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Books and Documents

Pakistan Press (20 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



An Almost Happy Country By Rafia Zakaria: New Age Islam's Selection, 20 September 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

20 September 2017

An Almost Happy Country

By Rafia Zakaria

Palestinian Despair

By Mahir Ali

Morality and Realpolitik

By Shahid M Amin

Words Speak Louder Than Actions

By Imran Jan

Their Burden,Our Resolve

By Awais Anwer Khawaja

The Tide Turns Now

By Talimand Khan

The Enlightened White Man

By Miranda Husain

New Wine into Old Wineskins

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

Different Kind of Refugees

By Javaid Bhat

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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An Almost Happy Country

By Rafia Zakaria

September 20, 2017

THE World Happiness Report operates from the premise that happiness can be measured, counted up via surveys, tabulated in statistics and then ranked by country. This year’s report ranks 155 countries in a master ranking of happiness. It also proves statistically what all of us have known tacitly: rich people are happier than poor people, more likely to describe themselves as “happy” and consequently rich countries, made up as they are of rich people, are happier than poor countries.

Of all the lucky and happy countries, the happiest and consequently the luckiest is Norway, ranked number one among the 155. Its other Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, are not far behind, all of them appearing in the top 10 happiest places in the world. With little threat of war, free healthcare and state support for unemployment or disability, Norwegians need not fret over the concerns that trouble the rest of us.

According to the report’s authors, however, Norwegians are happy not because of their country’s wealth but in spite of it; ever frugal, they drill their oil reserves sparingly and slowly invest the profits rather than frittering them all away. As a consequence, Norway’s economy is cushioned from sudden downturns and its people from common worries that are everybody else’s affliction. Those who save are rarely sorry and the case of Norway, the happiest country in the world, proves just that.

How you estimate Pakistan’s position depends on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.

At number 80, Pakistan falls in the middle of the pack of countries ranked by the happiness index, not anywhere in the league of Denmark and Norway but beating both India and Bangladesh. At number 122, India fell four places in the happiness index between last year and this year’s rankings. One Indian publication blamed unemployment, malnutrition and poverty as possible causes; another threw the blame at the lack of vacation time, citing a study that ranked India as the fourth most vacation-deprived country in the world.

At number 79, China ranks higher than India but (rather surprisingly) sharp improvements in the standard of living of the Chinese over the past 25 years have not produced equivalent advances in levels of reported happiness. If the World Happiness Report is to be believed, the Chinese are absolutely no happier than they were in 1990 when per capita income was significantly lower than it is today. A possible cause for Chinese unhappiness could be the perceived lack of personal and political freedom, an indicator on which the world’s happiest countries rank very highly. More money, it seems, cannot entirely eliminate the misery produced by the constrictions and constraints of a repressive society.

The import of a World Happiness Report lies in the insights it can provide about the human experience as a whole — and there are some interesting ones in this year’s edition. Across all 155 countries, unemployment produces a huge drop in an individual’s estimation of their own happiness. Similarly, regardless of whether a country is rich or poor, the misery of mental illness is the single factor having the largest impact on happiness. It makes sense then that countries that have few resources to deal with mental illness and in which mental illness is stigmatised do not rank as highly on the happiness index as those where the mentally ill can be properly treated and are not subject to social exclusion and ostracism.

For all its insights, however, the World Happiness Report is yet another ranking according to whose parameters rich countries rank higher, seem better and hence establish a dominance of sorts over lesser nations. The happiness ranking, comprehensive and exhaustive as it may seem, does not reveal that the countries at the bottom of the list — the Central African Republic, Yemen and Syria amongst them — have all been the subject of troublesome meddling by richer, more powerful (and happier) Western nations. Invasion or intervention of this sort is not measured or interrogated by the authors of the happiness index, nor is it considered a possible cause for a lower happiness ranking.

