Tag Archives: movements

A political economy of communalism in south Asia

Hyderbad: “You Strike & We will Strike back”.

The message of ‘21/2 Hyderabad serial terror attack

By Feroze Mithiborwala

The strategic& political target of the terror attack, is the historic 2-day Strike of the Working classes, where more than 12 core or 120 million workers both from the organized & unorganized sectors participated & brought India to a halt.

This working class strike surmounted all calculations due to the scale at which the enraged working classes participated. This strike has shaken up the corporate-political elite & that is why they have struck back with a serial terror attack, where now more than 15 citizens have died & 50 grievously injured. The terror attack was orchestrated in Dilsukh Nagar, where there is a busy market & many cinema halls.

If the working class unrest takes the proportions which we witness in many nations across the world such as Greece & Spain, the ruling elite will witness a massive crisis, due to the growing burdens of price-rise, decreasing wages, increasing scams, spiraling inflation, the growing insecurity of the peasantry, workers& laboring classes, as well as the ever-widening rich-poor divide.

Continue reading A political economy of communalism in south Asia

The Punjabi hegemony on Pakistan

The Punjabi hegemony

By Raza Habib Raja

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at its creation, there were two large sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping movements. The first was primarily centred around Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims, nevertheless did not have that strong separatist thrust at least in the beginning.

Continue reading The Punjabi hegemony on Pakistan

Wonderful article by Haider Nizamani – States do let go of territories

In an op-ed titled “Be strong, not hard”, published in these pages on February 21, Ejaz Haider problematises conflict in Balochistan and offers suggestions to Islamabad on how to tackle the crisis in the troubled province. The premise of his argument is on the assumption that all states are alike when it comes to dealing with people wanting to secede from them. He puts it unequivocally in following words: “Balochistan is indeed Pakistan’s internal issue. Those who want Balochistan to secede from Pakistan will get the state’s full reply. That too, given how states behave, is a foregone conclusion. Hell, states don’t even let go of disputed territories and care even less about whether or not people in those territories want to live with them.”

Historical and empirical evidence of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, fortunately, does not validate Ejaz Haider’s claim. States do care if people living in their jurisdictions want to stay under existing arrangements or not. Contrary to Ejaz Haider’s claim, states do let go of people and territories through peaceful means.

I will cite three cases where the states in question have behaved peacefully while dealing with political actors who have championed the cause of independence from them. My argument, therefore, is that not all states are alike and the outcomes of independence movements vary significantly.

Let us look at the former Czechoslovakia, a state where leaders peacefully decided in 1992 to split into two countries — Czech Republic and Slovakia. In 1989, Vaclav Havel’s Civic Forum led the peaceful movement against the communist regime. This movement because of its ability to affect political change through nonviolent means got the title of the Velvet Revolution. Viladimir Meciar’s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia emerged as a leading party in Slovakia demanding greater autonomy for the region. Unable to get along in a federation, the Czech and Slovak leaders passed the law on December 27, 1992 to go their separate ways. Three years into the Velvet Revolution, Czech and Slovakia opted for the velvet divorce.

The Quebec sovereignty movement in Canada is another case where the central government has chosen to deal with the demand for sovereignty through peaceful means. The Parti Quebecois (PQ), pro-sovereignty party in Canada’s second most populous province, was in power in the 1990s. The PQ held a referendum in the province in 1995 asking people if they would like to form an independent country. The PQ lost the referendum by a razor-thin margin of less than one per cent. The Canadian government, at no point, had indicated or implied the use of force to suppress the Quebec separatists.

Continue reading Wonderful article by Haider Nizamani – States do let go of territories

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.

Is Democracy as We Know It on Its Way Out?

By Frank Viviano

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….

Read more → AlterNet

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

On the course of retributions

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courtesy: → DAWN.COM

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

PRO-DEMOCRACY” MOVEMENTS BREAKING OUT ALL OVER?

by Kam Zarrabi

How could we refer to the recent upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt or, for that matter, the 2009 post elections demonstrations in Tehran, as “pro-democracy” movements when we cannot even define what this deceptively alluringly sound-bite really means? What do we or the news media and our official Administration pronouncements refer to when labeling the demonstrations in Tahrir Square as “pro democracy”? …

Read more: Iranifc

Movement against Extremism Discussed

Reference Meeting for Mehboob Sada: Movement against Extremism Discussed

Hyderabad – Sindh : A reference meeting to pay tribute to Mehboob Sada of Christian Study Centre, Pakistan was held this evening at The Institute for Social Movements, Hyderabad, where participants discussed his services for peace, inter-faith harmony and youth development. The meeting also discussed the post Taseer scenario and decided to mobilize the communities and youth in the rural Sindh and to coordinate and communicate with similar initiatives in the other cities of the country.

BELGIUM and THE QUESTION OF IDENTITY

By: Abdul Khalique Junejo.

Holding of general elections and subsequent formation of government, some times coalitions, is just a routine matter and a normal course of life in the countries of Western Europe. But not so in the case of Belgium, the country considered and called to be the ‘Capital of Europe’ since it provides headquarters for European Union and the NATO. The recently held general elections in this tiny country of about 10 millions people made bigger and eye-catching head-lines in the world media; not for any ‘Landside Victory’ but because of a split mandate, a mandate that threatens to split the country. For example the news paper carried the headlines; “Separatists claim victory in Belgian election”. These developments have generated extraordinary interest in this part of the world as many regions /peoples here are encountering the problems of similar nature.

Belgium, being situated between France and Holland, is a bi-lingual country comprising the French-speaking Wallonia people and Flemish-speaking Flanders. For many years the emphasis on the linguistic identity has been on the rise and recently quite vociferous voices have been heard for the dissolution of Belgium and creation of a separate country for the Flemish-speaking people of Dutch origin. New Flemish Alliance, the party advocating for separate country, has emerged as the largest party, not only among the Flanders but in the country as a whole. This has given an exceeding impetus to the demands for the parting of ways between the Flanders and the Wallonia.

Pakistan was created by conjoining of different peoples with their own distinct identity based on history, language and culture. After creation of the new country, these peoples (Bengalis, Sindhis, Balochs etc) started demanding recognition of their identity and asking for the promotion of their culture and language. In response the state-organs used the force of gun and the state-intellectuals used the force of pen to suppress such demands and, instead, promote and impose ‘single identity, single language and single culture’. This ‘strategy’ created strong reaction which manifested itself in the shape of mass movements for the ‘restoration’ of different identities.

One of these movements, Bengali, culminated in the ‘split’ of Pakistan and creation of a new country. Bangladesh while Sindhi and Baloch movements are getting fiercer by the time.

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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

Book Review – The Battle For GOD

In the late twentieth century, fundamentalism has emerged as one of the most powerful forces at work in the world, contesting the dominance of modern secular values and threatening peace and harmony around the globe. Yet it remains incomprehensible to a large number of people. In The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong brilliantly and sympathetically shows us how and why fundamentalist groups came into existence and what they yearn to accomplish.

We see the West in the sixteenth century beginning to create an entirely new kind of civilization, which brought in its wake change in every aspect of life – often painful and violent, even if liberating. Armstrong argues that one of the things that changed most was religion. People could no longer think about or experience the divine in the same way; they had to develop new forms of faith to fit their new circumstances.

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