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Pakistan Press (02 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Literature in Times of Terror: New Age Islam's Selection, 02 March 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

02 March 2017

 

Literature in Times of Terror

By I.A. Rehman

Stereo-Typing Pashtoons

By Imtiaz Gul

Racial Discrimination in UK

By Kuldip Nayar

What Needs To Be Done In Fata

By Dr Raza Khan

Hard Versus Soft Power

By Daud Khattak

Defining Jihadists

By Owen Bennet-Jones

One Year Ago!

By Shahbaz Taseer

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Literature in Times of Terror

By I.A. Rehman

02 March 2017

THIS year’s Lahore Literary Festival survived due to the organisers’ extraordinary resolve to hold it and the healthy response from a sizeable number of intrepid lovers of literature. But it was touch and go till the last moment, and has left quite a few serious questions in the minds of the people.

The fare at the truncated festival was extremely rich and covered a wide area of creative writing, the contemporary arts, and issues in debate in literature, politics and media. It was also possible to find time to honour Pakistan’s two legendary heroes, Abdus Sattar Edhi, who died last year, and Dr Adib Rizvi. The proceedings have been covered fairly well in the media, and it is not necessary to add to complimentary notices.

A heavy price had to be paid for cutting down the festival’s duration from three days to one. This meant, among other things, that indigenous literature and writers, already poorly represented at such events, were almost completely squeezed out of the programme, making the festival more of a rich elite’s pastime than it should be or is intended by the organisers to be. A considerable number of people did sit through the various sessions, but a larger number stayed away out of fear of a terrorist strike.

The worst sufferers were children who constitute a significant part of the festival clientele. The grown-ups have various reasons for pursuing their love of letters, the most important being the desire to stay abreast of trends in world literature. For children, introduction to literature marks the beginning of their quest for knowledge beyond the narrow confines of school/college curricula, and the first steps towards developing a sound reading habit.

Were all the losses caused by the enforced curtailment of the LLF really unavoidable?

Another large group of people who lost the opportunity to benefit from the festival were the book lovers belonging to the many towns in Punjab who can afford to travel to Lahore.

In the same category were members of the diplomatic corps who found it convenient in the past to drive down from Islamabad, see a bit of Pakistan, and contribute something to the city’s revenue.

Were all these losses caused by the enforced curtailment of the festival really unavoidable?

The LLF organisers have no complaint against the Punjab government and indeed appear overly keen to express their gratitude to them. However, there is a widespread impression that the promotion of literature and the arts does not fit in with the government’s development-security syndrome. There should be some way of convincing the authorities that literature and the arts are as vital to society’s survival as healthy lungs are to the human body. They are much needed in peacetime and doubly so in periods of conflict as they are the best antidote to anxiety and distress caused by wars and terrorism.

Besides, all forward-looking nations value the contribution that writers, poets and artists can make to defeating the demons of violence. The British initiatives in this field during the Second World War raised the documentary film to unprecedented glory. The films Frank Capra made to support the US war effort are recognised as classics to this day. Whatever one may think of the 1965 war, the defence forces cannot forget the contribution made to their fighting morale by poets from Jamiluddin Aali to Sufi Tabassum and melody-makers from Shahnaz (of Dhaka) to Noorjahan.

Thus, the state will gain a lot by encouraging cultural activities, especially those related to literature and the arts, as part of the war against terrorism, and thus keep the people’s thought processes alive and uncluttered by fear or defeatism.

Nobody denies the seriousness of the terrorist threat that the state and the people face, but the situation has been aggravated by two flaws in the official response. The first is a tendency on the part of the state to abdicate its duty to protect the people, their normal activities, and their culture and heritage, and tell everybody to fend for himself. To some extent, the concept of a shared or joint responsibility is valid, but the state must do its bit to protect all categories of citizens and their legitimate endeavours. The government is already earning a bad name by looking after only ministers and their favourites.

