Tag Archives: Paradise

Pakistan army or Real estate developers?

Paradise city: DHA City masterplan unveiled to real estate agents

By Saad Hasan

KARACHI: On Wednesday at exactly 10 am, the master plan for the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) City Karachi or DCK was revealed to real estate agents and investors.

The residential project is located 56 kilometres from the city and is being constructed at the cost of one billion dollars. It is spread over 11,640 acres of land and will be self dependent for water and electricity – at least when the first batch of owners build their houses in the next four years.

While referring to the 25,000 plots sold in 2010, DHA Administrator Brig. Aamer Raza Qureshi said that by going public with the master plan, he hoped that the people would start paying up their installments. He added that they still hadn’t received around 30% of them. The project is expected to attract a total investment of over three billion dollars ….

Read mroe » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/310149/paradise-city-dha-city-masterplan-unveiled-to-real-estate-agents/

Kashmir: A troubled paradise

– As a child growing up after India’s partition, Kashmir to me was always a part of India. Only in middle school did I begin to realize that it was considered “disputed territory” by much of the world, the sentiment being especially fierce in neighboring Pakistan. The map of India that we studied in school showed Indian Kashmir as a larger territory than what was actually under Indian control. Parts of it in the north and the west were in reality, within China and Pakistan. The scenic northernmost state, a popular destination for summer tourism and the backdrop of many a puerile romantic song & dance number of made-in-Bombay movies, was not a very urgent topic of discussion for the general Indian public. Kashmir for most Indians, evoked benign, pretty images of apple, apricot and walnut orchards, chinar trees, shimmering lakes, snow capped mountains, houseboats, fine pashmina shawls, lacquered papier mache ornaments and the valley’s light skinned aloof inhabitants.

Later in my teen years I began to understand that Kashmir was not the placid paradise we had imagined as children. Its politics were complicated and its population sharply divided on the state’s rightful status – part of India, part of Pakistan or a wholly independent/ autonomous entity. The difference of opinion fell across religious lines. Kashmiri Hindus wished to remain with India and the majority Muslim population of the state did not. Even then, things were mostly quiet and free of turmoil. There were quite a few Kashmiri students in my school. Many had ancestral homes and relatives in Kashmir and they visited there regularly during summer breaks. Those friends were all Hindus. Come to think of it, I did not know a single Kashmiri Muslim on a personal level until I was in college. There were Muslim traders and merchants who came down to major Indian cities bearing expensive and much coveted Kashmiri merchandise such as saffron, dried fruit, nuts and embroidered woollens, but they did not reside in the plains permanently and their children did not attend our schools. The first Kashmiri Muslim I came to know well was Agha Shahid Ali, a graduate student a few years ahead of me in Delhi University who later became a lecturer of English at my college as also a poet of some renown. It was Ali who first revealed to me that most Kashmiri Muslims did not identify themselves as Indians and many felt a greater emotional and cultural allegiance with Pakistan. An equal number wanted an autonomous state with a very loose federation with India for economic reasons. The Indian government spent large sums of money to subsidize the state’s economy and prohibited non-Kashmiris from buying land there while also meddling in local politics. Kashmiris became increasingly suspicious of the central government’s motives and the rift with India widened both politically and culturally.

Despite tensions and uncertainties, Kashmir never experienced the sectarian violence that had racked the eastern and western wings of India around partition time. Even when India and Pakistan fought several wars over their disagreement surrounding the region, Kashmir itself remained relatively free of communal strife for many decades after India’s independence. The uneasy calm ended in the late 1980s and early ’90s when the Kashmir valley became a battle ground for armed insurgents trained in Pakistan and the Indian military forces. The conflict caused a communal rift among long time residents and resulted in a mass exodus (some say expulsion) of Kashmiri Hindus from their homes. Those tensions remain to this day laced with bitterness on both sides.

I had never visited Kashmir when I lived in India. By the time the political upheaval unfolded in the 1990s, I had already left and had been living abroad for a decade. Kashmir’s troubles and deteriorating political situation were not something I paid close attention to until the Kargil War erupted in 1999. It became clear then that Kashmir had become an intractable problem for India. I am still not sure how I feel about the situation. What can India gain by holding on to a territory whose residents do not want to be a part of India? Can India protect regions like Ladakh and Jammu in the vicinity which identify firmly with the rest of India? What would happen if India does decide to vacate the valley and stops spending money to placate the population and maintain the large presence of its armed forces? Would Kashmir valley remain “independent” or will some other country like China or Pakistan march in and establish control even closer to other Indian states? How does one balance the interests of Kashmiris and the rest of India? Is peace ever possible when the citizenry perceives the government as an “occupying force?” Most confusing of all, will Kashmiri Hindus be permitted go back to the homes they abandoned out of fear and panic? And even if it was possible, would they ever want to return to a place that had cut all ties to India? ….

