Muhinji Barri Athayee Wicha Seera Te – Singer Bhaggwanti Navani, written by Ranjan, and presented as a video song by Sindhi Sangat.
Courtesy: Sindhi Sangat
Muhinji Barri Athayee Wicha Seera Te – Singer Bhaggwanti Navani, written by Ranjan, and presented as a video song by Sindhi Sangat.
Courtesy: Sindhi Sangat
BAAGHI: Remembering Benazir Bhutto, personally! – By Marvi Sirmed
One wonders what potent challenge she posed to the establishment that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP
“Is she okay?” I was screaming at the top of my voice on the phone with my husband while madly driving towards General Hospital, Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. “It is over, Marvi,” my husband cried and the line disconnected. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan, had paid the highest price anyone could ever pay for continuing to engage with people and carrying on with the democratic process.
It has been four years since BB, as she was commonly called, has left us but there has not been a single moment in the crisis-ridden politics of Pakistan that she was not missed. Without going into the achievements and failures of her governments, I just want to remember her as she was — a strong leader with a political vision not paralleled by any living politician. The struggle that she chose for herself when she was just 23 years of age was not an ordinary one. At a broader level it entailed dealing with an all-powerful military dictator, being imprisoned and later exiled, losing family, organising the most popular political party of the country during the worst times of persecution, etc.
At a personal level it posed many additional challenges to a young Pinky. Her being a woman never hindered her; so much so that when the forces opposing her tried to use her biology against her, she turned it around. When she was expecting Bilawal, they announced elections around the dates they thought she would be in maternity. I cannot forget her coming to the political rallies with her intravenous drip in her hands. She later wrote in her book, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography, that Begum Nusrat Bhutto, her mother, had advised her to never let her physiological issues come in her way. When she was expecting Bakhtawar during her premiership, the crisis was once again carefully chosen to coincide with the dates of her delivery. She did not make herself absent from her office for more than 48 hours.
All through her political life, she struggled against the hegemony of the oppressive deep state that used every jape that they could, and from right-wing rhetoric that was nauseatingly misogynist and anti-people. From scandalous attacks on her character, assaulting family, facilitating all odd political characters of the country that had only one common thread among them — hatred of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Bhuttos — the establishment put to use every antic. What they could not do was separate BB and the people. When I was growing up, I did not understand the love people had for her. I was in high school when BB came to power for the first time. I did not even pass my higher secondary when her government was dismissed on charges of corruption. Like every youngster, I hated corruption but was amazed to see people from the lowest of the lower strata who were crazy for BB and her PPP. In an industrial exhibition in Lahore, I met an artisan woman selling her handmade fans. She had woven BB’s picture on one of the hand-fans. She broke into tears while telling me how every cruel oppressor in this country has joined hands to bring BB down.
At the Lok Virsa last year, I met a family from southern Punjab who had brought their snakes and were showing snake tricks to earn meagre money. One of their children was wearing a locket bearing BB’s picture. The woman of the family was swearing against Musharraf, the army, feudals and extremists who had snatched their beloved leader. The anger in her voice was so intense that I for once thought she must be a blood relative of BB. She was not.
I recall women of my own family when BB took oath as the prime minister in 1988. My family, being a landholding Punjabi orthodox religious family, has been strongly against a progressive and socialist Bhutto. The men in our family frequently borrowed right-wing arguments against a woman head of the government being un-Islamic, while equally conservative and religious women including my grandmother vociferously confronted the argument. It was amazing to see these women drawing power from a woman prime minister with whose political views they did not even agree. Our village women, very conservative in religious and cultural views and who were made to believe that the PPP was an anti-religion party, could not help loving BB. Women, I can still remember, got new dreams of playing a powerful role in society.
Her struggle did not end when her party came to office in 1988. Seeking office was incomplete without power, which still rested with the all-powerful establishment that had delayed nominating her as prime minister despite her party’s clear majority. They did never rest after that. One wonders what potent challenge she posed to them that they had to invest all their might, money and resources to gather all the opposing political parties on one platform against BB’s PPP. Her clear-headed vision that led the country throughout the years of crisis distinguished her from the rest of the lot who started appearing pygmies in front of her.
My last meeting with her was in November 2007 when she calmly heard our criticism on various recent decisions that we thought would give a lease of life to a dictator. How patiently she heard, how diligently she took notes and how sagaciously she responded to every single concern of ours. When she arrived in October 2007, she had changed in many ways. One could see the strength of her resolve seeing a sea of people ready to sacrifice their lives for her. Despite strict security warnings, she would not stop from going to the hospital to visit the survivors of the October 18 terrorist attack on her rally.