The underlying premise of the World Happiness Report is that ‘happiness’ measured subjectively via a number of variables is the most coveted state of being in the world. Happiness, it is assumed, is the object of all human action and the consequently ultimate metric of well-being, more thorough and accurate than earlier tabulations that ranked the world’s nations on the basis of other measurements — the sum of their gross domestic product or the level of their economic growth. And yet even this metric of ‘happiness’ and its measurement using (at least in part) surveys of individuals may be unduly reliant on individualistic notions of self.

In societies where group identities are dominant, survey questions that demand subjective and individual estimations of happiness would be unusual, with survey respondents unaccustomed to considering their relative happiness or unhappiness independent of the consensus of family or clan or tribe. Similarly, some societies may prioritise piety or unity over individual happiness, making the latter a less than ideal measure of their well-being in relation to others.

At almost exactly halfway down the happiness index, how you estimate Pakistan’s position depends on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, inclined to see the glass half full or half empty. In either case, improvement is always possible: the Central American country of Nicaragua, beset with just as many challenges as Pakistan, came in at number 43, making it the most improved country in the entire set of rankings. What’s possible for Nicaragua may be possible for Pakistan, a climb from the bottom half into the upper half, a transformation from an almost happy country to a truly happy one.

Source: dawn.com/news/1358844/an-almost-happy-country

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Palestinian Despair

By Mahir Ali

September 20, 2017

THIS week’s fresh initiative for a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement is bound to be viewed with scepticism, given the depressing history of previous attempts to reconcile the rival Palestinian factions. It may be different this time, though, given that Hamas’s willingness to compromise is fuelled by sheer desperation.

Its Gaza Strip administration — established in the wake of a civil war, after the various powers-that-be had decreed that Hamas’s success in the 2006 Palestinian Authority (PA) elections deserved to be honoured in the breach — has seldom been on shakier ground. Egypt has collaborated with Israel’s blockade of the territory, particularly since Cairo’s waltz with democracy ended in tears, while Qatar’s value as a rich ally has diminished since it was ostracised by key Gulf neighbours.

Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came in June from Ramallah, when the PA’s President Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel to sharply reduce the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza. One of the consequences has been a drastic drop in the territory’s capacity for sewage treatment. Much of the raw waste has been redirected into the sea, further polluting the 25-mile coastline that for most Gazans is their only outlet for recreation.

If Abbas was determined to make life even more miserable and poisonous for Gazans as a means of twisting Hamas’s arm, he may have succeeded. Whether many Gazans will vote for Fatah, if the fresh elections proposed by Hamas go ahead, remains to be seen.

Everything is going according to plan.

Israel’s Likud-led administration detests the idea of Palestinian unity — even though that has never prevented it from making the most of the fact that Abbas does not speak for all Palestinians. It also relies on the PA to clamp down on the more credible critics of the occupation, such as Hebron-based human rights activist Issa Amro, the founder of Youth Against the Settlements, which documents abuses by settlers and the Israeli military. He was taken into custody recently after a Facebook post in which he decried the arrest of anti-Abbas journalist Ayman Qawasmeh.

Israel and its allies in the West could scarcely conceive of a more pliable Palestinian leader than Abbas, yet even he is prone to expressing his frustration over the absence of credible negotiations towards ending the 50-year occupation, recently referred to by Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel as “an alleged occupation”. A US official clarified the comments did not signify a change in American policy. That is easy to accept.

Late last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces corruption allegations, declared at an event celebrating the half-century of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, “We are here to stay forever. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel. It has been proven that it does not help peace.” That, too, is easy to accept. After all, as a senior aide of his predecessor Ariel Sharon admitted more than a decade ago, Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip was intended precisely to forestall the prospect of having to do the same in the West Bank. In that respect, everything is going according to plan.

The plan was hatched long ago, and initially bore fruit with the Balfour Declaration of Nov 2, 1917, in which the British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, informed a leader of Britain’s Jewish community, Lord Walter Rothschild, and through him the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.

