Tag Archives: radical

Living with Jihadistan – Parthasarathy reviews Avoiding Armageddon

Books by American academics, officials and journalists on India and Pakistan almost invariably portray reluctance of the authors to call a spade a spade. They underplay the serious global implications of Pakistan’s links with radical Islamist terrorist groups and the dangerous role of these groups within Pakistan and beyond its borders, particularly in India and Afghanistan. Bruce Riedel is different. He is an American specialist on the Middle East, South Asia and counter-terrorism, with 29 years’ experience in the CIA. He has also served four presidents in the White House.

Riedel’s new book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, is a colourful and interesting account of the imperatives, twists and turns of America’s policies, especially since the days of World War II and the subsequent partition of the sub-continent in August 1947. While the birth pangs of the partition, the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir and the India-Pakistan conflicts of 1965 and 1971 are covered factually and impartially, it is important for all those interested in the geopolitics of India’s neighbourhood to read and absorb Riedel’s analysis of how the US cultivated Pakistan’s military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, to “bleed” the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. In the process, America made Pakistan a playground for radical Islamist groups worldwide, which undermined security and stability within Pakistan and across its entire neighbourhood.

General Zia laid the foundations for Pakistan’s ambitions to make Afghanistan a radical Islamic state and the epicentre for global jihad. Over 80,000 Afghans were armed and trained by the isi during the Zia period, with an aim of ending Afghan territorial claims on Pakistan and eliminating Indian and Soviet influence there, while also making Afghanistan “a real, Islamic State, part of a pan-Islamic revival that will one day win over the Muslims of the Soviet Union”. Riedel reveals how General Zia used the Afghan conflict for carrying his enthusiasm for jihad into Jammu and Kashmir, following a secret meeting with Kashmiri Jamat-e-Islami leader Maulana Abdul Bari in 1980. Riedel also reveals Zia’s role in fomenting terrorism in Punjab in the 1980s. He exposes US duplicity in rewarding Pakistan in the 1980s, by deliberately turning a blind eye to its nuclear weapons programme.

Riedel explains how short-sighted American policies promoted Wahhabi-oriented radicalisation in a nuclear-armed Pakistan. These policies also increased the dominance of the army, weakening democratic institutions. They led to the emergence of global links between radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan and their counterparts across the world. The Kargil conflict is discussed in detail, as is the military standoff that followed the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Riedel is unsparing on the links of the isi with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). He dwells on the nexus between isi-supported terrorist groups like the let and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, with the Taliban and with groups like the al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The book commences with the 26/11 terrorist strike on Mumbai. The actions of the let and its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and their terrorist links are clinically analysed. Riedel describes how the tentacles of the ISI extend from the let to the Taliban and jihadi groups worldwide.

Riedel spells out two nightmare scenarios. The first is a takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons by terrorists. The second nightmare he alludes to is a 26/11-type terrorist attack leading to nuclear escalation, after an angered India responds militarily.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/parthasarathy-reviews-avoiding-armageddon/1/277746.html

Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

In spite of the gradual infiltration of ubiquitous religious symbolism and mentality in the social spheres of everyday life, Pakistan has managed to remain afloat as a dynamically pluralistic society comprising various ethnicities, religions and Islamic sects.

However, starting in the late 1970s, an anti-pluralistic process was initiated by the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship that soon spiralled beyond mere posturing and sloganeering.

With the ‘Afghan jihad’ raging against the former Soviet Union, Zia, his intelligence agencies, and parties like Jamat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam started embracing a narrow and highly political version of Islam.

This was done to radicalise large sections of the Pakistani Muslims who had historically been a part of more apolitical strains of the faith — the kind that over the centuries had evolved within the largely pluralistic milieu of the subcontinent.

Continue reading Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

Elements of the ISI and Pakistan’s military operate radical Islamic groups that are actively murdering Americans

US Congress introduces Pak ‘terrorism accountability’ bill

A far-reaching legislation has been introduced in the US Congress that would deduct $50 million from the aid to Islamabad for every American killed by terrorists operating from the safe havens in Pakistan with the ”support” of ISI.

“Pakistan has for decades leveraged radical terrorist groups to carry out attacks in India and Afghanistan,” Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said introducing the ‘Pakistan Terrorism Accountability Act of 2012′.

