Intellectual and historian Dr Mubarak Ali is a prolific and versatile writer who has produced around fifty books on issues ranging from the Age of Reason in Europe to the women’s movement and the history of South Asia.
The objective of this seminar series is to understand the roots and dynamics of religious extremism within the context of Pakistani society, which could be referenced to evolve a strategy for de-radicalization of youth. Scholars will be invited to deliver talks in Urdu (Hindi). The talks will involve a small audience with the key purpose to record and disseminate the lecture widely among the youth.
Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said that the judicial commission investigating the memogate was trying to coerce him to confess that President Asif Ali Zardari had urged him to draft the memo to former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Admiral Mike Mullen.
This was revealed by Haqqani to Professor Christine Fair of Georgetown University, a South Asia expert, who has extensively researched the Pakistan army, the Inter-Serviced Intelligence and the terrorist organisations based in the country.
Haqqani was asked to step down as Pakistan’s envoy to the US over his suspected role in the secret memo, which said that the Pakistan government had sought help from the United States to stave off a military coup in the wake of the Abbottabad raid on May 2, which killed Osama bin Laden.
Fair, who was discussing the memogate affair at a conference at the Hudson Institute and arguing how the judicial process has been subverted and due process disregarded in the investigation of Haqqani, said she had met Haqqani last week. His interpretation of the investigation was “that they are trying to use these proceedings to put the fear of Allah in him to get him to give up the goods on Zardari to bring this government down,” she said. “This is a well-worn playbook that this military had in its disposal,” she added.
Fair said that this case “bears some similarity to what we saw with (former Pakistan prime minister) Benazir’s (Bhutto) father — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto — when they took the head of his security and coerced him into becoming what’s called an approver in Pakistani parlanace — I guess in our parlance it would be basically a witness for the state.”
Thus, she said, “While we all care about Husain Haqqani, I want to emphasise that this is not simply about the particular personal safety or lack thereof of Haqqani, but also about Pakistan’s democratic institutions.”
Fair said that what was currently taking place in Pakistan “in my view is a slow-moving coup.”
“So, if we care about Pakistan’s democracy as well as Husain Haqqani, the United States government really needs to be much more vocal than it has been,” she said. “We have to work with our partners to send a very clear message that we recognise that this is a coup albeit via judicial hue.”
Lisa Curtis, who heads the South Asia programme at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, warned that “if the Zardari government is forced out, whether it be through the Supreme Court — and it looks like the army is working in tandem with the Supreme Court albeit behind the scenes — this is going to send a negative signal.”
Curtis, a former Central Intelligence Agency official, said the signal would be clear that “the Pakistan army still wields inappropriate control within the systems,” and that ‘civilian democracy has really not taken root in Pakistan“. She argued, “Even though the Zardari government may not be perfect, it’s an elected government and we need to keep that in mind.”
A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC-STM-183-2011,
November 29, 2011 – The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a subject of severe criticism by human rights activists and jurists in India and across the world. The alarming number of human rights abuses committed by the security agencies deployed in regions where AFSPA is currently put to use is depressing proof to the draconian nature of this law. Many lives lost already – estimated to be more than 4000 since the Act came into force in 1958 – to this the Act underscores the non-compatibility of this law to the notion of democracy. The statutory impunity provided in the Act and the extreme nature of force, that could be used arbitrarily on mere suspicion, empowering a soldier to shoot to kill with no fear of prosecution which is used without restraint till today, proves that this law has not only failed, but would not by any stretch of imagination be of use to curb armed secessionist militancy in the country. Yet, the Indian Army is now entangled in a browbeating debacle with the civilian government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the state’s legislature concerning the withdrawal of this law from certain parts of the state. The army’s attempt is to continue enjoying the despicable impunity this law provides therefore unbecomingly benefiting from it.
– Sindh, the land of Sufis, the hope and ultimate destination of my quest!
The time I’ve spent in Sindh, Pakistan over the last year and a half has been life changing. It’s taught me much about the history of South Asia, the cultural heritage of Sindh, our Sindhi brothers and sisters, the dynamics of the Muhajir- Sindhi relationship among a few things. But I believe these to be the more obvious lessons that every second generation removed Sindhi Indian American would also search for when they visit.
There’s been a deeper and much more personal journey involved for me as well: a spiritual one. I came to the land of Sufis to find myself with the hope to find my God as the grand triumph and ultimate destination of my quest.