Prior to that, she was the only leader among the entire bunch of expedient politicians of Pakistan who spoke openly against terrorists and their apologists. She was the only leader who tried to lead people’s opinion against the militants who had forced the tragedy of Laal Masjid (Red Mosque), instead of criticising the military action against the militants or terming the Laal Masjid militants as ‘innocent students’ like almost every politician did.
The unusual courage she displayed was not without a vision of possible consequences. She knew the price she might have to pay. Nothing deterred her. She went on and lived up to every challenge. And boy, what a life she lived! Salutes to a leader par excellence, to a woman with unfathomable courage and resolve, to a politician of exemplary vision, to a committed democrat who never failed the test of pragmatic and inclusive politics. Rest in peace BB. Pakistan misses you.
Courtesy » Daily Times
By Suleman Saadat
SINDH – KARACHI: The grave allegations continue to trickle in as Zulfiqar Mirza’s travelling political spectacle gains popular momentum.
At a massive public gathering in Lyari on Friday, the former home minister claimed he had apprehended target killers from ‘sector offices’ with heavy arms and ammunition but had to release them on Rehman Malik’s orders.
In a fiery speech at the end of a several-hour-long rally across the city, Mirza alleged that Malik had warned him that the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence would topple the government if target killers were arrested.
“I released the killers because I wanted to see Pakistan flourish,” Mirza said to an enthralled audience. ….
Read more → The Express Tribune
– In a press statement issued today [July 16, 2011], World Sindhi Congress (WSC) strongly condemned the barbaric massacre of innocent people in recent clashes in the major cities of Sindh including Karachi and Hyderabad.
The killings started when Sindh Assembly withdrawn the so-called Local Government system and restored Commissionerate system in Sindh. The local government system was imposed by force by the military dictator General Musharaf against the popular wishes, demands and struggle of Sindhi people. The system completely undermined the historical, political, social, economic and educational rights of Sindhi people. Under the patronage of this system the complete control of the urban centres was handed over to Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). The historical Hyderabad district was divided in four districts, five districts of Karachi were amalgamated in one, other districts were also divided. Most districts were handed over to criminal feudals to punish Sindhi people and suffocate their social and economic progress. As a result of this system the entry to educational institutions and jobs in the urban areas, particularly in Karachi was systematically denied to Sindhi people, Sindhi villages in Karachi were bulldozed and Sindhis were forced to live and suffer one of the worst apartheid in their own land.
The first thing that all Sindhi people hoped and demanded from Peoples Party was to abandon the draconian local government system when they came in power on the almost unanimous vote of Sindhi people. Unfortunately Peoples Party failed to deliver for three and half years on this issue of utmost significance for Sindhi people resulting from their compromise with MQM to remain in power at the any cost. MQM was and is the strongest supporter of this system as it provided them a disproportionate and complete hegemony over Karachi and Hyderabad.
The withdrawal of the local government system was completed in all other parts of Pakistan almost a year ago. It was kept only in Sindh at the sole insistence of MQM. It was withdrawn from Sindh by an over-whelming majority of Sindh Assembly. All parties in the Sindh Assembly except MQM supported the changes. In all the democratic sprits and norms MQM should have accepted this verdict as it was a unanimous demand of Sindhi people and democratically passed by an overwhelming majority of Sindh Assembly. However, it is really unfortunate to see how MQM has reacted violently and undemocratically. Consequently the situation is very sad as it has resulted in the massacre of scores of innocent men, women and children.
WSC condemn the irresponsible statements of Zulfiqar Mirza which were divisive and aimed to flame the riots among people of Sindh. ….
Sindhis have thousands year old traditions and civilisation of tolerance and peace and have demonstrated this times and time again. Sadly MQM in spite of their proclamations that they are sons of Sindh, have demonstrated through their actions that they only represent the narrow and many-times anti-Sindh ethnic interests ….
Read more → UNPO
Viva Arab music!
– Imran emerges most popular leader in poll
…. the findings of Pew Research Center show, saying Pakistanis continue to be highly dissatisfied with conditions in their country, 0pposition leader Nawaz Sharif fares better: 63% express a positive opinion of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader, down from a year ago when 71% held this view, the study says.
