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Pakistan Press (23 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Afghanistan as Heart of Asia: New Age Islam's Selection, 23 March 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

23 March 2017

Afghanistan as Heart Of Asia

By Khadim Hussain

Mutual Discontent

By Owen Bennet-Jones

Poverty Of The Mind

By I. A. Rehman

‘Ghairat’ And Politics

Zaigham Khan

Threat Profiling

By Khawaja Khalid Farooq

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Afghanistan as Heart Of Asia

By Khadim Hussain


Perhaps nothing might be more relevant than the well-quoted verses by Dr Allama Iqbal regarding the strategic importance of Afghanistan located between the South and Central Asia. Besides having an easy and less expensive land route access to Central Asia, Afghanistan has easy access to Europe through Turkey, West Asia through Iran, land access to South Asia through Pakistan and direct access to China. This seems to be the reason that Iqbal considered Afghanistan as the ‘heart of Asia’. If the heart is in trouble, rest of the human body is understood to be in trouble.

Two factors seem to have put Afghanistan in a perpetual state of instability over the past four decades. A continuous war has been thrust on Afghanistan mostly due to the strategic rivalries of the states of the region and the rest of the world because of the importance of its strategic location. Some two million Afghans have lost their lives in wars. The lives lost were mostly the young generation of Afghans. Millions of Afghans were displaced and forced to live in neighbouring and other countries of the world. Various phases of this four-decade long war also caused disruptions in the natural evolution of Afghan society. The second factor that keeps Afghanistan destabilised is the economy of war that was a natural corollary of the perpetual war. This economy has been manifest in the shape of narcotics, illicit trade, and private militias.

Due to the factors mentioned above, Afghanistan remained a dissolved state for almost fifteen years. The internal and external stakeholders agreed to reconstruct the Republic of Afghanistan in the wake of the Bonn agreement in December 2001. It is an interesting study to see what Afghanistan as a Republic has achieved in economic, social and political spheres in the past 15 years.

60 to 65 percent of the population in Afghanistan consists of the youth who are mostly educated in the neighbouring countries, Europe or the United States of America because of displacement. This large educated population has been able to help build a reasonable macro and microeconomic infrastructure of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has been able to achieve two percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. It has also been able to maintain an annual growth of 14.5 percent in its foreign exchange reserves. Afghanistan has also been able to decrease 14 percent of its dependence on transit trade from Karachi.

Rivers and other sources of flowing water are the major natural resources of Afghanistan besides minerals packed mountain ranges. The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has planned 12 big dams and some 40 small dams on various rivers in Afghanistan. Construction of one of the larger dams in Kunar province is financially supported by China. Afghanistan has taken significant strides in agricultural development in the past fifteen years. The insurgency-stricken Helmand province of Afghanistan has become one of the major wheat producing areas in the past few years.

One can observe the emergence of a strong civil society in Afghanistan. There are more than two dozen TV channels which have hundreds of permanent technical and non-technical staffers. More than three dozen dailies and weeklies in Pashto, Dari and English are published from various cities of Afghanistan. Almost all provinces of Afghanistan have hundreds of non-governmental development, literary and research organisations. Some 11 million primary and secondary level students are studying under the supervision of 0.2 million teachers. Literacy rate has in Afghanistan has reached 37 percent. A full-fledged ministry for women development has been working in Afghanistan which has gone a long way to support women role in social, economic and political spheres. Afghanistan has made rapid progress in higher education. Besides the students who go on scholarships to other countries, thousands of students are studying at a dozen governmental and more than three dozen private seats of higher learning in Afghanistan.

Despite a sprawling war economy, insurgency and narcotics, Afghanistan has been able to build a reasonable political infrastructure. Three presidential elections have so far been heldsince 2001. A peaceful and electoral transition of power took place some two years back which seems to be a rare example in the history of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a bicameral parliament consisting of a lower house (Ulasi Jirga) and upper house (Da Masharano Jirga). Though a culture of democratic political parties has yet to emerge in Afghanistan, various political groups are active which might lead to the formation of various democratic political parties.

