army itself has refused to enter.

This means: 1. His network is entrenched in North Waziristan 2. It is their responsibility to defend the agency 3. They would prefer to do so over several years in Afghanistan-style guerrilla warfare

Pakistan Army says it is not ready to take on the influential pro-Taliban leader, effectively giving up a claim on the territory he controls.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani says a raid on the Haqqani Network would be an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty, as if the defence of North Waziristan has been outsourced to the Haqqanis.

Prone to the drone:

If Pakistan Army indeed lacks capacity, or will, to reclaim North Waziristan where Afghan insurgents are believed to hide, regroup and plan new attacks, that means it has no effective control over the region.

Pakistan says that: 1. Its army does not have the means or resources to control that territory 2. The government will lose political credibility if it orders an operation in the North Waziristan 3. Taliban reaction to such an operation will destabilize the entire country

If that is correct, Pakistan has lost de facto control over the area and it cannot claim sovereignty. That gives the US a justification to go after its enemies itself. And that is what the US does with missile attacks by unmanned aircraft.

A government that has been holding tribes collectively responsible for violations committed by their individual members has no moral authority to suddenly invoke modern notions of justice or mourn the death of innocent civilians who shelter the Taliban.

So little leverage:

If Pakistan is collaborating with, or supporting, or merely avoiding confrontation with a group it has long-standing ties with, a group it believes or hopes will have a significant role in the post-US Afghanistan, there is no reason it will stop doing that for an ally that is about to leave the battlefield.

Washington wants to put its foot down. It wants Pakistan to stop supporting its enemies. But “the problem is”, security analyst Caroline told Reuters, “we have so little leverage”. Because:

1. America cannot engage in a long-term battle inside Pakistan with its economy worsening, troops thinning, and a complete withdrawal from the region already announced

2. It has no identifiable target in Pakistan. The Haqqani Network does not have too much of a stationary central command that it could attack

3. Now that they are expecting an attack, members of the group will disperse

4. If the IsI is supporting the Haqqani Network, killing one or two of its leaders will not significantly hurt the group’s capability to attack US interests

What can America do?

1. The US can make a May 2 style incursion into Pakistan and go after the top leader of the Haqqani Network. After his father Jalaluddin Haqqani’s retirement, Sirajuddin the most influential insurgent figure in that region. But the impact of his killing might not be more than that of the killing of Osama bin Laden

2. It can make a number of simultaneous raids under air cover on several key targets in North Waziristan – people or buildings that might include Pakistan Army’s check-posts. Like the May 2 raid, the legitimacy of the operation will depend on how successful it is

3. The US can carry out a series of individual strikes followed by periods of calm. That way it will continue to meet its goals and embarrass the Pakistan Army, while making sure the tipping point is never reached

4. Washington can impose an economic embargo on Pakistan, stop all aid, freeze its accounts and declare the ISI a terrorist organisation. It can also use its influence on international agencies to end all aid and loan programs to Pakistan. That will be deathblow to Pakistan’s ailing economy

5. It can increase drone strikes in the Tribal Areas and take out targets with virtual impunity

Neither of these steps is new or extraordinary, and neither of these steps will dramatically reverse the US predicament in Afghanistan.

What can Pakistan do?

Any US move against Pakistan does not have to be new or extraordinary to hurt Pakistan. Pakistan Army has influenced public opinion in the past to create an anti-America feeling that it can then cite to seek concessions from the US. In doing that, it has entrenched itself into a position where it will have no choice but to respond to a US strike.

As an immediate response, Pakistan can:

1. Retaliate and fire at intruding US aircraft or men. Claims have been made that Pakistan can shoot down predator drones, but it is less likely Pakistan can detect and attack US fighter aircraft. The Osama bin Laden raid has also raised doubts about Pakistan’s ability to detect and attack intruding helicopters

2. Carry out a delayed but full-fledged counter-attack on US bases in Afghanistan that it believes were used in attacks on its soil. That may lead to a US counter-counter-attack and an all out war. How long can Pakistan sustain that war is an important question

3. Increase attacks on US interests through any Taliban factions or other insurgent groups that are ready to support Pakistan. If Sirajuddin Haqqani has made an offer to defend North Waziristan, the Pakistani military might take them up on that. Sooner or later, the US will withdraw anyway. But is there a guarantee these groups will not go rogue like many in the past? Can a modern Pakistani republic reconcile with their version of the Muslim faith?