The most popular leader tested is former cricket star Imran Khan, according to the study. Nearly seven-in-ten (68%) have a favourable view of the cricketer turned politician, up from 52% in 2010. ….
Read more: → The Nation
Blood, Justice And Corruption: Why The Chinese Love Their Death Penalty
Editorial: There’s nothing that the Chinese people hate more than a corrupted official. But the government should do more to root out corruption than play to the public’s basest instincts for revenge. Still, don’t expect China’s death penalty to disappear anytime soon.
By Teng Biao
Of all the criminal cases in China, those involving corrupt officials sentenced to death arouse the greatest interest. The morbid examples abound: from the public cheering for the recent death sentences for the two deputy mayors of Suzhou and Hangzhou to the executions of the head of the State Food and Drug Administration, of the Secretary of Justice of Chongqing City, and of the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
China is the global leader for the number of corrupt officials who are sentenced to death, and actually executed each year. But, judging by the seemingly endless “public demand” for this kind of punishment and the surging popular anger, it would seem that there is actually not enough of it. While so many people are “beheaded,” executives at all levels are still determined to brave death by trying to make the most of corruption. …
Read more : WorldCrunch
Indian national arrested in France on Pak tip
PARIS. French counter terrorism authorities, acting on an intelligence tip-off provided by Pakistan, have smashed a terrorist network headed by an Indian national, report well informed sources.
The French Police arrested the gang leader Mohammad Niaz Abdul Rasheed, a thirty-three years old Indian national from Madurai, from Charles de Gaulle Airport on May 10, as he returned from a recruiting trip to Algeria. Six of his accomplices were also apprehended, from various French cities concurrently.
According to sources, Mohammad Niaz, who lived in India till 2008, came to France by marrying a women bearing French nationality, ostensibly to acquire foreign naturalization. He had been radicalized by the age of 21 primarily on account of a backlash to the oppressive treatment of Muslims in Baral Pur and joined Manitha Neethi Parasai, an offshoot of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and predecessor of Indian Popular Front (IPF).
Once in France he planned to create a terrorist organization, French Popular Front (FPF), on the lines of IPF model by creating a nucleus of young French jihadists to fight foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The first reconnoitering group comprising two French nationals, sent by the FPF and on their on way to Afghanistan was apprehended by the ISI in January this year from Lahore. The information passed by the Pakistani authorities resulted into the arrest of seven members of the FPF by the French intelligence, earlier this May.
According to observers, there is a strong possibility that Mohammad Niaz, working on the behest of RAW was attempting to infiltrate Taleban/al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan through the diversion provided by a French connection.
Courtesy: The News
– PML-N demands independent probe on bin Laden
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s opposition leader Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday demanded a full independent investigation over Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country, rejecting the government’s internal military probe.
“We completely reject the prime minister’s committee. It is powerless and cannot investigate the matter in depth,” he told a news conference shortly after returning to Pakistan from medical treatment in Britain.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday announced that a lieutenant general would head an inquiry “to get to the bottom of how, when and why” bin Laden had been hiding in the garrison town where he was killed by US forces. …
Read more : DAWN
The language of talk show is urdu (Hindi).
Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas Ki Baat with Najam Sethi & Muneeb Farooq – 18th April 2011)
— — — — — — — —
‘The Pakistan ultimatum’
by Najam Sethi
Who could have imagined that a serving commander of the Pakistan Army in the Waziristan badlands would have consciously knocked the popular myth that American drone strikes in Fata are part of the problem and not part of the solution of terrorism? But that’s exactly what happened on March 8.
Maj Gen Ghayur Mehmud, GOC 7th Div North Waziristan, did not mince words in his printed brief ‘“Myths and Rumours about US Predator Strikes” handed out to journalists from his command post in the area. He made two main points: (1) A majority of those killed by drone strikes are “hardcore Taliban or Al Qaeda elements, especially foreigners,” while civilian casualties are “few”. (2) But by scaring local populations and compelling displacement through migration, drone attacks create social and political blowbacks for law enforcement agencies. Obviously, the first consequence is good and welcome as part of the national “solution” strategy and the second is problematic and should be minimised because it creates local “problems” of a tactical nature.
Gen Mehmud hasn’t been fired or reprimanded. This means he had the green signal from the GHQ to make his brief. His statement explains the consciously nurtured “duality” of official policy versus popular position on drone strikes and confirms the Wikileaks summary that both secret authorisation and popular criticism go hand in hand in Pakistan where both civilian and military leaders are on the same page.
