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Pakistan Press (15 Feb 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Aberrations and Terrorism: New Age Islam's Selection, 15 February 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

15 February 2017

Aberrations and Terrorism

By Imtiaz Gul

Donald Trump: Blessing in Disguise for Pakistan

By Omar Sohail Dar

The Time for Women’s Rights Is Now!

By Salman Ali & Saira Ahmed

Ending Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Pakistan

By Joanna Reid

India, Pakistan and the Musk Deer

By Jawed Naqvi

Resurrecting From the Perils of Terror

By F Z Khan

The Making of a Witch

By Aziz Ali Dad

America First?

By Dr Niaz Murtaza

Pakistan Is Not At All Isolated!

By Mohammad Jamil

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Aberrations And Terrorism

By Imtiaz Gul

February 14, 2017

Nearly 70 years into existence, Pakistan remains stymied with various aberrations such as Fata, the judicial interventions in social affairs of the citizens, and the state’s indirect support — both political and financial to organisations that are directly or otherwise complicit in promoting and practising terror or extremism. Fata is one of those abnormalities that the military establishment and the civilian ruling elites had until recently exploited for narrowly-defined national security and political objectives. The overwhelming desire that we could discern through a national advocacy campaign — both on print and electronic media — in recent years weighed in support of Fata’s integration with the mainland. That is why all of us have been looking forward to the implementation of the draft reforms that the Sartaj Aziz committee had come up with. Fortunately, most of the stakeholders embraced the proposals as the first big step towards Fata’s integration, largely into the K-P province.

But some politicians including Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Mehmood Achakzai appear to have played as spoilers. Despite the massive public and political support, these two have continued to drag their feet and openly resisting certain proposals. Ironic indeed, that both enjoy the fruits of parliamentary democracy with their near and dear ones enjoying prestigious positions within the government and parliament, while they object to a framework which promises to finally treat people in Fata as equal citizens. This court order stands out as a blatant violation of the Article 8 of the constitution (Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights to be void). It also flouts the Articles 14 (Inviolability of dignity of man, etc), Article 20 (Freedom to profess religion and to manage religious institutions) subject to law, public order and morality. The same article says that (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions. Isn’t it alarming that the judiciary, which is supposed to adjudicate matters in the best possible secular way, begins to determine issues such as morality or religiosity? Their mandate is to determine crime and not sin, to guard against deviations /violations of the constitution, and not undermine them. Adjudication of matters on religious grounds also contravenes Art 25 (Equal Citizenry Rights).In fact, the First Amendment jurisprudence (introduced by the US Supreme Court) clearly ruled that “civil courts cannot adjudicate disputes turning on church policy and administration or on religious doctrine and practice.”

Much later in 1985, the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders laid down some basic principles. “The judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions,improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason,” it said. Another aberration is the acceptance of banned non-state actors, albeit under different names, most of them headquartered in Punjab; while the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was banned in Jan 2012, it attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009. Its chief, Malik Ishaq, used to receive monthly stipends by the ruling PML-N. Tens of dozens of seminaries associated with LeJ, Lashkars and Jaish also receive funding from the Punjab government’s Zakaat and Auqaf fund. This happens because many people siting in the national and provincial parliaments as well as a number of rightist anchors and columnists adore and defend the Taliban and their ideological brothers, and keep inventing pretexts to justify their violence.

It is this mass of opinion multipliers that primarily creates the space and justification for violence and extremist ideas directed at all those who disagree with them. Foreign hands will always exploit this to peddle their own agenda i.e. create instability and uncertainty in Pakistan. The Lahore attack is the latest example of the deadly connivance and unpardonable acquiescence of non-state actors by those running the state. A flagrant aberration indeed.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1326890/aberrations-and-terrorism/


Donald Trump: Blessing In Disguise For Pakistan

By Omar Sohail Dar


The year 2016 had brought about two remarkable events in international affairs. The first event was the Exit of Britain from the EU. David Cameron wanted to get concessions from the EU and be remembered as a modern era Margaret Thatcher, but instead bungled it spectacularly and now will go down in history as the modern era Anthony Eden.

The second one is the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of America. Trump portrayed himself as an anti-establishment figure and while the American people did buy into that, how that works out for them remains to be seen. But what is certain is that the election of Donald Trump will have repercussions for Pakistan. As a keen observer of current affairs, I have come to the conclusion that compared to a Hillary Clinton presidency; the Trump presidency might actually be much more beneficial, or at least benign, for Pakistan.

To put things into perspective, the Pak-US relationship had been on a steady downward trajectory throughout the Obama presidency. Whatever the reasons may be, it is clear that with the new American strategy of surrounding China with powerful hostile neighbors, India has gained a central role in American policy, and Pak-American relations have been progressively downgraded. Hillary Clinton would’ve continued the policies of Obama and here Trump might just diverge from this path, providing Pakistan a modicum of relief.

Trump is different in that he has won on the promise of “making America great again”. His proposals for domestic development require a lot of resources, which are not available in the deficit budget of America and which might force a review of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent in Afghanistan. Considering the ineptness of the Afghan government, America has gotten zero returns there and now will have to either ramp up its military support again or engage Pakistan to conduct conclusive negotiations.

This is all the more important as Trump has focused on the threat of ISIS. He has mentioned defeating Radical Islam in his inauguration speech and has spoken about working with Russia to resolve the conflict in the Middle East. Although the American establishment has reacted violently to the prospect of a rapprochement with Russia by creating a hacking scandal and expelling diplomats, Trump can still collaborate with Putin to drive ISIS out of Syria. An achievement of this type is desperately needed by Trump to help him counter his abysmal approval ratings and his conflict with the establishment.