I’ve learnt that I’m still learning and still looking. On this journey I’ve found beautiful hidden messages that I’ve read in books or inscribed on the walls of temples and Sufi durgahs:
“Ekam sat viprah bahuda vedanti.”
“Satyam amritasya putrah”
To give pleasure to a single heart by a single kind act is better than bowing your head in prayer a thousand times. -Shaykh Sa’di
I believe not in the outer religion,
I live ever in love.
Say Amen! When love comes to you.
Love is neither with the infidels nor with the faithful.
– Sachal Sarmast
If you are seeking Allah,
Then keep clear of religious formalities.
Those who have seen Allah
Are away from all religions!
Those who do not see Allah here,
How will they see Him beyond?
– Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai
My time in Sindh surrounded by Sindhi Muslims has shown me the other side of Sindh’s story and another side of Sufi Islam. The stories of the Sindhi who provided their Hindu counterparts their homes to hide out in during the violence that broke out, the Muslims that bid a final farewell to their Hindu friends with tears in their eyes, the Sindhis who still hold those memories close to their hearts and feel the loss of the Sindhi Hindus as something Sindh never recovered from.
On November 7, 2011 three Hindus were killed in Shikarpur district of Sindh, Pakistan. As many of you already know, I worked in Shikarpur at the start of my time in Sindh. I still maintain close contact with my co-workers. A member of my family also sits on the board of a Hindu association of Sindh. Here’s what I must say, as it is the other side of the truth that exists.
Immediately following the killings the religious (Hindu in this case) spokesperson jumped on the bandwagon to claim religious bias as a cause of the killing. I turned to my personal network in Shikarpur for answers: there had been an election recently in which the Hindu community had supported the ruling party which won due to the large number of Hindu votes they received. The opposing party didn’t take their loss lightly and instead decided to teach a lesson to the opposite party. The end result of which was the death of the three Sindhi Hindu of whom only one was a doctor. Religious bias was not the reason for their death, politics was. Anyone who follows politics closely shouldnt be shocked to learn of the ways in which politicians use religion as a political strategy. As they say, ” The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
What followed next was an absolute uproar within the Sindhi community and an alternate backlash against the government for their inadequate response and towards Sindh warning all Sindhis that this type of violence and is anti Sindhiyat and will not be tolerated by the residents of Sindh. They further emphasized that Sindh is the land of Sufis and believes in living in a tolerant society. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend as I was in Islamabad on official business. A young activist was kind enough to send me pictures.
Following the killings thousands of Pakistanis, both Hindu and Muslim, gathered publically across Pakistan to stand against the death of the three victims and the inaccurate message of intolerance it displayed. There was also a hunger strike that followed.
Sayings in books thousands of years old that we claim as ours aren’t good enough. It is far more necessary to put those words to action and there is no better time than now. Hate only breeds hate. History is meant to learn from not to regurgitate. It’s wrong to paint today’s canvas with yesterday’s paint. When you reach into the paint jar you may end up with dried out, useless paint. This is perhaps why they say one should not live today in the past of yesterday.
No one is saying that the sentiments of the Hindu Sindhis are wrong. Anger for being removed from motherland and from sacred river Sindhu is justified. But another truth follows suit: there’s a time for anger and then there’s a time to let go, to change and to move on.
Tides must turn. Peace must prevail.
Only then will their be prosperity in South Asia again.
“Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought,” says Seema Mustafa. A leading Indian journalist, peace activist and public intellectual, Seema Mustafa also contributes for Viewpoint. In an interview, she discusses different aspects of secularism in the Muslim world. Read on:
Why has secularism not taken root in the Muslim world? If Islam and secularism are incompatible?
Islam and secularism are totally compatible, as is any religion practiced in its true sense. Syria, Libya and Iraq earlier did try to develop as secular states keeping religion out of politics. Last month I was in Syria and in a long conversation, the Grand Mufti in Damascus made it very clear that there was no room for religion in politics, that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood were unacceptable so long as they insisted on mixing the two, and that the secular character of the Syrian state would not be compromised. …
Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.
The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.
A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.
There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.
Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem. ….
Time to teach those around South China Sea a lesson
By Long Tao
No South China Sea issue existed before the 1970s. The problems only occured after North and South Vietnam were reunified in 1976 and China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands then became the new country’s target.
Unfortunately, though hammered by China in the 1974 Xisha Island Battle and later the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979, Vietnam’s insults in the South China Sea remained unpunished today. It encouraged nearby countries to try their hands in the “disputed” area and attracted the attention of the US so that a regional conflict gradually turned international.
