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Indian Press (23 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Talaq Verdict: Thin End of the Wedge By Bhavdeep Kang: New Age Islam's Selection, 23 August 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

23 August 2017

Talaq Verdict: Thin End Of The Wedge

By Bhavdeep Kang

A Divided Verdict: Avoid Politics Over Triple Talaq

Editorial The Tribune, Chandigarh

Trump Afghan Strategy Is As If Masood Rules From His Grave

By Amrullah Saleh

Mirwaiz In Kashmir Rethink

By Arati R Jerath

Undoing Injustice: On Instant Triple Talaq Verdict

Editorial The Hindu

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Talaq Verdict: Thin End of the Wedge

By Bhavdeep Kang

Aug 23, 2017

The spirit of Shah Bano Begum, arguably the most famous victim of triple Talaq, can finally rest in peace. She has a won a moral, if posthumous victory, with the Supreme Court verdict declaring verbal divorce or Talaq-ul-Bidat as unconstitutional. The battle for gender justice, however, is only half won.

The next phase of the struggle will be played out, not in courts of law, but in the public domain, when the shape and form of the Act of Parliament governing Muslim marriage is debated. In this context, the Congress has the opportunity to erase a shameful 30-year legacy of appeasing Muslim radicals. The ruling NDA, likewise, has a chance of following through on the promise it made in its 2014 manifesto, of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

If the triple Talaq case was indeed about ensuring justice for Muslim women, as NDA leaders have stated, then the government cannot get away with half-measures. It must expand the scope of the debate to include all gender discriminatory and retrogressive aspects of personal laws. The verdict against triple Talaq is the thin end of the wedge. It can be leveraged towards legal reforms aimed at placing Muslim women on an equal footing with all citizens, which can be best accomplished through the enactment of a uniform civil code.

Let’s face it: triple Talaq was indefensible right from the start. Poor Kapil Sibal, representing the All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) struggled to come up with credible arguments. He fell back on the dubious contention that it had a religious mandate. Given that several countries ruled by sharia law do not recognize triple Talaq, his plea had no traction whatsoever. After all, the sanctioned-by-religion argument could logically be extended to the practice of sati, which is banned by law.

So, the critical point is not that triple Talaq is anti-Islamic – which the Supreme Court has accepted –  but that it is undemocratic. Religion cannot trump human rights. Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantee freedom of religion, should not overrule either the right to life and personal liberty, protected under Article 21, or the fundamental rights recognized in part three of the Constitution.

This segues naturally into the issue of polygamy, Muslim women’s right to divorce (khula) and control over reproductive rights. To say that these issues will be addressed through the agency of the AIMPLB is absurd. It took 70 years and a five-judge Constitution Bench to put an end to the practice of triple Talaq. The AIMPLB in any case has resisted all efforts at reform and has zero credibility in this respect.

The other argument, that educated members of the community will take the lead in reforming personal laws, is equally doubtful. Education is no guarantor of a progressive outlook. Shah Bano’s husband was a lawyer, after all. So were the Muslim leaders who in 1986, prompted the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to enact a law nullifying the apex court’s verdict granting right of maintenance to Shah Bano (she filed her plea in 1978, three years after being evicted by her husband, at the age of 60).

Hindu marriage laws, from 1956 onwards, have disallowed polygamy and bigamy, child marriage and incest, while the Hindu Succession Act of 2005 granted women an equal share in inherited properties. No rational argument can be extended to deny Muslim women the same rights. All over the world, the practice of polygamy is regarded as being against the spirit of democracy. The US banned polygamous marriage, practiced by the Mormon community, back in the 19th century.

Regrettably, many so-called liberals and even gender activists align with the Muslim patriarchy on the issue of personal law. They have tolerated the abuse of women on the plea that any attempt to force reforms in personal law will allow the state to interfere in the affairs of minority communities and impinge on their religious freedoms. Yet, every opportunity at internal reform was rejected and ultimately, it had to be forced. The increasing atmosphere of Wahhabism (conservative Islam) worldwide narrows the scope for voluntary reform.

A Uniform Civil Code (UCC) will have no impact on India’s pluralism or on the secular nature of its polity. In fact, it can be argued that personal laws are discriminatory in themselves, denying equality before law on the basis of creed and gender. The NDA now has the numbers to make a serious push for a uniform civil code. All it takes is political will and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown that he has it, in spades. The man who demonetised four-fifths of India’s currency overnight, cannot balk at the idea of introducing progressive legislation, however controversial it may be.