To be sure, the tactical issues are not insignificant. The Pakistani military would dearly love to own some Predators or at least have a measure of command and control over them, so the demand is worth making publically all the time even though it routinely falls on deaf American ears – for obvious reasons, this devastating technology isn’t available to any state except Israel.
Similarly, the Pakistan military would like to have a critical advance say on the choice of drone targets so that “hardcore Al-Qaeda elements and foreigners” noted by Gen Ghayur are usefully targeted but some Pakistani “assets” among the Quetta Shura of Mullah Omer, Gulbudin Hekmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and Siraj Haqqani’s Taliban network are spared for long-term application in Afghanistan. Disagreement with the Americans over this particular issue compels military spokespersons to blow hot (in public) and cold (in front of the Americans) over all drone strikes.
Sometimes, when it gets uncomfortably hot under the collar, then General Ashfaq Kayani has to weigh in for public consumption – as he did recently when, the day after Raymond Davis was freed (courtesy ISI) amidst howls of protest from the media, a drone strike killed over 40 pro and anti-military tribesmen in a jirga for local conflict resolution in Fata.
Pakistan and America have some strategic interests in common, like eliminating Al-Qaeda from Waziristan. But there are disagreements about who is a “good” Taliban and who is not. This is not strange at all. The answer to this question will determine who will rule or share power in Afghanistan in the next five years and who will not. It will also have a bearing on Afghanistan’s strategic and tactical allies in the neighbourhood in the future – India or Pakistan. Therefore Pakistan’s military, which loves to hate India even as America is itching to embrace India, believes it cannot shrug away any openings or opportunities for leveraging its concerns and interests.
This perspective explains how the Raymond Davis case was handled (exploited) by the ISI and the import of DG-ISI’s recent dash to Washington for a meeting with the CIA chief. The ISI wants greater tactical input/output into CIA operations in Pakistan (to protect its strategic assets at home like the Lashkar-e-Tayba and the Haqqani network) even as it strategically allows the US to operate drones and run special agents freely from two bases in Pakistan where visas and landing rights are not an issue. Who knows how many Americans land or take off from these bases, how many carry weapons and what they do in their bulletproof SUVs when they cruise the length and breadth of Pakistan?
Under the circumstances, the DG-ISI’s “request” in Langley was about reposing “trust” in joint operations rather than any overt threat to deny existing facilities and rights. The US has responded with a drone strike in South Waziristan which is supposed to be strictly out of bounds. This signals its intention to remain focused on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda even as it “considers” Gen Pasha’s request for greater sensitivity to Pakistan’s needs and interests. No more, no less.
A recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, a pro-US establishment paper, sums up the American position bluntly. It is titled: The Pakistan Ultimatum: choose whose side it is on. “Maybe the Obama Administration can inform its friends in Islamabad that, when it comes to this particular fight, the U.S. will continue to pursue its enemies wherever they may be, with or without Pakistan’s cooperation… Pakistan can choose to cooperate in that fight and reap the benefits of an American alliance. Or it can oppose the U.S. and reap the consequences, including the loss of military aid, special-ops and drone incursions into their frontier areas, and in particular a more robust U.S. military alliance with India… After 9/11 Pakistan had to choose whose side it was on. It’s time to present Pakistan with the same choice again.
So it’s time for Pakistan’s military leaders to make up their minds and deal with its consequences. They must be upfront with America – because it’s a greatly beneficial “friend” to have and a deadly “enemy” to make – and honest with Pakistanis – because they’re not stupid and can eventually see through duplicity, as they did in the Raymond Davis case.
The military cannot forever hunt with America and run with an anti-American Pakistani public they have helped to create. They cannot instruct the DG-ISPR in Islamabad to convey the impression of tough talking in Langley while asking the GOC 7 Division in Waziristan to give a realistic brief to the media about the critical benefits of drone strikes amidst all the “myths and rumours” of their negativity. This double-dealing confuses the public, annoys a strategic partner, and discredits the military all round when it is exposed.
More significantly, it makes it difficult for Pakistanis to swallow the hard realities and the harder decisions necessary to change them for the sake of the state’s survival and the nation’s growth.