China, concentrating on interior development and harmony, has been ultimately merciful in preventing such issue turning into a global affair so that regional peace and prosperity can be secured.
But it is probably the right time for us to reason, think ahead and strike first before things gradually run out of hands.
It seems all the countries around the area are preparing for an arms race.
Singapore brings home high-end stealth aircraft while Australia, India and Japan are all stockpiling arms for a possible “world-class” battle. ….
– London Post journalist’s mutilated body found in Lahore
By Asad Kharal
LAHORE: The mutilated body of 28-year-old Faisal Qureshi, web editor of The London Post, was discovered by his brother Zahid and Johar Town police from his residence in Lahore at around 2am on Friday.
The FIR regarding the incident states that the body bore torture marks and that the deceased journalist’s throat was slit open. The police have taken the body into custody to conduct further investigations.
The London Post recently published a story regarding Muttahid Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s alleged escape to South Africa. Zahid Qureshi claims that his brother had been receiving death threats in the past week from men who said they were from the MQM.
Zahid told The Express Tribune that he immediately became suspicious when he called his brother late last night but was unable to get through to him as his mobile was switched off.
He proceeded to go to his brother’s house in Johar Town, to find that the gate had traces of blood on it. Zahid notified the police, who arrived at the scene and entered the house to find Faisal dead.
Zahid claims that this was a target killing and that his brother was murdered because of the news he had published regarding the MQM. ….
Here is a story from the 1947 religious riots (as related by Saadat Hassan Minto):
A statue of Sir Ganga Ram once stood on Mall Road in Lahore. An inflamed mob with religious hatred in Lahore, after attacking a residential area, turned to attacking the statue of Sir Ganga Ram, the Hindu philanthropist.
They first pelted the statue with stones; then smothered its face with coal tar. Then a man made a garland of old shoes climbed up to put it round the neck of the statue.
The police arrived and opened fire. Among the injured were the fellow with the garland of old shoes. As he fell, the mob shouted: “Let us rush him to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.”
London: The London Post has reported Altaf Hussain self exiled leader of MQM-A caught escaping to South Africa by the authorities. According to sources, ‘Altaf Hussain was hiding in the Wrexham area close to Slough in Berkshire for the past few days. He was stopped when was going to Heathrow Airport in a private taxi. Interestingly the taxi driver was a Pakistani whom Mr Hussain thought as an English man due to his appearance.
According to sources Altaf Hussain told the authorities that, ‘he is leaving UK and going to South Africa for security reasons and personal protection’. According to sources he was told that, ‘security can be provided to him in the UK’. It is not yet clear if Mr Hussain detained or taken in protective custody. Mr Altaf Hussain is a British Citizen and living in self imposed exile since 1992. He is never been to Pakistan since 1992, not a registered voter now and never voted in any elections ever since.
Earlier yesterday it was reported that British police raided two addresses including an office of MQM-A in London in connection with the on going murder investigation of Dr Imran Farooq. It is reported that police took the crucial evidence in custody including the carpets for forensic investigation. According to reports 35 well trained officers of the Scotland Yard took part in the operation on Thursday 24th August 2011”.
It is reported that those MQM-A terrorists arrested in Karachi were actually coming from Colombo Sri Lanka and had connections with the murder of Dr Imran Farooq. The arrests took place as result of tip off from British authorities.
According to reports both Khalid Shamim and another MQM-A terrorists who were arrested in Karachi while arriving from Colombo actually called in to be eliminated in Karachi by their own party MQM-A. They had crucial information related to Dr Imran Farooq’s murder as well as target killing cells in various countries including South Africa. They knew too much about the MQM-A illegal and terrorist activities and needed to be eliminated that is why they were called in Karachi. They are lucky to be alive in the custody of Pakistani authorities than killed by their own death squad.
Yahiya returned to Bangladesh in 1992 after the Mujahidin war in Afghanistan. In December of 2005, he was arrested for alleged involvement in a series of bombings. Later he jumped bail and was absconding.
The leader of a banned jihadist group was arrested by Bangladesh’s elite anti-terror unit while he was traveling on a passenger bus Thursday.
The Rapid Action Battalion captured Hafez Maulana Yahiya and two of his bodyguards on the Dhaka-Sylhet highway northeast of the capital Dhaka. Yahiya has been identified as acting chief of the banned militant outfit Harkatul Jihad al-Islami (HuJI), confirmed M Sohail, director of the legal and media wing of the battalion.
