New Age Islam Edit Bureau
03 April 2017
My Utopia Died Three Years Ago
By Raza Rumi
By Fawad Chaudhry
Walk the Talk
By Imtiaz Gul
Implications of Trump’s Politics
By Nyla Ali Khan
Women Literacy in Fata
By Salman Ali
‘Has The Time Come?’
By Raoof Hasan
Myth of 3 Million Killed, 200,000
Raped In 1971
By Dr Junaid Ahmed
What Happened To Liberal France?
By Scott Sayare
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
The Parliament has extended the military
courts for another two years. Cited as a desperate measure in extraordinary
times, there has been a widespread acceptance, almost a fait accompli situation
when it comes to the militarisation of a vital public institution. I have not written about these tribunals, the
death penalty or, indeed, the way in which counterterrorism has been re-defined
in the public imagination. I have not done so because for me — it is personal.
Three years ago, I was attacked by a group
of men who were later identified by the police as members of violent extremist
groups that are known for wreaking havoc. While I survived, a young man Mustafa
— my companion — died in that attack. Another was seriously injured. In the
absence of alternative sources of verification, one has no choice but to accept
what the law enforcement agencies say. The trial of the men arrested in May
2014 continued in a civilian court until the formation of military courts the
While the civilian court was hearing the
case, the militant networks continued their tactics of intimidation and
pressuring of Mustafa’s family. Handling this was the worst phase of my recent
years. But it did educate me a little: these networks are strong and enjoy some
measure of community support. Furthermore, over the last few decades they have
embedded themselves into the very fabric of the Punjab. What we see today is
the direct result of what support to militancy and non-state actors — for
whatever higher and strategic reasons — does to a society. In the opaque and unaccountable
realm of ‘law enforcement’, one is not even sure if those branded as
‘terrorists’ are actual terrorists?
Subsequently, my case along with many
others was transferred to a military court. Within a year of in-camera
proceedings, the men were sentenced and death penalty was awarded. The sentence
has still to be executed due to the appeals that some of the families have
made. Legal proceedings aside, this leads to another dilemma.
I am opposed to death penalty in principle.
There is little evidence to suggest that it leads to reduction in crime let
alone more complex phenomena such as ‘terrorism’. I have always heard the
argument from elders that in our tribal, feudal society — punishments are
essential to establishing deterrence. If and when the appeals process is
concluded in favour of the state, my ‘attackers’ are likely to be hanged. I
don’t know when but the prospect worries me. Almost like a twilight zone of
morality. Out of those tricky textbook scenarios.
Can we term vengeance as justice? Is hanging
a few militants without fixing the broader network and sources of
radicalisation, fair? Is dispensing with due process — even when it concerns my
person — right? The quandary becomes even more complex when Mustafa’s family
views hanging as justice and perhaps will be relieved of repeated harassment by
familial or community networks related to the accused.
State violence is not the correct response
to militancy. Perhaps in the short-term it may work to weaken and disarm but
the roots of radicalism lie in domains that our counterterrorism operations
have not even started to address. The mosque-madrassa complex continues to tell
people that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims, that one sect is better than
the other and, in some cases, that physical elimination of a sect represents a
legitimate act of purification. And what to do with popular ideology
disseminated through the media where only until recently the Islamist militants
were being hailed as freedom fighters. Since the military operations, this line
of argument is not used for militant networks that attack Pakistanis. But those
who attack Afghans and launch strikes in Indian-held Kashmir are still
eulogised, and some claim, patronised.
And what to do with the large cross-section
of our society that readily substitute ‘liberal’ for an unpatriotic individual
out to attack Islam, Pakistan and the Army. In that order, if you please.
Social media, while opening up spaces for citizens, have been reinforcing the
stereotype. The idea of questioning something sanctioned by powerful state
institutions is now blasphemy. Last year’s debate on the death penalty was, in
polite terms, acrimonious at best. A handful of voices questioning the use of
death penalty were condemned as treasonous. Except for a very few voices on
television, the electronic media amplified this response.
Since 2002, I have been involved in
projects to ‘reform’ the justice system. I have written quite a bit about that
and, when I had a chance, tried to give airtime to issues of justice as well.
But all of that seems to be pointless since Pakistan’s elites (including the
judicial authorities) are simply not interested in stepping out of their
comfort zones for even a moment. This is why in 2017 we are rationalising not
only military tribunals — but also the deviation of constitutional right of due
process and the ‘killing’ of terrorists as gains against terrorism.
I wait for justice, but the notion means
something else than I had previously thought in my younger years. It is going
to be vengeance and I shall have to accept it as the lesser of the evils. It
will, however, take some time before I am able to take leave of a utopian,
make-believe world that now appears as if it was by my own construction.
This, I guess, is the cost of living and
April 3, 2017
Even though a lot has been written on the
issue of terrorism, overcoming the menace continues to elude everyone. Unlike
territorial wars, ideological wars know no boundaries, and it is an established
fact that wars without boundaries are anything but simple.