4. Step back and start an operation in North Waziristan. But with the US leaving, will Pakistan want to alienate its supporters in Afghanistan? One way to deal with the problem is to continue the policy Pakistan is accused of. The army can hide key figures of the network and then conduct a fake operation for several months until the US is pressured by its politics or economics to leave the region. But then, how will Pakistan deal with the network and reclaim its territory after the US leaves?

5. Not retaliate with a military move, and just end diplomatic ties with the US, losing a key source of aid. Closing down NATO supply routes will hurt the US immediately. But if the supplies are stopped for too long, the US will find new, although more expensive, ways to get supplies to Kabul. If that happens, Pakistan would have burned up a very important advantage.

6. Go to China for help. China’s key security officials came to Pakistan last week. Pakistani analysts saw that as a sign of support. But the Chinese delegation is on a scheduled visit to discuss terrorists hiding in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas that fight against China in its Xinjiang province. It is not likely China support Pakistan on some of the possible plans we have discussed. Nor is it in China’s interest to jump into a US-Pakistan conflict.

Can Pakistan sustain a war?

Opinion leaders in Pakistan believe the resource-rich republic can sustain confrontation with a defeated US empire. Such self-deception has cost Pakistan dearly in the past. Let us look at the key resources needed in a war:

Troops: Pakistan does not have enough troops to guard both the Indian and Afghan border. We have grouped India with the US as a matter of policy, and will have to pay for that by being sandwiched between two hostile neighbours

Weapons: The weapons and equipment used by Pakistan Army come from the US and its allies. That means we will soon run out of ammunition and cannot repair or service the equipment

Money: Pakistan’s economy cannot pay for a war, especially after an embargo by the US. Hit by floods two years in a row, suffering from an energy crisis, cash-strapped because of huge government spending, and dependent on foreign aid, how long will its money last?

Communications network: Pakistan’s communication system can not bear the burden of war with a dysfunctional railways. With engine shortages and trains stopped half way for up to 20 hours because there is no diesel, how will Pakistan fight a war?

Intelligence: If Pakistan’s intelligence agencies are to be believed, they had no clue about the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in Pakistan, a planned US raid to kill him, or even about the activities of Raymond Davis and CIA contractors like him. On the contrary, it is accused of targeting journalists who there is a general consensus are not American agents. Pakistan’s intelligence network does not look like it is ready to fight a war

Diplomatic support: Every single country in this region was hurt when Pakistan had influence in Afghanistan the last time. Insurgents from China and Central Asia were sheltered and trained in Afghanistan, Iran was unhappy because tens of thousands of Shias were massacred, and India was among the victims of guerrilla warriors too. The International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia is asking for former ISI chief Gen Javed Nasir. Who in the region will support Pakistan in its battle to control Afghanistan?

Domestic politics: Hundreds of people have been killed in ethnic and political battles in the crime-infested economic hub Karachi, Punjab is suffering from a new epidemic, Sindh is submerged in floods, Balochistan is fighting an insurgency and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is dysfunctional because of terrorism. Pakistan’s domestic situation is less than ideal for a war.

Continue reading If USA attacks Pakistan…

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

When was Pakistan’s fate sealed?

Pak paying heavily for its mistakes in the 1970s: Tony Blair

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “paying heavily” for its mistakes in the 1970s when it started mixing religion with politics and promoted extremism, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said.

“I think Pakistan is paying a heavy price for the mistakes of 1970s by linking religion with politics and developing religious schools which are, in some cases, dangerous sources of extremism,” Blair told Karan Thapar in an interview to a news channel.

The former British prime minister was responding to queries relating to the role of ISI in spreading terrorism and its links with the Haqqani group in Afghanistan.

When asked if the US, after eliminating Osama bin laden, should also go after the Haqqani faction, Blair said it was something which the Americans have to decide.

