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Pakistan Press (01 Apr 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


A Lesson to Learn From London: New Age Islam's Selection, 01 April 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

01 April 2017

A Lesson to Learn From London

By Hafsah Sarfraz

Time for Turkey to Move On

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

Thank You Raheel Sharif

By Abbas Nasir

Turkey Reviews Its Foreign Policy

By Mohammad Jamil

Silence Is Also a Virtue

By Muhammad Usman

Partnering With United States

By Dr Rizwan Naseer

Dutch Polls: A Litmus Test of Europe’s Populism?

By Sajjad Ahmad

Tackling Two-Front Conflict Situation

By M Ziauddin

Get over Jinnah’s Pakistan

By Hussain Nadim

A Lesson to Learn From London

By Hafsah Sarfraz

Ban the Ban

By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

Will Panama Wreck Pakistan’s Democracy?

By Dr Aamir Khan

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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A Lesson to Learn From London

By Hafsah Sarfraz

March 30, 2017

 The writer is a freelance journalist and a graduate of the University of London. She is passionate about women empowerment and gender equality

The writer is a freelance journalist and a graduate of the University of London. She is passionate about women empowerment and gender equality

Three years ago I packed my bags, got on a cab to reach Heathrow airport and got on a seven-hour flight to come back home. Walking out of my dorm room, I hugged my Chinese flat mate, said goodbye to the African American warden, handed over my luggage to the Indian taxi driver, grabbed a burger from the Bangladeshi at the chicken shop next door and reached the airport to hand over my check-in baggage to the European guy smiling at the counter. The last person I encountered at the security check before boarding the plane was British who wished me a great journey and told me to come back soon as I left the city.

It was this diversity of London that stole my heart when I first came to the city. In my eyes, nothing made London more beautiful than the fact that it was a huge metropolis where people of all kinds exist alongside in a cacophony of ethnicities, religions, cultures, languages, races and orientations. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the London Underground, London’s convenient yet sprawling subway system where a subtle tap of the Oyster can make you run into people from a range of ethnicities.

I once noticed a middle aged Muslim woman in a veil and reading the Quran on my left and a teenage girl in a crop top with high waist pants reading her copy of 50 shades of grey sitting on my right on the underground. While this sight might have amused me, it sure did not surprise me for I would see girls in gowns and headscarves walking next to those in mini skirts at university everyday and loved how beautifully London had taught everyone to coexist and respect each other.

In my eyes, London was not remarkable because of its architectural wonders and larger than life image but because of its diversity and nowhere is that diversity more apparent than on Brick lane. Brick lane on a Sunday defines what London is — incredibly diverse and soulful. If a fairy God mother had granted me one wish, I would ask her to make the entire world one big Brick Lane; where everyone was welcome despite their origin, their ethnicity and the colour of their skin, where there was no hatred or animosity towards anyone because of their background and one could belong anywhere they wished to. Where people could come from different parts of the world, experience the beauty and leave a part of themselves while departing to make the place even richer than it is, where cultures and history blended and people would continue to come back for more.

Living in London made me realise the greatest benefit of diversity — tolerance, which one can witness everywhere in the British capital. It is this tolerance that makes London a safe haven, precisely the reason why last week’s attack in Westminster was rather shocking. ISIS may have claimed responsibility for the attack but since it often claims responsibility for terror attacks that it has not directly orchestrated or facilitated, the real culprit is yet to be found. However, this was the first time in a very long time that an attack took place in the world where Islam was not immediately blamed and for that the British capital deserves credit.

The reporting after the attack was responsible and equitable, which is a lesson journalists and reporters in London gave out to the world. The country of origin of the attacker was not blamed instead he was called a terrorist and the word “British-born” was used. Theresa May admitted that the attacker had been the subject of a historical investigation over violent extremism by MI5.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said that London stands together in the face of those who seek to harm it and destroy the way of life, giving out a message of solidarity and togetherness. Despite Donald Trump junior sending out a negative tweet to Sadiq Khan, he remained calm and focused on how to help London stand together in the face of adversity. By ignoring a negative tweet, London’s mayor has shown grace and maturity, something the many local and international politicians could learn from.

Bloggers, social media activists and photographers united to send out the message to spread love, hope and kindness because anger achieves nothing. The attack in London revealed how every time Londoners face adversity, its people pull together and stand up for their values. It reminded people that diversity is not a weakness but a great strength. London does all of this brilliantly, leaving one wondering what if the rest of the world did what London does?

Source: Tribune.com.pk/story/1370058/lesson-learn-london/

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Time for Turkey to Move On

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

March 31, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an angry man these days. Not long ago he enjoyed – and perhaps still does – the popularity of a rock star across the Muslim world. Upright, fearless and consistently delivering on the promise of good governance, he was seen as someone who combined the best of traditional values and qualities of a modern democratic leader.

Erdogan’s biggest contribution has been the successful demolition of the myth that modern democracy cannot coexist with faith. If winning populist elections is the biggest test of a popular leader, he has won each one of them with resounding mandate. Secondly, he has managed to defang in the powerful military which has always seen itself as Turkey’s natural ruler and protector of Ataturk’s legacy.

It was largely thanks to the popular support that Erdogan has enjoyed since his ascent to power as well as his steely resolve that he was able to foil the massive military coup last year, using nothing but the Facetime feature on his iPhone. The groundswell of support that he unleashed after the military coup speaks volumes about the dizzying heights of popularity that Erdogan touched.

By speaking out repeatedly for vulnerable, voiceless communities around the world – from the besieged Palestinians and Syrians to the persecuted Rohingya Muslims in distant Burma – Erdogan has earned himself a global following. And this hasn’t been merely lip service; he has stepped forward to extend a helping hand to the helpless, without worrying about the political and economic price of his actions.   