Continue reading Elements of the ISI and Pakistan’s military operate radical Islamic groups that are actively murdering Americans

A Ray of hope – the New Enlightenment of SINDHIYAT

By: Ibrahim Saleh Mohammad

As a Sindhi, we are not Hopeless, like our ancestors were before 1947. In Today’s Sindh, a new phase of Sindhiyat (Humanity) has been evolved, which is above then the Hindu, Muslim and other Religions. During these days, we have seen a new Generation of Sindhi youth demonstrating peacefully in the streets of Sindh, and confronting  with the Radical Fundamentalists with bare hands. This is a Ray of hope, which is the New Enlightenment of SINDHIYAT.

Courtesy: Ibrahim Saleh Mohammad’s facebook wall

Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

WELCOME MR PRESIDENT

By Vikram Sood

Benazir Bhutto made five pilgrimages to the Dargah Sharif of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the last being in 2005. She wanted to visit one more time in 2007 but this did not materialise. Instead, she went home to Pakistan to a tumultuous welcome but ultimately to become yet another Bhutto martyr. Her friends had cautioned her that her return to Pakistan could be dangerous for her but Benazir insisted that the country needed her. Quite apparently, there were powerful figures in her country who did not want her alive. So she became the fourth Bhutto to die a violent unnatural death.

Continue reading Indians & many in Pakistan also want President Zardari to act firmly against jihadis.

Forced conversion of Hindus in Pakistan jolts US out of slumber

By Chidanand Rajghatta

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination, and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari.

In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker. In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam.

She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots, including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker. According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington DC, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed.

”Rinkel Kumari’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Congressman Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month. ”I urge you to take all necessary steps to bring an end to this practice and other harassment of Hindus in Pakistan.”

The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC), a lobby group that, like the Baloch groups, is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.

Hindus, who constituted more than 15 per cent of Pakistan’s population soon after Partition, have now dwindled to less than two per cent, mostly in some districts of Sindh. There have been several reports in recent months of Hindu families seeking to migrate to India in the face of growing radical Islamization of Pakistan, including abduction and forcible conversions, but it is the first time that Washington, which literally slept over Pakistan’s genocide of Bengalis in 1970-71, is paying attention to the issue.

US interest in the Rinkel Kumari case comes close on the heels of sudden support in Congress for Baloch self-determination, an effort led by California lawmaker Dana Rohrabacher. That effort has rattled Islamabad to the extent that it has told American interlocutors that Pakistan-US ties will be deeply affected if Washington interfered in Balochistan, even though the Obama administration has clarified that support for an independent Balochistan is confined to the Hill, where lawmakers are free to introduce any legislation they deem appropriate. That in turn resulted in Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.,, writing to House Speaker John Boehner, expressing deep concern over Congressional action on Balochistan.

Courtesy: TOI

Pakistan’s modernity: Between military and militancy – By Ayesha Siddiqa

Pakistan’s modernity is structured along two axes: neo-liberal nationalism and right-wing radical nationalism. The meeting of the two trajectories has turned Pakistan into a hybrid-theocratic state which encapsulates a mix of economic neo-liberalism, pockets of social liberalism, formal theocracy and larger spaces experiencing informal theocracy

Read more » Friday Times

Drones & Ababeels

Declaring sanity

by Nadeem F. Paracha

In March 2010 animated conspiracy theorist, TV personality and poster-boy for stylised sofa-warming-jihad, Zaid Hamid finally met his nemesis at the Peshawar University.

Hamid, who till then, had been enjoying a virtual free run on certain TV channels and on privately-owned campuses, was chased away by large sections of the audience that turned up to listen to him speak at the state-owned Peshawar University.

As Hamid’s speech began being booed at, Hamid made a quick exit from the premises only to face another crowd of students outside who shouted slogans against him, and pelted his car with stones.

Suddenly a man who was lovingly being courted by TV channels and student bodies and administration of private educational institutions, was angrily courted out by the students of a state-owned university.

Continue reading Drones & Ababeels

Bangladesh Army says it foiled a coup via Facebook

Intelligence sources say the Bangladesh coup attempt last month was fueled by retired officers campaigning to introduce sharia law. The news raises concern about political instability in the region.

By Anis Ahmed, Reuters

Dhaka: Bangladesh’s Army said on Thursday it had foiled a coup attempt by retired and serving officers last month that intelligence sources said was driven by a campaign to introduce sharia law throughout the majority Muslim country.