However, regardless of how things go, friction between the President and their Establishment will continue to hobble America from making any serious foray in international diplomacy. That bodes well for Pakistan because, considering India’s recent belligerence, there was a chance of confrontation in South Asia and America would’ve come down on India’s side. Now that the American establishment is targeting its own President, it will make a lame duck ally for the Indians. Even if Trump manages to subdue his internal foes, there is considerable divergence of goals between Donald Trump and India. The most significant problem is the fact that Trump wants to restrict immigration and Indians have been its biggest beneficiary. In fact, this is such a big issue that NarendraModi’s aggressive demand for additional immigration rights torpedoed Theresa May’s first foreign visit and hopes for a trade deal after BREXIT.

The importance of India has also been reduced as Trump has in effect disavowed from the Obama strategy of “pivot to Asia”. This is signified by the scuttling of the TPP, which was meant to unite China’s opponents in Asia with the USA. It is true that Trump has often attacked China in his speeches for economic manipulation, but there has been little emphasis on any military confrontation. Thus Donald Trump has been making a concerted effort to redirect the American state’s focus on internal development. In this regard, his nomination of Rex Tillerson is an effort to retain control of his foreign policy by choosing an outsider. The Establishment can still create hurdles for Donald Trump, but it cannot deny him the presidency as that will effectively mark the end of the American democracy. The Republican Party also needs to work with Trump because Congress elections will be coming up in two years, and if they are unable to deliver anything in spite of maintaining control of both houses, they can virtually confirm their loss right here.

Some of the picks for the cabinet secretaries have also provided hints for the security policy, which can be described as positive for Pakistan. General Michael Flynn, nominated as the NSA, has acknowledged Pakistan’s legitimate national interests and has spoken about the need to build up the Pak-US relationship in depth and breadth. The defense secretary, General James Mattis, has spoken about incentivizing Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan. Even some of the ranking Republicans such as Senator John McCain have maintained strong ties with Pakistan. Thus it can be seen that there might be a level of support for Pakistan in the new administration.

Although the prospects for Pakistan look slightly better when compared to a Hillary Clinton presidency, the Pakistani state is under no delusions that the Pak-US relations will get back to the bonhomie of yesteryears. The USA has aligned itself with the Northern Alliance based government of Afghanistan, which is incompetent and unacceptable to Pakistan. It has also tilted markedly towards India. The Pakistani state has already gathered alternate options and looks quite secure. It is working very hard to build up the CPEC, which will jumpstart its economy and finally make Pakistan self-sufficient.

America will still carry weight in the region due to its sheer economic and military power, but what role it plays depends on its leadership. With the election of Donald Trump and turmoil in the USA, Pakistan’s most pressing concern, the Indo-US alliance, has been somewhat mitigated. That should allow Pakistan some space to build itself up for future regional challenges, where it will be much less vulnerable.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Feb-17/donald-trump-blessing-in-disguise-for-pakistan


The Time for Women’s Rights Is Now!

By: Salman Ali & Saira Ahmed


The status of gender equality and women empowerment in Pakistan has been a focus of intense domestic and international attention. Unfortunately, this attention has been primarily due to the apparent violation of the fundamental rights of women in Pakistani Society. Not only women are deprived of the rights of equality in all walks of life, but also children are prone to this discrimination either in the form of social, political or economic aspects. Moreover, time and again we have seen their rights being denied in both public and private sphere of life.

It’s sorrowful to say that the Gender Gap Index 2015 ranked Pakistan second from the bottom among 145 countries in terms of the prevalence of gender-based disparities. Published annually by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, the Index measures national gender gaps in economy, politics, education and health. The Index ranked Pakistan 143rd in economic participation and opportunity, 135th in educational attainment, 125th in health and survival, and 87th in political empowerment.

According to a report by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 2015,1096 girls became victims of honour killings in Pakistan. 144 of them were burnt to death by acid or fire, while 939 became victims of rape. IA poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2011 ranked Pakistan the third most dangerous country in the world for women, after Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the other side, the parliament made 20 laws in 2015. The provincial legislatures adopted 120 laws. With 40 laws enacted, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the highest legislative output, followed by Sindh (32), Punjab (31) and Balochistan (17). The provinces continued to use expanded legislative authority under the 18th Constitutional Amendment to enact several important laws, but implementation mechanism lagged behind.

Violence against women is widespread and prevalent on wide level from Khyber to Karachi. No other issue is so contentious and well debated in the politics of contemporary societies as the question of gender and politics. Women activists all over the world have begun to question political inequality among the sexes. They have raised fundamental questions about the essence of the male-dominated democratic system in which women find themselves formally or informally excluded from political power. In recent decades, they have focused on the vital issues of empowerment, rights, social and political equality and discrimination in its all forms. The feminist movement even in a male-dominated, a socially conservative society like Pakistan has brought into sharp focus more or less the same issues about the social status of the women and their inadequate representation in the political power and participation in politics.

Just to highlight for my readers that in the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Article 34 states that steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life. Article 9 defines that security of person; no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law. Article 25: Equality of citizens, 1. All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law. 2. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone. 3. Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the protection of women and children. Article 27 states that “Safeguard against discrimination in services. No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth. Article 34: Full Participation of women in national life, steps shall be taken to ensure full participation of women in all spheres of national life. Article 35 states that “Protection of family, etc. The state shall protect the marriage, the family, the mother and the child.