Pakistan, like dozens of other countries,
is combating the most irregular of irregular wars. Such conflicts can only be
resolved through a well-thought-out comprehensive mechanism, but Pakistan
continues to rely on its often-used knee-jerk reactionary approach.
There are three dimensions of terrorism
that have plagued our country: international, regional and local. As far as the
international dimension is concerned, Muslims from across the globe are facing
an existential crisis where a faction of ideologues is looking to usurp
religion as a whole. Moreover, the ongoing sectarian conflicts in the Middle
East (ME) have claimed 1.4 million lives and do not seem to be moving towards
an end anytime soon. Western policies have added fuel to the fire: the invasion
of Iraq and interference in dozens of other ME conflicts have destabilised the
entire region. The consequences of these interventions are now affecting the
rest of the world.
We cannot do anything to overcome extremism
since our clerics have failed to create a consensus on the extremist
interpretations of Islam. The most Pakistan can do is to create some international
consensus and involve the OIC. But not a lot will be achieved since the
majority of the Muslim countries don’t consider resolving this issue a
What we and other Muslim countries can and
should do is to bring Saudi Arabia and Iran to the negotiating table. The
rivalry between the two states is dangerously intense. Failure to bring the two
nations together would mean critical failure in overcoming the international
dimension of conflicts that give rise to terrorism. If we cannot resolve this dimension,
we cannot combat the threat of terrorism as a whole.
Muslims in Pakistan will be greatly
impacted by the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. If we fail to resolve
this situation, we may withdraw and isolate ourselves – just like we did in
conflicts in the Middle East and Yemen. Neutrality and isolation could be
beneficial as we cannot afford to take sides in a sectarian clash.
The second dimension of terrorism that
plagues Pakistan is regional. Throughout our nation’s history, Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa has been used as a frontier province. This term was coined by the
British to identify an area that was created as a buffer between two states, in
this case Afghanistan and the Subcontinent.
Given this history, the area has been ripe
with conflict for several centuries. Although war has remained a ‘constant’ in
the region, the nature of conflicts throughout the ages has changed. In the
1980s, one group of fighters was supported by the US and Pakistan, while the
other was supported by the Soviet Union and others. After 9/11, the dimension
of conflict in the region changed yet again: our former friends became our
enemies. There is a new regional troika at present: the war for influence
between India and Pakistan, the ongoing war between the Durrani tribes and the
war between Persian-speaking tribes and Pashto-speaking tribes.
Simultaneously, India is supporting one
group while Pakistan is supporting the other. It is naive to say that Pakistan
should not support groups in Afghanistan. That cannot happen unless India stops
supporting its own groups of choice. There is no doubt that Pakistan wants a
friendly state in Afghanistan, but if India tries to impose its will in the
country, then Pakistan has no choice but to play its own cards. Unless this
conflict is resolved in Afghanistan, regional stability seems far away.
The resolution lies in regional conference.
Unless Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, the US and Saudi Arabia sit
together and devise a strategy to overcome the existing issues of contention,
stability will continue to elude Afghanistan, and consequently the whole
We may think that the return of Afghan
migrants will solve certain issues, but we forget that 74 percent of
Afghan-origin migrants were born in Pakistan and have never seen their country
of origin. We need a concrete policy to bring them into the fold as
shareholders of our economy and culture and integrate them into our society.
The last dimension of terrorism is the most
lethal: the sectarian war within Pakistan. Historically, our state created
militias and mercenaries that are now running amok. The lack of strong will to
control rogue sectarian elements is most dangerous. However, this is the area
in which Pakistan can play the most effective role in the war against terrorism.
A military operation to tackle sectarianism
will introduce the army into the urban theatre. And it is never desirable for
the army to be operating in civilian spaces. All those who think the Police Act
1864 has become redundant should go back to the British system of policing in
rural districts. Urban policing needs different treatment but revival of
lumberdar and chowkidar along with local government bodies will give the state
a huge administrative arm to deal with general crime and terrorism. However, we
need police, prosecution, judicial and jail reforms simultaneously. Picking one
and leaving the others will make all four of them redundant.
Something unprecedented happened in
Pakistan this Holi. Cutting across religious barriers, its prime minister
delivered a ground-breaking speech to its Hindu minority. He called out the
radical brand of Islam; giving a message anchored in fundamental human rights
in accordance with the federal constitution.
Many of us usually criticise the ruling
elite for lacking a vision that establishes the “Rule of Law”. Against all
these reservations, the premier’s address marked a clear break from the
undesirable — past and present — politics of expedience. He called himself the
“prime minister of all religious communities,” while quoting Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH), who believed, “If a place of worship of a non-Muslim is damaged in an
Islamic country, Islamic government... I will fight their case myself on the
Day of Judgment.”
In a groundbreaking attempt to call out
Islamic supremacy, he centred on the Article 25 (Equal Citizenry rights), “God
will not ask a ruler what he did for followers of a certain religion. He will
ask people such as me: what did we do for God’s creation?”