“The trouble with these groups is that there is no way to use them wisely. On these issues like Pakistan might have to say about its influence in Afghanistan vis-a-vis India’s influence there, there will be nothing good out of supporting these groups,” he said.

“If ISI is engaged in such activities, in the end it will not merely affect US, UK, Afghanistan or India, it poisons the atmosphere in Pakistan also,” Blair said.

The former British prime minister said that if there was any linkage between the ISI and terror groups such as the Haqqani group and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, “it is a mistake.”

Blair said there was a need to engage “modern and open-minded” Pakistanis who are involved in a struggle against the extremists.

“We have to see how we can engage elements in Pakistan who believe that this was a mistake. The best way is to allow Pakistan to change and evolve and there are a lot of decent people in Pakistan,” he said.

Blair said that Pakistan itself has suffered a lot due to terrorism as thousands of people have been killed. There was a “struggle going on in the country between those with modern and open-minded attitude towards future against those who are in the power struggle and will play dangerously,” he said. ….

Read more → TOI

Babar Ayaz: reality check?

ROVER’S DIARY: Is it a blind spot or blindness to reality?

by Babar Ayaz

Excerpt:

While the military is selectively fighting the terrorist organisations and thousands of our security personnel have been martyred, they have not challenged the ideology of jihad. Thousands of mosques, madrassas and religious organisations are preaching jihad against the west and its allied governments in the Muslim countries

Terrorists who attacked the PNS Mehran on May 22 knew the ‘security blind spot’. At least that is what the Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media soon after the operation. Further follow-up reports confirmed his observation. Now the entire media is asking how the terrorists knew about this ‘blind spot’.

The obvious conclusion is that the terrorists have some sympathisers inside the forces. This suspicion is further corroborated by the fact that the routes and timings of the naval buses, which came under attack a month ago, were seemingly also compromised by some insiders. The attackers on GHQ also had insiders with them. Musharraf’s assassination attempts were also done with insiders’ help. Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his guard, abetted by his colleagues. So there is not one blind spot we are talking about. It seems that many people among our security establishment, politicians and journalists are ‘blind’ to the bigger reality. ….

…. A question can be asked here that if we were wrong to wage war against Afghanistan jointly with the US in the 1980s, then how are we right now to side with Washington’s war in Afghanistan? We should remember that Najibullah’s government survived about three years after the Soviet forces left. But we were the ones who trained and funded the Taliban to take over the government. We opposed the Afghan government, which wanted to turn its country into a modern democratic state, and imposed a Taliban government, which could only give them primitive medievalism.

And when it came to choosing sides, the same protégé Taliban government sacrificed relations with Pakistan and the future of Afghans to save Osama — a champion of a permanent Islamic revolution. We then started playing the double game and gave protection to the Taliban who are till today intruding into Afghanistan. They are the cause of the drone attacks. Sir, you remove them, these attacks will stop.

We continue to dangerously mix religion with politics. The Pakistani establishment also started using jihadi organisations to destabilise India — a major mistake because it was bound to boomerang sooner than later. So the people who think that terrorism is because of drone attacks and our involvement in Afghanistan should not blindfold themselves with narrow nationalistic gauze. They should face the reality that Pakistan is undoubtedly directly and indirectly involved in terrorist activities in our neighbourhood, using the jihadi ideology. The same ideology has been turned by the terrorist groups into the belief that the Pakistani establishment is a renegade of the Islamic jihadi movement. The same ideology is providing the terrorists support from within our security establishment.

So what is to be done? The security establishment should shun the jihadi ideology and support to such groups, closely monitor that in the name of preaching Islam its rank and file is not indoctrinated with hate mongering, and purge the supporters of these organisations. The politicians should take the ideological challenge and develop a communication strategy scientifically to convince the people that the terrorists have declared war against Pakistanis using religion, and that we have to stand united for building a modern, democratic secular Pakistan. This is not a war against terrorism; it is defending Pakistanis from terrorism. Nothing short of that will work now.

To read complete article: Daily Times

Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Excerpt:

The basic socio-political mindset of the Pakistani society is the outcome of various faith-based experiments conducted by the state and the armed forces.