A generous Turkey has not only hosted more than three million Syrian refugees over the past six years, it has gone out of its way to support them in every possible manner, including by offering citizenship.     

Turkey has paid a huge price for standing by the Syrians, in the form of a series of savage attacks by the so-called Islamic State and assorted groups loyal to the regime in Damascus.     

For a country that happens to be a major international tourist destination and depends on tourism as a major source of revenue, these attacks have proved disastrous, driving away tens of thousands of tourists, especially those from neighbouring Europe and the Middle East.    

Turkey has been at the receiving end for a host of other reasons as well. There is no dearth of those who would hate to see Erdogan succeed in his attempts to present Turkey as a modern country at peace with its Islamic identity as well as liberal democracy.      

This is why it is hard for one to censure the popular leader of Turkey, perhaps the most popular since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the architect of modern Turkey, himself. However, some of Erdogan’s recent actions and pronouncements make all well-wishers of Turkey extremely uneasy.   

The escalation of Turkey’s tensions with European countries like Germany and the Netherlands is most disturbing. Given the history of Islamophobia in the Netherlands, especially in the run up to the recent elections with notorious characters like Geert Wilders, known for his anti-Muslim rants and antics, seeking power, Turkey’s outrage is perhaps understandable. Especially after the Dutch in an unprecedented move refused to let the Turkish foreign minister land and address a rally of Turkish citizens and immigrants.

Challenged by Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) and finding it hard to hold on to power, the centrist government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Liberal Party (VVD) has taken a sharp turn to the right, hardening its rhetoric against immigrants. In January, in full page newspaper advertisements and interviews on radio and TV, Rutte issued an unprecedented warning to the immigrants and Muslims “to behave or be gone from the Netherlands”.

Wittingly or unwittingly, Erdogan flew into this raging storm of tensions by sending his ministers to speak in the Netherlands, ahead of the constitutional referendum he is seeking on the question of adopting a US-style presidential system. When the hosts made it clear that they were not welcome, Erdogan flew into a fit of rage, sparking an unpleasant war of words. In one particularly memorable line, the Turkish president accused the tiny European country that hosts the International Court of Justice at The Hague of “acting like a banana republic”.

This even as the Turkish supporters of Erdogan clashed with police, protesting against the denial of permission for their rallies. Of course, the Dutch move was unprecedented and unreasonable. However, some would say the Dutch have every right to decide who is welcome and who is not in their own country.

The escalation of Turkey’s tensions with Germany is even more unfortunate considering the two countries have been close Nato allies and friends and have closely cooperated with each other on a host of issues including in helping the Syrian refugees and in efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria. Turkey happens to be Germany’s most important trading partner in the European Union, which Ankara has been aspiring to join for many years.        

Germany, the leader and driving force behind the EU, has also inked a strategic accord with Ankara that is aimed at curbing the influx of refugees into Europe by helping them rehabilitate in Turkey. Germany also happens to be home to a large and vibrant Muslim population, majority of them descendants of Turkish and North African immigrants.  

These are strong and historic bonds that go way back. Besides, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany has been most welcoming and generous in accommodating refugees from the Middle East and Africa–the majority of them Muslims. This support cannot be emphasised enough considering the general hostility and paranoia Muslims have been facing in the rest of Europe and the West.

President Erdogan is not helping anyone, let alone the Turkish citizens and immigrants in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, by accusing Merkel and Germany of “Nazi-era actions”.

In the past, he has also hinted at the alleged Western involvement in the failed coup against him, repeatedly pushing the US to extradite his former friend and preacher Fethullah Gulen for allegedly instigating the coup.

The Muslims around the world – those in the West in particular – are facing unprecedented challenges. Relations between Islam and the West have hit a new low. At a time like this, leaders like Erdogan should be helping heal the rift by fostering reconciliation and understanding, not deepen it further with this needless confrontation.

While on the issue of confrontation, what makes one deeply uneasy is also this continuing crackdown on the media and thousands of dismissals and arrests of bureaucrats, teachers and judges for their ostensible support for the military coup.

Some journalists, loyal to the old secular, military establishment, may be guilty of opposing Erdogan and even supporting the military coup against a democratically elected government. However, this wholesale, all-consuming targeting of the media is not only far from fair, it is totally counterproductive. A free press is vital to a healthy democracy. Besides, there is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.

It is time for Turkey to move on, demonstrating a generosity of spirit and maturity of vision befitting its stature and history. President Erdogan should be paying attention to making it a strong, independent and forward-looking nation and a source of strength and inspiration for the whole of the Muslim world. It is time to lead.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/195565-Time-for-Turkey-to-move-on

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Thank You Raheel Sharif

By Abbas Nasir

March 31, 2017

AFTER the government said it had given its consent to retired Gen Raheel Sharif accepting the offer to head the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism, there were two scenarios emerging about what may happen over the coming months.

The lack of clarity and detail is triggering speculation about what this decision actually means and the Foreign Office spokesperson’s assertion that the country is already part of the Riyadh-based alliance is also surprising as this was the first official admission to that effect.

While saying that Islamabad was part of the Saudi-led alliance, the foreign office spokesperson also conceded that the ‘terms of reference’ of the grouping have yet to be decided. So, what exactly has Pakistan signed on for?

Consider the first scenario: Pakistan has finally admitted what many believed to be the case anyway as, given how close (some would say beholden) to the Saudi regime the PML-N government and the armed forces have always been, it wasn’t likely that a parliamentary resolution calling for neutrality in the Middle East would have real long-term viability.