Here the question is, do these articles prevail all across the country in letter and spirit? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Women comprise more than 50 percent of Pakistan’s total population. Despite this, on average, the situation of Pakistani women vis-à-vis men is one of systemic gender subordination, although there have been attempts by the government and enlightened groups to elevate their status in society.

Like-minded organisations are working in Pakistan; even they are giving their best to build a Pakistan, which is free from all odds and injustices. Aurat Foundation from Punjab, Marvi Rural Development Organization from Sindh and many others like-minded organisations are examples. These organisations are working in all provinces and taken this initiative to work and to struggle for the rights of marginalised segments of the society. They are highlighting the issues related to women rights. Within Pakistan organisations like these are committed to create widespread awareness and commitment for a just, democratic and caring society, where women and men are recognised as equals, with the right to lead their lives with self-respect and dignity. These organisations are building groups to strengthen their capacity to take initiatives to resolve women’s problems at the local level and to play a role in promoting more accountable governance and participatory democracy in the country.

We personally believe that we have to realise that woman issue is a woman’s issue. Complete, absolute and comprehensive freedom should be given to both sexes equally. The hypocrisy of the male gender must stop. We have to educate our children, teachour neighbourhood, our schools and workplace. We have to enlighten them. Let the common man know that he no longer has any control whatsoever over women. That a woman is free to do what she wants, say what she wants, and dress the way she wants, talk to whomever she wants. Then a change can come.

It is not as if nothing is being done in Pakistan with regard to women empowerment but whatever is being done, is clearly not enough. Most women in the country, especially in the rural areas, are being deprived of basic human rights. It is not only the duty of the government or NGOs to safeguard women’s rights. It is the duty of every citizen of Pakistan to ensure that his or her rights are protected. Women of Pakistan have to stand for their rights like Sughra Solangi, and many others did, and they succeeded.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Feb-17/the-time-for-womens-rights-is-now


Ending Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Pakistan

By Joanna Reid

February 14, 2017

What do criminals do with their money? Once profits have been made from illegal arms sales, smuggling, drug trafficking or prostitution rings, where does that money go? Invariably the proceeds of crime are laundered — a complex process undertaken to conceal the original source of funds.

The problem with money laundering is it is hard to catch; by appearing legitimate it becomes more difficult to track the criminal activity that generated the money. For example, criminals break up large amounts of cash into less conspicuous smaller sums as a way of avoiding suspicion. Once in the system, criminal funds are then ‘layered’ whereby the money undergoes a series of conversions or movements to distance it from its source. Ultimately, the money re-enters the legitimate economy through investments into real estate, luxury assets, or business ventures.

This is not just a complex problem but a big one: it is estimated that globally USD 1.6 trillion is laundered every year. It’s a problem that casts a shadow over good governance and legitimate business, costing Pakistan more than a hit to its GDP. It costs Pakistan in terms of its reputation as a good place to invest and do business.

Pakistan is taking action on a number of fronts. In December last year Pakistan joined the Open Government Partnership, a global effort to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. With UK support, the Federal Board of Revenue has signed up to an OECD convention that will reduce international tax evasion and make ownership of complex company structures more transparent. UKAid is helping Pakistan to strengthen and automate the systems required by the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body established to set standards and promote effective implementation of measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

In 2007, Pakistan’s Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance established the Financial Monitoring Unit, an autonomous body responsible for analysing suspicious transactions and currency transactions in Pakistan. By law, financial institutions are required to report to the Financial Monitoring Unit; the Unit then analyses the data to produce financial intelligence which can be passed on to law-enforcement agencies as evidence to prosecute. The Financial Monitoring Unit is also responsible for cooperating with financial intelligence units in other countries. As such it plays a decisive role in the detection and investigation of financial crimes both in Pakistan and across borders.

However, to function effectively, the Financial Monitoring Unit needs the right analytical tools and skills, which is where UKAid comes in. In 2014, working with the State Bank of Pakistan, the UK supported a proposal to establish a state of the art integrated data centre, providing the Financial Monitoring Unit with the necessary tools to analyse and interpret complex financial data. The technical implementing partner for this work was the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). With our support the Financial Monitoring Unit is now able to identify many more suspicious transactions much more quickly.

This intervention comes at a time when the volume of suspicious transaction reports and currency transaction reports is on the rise; the number of currency reports crossed the million mark in 2014. There was therefore a critical need for more efficient software.

There is still much to be done to tackle the broader money laundering ecosystem. Last year the UK’s National Crime Agency partnered with the City of London Police to assess the needs of all relevant players, recommending an enhancement to the investigative skills at the Financial Monitoring Unit, and to support the Law Enforcement Agencies to make optimal use of financial evidence. So, as a mission, we hope to remain engaged in this critically important policy area.

At the end of last week, the Governor of the State Bank, Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, launched the new data centre with British High Commissioner Thomas Drew, in acknowledgment of its significant contribution to the Government’s commitment to tackle criminal activity. With its launch, the Financial Monitoring Unit is better placed to generate meaningful financial intelligence that identifies cases of money laundering and terrorist financing. In turn, the law-enforcement agencies are supplied with better evidence to enforce the law against criminals and terrorists.

