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Setting the house in order

By Saroop Ijaz

The difficulty of maintaining a pretence of conducting a profound analysis in Pakistan is that nothing ever ends. So the event one seeks to comment on is always underway hence, exposing the commentator to the real possibility of indignity in misinterpreting the happenings. The mayhem of the last few days is not over yet. It does, however, point out the fragility and precariousness of this architecture of democracy. It is almost as if this period of democratic governance is a momentary armistice, a feebly vulnerable interruption to the continuous military rule. Another disturbingly striking thing is the complete abandonment of core principles on the first sight of attack. In all fairness, none of this is unprecedented but it manages to make one cringe every time.

The prime minister is empowered to terminate the contract of a federal secretary and to comment on the conduct of the army and intelligence chief and for this reason it is hardly news worthy enough of interrupting the nation in frenzied tones. There has been some feeing of triumphalism and jubilation on being able to thwart or possibly delay a coup. Perhaps rightly so, yet the most recent episode is unique in the public manner in which the whole episode was conducted. Gone are the days where out of the blue, one will see a pompous general creeping out of nowhere and saying ‘meray aziz humwatanon’ on national television. This time, the intimidation and bullying was deliberately done in the full view of the public eye, the ISPR press release cautioning of “dire consequences” had the unmistakable slant of blackmail. The utter absence of embarrassment was unbelievable. It was like being subjected to the ISPR version of O J Simpson’s, “If I did it.” The response by the media and the politicians failed to ask the most basic question; did the ISPR posses any justification, legal or moral to threaten an elected parliament. Toni Morrison, once writing about the progress of African Americans in the United States said, “The question is whether our walk is progress or merely movement.” All this coming after four years of democratic rule, ours seems to be an awkward stationary wiggle.

If one is compelled to identify a positive coming out of this fiasco, it will probably be the fact that most of the media and major political parties refused to welcome the khakis. I have a mild suspicion that many of them did it grudgingly; it was the sheer impracticality of a ‘direct’ military takeover which guided their comments as opposed to any meaningful commitment to democracy. In any event, they merit whatever small congratulation is due. Nevertheless, whereas, it is a ridiculously easy and even intuitive question when asked to choose between an elected parliament and the khakis, I believe the real test lies ahead and not so far ahead. It would be if the same demagoguery is garbed in an intervention obtained through a judicial order or some other permutation of what has been somewhat suggestively named, ‘soft coup’. I have a feeling, the response by those agreeing to the abstract notions of democracy in such an event would be more of a waffle and exposing — I certainly hope I am wrong.

The prime minister has already formed the undesirable habit of displaying almost schizophrenic alternating bouts of gallantry and meekness. The ostensible reason is to avoid institutional conflict. It is not a ‘conflict’, it is capitulation in the face of assault, certainly not self-preservation in any long-term meaning. A lot of ink has been spilled (or at least the word processor equivalent) on how to set the civil-military balance incrementally right by people having considerably more expertise on such matters than myself. Yet, the answer to me, at least, is fairly simple. The prime minister should sack the army chief and the director general ISI for gross misconduct and insubordination. To put it at its harshest, their performance records, especially recently have been humiliatingly ordinary. Even otherwise, they cannot claim to be not given a fair innings, they have served, perhaps more accurately commanded for a period reasonably exceeding the normal. In any event, they have considerably overstayed their welcome. I know this proposal seems incredibly naïve even reckless, but I am afraid that needs to be done, even if it means staking the government on it. To romanticise it a bit, “Conscientious Objector” is a beautiful poem by Edna St Vincent Millay, some of its verses go,” I shall die, but/ that is all I shall do for Death/ I hear him leading his horse out of the stall/ I hear the clatter on the barn-floor/ ….But I will not hold the bridle/While he clinches the girth/ And he may mount by himself / I will not give him a leg up.”