Source: freepressjournal.in/analysis/Talaq-verdict-thin-end-of-the-wedge-bhavdeep-kang/1126071

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A Divided Verdict: Avoid Politics over Triple Talaq

Editorial The Tribune, Chandigarh

Aug. 23, 2017

The long-drawn battle over triple Talaq should now end with the Supreme Court, through a 3-2 majority, declaring it as unconstitutional and banning it for six months, hoping Parliament would pass a law by then. The apex court has wisely set a time limit and resisted the temptation to create a law itself, which is not its job. The judgment provides relief to Muslim women fighting for equality. A verbal divorce, which lately has gone to the ridiculous level of being delivered on the Skype or through a WhatsApp message, is plainly arbitrary and retrograde. Several Muslim countries have outlawed it. Triple Talaq gives men an unfair advantage over women. In an instant a divorced woman is thrown out in the street. The threat of divorce leads to her subjugation and denial of equal rights as an individual.  

Opposition to the judgment from conservative Muslims is understandable. However, the Supreme Court itself was split over certain issues. The majority view on the Constitution Bench, consisting of all-male judges drawn from different faiths, is that triple Talaq is not sanctioned by the Koran, hence it cannot be part of the fundamental right to religion. It is not “integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality”.  The dissenting opinion expressed by Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer is that triple Talaq “may be sinful”, but the court can’t interfere in personal laws which have the status of fundamental right under the Constitution. 

Even though lower courts in the past have given judgments on similar lines against triple Talaq, the issue this time has been politicised and blown out of proportion. This is partly because of noisy, polarising debates in TV studios and partly because BJP spokespersons have shown unusual interest in the subject. Muslims have apprehensions about the BJP’s gender politics. The party, they fear, might try to divide them for votes. Lynchings and mob violence over beef and cows have strengthened that fear. The fact that it is a court verdict and not a BJP government’s order should set at rest their worries. They can draw comfort from the court’s interpretation that triple Talaq is not backed by the Koran.

Source: Source: tribuneindia.com/news/editorials/a-divided-verdict/455825.html

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Trump Afghan Strategy Is As If Masood Rules From His Grave

By Amrullah Saleh

August 23, 2017

There are six encouraging and bold pillars in the new US strategy on Afghanistan as outlined by President Donald Trump.

First, it is an acknowledgement of the fact that Pakistan has been playing a destructive and dubious role in Afghanistan by providing support and sanctuary to terrorists and agents of chaos and that a diplomatic solution must be found for this problem.

The US has never been this open and frank on Pakistan’s duplicity. As a global power, the US shouldn’t escape from its words and policies and must follow up until Islamabad and its powerful army and intelligence stop nourishing the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

Second, recognizing India as a strategic partner for security and economic development in Afghanistan is also a bold and fresh statement. The US has never in the last 40 years openly portrayed India as a partner. The partnership with India will reduce the cost and burden for the NATO-led alliance and increase the cost of interference and disruption for spoilers and masters of the proxy groups. This also tears apart the suffocating and false notion that the US has no ally in the region should it go tough with Pakistan.

Third, reiterating the centrality of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in defense of Afghan values, and safeguarding the space for democratic & constitutional play by keeping the Taliban and other terrorists at bay with military and financial assistance of the US.

The clarity in this message brushes away and kills the notion as often propagated and promoted by apologists and cynics,  that the cost of peace will be a compromise of Afghan achievements and institutions. The ANDSF will remain a constant and the Afghan political and democratic process will not be derailed by deals and decisions outside the country and by the strength of the Taliban insurgency. A grand bargain won’t mean a grand collapse and shouldn’t.

Fourth, by stating a clear division of labor between the Afghan state and its international allies, the US has made it clear for good and noble reasons that it is not here to change the fabric of Afghan society and its culture or impose alien values. There is a convergence of interest in the area of security and stability and there are areas of divergence on how Afghans want to deal with the complexity of their society.

This creates a lot of ease on how Afghans pursue their political ambitions as long as they stick to the constitutional order. It also elevates the US to a partner of all, not just the ruling faction. It asks the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to be honest, serious and sincere in its fight against corruption and the building of key institutions by looking beyond factional interest and sub-national politics.