The second and more serious issue is the tendency to close down institutions or abandon normal work on the grounds that security cannot be guaranteed. How many universities, cinema houses, gatherings called by the Academy of Letters, book fairs held in Lahore and Karachi or horse races will be closed down because the state does not have the means or the will to provide security? This policy amounts to playing into the hands of the terrorists. Disruption of normal life and creation of a climate of fear are rewards the terrorists cherish the most. The merit of Nacta’s advice against publicising security threats is obvious.

While all precautions should be taken to save lives and bravado must be fully eschewed, one must not forget the dictum that sometimes it is necessary to die for saving life. There is much to be learnt not only from Sheema Kermani’s answer to Shahbaz Qalandar’s call but also from the faqirs in his service who lost no time before heralding the shrine’s return to the ways of love.

Tailpiece: Many people in Lahore appear to have been shocked at what two Chinese scholars said about CPEC and the Kashmir issue at an international conference, ‘Kashmir in Focus: Avoiding Conflict and Quest for Peace’, recently held at the Punjab University. The Chinese speakers apparently surprised the audience by saying that the benefits of CPEC should be available to India too. Secondly, they advised the states in the region to strengthen economic cooperation between themselves after putting their disputes on the back burner — a clear warning that China’s policies should be understood in terms of its own leaders’ observations and not through their Pakistani translators.

Source: dawn.com/news/1317785/literature-in-times-of-terror

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Stereo-Typing Pashtoons

By Imtiaz Gul

March 1, 2017

The writer heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and is author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbut Tahrir’s Global Caliphate

The writer heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and is author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbut Tahrir’s Global Caliphate

As a Pashtoon teenager, I grew up in Punjab with some of the most demeaning cliches of Pashtoons; smugglers, money-lenders at exorbitant rates of interest, child and car-lifters were some of the most disparaging stereotypes associated with Pashtoons. Now, little past mid-50s, officials in Punjab stunned me by telling me that terrorism flows only from the lands that are inhabited by Pashtoons in the northwest of Pakistan next to Afghanistan.

Ironically, Punjab tops all other Pakistani territories in terms of religious/extremist/outlawed groups density; as many as 107 of the 240 or so socio-politically lethal groups are headquartered in the province, with 71 in Lahore and around alone, including the one that is an eye-sore for Indians. Only about 21 religious parties/groups subscribe to the present political system, though most of them are primarily one-man parties.

Out of this, 148 are sectarian outfits while 24 are jihadi organisations, while 12 outfits claim to work for revival of Islamic Khilafat as their objective. General Zia laid the foundations of this elaborate network of politico-religious and sectarian groups in order to promote the jihadist narratives in support of the movements in Kashmir and Afghanistan. He, on the other hand, also saw them as the essential tool for self-preservation in the face of a liberal Pakistan People’s Party and the Pashtoon nationalist Awami National Party (ANP).

With state sponsorship Jhang emerged as the hub of sectarian extremism, where Haq Nawaz Jhangvi founded the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, followed by many others.

Those branding Pashtoons must remember; Osama bin Laden or Dr Al-Zawahiri or Abu Bakr Baghdadi are not Pashtoons. Nor are their Pakistani followers such as Hafiz Saeed, Mulana Aziz, Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, Malik Ishaq , Maulana Masood Azhar, Farooq Kashmiri, Maulana Fazlurrehman Khalil inter alia. Nor did General Hameed Gul, the globally known political mentor of these believers in the global jihad, had anything to do with Pashtoons. Groups such as ETIM, IMU, Daesh, Chechen Rebels — all of them currently hiding in Afghanistan or the Pak-Afghan border regions — are also not Pashtoons either.