The United States lists HuJI as an international terror organization, as have the international police (Interpol). The jihadist network is active in the South Asia nations of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The terror network moved its headquarters from Pakistan to Bangladesh after allied countries invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
In a daring bid to assassinate opposition leader Sheikh Hasina in 2004, HuJI militants attacked her rally in the capital with hand grenades and sniper rifles. The attack was allegedly masterminded by Yahiya. Hasina is presently the prime minister of Bangladesh.
The RAB said Yahiya, 60, had served as the acting chief of HuJI since its former chief, Maulana Sheikh Farid, was detained on July 26. HuJI’s sole mentor Maulana Fazlur Rahman is the most wanted person and his whereabouts are unknown, said retired General Moniruzzaman, chief of a global security think-tank.
Terrorist and Target Killer of MQM Shahnawaz And Ajmal Pahari arrested while trying to flee from Karachi to South Africa. This footage is taken in hospital by agencies during interrogation. He was involved in target killing and attacks on political workers in Karachi and killed innocent poor citizens on the roads, in buses, taxis, and rickshaw drivers. He was also involved in serial killing of many innocent Pashtoon & Baloch citizens and attacks on political offices of different political parties. His accomplices were organizing criminal gangs by recruiting children in different areas of Karachi under patronage of MQM Leadership in London.
Dr. Manzoor Ejaz of Washington DC, a very well known journalist and economist speaking at Sindhi Association of North America 27th Annual SANA CONVENTION in speakers forum. Dr. Manzoor Ejaz flanked by Kamran Shafi on the left and Mohammad Taqi on the right is talking on language, culture and politics.
Having lost its independence, amalgamated into Gujarat, like mainland Sindh, Kutchis are also facing a demographic and linguistic challenge. After partition in 1947, Kutchis are cut-off from their fellow Sindhis in Sindh but they are trying to hang on to their dialect of Sindhi, culture and traditions.
South Sudan raised the flag of its new nation for the first time Saturday, as thousands of South Sudanese citizens and dozens of international dignitaries swarmed the new country capital of Juba to celebrate the country’s birth.
The authorities here are obviously nervous. My crew and I are sitting in a local government building being questioned by six propaganda officials.
One of them is scribbling down our credentials in a worn pocket-sized notebook. My producer, Steven Jiang, is talking non-stop to one officer who looks especially nonplussed.
We traveled to the manufacturing town of Xintang to investigate why thousands of migrant workers suddenly took to the streets just a week ago.
We knew the unrest was triggered by what appeared to be a minor event — a pregnant migrant worker and her husband got in a scuffle with city officials and she ended up falling on the ground.
However, the ferocity by which this dispute exploded in a massive conflagration, pitting thousands of enraged workers against hundreds of riot police, took many by surprise.
The unrest seems to belie the image of China as a bustling economy going from strength to strength, enriching the lives of millions across the country, especially in the industrial south. But the problem is many people feel they are not getting their fair share of the rapid growth. …
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.
The reconsideration of partition is a critical, current existential question not only for South Asians, but also for Americans who watch the continuous outrages from Taliban and CIA sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s a question on many levels — terrorism, geopolitics, ethnicity and religion — but, Pratap Mehta says, “it’s fundamentally the question of the identity of a country.”
In his telling of the partition story, the contemporary reality of Pakistan grew out of a failure to answer a core challenge of creating a nation-state: how do you protect a minority? It’s Mehta’s view that the framers of the modern subcontinent — notably Gandhi, Jinnah & Nehru — never imagined a stable solution to this question. He blames two shortcomings of the political discourse at the time of India’s independence:
The first is that it was always assumed that the pull of religious identities in India is so deep that any conception of citizenship that fully detaches the idea of citizenship from religious identity is not going to be a tenable one.
The second is that Gandhi in particular, and the Congress Party in general, had a conception of India which was really a kind of federation of communities. So the Congress Party saw [the creation of India] as about friendship among a federation of communities, not as a project of liberating individuals from the burden of community identity to be whatever it is that they wished to be.
The other way of thinking about this, which is to think about a conception of citizenship where identities matter less to what political rights you have, that was never considered seriously as a political project. Perhaps that would have provided a much more ideologically coherent way of dealing with the challenges of creating a modern nation-state. – – Pratap Bhanu Mehta with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, April 12, 2011.
