Tag Archives: Mughal

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.

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What’s Wrong with Pakistan?

Why geography — unfortunately — is destiny for South Asia’s troubled heartland.

BY ROBERT D. KAPLAN

Perversity characterizes Pakistan. Only the worst African hellholes, Afghanistan, Haiti, Yemen, and Iraq rank higher on this year’s Failed States Index. The country is run by a military obsessed with — and, for decades, invested in — the conflict with India, and by a civilian elite that steals all it can and pays almost no taxes. But despite an overbearing military, tribes “defined by a near-universal male participation in organized violence,” as the late European anthropologist Ernest Gellner put it, dominate massive swaths of territory. The absence of the state makes for 20-hour daily electricity blackouts and an almost nonexistent education system in many areas.

Los Angeles Times – Pakistani court acquits four accused of aiding Times Square bomber

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Four Pakistani men charged with terrorism-related offenses for allegedly helping failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad were acquitted in a Rawalpindi court Saturday, their lawyer said.

The men, Faisal Abbasi, Muhammad Shahid Husain, Muhammad Shoaib Mughal and Humbal Akhtar, had been accused of arranging meetings between Shahzad and top Pakistani Taliban leaders, and sending him money to help prepare the attack. Their lawyer, Malik Imran Safdar, said an antiterrorism court in Rawalpindi found that prosecutors failed to prove their case and released the men.

Two other men initially arrested along with the four others were released previously.

Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty to attempting to detonate a sport utility vehicle filled with propane tanks and fertilizer in Times Square on May 1, 2010. The botched bombing marked the first time the Pakistani Taliban had tried to engineer an attack outside its strongholds in the tribal regions of western Pakistan along the Afghan border.

The son of a retired vice air marshal in the Pakistani air force, Shahzad was a financial analyst living in a Connecticut suburb when he became radicalized and went to Pakistan’s tribal areas for terrorist training. At one of his court hearings in New York, he told a judge that he viewed himself as a “Muslim soldier.”

When the Pakistanis were arrested after the failed bombing, Islamabad police described them as relatively young, middle-class men who had been close friends with Shahzad for several years. At the time, police said they facilitated Shahzad’s training at Taliban boot camps in the tribal areas and arranged for him to meet with Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mahsud. They also were accused of sending Shahzad $13,000 when he began to run short of money in the U.S. while readying the bombing attack.

Islamabad police claimed that the men had close links to Mahsud and leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a homegrown militant group with strong ties to the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/06/pakistani-court-frees-four-men-charged-with-helping-times-square-bomber.html

Pakistan’s super-elite cannot find a piano tuner

A requiem for music

By: F.S.Aijazuddin

WHAT was a Czech violinist Jaroslav Sveceny doing in Lahore recently?

Was he just another Raymond Davis-type of subversive, camouflaging his weaponry like an Italian mafia hit man in a violin case? Or was he something more sinister, a musical reactionary intent on disturbing our cultural complacency?

The moment Sveceny tucked his prized violin under his chin that evening and began playing, he reminded his audience (all graying and on the wrong side of 40) that he did not simply come from another country. He came from a different world, a world in which its citizens express themselves in sound, in colour and in musical notes. We in Pakistan by contrast are reconciled to thinking in silence. We view life in monochrome. We speak in a monotone. The only notes we recognise are bank notes.

It was not always like this. For thousands of years, we have laughed and sang and danced. One needs to remind oneself that the female figurine discovered at Mohenjodaro was a dancing girl, not some lacquered doll pouting on talk shows.

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PAKISTAN: Love marriage couple greeted with ‘shoot-on-sight’ order from Jihadi groups

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-017-2012 – 6 February 2012 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a couple from Pakistani held Kashmir has threatened with being shot on sight by Jihadi militant groups whenever they are seen at any place in Pakistan. The militants from the Jihadi groups (Islamic holy warriors) have been following the couple from their hide out and given ammunition to the residents of the nearby houses to disclose the whereabouts of the couple. The death threat to the couple was announced in a local illegal court known as a Jirga, which was held in the presence of and with the knowledge and cooperation of the police. Jirgas have been declared illegal by the courts. The couple has also written letters to the highest police officer of the district about the death threats but no action has been taken because of the involvement of Jihadi groups who work under the state intelligence agencies to conduct subversive activities inside the Indian held Kashmir.

The lives of the couple are in danger and at any moment they might be abducted and killed.