The duality or contradiction in the military’s private and public position vis a vis its relationship with civilians in Pakistan and its relationship with America is a direct consequence of two inter-related factors: First, the military’s threat perception of India’s rising military capability, and second, its fear of losing control over India-centred national security policy to the civilians who are keen to start the process of building permanent peace in the region, thereby diluting the military’s pre-eminent role in Pakistan’s polity.
The military’s scheme of things requires a permanent state of relative hostility towards, and distrust of, India. That is why its national security doctrine is fashioned on the premise that it is India’s military capacity to harm Pakistan rather than its intentions to build a permanent peace that matter.
Of course, this is a perfect and unending rationalisation of its economic and political hold over Pakistan since India’s conventional weaponry is forecast to grow by leaps and bounds on the basis of a robust economy and nationalist unity. But Pakistan’s limping economy is groaning under the burden of the arms race engendered by this philosophy and its civilian polity is fracturing in the grab for diminishing resources. That is why its civilians are increasingly plucking up the courage to stare the army in the face for their political, provincial and economic rights.
The military’s policy of renting itself out to America for its own sake and also complaining about it at the same time for the sake of the Pakistani public is clearly bankrupt. Isn’t it time, therefore, to consider a different paradigm, one in which conflict resolution and peace with India deliver an economic dividend that can be reaped by all in an environment free from destabilising extremism and war in the neighbourhood? In pursuit of an untenable philosophy, what use are dubious non-state “assets” that can become extreme liabilities in an impending national meltdown?
Under the circumstances, General Kayani could do worse than go on the national hookup and defend the truth of the briefing given by his subordinate Maj Gen Ghuyur Mehmud. He will be surprised how quickly a majority of Pakhtuns in particular and Pakistanis in general will back him to the hilt and help change the national paradigm. This is more our war than it is America’s because we live and die here and not far away across two great oceans.
The writer is Jang Group/Geo adviser on political affairs.
Courtesy: The News.com.pk
Unrest in Syria: What you need to know
By Zachary Roth
The uprising in Libya, which provoked military intervention by the United States and its allies to avert a brutal government crackdown, has dominated this week’s headlines. But meanwhile, there’s new unrest in yet another Middle Eastern nation–one with perhaps greater strategic implications for the United States.
Could the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad be set to go the way of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, which were toppled last month by massive popular protests? And what would that mean for the U.S.?
Here’s a rundown on the current situation in Syria:
What exactly has been happening on the ground?
Mass protests against the government have been going on since last week, and on Wednesday, demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a were killed by al-Assad’s security forces while taking refuge in a mosque. The number of casualties hasn’t been confirmed, but some witnesses have put it as high as 100.
The deaths prompted even bigger anti-government demonstrations in Dara’a yesterday, and today the protests spread to the capital city of Damascus, where people called out: “Dara’a is Syria” and “We will sacrifice ourselves for Syria.” In response, supporters of the president chanted back: “God, Syria, and Bashar, that’s all.” ….
Read more : YahooNews
The Egyptian army is no different than its counterparts in the developing countries. After a peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptian army’s sole function was to maintain a corrupt and unjust economic system in which a small section of society owned most of the national wealth. As time goes by, the Egyptian military’s obstructive role will become clearer
Many Pakistanis have been wistfully looking towards the Tahrir Square uprising and questioning why the same cannot be done in Pakistan. These uprisings have happened many times in Pakistan, whereby army dictators were forced out of power by popular movements of one kind or the other. However, the people did not experience any improvement in their living conditions or even civil liberties during democratic periods. By now they are disillusioned and do not know against whom they should rise.
The Ayub Khan era was not as long as Hosni Mubarak’s but the democratic rights in Egypt were almost the same as those in Pakistan of that time. Ayub Khan was secular and an enemy of the Jamaat-e-Islami like Hosni Mubarak was against the Muslim Brotherhood. Up until 1967, Ayub Khan had such a strong grip on Pakistan that it appeared as if his family would rule for generations just like a few months back, Hosni Mubarak’s son seemed all prepared to take over Egypt by the next elections. However, a small incident in Rawalpindi Polytechnic Institute, in which some students were killed, triggered such a popular movement that Ayub Khan was out in a few months. In a way that incident was not unique because the then Governor of West Pakistan, Amir Mohammad Khan, the Nawab of Kalabagh, was notorious for his repressive techniques. However, the masses were fed up with Ayub Khan’s rule and a mammoth movement was born in both parts of the country. Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became the leading forces in East and West Pakistan respectively.