His most unambiguous words drew on the
Articles 20 to 22, which guarantee every citizen the right to profess, practice
and propagate his religion; and every religious denomination and sect the right
to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
“No matter what religion or beliefs you
follow, or what part of the country you belong to, you must be provided equal
access to progress and development,” he added. Taking a dig at those involved
in forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls, Sharif said, “Forced
conversions are considered a criminal practice according to our religious
The unusually bold message caused
considerable unease among the clerics. Sunni Ittehad Council Secretary, Allama
Ashraf Jalali of the Pakistan Ahle Sunnah waJama’ah group was particularly
vocal amongst those in opposition and went to the extent of alleging that
Sharif had committed blasphemy. “The prime minister said such anti-Islam and
blasphemous words that the Earth should have exploded,” he claimed, further
adding that Sharif had “violated his oath, ideology of Pakistan, The Quran and
Sunnah of Prophet. His speech is a dangerous attack on Islam.” In a video
making rounds on social media, he demanded “a public apology from the prime
minister (for his anti-Islam speech).”
Not many took much notice of the cleric’s
radical interpretation of the constitutionalism. Thus, Sharif’s inclusive
comments were largely welcomed as a much-needed initiative by the chief
executive of a democratic dispensation. Anyone who believes in the sanctity of
the constitution as a document representing the will of the people should
realise that it is a document open to debate and revision to adapt to changing
times, as the prime minister rightly suggested.
Regardless of what motivated him to take on
the obscurantist views by the religious right, he has certainly set the ball
rolling in the right direction. His message would help establish a national
narrative, which is rooted in the constitution of Pakistan.
This would hopefully also relieve many
officials of the much-dreaded pain that they have long endured in “finding a
counter or alternative narrative.” Most of them continue to struggle to come up
with recipes to counter extremism without realising the crucial presence of
having a narrative in the first place.
As for the narrative, the government shall
have to look within Islamabad and deal with the illegal structures thriving in
the capital itself. Unfortunately, religious seminaries outnumber schools in
the public sector in the region. Instead of penalising them, the CDA should
acquiesce the administrators of these structures.
The narrative will become credible only
when and if the government uses its Judicial Council to chuck out judges using
religion for social and political glorification. The prime minister needs to
take into confidence all citizens and inform them of the grave need to open
doors for nation’s salvation. Closed avenues and restricted internet cannot
lead to any considerable progress. He also needs to establish that even if some
misguided social media activists are indulging in abuse of others, they should
be reciprocated with informed responses, not crackdowns on the social media.
Ban and closure can never serve as the answer to problems that require
intelligent and smart responses.
Another test for the rule-of-law-based
national narrative is to punish people whenever they are caught red-handed.
So-called VIP people should no longer be allowed to take the cover of their
privileges. Not only should justice be done, it should also undoubtedly be seen
to be done. Mere talking about it would not lend any credibility. It only
depends on how rulers walk their talk.
The election of Donald Trump as the next US
president has generated stimulating and vibrant debates across the country,
particularly regarding the treatment of minorities. My attempt is to analyse the intersection of
law and race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and national
origin within the current political context.
In the post-9/11 world, political and
cultural edifices entrenched by imperial discourse have sanctified the
convenient first world-third world dichotomy. Institutional politics and
policies have facilitated the construction of the ‘third world’ subject as an
eternally feral being whose essential savagery is not amenable to
socio-cultural conditioning. The rationale provided for the invasion of
Afghanistan and Iraq, for instance, is those territories’ purportedly
dehumanised condition that cries out for enlightenment, underscoring the
constructed bestiality of non-Western, other cultures.
The construction of the ‘first world-third
world’ dichotomy in the wake of military interventions overseas vitiated
progressive political and social changes. This befouling of institutional
politics insidiously bled into the dominant political discourse in the United States
and was used to promulgate Islamophobia.
Although governance is a different
ballgame, the rhetoric deployed and legitimised by Trump while on the campaign
trial purported to create a totalising or homogenising centre. In particular,
non-Western cultural, religious, political, and social epistemologies were
dismissed as ‘marginal’ or reductively ‘fanatical’ by the discourse generated
during the campaign. Some of the epistemologies that were demonised are
institutions and modes of thought created by contemporary nationalisms; the
consciousness of political, social, and cultural place that offers a critical
perspective from which to formulate alternatives to an insulated modernity and
its concomitant defeatism of developing nations; and the ushering in of an era
in which a nation is not constructed
around a common language, religion, culture, patriarchal image of womanhood,
and an ethnically pure majority.
The increase in polarisation and
fragmentation that we witnessed in the wake of the presidential campaign and
the election of Donald Trump as the next president undermined the traditional
notion of self-determination, rule of law, a return to the process of internal
political dialogue, negotiations, and political accommodation in a democratic
nation. In a nation that prides itself on women’s selfhood, autonomy, and
ability to self-actualise, the blatant infantilisation and objectification of
women brought to the fore, among other things, that misogyny and racism are not
things of the past. We still have a lot of work to do for repairing schisms.