Yes, of course these jihadists inspired, persuaded and baited many Pashtoons into the jihadi networks, particularly those 20 or so outfits operating in Afghanistan in collusion with the Afghan Taliban. And over the years, they have all assumed the same fatigue and appearance. So, why did some police officials equate a certain appearance with Pashtoons and thus linked it to terrorism? This situation requires top political leaders to unequivocally condemn “stereotyping” of an entire ethnic group. The HRCP has rightly emphasised the need for corrective measures to be introduced for officials at the training and execution stages in order to prevent recurrence of ‘racial profiling’. It also demanded “safeguards to protect individuals from harassment or being treated as suspects because of the their appearance or facial features. Police and intelligence officials in particular must be taken to task if they imply that terrorism and extremism only flows from K-P and Fata. The most rabid sectarian terrorist organisations are indeed headquartered in a number of areas of the country. Externalising sources of terrorism by dumping it on a particular ethnic group is scandalous as well as detrimental to the slogan of Pakistanhood. It also seriously jeopardises the constitutional guarantees for equality of citizens and preservation of their dignity.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1341949/stereo-typing-pashtoons/

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Racial Discrimination in UK

By Kuldip Nayar

March 1, 2017

IT’s sheer racialism. Four British nationals of Pakistan origin committed a crime of sexual exploitation and were sentenced to imprisonment. But the judge McClosky, in his own wisdom, said that after serving the sentence they should be sent back to country of their origin. I wonder if this would have happened to a white man, especially to Europeans. The judge without demur said in his verdict that the convicts’ nationality should be stripped. The ruling by an immigration tribunal subsequently also cleared the way for the Pakistanis to be removed from Britain. They had acquired British citizenship by naturalisation.

According to daily Dawn, they were among nine men of Pakistani and Afghan descent convicted of luring girls as young as 13 into sexual encounters using alcohol and drugs. They were based in Rochdale, in northern England. Five of the dual nationals deprived of their citizenship were British Pakistanis, while two were of dual British and Sudanese nationality. The remaining six were Australian, Iraqi, Russian, Egyptian and Lebanese dual nationals. To this date 10 of the orders have been appealed against. Among the four facing deportation is ringleader Shabir Ahmed, sentenced in 2012 to 22 years in jail. The other three are Adil Khan, Qari Abdul Rauf and Abdul Aziz. Ahmed, who was convicted of rape as well as other charges, remains in custody, while the other three men have been released on licence. Khan, Rauf and Aziz were convicted on conspiracy and trafficking for sexual exploitation charges. Aziz was not convicted of having sexual intercourse with any child.

The judge at the hearing in the upper tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber described their crimes as “shocking, brutal and repulsive”. His decision rejected claims concerning human rights laws and a complaint of “disproportionate interference” with their rights. The case centres on a decision by Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was home secretary, to take away the men’s citizenship “for the public good”. The number of people subject to the power, under which the Home Secretary can deprive dual nationals of their British citizenship if it is deemed to be in the public interest, has increased since coalition govt came to power. The measure was included in 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act as a direct result of the July 2005 bombings in which 52 people died and more than 700 were injured. It was used only four times in the following four years, but has been used nine times since last year’s general election.

The five victims of the gang who gave evidence in the 2012 trial were all white, and spoke of being raped, assaulted and traded for sex, being passed from man to man, and sometimes being too drunk to stop the abuses. The men, ranging in age from 22 to 59, used various defences, including claiming the girls were prostitutes. One British MP had demanded that the four men who appeared at the tribunal should be deported “as soon as possible” saying “foreign-born criminals should not be able to hide behind human rights laws to avoid deportation.” This is somewhat similar to what President Donald Trump did soon after taking over. By an executive order, he temporarily blocked people from some Muslim-majority countries from entering the US on visas. This included Green card holders who have right to visit the US without having earned the nationality.

Like in the UK case, Trump’s order did say that his order was to protect the American people from the threat of terrorism or criminal activities. But it doesn’t necessarily do that. Instead, it points to the new president’s serious thinking about putting the Islamophobia that was a central part of his campaign into practice. But Hillary Clinton who challenged him in the Presidential election has replied that they would defend the constitution of America. It does not debar anybody because America itself is a country of immigrants. The very discussion on stripping nationality of a country’s citizen is ominous. By declaring anybody anti-national you can send him back to the country he once belonged. This will be very harsh on journalists and authors. They utilize the freedom of expression to run down their own country or politicians.

This is happening in India itself. Take the case of an online editor of a publication is facing the wrath of the Election Commission after the newspaper published the exit poll results after the first phase of election in UP. As many as 15 FIRs have been filed against the publication. Some time ago, even the owner of a national channel was arraigned by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry when he refused to tender an apology for what channel had broadcast.