Unlike many other Open Source talkers on Pakistan, Pratap Mehta does not immediately link its Islamization to the United States and its1980s jihad against the Soviets. Reagan and his CIA-Mujahideen military complex were indeed powerful players in the rise of Islamic extremism in Pakistan, he agrees, but the turn began first during a national identity crisis precipitated by another partition, the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Suddenly, Mehta is telling us, Pakistan could no longer define itself as the unique homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. In search of identity, and distinction from its new neighbor to the east, Pakistan turned towards a West Asian brand of Islam, the hardline Saudi Wahhabism that has become a definitive ideology in today’s Islamic extremism.
Mehta is hopeful, though, that in open democratic elections Islamic parties would remain relatively marginalized, that despite the push to convert Pakistan into a West Asian style Islamic state since 1971, “the cultural weight of it being a South Asian country” with a tradition of secular Islam “remains strong enough to be an antidote.”
Will Pakistan’s demand that the C.I.A. curtail its activities be a blow to American efforts to fight terrorism?
Feeding Pakistan’s Paranoia
Shuja Nawaz is director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington. He is the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within” and “Learning by Doing: the Pakistan Army’s Experience with Counterinsurgency.”
Behind all the talk of a strategic dialogue and strategic partnership between the United States and Pakistan lurks the reality of a persistent transactional relationship, based on short-term objectives that intrude rudely into the limelight every time a drone attack kills civilians inside Pakistan or in the instance when an American “operative” is caught by the Pakistanis after killing two people on the streets of Lahore.
In “Paranoidistan,” as the historian Ayesha Jalal has called Pakistan, the public and the authorities are prepared to believe the worst. Conspiracy theories abound, involving the C.I.A., Israel and India, in various permutations. …
…. The United States needs to stop paying the Pakistan army with coalition support funds to fight in the border region and instead provide it adequate military aid in kind, as part of a carefully structured cooperative program to build its mobility and firepower against the militants. Money cannot buy love. ….
Every year the Indo-Canadian Workers Association marks the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom at the hands of the British Raj (on March 23, 1931). This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. at the Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He was quickly rose through the ranks of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and became one of its leaders, converting it to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Singh gained support when he underwent a 64-days fast in jail, demanding equal rights for Indian and British political prisoners. He was hanged by British Raj government on 23 March 1931.
The organizers of the event hope many of Indo-Pakistani- Bangladeshi-Canadians will be able to attend to pay the tribute and respect to this great hero of the Indian sub-continent (South Asia).
London, UK, 19 march 2011: Press Release – A delegation of World Sindhi Congress (WSC) comprising of Dr Hidayat Bhutto and Dr Lakhu Luhano participated in the 16th session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. WSC delegation made statements at events organised by Interfaith International and RADDHO (Rencontre Africcaine Pour La Defense des Droits de L’Homme).
The delegation also met with numerous ECOSOC NGOs, human rights defenders from South Asia region and from nations oppressed by Pakistan and with the office of UN’s Special Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. In these meetings, the delegation had detailed discussions about the worsening situation of human rights for people of Sindh.
In his statement, Dr Hidayat Bhutto presented detailed views about the worsening human rights situation in Sindh. He mentioned the recent killings of Sindhi political leaders Zulfiqar Kolachi, Yonus Khaskheley and Haji Khan Noonari. He said that the disappearances of political activists continue to occur in Sindh where currently 39 Sindhi people are missing believed to be kidnapped by the agencies. He informed the international community about the second-time disappearance of one of the most prominent Sindhi leader, Muzaffar Bhutto, in daylight by the agencies. He requested the UN and the international community to press upon the agencies for the release of all kidnapped Sindhi and Baloch people. Dr Bhutto mentioned that the agencies are illegally settling people from Punjab and Pakhtunkhwa to colonise Sindh and enhance religious extremism. He detailed how Sindhi people are being systematically denied their social, cultural, political, educational and lingual rights by the Pakistani establishment. He said that the international community to be aware of these issues and requested to support people of Sindh in their struggle for their genuine historical and human rights including right to self-determination.
Dr Lakhu Luhano in his statement said that the Pakistani state is practicing a systematic policy of fanning, patronising, training and funding the violent religious extremism not only for their regional strategic extension but also to suppers, subjugate and colonise Sindhi and Baloch people. This policy has huge and serious implications for regional and global security and peace and for viability and continuance of tolerant Sindhi nation and society. He requested the international community for an immediate, effective and urgent action before it becomes too late. He warned the price for the entire humankind of the spread of this disaster would be unimaginable.
The other delegates at the events extended their support to Sindhi people in their struggle for their human rights including right to self-determination.