Read more → Accidental Blogger

An interesting article on Hoors

Are all ‘houris’ female? – By Nilofar Ahmed

IT has traditionally been believed that good men who go to paradise will be rewarded with the beautiful women of paradise known as houris. Women throughout the centuries never thought of asking, ‘what about us?’ But in this century of women, this question keeps coming up, even in the most conservative of circles. …

Read more: DAWN.COM

Post-Osama Pakistan – Nizamuddin Nizamani

Excerpt:

…. Primarily, religious education must be transformed. Religion taught civilisation but, unfortunately, religious beliefs ended up as being the single factor of rift and division among mankind. Its misinterpretation has created fanaticism and intolerance, lethal for coexistence. The Muslim youth has been brainwashed to do away with the present life, treat it as worthless and instead prepare for life in the hereafter. The easy shortcut to paradise is jihad and becoming a martyr with a guaranteed passport to heaven. This kind of indoctrination should be banned and the state should ensure modern education to such groups.

Secondly, there seems to be a dire need for ijtihad (religious discourse and debate), on many Quranic ayaat (verses) and ahadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH)) prone to misinterpretation. The clergy has been selective while interpreting a few ayaat and ahadith in the background of time and space but ignoring the parameters of others. They allow Muslim males to marry Christian or Jewish females as being ahl-e-kitab (followers of the divine books). Simultaneously, they emphasise that yahood-o-nasara (Jews and Christians) are the archenemies of Islam. They do not consider the time and space of such sayings. They do not press the Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings such as “Lakum deenukum waliya deen” (unto you is your religion and unto me is my religion). A political will can reverse this process, as whenever the state planned and took the clergy onboard, they came out with the required ayaat and ahadith to serve the collective purpose — population and drug controls are good examples.

Third, the electronic media must be regulated to filter out hate speech and indoctrination through provocation. The Hamid Gul brand of think tanks should be advised to retire for good. They should go for perpetual prayers to prepare for the life hereafter. Fourth, the defence forces should be purged of alleged disgruntled individuals, and they should be respectfully retired to civilian life, away from sensitive strategic decision-making. Fifth, those who believe in peace and coexistence should not be blamed as being enemy agents and, instead, should be taken onboard in decision-making. Sixth, the perpetual fallacy that Pakistan is in danger from external enemies must be shunned. We need to repair our home. Dangers lie within, not outside. Prolonged issues and conflicts with religious and ethnic minorities must be addressed with a mindful strategy. Lastly, we need to unlearn our sense of superiority and learn to live and let live in peace with all countries including Afghanistan, Iran, the US, India and even Israel. Otherwise, we are bound to be either isolated and in trouble from vengeful forces or land in the morass of self-pity for good.

Read more : Daily Times

In Swat, Pakistan army faces 1971-like situation

by Hamid Mir

The Taliban have become a threat for the Pakistan army like the Mukti Bahini in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971.

A furious Taliban leadership has decided to send their fighters to Islamabad as a reaction to the army operations in the Swat valley on the troubled border with Afghanistan. The Taliban have already started painting walls in Islamabad with its threats, compelling the administration in the capital to erase these messages quickly.

Many religious scholars in Islamabad have received messages from the Taliban that they have only two options: They must support the Taliban or leave the capital else they will be considered collaborators of the ‘pro-American Zardari government’ which they consider not different from the previous Pervez Musharraf regime.

It is also astonishing that the Taliban in Swat and Bajour have included the names of some religious and jihadi leaders in their hit-lists only because they are not ready to fight against their countrymen.

The Taliban have accused some militant leaders in the tribal areas and some leaders of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images], the Harkat-ul Mujahideen and the Hizbul Mujahideen of trying to stop youngsters from fight against Pakistani forces. The Taliban have declared all these pro-Pakistan militants as their enemies.

