Tag Archives: rightwing

Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

By Khaled Ahmed

Origin of our national mindset

The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.

The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state

The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.

The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.

Continue reading Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

By: ASHRAF KHAN

Associated Press – KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Bound together by hatred of the United States and support for insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, a revived coalition of supposedly banned Islamist extremists and rightwing political parties is drawing large crowds across Pakistan.

The emergence of the “Defend Pakistan Council” movement has raised suspicions that the group has approval from elements in the powerful military and security establishment, aiming to bolster public support for a hardline position. The group’s rise comes as the military is trying to assert its position in renegotiating its troubled relationship with the United States and as Pakistan prepares for elections likely to take place later this year.

Some of the leading lights in the Defend Pakistan Council have traditionally been seen as close to the security establishment, which has a long history of propping up radicals to defend its domestic interests or fight in India and Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the group’s bandwagon rolled into Karachi, the country’s commercial heart.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men gathered close to a monument to Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, whose vision of a liberal, secular Pakistan is often contrasted to the rise of hardline, often violent groups in the country.

The star of the gathering was Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group accused by India and the West of sending Pakistani militants by boat to Mumbai in 2008 where they killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites.

“We demand Pakistani rulers quit the alliance with America,” said Saeed, who was placed under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks but has slowly re-emerged in public, without a response from authorities. “There can be no compromise on the freedom and sovereignty of the country.”

Members of Dawa patrolled the rally, some armed with automatic weapons, others on horseback.

Also represented on stage and in the crowd were Sipah-e-Sahaba, a feared Sunni extremist group that has carried out scores of attacks on minority Shiites in recent years. Its members have reportedly formed alliances with al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan.

A large banner that hung over the stage read “Wake up, countrymen, break the shackles of American slavery.”

That anti-American message has been amplified by the Pakistani army since U.S. airstrikes along the Afghan border in late November killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani army accused the U.S. of deliberately targeting the outposts, rejecting American assertions it was mistake.

Pakistan retaliated by closing its western border to NATO and U.S military supplies into Afghanistan, a key supply line for the war. Saeed and other speakers threatened civil disobedience if Pakistan reopens it. Their stance could hamper American hopes that Islamabad will quietly reopen the route in the coming weeks.

“We vow that the NATO supply will never be restored,” he said.

The alliance groups many of the same parties and clerics that banded together after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, capitalizing on anti-American sentiment. It formed a political alliance that won 50 seats in elections that took place in 2002.

The current government, which is broadly pro-American and doesn’t espouse political Islam, is under pressure from the courts and opposition parties. Elections are now seen as likely later this year, and the revival of the “Defend Pakistan” group appears to be a push by politicians grouped within it to win votes among the legions of Pakistanis who subscribe to Islamist views.

It could also be attempt by the army to put pressure on the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, which has repeatedly clashed with the generals since taking power in 2008 and has tried to get closer ties with India. The group has organized large rallies in several Pakistan cities; next week it plans a gathering in the capital, Islamabad.

Many of the speakers in Karachi rallied the crowds with warnings that Pakistan was under threat, and Islam its only defense.

Do you swear to fight back with Islamic spirit, honor and dignity if anyone, whether American, NATO, Israel or India attack Pakistan?” asked Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, head of a hardline school that has sent thousands of people to fight in Afghanistan over the last 10 years.

Jihad! Jihad!” the crowd roared.

Speaker after speaker also touted the army line on India, saying the neighboring country represents an existential threat to Pakistan. This stance justifies the security state that has been established since the two nations broke apart from the British-ruled subcontinent in 1947.

Liberals, democrats and peace activists have been trying for years to bring India and Pakistan closer together. But in the past, the army has funded and trained Islamic militant groups and their umbrella organizations to battle Indian forces in Kashmir, the disputed territory at the heart of the rivalry between the two countries.

The security establishment of this country desires that ultra-radical parties should be brought into politics so that their doctrine against India, America or Israel could be infused to the masses,” said Tauseef Ahmed, the head of the Mass Communication department at the Federal Urdu University.

Also at the Karachi rally was Hamid Gul, a former general who headed the country’s spy agency in the late 1980s when Pakistan and the U.S. were supporting militants in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He has since become a leading voice in the media against America and in support of the Taliban. Documents released by the whistleblower site Wikileaks alleged he retained ties to the insurgency there, a charge he has denied.

Ejaz Haider, a security analyst, said the security establishment should be “checked for serious dementia if it was using the council for its own purposes, given that many of its members have been linked to terrorism that is taking a deadly toll inside Pakistan.

Continue reading Bound by hatred of the US, Pakistan extremists and politicians join hands to shake government – Chicago Tribune

Canadians losing faith in religion

– Many link traditional institutions with religious conflict, survey finds

By Teresa Smith

It’s no secret fewer Canadians attend church today than 20 years ago, but what may be surprising is almost half of Canadians believe religion does more harm than good, according to the results of a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.

Explanations from experts vary – from fear of extremists and anger toward individuals who abuse positions of power, to a national “forgetting” of Canadian history.

“In the past few years, there have been several high-profile international situations involving perceived religious conflicts, as well as the anniversary of 9/11, and I think when people see those, it causes them to fear religion and to see it as a source of conflict,” said Janet Epp Buckingham, associate professor at Trinity Western University in Ottawa.

Religion seems to be a key player in many of today’s top stories, from stand-alone events – such as the 2005 riots in the suburbs of Paris linked to the French government’s proposed burka ban, and rightwing Christian Anders Behring Breivik’s shooting rampage in Oslo, Norway – to more drawn-out sagas, such as child abuse in the Catholic Church, and the perception that Christians are constantly campaigning against gay marriage and abortion. ….

Read more:→ http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Canadians+losing+faith+religion/5420900/story.html#ixzz1YUqS2IDX

 

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