The party

In 1995, sometime in May, an uncle of mine (an ex-army man), was invited to a party of sorts.

The invitation came from a former top-ranking military officer who had also worked for the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI. He was in the army with my uncle (who now resides abroad) during the 1960s.

My uncle, who was visiting Pakistan, asked if I was interested in going with him. I agreed.

The event was at a military officer’s posh bungalow in Karachi’s Clifton area. Most of the guests (if not all) were former military men. All were articulate, spoke fluent English and wore modern, western clothes.

I was not surprised by this but what did surprise me was a rather schizophrenic aura about the surroundings. Though modern-looking and modern-sounding, the gathering turned out to be a segregated affair.

The men’s wives were placed in a separate room, while the men gathered in a wider sitting area.

By now it become clear to me that I wouldn’t be getting served anything stronger than Pepsi on the rocks!

I scratched my head, thinking that even though I was at a ‘party’ in a posh, stylish bungalow in the posh, stylish Clifton area with all these posh stylish military men and their wives and yet, somehow I felt there very little that was ‘modern’ about the situation.

By modern, I also mean the thinking that was reflected by the male guests on politics, society and religion. Most of the men were also clean-shaven and reeking of expensive cologne, but even while talking about cars, horses and their vacations in Europe, they kept using Arabic expressions such as mashallah, alhamdullila, inshallah, etc.

I tried to strike up some political conversations with a few gentlemen but they expected me to agree with them about how civilian politicians were corrupt, how democracy can be a threat to Pakistan, how civilian leaders do not understand India’s nefarious designs, et al. …

The experiment

The Pakistan Army was once a staunchly secular beast. All across the 1950s and 1960s it was steeped in secular (albeit conservative) traditions and so were its sociological aspects.

In fact, until the late 1960s, Pakistani military men were asked to keep religion a private matter and religious exhibitionism was scorned at as well as reprimanded – mostly during Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s dictatorship (1959-69).

Continue reading Like army, like nation – by Nadeem F. Paracha

Interview with Pratap Mehta on Pakistan

Pratap Mehta: Pakistan’s Perpetual Identity Crisis

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a political theorist and intellectual historian based in New Delhi, is leading us through another reflection on the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.

The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”

In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:

The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.

The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.

The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – – Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.

Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.

Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”

Click here to listen Radio Open Source interview with Pratap Mehta, it is much more in depth than the text summary

Courtesy: http://www.radioopensource.org/pratap-mehta-pakistans-perpetual-identity-crisis/

Problems of Sindhi Nationalism – What way forward?

Written by Dr Beenish Shoro

Excerpt:

…. In Pakistan the national question exists in its worst form because Pakistan itself is an example of a failed nation state. Pakistan was created as a result of the partition of the Indian subcontinent as the British imperialists and the local/national bourgeois leaders feared that a united national liberation would not stop there but would move towards a social transformation that would overthrow landlordism, capitalism and the imperialist strangle hold. To avoid a socialist revolution they conspired and split the movement along religious lines that led to the reactionary and traumatic partition of a land that had more than five thousand years of common history, cultural and socio economic existence.

Pakistan was founded not as a nation state, but as a state made up of nationalities. Even the abbreviations which form the word Pakistan are a testimony to this fact. This corresponds to its belated character. … National oppression has been brutal and rough ever since the country came into being. ….

….the separation of Bangladesh, the inability to resolve regional and sectarian disputes, the inability to sustain a clear concept and direction to Pakistan’s Nationalism and finally failure to create a modern cohesive nation state.

Pakistan’s political system is dominated by elite groups. In addition it faces the dilemma of chronic military rule. ….

….Sindh, the southern most province of the state possesses one of the most varied demographical set-ups in Pakistan. There is a very fragile ethnic balance between Sindhis and non-Sindhis. After partition many of the immigrants from Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in India moved mainly to Karachi, but also to Hyderabad, Sukkur and other cities of Sindh.