I do not in any way suggest a literal scenario as terminally grim as that in the poem but Mr Prime Minister, at least, do not give them a leg up. Trying to maintain a wobbly equilibrium, a false feeling of reconciliation and shallow coexistence will not work, it never has, never does. In terms of basic economics, it is the case of Gresham’s law, the bad would drive out the good, if it is overvalued long enough with a clear preference. Negotiating or plea bargaining the way in and out of situations where you are strong-armed is not survival or diplomacy. It has now become a question of modalities and timing, rather than “if”. Stories both in real life and fiction are remembered inordinately by the ending. Albert Camus ends his La Peste (The Plague) by observing that though the plague was over and the city had returned to normalcy, “the plague bacillus never dies … that it can lie dormant in furniture and linen chests… perhaps the day would come when,… it roused up its rats again and sent them forth to die in a happy city”. Fire the two generals and make a point, the bogus feeling of security is going to end soon anyways.

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/321514/setting-the-house-in-order/

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Pakistan: Now or Never?

Pakistan’s political crisis

By Reuters

Excerpt;

Never in the history of Pakistan has a democratically elected civilian government served out its full term and then been replaced by another one, also through democratic elections. It is that context that makes the latest political crisis in Pakistan so important. ….

…. The army itself has shown no inclination to run the country directly, and it already controls the issues that matter most to it – foreign and security policy. It has barely disguised its frustration with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari — who also leads the PPP ….

Read more » REUTERS

A quick question to Nawaz Sharif

Shenanigans, dangerous shenanigans

By Kamran Shafi

Excerpt;

… For God’s sake, will our political leaders never learn? Will they forever be hostage to the Deep State and to the conspiracies spun by it? It is all very well for the PML-N to take the Murky Memo Matter to the Supreme Court, but have its leaders who I consider my friends, ever considered the fact that whilst Mansoor Ijaz’s allegations against the federal government and its officials were immediately ‘investigated’ by the top spook himself and a public indictment issued, the same person’s allegations against Shuja Pasha weighing the possibilities of carrying out a coup against a sitting elected government have been laid to rest by a mere press release of the ISPR denying any such thing?

While it is much exercised by the Murky Memo, does the PML-N find nothing wrong in the allegations against Pasha? Will it not ask for a thorough investigation by an agency/agencies of state, say the IB and the FIA? The ISPR says Pasha did not visit any of the countries mentioned on the stated dates, but did he visit them on other dates? Has anyone forensically examined his cell phones? Or his passports — if he goes through the usual procedures of travelling abroad like the rest of us, of course?! Am I right when I say that our generals are Teflon-coated; that nothing sticks to them; that they are faultless, blameless, and doubly-blessed? That the only bad is in the ‘bloody civilians’?

I have now written for many years that the only way that the politicians can see off the great threat to themselves posed by the Deep State is to stick together come hell or high-water. They must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to prevent that scourge of democracy, the Deep State, from always driving the agenda: giving a dog a bad name and then hanging him. The most effective weapon in its arsenal is spreading rumours about a government’s corruption and ineptness. In this they make no exceptions: exact same allegations were placed at the PPP’s door as were placed at the PML-N’s. I have long said too, that if this present government does not complete its tenure, neither will the next one. But is anyone listening?

No one is, because the fact of the matter is that the real aim of what is going on is to deny the PPP the majority in the Senate that will surely be it’s if it is allowed to stay in power until the elections in March. Simple, but very bad politics, for will the PPP not destabilise the PML-N government when IT comes to power?

A quick question to my friends in the PML-N who so want the government to be rolled up immediately if not sooner and elections held in the next two months: Do you really think that the powers will allow a snap election when its preferred ‘Third Force’ is still girding its loins?

I am most sad.

Courtesy:  The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.