Also, Pakistan’s task may have been made easier by the Saudi regime’s realisation that calling for Muslim nations to join the war it is waging in Yemen, and its efforts to militarily checkmate Iran in other parts of the Gulf may not draw the desired response.

The former army chief had, it was said, set certain conditions before he accepted the reportedly $1million a year job.

Ergo, Saudi Arabia is now saying that the alliance is not being formed to fight in Yemen or to counter Iran in the region but actually to fight the menace of the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, which is seen as a growing threat, despite the recent setbacks suffered by the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

That then will remain the official Saudi position till May when, some media reports have suggested, there might be greater clarity as the alliance’s terms of reference and other details will be hammered out at a meeting of key member states.

The second scenario owes itself to the categorical statement of a former three-star general, who is seen as close to the former army chief and has also spoken for him and the security establishment in recent media appearances.

When the news of the appointment first broke, the retired lieutenant general spelt out the specific conditions under which Raheel Sharif would accept the reportedly $1million a year job. Otherwise, he said, the former chief was likely to say no.

The first was that no matter what the circumstances, he would not be willing to serve under an officer belonging to the Saudi defence forces or anyone else from the alliance’s member states as he had had the privilege of ‘serving as the head of one of the best armies in the world’.

The other two conditions were even tougher and, when they were laid out, many commentators thought the matter would go no further as the Saudis were not likely to agree to them. Till May at least it will be impossible to say what has happened on that score.

One of these two conditions, according to the retired lieutenant general, was that Iran be offered a role in the alliance too, even if it was a token one, so that Tehran would be reassured the grouping was not meant to be arrayed against it and remove any other misgivings it may have.

And the final condition sought freedom for Raheel Sharif to take the initiative and mediate in disputes between different Muslim countries as, he believed, these frictions were often the trigger for terrorism.

Assuming that the former army chief’s view has found acceptance in Riyadh, it would be safe to say that upon taking office one of his first tasks would be to offer a place in the alliance to Tehran, even though there is no way of knowing the latter’s reaction at this stage.

He’d initiate an effort to help end the conflict in Yemen where, human rights groups say, the result of the Saudi-led blockade and bombing is creating a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. One can also assume he would try and mediate some sort of a way out of the ongoing human tragedy in Syria.

This one may prove much, much tougher: the civil war in Syria has not just been fuelled by Syrians of different persuasions but also because several Muslim countries, motivated by sectarian considerations, are also neck deep in their involvement.

Even though Russia became an active player and helped turn the tide in favour of the Syrian regime, there seems no end in sight to the conflict. The slightest movement in any of these areas will go a long way in establishing Raheel Sharif’s credibility as a visionary military leader.

On the flip side, it would seem unlikely that his conditions would have been accepted. After all, the burgeoning Saudi defence budget (at more than $50 billion) places the kingdom among the top five global military spenders. A list that suggests only the US, China, UK and India are ahead of it.

This magnitude of spending appears more a statement of intent by Saudi Arabia to assert influence in the region where it feels threatened by Iran, rather than merely to fight terrorism and the terrorists towards whom it is sometimes accused of being ambivalent.

In the best-case scenario, Pakistanis will be joined by the rest of the Muslim world, the Ummah, in saying a vociferous and lasting ‘Thank You Raheel Sharif’. If this is not the case, his detractors will liken him to Alice in Wonderland.

Which will it be? Who knows for sure? I am happy to place my bet in private though.

Source: dawn.com/news/1324002/thank-you-raheel-sharif

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Turkey Reviews Its Foreign Policy

By Mohammad Jamil

April 1, 2017

HENRY Kissinger had once stated: “Worsening state-to-state relations can be like a car crash — the result is easy to recognize but it’s notoriously hard to pin down what could have been done to avoid it.” Despite the fact that ties between the United States and Turkey date back to the beginning of Cold War in the 1950s, relations between NATO’s two largest armies have deteriorated so rapidly that Russia now provides the majority of air support for the Turkish Army’s ongoing battle against the Islamic State near Al-Bab, Northern Syria. There are two underlying causes for the breakdown in relations between Turkey and the United States. One is America’s support for the forces fighting for the Kurdish enclaves in Northern Syria, and the other is Washington’s unwillingness to extradite the cleric Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey, who is accused of involvement in the last year’s aborted coup.

Turkey is also wary of the European Union for one its attitude to the talks on its membership of the European Union and also on the issue of refugees. Vladimir Putin has hailed the close relationship between Russia and Turkey’s militaries, as he hosted Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks on Syria. Ties between them had become strained in 2015 after Turkey’s military shot down a Russian warplane near the country’s border with Syria. However, after Turkey’s apology, the relations are on positive trajectory, and both countries joined hands for brokering a ceasefire in Syria in December 2016, which helped diminish fighting in Syria. Two weeks ago, they had organized two rounds of talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his opponents to remove mistrust between Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces, US-backed Kurdish forces and Russian-allied Syrian government forces.

Turkey had ruled the Arab world for about 400 years under Ottoman Empire, therefore Arabs’ antipathy towards Turkey was understandable. However, it was Ataturk who had set the principles of ‘dual’ East-West approach; but over the years, there were periods of cool, lukewarm and warm relations under different governments in Turkey. In mid-1950s, when Turkey had joined Baghdad Pact later renamed as Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), its relations with Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries had become strained. However, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government under then Prime Minister Erdogan’s leadership made sensible moves to strengthen relations with Muslim brotherly countries. The party has pursued much broader political, economic and strategic objectives in international affairs than its predecessors, and had even put together a strategic plan that aims to make Turkey a world power by 2023.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has Islamist roots yet its members show remarkable tolerance to other religions. It had taken far-reaching reforms that stabilized the economy that helped continuation of Turkey’s membership talks with the European Union. However, some European countries do not wish to see Turkey in EU’s fold despite the fact they claim that Europe is a continent of diverse people, races and religions united by ideas and ideals. Nevertheless, the European Union members always found some excuse to stall the talks for Turkey’s membership of the EU. In December 2006, some EU members had expressed indignation over Turkey’s refusal to use its ports and harbors for Greek Cypriot traffic. On the other hand Turkey had demanded that EU must lift its trade embargo on Turkey’s northern Cyprus, which appeared to be a genuine demand.