Some time ago, the ministry also defended the censorship. The minister explained that government had only one channel while the private sector had several. Therefore, the ministry had every right to use the official channel to put across the government point of view. I wish that this prerogative is used to describe the plight of dalits or the minorities. But since the upper casts dominate the media, there is hardly any mention of the atrocities committed against the marginalized.

When it comes to India, at least there is no racialism. The attackers on Parliament House and on Mumbai were tried by various courts and eventually sentenced. The convicts were Muslims. The emphasis on religion is itself bad. Saudi Arabia which is a Muslim country prefers Muslims to be in their midst. It is another story that they prefer Indian Muslims to Pakistani Muslims. Even the policeman there lets go the Muslims from India for any traffic violation while the Pakistanis are singled out for punishment. The UK government will be blamed for racial discrimination if the order of the judge to send the convicts to their country of origin. Yet it must be admitted that racial discrimination is increasingly taking the centre of stage in the UK.

Source: pakobserver.net/racial-discrimination-in-uk/

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What Needs To Be Done In FATA

By Dr Raza Khan

March 2, 2017

Currently a debate is raging in the country’s policy circles regarding the political, constitutional and administrative future of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Mainly there are two streams of opinion. The one is to merge Fata with the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The second is to make Fata either a separate province or a full-fledged self-governing administrative unit. The federal government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after a special committee’s recommendation has decided to gradually merge Fata with K-P. The decision is strongly supported by major political parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PPP, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Pakhtun ethno-nationalist, Awami National Party (ANP). These parties sans, the PTI does not have a single member from Fata. Their support for merger is only politically motivated believing that the merger would increase their respective political constituency.

However, on the other hand, the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), which has bagged the highest number of parliamentary seats and votes from Fata in the last three national elections, is vehemently against the merger. The country’s establishment is also of the opinion that the merger of the two regions must be avoided. Resultantly, the federal government has for the moment rightly put on hold giving a go-ahead to the merger. All these stakeholders fail to understand or do not want to comprehend the real issue of Fata. Merger of the region with K-P won’t solve the problem rather would give rise to more complex conflict(s). The issue(s) of Fata must be looked in its relative context and in isolation if a lasting solution is required.

The continued existence of the tribal structure in Fata despite of its dysfunctional nature, incompatibility of its values and processes with the zeitgeist and its manipulation and hijacking in recent years by national and foreign religious radical and terrorist outfits is largely responsible for unprecedented extremist-terrorist upsurge in the country. Therefore, this structure needs to be dismantled and diluted in order to mainstream and develop Fata. Obviously this cannot be done at once but right direction needs to be set. This should have been done decades back. Still despite we are too late there is no other way forward but to attenuate and ultimately dismantle the tribal social structure in Fata. The foremost measure in this regard is to have such physical and social structures in place in Fata that could effectively lead the process of social change there. These physical and social structures could take root and thrive only in a conducive environment. As per the prescription of the extremely influential ‘modernisation theory,’ if a country or region has to develop it has to adopt modern values, behaviours, technology and institutions/systems. Same is the recipe of development and mainstreaming for Fata.

Fata and its residents are faced with such a complex situation that both cannot adopt modern values, behaviours, technology and institutions themselves. These have to be introduced by outside agencies, primarily the state. To change the social complexion and structure of Fata one important measure is establishment of some sizable cities there. Hitherto there are no cities in tribal areas, which is the underlying cause of their extreme underdevelopment. The foundations of these proposed cities in tribal areas obviously could not be laid immediately on industries due to location problems and total non-existence of industries there. But these cities could be made fully functional and economically viable through the services sector like education, transport, construction, telecommunication and media. The growth of services sector instead of industries could save the crucial time available for developing Fata. The gradual development of these sectors would make the cities self-sustaining. The newly established mega towns would definitely draw educated, skilful people from not only Fata but also from outside thus would evolve a work and need-based professional environment. As such social milieu is always impersonal and individualistic in orientation it directly clashes with the highly personalised and collective tribal social structure.