Various ethnicities like the Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras have agreed on a social contract that has provided an equitable distribution of power. Though a political competition is observed among the ethnicities for governmental jobs and share in economic resources, all the ethnicities firmly stick to the paradigm of ‘Afghaniat’.

The government and people of Afghanistan have to deal with two significant challenges in the coming years. Fist, Afghanistan has to deal with the internal insurgency of Taliban and the terrorism perpetrated by the newly emerged so-called Islamic State (IS). Second, Afghanistan has to replace the economy of war and narcotics with an economy of peace.

The emerging scenarios in the Eurasia, South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia indicate that Afghanistan will play a crucial and critical role in the success of various regional pacts, agreements and organisations. It goes without saying that the success of TAPI, CPEC, KASA 1000 and various agreements by ECO member states will ultimately depend on the internal stability of Afghanistan. It is, therefore, essential for the countries of the regions to explore common goals for progress in the sphere of geo-economics. The countries of the region have to abandon the policy of using private militias against one another. They also have to forsake the policy of supporting one or other militant group in Afghanistan. This might go a long way to help bring political stability in Afghanistan which might provide the necessary environment for the development of geo-economics of the region.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/23-Mar-17/afghanistan-as-heart-of-asia


Mutual Discontent

By Owen Bennet-Jones

23 March 2017

WESTERN countries — Britain amongst them — have a tendency to tell Pakistan what to do. For years the cry was ‘do more!’ against the Taliban. And when Pakistan did — eventually — do more, there came — ‘more still!’

It sometimes seems as if the West has a view on each and every area of Pakistani life. ‘Close down radical madrasas!’ ‘Dismantle the hawala system!’ ‘Build more schools!’ ‘Introduce family planning!’ ‘Chuck the Afghan Taliban leadership out of Quetta!’ And so on. Many of these ideas have merit. But what would happen if Pakistan responded in kind. What would it tell the British to do?

For many Pakistanis, the most pressing demand would be for British action on the MQM. For years now, they complain, the MQM leader Altaf Hussain, secure in his London home, has yelled threats down the phone line to rallies and other events in Karachi. After decades of British inactivity, the rising number of complaints from Pakistanis, many of whom directly contacted Scotland Yard, has resulted in a long-running hate speech investigation as well as another into possible incitement to violence. But, as many Pakistanis point out, the speeches still come thick and fast.

But the MQM is just one of many issues. There are other people making threatening speeches from the UK. Last year, Tanveer Ahmed was jailed for at least 27 years for the murder of Glasgow-based Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah. Despite his incarceration, Tanveer has sent a series of audio messages from his cell in Barlinnie prison in Scotland, some of which have been distributed by clerics in Lahore.

The West seems to have a view on all areas of Pakistani life.

In one message, Tanveer Ahmed told cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi that people should eliminate all the enemies of Islam. He also spoke in defence of Salmaan Taseer’s assassin, Mumtaz Qadri. “Anyone who disregards the respect and honour of Ghazi Mumtaz Qadri he is the one who announced his enmity with Islam openly,” Tanveer was heard saying. “Whoever calls the martyr an assassin, he is vicious, unclean and false.”

And then, some Pakistanis grumble, there are the schools in Britain that teach extremist or, more often, isolationist ideas to their pupils. Although there has been a shift in official attitudes in the UK in recent months, some schools are still teaching children that it is best not to become too friendly with Christians.

To take a specific example, one school in Nottingham has a history of isolating children from mainstream British life and of enforcing strict rules such as no make-up, no radios, no music with instruments, no mobile phones, no newspapers and no TV. Even Harry Potter — being devoured by other children in the UK — was banned. Even though the British authorities have now started taking measures against the school, for the moment, it is still functioning.

Next up: British visa policy. Even as middle-class Pakistani students wanting to study at leading British universities find their visas subject to long delays and in some cases rejection, many Pakistanis, including senior officials, complain that hard-line clerics from extremist madrasas seem to have no such problems.