The formal talks were initiated in October 2005 about Turkey’s membership of the European Union that foundered when Austria insisted that Turkey should be offered a lesser partnership and not a full membership of the EU because it failed to meet entry criteria. In 2008, 25 foreign ministers had unanimously decided to suspend eight of the 35 chapters or policy areas into which negotiations were divided, and review Turkey’s compliance annually. But now it looks like as if chapter of Turkey’s entry in the European Union is closed. Turkey’s decades-long bid to join the European Union had a setback as criticism grew over an ongoing crackdown following July’s failed coup. The EU parliament had voted on 24th November 2016 to suspend talks with Turkey on European Union membership. In November 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Brussels that Ankara was now ready to go its own way.

There is also a perception that EU members do not wish to have a Muslim country in EU’s fold. Though they claim to be broadminded, enlightened and tolerant of other religions, in fact they are not. Anyhow, one of the reasons for Turkey’s opposition is the nasty wrangle between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus. It all had started in 1974 when supporters of the union with Greece made a coup in Cyprus. Turkey had attacked Cyprus to stop that move, and the Cyprus was divided between Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north – a state recognized by Ankara only. Turkish leadership, however, was of the view that for the progress of the country and welfare of its people it was imperative to be a part of European Union. But opponents of Turkey appear to have mala fide intentions and display double standards.

Before the 2008 general elections in Turkey, the print and electronic media in Europe had carried reports and statements of critics that Justice and Development Party was being pushed against the wall, and if the government did not allow this party to participate in elections, it would be negation of democracy and Turkey would not qualify to be a member of the EU. But when Justice Party had come out victorious in the elections and formed government, propaganda was unleashed that Turkey was being ruled by Islamic elements, once again to prove their point that Turkey was not a fit case for becoming member of the EU. Cultural differences were also blown out of proportions, as after Justice Party came into power all cases against girls wearing Hijab were withdrawn. This was also used as an excuse to block the Turkey’s entry in the EU, which could be termed as extreme narrow-mindedness.

Source: pakobserver.net/turkey-reviews-its-foreign-policy/

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Silence Is Also a Virtue

By Muhammad Usman

April 1, 2017

SPEAKING at the right time at right volume and length is an admirable virtue. When time is dangerous or one is short of appealing and sound arguments, keeping silence is also an appreciable and rewarding experience. Like other walks of life, importance of both in politics cannot also be over emphasized. In mushroom of social media’s blitz, silence at given situation may also assume greater importance. On the record as well as off the record, indecorous, inappropriate and offensive utterances and texts/tweets even inadvertently, can instantly land one in a minefield of different clusters/ layers with no easy and cost free redemption.

Mitt Romney; Republican party’ nominee, learned this lesson at high cost in 2012 US Presidential Elections when a journalist secretly recorded his less than tactful remarks about 47% Americans who do not pay taxes. He lost to Obama with a margin of 51-47% in popular vote account. Nowadays every word spoken, every conversation made and every pose taken is uploaded and gets viral in no time globally for the world to grill even rudely and brutally, leaving one reeling at the tail to explain albeit largely unsuccessfully. The prudence suggests in realm of real politick; say what is relevant, not which is relevant. Imran Khan has fast acquired knack and reputation of speaking even right thing at wrong time in full volume at greater length. Sometimes informally and closed door and sometimes publically in full glare of the media. Recent example is of continued exposition of his opposition to hoisting of Pakistan Super League’ Final at Lahore with no regard to popular wave to the contrary.

To a politician, often popular opinion is the key to pause or customize his line and length temporally or otherwise. He started his onslaught though with plausible reasons; holding of final match in a state of shut garrison will send opposite signal to world of cricket and God forbids, untoward incident if any despite heavy all around security ring, will foreclose the possibility of return of international cricket to Pakistan till another decade. Unmindfully he did not relent even in spite of split opinion within his own party until his indefensible informal chat, calling participating foreign players Phatecher and Relu Katta, hit the spot light and put him in an eye of political storm. It was absolutely disgusting from a politician of his political stature.

Similarly often he continues to harp upon his stance of dialogue with Taliban as a panacea to the menace of terrorism inside Pakistan particularly, at a time when nation gears up to go after them to get the train moving and crack sense in their head. Generally he looked to be oblivious of a Clausewitzian tenet that war is politics by other means and militarised pressure a bargaining tool. It certainly dilutes the national consensus. Admittedly, Imran Khan has no cut for a political leader at the yardstick of guile and brilliance. He also lacks the temperament and experience nevertheless, merger of circumstances and his unimpeachable credibility and perseverance has positioned him at political vertex. Possibly he is a Prime Minister in waiting. With no fear of contradiction and doubt, a large number of people consider him a lone hope for the country, fallen in a sinkhole with non-stop digging in sight. Irrespective of this, as head of a leading political party, he needs to adhere to imperatives of politics because at the least, he/ his political party is an asset for betterment of collective good. At times, keeping silence may be the right choice and remedy to get rid of an awkward situation or serve the national cause befittingly.