This massive influx of Mohajirs from India and other nationalities resulted in a greater control of people from this transmigration over the economy, jobs and posts in the state apparatus. Although this phenomenon had a greater impact on urban Sindh, the deprivation was felt also in rural Sindh especially amongst the Sindhi middle classes. The acquisition of State and other lands by Punjab Generals and other settlers further aggravated this feeling of national deprivation amongst the Sindhi populace. There are several other factors which fuelled these sentiments. ….

….At the heart of nationalist sentiments in Pakistan is the perception by non-Punjabis that the Punjabi nationality dominates the economy, politics, society and the state. There is considerable evidence to support this perception. First, Punjabis constitute a majority of the population, approximately 60%; second, they dominate the civilian bureaucracy and the military; third, the Punjab is by far the wealthiest and most developed province in the state. And this perception is ironically fuelled by governmental policies designed to assuage such perceptions. ….

…. G. M. Syed can rightly be considered as the founder of Sindhi nationalism. He formed the Sindh Progressive Party in 1947 and demanded provincial autonomy within a socialist framework. In 1953 he formed the SindhAwami Mahaz. G. M. Syed himself a middle sized landlord represented the grievances of that class as well. …

… There have been several movements in Sindh over the last 60 years but there are three very significant mass upsurges that shook the echelons of power in Islamabad. These are the movements of 1968-69, 1983 and to some extent that of 1986. All these movements had different intensities, character, orientation and motivations. …

Zia was the son of a Mullah who had migrated from Eastern (Indian) Punjab and was American-trained at Fort Bragg. His atrocities, his make up and his background were enough to provoke massive hatred from the masses in Sindh. Zia’s repression of the Sindh was no less than the brutalities of British colonialists inflicted upon the mass of the subcontinent and other colonies. All this unleashed a glorious movement of the Sindhi masses against the military dictatorship. Although this movement had significant nationalist overtones, fundamentally it was linked to the general class resentment against this regime.

The movement failed because the regime was able to foster ethnic and nationalist discord especially in urban Sindh and in other main cities and provinces of Pakistan. In Karachi the Pakistani state devised the instrument of the MQM, the Punjabi Pushtoon Ittehad, Islamic fundamentalists and other reactionary outfits to break the momentum of struggle that was developing along class lines.

Still the movement raged on. In such circumstances whenever national antagonisms coincided with class contradictions they became especially hot. According to the official figures 1263 innocent people were slaughtered by the army in rural Sindh while thousands more were injured. There are heroic episodes of resistance that have now become legends in Sindhi folklore. …

… In 1986 the movement in Sindh was actually the last nail in Zia’s coffin. …

… If we in Sindh should achieve “freedom” through the same phenomenon as in Bangladesh we may well get freedom from non-Sindhi capitalists, but we will be all the more cruelly exploited by Sindhi capitalists and landlords. These nationalists do not want freedom from poverty, misery, unemployment; they just want freedom to establish control over their own market where they could extract a huge surplus by squeezing the last drop of the workers’ blood.

The feudal landlords want freedom to exploit the peasants and working class …

… We will take revenge for the crime of partition of India through the formation of a Red Revolutionary Subcontinent. As Comrade Lal khan says, “The unification of the Indian subcontinent will be on a much higher plane than the 1947 Partition.” …

To read full article :→ Marxist.com

A Primer on Class Struggle

by Michael Schwalbe

When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?

I respond by challenging the premise that class struggle has disappeared. On the contrary, I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it. …

Read more : Common Dreams

Jesus was a socialist and also the world’s greatest revolutionary

What would Jesus do? – by Mehdi Hasan

Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own. But in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe.

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as “the greatest socialist in history”. But it’s not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: “Jesus preached fairness – you could almost call him a lefty.”