So this data centre is not just ‘extra IT for the office’. It is a powerful tool to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It is also an important part of Pakistan’s efforts to demonstrate strong and transparent financial governance. UKAid support to the Financial Monitoring Unit sits alongside the UK’s leading role in the Open Government Partnership and our support to the Federal Board of Revenue to reduce tax evasion. Together these efforts will strengthen Pakistan’s economy, protect the interests of legitimate businesses, and improve Pakistan’s reputation as a well governed and good place to invest.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1326912/ending-money-laundering-terrorist-financing-pakistan/


India, Pakistan And The Musk Deer

By Jawed Naqvi

15 February 2017

“Tera saai’n tujh me, jyu pahupan me baas Kasturi ka mirag jyu, phiri-phiri dhoondhai ghaas”

THE fragrance of the flower flows from within the flower, so it is with people. Why then, so much like the baffled musk deer, do people search for their own fragrance in the distant grass? The 15th-century guru Kabir wrote the lines some 300 years before Hegel would grapple with a similar thought. And how well the lines sit with the trauma of an identity crisis South Asia’s communists have suffered from almost the very beginning.

One such moment came in February 1951 when four leading Indian partisans secretly boarded a ship from Calcutta to the USSR. They had a rendezvous with Stalin and they hoped to gain from his revolutionary experience and perhaps could do with some guidance too. They were keen to avert a looming split within their ranks, and they also needed Stalin’s opinion about the widely fabled but internally divided Telangana movement they had been running valiantly but with mixed results. Stalin surveyed the maps of Telangana. Then very politely he advised them to stop the unwinnable insurrection. The Indians should seek the parliamentary route to power instead. Nehru although a slippery eel was no stool pigeon of colonialism, Stalin told the visitors. Moreover, the popular Indian leader was too deeply admired by the masses to be pushed over by mere fervour minus strategy or resources.

A less polite version of the meeting came in 1979 when Stalin’s interpreter and diplomat Nikolai Adyrkhayev’s memoirs were released. Soon after meeting the leaders of the Communist Party of India, with whom he was polite without being overly respectful of their revolutionary ideas, Stalin scolded a delegation of the Japanese Communist Party. “In India they have wrecked the party and there is something similar with you.” Just around then another Indian partisan “had the privilege” to carry the party’s ‘China path’ document to China.

In an irony, not unusual for South Asia’s communists, while Stalin took a dim view of his Indian partners’ ability to stage a successful revolution, the capitalist order led by the Americans was quaking in its boots over precisely that fear.

What if Afghanistan, Pakistan and India were to overthrow their avowedly anti-communist governments?

“The most serious effects of the loss of the Indian subcontinent to communist control would be psychological and political,” noted the CIA in a secret analysis in1952. The bizarre thing about the analysis, contained in the agency’s recently declassified files, was that it coincided with the Indian comrades’ unhappy and unpublicised Moscow meeting with Stalin.

“Communist victory in South Asia, if not preceded by the loss of much of Southeast Asia, would be speedily followed by it and the remaining non-communist countries of Asia would be under strong pressure from their communist neighbours.” The CIA saw prospects for an Indian upheaval that had eluded Stalin. The Americans seemed to have a better idea of where the source of the musk deer’s fragrance was than the deer itself knew.

What if Afghanistan, Pakistan and India were to overthrow their avowedly anti-communist governments? The question posed by the CIA analyst echoed a real and palpable fear in the West. Little did Messrs Ajoy Ghosh, Basavapunnaiah, Dange and Rajeshwar Rao, know this when, dressed as ordinary workers, they embarked on a journey that would further sap their self-confidence.

Communist victories in India and Pakistan, the CIA noted, would deprive the US of “the support, present and potential, of a group of nations whose ties and sympathies are primarily with the West, and the usefulness of the UN to the US”. A communist victory in the subcontinent would also undermine the will to resist “communist aggression” in non-communist Asia, Africa, and Western Europe. Suppose the agency’s analysis became public around that time, would it not have restored the partisans’ shaken self-belief?

The CIA informed the American leadership that a communist takeover in India and Pakistan would not bring economic benefits to the Soviet bloc but it would add greatly to the economic potential of the “communist sphere”.

The subcontinent, it was observed, not without a hint of nervousness, had the largest industrial plant in Asia outside of Japan, a huge labour supply including a considerable number of skilled and semi-skilled workers and the natural resources to support extensive industrial expansion.

The low per capita productivity of the region and its dependence upon imports obtained from the West would pose serious but not insuperable problems for the communists. “China and North Korea have shown a capacity to mobilise meagre resources quickly and effectively.”

The agency’s perspective was routinely peppered with its McCarthy moments. By “ruthless methods … the communists could … within five to 10 years develop a specialised industry capable of supplying sufficient material to a large modern army”. The CIA was not discussing two mutually hostile armies they were to become, or rather made to become. Imagine that.

Had India and Pakistan pulled it off, “it would add five nations, two of them large and potentially powerful, and nearly a fifth of the world’s population to the Soviet bloc, and would precipitate the rapid transfer of much of Southeast Asia to communist control supposing this had not already occurred”.

The phenomenon of having the world’s most powerful capitalist country worried sick eluded India’s partisans, however. But the CIA was certain that the loss of South Asia would be “all the more grievous to the West inasmuch as it would involve countries whose present regimes are actively anti-communist”.

Moreover, a revolution in South Asia coming on the heels of the communist victory in China would create the impression throughout non-communist Asia, Africa and Western Europe “that the advance of communism was inexorable”.

What do we make of it then? Did the CIA work itself into a self-induced trance about India and Pakistan’s revolutionary capacity, or had it overestimated the musk deer’s olfactory prowess to divine the source of its own fragrance?