An astute politician does not get overwhelmed by the axiom “out of sight, out of mind”. He exactly know when to talk and what to talk because people tend to get tired of him if he talks too much and nothing new. He does not fear silence. People become curious about him if they do not see him talking. When he returns to talk, he may find more impressive audiences. Precisely this is the underlying theme of politics that message gets across to more number of audiences with greater impact. In return he may be able to influence event in question better to milk maximum advantage. In his book “In the Arena” former President of US, Richard Nixon writes that “surprise is always a sure fire political tactics. There can be no surprise without silence”. Sometime one’s rival political party raises the issue deliberately and kicks off too much dust to steal the limelight, gain a political mileage or divert public attention from an embarrassing situation. If he also jumps into fray, he would well serves their interests instead of his own. Some times, an adversary is seriously in need of talks because of his own compulsions but also resorts to dilatory tactics or posturing to add some chips to his bargaining position. A firm application of tool of silence with an impression of unyielding, may crack good sense in his head.

Imran Khan is still a novice in prickly game of politics. It may be better for him if he spends his time proportionately more on listening and learning the ropes of politics. For a politician like him, speaking spontaneously/unprepared is a poor option than keeping silence first if requirement is not immediate and pressing. It could keep his opponents guessing about his intention and the move while affording him time to craft his response more carefully. Owing to silence, opponents generally tend to underestimate their rivals which could turn out to be a damaging blunder. It also contains within itself an element of unpredictability. In the words of A. A Attanasio, The Eagle and the Sword “Silence is a text easy to misread”

Source: pakobserver.net/silence-is-also-a-virtue/

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Partnering with United States

By Dr Rizwan Naseer

April 1, 2017

REVIEW of surveys reveals that majority of the people in Pakistan do not like the United States and these people mostly have meagre or null contribution towards national cause. When it comes to asking questions, they hold US responsible for every actus reus in Pakistan. Whereas the history of Pakistan-US relations unfolds that both the countries enjoyed amicable relationship in the early phase of cold war and Pakistan became signatory of security pacts i.e. Southeast Asian Treat Organization (1954) and Central Treaty Organizations (formerly known Baghdad Pact,1955).

In the formation of SEATO US, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Philippines and Pakistan participated whereas in CENTO Great Britain, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan were the central actors. In cotemporary times, almost all of the previously mentioned countries are in strategic partnership with US except Pakistan and Iran. But pre-revolution (1979) Iran under Muhammad Reza Pahlavi was a close ally of US. Communist China was a hostile state with the US, but made rapprochement (1972) with the help of Pakistan which resulted in Shanghai Communiqué, paving the further way for improved China-US ties.

As the cold war was leaning towards end, nations had realized United States’ victory and made extensive efforts for establishing close ties with US. Another example of benefitting from United States’ prowess in the realm of military, technology and economy was the entry of former Soviet satellite states into North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary eventually became the members of NATO. Pakistan, despite signing security pacts in the early phase of cold war, offering Peshawar airbase for reconnaissance to US army(1956), later receiving tremendous economic and military aid and combating Soviet troops in Afghanistan(till 1989) could not become even a friendly state.

After imposition of US sanctions under Pressler Amendment (1990) bilateral relations between Islamabad and Washington drastically plummeted. Pakistan’s response to Indian nuclear tests in 1998 resulted in the suspension of aid under Glenn Amendment to both India and Pakistan. Tragic incident of 9/11 was an eye opener that such an attack could happen to any developed and nuclear states which could be more annihilating in its magnitude. Pakistan joined US in war against terrorism and that inconclusive war is still ongoing. Pakistan’s sacrifices are tremendously high in war against terrorism but that ominous war is still causing losses.

Another opportunity of strategic partnership with United States was proper availing of Non-NATO ally status. George W Bush included Pakistan into limited non-NATO list ally but debates among political pundits and at media started that Pakistan may lose sovereignty in its domestic and foreign policy. Right wing political parties in Pakistan instigate anti-American sentiments among masses that US provides unrelenting support to Israel but they don’t talk about the similar status (non-NATO ally) was awarded to Pakistan too and it lapsed as a lost opportunity for a country that badly needed economic and military aid for combating terrorism at home. Social scientist in Pakistan trace roots of governance failure in civil institutions and also proffer recommendations that if civil institutions are strengthened in Pakistan, its governance may deliver to commoner. Kerry-Lugar Bill also known as ‘Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009’ authorized $1.5 billion per year as non-military aid from 2010-2014 could prove a major leap in improving capacity of civil institutions in Pakistan. Such measures could certainly impact civil-military ties to strengthen democracy in Pakistan. But Pakistani media and parliamentarian alike started debates and termed this bill a conspiracy to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty.

For driving Pakistan out of contemporary internal and external crisis, partnership with United States Pakistan-US strategic partnership has the potential to make Pakistan a prosperous democracy where people live a better life without perils of terrorism. It also provides opportunity to work with regional states like Afghanistan, India and Iran.

Source pakobserver.net/partnering-with-united-states/

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Dutch Polls: A Litmus Test of Europe’s Populism?

By Sajjad Ahmad

April 1, 2017

The Dutch election of March 2017 was seen as a ‘litmus test’ in mainstream media for far-right populism. The main contest was between Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy VVD and Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party, PVV. Though PVV was defeated, the voting results and the widely expressed sentiments in the wake of the election outcome merit scrutiny.

Wilders’ PVV party is considered fiercely anti-EU (Eurosceptic) and anti-Islam. The opinion polls before the election predicted that most of the seats would go to the PVV. Wilders’ anti-EU and anti-Islam rhetoric — pledging for ‘de-Islamisation of the Netherlands”, ceasing immigration from Muslim countries, banning the Holy Quran and ordering a shut-down of all mosques — had a wide appeal in the Netherlands. He had also manifested his inclination for a ‘Nexit’ — a Netherlands version of Brexit — that appears to have led to his eventual election loss. The high turnout of 80.2% is believed to be one of the reasons behind the victories of pro-EU and liberal parties.