That conservatives have succeeded in claiming Christ as one of their own in recent years – especially in the US, where the Christian right is in the ascendancy – is a tragedy for the modern left. Throughout history, Jesus’s teachings have inspired radical social and political movements: Christian pacifism (think the Quakers, Martin Luther King or Bruce Kent in CND), Christian socialism (Keir Hardie or Tony Benn), liberation theology (in South America) and even “Christian communism“. In the words of the 19th-century French utopian philosopher Étienne Cabet, “Communism is Christianity . . . it is pure Christianity, ” …

Read more : Newstatesman

Bringing Punjabiyat Back

By Omar Ali

Excerpt:

…. 1. In the near future, the decline of Punjabi in Pakistan will continue since the state ideology is biased in favor of Urdu (vehicle of Islamism and the “two-nation theory”, as well as the first or second language of the educated elite), mainly since Punjabi is not taught in schools. Schools are the brain-washing institution of choice in modern society, so no surprises here.

2. But in the long run, it is Urdu which is in serious trouble in Pakistan. Its native speakers are a minority and have not been able to enlarge and grow a living breathing literary and musical culture…this is a controversial statement, but I have anecdotal evidence: The older generation of the Pakistani elite actually read Urdu poetry, knew hundreds of verses by heart, even read a few novels and many excellent short stories. The new generation is reading English or reading nothing. There are exceptions, but in the long run, the culture of Urdu is dying in Pakistan (i have no idea of its health in India). …

To read full article : Brownpundits

When Gen. Zia imposed Arabic

by Dr. Masood Ashraf

The role of national languages in defining and articulating national identities is a hackneyed subject, but, somehow, the privileging of learning a sacred language has not been explored much in the debates on nationalism. In this brief article, I intend to draw attention to the rise of Arabic studies in Pakistan and its long-term consequences for the Pakistani public sphere.

In his 1983 book Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson provides three major causes for the waning of the pre-national empires and the rise of modern nation-states. One of the reasons, according to Anderson, was the rise of vernacular languages in place of what were considered the sacred languages, Latin and Arabic included. I have long maintained that Anderson misses the point as he only looks at the official use of these languages and not about the symbolic aspects of their power. In case of Arabic, for example, while it never was the official language of Muslim India, it still remains a language that wields immense symbolic power. …

Read more : ViewPoint

Meray Dil Meray Musafir!

Laal: Meray Dil Meray Musafir, Poet: Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Composition / Arrangment: Taimur Rahman, Mixing / Mastering: Jamal Rahman, Direction: Taimur Rahman and Mahvash Waqar, Acting: Comrade Irfan, Raheela, Natasha, Tehseen, Touseef.

Laal presents “Meray Dil, Meray Musafir” dedicated to the Birth Centenary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The music video is a new interpretation of Faiz’s iconic poem “Dil e Man, Musafir e Man”. While Faiz wrote this poem about exile, this video explores Marx’s concept of alienation within the context of modern industrial capitalism.

None of the individuals within the video are actors. Comrade Irfan plays his and his family’s shared experiences. In fact, every single role has been played by individuals who actually live these lives. The video was shot in the industrial areas of Lahore (Greentown, Multan Road, Defence Road, Ilaqa Nawab Sahib). Laal’s music is about real people and real struggles.

You Tube Link

Christian, Jewish and Muslim Fundamentalists Agree that Natural Disasters Are God’s Revenge on the Modern World

Their religions vary, but the fundies agree that the punitive but righteous hand of God is responsible for catastrophe.

When a Shiite prayer leader blames earthquakes in Iran on immodestly dressed and promiscuous women, neocons like Michael Ledeen snicker.

When a prominent ultra-orthodox Israeli spiritual and political leader agrees with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyehthat the fire destroying Israel’s Carmel Forest is a punishment from God, there’s silence.

Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, who remains a prominent spiritual and political leader of the Shas party, and Palestinian Prime Minister elect Haniyeh agree that the Deity has been venting His fury by means of  the destructive blaze in Israel, but disagree about why.

Read more : Alternet.org

Diaspora Sindhis – The Scattered Treasure with the Ancient Heritage of Indus Civilization

Sindhis – The Scattered Treasure – By Ms. Popati Hiranandani

An extract from the book

When I entered my brother’s home in Singapore, I found a Cambodian painting in his drawing room depicting a scene from the Mahabharata; an oil painting of a half covered girl from the Bali island, sculptures of a Korean bride and bridegroom; dolls showing a Mombasa couple in one corner, and a dancing Spanish boy and girl in the other corner. The house was modern and complete with German electric fittings, Chinese bells, Persian carpets and Indian curtains.