The people who had seen massive crowds on both sides of the GT Road, from Rawalpindi to Multan — making a human chain of hundreds of miles — would agree that the scene was not any less impressive than what we have seen in Tahrir Square in the last few weeks. Just like in the Egyptian uprising, the political environment was so tolerant and non-discriminatory that several Ahmedis were elected to the provincial and national assemblies. In short, what we are seeing in Egypt now did happen in Pakistan some 40 years back.
Now, if we skip the details of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) against Ziaul Haq, which brought back the PPP and PML-N, and jump to the 2007 movement for an independent judiciary, we see another Tahrir Square-style uprising. Once again, the people turned the GT Road into a Tahrir Square as Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s motorcade made its way to Faisalabad/Lahore from Rawalpindi in 24 hours. Once again, the people’s movement forced General Musharraf to quit power and run away from the country. But what did people get from the democracy they struggled for so many times?
In a way, the Egyptian uprising for democracy was not as mature as Pakistani democratic movements. …
Read more : Wichaar
From San Francisco to Sarajevo – by Michael J. Totten
Stephen Schwartz was raised a communist in the San Francisco Bay Area and once worked for the Cubans. Then he became a Republican and converted to Islam in the Balkans. When he’s not busy with his duties as the director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, he writes books and articles for magazines like The Weekly Standard.
His analysis of the Middle East and the Muslim world generally is more fresh and interesting than that of most. He is the first Westerner to use the word “Islamofascism” to describe the “use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology,” and he did so not as an “Islamophobe” but as a Muslim believer. Those who yearn to hear from moderate Muslims, and those who have somehow convinced themselves that the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood are the moderates, really need to hear what he has to say.
MJT: So, what are your thoughts on Egypt?
Stephen Schwartz: Well, during the first two weeks most of the usual chatterers had no chattering to do. Everybody was stunned. Nobody had an answer. A lot of what should have been said was considered politically incorrect. Nobody for the first two weeks wanted to say there weren’t just two alternatives in Egypt, Mubarak or the Brotherhood. There were three alternatives—Mubarak, the Brotherhood, and the army which really rules Egypt.
Egypt has been controlled by the army since 1952. In certain kinds of countries the military takes over because it’s the only stable force. But in other countries the army is more ideological. Some of the armies in these latter countries develop a political ideology that I and a few other people have called the concept of the “army-party,” meaning the army acts as though it were a political party. It’s not simply a matter of a military dictatorship or a regime based on a militaristic or fascist party, and it’s not always necessarily an ideological phenomenon, but the army acts as a political party. It acts as a political force, and it acts as a political arbiter.
MJT: Like in Turkey, for instance.
Stephen Schwartz: Turkey is an example. There are lots of examples in Latin America. Argentina was an example. Algeria and Egypt are examples.
MJT: And Pakistan.
Stephen Schwartz: Yes, and Pakistan. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Egypt has an army-party.
MJT: It does.
Stephen Schwartz: So it’s not a question of Mubarak or the Brotherhood. The army will not, I think, permit the Brotherhood to take power, but the army will shuffle things in some ways. There may not be much of a change at all. When Mubarak said he wouldn’t run in the next election, well, the election is seven months away. How do we know there will be an election?
I’m for democracy throughout the world. I want bourgeois democracy everywhere. I’m an activist for it, but I’m also cautious about euphoria. I think a lot of people have been swept away by hope in the Egyptian case. They think this is the beginning of the great Arab transformation, but they don’t notice that there are few political alternatives in Egypt. There’s no labor-based party. There’s no bourgeois party. There are no parties representing particular social and economic interests.
The most important point, in my view, is that Iran and Saudi Arabia are two countries where democratization, or, at least, popular sovereignty, means leaving Islamist ideology behind. The problem with Egypt is that democratization, to a certain extent, represents a leap into the void. The Egyptians haven’t yet learned about Islamist ideology, through experience, what the Saudis and especially the Iranians have learned. We don’t want them to have to learn it.
MJT: But how are they going to learn it without learning it?
Stephen Schwartz: They can learn it by looking at the experiences of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. They don’t have to suffer it in their flesh. People in the West rejected Communism without having to live under it, thank God.
The other problem is that the weight of corruption and despotism in Egypt is so heavy and has persisted for so long. I often compare Egypt with China in this sense.
Democracy in Iran could lead to social reform in Saudi Arabia and a stiffening of the resistance to radicalism in Pakistan. It could conceivably change the whole Muslim world.