In December last year, to take just one of many examples, Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri. described by the Pakistani authorities as “prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order” and banned from preaching in Pakistan, was allowed into the UK to speak at a number of English mosques.

There are also cases of the British state rewarding hard-line members of the anti-Ahmadi Khatm-i-Nabuwat. In 2009, Toaha Qureshi a trustee of Stockwell Mosque in London was given an MBE — Member of the British Empire — for services to community relations. Yet leaflets found in Stockwell mosque last year called for Ahmadis to be killed.

It is not just in matters of religion that the UK is perceived by some to play an unhelpful role in Pakistan. Indeed, London’s most effective way of undermining good governance in Pakistan is, in the view of many Pakistanis, the way it accepts the ill-gotten gains of businessman and politicians who want to park their money in a place where it will be safe and sound and beyond the reach of Pakistani law.

There is a saying the Bible. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” It is perhaps a little unfair to quote that in this context — many Pakistanis, after all, might now agree that the West was right to urge Pakistan to confront the TTP. Some other pieces of Western advice might also serve Pakistan’s long-term interests. But perhaps a little more willingness to acknowledge the West’s own specks would help reassure those in Pakistan who wonder if the UK and others really practise what they preach.

Source: dawn.com/news/1322232/mutual-discontent


Poverty of the Mind

By I. A. Rehman

23 March 2017

A SHARP decline in the mind of Pakistanis caused by a failure to find rational and efficient answers to the multidimensional crisis of the state is becoming evident with the passage of each day.

The zeal and vehemence with which the government has campaigned for the revival of military courts were worthy of a nobler cause. It is difficult to recall the government having pursued any public cause with such fervour. Issues such as poverty, hunger and disease have not received even a fraction of the attention given to the creation of a parallel system of justice.

At the same time, many learned persons have been piling up arguments to prove what should have been accepted as a self-evident truth — military courts offer no answer to the difficulties the state has been facing in its efforts to counter terrorism. The whole debate has underscored the Pakistani politicians’ inability to dispose of matters with as little effort as possible.

Earlier, the ballyhoo over the success in holding the PSL in Lahore had betrayed a serious loss of equilibrium. It was good that the match was held in Pakistan, that a large number of people were able to watch a game of cricket at the Qaddafi Stadium, and that the security staff had enhanced their reputation for efficiency. But there was no need to play down the embarrassment caused by the spot-fixing scandal nor for claiming that the event had defeated all attempts by the country’s enemies to isolate it or that the path to economic progress had been cleared.

Issues such as poverty have not received even a fraction of the attention given to the revival of military courts.

Then for many days the people were treated to a bizarre battle of words between Imran Khan’s detractors and his loyalists over his assault on the foreign players who had participated in the PSL, as if this were the most important issue in the crisis-torn country.

While the former cricket captain was perhaps careless in his choice of words, his comment was not entirely invalid. There is no doubt that many a retired or discarded player has found PSL-like events to be money-making ventures.

Besides, tournaments such as IPL and PSL have thrown up a new breed of mercenary sportsmen who owe their loyalty neither to a team nor to any country; they play for themselves. They do provide entertainment to a large number of people, and that means a lot for communities deprived of joy by terrorism, but it is doubtful if they contribute to any refinement of the game.

These points, however, did not figure in the controversy. Instead, the principal issue in contention was the demand of patriotism.

Now civil society organisations are calling upon leaders of political parties to solicit their support for the early passage of the bill aimed at the creation of a national commission for the protection of the rights of children. This is a child-majority country where child labour is still quite widespread, girls are still sold in marriage by their parents, or given in marriage to men old enough to be their grandfathers to settle disputes, and teenaged maids are tortured by their heartless employers. There can be no two opinions on the urgency of establishing a national watchdog organisation and the need to persuade political parties to back the idea.