CASE NARRATIVE: Miss Tahira Hayat (27), daughter of Hayat Khan Mughal married Mr. Saeed Hussain Shah (29), son of Tufail Hussain Shah, a resident of Tehseel Rawalakot, Pakistani Kashmir, on January 26 in a civil court, which has infuriated Tahira’s family members who are from the Jihadi militant groups working for Jihad (holy war) in Indian Held Kashmir.

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History & Sindh – Black Mirror – By: Dr Mubarak Ali

Past present: Black mirror

History often helps in analysing the present day issues by reflecting on past events. Generally, this approach is adopted in a society where there is dictatorship, censorship and legal restrictions to express discontent in regard to government policies. The method is effective in creating political consciousness by comparing the present with the consequences of bad governance and disillusionment of the past.

After the independence[?] of Pakistan, the army and the bureaucracy emerged as powerful state institutions. In the absence of a constitution, the two institutions were unaccountable to any authority. Bureaucracy followed in the footsteps of the colonial model, treating people with arrogance and contempt. A strong centre allowed it to rule over the provinces unchecked. The provinces, including the former East Pakistan, greatly suffered because of this.

Sindh chose to raise its voice against the oppressive attitude of the bureaucracy and a strong centre. Despite the grand, national narratives which justified the creation of a new country, Sindh responded by presenting its problems and grievances by citing historical suffering of its people.

During the reign of Shahjahan, Yusuf Mirak, a historian, wrote the book Tarikh-i-Mazhar-i-Shahjahani. The idea was to bring to Shahjahan’s notice the corruption and repressive attitude of the Mughal officials in Sindh. As they were far from the centre, their crimes were neither reported to the emperor nor were they held accountable for their misdeeds.

Mirak minutely described their vices and crimes and how the people [Sindhis] were treated inhumanly by them. He hoped that his endeavours might alleviate the suffering of the people when the emperor took action against errant officials. However, Mirak could not present the book to the emperor but his documentation became a part of history.

When the Persian text of the book was published by Sindhi Adabi Board, its introduction was written by Husamuddin Rashdi who pointed out the cruelty, brutality, arrogance and contempt of the Mughal officials for the common man. Accountable to none, they had fearlessly carried on with their misdeeds.

Today, one can find similarities between those Mughal officials and Pakistani [civil & military] bureaucrats of the present day. In the past Sindh endured the repercussions of maladministration and exploitation in pretty much the same way as the common man today suffers in silence. But one can learn from the past and analyse the present to avoid mistakes.

The history of Sindh shows two types of invaders. The first example is of invaders like the Arabs and the Tarkhans who defeated the local rulers, assumed the status of the ruling classes and treated the local population as inferior. The second type was of invaders like Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali who returned home after looting and plundering. The rulers of Sindh defended the country but sometimes compromised with the invaders. Those who defended it were vanquished and discredited by history, and their role was not recognised.

G. M. Syed in his tract Sindh jo Surma made attempt to rehabilitate them. According to him, Raja Dahir who defended Sindh against the Arabs was a hero while Muhammad Bin Qasim was an agent of the Umayyad imperialism who attacked Sindh to expand the empire and to exploit Sindh’s resources.

Decades later, in 1947, a large number of immigrants arrived from across the border and settled in Sindh. This was seen by Sindhi nationalists as an attempt to endanger the purity of the Sindhi culture. In 1960, agricultural land was generously allotted to army officers and bureaucrats. Throughout the evolving circumstances in Sindh, the philosophy of Syed’s book is the protection and preservation of the rights of Sindhis with the same spirit with which the heroes of the past sacrificed their lives for the honour of their country [Sindh].

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Sikhs kept out of their own temple for Shab-e-Barat

By Abdul Manan

LAHORE: The Sikh community in Lahore have been prevented from observing a religious celebration at a gurdwara, their musical equipment thrown out and their entry barred, after a religious group persuaded the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) that celebrating the Muslim holy day of Shab-e-Barat was more important than the Sikh religious festival.

Police have been deployed outside the temple to prevent the Sikhs from conducting their religious ceremonies until the end of Shab-e-Barat, which falls on July 18 this year. The Sikh community wanted to commemorate an eighteenth-century saint on July 16.

The Gurdwara Shaheed Bhai Taru Singh, in Naulakha Bazaar, Lahore, is built to honour the memory of a Sikh saint who was executed in 1745 on the orders of the Mughal governor of Punjab, Zakaria Khan. Every July, the Sikh community has held religious ceremonies to commemorate his sacrifice in the service of humanity.

While the temple was taken over by the ETPB after Partition, the Sikh community had been allowed to continue using it with relatively few restrictions. …

Read more → THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE

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