European leaders were swift to express their relief over the election results. German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed that “I was very glad, and I think many people are, that a high turnout led to a very pro-European result.” French President Francois Hollande, whose country bore most of the brunt for a recent wave of violence, termed the result a “clear victory against extremism”. Hailing the Dutch people, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that they voted for “free and tolerant societies in a prosperous Europe”.

While the VVD won most of the seats — 33 in a 150-member parliament — it is eight seats below its record in the 2012 elections. PVV was restricted to 20 seats but gained five more seats than the previous polls. Wilders expressed that he had higher hopes, and pledged that “this patriotic spring will happen”. The anger and insecurity of the electorate, as is the case in many countries, helped Wilders to bag votes. On the other hand, the diplomatic row between Amsterdam and Ankara, just before the polls, might have worked in favour of Rutte. According to Andre Krouwel, a political scientist at the Amsterdam Free University, Rutte’s stance against Ankara gave off a message to the electorate that he would defend the interests of the Netherlands against foreign pressure.

Far-right populism is clearly on the rise in Europe. Among the reasons behind this phenomenon are considered to be the ongoing refugee crisis and the recent wave of violence and terrorism in a few western European states such as Germany, Belgium and France — although the Netherlands has not experienced such violent incidents so far. On the other hand, the refugee crisis has brought many challenges to the EU member states and rose to become a widely divisive issue in terms of policymaking. Furthermore, as a result, right-wing parties found new political space and their anti-immigrant propaganda proved to be a popular alternative within European countries.

Meanwhile, the Dutch people seem to have defeated this wave of far-right populism, at least in the recent election. However, the threat still looms in other EU member states. The impact of the far-right populism is yet to be tested during the upcoming elections in two major EU states, France and Germany. In a crucial contest, France is going to polls in April 2017. The National Front, a far-right and anti-immigration party, is believed to be a tough contestant. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, has gained popularity by expressing anti-Islamic sentiments, especially in the wake of the Nice attack of July 2016, which she promptly blamed on ‘Islamist fundamentalists’. Similarly, the German right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is expected to make inroads in the German Parliament for the first time. The AfD has censured Chancellor Merkel for her open-door policy towards refugees and has increased its following over the years. The general elections of Germany are scheduled in September 2017.

The voting trend in the upcoming elections of these two EU founding member states would be critical in determining the future course of European right-wing parties. As the defeated Dutch Labour leader, Lodewijk Asscher, said, “populism is not over” and the victorious Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, perhaps rightly termed the Dutch poll, ahead of the German and French election, as a “quarter-final” against populism.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1370937/dutch-polls-litmus-test-europes-populism/

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Tackling Two-Front Conflict Situation

By M Ziauddin

April 1, 2017

Both New Delhi and Kabul have seemingly become willing promoters and protectors of US interests in the region presumably in return for Washington’s willingness to provide the two with the required defensive military/diplomatic cover against their respective self-perceived enemies — Pakistan in the case of Afghanistan and China as well as Pakistan in the case of India.

That is perhaps why Pakistan feels it is currently facing a two-front conflict situation attention to which was drawn the other day by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Lt General Nasser Janjua.

The question is, whether closing of the Afghan border in anger is the right way to go about protecting and promoting our own national interests in the region or as the NSA has suggested by mending ties with Afghanistan because as he said our future is connected with that country?

The answer is clearly by mending ties with Afghanistan which would enable us not only to end the two-front conflict situation but also help us translate into reality our vision of becoming as the NSA said ‘a massive trade corridor.’

But the idea that we could become a massive trading corridor with three trade corridors running through the length of Pakistan from its northern end bordering China to its southern end in Gwadar seaport in Balochistan (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) while no trading activity is taking place across the country’s breadth running from our north-western end bordering Afghanistan as well as the western end bordering Iran to its eastern end bordering India sounds more like a non-starter. At best, CPEC in its present design would end up becoming a conduit for the passage of Chinese exports from its land-locked western part to the world markets and imports from these markets to China with Pakistan perhaps earning nothing more than a hefty toll tax along with perhaps the Chinese-funded physical infrastructure and power stations established to keep the three corridors and the link roads, rail-roads and the pipelines well-oiled and in ship-shape.

But for decades Pakistan has been aspiring to become a busy global trading hub not just a trade corridor for China alone. For realising this aspiration Islamabad will have to create on its own conditions conducive to trading to take place not only from Casablanca in Morocco (Maghreb), Africa, to Urumqi in western China via Pakistan but also from Central Asia, via Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to Myanmar and beyond in East Asia.

Both India and Afghanistan, in part justifiably, but largely because of the instigation from the US which it is doing in its own global and regional interests, especially to contain China, blame Pakistan for their respective terror woes and therefore seem bent upon squeezing Pakistan from two sides, creating for it a two-front conflict situation. The two military campaigns against terrorism mounted by the Pakistan Army, the Zarb-e-Azb in 2014 and the Radd-ul-Fasaad early this year have almost broken the back of terrorism. This issue is not likely to remain a matter of conflict in the region for long.

Meanwhile, Islamabad on its part could take a couple of initiatives like offering Afghanistan and India a trade corridor through Pakistan for New Delhi to reach Central Asia and for Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach India and beyond.

Also, Pakistan could offer to set up a free trade zone for Afghanistan in place of the current free terror zone which straddles the Durand Line, thus rendering this line irrelevant for all practical purposes fulfilling one of the ardent wishes of the Afghans who don’t recognise the internationally recognised border.