However, civil society has good reason to fear that the relevant bill that took a long time to get through the National Assembly may be delayed in the Senate. Our politicians are not known for appreciating the rights of children. Many of them still believe the demand for the abolition of child labour is a Western conspiracy to undermine the national economy and create hardships for the poor widows who depend wholly on their small children’s earnings. The tactics used to block the bill for the abolition of corporal punishment are no secret.

At one of its meetings, the Senate Standing Committee dealing with the bill observed that while it supported the noble idea behind the proposed measure it could not ignore parents’ traditional rights over their children. Who knows what objections the traditional defenders of parents’ rights will raise to the bill on the commission on child rights.

Civil society organisations are hopeful that the government, that has been promising UN bodies the creation of a child rights commission for quite a few years, does realise the need to redeem its pledge before the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (due in October). These organisations had better conserve their energies for the effort they might be expected to make after the bill becomes the law, in order to ensure that its implementation is not obstructed in the way that the National Commission on the Status of Women and the National Commission on Human Rights were.

The latest issue of public concern seems to be the abuse of the social media. Some immature and irresponsible persons have provided the censorship-loving authority a justification for curtailing cyberspace. They have also made defence of the right to freedom of expression difficult. While the authorities may succeed in suppressing dissent they might be playing into the hands of extremists who have decided to silence the upholders of people’s rights by concocting charges of blasphemy against them.

The campaign against Asma Jahangir is so vicious and virulent that the threat not only to her liberty but directly to her life cannot be dismissed. In one of the messages that the faithful have been requested to disseminate as widely as possible — and the instructions have indeed been followed — she has been painted as the most incorrigible sinner since 30 years.

Considering the government’s poor record in dealing firmly with anyone who drapes himself in holy robes, one seriously doubts its capacity to check the exploitation of common citizens’ religious sentiments to gain political advantage. But unless the menace of intolerance and witch-hunts is effectively curbed there is danger of unofficial courts of inquisition springing up.

The poverty of the mind is most manifest in the manner in which critical matters are kept out of debate. One hears little about how sustainable development goals are to be achieved, for instance. The reasons for celebrating Pakistan Day — the adoption of the Lahore resolution and the coming into force of the first indigenous constitution — have been denuded of their meanings because of the rulers’ indulgence in their whims and fads.

Source: .dawn.com/news/1322247/poverty-of-the-mind


‘Ghairat’ and Politics

Zaigham Khan

March 20, 2017

Now that Javed Latif has formally apologised to Murad Saeed for his disrespectful comments regarding the latter’s family members, it appears that the row has been resolved through the jirga formed to resolve this ‘dispute’.

But has the problem been solved? Perhaps the honour of Murad Saeed has been redeemed through the apology but what about the women who were caught in the crossfire and what about all women in the public space who are the real casualty of such attacks.

As many observers have noted, targeting women for political point-scoring is nothing new. In 1977, I attended a political activity for the first time in my life. A relative of mine, who was a candidate for the PPP, had arranged a public meeting in the village and Mumtaz Bhutto and a number of other PPP leaders showed up for the event. The most significant part of my memory relates to a bearded person who looked like the maulvi at our Jamia mosque and who read out a poem describing the looks of Begum Nasim Wali Khan and its impact on her colleagues in the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA).

Begum Wali had taken charge of the Awami National Party (ANP) after her husband, Khan Abdul Wali Khan, was imprisoned by the Bhutto government. To this day, she is respected for her struggle during that period. Begum Wali also represented the party in the nine-party alliance that had challenged the PPP.

Around the same time, PNA activists printed a poster carrying a picture of Begum Nusrat Bhutto sitting alongside Richard Nixon at a state banquet. Many shopkeepers had put up this picture with the note: “Mother of PPP wallahs with American President Richard Nixon”.

For the women of the Bhutto family, it was just a beginning. As Z A Bhutto was hanged and first Nusrat and later Benazir Bhutto took charge of the party, they had to face an unrelenting smear campaign. Referring to the PPP slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra, Makan’, the head of a religious party told a jeering crowd, “She (Nusrat Bhutto) says she will give you roti (bread), ask her, will she give you boti (flesh) as well?”.