Democracy does not limit itself to numbers or majoritarian rule, but to
substance. There is no room for the subjection of religious minorities to a
centralised and authoritarian state in a democratic nation. Self-promotion in
the name of democracy, which is a given in autocratic and oligarchic forms of
government, must be strongly discouraged by constitutional means and methods.
In the recent presidential campaign, democracy was brazenly deployed to promote
centralisation and majoritarianism to the detriment of democratic growth and
Trump’s success lies in bringing out of the
woodwork all those who have been frustrated with the establishment and the
Davos forum, and getting them to vent their anger on those who are ‘different’
either racially, ethnically, or in terms of gender and religious affiliation.
The absolute urgency of revivifying economic growth and opportunities for
people across the board is undeniable, but that cannot be accomplished at the
cost of cultural diversity and the incorporation of societal differences into
our polity and history.
In the space of globalisation, cultures
undergo a dialectical interplay and create interlayered and mixed identities.
This process necessitates the re-conception of cultural and linguistic
differences into our sense of identity.
Women Literacy in FATA
We all are aware and even enlightened that
Women’s education in Pakistan is a fundamental right of every female citizen,
according to article thirty-seven of the Constitution of Pakistan, but gender
discrepancies still exist in the educational sector.
Sadly, Pakistan has one of the lowest
literacy rates in the world. However, it should come as no surprise that
Pakistan is listed as one of the countries that have large gender gaps in
education, and therefore requires substantial investments in girls’ education
for a socio-economic uplift.
On the other hand, the literacy rate among
women in tribal areas is alarmingly low and stagnant. It’s a harsh reality that
FATA region has as low as a 7.8 percent female literacy rate. FATA consists of
seven tribal agencies and six frontier regions, and are directly governed by
Pakistan’s federal government through a special set of laws called the Frontier
Crimes Regulations (FCR). The reasons for such a depressing literacy rate in
the region are quite evident: cultural and social constraints, poverty, local
leaders disinterest in education of their communities, hostile attitude towards
women’s liberation, very low budgetary allocations for the sector and, on top
of it, the menace of terrorism, still afflicting that region the most.
According to a survey conducted by the FATA
Secretariat and the Bureau of Statistics two years back, only 7.8 percent of
adult women in the region were literate, compared to 45 percent of men.
Overall, the adult literacy rate in FATA is 28.4 percent, while the national
average is 57 percent. At least 44.2 percent children in FATA have never been
enrolled in schools, though the average distance from an institute is 1.8
The Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) at the
primary level (six-10 years of age) is 77.4 percent for FATA, while the rest of
the country stands at 91 percent. Only a small proportion (2.3 percent) of
currently enrolled children aged between six and 15 attend religious schools,
while 68.6 percent go to government schools and 29.1 percent are in private
schools. The Khyber Agency has the highest literate population above the age of
10 at 49.4percent, and Bajaur Agency has the lowest at just 19.6 percent.
The Assessment Report 2015-16 presents a
dismal picture of the overall education sector in the region: around 53 percent
government-run schools and colleges are working without water, electricity, and
even boundary walls and toilet facilities. Moreover, 18 percent institutions
have been dysfunctional for the last two decades.
The report further revealed that there were
about 5,994 government educational institutions including schools and colleges
in FATA, which are devoid of clean drinking water, adequate electricity, and
furniture facilities. Moreover, 2,256 institutions, especially of female
schools and colleges, are in a highly vulnerable condition and open to risk
from terrorist attacks due to unavailability of proper boundary walls and other
safety measurements. The report also indicates that around 3,368 posts, ranging
from college and school principals to librarians, have been lying vacant for
the last ten years. According to the report, the dropout ratio of the students
in FATA and FR regions had reached an alarming level after the wave of
militancy and terrorism.
According to a report, released by Alif
Ailaan education initiative in mid-2016, there are 6,050 educational
institutions in FATA, of which 4,868 (2,905 for boys and 1,963 for girls) are
functional, while 1,182 (683 for boys and 499 for girls) are non-functional.
The overall dropout rate from kindergarten to class five, over the period of
the last six years, has been 73 percent, of which 70 percent are boys and 77
believe that cultural, traditional and social
practices had kept Fata women in a highly vulnerable position. Tribal traditions
not only restricted and excluded them from decision-making even at the domestic
level but also limited their access to education. Last but not the least,
destruction of infrastructure and internal displacement of millions of people
because of government operations against militancy had pushed down education
from their priority list.
I am sad that the governments of all the
provinces are investing in gimmicks projects rather than investing in people. I
wrap up my discussion with these remarks that if we want to develop as a
nation, we need to invest in literacy, which is an essential element of human
resource development. A strong political will, vision and commitment, as well
as a competent and sufficient faculty is required to enhance women’s education
in the country. Women’s education serves as the most powerful tool that can
significantly help Pakistan to achieve its national goals while utilising
women’s power, skills, knowledge and competencies.