Also, India and Afghanistan know that today they are not living in a unipolar world but a multipolar one. And no matter how close they are to the US, they would be extra careful not to be perceived as its servile camp followers. Moreover, the two know that it is geo-economics rather than geo-politics that is currently guiding the policies of most of the countries. With Pakistan adopting the right policies at the right time and in keeping with its own national socio-economic interests perhaps the right kind of environment would be created for New Delhi and Afghanistan to see the futility of pursuing Pakistan-hostile policies notwithstanding the deceitful promptings from a waning superpower.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1370929/tackling-two-front-conflict-situation/

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Get over Jinnah’s Pakistan

By Hussain Nadim

April 1, 2017

In recent years, ever since Pakistan has taken a downward spiral, the idea that we somehow have detracted from Jinnah’s Pakistan has started making waves in the public and academic discourse. Every few months, a new op-ed pops up with ‘groundbreaking’ evidence unfolding what type of Pakistan Jinnah actually envisioned. Such articles typically unleash a furious debate between those that see Jinnah’s Pakistan to be secular and those that see it as an Islamic Republic.

Without taking any sides whether Jinnah was an Islamist or a secular person or wanted an Islamic or secular state, I believe both sides of the aisle can present reasonably authentic evidence to support their claims on what Jinnah viewed Pakistan as. The secular minded and liberals in Pakistan quote the constituent assembly speech where Jinnah clearly talked about the separation of religion from state affairs. The Islamists, on the other hand, like to quote Jinnah’s pre-partition speeches where his entire vision was to create a homeland for the Muslims of India because they were different in blood, culture, ethics, etc., from the Hindus. They argue that if Pakistan is for Muslims then why it should not be an Islamic state where the laws of Islam should prevail.

Like almost every other issue in Pakistan, we are fighting over the abstractness of Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan, something that probably even he was not too sure about. Truth be told, Jinnah was no Thomas Jefferson and unlike the American Founding Fathers who wrote and documented extensively their vision on how they would like to see the United States, Jinnah never probably had a vision beyond getting a Muslim homeland. The fact that in an age of writing and publishing, Jinnah left behind nothing but a few contradictory speeches is startling.

Should we not then spare the debate on Jinnah’s Pakistan that is polarising society, and instead just agree on something more general such as: Jinnah only wanted a prosperous Pakistan, and take it forward from there to make our own road map towards creating a Pakistan that the majority of us can agree upon?

The debate on Jinnah’s Pakistan is not only redundant but has gotten into a dense framework of complexities, largely because both sides fail to understand the ‘political and contextual angle’ of Jinnah’s speeches, that we have actually lost the purpose of what exactly we need to take out from the debate on Jinnah’s vision. Having any further dialogue and debate on such a topic is unlikely to get us anywhere. And if we are not getting anywhere on this topic, better would be to abandon it completely and not carve disunity of ideas and integrity issues.

How Pakistan should be today has nothing and should be nothing to do with what Jinnah wanted and why he wanted. First, it was not ‘only’ Jinnah who made Pakistan; it was the effort of each and every one who suffered during that period to make this country. Hence, the people who are equally responsible for making Pakistan, it is up to them and their generations to decide what and how exactly they want to see this country. Second, the world and technology around us has changed, and it’s important to live by realities of today, instead of the fantasies of yesterday.

Hence, there should be a little less stress on ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’, because honestly, there is none; and scratching out Jinnah’s vision forcefully has only served the political interests of a few, confused the people and obfuscated the roadway to progress.

It is really about time we stopped arguing over what Jinnah wanted, or what perhaps Iqbal wanted, or whether they were secular or not. What is more important is what we want today, and how we want to achieve that. There is a desperate need to change the debate in our curriculum, media and households. We need to start asking the right questions to reach the right answers. To begin with, let us ask what we want today instead of what Jinnah wanted in 1947.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1370821/get-jinnahs-pakistan/

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Ban the Ban

By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

 01-Apr-17

I have spent most of my working life conducting capacity building sessions as the jargon goes.  What am I building, whose capacity is all in haze? I just know that I get to travel across Pakistan, exchange numbers with random people who then send me 'Juma Mubarak'messages.

This cycle of living happily ever after was broken last weekend.  It started off as a mundane activity.  Leadership course for new leaders read the banner.  Yawn! I tried to muster up energy, thought of fun activities to get the young people to do while keeping my eye on the clock. For God forbid, if I were to go a single second more than the client was paying me for.

I was in for a surprise. The audience consisted of 30 young men and women belonging to different political parties of Karachi.  I gulped as they, in their introductions, cited various political parties. This won't go well, I thought with the MQM and Pak Sarzameen Party in one room discussing new techniques of political leadership.

I was wrong. What a roller coaster fun ride it was. The discussion among the people taught me more about political leadership, pragmatism and co-existence than I could ever imagine.  The beauty was that all of them disagreed with each other and cracked jokes but we managed to learn more from each other than I could ever imagine.

I understand now why youth politics is regarded as a nursery of future leaders.Probably because of the highly charged political climate of the city and the fact these parties have invested a lot in training their youth wings.  Given the spirit of competition, other parties in the province had also invested much in their youth when compared to other parts of the country.

The demon of the Zia regime still haunts us in many ways through extremism and regressive legislations. The rotten cherry of this bad cake is the ban on student unions. The previous federal regime did try to overturn but remained unsuccessful.

When it comes to political training, Punjab University Lahore is one of the worst. Students representing Pashtuns and the Islami Jamhuri Taleba (IJT), the Jamaat e Islami's student wing, clashed with each other that resulted in several people being injured.IJT has been active in the various public universities across the country since Pakistan's inception. Although student politics is formally banned, yet the IJT holds much clout. If I am not wrong, it receives support from the campus administration for carrying out its agenda.