Fifth, the new strategy, in contrast to the previous one, respects the principle of strategic hierarchy of conduct and operational silence. It gives a broad, yet secret, set of authorities to Gen. Nicholson, the commander of US troops in Afghanistan as well as his future successors the authority to make tactical judgments without constantly referring to Washington.

The restrictive caveats are apparently removed. This will enable the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to have a justifiably freer hand in conducting its day to day activities. Simplifying the command structure and respecting the authority of the highest ranking general on the ground is a welcome move. It shows that the Trump administration has adhered to age-old precious military principles and texts to ensure victory and win.

Sixth, the commitment to stay long enough to achieve the desired outcome and prevail, and reverse the Taliban strategy by taking the time from them and giving them watches instead. A negotiated settlement has not been ruled out, however, talks under duress and at gunpoint has been ruled out.

If Washington stays focused to this part, it will send a signal to regional spoilers that there won’t be any need for a rainy day and that it would be better if they bet on a stable and successful Afghanistan instead of on non-state actors and spoilers. That there will never be an Afghanistan of the shape they desire.

As an Afghan I welcome the new strategy and commit myself to contribute to its success. After all it is in conformity with the vision of my late and slain leader Ahmad Shah Masood, who always advocated the strengthening of Afghanistan alongside political, economic and diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to find a good lasting solution for terrorism in our region and beyond. After billions of dollars spent, nearly two decades of thinking and studying, the world’s only superpower endorses his vision. I feel as if Masood rules from his grave.

Source; indianexpress.com/article/opinion/donald-trump-afghan-strategy-is-as-if-masood-rules-from-his-grave4809011/

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Mirwaiz In Kashmir Rethink

By Arati R Jerath

August 23, 2017

Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s instantaneous positive response to Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech has set off speculation that a meeting between government representatives and the moderate Kashmiri leader may be in the offing.

Although Farooq is under arrest and his main aides are also in jail and are being questioned, his reaction indicates that a back channel is open with the hope of bringing him to the table for talks. A senior government source hinted that there is no option but to talk to the moderate faction of the Hurriyat represented by Farooq to lower temperatures in the Valley.

This is a 180 degree turn from the government’s earlier position of shunning all Hurriyat leaders, including the moderate ones. It suggests a rethink on the hardline policy adopted so far in view of repeated Chinese threats and attempted incursions into Ladakh. Farooq had tweeted immediately after Modi’s speech.

He welcomed the PM’s remarks, saying that if Insaniyat and Insaaf replace Goli and Gaali, then resolution can become a reality. The tweet was the main topic of conversation at the President’s At Home reception on Independence Day with officials, media and political leaders all expressing surprise and satisfaction that Farooq had responded so positively to the PM’s appeal to embrace Kashmiris.

However, skeptics feel that the resumption of a dialogue with the Hurriyat can only happen if the Modi government does more spadework to soothe frayed nerves in the Valley. A key stumbling block is the current controversy over petitions filed by BJP and RSS workers in the Supreme Court demanding the repeal of Article 35 (A).

This article gives teeth to Article 370 which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The sceptics recall that when Atal Behari Vajpayee opened talks with the Hurriyat in 2013 with Insaniyat as the guiding principle, a lot of behind-the scenes groundwork preceded the move. It included secret meetings between top Indian and Pakistani intelligence representatives.

Cause For Concern

Narendra Modi’s appeal to embrace the Kashmiri people and eschew Gaali and Goli was the big buzz at the new President’s first Independence Day At Home reception.

While guests were of course eager to catch a glimpse of the newly elected President, Ram Nath Kovind, it was Modi who was the cynosure of all eyes, at least the eyes of the media. As the PM walked down the red carpet greeting guests and chatting with them, he was hailed by several journalists wanting to congratulate him for his message of peace to the people of Kashmir. The shower of praise from the media tickled Modi who has often blamed journalists for being antagonistic to him.

If the media is praising my speech so much, it is a cause for concern, he joked after he was stopped yet again by a group of eager journalists waiting to congratulate him.

Pecking Order

The hierarchy at the President’s Independence Day At Home reception was clearly marked. The inner room was reserved for the VVIPs, including union ministers, diplomats and senior politicians. The outer room was for the rest of the crowd which included top bureaucrats of the government, journalists, friends and leaders of the BJP and RSS and other invitees.