My brother is married to a Chinese girl who follows the Buddhist faith, dresses like a Malayan, speaks English and relishes Indian dishes. Their children have pure Indian names (Sushma, Suvir and Vivek), can speak English, Malay and Chinese fluently; they enjoy Hindi movies; are fond of Sindhi papads and relish Indian Paan.

A Chinese maid cooks Indian d ishes, the Malay maid cleans and washes and an Italian girl is the typist. His day starts with listening to Gita-slokas in Sanskrit sung by Lata Mangeshkar, followed by Pt. Ravi Shankar’s sitar recital. When he feels tired after the day’s work, he listens to the tapes of Gazals sung by Begum Akhtar. At another moment he switches on his favourite Sindhi songs sung by Master Chander, reminiscent of the bygone days.

One will perhaps react to this profile of my brother as a jumble of faiths and fashions and a pot-pourri of cultures and languages. But these are the ways of a Sindhi – an international citizen.

Throughout the ages, Sindh was invaded by people from the northwest. All these diverse races and religions that penetrated Sindh, were somehow absorbed in the melting pot, and fused with the ancient heritage of Mohenjo-Daro. Strange phases of history have gone into the making of what is called ‘Sindhi Culture’. The Sindhis have not only survived the attacks but have benefited from and assimilated all that was good in the mores of the lives of the invaders. The Sufism of the Sindhis is a harmonious blend of the finest value of both the Vedantic and Islamic cultures. …

Read more : SindhiSangat

Speech of Dr. Zafar Baloch (BHRC) to the conference on South Asia

The conference on South Asia was organized by International Center for Peace & Democracy (ICFPD) in collaboration with Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada). The conference took place at Hotel Radisson Toronto, Canada on December 11, 2010.

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPETIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY THE ROLE OF THE STATE: DEMOCRACY, DICTATORSHIP, AND EXTREMISM

ICFPD

Following is the speech delivered by Dr. Zafar Baloch, president of Baloch Human Rights council (Canada) in the conference.

Continue reading Speech of Dr. Zafar Baloch (BHRC) to the conference on South Asia

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

SOUTH ASIAN PERSPETIVE ON REGIONAL STABILITY

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

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

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

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

For more information : ICFPD

Condemnation of Death Sentence to Aysia BiBi Under Blasphemy Law

Renowned Urdu novelist, short story writer and peace activist K. Ashraf condemns the death sentence of Asia BiBi under Blasphemy Law. Awarding such barbaric punishment to anyone under such so called Law is against the universal principles of humanity. He appeals to all Pakistanis to stand up against clergy and oppose such draconian punishments. The use of religion to deny justice to people is naked brutality which has no space in any modern day society.

Islam is an egalitarian religion which teaches human beings to live fear-free and peaceful lives. In Pakistan, so much religious deviation has taken place it has become difficult to differentiate between what is Islamic and un-Islamic.

By implementing tribal punishments in the guise of religion is taking toll on Pakistani society. We are already witnessing such incidents in all parts of Pakistan where people have started taking law into their own hands.

It is about time for the members of the governing elite and the people of Pakistan to clearly define what type of Pakistan they want. Do they want a Pakistan where people start killing people or have them killed through state apparatus simply for uttering words which people of one set of faith do not like?

It is heart breaking to see comments from some Pakistani religious clerks in support of death sentence of Aysia BiBi. Supporting death sentence to Aysia BiBi by these religious clerks is causing a bad name to Pakistan.

Renowned novelist, story writer and peace activist K. Ashraf appeals to the government and the people of Pakistan to stand up against this un-Islamic act in the name of Islam and save Islam from becoming a stigma in the world.

November 24, 2010

Karelo or Karela (Bitter melon)

Many modern medicines are made from plant derived substances and as we know that plants/vegetables/ herbals have few side effects as compare to modern medicine. Bitter melon is a vegetable that may help to normalize high blood sugar levels. It also has a tendency to cut the inflammation in the body and the risk of cancer. It has It has very powerful properties of detoxification of liver.