A similar clash was also reported from Gomal University in Dera Ismail Khan. However, this time the opposite happened, as it was the Pashtun group which attacked an IJT event.

My intention behind describing these two events is to prove that student politics hasn't returned.

Back in the days when student politics was widespread, youth were considered as a force to be reckoned with. More importantly, student unions provided a balancing act in politics. There were several leftist student unions such as the National Students Federation (NSF), Democratic Students Federation (DSF), and Muslims Students Federation (MSF). They not only groomed the future political class of the country but also balanced the impact created by the right-wing student unions like the IJT.

Student unions provide a once in a life time opportunity to new entrants in universities to learn about the basics of politics, which is quite important for grooming. It promotes a healthy competition among students and allows them to compete each other without resorting to violence. Banning these unions resulted in more violence at campuses.

The lack of good governance today is not just the result of corrupt politicians but a lack of political education as well. Student unions train students in the process of good governance and administration at micro levels, which they can later practice once they enter professional lives. The overall modern political landscape clearly indicates that there is a dearth of political training.

It is good to witness democracy flourish in the country again. However, the real impact would only be visible if student unions get restored.

What I witnessed in Karachi was the result of political grooming and training. Just imagine if these students had a chance to be formally part of recognised student unions.

Source dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/01-Apr-17/ban-the-ban

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Will Panama Wreck Pakistan’s Democracy?

By Dr Aamir Khan

 01-Apr-17

The answer to the above question obviously depends on what the Panama verdict will be. However, if the verdict is seen as highly critical of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and if the PTI milks it fully, the chances are that Pakistan's economic growth, political stability and fragile democracy will be tested, arrested and wrecked. And the sad thing is that Pakistan's eminent opinion makers, riding the populist bandwagon, are egging the Supreme Court to "just do it".

But first refer to the comment "Panama, the Supreme Court and the Future of Pakistan", recently published by the Daily Times. As is wont in Pakistan, readers locked into positions based on their pre-existing notions of what they want from the Supreme Court. Some liked it. Others took umbrage at it, querying me if I was arguing for a) the military to rule for 100 years b) PML-N to rule for 100 years c) the courts to allow culprits to go scot-free. A relative asked me if I wanted Nawaz Sharif to live for another 100 years. I had to clarify that I was a writer, not a magician.

Just to be clear, the article pointed out that Pakistan needs to put an end to the continual alternation between very divergent governance mechanisms. It gave examples of the USA, Saudi Arabia and China, three very different governing mechanisms but all embedding long-term stakes of governing elites in their countries. It contended that Pakistan needs a long-term owner of the political process - this meant all existing or future political parties as a whole.

The article concluded that punishing Nawaz Sharif will not put an end to corruption. This comment drew the ire of some readers. To illustrate this point, consider Afghanistan. Thousands of articles have been published on Afghanistan since Karzai was catapulted to the presidential pedestal by the Americans. Many analysts have argued that the Karzai regime has been one of the most corrupt in Afghan history. Unfortunately, none has argued that if you chase out the incumbent regime and replace it with a carpet-bagger, the only way the latter can run a country like Afghanistan is by buying off venal competitors, trouble-makers and black-mailers. Karzai was duly provided with unlimited funds to accomplish this. The corruption that ensued was structural.

Consider the last six decades of Pakistan. If the "rule of the game" is that every ten years there must be a major intervention by the Establishment, the governing political elites will take this into account, change their behaviour accordingly and pre-plan for this event. Punishing them, without changing the alternation of governance structures, will not dampen corruption. It will actually enhance it. The only way you can abate corruption is if you create long-term stakes through a governing mechanism that can self-improve over time by honing its processes, skills and reflexes. There is no shortcut.

Panama's verdict will be announced soon. And almost every well-known columnist is egging the Supreme Court to punish Nawaz Sharif, as if the esteemed columnist were the prosecutor, witness and judge.  For instance the problem with Ayaz Amir, whose flexible erudition is as scintillating as it is inspiring, with Rauf Klasra, and with so many other opinion-influencers is that they a) assume Nawaz Sharif is guilty - an assumption which makes a mockery of the Supreme Court, b) fail to learn from Pakistan's history, polity and current international scenario and c) in particular, do not understand fully the full-blown power of structure.

To understand structure, I propose we revisit Nawaz Sharif's coming to power: General Zia needed civilians to legitimize his rule. How else? How did Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto come to power? General Ayub needed civilians to legitimize his rule. How else? In fact, if you look at all three Martial Law's, you will find all initially claimed to lessen corruption but eventually were forced to co-opt and even nurture civilian sub-contractors. Of course General Ayub lost us East Pakistan and General Zia cost us our religious tolerance. But that is the price you pay for not appreciating the power of governance structures.

I suggest that the only way we can lessen corruption, gain political stability, provide economic growth to lift hundreds of millions of Pakistanis out of poverty, plan against the twin ticking bombs of population explosion and environmental damage, and prevent future food and water shortage, is by deciding once and for all that one governance mechanism is better than the other. And sticking to that. We need a long-term owner of the house. Renting a place implies no stakes.

The twin chimeras of Panama solving our problems overnight and of the third umpire settling post-Panama chaos - and then pharisaically rallying against the same umpire once the latter becomes captain of the team - must win a gold medal for our intellectuals for being steadfast in fickleness.

Dr.  Aamir Khan was educated at Oxford, INSEAD, CEIBS and Cranfield. He has worked as a Pakistani diplomat. He writes for the Daily Times.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/01-Apr-17/will-panama-wreck-pakistans-democracy

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/a-lesson-to-learn-from-london--new-age-islam-s-selection,-01-april-2017/d/110606




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