Army intelligence discovered that Major Ziaul Haque had fled the barracks and was contacting fellow officers and ex-officers through Facebook and by cellphone to encourage them to join the plot, Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq said.

“Specific information has been unearthed that some officers in military service have been involved in the conspiracy to topple the system of democratic governance,” he told reporters.

He said around 16 former and active officers were involved. Some had been detained and would appear before a military court.

Impoverished Bangladesh has a history of coups, with army generals running the South Asian nation for 15 years until the end of 1990.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took power in early 2009 and has since faced threats from Islamist and other radical groups.

A revolt in the country’s paramilitary forces in February 2009 started in Dhaka and spread to a dozen other cities, killing more than 70 people, including 51 army officers. The revolt was quelled after two days but the country has since been shadowed by fears of further uprisings.

Sources in the army said the coup attempt was made late last month. “The attempt has been effectively controlled and now the process is on to punish the culprits,” one military official said.

Intelligence sources said the coup attempt was fuelled by a retired officer and associates in active service who were campaigning to introduce sharia law.

Intelligence officers also said it appeared to have been planned over weeks or months by officers having close links with what they described as religious fanatics within and outside the military. ….

Read more » CSMONITOR.COM

Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination

– The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future

• Police tactics attacked as officers pepper-spray women
• Occupy Wall Street: the protesters speak

by

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. ….

Read more → guardian.co.uk

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via → guardian news blogYouTube

Pakistan college contest: Praise for bin Laden

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Two months after the covert U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, posters emblazoned with images of the burning World Trade Center towers appeared at the country’s largest university advertising a literary contest to glorify the slain al-Qaida chief.

The poem and essay competition at the prestigious Punjab University shows the footholds of hard-line Islamists on college campuses and growing efforts to raise their profile and influence even in the relatively cosmopolitan atmosphere of Pakistan’s culture capital, Lahore.

The contest’s organizers have kept their identities hidden. But many students and teachers suspect it is being held by a powerful Islamist student group that has increasingly enforced its conservative religious views on the rest of the campus — sometimes violently.

The Islami Jamiat Talaba, which is connected to Pakistan’s largest Islamist party, has denied involvement, saying it doesn’t participate in secret activities. But its leaders have publicly acknowledged that many members support bin Laden and have a profound hatred for the U.S.

The group’s rising ambitions have intensified fears about the radicalization of Pakistan’s educated middle classes, who make up a large part of the public university’s population. The educated classes have been seen as a bulwark against militant groups such as the Taliban in the nuclear-armed country.

The ability of Islami Jamiat Talaba, or Islamic Student Group, to gain ground on the university — even though many students reject its radical views — also reflects a general unwillingness of Pakistani authorities to challenge the powerful Islamist forces.

“Whoever is America’s friend is a traitor!” roared the head of the student group, Zubair Safdar, in an interview with The Associated Press. ….

Read more → Yahoo News

Christian Taliban – a doomed attempt to compete with Muslim Taliban

Fighting the Culture Wars With Hate, Violence and Even Bullets: Meet the Most Extreme of the Radical Christians

By Alex Henderson

From the Army of God to the Hutaree Militia to Gary North and his Christian reconstructionists, radical Christianity is alive and well in the United States.

If there is one name some residents of Amarillo, Texas wish they could forget, it’s Repent Amarillo. Based in that North Texas city, Repent Amarillo is a militant Christian fundamentalist group whose antics have ranged from staging a mock execution of Santa Claus by firing squad to posting a “spiritual warfare” map on its Web site that cited a Buddhist temple, an Islamic center, gay bars, strip clubs and sex shops as places of demonic activity.

Repent Amarillo is also infamous for mercilessly harassing a local swingers club called Route 66. Throughout 2009, members of Repent Amarillo made a point of showing up at Route 66’s events, where they would typically wear military fatigues, shout at Route 66 members through bullhorns and write down the license plate numbers of people attending the events. After finding out who the swingers were, Repent Amarillo’s members would find out where they worked and try to get them fired from their jobs (according to Route 66 coordinator Mac Mead, at least two members of the club lost their jobs because of Repent Amarillo). ….