Zardari confidant: President Zardari won’t resign

President Zardari

By Josh Rogin

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari suffered a “cardiac episode,” but will return to Pakistan after a few days and will not resign as head of state, one of his close advisors told The Cable today. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

Asif Ali Zardari ‘determined to resist pressure to quit’

Pakistani president’s Dubai hospitalisation fuels rumours of a military coup, but aides say he will ‘never ever’ resign

By Saeed Shah in Islamabad

Pakistan’s embattled president, Asif Ali Zardari, is determined to resist pressure to quit, say his close aides, after speculation about his resignation was ignited by his sudden hospitalisation in Dubai. …

Read more » guardian.co.uk

Sindh’s Centuries Old Tolerances Under Pressure Amid State Inaction

Sindh: Old Tolerances Under Pressure Amid State Inaction

The multiculturalism and peaceful coexistence between ethnic and religious communities that is traditional to Sindh is being tested as never before. However moves at the national and local level are being counted on to defuse a tense situation. ….

Read more » UNPO

Pakistan – ‘Crush India’ 1971 mood is like ‘Crush America’ mood now: Cowasjee

– Killing the messengers

by Ardeshir Cowasjee

WE Pakistanis are determined never to learn from history. Our leaders deem ignorance to be bliss and choose to pay no attention to what the world thinks of them or of our country. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

via »  credit goes to Beena Sarwar for twitting above news @ Twitter.

Ardeshir Cowasjee – WE are determined never to learn from history. In our universe, we are in the middle of a party celebrating our greatness and self-glorification but in the real world, Pakistan is in big trouble is unlikely to go away.

Killing the messengers

by Ardeshir Cowasjee

WE Pakistanis are determined never to learn from history. Our leaders deem ignorance to be bliss and choose to pay no attention to what the world thinks of them or of our country.

Pakistan is more isolated internationally than at any time since 1971. That year, for those of us who care to remember, the country lost its erstwhile eastern wing after a civil war and a humiliating military defeat.

Any other nation would teach its young the lessons of its greatest tragedy in the hope of avoiding it. We, on the other hand, are insistent upon re-enacting every mistake we made then as if to prove Einstein’s definition of insanity. “Insanity,” said the great scientist, is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Continue reading Ardeshir Cowasjee – WE are determined never to learn from history. In our universe, we are in the middle of a party celebrating our greatness and self-glorification but in the real world, Pakistan is in big trouble is unlikely to go away.

Pakistan Preparing to Defend itself?

– Is Pakistan Preparing to Defend Herself?

by Meinhaj Hussain

The global economic downturn appears to be never-ending. Political unrest is acute around the world. The lack of respect for international law has never been greater. Nations are arming despite the downturn and doing so at a rate that does not suggest modernization or replacement. With all said and done, this could still not spell imminent danger. But with China arming Pakistan with such urgency as to forgo its own defense needs, something appears to be happening behind secure doors, walls, guards, wire-fences and surveillance cameras.

The Chinese military-industrial complex has been busy over the last two decades at full throttle, attempting to catch-up to the West. There have been many stumbling points, including a frustrating inability to produce quality turbo-fan engines for her fighters, the loss of top Electronic Warfare (EW) and airborne radar scientists and rivalries between different corporatocracies.

However, in 2011, China has finally reached a position where it can begin to see itself as comparable to the West in key aspects such as technology, expertise and military capability.

At the critical juncture where the successful J-10B is to enter mass production and produce a dazzling plane deploying AESA radars and other advanced military technology, we find a strange occurrence. China has dedicated its J-10B production to meet Pakistan’s pressing needs. Such a level of cooperation and collaboration is unparalleled in modern history. Not even the United States has been willing to act in a similar fashion with Israel.

The Soviet Union and United States have long had allied states but have never sacrificed their own defense needs for its allies in a similar manner. China is not only willing to send J-10Bs, 58 odd planes of which are being produced for Pakistan with special customization as per the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force, but is also handing 50 new JF-17 Block IIs with stealth technology and possibly AESA radars.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Navy (PN) is slated for brand new submarines at financing that is beyond friendship prices and rates. Again, China’s latest submarine the Type 043 Qing Class, yet to be inducted into the Chinese navy and the pride of China’s technological and engineering elite, is being manufactured for Pakistan.