Before Benazir was married, one of the most popular anti-PPP slogans in Punjab went like this: “Piplio haya karo, bhen da wiyah karo” (Have some shame PPP wallahs, marry off your sister.) However, sexist attacks on her continued even after she got married, had children and became the prime minister of Pakistan. Perhaps no one surpassed Farzand-e-Rawalpindi Sheikh Rashid Ahmad in using guttural language against her; for this he enjoyed the backing of his party bosses in the PML-N.

In our divisive political culture, women are considered soft targets as the holders of men’s honour. An attack on women, verbal or physical, is considered an attack on men’s honour. Politics is – after all – about men competing for honour. Individual or collective harm meted to women, however, is hardly debated.

During the recent revival of democracy, we saw many positive changes. We should give some credit to Musharraf, who paved the path for women’s inclusion in politics on a large scale by reserving seats for them in local councils as well as provincial and national legislatures. It forced male politicians to work in a mixed environment, very often with members of their own families.

The PPP had already learnt to respect women in politics thanks to the leadership of Benazir Bhutto. The PML-N mended its ways after the Charter of Democracy that set norms for political parties. More recently, it has moved from the right to the centre of politics, advocating for rights of women and minorities.

However, widespread changes are sweeping a large part of the world. These changes are created by a revolution in media and communications and its interaction with the political culture, political discourse and political rhetoric. Anti-politicians from outside the mainstream and some populist politicians who want to advance themselves within conventional political structures have invented new rhetoric to go with social media.

The PTI, though 20 years old, is a child of this new world. It does not subscribe to the Charter of Democracy or any other shared norms of political discourse. It made a huge contribution to women’s inclusion in political space by including women in political meetings. However, it failed to protect them when they were molested and harassed by the party’s own workers.

The party has spawned one million of the kind who are always on the prowl on social media, harassing anyone who dares to criticise their infallible leader. This one million strong firing squad does not discriminate on the basis of gender, age or status. Anyone who dares to oppose the Messiah is fair game. Pakistani state officials visiting Western countries are humiliated by party activists in public, the whole episode is filmed and then the clip is presented to the jeering online crowd as proof the extreme unpopularity of the government.

Those who have been butchered by the firing squad include Imran Khan’s own family members. Reham Khan came under attack when she had not been divorced yet. She herself recounts how she was maligned by party activists and no one came to her rescue when she was being lynched through social media. Maryam Nawaz had to share pictures of her marriage to set the record straight regarding her marriage with Captain Safdar.

However, what Javed Latif did was ugly beyond any comparison. It was an attack by a legislator against the family members of another legislator. In this, I have complete sympathy for Murad Saeed and his family. In my opinion, Javed Latif should have been forced to resign and then the PML-N should have used that high moral ground to force the PTI to mend its ways.

I find it distasteful that the whole debate was carried out within the paradigm on men’s honour. It was not considered an attack on two young women, who have every right to participate in political activities and meet their leader. It was rather seen as an attack on the honour of Murad Saeed. PTI legislators from KP stated ad nauseam: “The Pathan can take a bullet, but not verbal abuse.” Senior PTI leaders stated on television that “such language leads to murders in our society.” Imran Khan himself spoke of men’s ghairat rather than women’s rights.

In fact, it was an attack on all women, because such attacks are a mechanism of social control meant to keep women in their place – out of the public domain and within the sanctuary of their houses, though they are not safe even there.

I am also upset by the shameful silence adopted by the Women’s Caucus in parliament. What is the purpose of their existence if not to promote an enabling environment for women to play an active role in the public space?