Read more: → AlterNet

The radicalization of Pakistan’s military

By Fareed Zakaria

Excerpt:

Whatever their strength, American troops will not determine success in Afghanistan. Nor will the newly formed Afghan National Army. As U.S. forces are gradually withdrawn over the next three years, it is Pakistan’s 600,000-strong army that will become the dominant military force in the region and will try to shape its future. But that military is undergoing a deep internal crisis of identity, its most serious since Pakistan’s founding in 1947. How it resolves this crisis will determine its future, the future of the Afghan war — and much else.This week’s news that a Pakistani brigadier general has been arrested for his ties to a radical Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, is only the latest in series of events that have rocked that nation. In the past year, two senior Pakistani officials have been gunned down, one by his own security guard. Last month, well-armed militants attacked a key naval base in Karachi, an operation that required inside assistance. Also last month, a brave Pakistani journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, who detailed the growing extremist presence within the Pakistani military, was tortured and killed, almost certainly by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (which denied the allegation). And then there is the case of Osama bin Laden, who was for years comfortably ensconced in an army town.

Pakistan’s military has traditionally been seen as a secular and disciplined organization. But the evidence is now overwhelming that it has been infiltrated at all levels by violent Islamists, including Taliban and al-Qaeda sympathizers.

There is also strong evidence of a basic shift in the attitude of the Pakistani military. Last month, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was invited to speak at the country’s National Defense University. Addressing a large gathering of officers, Haqqani asked the audience, “What is the principal national security threat to Pakistan?” He offered three categories: “from within [Pakistan],” “India,” and, “the United States.” A plurality voted for the third option. …..

….. Pakistan is drifting into a strategic black hole. Does the country really think its best path forward is as an adversary of the United States, currying favor with militants and becoming a vassal of China? Are its role models North Korea and Burma? Or does it want to crush the jihadist movements that are destroying the country, join the global economy, reform its society and become a real democracy? These are the questions Pakistan has to ask itself. The United States, for its part, having disbursed $20 billion in aid to Pakistan in the past decade — most of it to the military — needs to ask some questions of its own.

To read complete article: The Washington Post

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Pakistan – Jinnah’s nightmare

Success and failure

By S. Akbar Zaidi

THE country which was considered to be a basket case in 1971, is today offering a mirror to others on how developing countries can become a development state and is being referred to as the `development surprise` of the 21st century.

At the same time, it has also ensured that democracy is developing as a strong and permanent alternative to military rule, under which it has had many years of painful repression.

That this overwhelmingly Muslim country is also constitutionally and increasingly in practice politically secular is also a lesson for other Muslim majoritarian countries to emulate. The Supreme Court struck down a 31-year-old constitutional amendment and restored the country to its founding status as a secular republic, banning the writings of some radical Islamic ideologues.

The country which in the mid-1960s was heralded as a role model for other developing countries, where the international press had praised its military-led development model no end, stating that it might just reach the levels of development achieved only by the United States, has just appeared as the world`s 10th most failed, or failing, state. On the course towards reaching this rather ignominious distinction, this country has also been called “the most dangerous place in the world”, and a “rogue state with a nuclear arsenal”.

Read more : DAWN

Communist Party of Egypt resumes open political activities

March 24, 2011 — People’s World — On March 15, the Communist Party of Egypt announced that after many years underground because of repression, it will be assuming open, public political activities once more. The announcement came after “an extensive meeting with all of its bodies” and was unanimous.

The original Communist Party of Egypt, the Hizb al Shuvuci al-Misri, had been founded in 1922 when Egypt was still a monarchy and very much under the thumb of British imperialism. The last king of Egypt, Farouk, was overthrown by an uprising of young army officers in 1952. Out of that revolution came the 14-year regime of Colonel Gamel Abdel Nasser, a radical nationalist who worked to break Egypt away from subservience to Western capitalist powers. In 1965, the Communist Party of Egypt merged into Nasser’s own movement, the Arab Socialist Union.

A number of former Communist Party activists dissented from this merger and formed their own independent journal, Al-Inisar (Victory), starting in 1973, which led to their re-founding the Communist Party in 1975. Under the governments of Anwar Al Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, the re-founded Communist Party of Egypt faced repression and was not allowed to run in elections. However, it did not disappear and did not abandon the struggle for democracy and socialism.

When the demonstrations against the Mubarak regime began earlier this year, the Communist Party of Egypt, working in unity with other left-wing dissident groups, quickly gained public visibility as a key voice in the secular opposition. Its February 1, 2011, proclamation read as follows. ….