By Raoof Hasan
For a good number of months, I thought it
was counterproductive writing as it appeared to carry little weight. Instead,
in a way, it added to one’s frustrations. But there were some who contended
that one must keep projecting what one construed as an ingredient of the
ultimate prognosis irrespective of whether or not it may have an impact. Well,
I have actually given in to this motivation. So, here it is for whatever it may
In a way, one is constantly engaged in a
balancing act, trying to facilitate attainment of one’s perceived ambition in
life, or rising to the pinnacle of achievement. Therein may also be hidden the
cardinal issue of not being able to, or not willing to distinguish between the
spectrum of objectives reflecting entirely different mindsets which define the
motivations driving one’s life. Becoming rich may be a motivation propelling
one to be a billionaire in the end. But, what’s important is that how one did
it, and whether the avenues that were chosen to get to the avowed destination
stand up to the benchmarks of transparency, shared responsibility and
accountability? These are the barriers that only a miserly few will cross
successfully in their pursuit of riches. The vast majority will come crashing
down at the first hurdle which defines the crisis that the country and the
society are gravely beset with.
From one gross controversy to the next, it
is a sequence of humiliating revelations which are laid barein broad daylight
with hardly a breathing space to ponder. Yet, when everything appears to be
lost, it is hope that a vast majority of people in this country still seek and
cling to — hope that is locked in the box!
So, where is it that we appear to be headed
in the midst of a host of shameful and monotonous enactments: Panama case, Dawn
leaks, Memogate controversy, rampant corruption bazaar, virtual abdication of
governance, politicisation and the consequent liquidation of institutions, lack
of transparency regarding undertakings of the state, growing inequity among
provinces, ever-widening social, sectarian and religious divides, grave
paradoxes and duplicities afflicting the handling of terror and other
existential challenges which mostly are of our own making? The list is endless.
A common ingredient in all this is that no one, absolutely no one is willing to
own responsibility for committing the transgressions when they were in command.
Instead, the response to every such insinuation is an all-pervading counter accusation.
Well, they tell the truth, but only about others!
This exceedingly self-righteous but
debilitating narrative reflects yet another, and in certain respects the
gravest challenge that the country is faced with: its absolute moral collapse.
Why has this come about? How can one cast off the spell? And whether it can be
done at all?
The integrity of the political oligarchies
lacerating profusely, the institution which is looked upon as one that has the
constitutional powers, capacity, and on whose shoulders rests the
responsibility to extricate the country out of this quagmire, is its justice
system. It is no small coincidence that, at this critical juncture, our
superior judiciary is beset with a case whose outcome may decide the course
that the state will take in the future. Depending on which way the judgement
goes, it can either put the country on the path to salvation, or push it down a
million-mile pit. Contrary to what many may believe, I am convinced there is no
middle course in this. There is no some-of-this and some-of-that solution, or
some-for-one-party and some-for-the-other-party therapy. It is a case that
requires a judgement based on undiluted merit, and merit has no favourites.
But this some-of-this and some-of-that
syndrome is also dug in deep. It is rooted in years of misdemeanours
perpetrated without any check, without any punishment and, most important of
all, without any shame. One has often seen victory signs displayed by alleged
criminals coming out of courts. They don’t seem to be concerned in any manner
either about the heinous nature of the crime, or their own indisputable
culpability therein. The reason is clear: virtually no one in this country has
ever been punished for crimes and excesses committed including the one which dismembered
the state. Investigation commissions have been formed, they have handed down
their reports which were never made public because those who were responsible
for the crimes that the commission investigated were also the people swinging
the whip. So, no one dared disagree, no one had the courage to stand up for the
Incompetent people have ascended seats of
authority with the connivance of the very same corrupt mafias to ensure the
continuity of a system rendered morbid through systematic afflictions. Then
those heading various institutions on occasions have been guilty of serious
misdemeanours themselves, but they never tire of proclaiming their virtuous
careers and conduct. See, there is more of the same prognosis, more of the same
venomous potion: shamelessness!
Like I said earlier, where are we headed?
Or, are we headed anywhere at all except deeper in the pit of shame and
helplessness? Will people, those few who still care and who are saddened by the
state of things around, be able to free themselves of the tentacles of mafias
that operate with abandon, or will they also resign to this humiliation and let
the onslaught of loot and plunder continue denuding the state of its riches,
its wealth and, most important of all, its boundless promise, potential and
Will we continue drowning in the putrid
juices of our own doings without respite, without care? Are we going to
triggera move to salvation, or are we going to become aiders and abettors of
this apparently irreversible plunge into regression?
And what of the hope that people still seek
so desperately? Is the time come? Who could have put it better than T S Eliot:
‘O my people, what have I done onto thee.”
Navy In Yeomen Service For Humanity And
Changing The Life Pattern Of Neglected Balochistan
By Salahuddin Haider
APART from being the custodian of our sea
frontiers, and keeping the commercial routes open for international trade,
Pakistan Navy simultaneously is encouraging the Balochis to be part of
country’s armed force and thus be proud citizens of the State.