After a small respite, politicians are again sinking the boat they are sailing in. They are undermining the legitimacy of democracy and through extreme partisanship rendering governance impossible. They need to revert to a healthy public discourse if they do not want to be barbecued yet again. To quote Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times: “A healthy public language knits public and political leaders together and, precisely because it succeeds in drawing ordinary citizens into the debate, ultimately leads to better and more widely supported policy decisions.” And that’s what democracy is all about.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/193363-Ghairat-and-politics


Threat Profiling

By Khawaja Khalid Farooq


The aftermath of spectacular terror attacks follow a predictable pattern in Pakistan. Once the immediate shock wears off, there is an inevitable media scramble for information about the perpetrators, grief for the victims, and the hunt for security lapses. Security threat alerts are now commonly displayed on the media considering threat alerts issued by law enforcement agencies.

Unfortunately, it is often true that the intelligence community may have had some information about the attackers readily available. However, information about the perpetrators and their insidious plans are often hidden among varying reports, databases, and even open-source outlets, whether it’s news media reports or the social media. If placed together correctly, these bits and pieces of information can tell intelligence analysts much about the attackers, including who they are, how they choose their targets, and, in some cases, their motivations.

However, it is never easy. There may only be snippets fin coherent information, scraps of conversations, and cryptic references that have to be decoded, and that too within the short time frames between terrorist attacks. It is the enduring challenge of intelligence analysts to discover and analyse such information ahead of time, to predict and pre-empt such an attack. It is always easier to find this information afterward, but it is never easy beforehand.

One of the predictive analysis tools that intelligence analysts have available is threat profiling, which can help organise intelligence information related to different threat groups. This technique is simply a way to help collect relevant information about a group, prioritise analysis, and present the analysis within a common framework so the information can be widely shared and understood.

Threat profiling can often be confused with other forms of analysis. When discussing threat profiling, it is important to acknowledge that the word “profiling” often triggers concern about legality or political correctness. It can sometimes be inaccurately associated with the biased and bigoted thought process known as racial profiling. Threat profiling is not racial profiling — in fact its intent is to combat it.

Rather than making assumptions about a single person or group solely based on race, ethnicity, religion, or skin color, threat profiling looks at an entire set of social demographics and psychographics of a group. It also analyses this in the context of other factors like motivations, leadership, targets, etc. Instead of making generalisations, threat profiling is designed to help identify trends and exceptions equally.

Threat profiling can also be confused with behavioural profiling, a type of psychographic analysis of a single perpetrator used by law enforcement, and made popular and wrongly stereotyped by movies like ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and just about every current crime drama on television now. Where behavioural profiling is conducted on a single individual, threat profiling is designed to help analysts understand entire threat groups whether they are terror cells, gangs, organized crime syndicates, militias, or cyber organisations.

Virtually every piece of information about a group can be organised into a category or component. To create a threat profile, an analyst collects and organises all information related to a particular group into a defined set of components that can be more easily analysed. These could be motivations, goals, demographics, psychographics, leadership, targets, operational methods, sustainment, capabilities, and vulnerabilities.

Using threat profiling to analyse an extremist group is beneficial for several reasons. It helps to organise collection efforts on a certain group. Analysts can take all the information they have on that group, which may seem like disparate pieces of information, and categorise it into one or more components. Organising this information can help analysts prioritise where to start their analytical process.

Such a strategy is particularly beneficial when analysts only want to look towards a specific aspect of the group. Perhaps, most importantly, threat profiling will help establish a common framework of understanding about a group within an intelligence organisation. Often, conducting analysis about a particular threat group is a large-scale effort involving many analysts. Using a common framework as an accepted standard combats duplication of effort. It also helps to identify gaps in analysis among different people working on the effort.

Finally, using a standard threat profile framework will help in the presentation of analysis — whether it is through a briefing, discussion, presentation, or in a published product. This framework can be especially useful when communicating an assessment to those outside of the world of intelligence.

Intelligence analysis can be an extremely complex undertaking. It can be a daunting task to use the scant bits and pieces of information available to understand a threat group and then predict their future actions. Such efforts can lead to broad estimations, misconceptions, leap of logic and flat-out errors in analysis. However, threat profiling is designed to help make the analytical process more manageable, and make the now commonly displayed threat alerts as something beyond mere representations of snippets of information.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/23-Mar-17/threat-profiling


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