Read more : Link International

Blood money’ frees CIA contractor Davis in Pakistan

Excerpt:

Islamabad: The Raymond Davis saga finally seemed to come to a conclusion on Wednesday after a Pakistan court acquitted the US diplomat-cum- CIA contractor as the relatives of the victims agreed to accept blood money in exchange for pardon.

American CIA contractor Raymond Allen Davis has been in jail since Jan. 27 after he was arrested on the account of shooting and killing two Pakistanis. His detention was known to seriously strain the US-Pak relations.

Shortly after Additional District and Sessions Judge Yousuf Aujla indicted Davis on murder charges during in-camera proceedings at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, 18 relatives of the dead men appeared in the makeshift court and said they were willing to forgive the American if compensation was paid under the Qisas and Diyat Law.

“The relatives appeared in court and independently told the judge that they had accepted the diyat (compensation) and forgiven him,” said Rana Sanaullah, the Law Minister of Punjab province. …

… Sources said that the Saudi Arabian government played a key role in secret negotiations to arrange the “blood money” deal to settle Davis’ case, which had resulted in Pakistan-US ties plunging to a new low.

The Saudi royal family played a key role in convincing Pakistan’s radical groups and religious hardliners to agree to the deal, the sources said.

Read more : ZeeeNews

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Saudis come to Raymond’s rescue! – [More detail -BBC urdu]

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Courtesy: Dunya TV (Cross Fire with Mehar Bukhari, 16 March 2011-1)

via- Siasat.pkYou Tube

Gaddafi: Running on Crazy

by Mona Eltahawy, Columnist for Al Masry Al Youm, Al Arab

NEW YORK – If Tunisia kicked down the door of the Arab imagination by showing it was possible to topple a dictator, Egypt drew a blueprint of non-violence for the house of revolution that detailed how to demolish a stubbornly entrenched dictator; and now in Libya a mad man is trying to burn down the entire house rather than face eviction.

For 42 years, Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s antics have blinded too many to a brutality they finally see on full display as he desperately tries to quash the most serious uprising against his rule. If too many chose to not see, Libyans have known all too well.

Half the struggle for Libyans has surely been getting the world to move beyond Gadhafi the Clown, a role he seems to have uninhibitedly embraced. Who hasn’t been distracted by the eclectic wardrobe, the Kalashnikov-armed female bodyguards, and the tents he would pitch at home and abroad for talks with officials.

A source of embarrassment for Libyans, Gadhafi has never been a joke: disappearances, a police state, zero freedom of expression and poverty for at least a third of the population of country tremendously wealthy thanks to oil.

For years, Gadhafi squandered that wealth on causes and radical violence abroad that he chose because they epitomized the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” school of diplomacy. In 2003, just as the U.S. became mired in Iraq and its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, Gadhafi realized no one was scared of him anymore and voluntarily gave up his weapons of mass destruction programs.

When the world has paid attention to his crimes it has invariably been to those against non-Libyans such as the mid-air bombings of a French airliner over Niger and of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. Once he compensated families who lost relatives in those attacks, Gadhafi became persona grata and money and business deals came in, along with high-level dignitaries. …

Read more : Huffingtonpost

Sources claim colonel Imam killed by his own trained Taliban

The former ISI officer Colonel (r) Imam known as the ‘godfather of the Taliban’ has been killed by his abductors in North Waziristan, Dunya News reported on Sunday.

Imam was abducted in March, 2010, who said in a video footage released by his captors that his life was in danger unless the authorities meet his kidnappers demand to free a number of prisoners held for terrorism.

Imam, whose real name was Sultan Amir Tarar, worked alongside Afghanistan’s mujahideen to defeat the Soviet occupation. In the mid-1990s, as an ISI agent in the country, he spotted the potential of the then emerging Taliban movement and helped nurture it. After 2001 he was forcibly retired from the ISI after being considers too radical.

Courtesy: ARY News – You Tube

Possibility of “revolution” in Pakistan?