Six odd submarines, which are among the largest conventional vessels manufactured by humanity thus far and closer to the displacement of nuclear submarines, capable of firing nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and possibly a single ballistic missile are also part of a rapid program to transform the Pakistan Navy. The submarines are technological on par with anything the West can or has built with regard to conventional submarines. These behemoths and technological marvels are built on technologies that has taken over 20 years for China to develop including Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) that allows submarines to stay submerged for weeks and (possibly) pump jet propulsion, a propulsion system yet to be implemented even in Western conventional submarines. …

Read more → grandestrategy

We, the Sindhi nation, will never allow our motherland to be divided

Press release: (Aug 11, 2011) We the undersigned Sindhi Diaspora Organizations (SDOs) that represent the most educated, progressive and economically stable section of Sindh Civil Society and who continue to maintain deep and robust socio-economic and political relations with Sindh. We REJECT the recently promulgated Sindh Governor Ordinances aka dictator Musharraf’s repressive & discriminatory ordinance that has been used to deny Sindhis to access Karachi, the Capital of Sindh built by our forefathers!

This thievery , gerrymandering and trickery by the obscure back room dealings between the MQM and the PPP in blatant disrespect of the recent parliamentary decision taken by the Sindh National Assembly.

We the diaspora members of the Sindhi nation, who are forced to live abroad due to lack of opportunities and freedoms in our own resource rich motherland will defy all and any attempts to introduce Military Rule or Civil Government Rule through Ordinances or Armed Threats.

We , the Sindhi nation will never allow our motherland to be divided politically, administratively, geographically or militarily.

Undersinged;

Sindhi Association of North America, SANA

World Sindhi Congress, WSC, UK-USA, Europe

World Sindhi Institute, WSI, USA-Canada,

Sindhi Sangat of Middle East, Dubai

The sham operation in Kurram – Dr Mohammad Taqi

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people, making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks

On July 4, 2011, the Pakistan Army announced that it has launched an operation in the Central Kurram Agency with the primary objective of clearing the ‘miscreants’ and opening of the Peshawar-Thall-Parachinar Road (why Tal has become Thall in the English press beats me). The geographical scope of the operation is rather circumscribed, if the army communiqués are to be believed, and its focus, ostensibly, would be on the Zaimusht, Masozai and Alizai areas. But speaking to the Kurramis from Lower, Central and Upper Kurram, one gets a different sense.

At least one General has reportedly been heard saying during the recent operational meetings leading up to the military action that he intends to teach the Turis (in Upper Kurram) a lesson that they would never forget. The Corps Commander’s communication delivered to the tribal elders of the Upper Kurram literally ordered them to acquiesce in and sign on to the operation. But quite significantly, many other leaders among the Turis, Bangash and Syeds of Upper Kurram have vehemently opposed the military action as well as their own elders who seem to have caved in under duress.

The Turis and Bangash tribesmen are of the opinion that on the Thall-Parachinar Road, the only extortionists bigger than the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are the officers of the army — and they specifically name two colonels — who have made life miserable for the people of Parachinar. These security officials levy protection money even on the supply of daily provisions and medicine to Upper Kurram, resulting in jacked-up prices and in many instances unavailability of life-saving drugs, resulting in deaths that otherwise could be preventable.

The more ominous and geo-strategically important aspects of the current army operation are twofold and are interconnected. We have noted in these pages several times that the Pakistan Army has no problem securing Central and parts of Lower Kurram for its jihadist asset, i.e. the Haqqani terrorist network, who have essentially had a free reign in this region for almost a decade using the Sateen, Shasho and Pir Qayyum camps. The army has also helped the Haqqani and Hekmatyar groups set up humungous compounds on the Durand Line such as the Spina Shaga complex.