So-called liberal education institutions have been present in different tribal distinct of Pakistan but they have hitherto played insignificant role in transforming the tribal society. Naturally schools operating within tribal structure and run by teachers, themselves socialised in tribal mores, could not be expected to effect a social change and development. Thus education was not at all given a chance to reform the tribal society rather the funds allocated in the name of education have always been used by the tribal maliks to reinforce the tribal structure. Therefore, only within the proposed new cities in Fata one can expect to have any educational institutions worth their name which could in essence educate the tribesmen.

The institution of modern politics could only develop within the ambit of conducive, tolerant social and physical structures. Modern politics is a great vehicle of change and instrument of democratisation. Tribal structures are totally incompatible with modern politics. Therefore, proposed cities in Fata could provide the platform for political players and political parties to organise their activities. Only through politicisation the power-political vacuum in tribal areas could be efficiently filled by genuine players.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1343277/needs-done-fata/

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Hard Versus Soft Power

By Daud Khattak

March 2, 2017

Advising the princes in Italy on how to stay in power and rein in the masses, Niccolo Machiavelli says “it is more important to be feared than to be loved.” Putting Machiavelli’s four centuries old adage in modern context, the word ‘fear’ symbolises ‘hard power’ with all the modern and sophisticated instruments of human destruction, while ‘love’ represents persuasion through attraction.

Professor Joseph S Nye, Jr, who coined the term ‘soft power’, defines “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments.” The acclaimed professor further states that “seduction is always more effective than coercion, and many values like democracy, human rights, and individual opportunities are deeply seductive.” Since taking the role of front-line state in the US-led war against terrorism, successive governments, both military and civilians, relied on hard power without considering concrete strategies to eliminate the root causes of terrorism employing the state’s soft power.

Radd-ul-Fasaad that roughly means ‘elimination of discord’ is the latest in a series of military operations to eliminate Taliban and their affiliates. The only difference now and then is that Radd-ul-Fasaad staging ground is the mainland Punjab. Previously, it was Fata and Swat from Operation Rah-e-Haq (2007) to Operation Zarb-e-Azb (2014).

Going by official statements and media reports, the state security agencies have killed thousands of Taliban from Swat to Waziristan over the past decade and a half. Each military operation proved to be more lethal and fierce than the one preceding it, but Taliban continue to hold ground.

Zarb-e-Azb, verily the mother of all previous actions, said to have broken the back of the militants and majority of Pakistanis come to believe that the days of violent extremists are over. But the string of recent bomb blasts and suicide attacks from Lahore to Sehwan and Quetta to Peshawar ascertain the Taliban and their affiliates are still capable of staging a comeback. That means the use of hard power alone is not going to furnish the desired outcome. Taking the tribal areas as a case study, one can easily find out the flaws in national approach and strategies to address the issue of extremism and militancy in Fata once and for all.

Chasing and killing the militants without employing long term strategies to address what is at the heart of the problem is like cutting branches of a tree without hitting at its roots. The Taliban leadership will be getting a steady stream of recruits and sympathisers as long as the state institutions continue to brush the real issues under the carpet for reasons of political expediencies, ulterior motives or the so-called national interests.

For decades, Fata has been used as a strategic space providing Lashkars, commanders and fighters for adventurist jihadists, instead of producing doctors, engineers, scientists and professors like rest of parts of the country. From the very beginning, the state institutions supposed to be responsible for their progress and prosperity, never gave serious consideration to bring the tribals out of their poverty, backward and illiteracy. Why would they need to sell dry fruit and household items in as far away districts as Mandi Bahauddin and Gujrat of Punjab had there been enough employment opportunities in their own areas. Jobs, better education opportunities, flow of information, infrastructure development, health facilities besides democracy and human rights are the seductive elements of soft power. Imagine how many of those and in what capacity are available in Fata? Had there been indigenous media and free flow of information, Taliban would not be able to influence the minds of Fata youth as easily as they did. Many others joined the Taliban as foot soldiers for socio-economic prospects.