Its efforts of relaxing age rules, and 5 to
10 percent concessions in entry and academic examinations, have paid rich
dividends already. Figures collected officially shows a remarkable rise in
Baloch recruitment in a service, so essential in peace and war times.
Interpreted in simpler terms, and in the context of stories afloat from time to
time of negative tendencies, the success achieved by the Navy, assumes special
While the current number of Balochis in PN
touches a thousand mark, its officers rank includes a commodore now, equivalent
to one-star general, of Brigadier in Pakistan army.
Officials explained that mobile recruitment
teams of their Service goes door to door, and feels tremendously elated by the
enthusiastic response from the natives inhabiting the south-western province,
coastal line especially.
A case study of period between 2012 and
2016 shows that the number of recruitments from Balochistan has been at a
satisfactory level—41 officers/cadets—and 535 sailors.
Negativity does become a factor, but fails
to lower the level of enthusiasm. The purpose of lining them in mainstream
remains uninterrupted and helps flush out propaganda from vested interests
against the State or its organs.
From Matric to in-house training, people
from Balochistan are offered special concessions of upto 20 percent. This is in
keeping with the traditions followed in the world by a number of armies, or
allied defence wings of their respective countries. Japan is one glaring
example where set standards of heights for recruitment were lowered because of
their generally being short statured.
This is not all. Like Pakistan Army,
ever-ready for humanitarian duties in floods, natural calamities, population
displacement and their rehabilitation, Navy too has been in the forefront of
rescue operations with its boats, sailors and rank officers in times of
emergencies. Its whole-hearted participation in floods, and several other
occasions are on record for those searching for proof to contest positive
Pakistan Navy ships have for decades been
carrying nations, medicines, doctors and para-medics to Balochistan’s long
coastal lines for helping the population.
It has also concentrated on providing
education to children of the backward areas, pulling them out from the darker
or limited scope fishing areas, which has been for long their family vocation,
to brighter eras and ensuring them enlightened and promising future.
Opening of secondary schools in Gwadar,
with plans to upgrade it to college level, vocational centres for ladies of the
area, and persistent efforts to weave a chain of such academic and professional
centres in as many towns as possible for children who would have ended as
street urchins, continues relentlessly.
This is a lesson for those who remain
engaged endlessly in falsehood but a visit to some of the areas in the
south-western province, convinces people beyond doubt that Baloch youngsters
seem keen to galvanise their energies for the good of their province and, in
turn, for the country.
Festivals are organized, and dramas and
plays are staged, which was evident from the recent participation of these
children on the Pakistan Day events of March 23.
Pakistan Navy (PN) has taken up various
socioeconomic projects in coastal areas of Balochistan, with the sole aim of
empowering youth through education and to bring them at par with the rest of
Pakistan. One such step in this direction is the establishment of Cadet College
The foundation of Cadet College Ormara was
laid on 12 June 2012 by former Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza
Gillani. The college started its academic session in April 2013 by the joining
of a batch of sixty cadets, with hope and conviction that by the passage of
time, this institution will become synonymous to quality educational institute
for the coming generations.
The basic cause to establish this
institution in the city of Ormara was to bring the light of education to this
remote area of Balochistan and provide equal opportunities to the youth and to
make them capable enough to compete with not only the rest of the country and
but also the world.
In Balochi, “DarmanJah” denotes “a place of
cure and healing”, which is an apt and befitting name for the new and first
ever hospital facility established by the Pakistan Navy in Baluchistan’s
coastal town of Ormara.
To summarise, it would be appropriate to
state that Balochistan, neglected far too long, resulting in heartburn,
bickering and insurgency, which has been instigated and exploited by Pakistan’s
detractors, is witnessing a new era of development, hope and promise.
The establishment of the international port
at Gwadar, the coastal highway, dams, highways, and military cantonments with
facilities like schools, dispensaries, playgrounds, canteens, and other
wherewithal have not only provided employment opportunities, but also
contributed towards raising the quality of life of the Balochis, since they would
also have access to these facilities.
Myth Of 3 Million Killed, 200,000 Raped
SINCE the creation of Bangladesh it has
been propagated that Pakistan Army killed more than 3 million Bengalis and
raped 200,000 Bengali women in 1971. Many such myths have been repeated ad
nauseam over the years by various Bangladeshi and Indian politicians and functionaries
to defame Pakistani armed forces. Tracing the origin of the myth of killing of
3 million, it is revealed that the figure first appeared as on Decemer 23,
1971in an editorial piece of Pravda, well known then for anti Pakistan postures
of the Kremlin. This “figure”, was endorsed by Mujib in his interview with
BBC’s David Frost on January 18, 1972 while he was intoxicated.