The problem the security establishment has faced is to secure a thoroughfare between Central Kurram and the assorted jihadist bridgeheads along the Kurram-Afghanistan border, including but not limited to the Parrot’s Beak region. The key hindrance to such movement is the resistance by the Turi and Bangash tribesmen, which neither the security establishment nor its jihadist proxies have been able to neutralise, coerce or buy off. Projecting the Haqqani network and Hekmatyar’s operatives into Afghanistan from Tari Mangal, Mata Sangar, Makhrani, Wacha Darra and Spina Shaga and other bases on the border is a pivotal component of the Pakistani strategy to keep the US bogged down in Afghanistan and for the post-US withdrawal phase. But with the recent wave of drone attacks on the hideouts of these groups, their vulnerability to the US/ISAF — buoyed by the OBL raid — has also become evident and hence the need for secure routes to retract the jihadists back when needed.

Several attacks on the Turi and Bangash, including by Pakistan Army helicopter gunships last year killing several Pakistanis, have not dented the resolve of the locals to fight back against the jihadists. I had noted in these pages then: “The Taliban onslaught on the Shalozan area of Kurram, northeast of Mata Sangar, in September 2010 was part of this tactical rearrangement [to relocate the Haqqanis to Kurram]. When the local population reversed the Taliban gains in the battle for the village Khaiwas, the army’s gunships swooped down on them to protect its jihadist partners” (‘Kurram: the forsaken FATA’, Daily Times, November 4, 2010).

The option that the army wants to exercise now is to disarm the Upper Kurram’s tribesmen, especially the Turis. The security establishment has told them that they will have to surrender their “qawmi wasla” (an arms cache that belongs to a tribe as a whole). To disarm and thus defang the tribesmen, who have held their own against the disproportionately stronger and state-sponsored enemy for almost half a decade, is essentially pronouncing their death sentence.

Without their weapons, the Turis and Bangash will be at the whim of an army that had literally abandoned Muhammad Afzal Khan Lala and Pir Samiullah in Swat and the Adeyzai lashkar (outside Peshawar). Afzal Khan Lala lost several loyalists and family members and Pir Samiullah was murdered, his body buried but later exhumed and mutilated by the Taliban, while the army stood by and did nothing. My co-columnist and researcher, Ms Farhat Taj has highlighted the plight of the Adeyzai lashkar several times in these pages, including the fact that it was left high and dry by the security establishment against an overwhelming Taliban force. And lest we forget, it was this same army that made Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak of the Awami National Party (ANP) negotiate with Mullah Fazlullah’s Taliban, with suicide bombers standing guard on each men and blocking the door along with muzzles of automatic rifles pointed into their faces.

A side benefit of the chaos created in the Kurram Agency is that it would be a lot easier to hide the jihadists in the midst of the internally displaced people (IDPs), making the thugs a difficult target for precision drone attacks. Also, the establishment’s focus has been to ‘reorient’ the TTP completely towards Afghanistan. The breaking away from the TTP of the crook from Uchat village, Fazl-e-Saeed Zaimusht (who now interestingly writes Haqqani after his name) is the first step in the establishment’s attempt to regain full control over all its jihadist proxies.

The offensive in Central Kurram is not intended for securing the road; it will be broadened to include the Upper Kurram in due course, in an attempt to bring the Turis and Bangash to their knees. After their arms have been confiscated, it could be a turkey shoot for the jihadists and Darfur for the Kurramis. It is doubtful though that the common Turi or Bangash tribesman is about to listen to some elder who is beholden to the establishment, and surrender the only protection that they have had. The Pakistan Army’s track record of protecting jihadists and shoving the anti-Taliban forces off the deep end speaks for itself.

Pakistan’s security establishment can perpetuate on the US and the world a fraud like the hashtag de-radicalisation on Twitter and buzzwords like de-programming suicide bombers by trotting out the so-called intelligentsia whose understanding of the Pashtun issues is woefully flawed. But it is unlikely that Kurramis are about to fall for this sham of an operation that paves the way for their genocide.