Source: .dawn.com/news/1314627/india-pakistan-and-the-musk-deer


Resurrecting From the Perils of Terror

By F Z Khan


Next two weeks are being seen significant for the region, which are being regarded as diplomatic victories for Pakistan. Russia, joined by China, is set to host six-nation talks on Afghanistan in an unprecedented development where Pakistan and India are also participating to discuss options for seeking a peaceful end to the lingering unrest in the war-torn country. The talks involving host Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and India are scheduled to be held in Moscow in mid-February.

Much of the credit goes to Pakistan’s diplomatic initiatives started during President Zardari’s administration and continued by the current dispensation, as Russia, which for years opposed the Afghan Taliban, has recently changed its position and now sought direct talks between Kabul government and insurgents. It also hosted a trilateral meeting in December last year involving China and Pakistan. The support to peace efforts by two the main international players is seen as a diplomatic victory for Pakistan.

Already, warships from the navies of 36 countries, including China, Turkey, Russian, Australia and America, have arrived at Karachi port for a multinational naval Exercise ‘AMAN-17’ started on February 10, which is a biennial activity proudly structured and organised by Pakistan. In words of Taj M Khattak, the participation of these countries in the manoeuvres is “a testimony to acknowledge Pakistan Navy’s centrality in regional maritime arena and reposing of confidence by such a large number of nations” in Pakistan’s capabilities to play lead role in promoting cause of peace on one of the most important oceans of the world. This also negates the impression that Pakistan is drifting into international isolation.

Islamabad’s latest initiatives for achieving peaceful environment especially on the Afghan border, as well as forging a lasting peace with Kabul, indicate Pakistan government and its security establishment’s pragmatic approach towards conflict resolution. In the aftermath of last month’s bombings in various cities of Afghanistan, Kabul had cast aspersions on Pakistan, which were likely to create further misapprehensions. Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the first to break the ice. His phone call to the Afghan President and offer to extend all kind of cooperation in the fight against terrorism helped lower the tensions.

This was followed by diplomatic activity on the part of Pakistan Foreign Office as Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also called Kabul, dignitaries visited the GHQ, and the Afghan government sent an invitation to Gen Qamar Bajwa to visit Kabul. The initiative wisely taken by the Chief of Army Staff helped in toning down Afghanistan’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric. Above all was Pakistan’s message of peace to Afghanistan, which the Director General ISPR loudly sent across through his first press briefing at Rawalpindi. Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor took account of these events and said Pakistan was not involved in terrorist incidents in Afghanistan and would not allow its soil to be used for such acts. “While several terrorists were killed in the Zarb-e-Azb operation, many fled to Afghanistan due to weak border system. However, new posts and border mechanism have been built along the Afghan border to check illegal crossing.”

Pakistan time and again has felt and expressed deep grief and sorrow over brutal terror incidents but more painful is the fact that instead of appreciating Pakistan’s emotions of sympathy and sorrow, the government of Afghanistan has been blaming Pakistan for a hand in the attacks. Instead, Pakistan fears that Indian RAW is using the Afghan NDS for creating a wedge between Kabul and Islamabad. Given Pakistan’s unprecedented cooperation during the last four decades with Kabul and Afghan people, logically Afghanistan must have been closer to Pakistan, but practically it has now gone under the influence of India.

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s 20-minute phone call to US defence secretary James Mattis on February 10 must be seen in this backdrop. The secretary, according to ISPR press release, lauded the sacrifices and resilience of the people and armed forces of Pakistan while appreciating the role of Pakistan Army in battling the scourge of terrorism. Gen Bajwa congratulated Mattis on assuming his new responsibility and hoped that the latter’s vast experience in the field would be a great value to the region. Mattis, who served as head of the US Centcom, frequently travelled to the region, including Pakistan, and is well aware of the security dynamics of this part of the world. In his confirmation hearing before the US Senate, he underlined the need to remain engaged with Pakistan. And during his talk on the telephone with Gen Bajwa, “both reaffirmed their commitment towards the common goal of peace and stability in the region and discussed measures towards that end. Both also agreed on continued engagement at multiple levels,” the ISPR press release reads.

While appreciating General Bajwa’s timely engagement on both military and diplomatic levels with the world leaders, in coordination with the government, analysts and security observers are attaching great significance to Pakistan’s initiatives towards achieving peace in the region. This comes in the wake of India’s continued provocations on the Line of Control and International Boundary, as well as Indian Army Chief’s threatening statement of ‘surgical strikes’ inside Pakistan under the Cold Start doctrine. The Corps Commanders conference held on February 10, the top brass expressed the concern over Indian violations on LoC and WB, saying, it is a threat to regional peace.

Amidst Indian hostility on the borders, the reports of India building ‘secret nuclear city’ are further disturbing, which will pose a direct threat to the entire region. The secret nuclear city is being built in south India to produce thermonuclear weapons, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria expressed his concerns, during a press briefing, citing an investigative report by the Foreign Policy magazine. “Indian defence build-up, both nuclear and conventional, is a direct threat to Pakistan and the region at large,” he said while responding to media reports that New Delhi had recently signed defence deals worth Rs 200 billion to procure weapons and other equipment.

Pragmatic approach on the part of Pakistan, wisely and timely engagement on government and military levels with the world capitals, on the sidelines of vibrant economic activity in the background of building China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, it is hoped that Pakistan will emerge triumphant in many ways. Barron’s Asia, a financial magazine of America, in its recent article “Forget India, profit from ‘quiet rise’ of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh’ has urged the Trump administration the three countries with a combined 390 million people represent what Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma calls “the quiet rise of South Asia” as opposed to India which has “flattered by spasms of hype for years”.