It is learnt that the names of Maulvi Nazir from South Wazirastan, Hafiz Gul Bahadur from North Wazirastan, Lashkar founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Maulana Farooq Kashmiri and Syed Salahudin of the Hizbul Mujahideen have been included on the Taliban hit-list. The Taliban have threatened some Hizbul Mujahideen leaders in Swat and Dir to leave the area soon.

Another Taliban leader in the Mehmand agency, Maulvi Omar Khalid, has threatened Lashkar militants to leave the tribal agency, because they were only interested in fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan or against India. According to Khalid, this meant they do not want an Islamic government in Pakistan.

This complicated situation has forced the Pakistan government to take some extreme steps against the Taliban in Darra Adamkhel and Swat. The Taliban killed Polish engineer Piotr Stannczak as a reaction to a big operation in the area. Some diplomatic sources have revealed that Pakistan was ready to release some arrested Taliban fighters in exchange for the Polish engineer and another kidnapped Chinese engineer, but the US raised some objections and the deal was not finalised.

The Pakistani authorities successfully negotiated the release of kidnapped Pakistani diplomat Tariq Azizudin in 2008 and the release of kidnapped army personnel in 2007 by releasing some Taliban fighters. This time, US pressure complicated the situation.

Though it confronts an East Pakistan-like situation from Darra Ademkhel to the mountains of Swat, the Pakistan army is not ready to surrender despite the fact that India is once again trying to exploit the situation by using threatening language against Islamabad. The Pakistan foreign office is under diplomatic pressure after the Polish engineer’s brutal killing to ‘do more’ for the release of the kidnapped Chinese engineer, an Afghan diplomat, an Iranian diplomat and a UN diplomat kidnapped in Quetta, but the civilian and army leadership have decided not to bow down.

Reliable sources have revealed that kidnapped Chinese engineer Long Xiao is seriously ill in the Taliban’s custody in Swat. He was kidnapped last August along with another colleague, Zhang Guo. Both men tried to escape. Long was injured and recaptured by the Taliban, but Zhang escaped. The Taliban want two dozen arrested fighters in exchange for Long, but the Pakistani authorities are not ready to accept this.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Khaliq Farahi was kidnapped last year and has still not been found. Some sources allege he was kidnapped over a personal issue at the behest of his in-laws. The Pakistani authorities are conducting a big search operation not only for him, but also for Iranian diplomat Heshmatollah Attarzadeh who was kidnapped from Peshawar last year.

After the army intensified its operations in Swat, half a million people out of the region’s estimated 1.5 million population have left the area in the last month.

A top army officer linked with the operation in Swat said the “situation in Swat is much more complicated than East Bengal in 1971 where we were fighting against Indian-sponsored secular insurgents. The local population in East Bengal was fully supporting the insurgents, but the ground reality of Swat is very different. We are fighting the Taliban and they are demanding the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat and all the local political leaders are supporting this demand under public pressure.”

North West Frontier Province Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti of the Awami National Party, Governor Awais Ghani and the army high command have strongly recommended that the fedaral government enforce long pending Sharia regulation, which will be called Nafaz-e-Adal regulation. Swat district police officer Dilawar Khan Bangash said the Taliban will have no justification to fight the state after the enforcement of Islamic law in Swat.

Swat was a princely state till July 28, 1969. The Islamic state of Swat was established in 1849 by Sayyed Akbar Shah. The state of Swat was kept in abeyance from 1863 to 1926, but Sharia law prevailed through Qazi courts during this period. The courts were restored by the British in 1926. Qazi courts operated till 1969 when Swat finally became part of Pakistan.

Residents of Swat think it was easy to get justice before 1969 through the Qazi courts, but after the imposition of Pakistani law, the poor do not get justice. The Taliban have exploited the delay in justice and instigated the poor to rise against big landlords.

The ANP swept the 2008 election with the slogan of peace and justice and now rules the NWFP in collaboration with the Pakistan People’s Party. Reliable sources say the ANP leadership have convinced President Asif Ali Zardari to promulgate the Sharia regulation in Swat and the promulgation will be announced in a few days.

It is learnt that prominent rebel leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad of the Tehrik-e-Nafaze Shariat Muhammadi has assured the ANP leadership that he will start a long march from Dir to the Swat valley after the imposition of Sharia law. He will appeal to his son-in-law Maulana Fazalullah and other Taliban leaders to lay down their arms. He told ANP leaders that if the Taliban does not surrender its arms, then he will support army operations against them.