Courtesy: → Daily Times

Chali hai rasm ke koi na sar utha ke chale!

Pakistan Journalist Vanishes: Is the ISI Involved?

By Omar Waraich / Islamabad

Excerpt:

Pakistan’s main news channels are reporting that Shahzad’s dead body has been found. One news channel broadcast what appeared to be a black and white image of Shahzad’s face. There were visible signs of torture..

While the ISI was said to have bristled at previous reports by Shahzad, his disappearance happened two days after he wrote a story for Asia Times Online that said that al-Qaeda had attacked a naval base in the port city of Karachi on May 22 after talks had broken down between the Pakistan navy and the global terrorist organization. In his report, Shahzad claimed that al-Qaeda had carried out the attack in retaliation for the arrest of naval officials suspected of links with the terrorist group.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2074800,00.html#ixzz1NwRiJriN
– – – – – – – –

More details: The News, BBC urdu

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

Pakistan’s identity war — II

By Saleem H Ali

What does it mean to be an Islamic state? Was there ever such an entity? Can modernity, as it pertains to developing a functional society in a globalised world, be realised within the context of a theocracy? These are fundamental questions which Pakistanis need to resolve, within this generation, in order for Pakistan to develop and reach its potential.

Pakistan shares the distinction, along with Israel, as being one of only two states to have been crafted, in the post-colonial worlds, on the basis of religion. In both cases enormous migrations were involved with questionable legitimacy for the migrants. The ‘muhajir’ identity continues to be perpetuated, as such, on this basis. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan present a perplexing paradox: Created on the basis of religion, their champions were largely secular individuals. The founders of Zionism as a political force, such as Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, were secular. So too were Pakistan’s founders, most notably the Quaid-i-Azam. I would argue that Ben Gurion and Jinnah made a dangerous bargain when it came to conflating cultural identity on the basis of religious adherence.

Pakistan and Israel — two states which don’t recognise each other diplomatically — are facing a similar radicalisation because of that initial crisis of identity which was never fully resolved. Theocratic forces are gaining power in both countries. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives

Sharia Laws — Heavy Deception With Abusive Divinity

The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives

by Mesbah Uddin

No doubt, early Islam possessed many fine and noble attributes. But Islam couldn’t have swept Arabia and its adjacent lands so fabulously if Sharia Laws and Fatwa had been the models of Islamic edicts at that time.

It is an irony to iron-out the deep wrinkles of Islam, we know today. Corrupted beliefs are too profoundly ingrained in Islam. The dogmas of Fatwa and Sharia Laws still dominate million of Muslim lives and the vulnerable ones get succumb to Fatwa’s claws.

A year before his death and before the Koran was compiled, Prophet Muhammad made his last pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca. There He made a great sermon to his people. The sermon breathed a spirit of generosity. The Muslims created a society more free from widespread cruelty and social oppression than any society had ever been in the world before.

But that was then – the prophetic Islam. Today, Islam encompasses numerous fragments, interpretations and the dreadful echoes of Sharia Laws. The Sharia Laws are much heavier on one side. It is the side that is not the Koran but the Hadith. It might surprize the readers that stoning to death” cannot be traced anywhere in the Koran, but it is profusely enshrined in the pages of the Hadith. Obviously the Hadith narrators borrowed it from a famous story in the Christian Bible – the New Testament, and passed it in the name of Prophet Muhammad.

The story (John: 8) tells us that some Jewish crowd brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand before Jesus, and then said to him: “Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death. Now, what do you say about it?’ After they persisted in their questioning, Jesus finally straightened up and said simply, “Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her.” …

Read more : Bangladesh-web

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

Gandhi’s Advice for Israelis and Palestinians

By ROBERT MACKEY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more >> The New York Times