The political agents are still arresting people under the collective responsibility clause of the colonial-era Frontier Crimes Regulation. Only last week, security officials in Mohmand expelled some 30 families from houses for their failure to hand over their wanted family members. How is it possible for a family to bring back its member from the Taliban from across the border and hand him over to the security officials? The rule of law ensures respect for human rights, another key component of soft power and an approach to winning hearts along with minds. But how can one expect human rights where there is no law?

In terms of democracy and political rights, the decision about the future status of Fata is still hanging in balance spreading an air of discontent among the tribals. By expelling the Taliban from Swat, North and South Waziristan and rest parts of the tribal belt, Pakistan has won the war using its hard power. Now it is time to win peace, and that is possible only through soft pow.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1343268/hard-versus-soft-power/

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Defining Jihadists

By Owen Bennet-Jones

02 March 2017

BACK in 1954, the Justice Munir Commission report into the anti-Ahmadi violence in Punjab famously complained that no two Pakistani clerics, or “divines” in the language of the time, could agree on the definition of a Muslim. Today, President Trump might be finding himself similarly frustrated. His White House staff cannot agree on how to describe violent jihadists. Are they Islamist terrorists or just terrorists? Are they bad Muslims, non-Muslims or perfectly valid Muslims with a fringe point of view?

Last week, in his first speech to his staff, the president’s new national security adviser, Lt Gen H.R. McMaster, said the term “radical Islamic terrorism” wasn’t helpful for US goals. His remark suggests he agrees with the approach taken by Trump’s predecessor. When Obama was still in office, the grieving mother of a US soldier asked why the White House would not use the term ‘Islamic terrorist’. “...Al Qaeda and [Islamic State] ... they have perverted and distorted and tried to claim the mantle of Islam for an excuse for basically barbarism and death,” Obama said. “...If you had an organisation that was going around killing and blowing people up and said, ‘We’re on the vanguard of Christianity.’ As a Christian, I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say, ‘you’re killing for Christ.’ I would say, that’s ridiculous.”

The White House cannot agree on how to describe violent jihadists.

In the aftermath of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, French President François Hollande took a similar line. “Those who committed these acts have nothing to do with the Muslim religion,” he said.

It’s a position that has sparked some debate amongst violent jihadists. Some have joked on social media platforms about being declared a non-Muslim — or being ‘takfir’ed’ as one put it — by Western politicians. After all, they ask, how can men such as Gen McMaster, president Obama or President Hollande presume they have the scholarly credentials to declare who is and who isn’t a Muslim?

But its not just jihadists who reject the McMaster/Obama/Hollande line. Dr Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to President Trump, has for some years lectured the US military on the sources of violent Jihadism. “This isn’t about poverty or lack of education,” he has said, “It’s about people who are fighting for the soul of Islam — not a war with Islam, but a war inside Islam; as King Abdullah, as General Sisi has said, for which version is going to win.”

Gorka is not arguing that violent Jihadism is the only valid interpretation of the religion. On the contrary, other Muslims, he says, are struggling for their own interpretations to prevail. “There are people every day risking their lives on their blog sites, in North Africa, in the Middle East pushing back on this, saying, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I don’t think an infidel needs to be killed’.”

Violent jihadists, on Gorka’s account, are not non-Muslim or even bad Muslims. Rather they are valid Muslims who believe in the use of violence to further their goals. Others in the new White House team have similar views. President Trump’s most trusted adviser, chief strategist Steve Bannon, has been speaking about these issues for some years. In a speech given in Rome in 2014 he spoke of a coming clash between Christianity and Islam. “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism,” he said. “And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

The extent to which religion can be used to justify jihadist attacks has also been debated in the UK. In 2014, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair complained that some Western commentators “went to extraordinary lengths in their attempts to deny that these conflicts were about Islam, arguing instead that local or historic factors were more important.” It was odd, he said, to deny that Islam was the central element of the various struggles.