Here is the first testimony from Serajur
Reman, the former deputy head of the BBC Bangla Programme in the UK contesting
Mujib’s claim. In a letter to The Guardian on May 24, 2011 he wrote, “On 8th
January 1972, I was the first Bangladeshi to meet independent leader Sheikh
Mujib-ur-Reman after his release from Pakistan …. I [Serajur Rehman] explained
that no accurate figure of the casualties was available but our estimate, based
on information from various sources, was that up to “Three lakh” (300,000) died
in the conflict. To my surprise and horror, he told David Frost later that
“three million of my people “were killed by the Pakistanis. Whether he
mistranslated “lakh” as “million” or his confused state of mind was
responsible, I don’t know, but many Bangladeshis still believe a figure of
three million is unrealistic and incredible”.
Sayyid Karim, Bangladesh’s first foreign
secretary, as reported by David Bergman, a Bangladesh based British Journalist
in 2011, wrote, “As for the number of Bengalis killed in the course of the
liberation war, the figure of 3 million mentioned by Mujib to David Frost in
January 1972, was a gross overstatement. This figure was picked up by him from
an article in ‘Pravda’ the organ of the communist party of the Soviet Union”.
In order to cherry pick proof for the
plucked-out-of-thin-air 3 million figure, Mujib constituted a Commission on
January 29, 1972 to locate mass graves or other verifiable evidence. Chowdhary
Abdul Mumin in his book Behind the Myth of Three Million, published in 1973,
reported that this Commission comprised representatives from the Army, Border
Security Force, Rangers, Police and Civil Administration. Despite their best
efforts, this Commission completely failed to locate any mass graves or other
evidence of any kind. The Commission gave a newspaper advertisement offering
1,000 Taka to anyone who comes forward with figures of the dead. Only 38,000
came forward. The Commission then conjured up a figure of a 56,743 deaths.
Mujib showed great displeasure at the Commission’s findings and disbanded it,
stating, “I have declared three million dead, and your report could not come up
with three scores thousands! What report you have prepared? Keep your report to
yourself. What I have said once shall prevail”.
Western independent sources too solidly
rubbish this 3 million figure. The Peace Research Institute in Norway along
with Uppsala University of Sweden in their findings in 1972, estimated that
about 58,000 people died in 1971. In addition to this, in June 1972, William
Durmmond in the LA Times reported that “……. the figure of 3 million deaths is
an exaggeration so gross as to be absurd …… no more than 25,000 people died.”
On March 1st, 1973, Swedish journalist Ingvar Oja reported in Dagens Nyheter,
the largest daily of Stockholm: “The allegation regarding the killing of 3
million people is highly exaggerated, not more than 50,000 people died in East
Pakistan”. Sarmila Bose the famous Bengali Indian writer and Research Associate
at Oxford University, in her book, Dead Reckoning in 2011, writes “…. the
number 3 million appears to be not more than a gigantic rumor”. She estimated
that around 50,000 – 100,000 people including Bengalis, Beharis and West
Pakistanis may have perished in the conflict in East Pakistan.
The repeated claims of 3 million killed and
the rape of 200,000 Bengali women were stopped after a tripartite agreement
between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh in April 1974. During the regimes of Gen
Zia, Gen Husain Mohammad Ershad and later Khaleda Zia, the Bangladesh
government was more pragmatic and made friendly overtures to Pakistan. However,
the present government of Haseena Wajid of Awami League continues to use this
exaggerated lie of 3 million killed to hatemonger if not to evoke the baser
emotions of its electorate to cultivate support and also to court favors from
Even basic arithmetic, which seems to be
beyond the grasp of the Bangladeshi establishment, shows the unabashed
absurdity of the 3 million killed and 200,000 women raped myths. To illustrate,
perhaps at the expense of disgusting my readers, the Army action in East
Pakistan started on 26 March and lasted till 16th December, 1971 – a total of
262 days. This implies that about 11,450 Bengalis would need to have been
picked-up, killed and buried every day. When compared to the 2nd World War for
instance, the 6 million Jews killed by Nazi Germany in 6 years comes to only
2,740 killed every day – markedly less. Both the figures of the daily killings
are fantastically preposterous and defy common sense.
The other myth regarding 200,000 Bengali
Women raped by Pakistani Army in 1971 was also investigated by the above
Commission. This time they had offered 3,000 Taka for any informant of rape.
Only 2,680 cases came forward. The Commission rounded it to 25,000 victims.
This was also not acceptable to Mujib. This estimate 200,000 rapes has also
been rejected by an Austrian based academic, Bina D’Casta, who had researched
this area and who believes that the number is too high. Further, Tajamul
Hussain, Bengali freelance journalist in his book “Bangladesh victim of Black
Propaganda Intrigue and Indian Hegemony”, writes that General Manikshaw was
seriously felt embarrassed at the figures and thinks that 3 million killed and
200,000 women alleged to have been violated seem fictitious, baseless and far
removed from the truth.