China’s expanding reach is a natural and acceptable accompaniment of its growing power—but only up to a point.
Beijing is understandably challenging a century of U.S. dominance in the Pacific and the South China Sea immediately adjacent to its shores. But the aggressive effort to block Indian hegemony in South Asia, reflected in its growing ties with Pakistan and its territorial claim to the adjacent northeast state of Arunachal Pradesh (for which there is no historical basis) is more ominous.
In contrast to its studied neutrality on the Kashmir issue in past decades, Beijing is now openly supportive of Pakistan and is establishing its economic and political influence both in Pakistan-occupied Azad (Free) Kashmir and in the Himalayan state of Gilgit-Baltistan. …
Shikarpur city in Sindh has 400 year old rich history. From the centuries this city was famous as a gate way for the business point of view.
Traders from all over South east Asia passed through this city via Bolan to Iran and other countries.
Before the partition in 1947, Shikarpur was a great city with rich culture, wonderful architectural buildings, fabulous parks, mouth-watering cuisines, and also famous for their Kulfi and Pickles.
It was called “The Paris of Sindh”. A city which was made by their own people, without the help of the state. But now the situation in Shikarpur is terrible. Law and order situation is alarming. Its looks like many Shikarpurin’s has lost the affection about their historical city.
Young and educated Shikarpurin’s need to get unite to save this wonderful city, with amazing past.
Pakistan enriched with the overwhelming and enthusiastic youth.Provide them opportunity to come and present their recommendation. Are they really want to change or they also want to become the part of this existing system? In their views what the Pakistan should be? Do they believe on democratic change or want a revolution like Arab countries? The language of the program is urdu/ Hindi.
Program host – Talat Hussain, GUESTS: Tariq Azeem, Kashmala Tariq, Bushra Gohar, Khawja Afif, Ali Raza, Ali Hameed, Ahmad Bilal, Abeera Fatima.
Courtesy: DAWN News (News Night with Talat, 4th March, 2011)
Renowned South Korean artist Yu Kyung-Hwa performs Korean traditional music in different rhythms on the instrument Cheolhyeongeum, with Sahil Patel on Tabla at Rhythm Riders in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The very unique coming together of these two instruments was highly appreciated by the audiences gathered for this international music exchange.
TENS of thousands of people crowded the streets of Lahore late on Sunday demanding freedom for the assassin of Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
The protestors are also demanding death for the US consular official who killed two suspected armed robbers in self-defence.
Demonstrators from religious parties Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and the banned terrorist-linked charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa held banners in support of Mumtaz Qadri — the police guard who killed Taseer last month because the governor had supported changes to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws.
Opposition party leaders from more mainstream parties also lined up to assure the protesters they would never support changes to the blasphemy law and would quit the National Assembly should the government attempt to amend them.
Protesters chanted slogans such as “Free Mumtaz Qadri” while demanding the harshest penalty for Raymond Davis, a US consular official who was arrested for double murder on Friday after shooting two armed motorcyclists he feared were about to rob him.
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“We warn the government and administration that . . . if they help the arrested American illegally, then this crowd will surround the US embassy and presidential palace in Islamabad,” one official from the Jamiat Ulema Islam party said.
The US has demanded Mr Davis’s release, claiming he has diplomatic immunity, but the Pakistani government says the courts should decide his fate.
In another corner of the Punjab’s once feted cultural capital, 500 people attended a peace rally and remembrance vigil for the slain governor.
Among them was liberal commentator Raza Rumi, who conceded yesterday: “It’s not a good time to be a liberal in Pakistan.
“Forget liberal — it’s not a good time to be a moderate.”
Analysts say the fact that among the speakers at the larger rally was JUD founder Hafiz Saeed, believed to have also founded terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, says much about the complicity of state forces in Pakistan’s extremist groundswell.
But just as telling was who was sharing the podium.
Members of Imran Khan’s so-called moderate Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) party also spoke in support of the blasphemy laws.
“All the major political parties from the Right and the centre were there, which shows the Right is capturing more and more political space,” says Rumi. …
Pakistan flood crisis as bad as African famines, UN says
Survey shows almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished in Sindh province, six months after floods
– Declan Walsh in Islamabad
A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” is unfolding in flood-hit areas of southern Pakistan where malnutrition rates rival those of African countries affected by famine, according to the United Nations.
In Sindh province, where some villages are still under water six months after the floods, almost one quarter of children under five are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Floods Assessment Needs survey has found.
“I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan. …