While overshadowed by their larger neighbour, the trio is enjoying fast-paced growth, embracing much-needed reforms, and look set to enjoy a demographic dividend over the long term.

On the other hand, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (US CIRF), an independent, bipartisan federal government commission, noted that religious tolerance has deteriorated in India since 2014, noting forced conversion of Christians to Hinduism by Hindu extremists, and torture of Muslims cattle traders by Indian army and armed Hindu groups. The Commission that advises the President and US Congress has strongly criticised persecution of minorities including Muslims and Christians in India and recommended to the Trump administration to link trade, aid and diplomatic interaction with India with religious freedom and human rights.

Further gearing up for diplomatic and political move on the part of the government of Pakistan will be helpful to meet the challenges facing the country. Political leadership has to join hands together towards achieving common goals on foreign policy matters.


 F Z Khan is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Feb-17/resurrecting-from-the-perils-of-terror


The Making of a Witch

By Aziz Ali Dad

February 14, 2017

Witches are believed to be creatures who live among human beings as representatives of evil spirits in human form. Since the dawn of civilisation, we have been surrounded by eerie tales of witches. These are visible in Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythology and medieval folktales.

Even in Shakespeare’s work, the role of witches is palpable – especially in his play, Macbeth. The European witch-hunt during the early modern period and the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in colonial America still have an abiding appeal for sociologists and historians. In modern times, Arthur Miller used the Salem witch trials in his play ‘Crucible’ to expresses his moral outrage at the persecution of communists in a witch hunt spearheaded by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the US of the 1950s.

The concept of a witch is not specific to the above-mentioned areas, but is prevalent in different societies in Asia as well. In the cultural milieu of Gilgit-Baltistan, the idea of a witch has determined the contours of womanhood in society. Even now Gilgit views witches as alien spirits that are capable of evil and, therefore, deserve a befitting punishment that is proportionate to this evil. Owing to this, women in Gilgit-Baltistan have suffered for centuries. But this has hitherto remained an unexplored area because of social expediencies, taboos and lack of moral courage to expose the rotten state of the social mind.

Any worldview emerges within a particular social context and expresses itself through language. It is language that constructs metaphors to define the world through subjective experiences and collective thinking. Only a weak society tends to develop weak metaphors in bad faith. Gilgit’s social fabric appears to be weak as it does not have courage to address reality with terms that would reveal the reality, not conceal it. As a result, the idea of witchhood in Gilgit can be seen as an attempt to conceal and protect the weak social ethos and parochial norms from ‘dissenting women’.

The idea of witchhood is used instead of witchcraft because witches in Gilgit do not possess any magical powers or indulge in magic rituals. A salient feature of the concept of witchhood is that men do not have a biological role in making a witch. However, they play a strong role in the social construction of witchhood. An old witch transfers her ‘evil’ soul to her daughter or granddaughter. This ‘evil’ genealogy therefore remains essentially matriarchal on the one hand and the concept of ‘good’ remains patriarchal in society.

The process of making a witch out of a woman is intertwined with the social location of women, power relations and the overall structures of social imagination prevalent in Gilgit. In the traditional social structure, local kings wielded absolute influence in every sphere of society and state as they were the ultimate embodiment of the law. But men were given leeway by kings to kill women who were believed to be witches. The social imagination is controlled through practices and institutions which define deviance, conformity, and the ideas of good and evil for the entire populace.

Working in a diverse tribal milieu, the indigenous system of thought and control succeeded to solely attribute the qualities of witches to women. Through this social imaginary, society devised a system of signs and symbols whereby a woman is labelled a witch. As a result, any expression of a woman’s body and sexuality is suppressed at the outset by controlling the soul.

That is why women in Gilgit are not allowed to do certain things which are attributed to witches. There have been countless cases in the region where wives were brutally beaten or injured because they expressed themselves in ways that were typical of witches. In other cases, women were killed after they were accused of acting like witches.

While discussing witchhood in the particular social setting in Gilgit, it is imperative to take into account the social conception of day and night in relation to women. Before electricity or lanterns were introduced in the region, the nights in Gilgit were covered in pitch darkness.

The night was deemed as a time when evil spirits roamed. As a result, women who went out at night were liable to be killed. There are numerous stories in Hunza, Nagar, Gilgit and Puniyal where men boast about the number of witches they had killed. Instead of being punishing, they were considered to be brave men who purged society of evil entities.

Another trait of a weak society is that it remains in denial of a practice within society that lies outside the sanctified ethos. Within the tribal milieu and closed society of Gilgit, a good woman was defined in terms of or in relation to her father, brother, family and tribe. Any role that fell outside these domains is deemed as the work of a woman who has an evil spirit. The traditional society Gilgit did not approve of love between men and women.

Till the late 1960s, in Hunza any woman who eloped with her lover was lampooned and disgraced publicly. In popular folklore and in general terms, it is believed that a witch keeps an intimate henchman with her who is called mitto or fanis in Shina and Burushaski, respectively. His duty is to distribute the hunt of witches among them. He was basically the paramour of a woman, but was termed a witch and an accomplice of a witch.

Interestingly, Shina and Burushaski do not have words for lover and beloved. When those who were accused of being witches are analysed in the social location of a closed society, they appear to be the protofeminists of Gilgit.