Ripe for revolution? – By Mahreen Khan

…. Despite a wave of public protests, Egypt is unlikely to emulate Tunisia, due to factors also present in Pakistan. Egypt has a sharp religious divide between Coptics and Muslims as well as numerous Islamic groups pitted against each other. Arab analysts cite low levels of literacy and a general feeling of apathy and defeatism in the population as further reasons that Egypt will continue to fester rather than revolt. Pakistan has these and additional factors which militate against a revolution: deep and multiple ethnic, linguistic, tribal and sectarian fault lines; a paucity of alternative intellectual narratives, radical leaders or strong unions; and an elected government and freedom of speech. Ironically, democratic elections and free speech help perpetuate the corrupt, unjust stranglehold of the feudal-industrial power elite. Revolutionary forces require a moral impetus that illegitimate dictatorship provides but elected government does not. Secondly, frustration needs to simmer under a repressive regime until it reaches the temperature for mass revolt. Pakistan’s free media allows an outlet for public dissatisfaction. The often harsh treatment of politicians and police officials at the hands of journalists and judges ameliorates public anger. Vocal opposition parties, unhindered street protests and strikes allow a regular release of fury, draining the momentum necessary for the emotional surge that revolutionary zeal requires. …

Read more : The Express Tribune

Pakistan: The moral collapse of a nation

Politicians, lawyers and journalists who championed the cause of democracy now fail to speak up

A month before the governor of the Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was lowered into an early grave, an imam at a mosque in Peshawar asked the Taliban to kill a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, if the Pakistani state did not carry out the death sentence. Nawa-e-Waqt, the second most read Urdu-language newspaper in the country, wholeheartedly approved of the 500,000 rupee bounty that the cleric Maulana Yousuf Qureshi put on Asia Bibi’s head. Its lead editorial went on to threaten anyone, like Taseer, who supported the woman’s cause and campaigned for a repeal of the infamous blasphemy law. “The punishment handed down to Asia Bibi will be carried out in one manner or the other, and who knows whose position and rank will be terminated as a result of the debate on the repeal of the blasphemy laws,” the newspaper wrote. That was on 5 December. A month later Taseer was killed by his bodyguard, a 26-year-old policeman, Mumtaz Qadri. Neither the cleric nor the editors of the newspaper are being charged with incitement.

The celebration of Taseer’s assassination has continued ever since. Making common cause with radical Islamists, lawyers showered petals on Qadri. They surrounded the anti-terrorism court at Rawalpindi and at one point the judge refused to hear the case and police considered dropping a reference to the anti-terror act and trying Qadri in a district court. When the hearing went ahead after five hours, no public prosecutor turned up because of fears for their safety, according the report in Dawn.com. Nationally, Taseer’s death was greeted with cold-hearted intolerance from rightwing religious leaders – several of whom said he got what he deserved – and with spineless capitulation from the ruling Pakistan People’s party, of which the Punjab governor was the fifth most important member. Shortly after he visited Asia Bibi in jail with his wife and daughter, a mob rioted outside the governor’s house. Prominent TV commentators joined in. The law minister, Babar Awan, then caved in, saying there was no question of reforming the law. Now Awan has rushed for cover behind a judicial inquiry, painting the killing as part of some unnamed conspiracy to destabilise the country.

The truth is all too clear. Who is responsible for Taseer’s death? Some of the very politicians, lawyers and journalists who championed the cause of democracy, parliament and the rule of law against military dictators. Now they support, or fail to speak up against, a law which has become the weapon of choice of dictators, mobs and bigots. Where is the justice in a law widely abused to settle personal scores and to discriminate against minorities? No proof is needed. The alleged blasphemer can be locked up and executed on the say-so of witnesses and yet the slander can never be repeated in court, let alone proved, because to do so would compound the crime. Asia Bibi has spent 18 months in one of Pakistan’s most hellish prisons, the last month of it in solitary confinement. At least 10 people have been killed while awaiting trial on blasphemy charges since 1990, according to human rights workers. …

Read more : The Guardian

Bangladesh bans books written by radical Islamic author Maududi

Bangladesh bans books written by radical Islamic author

By Anbarasan Ethirajan,  BBC News, Dhaka

The Bangladeshi government has ordered mosques and libraries across the country to remove all books written by a controversial Islamic scholar.

The chief of the government-funded Islamic Foundation told the BBC that the books by Syed Abul Ala Maududi encouraged “militancy and terrorism”. Mr Maududi – who died in 1979 – is the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. His works are essential reading for supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in the region.

Born in India, the Pakistani scholar is considered the most prominent theorist of radical Islam in modern South Asian history. But Bangladeshi officials say Mr Maududi’s writings promote radicalism and his ideological goal was to capture power in the name of Islam.

“His writings are against the peaceful ideology of Islam. So, it is not correct to keep books of Mr Maududi in mosques,” Islamic Foundation Director-General Shamim Mohammad Afjal told the BBC.

Read more >> BBC