It was into this outer room that Sushma Swaraj mistakenly strayed only to find foreign secretary Jaishankar surrounded by media persons pressing him for insights into government thinking on the India-China standoff at Dokalam, the PM’s remarks on Kashmir, Pakistan, etc. Jaishankar is suave and experienced enough to sidestep questions from the media and he was doing a wonderful job of chatting to everyone without saying anything substantive.

As Swaraj passed him on her way to the VVIP room, she jokingly told the foreign secretary that he should beware of the media and stay away from it.

Message for China?

Was there a message for China in the Modi government’s decision to make Ladakh the first destination for President Kovind? The President visited Ladakh on his maiden outstation tour beginning April 21. The choice of destination was significant in the light of recent Chinese threats on Ladakh.

On Independence Day, there was a stand-off as well between Indian and Chinese soldiers. The Chinese tried to enter Indian territory but were pushed back by Indian troops. The Chinese retaliated by throwing stones at Indian soldiers. Although the President refrained from making a chest-thumping speech when he met Indian troops stationed In Ladakh, the government seems to be sending a strong message to China through his visit not to mess with India by extending territorial claims in the western sector.

Interestingly, Rashtrapati Bhavan did not invite any media representatives, official or private, on this important visit. This is in stark contrast to Pranab Mukherjee who always took a media contingent with him on his travels, both domestic and foreign.

In The Limelight

It is clear that despite speculation about their rocky relationship during ten years of UPA rule, Manmohan Singh remains Sonia Gandhi’s most trusted Congress leader.

Sonia was unable to attend the opposition convention organized by dissident JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav in the Capital. Significantly, she sent Manmohan Singh as her representative, not other senior leaders who aspire to become Rahul Gandhi’s chief advisor and mentor when he finally takes over as Congress president.

It is equally interesting that Ahmed Patel was also present and that he delivered a speech at the convention.

Patel has always preferred to be a backroom boy and usually shies away from public presence. His deft victory in the recent Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat, in which he outmaneuvered BJP master strategist Amit Shah, seems to have encouraged him to step out of the backroom and take a frontline position.

Source: thestatesman.com/opinion/mirwaiz-kashmir-rethink-1502457303.html/

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Undoing Injustice: On Instant Triple Talaq Verdict

Editorial The Hindu

August 23, 2017

By declaring the discriminatory practice of instant triple Talaq as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has sent out a clear message that personal law can no longer be privileged over fundamental rights. Three of the five judges on the Constitution Bench have not accepted the argument that instant Talaq, or Talaq-e-Biddat, is essential to Islam and, therefore, deserves constitutional protection under Article 25. The biggest virtue of the two opinions constituting the majority judgment is that they do not have to undermine any religious tenet to make their point. On the contrary, as Justice Kurian Joseph says, the forbidden nature of triple Talaq can be gleaned from the Koran itself. Justice Rohinton Nariman, writing the main judgment, locates the practice in the fourth degree of obedience required by Islamic tenets, namely, Makruh, or that which is reprobated as unworthy.

The main ground on which the practice has been struck down is a simple formulation: that “this form of Talaq is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it.” In fact, the final summation is so simple that the court did not even have to elaborate on how triple Talaq violates gender equality. On the contrary, Justice Nariman says that having held the practice to be arbitrary, there is really no need to go into the element of discrimination. The court deserves commendation for undoing the gender injustice implicit in the practice so effortlessly, within constitutional parameters as well as the Islamic canon.

The present case was initiated suo motu by the court, but opinion against triple Talaq could not have gathered critical mass and the case against it significantly bolstered if it weren’t for a few women standing up to the community’s conservative elements and challenging it. Any other outcome would have been a great injustice to them.

 Even the judges in the minority have had to concede that their reasoning is based mainly on the fact that this form of Talaq is a matter of personal law, and therefore entitled to constitutional protection. “It is not open to a court to accept an egalitarian approach over a practice which constitutes an integral part of religion,” writes Chief Justice J.S. Khehar in his minority opinion. Interestingly, even his view segues into a somewhat egalitarian position, restraining Muslim men from pronouncing triple Talaq until Parliament enacts a law to regulate it.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and all those who supported its regressive opinion that even an unworthy practice should not be dislodged by judicial verdict, should now accept the verdict in the interests of a modern social order. And there is no reason to contend that their faith has been unduly secularised. For, as Justice Joseph concludes, “what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.”

Source: thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/undoing-injustice/article19541316.ece

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