Changes in the status and role of women are related to broader historical shifts when society experienced an existential crisis and faced uncertainty. In such circumstances, it is normal among decadent societies to find a scapegoat. Women were therefore chosen as scapegoats in Gilgit. This was done by inverting the morals in which all scared symbols were either genderised or women were held responsible for the downfall of Gilgit’s society.

The famous statue of Kargah Buddha illustrates the inversion of sacred symbols into evil. After the decline of the Buddhist rule, the gender of this statue was changed to a woman and it was named yacheni (which means female witch). Even now, yacheni is deemed a witch who stood at the mouth of the valley to eat people. Ultimately, she was controlled after being nailed to the rock by a male pir. As a result, a holy symbol was turned into an evil spirit.

This resonates with the attitudes of today’s society in Gilgit that favours the incarceration of women within the boundaries of the home. Similarly, the downfall of the famous cannibal king of Gilgit, Shri Badat, is attributed to his daughter who colluded with an outsider to kill her father. These famous folklores still inform popular perceptions of women.

The traditional structures of social imagination still operate in Gilgit. While choosing brides for their sons, families still examine whether a girl has a genealogy of witchhood. Such girls are usually treated as evil incarnate. A woman who dares to argue with men is defined as a witch. This shows the unconscious fear among men about the emancipation of women.

With the opening of the Karakoram International University, women got an opportunity to study and interact with men. But the conservative mindset still labelled them witches. Honour killings and suicides in Gilgit-Baltistan are a consequence of a wicked male mind that still sees the presence of women in public spaces in broad daylight and their interaction with men as an evil act of witches.

This suggests that witches reside within the patriarchal mind. To de-witch the mentality of men in Gilgit, women need to assert themselves in social spaces where men fear them the most.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/186134-The-making-of-a-witch


America First?

By Dr Niaz Murtaza

15 February 2017

DONALD Trump says virtually every state takes advantage of the US and he will put America first in global deals. This sounds like an elephant cribbing about smaller beings throwing their weight at it. Has the US truly lost in the globalisation process that it had itself unleashed in 1980?

Globalisation means increased flows of goods, services, money, people, ideas and ecology among states leading to global economic, political and social convergence. Globalisation was unleashed by Reagan to increase US corporate profits. But only those flows were encouraged which increased such profits, ie, those of goods, services and investments. Even here, weaker states had to open their industries to competition, but key US sectors, like agriculture, were protected.

Other US trade policies hurt poor states too, eg, higher tariffs on goods from developing than rich states, and restrictions on textiles and clothing imports. Global intellectual rights, trade in services and investment agreements were also designed to benefit rich states. Flows benefiting poor states were discouraged, eg, of people to the US and of aid to poor states.

Trump’s huffing and puffing won’t work.

Thus, instead of encouraging all types of flows in all directions, the US introduced neoliberal globalisation, which only encouraged those flows which benefited corporate America most.

Neoliberal globalisation has produced winners and losers. The rich in the US have won big, as shown by the exploding number of its billionaires and the trillions hidden in offshore havens. Middle classes in some developing states have benefited too, eg India and East Asia as have some labour segments there. But millions have been incorporated into globalisation in sweatshops in Bangladesh and Indonesia while millions of others have lost their livelihoods.

Even American middle and working class fortunes have stagnated. In fact, the most vocal reaction to such globalisation has come not from poor states that are bigger losers but from working classes in rich states.

Trump tapped into this anger by demonising globalisation as being against US interests. The global order rests on a delicate balance. As the global hegemon, the US derives maximum benefits from it but must also not squeeze other states too much. This requires it to maintain large trade and fiscal deficits. Large trade deficits have emerged as US companies have moved abroad to avail themselves of lower labour and regulatory costs. But large US trade deficits help run the global system. In the absence of a global currency, the dollar serves this role. So, the deficits help supply the world with dollars. However, those dollars soon return via the profits repatriated by US companies.

Since the global hegemon also usually runs fiscal deficits, partially due to the costs of global policing, they also return via the US public debt purchased by states like Japan and China with excess dollars earned from their trade surpluses. Without safe investment options for these states, the US incurs this debt at low interest rates. This cheap debt fuels the US public and private consumption frenzies which again cause US trade deficits.

This is the merry-go-round nature of the unfair and volatile global capitalist system run by the US which perpetuates global inequality and economic volatility. Hence, it should be replaced by a more just globalisation system based on leftist, progressive policies. Trump plans to move the system even further rightward to make it serve the interests of all Americans. But in trying to reduce US trade deficits and bring factory jobs back to the US, he threatens to unravel this delicate balance and unleash global trade wars and possible global recession.

While it is still the most powerful nation globally, it lacks the power to force the world to submit easily to its desires further on economic issues. Mere raving and ranting by Trump will not bring the world to heel.

My little daughter often watches this story about a bad wolf which goes around destroying the hay and wood houses of little pigs by merely huffing and puffing. But he ultimately comes across a pig who constructed a brick house given the experiences of his sibling pigs. The wolf fails to bring down the house.

Much the same is true in global politics today. Learning from past dealings with the US, more and more states have built brick houses which bad wolf Trump cannot destroy merely by huffing and puffing.

The solution to the ills faced by US working classes and billions globally lies in building a fair economic system which taxes the rich fairly. But such a system will not emerge under a US ruled by its extreme right. Unfortunately, the most powerful state in the world is better at creating global problems than solving them. Until this hegemony ends, the world will lurch from one political and economic crisis to the next under US leadership.