The fall of East Pakistan was a deeply
painful episode for an entire generation of East and West Pakistanis. To
channel that pain in the manner that the Awami League in Bangladesh continues
to do for courting favors from its powerful neighbor and to keep their
electorate emotionally charged, borders on criminality. They really ought to
have the sense to see that no other reasonable individual, institution or
government (besides India of course) takes their myths seriously. Not even
Wikipedia. I feel a degree of confidence that no intelligent Bangladeshis do
either. What the Awami League needs to do, is to base their politics on real
and meaningful issues that their populace faces – stark poverty, a justice
deficit and an institutional corruption of the most nefarious type. Be
reasonable PM Hasina Wajid, stop lying to yourself and your people and move on.
Dr Junaid Ahmed, Chairman of National Management Consultants, is based in
The state of emergency has served to affirm
the notion that Muslims indeed deserve suspicion, and has additionally
suggested that suspicion is the functional equivalent of guilt
Shortly before midnight on November 13,
2015, in an address intended to project an air of solemn strength but which
nonetheless betrayed the bewilderment that now seems to permeate French public
life, President François Hollande offered to the nation what little information
he possessed about the atrocities then underway in Paris. “There are dozens
killed, there are many injured,” Hollande said. “It is a horror.”
In the confusion of early morning, as the
full scale of the killings became apparent – 413 wounded, 130 dead, the
deadliest attack on civilians on French soil since World War II – the president
declared a state of emergency, freeing the country’s security services from
many of the legal constraints, and much of the judicial oversight, to which
they must submit in normal times. Initially expected to last only a short time,
the state of emergency has now been in place for more than 16 months.
It is scheduled to continue through at
least midsummer. Under its provisions, the police have conducted more than
4,000 warrantless searches and raids, placed more than 700 people under
administrative house arrest (some for more than a year), and closed around two
dozen mosques and Muslim prayer spaces.
This spectacle of state power may have
reassured many people here, but there is little to suggest that it has made
their country safer in ways that normal law could not. The scores of searches
without warrants, for instance, have resulted in only about 20 indictments on
terrorism charges; over the same period, more than 150 terrorism indictments
have been obtained without recourse to such tactics. The security services have
headed off a number of apparently imminent attacks in recent months, but these
successes seem to have owed nothing to the state of emergency. Its provisions
have also failed to prevent several episodes of mass violence, including a
truck rampage in Nice last summer that killed 86 and wounded scores more.
In about a month, France will elect a new
president, who will inherit the powers of the emergency state. The prospect
that Marine Le Pen, the vituperative populist, might soon be wielding them
against whom she pleases – “globalist” elites, say, or devout Muslims, or
immigrants, or the various other groups she has identified as threatening the
nation’s integrity – does not seem to worry anyone.
Perhaps this is to do with a certain
disaffection within the electorate. But her opponents have not sought to make
the state of emergency a campaign issue, either. Only one of her principal
rivals, Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far left, has called plainly in his platform
for its end. A recent television debate by the top candidates, despite running
more than three hours, included not a single mention of it.
One merit of the state of emergency, then,
has been to demonstrate once again the power of normalization, the inertial
drift by which democratic principles and protections are abandoned, and to
confirm that electoral politics cannot be relied upon to check it.
French political culture, run through with
a deep messianic strain, also abets this normalization. In France’s mythology,
the “République” – a word the French use to signify not so much their form of
government as a vague but sacred revolutionary ideal – does not know error.
Sometimes the République stands for “liberté,” sometimes “égalité,” sometimes
“fraternité,” sometimes none of these at all; it is always right, though, and
it is unfailingly invoked to justify whatever the values or policies of the
moment happen to be. The state of emergency can only be just, by this patriotic
illogic: The République decreed it.
That its excesses seem to land
overwhelmingly upon a mistrusted Muslim minority has also surely helped. The
state of emergency has served to affirm the notion that this minority indeed
deserves suspicion, and has additionally suggested that suspicion is the
functional equivalent of guilt. These are dangerous insinuations, particularly
in France, where the populace has long looked to its powerful state not only as
legal authority, the mediator of relations between individuals, but as moral
guide and provider. Liberal democrats will hope the French, in their present
discontent, are ignoring the lessons the République is dispensing. (Others are
evidently listening. Upon declaring its own state of emergency in July,
Turkey’s deputy prime minister said his country was merely doing “just like
France has done.”)
Among French Muslims, the state of
emergency is widely understood as further evidence of their country’s hostility
toward them and their faith; many claim it will drive more of their community
into the arms of extremists. That seems a bit pat, but certainly the state of
emergency isn’t winning them over to the country’s secular, patriotic creed.
Many French people will be untroubled by
this. They will rightly remark that the men and women affected by the state of
emergency are, in some proportion, unsavory, disreputable, discomfiting: drug
dealers and petty crooks; men with heavy beards and bearings of menace; their
wives swathed in black.
The emergency of this confused moment is to
recall that this observation ought to be entirely irrelevant; that the
République the French profess to defend would afford these citizens, however
distressing or strange, precisely the same protections as the rest; and that
this fair-minded liberality has long been the better part of their country’s