Blair’s successor David Cameron made similar remarks. In the aftermath of the 7/7 attacks on London’s transport system, before he was prime minister, Cameron said that: “the Muslim community in this country doesn’t support what is happening”. But later he modified that position arguing that some Muslims, even if they do not use force themselves, agree with many of the ideas of the violent jihadists. “Simply denying any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremists doesn’t work,” he said.

So what of the new American president? He may just have appointed McMaster as his National Security Adviser, but there is little doubt that Trump’s s views are more in line with those of Gorka and Bannon. In his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last week, Donald Trump said this: “So let me state this as clearly as I can. We are going to keep radical Islamic terrorists ... out of our country.”

Source: .dawn.com/news/1317788/defining-jihadists

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One Year Ago!

By Shahbaz Taseer

 02-Mar-17

Exactly one year ago, I woke up like I usually had for the last four and half years. Back pain from cold cemented floor and deep hunger had taken toll on me because honestly, I couldn’t remember my last decent meal. I was also quite lonely, as had even given up trying to remember the faces and voices of the ones who loved me. I had come to a sad realisation that trying to remember them would weaken me and the battle I was fighting to survive had no place for such things. However, I woke up to pray that morning and still remembered my dua. It had become monotonous over the last four years but I always said it with conviction because my heart told me that God is listening to my prayer calls. I looked and smelt the same but I never saw the new Shahbaz I was forced to see in the mirror every day. He wasn’t lost but he was a little buried. He hadn’t given up but certainly was scared and lonely. Happiness for him was in dreams and memories with his life seemingly at a great distance. Almost stolen to be precise.

Most things that are stolen are lost but I would tell myself that one day we would find what was taken from us. As I went outside to what me and this Arab I had gotten to know as ‘the yard’ to get some suntan for curing scabies I had picked up from 150 other guys in that claustrophobic Taliban jail, this other man I had befriended, an Afghan Taliban named Malang, called me over. He asked for the main jail door to be opened, gave me some money and told me that I was free to go. Some other Taliban took me to Quetta and from there I could find my way back home. It seemed like the worst lie I had ever heard but it wasn’t. It took me eight days that seemed like they would never end to get somewhere near the city.

Today it seems like a lifetime ago when the army finally rescued me. “Wow! This must have been a miracle,” I reckoned. But the bigger miracle had taken place eight days earlier when at the exact moment that I walked out freely from that dreadful jail, my father’s murderer was hanged till death. The justice provided to my father exceeded the struggle I had gone through all these years. Getting justice is truly rare in our society. Some of us live a luxurious life but there are so many out there who are less fortunate. My father, I used to feel, was unfortunate. I thought that he had everything bestowed upon him by God but it was all taken from him just because he was a man of convictions and principles. Imagine being killed for what you believed in.

God shed light that Abba was more fortunate than most of us could have ever imagined to be. Not only did he live but he lived well and he lived on his own terms. How satisfied his soul must have been that day. Still there are some monstrous people out there who celebrate his gruesome murder but it shouldn’t keep us upset. “We will show you miracles but your hearts will be so hard with disbelief that you will not bring faith,” states the Holy Quran. My father’s miracle is there for everyone to see. Cowards and tyrants have been celebrated in their lives throughout ages but it’s the heroes that leave behind their legacies.

Funny that I am a little unwell today! I was unwell that day too! I had a sore throat then I have one now! But then I was coming home, now I’m going to see a Guns N’ Roses concert. Another check on the bucket list! A list I thought would never be completed! A band I thought would never hear to play again! I have truly been blessed. Though the miracle wasn’t mine, let me openly say that prayers from everyone were duly heard, and that on its own is more than I could ever ask for.

Abba used to tell me that when we think things can’t get any worse we should tell ourselves that in the greater scheme of things, God is playing a prank on us. Because when we look back at every unimaginable or worse thing that had ever happened to us, we laugh at them! “We will never put a burden on you that you can’t bare,” the Holy Quran further states. From what I’ve learned from my faith and loved ones, always remember that if what we carry seems like a mountain, it can certainly be broken and conquered.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/02-Mar-17/one-year-ago

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/literature-in-times-of-terror--new-age-islam-s-selection,-02-march-2017/d/110251




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