Source: dawn.com/news/1314628/america-first


Pakistan Is Not At All Isolated!

By Mohammad Jamil


Before discussing the conspiracies to isolate Pakistan, it is pertinent to mention about the four-day exercise, with 37 countries taking part including the US, Russia and China with the theme ‘Together for peace’. On opening ceremony of naval exercise at Karachi Dockyard, flags of 37 participating countries were hoisted, which is reflective of the trust in Pakistan’s role to fight terrorism and efforts for peace. Yet, anti-Pakistan lobbies are at work; a report compiled by American think tanks has been submitted to the Trump administration advising it to use isolation threat and hardening Washington’s stance towards Pakistan if it does not stop the use of terrorism in Afghanistan and India. In fact, India has been trying hard to isolate Pakistan for the last one year, and now a few American think tanks also appear to have stepped up their efforts in this regard.

The report recommends that “future relations with Pakistan must be based on a ‘realistic appraisal’ of our policies, aspirations and worldview.” The report has been co-authored by Lisa Curtis from The Heritage Foundation and Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan Ambassador to the US. Among its recommendations are a review of whether Pakistan fits the criteria for designation as a state that sponsors terrorism, and a ban in travel to the US of Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials. Signatories to the report include Lisa Curtis of Heritage Foundation, Bruce Riedel of Brookings Institution, Christine Fair of Georgetown University, and Husain Haqqani and Aparna Pande of Hudson Institute. They are compulsive Pakistan-haters and would not let any opportunity go to denigrate Pakistan. Anyhow, Indo-US efforts to isolate Pakistan have failed, and Pakistan is far from isolated. In other words, it is not isolated at all.

It enjoys a very close strategic relationship with its neighbor China — the emerging superpower. Relations with Iran were excellent during Shah of Iran’s era; however after the revolution in Iran, the relations remained somewhat strained but not hostile. Of course, Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, the GCC countries and Turkey remain friendly despite some misunderstandings and differences over the nuances over 34-countries Saudi-led coalition. Last month, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif assured the National Assembly that Pakistan under no circumstances would join a military alliance against Iran, contrary to speculations about country’s support for a Saudi-led coalition aimed at curtailing the spread of extremism and terrorism in the region. After his policy statement, speculation should be put to rest. Pakistan is an important member of the international community. It has been contributing to international peace and remains one of the largest contributors to the UN peace keeping missions. Some commentators insist that Pakistan is isolated because its relations with three of its four immediate neighbours are hostile.

Others passed the judgment that Pakistan was isolated because apart from India other three SAARC members were not ready to attend the SAARC summit. But it is not difficult to understand why Bangladesh and Afghanistan join hands with India. Relations between India and Pakistan have never been cordial or normal because of Kashmir dispute. As regards Afghanistan, it was the only country that had voted against Pakistan’s entry into the UN after partition of India. None of the Afghan governments in the past was willing to accept the Durand Line as a permanent border between Pakistan and Afghanistan; not even the Taliban. Yet efforts are made to paint Pakistan, its military and agencies in ignoble shade by American think tanks and sometimes US officials.

There is a perception that the ultimate objective of the US is to completely neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program with a view to making Pakistan subservient to India. In these circumstances, Pakistan had no choice but to seek China’s cooperation, which is a sour in rivaling eyes, especially after the announcement of the CPEC. Once, Pakistan was a staunch ally of the US and the West. The threat to Pakistan’s security from India might have been a cogent and genuine reason for joining Baghdad Pact, Cento, Seato and entering into bilateral agreements with the US, but prospects to achieve this objective were obscured with the ‘clause’ that the US and western countries would help Pakistan only in case of Communist aggression. The people of Pakistan, however, understood about the meaninglessness of these pacts when during two wars with India in 1965 and 1971 our allies became ‘non-aligned’. Instead of helping, they stopped not only military but also economic aid to Pakistan.

In early 1960s, Pakistan had had even a close brush of being bombed back into Stone Age by an enraged Soviet Union after its military downed an American U-2 reconnaissance plane flying on its Central Asian republics. American military aircraft had taken off from Badaber, an American base near Peshawar lent out by our hierarchs, which American military had been using clandestinely to eavesdrop on Soviet satellite launching and missile-testing activities. Badaber was a no go area even for president of Pakistan. After shooting down the plane, the Soviets encircled Peshawar in bold red and threatened of severe consequences. And what we got in return from American lords for imperilling our security so perilously for their sake -a snap embargo on all US military supplies, including spare parts for our military the moment Indo-Pak war broke out in 1965.

In 1980, General Ziaul Haq exploiting the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and to curry favour with the western countries wished to foster the same relationship with them that had existed from 1950s to beginning 1970s. Pakistan was a frontline state in, what was said, jihad against former Soviet Russia. After Soviet forces’ withdrawal and demise of the Soviet Union, the US left the region in a lurch. After 9/11, Pakistan was coerced into joining the war on terror and suffered a colossal loss in men and treasure. Yet Pakistan is accused of providing safe havens to the militants especially Haqqani group. The question is why the Taliban or Haqqani fighters would need safe haven in Pakistan when they have control over large swathes of land in Afghanistan. Having all said, Indo-US nexus has failed to isolate Pakistan.


Mohammad Jamil  is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at mjamil1938@hotmail.com

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/14-Feb-17/pakistan-is-not-at-all-isolated

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/aberrations-and-terrorism--new-age-islam-s-selection,-15-february-2017/d/110077


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