February 11th, 2009

Courtesy: Wichaar.com

Source – http://www.wichaar.com/news/294/ARTICLE/12140/2009-02-11.html

“Girls Cricket Championship 2009” held at Sindh University on Jan. 24

Creeping Talibanization in Pakistan’s ‘Paradise’ Valley

By RAHIL YASIN

FRACTURED PAKISTAN — Cricket matches take place during the “Inter-varsity Girls Cricket Championship 2009″ held at Sindh University on Jan. 24. But hundreds of miles northwest at the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Taliban rule, female teachers stay at home, while lands are barren and trees grow fruitless, and video shops are torched, and barbers are afraid to shave beards.

LAHORE, Pakistan — People in Swat – once called the ‘paradise’ on earth or Switzerland of Pakistan – are living in tense times. The Pakistani Taliban have stoked fear in parts of the valley, and their control is growing. They gave demolished schools and bombed bridges;

political workers are assassinated, journalists are tortured, girls are forbidden from going to school. Even dead bodies have been exhumed from their graves and put on gallows. The power of the government has shrunk to a limited area in the district.

Lands are getting barren and trees are growing fruitless. Female teachers are forced to live in their houses, video shops are burnt and barbers are warned against shaving beards because the Taliban see this act as un-Islamic. In the last two years, more than 800 hotels and 405 restaurants have been closed in the picturesque Swat Valley – one of Pakistan’s main tourist hubs for decades and a major source of foreign revenue – as law and order deteriorates.

Around 40,000 people connected with the valley’s hotel industry are unemployed, as are thousands of others who are indirectly linked to the industry. Militancy, which has disrupted every walk of life in the picturesque Swat Valley, has dealt a massive blow to its once fabulous tourism industry that once enchanted tourists from around

the world.

The population of Swat district was 1.5 million, but two-thirds have migrated to other areas of the country. More than 200 people, including important personalities, had been killed in targeted killings and bomb blasts in Swat.

But Islam teaches us to show care and compassion, even toward the plants and animals. To inflict destruction, harm or injury toward them is deemed as a major sin, so how can anyone under any circumstances justify the killing or maiming of innocent human beings?

Besides banning female education in Swat Valley, the militants have torched or completely destroyed more than 165 girls’ and boys’ schools and colleges thereby stopping students from taking their annual examinations.

In Pakistan, literacy figures for women had risen steadily since the 1990s. In the Swat area they were up 75 percent over 2002, with 30,000 more girls in schools. Foreign donors helped establish NGO-run schools, pushing up enrollment levels.

The recent resurgence in militant extremism has come as a bitter blow indeed.

Current circumstances condemn millions of children, particularly girls, to a life without education — and, therefore, to a life of missed opportunities. Many girls say their parents are too afraid to send them to school. An estimated 80,000 girls have had their education cut. They are trying to keep up with their studies at home.

But it is hard.

Traditional Islam views religion as a pact between man and God and therefore in the domain of spirituality. In this belief, there can be no compulsion or force used in religion. From the time of the Prophet Mohammed, peace and tolerance were practiced between different religious groups, with respect to distinctions in belief.

Contrary to this, the Wahhabi ideology, which the Taliban follow, is built on the concept of political enforcement of religious beliefs, thus permitting no differences in faith whatsoever. In Wahhabi belief, faith is not necessarily an option; it is sometimes mandated by force.

Similarly, extending the sphere of their activities aimed at enforcing Sharia, the followers of Fazalullah, a Taliban leader in the Swat region, are making a state within a state in the valley. He has established his own administration on the pattern of the Saudi monarchs and created a private army, equipped with the latest weapons

and controlled by his trusted and loyal commanders. Besides establishing a parallel judicial system, Fazalullah has also established a “baitul maal” (fund for the needy) for which his commanders collect “ushr” (tithes) from the locals.

The Pakistani government should provide protection and alternative institutions and mechanism to the students of Swat besides establishing relief camps and financial support to the affected people. The government and the army should place security in front of all the girls’ schools and colleges as soon as possible. The government must not surrender to the threats of extremists groups who

are exploiting the laws in the name of religion. Peace pacts with militants remain a tradition from the early history of Islam and always produced good results. So far, peace agreements with the Taliban in Swat should be given a go-ahead, with the hope that girls will return back to their schools in the ‘paradise.’

COURTESY: MIDDLE EAST TIMES

January 26, 2009