MJT: The Arab world doesn’t look up to Iran or Pakistan.
Stephen Schwartz: No.
MJT: Arabs do look up to Egypt, though, and in different ways to Saudi Arabia.
Stephen Schwartz: If Iran becomes democratic, if the Iranians overthrow the clerical state as we should all hope and pray for every day, there will be a tremendous impact in Saudi Arabia.
MJT: You think?
Stephen Schwartz: Absolutely.
MJT: What kind of impact would you expect?
Stephen Schwartz: If Iranians overthrow the clerical state and put Islamist ideology behind them, they can move quickly along the path of democracy and stability. Iranians are very well educated, very sophisticated.
MJT: The Saudis don’t seem to be so educated and sophisticated about democracy. ….
. Islamists are gaining popularity not because they wish to destroy Israel or the US, but because they give vent to the genuine grievances of their people against incompetent, corrupt and oppressive regimes.
A political tsunami has hit Egypt. Call it a Tunisami, after its place of origin. A contagion of mass revolt is gripping the Arab world. The popular upheaval that started in tiny Tunisia has now engulfed Egypt, the giant of the Arab world. Who would have thought that events in a quiet, small, insignificant country situated on the fringe of the Sahara would have such repercussions? But they have shaken the most populous Arab country and sent shockwaves not only in other Arab capitals but also in Washington and Tel Aviv, but for very different reasons.
While Arab regimes are now worried about their own survival, Washington is sleepless with a different anxiety — instability or an Islamist government in Cairo (and, heavens forbid, in Amman) might threaten Israel’s security. …
Read more : Daily Times
Written by: VOA
Demonstrators in Jordan say they are preparing for more protests. Massive demonstrations inspired by unrest in Tunisia have shaken what historically has been one of the most stable nations in the Middle East and raised questions about the future role of the country’s popular monarch. Some protesters in last Friday’s demonstration waved pieces of bread.
It is rising food prices, unemployment, and anger over corruption that prompted thousands to take to the streets of Amman last week. …
Read more : EurasiaReview
– In the wake of Salmaan Taseer’s murder, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi declares Islamic councils are “telling lies to the people”
by Declan Walsh in Islamabad
A prominent Islamic scholar has launched a blistering attack on Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, warning that failure to repeal them will only strengthen religious extremists and their violent followers.
“The blasphemy laws have no justification in Islam. These ulema [council of clerics] are just telling lies to the people,” said Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a reformist scholar and popular television preacher.
“But they have become stronger, because they have street power behind them, and the liberal forces are weak and divided. If it continues like this it could result in the destruction of Pakistan.”
Ghamidi, 59, is the only religious scholar to publicly oppose the blasphemy laws since the assassination of the Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, on 4 January. He speaks out at considerable personal risk.
Ghamidi spoke to the Guardian from Malaysia, where he fled with his wife and daughters last year after police foiled a plot to bomb their Lahore home. “It became impossible to live there,” he said.
Their fears were well founded: within months Taliban gunmen assassinated Dr Farooq Khan, a Ghamidi ally also famous for speaking out, at his clinic in the north-western city of Mardan.
The scholar’s troubles highlight the shrinking space for debate in Pakistan, where Taseer’s death has emboldened the religious right, prompting mass street rallies in favour of his killer, Mumtaz Qadri.
Liberal voices have been marginalised; many fear to speak out. Mainstream political parties have crumbled, led by the ruling Pakistan People’s party, which declared it will never amend the blasphemy law.
Sherry Rehman, a PPP parliamentarian who proposed changes to the legislation, was herself charged with blasphemy this week. Since Taseer’s death she has been confined to her Karachi home after numerous death threats, some issued publicly by clerics. …
Read more : Guardian.co.uk
Imagine there’s no heaven.
It’s easy if you try.
No hell below us, Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people Living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too.
Imagine all the people Living life in peace.
– John Lennon
John Lennon was a musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Lennon disengaged himself from the music business in 1975 to devote time to his family, but re-emerged in 1980 with a new album, Double Fantasy. He was murdered three weeks after its release.
Lennon revealed a rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, his writing, his drawings, on film, and in interviews, and he became controversial through his political activism. He moved to New York City in 1971, where his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a lengthy attempt by Richard Nixon’s administration to deport him, while his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement. It’s 30 years ago, shockingly and unexpectedly on 8 Dec. 1980, John Lennon was murdered in Imagine there’s no heaven.