The statement was intended, in large part, to gain Jewish support for the Allied war effort. The only Jewish member of David Lloyd George’s cabinet, secretary of state for India Edwin Samuel Montagu, vehemently opposed the declaration, saying: “The policy of His Majesty’s government is anti-Semitic in result and will prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country of the world.” He was half right. Many anti-Semites embraced the idea of an exodus of European Jews to the Middle East, and even today some of Likudite Israel’s closest allies, not least in the US, barely disguise their hatred for Jews.

A century ago, Jews comprised less than 10 per cent of the population in what became Mandatory Palestine. The demographics are very different today, yet still insufficiently weighted for latter-day Zionists. Hence the open-ended occupation and its awful consequences, which are bound to be broadly disregarded at this week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Source: dawn.com/news/1358852/palestinian-despair

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Morality and Realpolitik

By Shahid M Amin

WORLD has been shocked by the cruel persecution of Rohingya Muslims by the police and army of Myanmar, egged on by Buddhist priests and a highly nationalistic population. In the last one-month, about 300,000 Rohingyas have fled their homes to take refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. They have told stories of horrible atrocities, amounting to a virtual genocide. But two important neighbours, China and India, have endorsed Myanmar’s policies. Many observers are puzzled by the stance of these two countries. China has often supported oppressed peoples in the world, including Palestinians. India claims to be the largest democracy in the world. Even more puzzling is the defiance of world opinion by Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Prize winner for Peace, who had struggled for years to uphold human rights in Myanmar and today is in a position of authority in her country. The explanation for these paradoxes is that in international politics, cold-blooded calculation of national interests, called realpolitik, overrides morality.

The Rohingyas are an ethnic Muslim minority of about 1.5 million people, who migrated to Arakan (renamed as Rakhine) from Bengal (now Bangladesh), during British colonial period. The British had conquered Burma in 1825 and ruled over it as part of British India. After Burma gained independence in 1948, it adopted a harsh policy towards Rohingya Muslims. They were viewed as illegal Bengali immigrants, different in race and religion from Buddhist Burmese. They were denied citizenship in their own country. Their lands have been confiscated by the military and handed over to Burmese settlers. When General Ne Win seized power in 1962, he launched military operations to crush Rohingyas. Many fled to Bangladesh which, however, showed little sympathy. In mid-1990s, Bangladesh even forcibly repatriated 200,000 refugees to Myanmar.

Independent studies conducted by the UN have confirmed evidence of increasing incitement of hatred and religious intolerance by ultra-nationalist Buddhists, led by monks. Police and armed forces have conducted ‘summary executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment and forced labour’ against Rohingyas, termed by the UN High Commission for Refugees as ‘crimes against humanity.’ The latest violence started in August 2017, when some Rohingya militants reportedly killed a dozen Myanmar policemen. The official response was brutal and a veritable genocide has been launched, with killings, burnings and rapes of Rohingyas that have forced lakhs to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. An overpopulated country, Bangladesh has for years shown insensitivity towards the plight of Rohingyas and shut its borders to any influx of refugees. But this time, Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena has been forced by pressure of international opinion —by the UN, Turkey and others— to accept these refugees temporarily. International humanitarian aid has been promised and is on its way. Pakistani public opinion, always sympathetic to Muslim causes, has induced Islamabad to speak out on the Rohingya issue.

There is strong international pressure on Aung San Suu Kyi, who is virtually her country’s Prime Minister, to put a stop to the atrocities against Rohingyas. In the past, she was seen as a fighter for democracy and human rights. Instead, she has accused the Rohingyas of resort to terrorism. Evidently, she fears that most of her countrymen, who are strongly nationalist, would turn against her if she speaks up for the oppressed Rohingya and she would be deprived of power and public support. She does not dare to defy the powerful military as well, which has issued a tough statement: ‘We have no policy to negotiate with terrorists.’ Therefore, realpolitik is behind her decision to overlook moral considerations.

China has issued a statement endorsing the Myanmar government’s stance. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated on 12 September that China supported the Myanmar government’s efforts to ‘uphold peace and stability’ in Rakhine, adding: ‘We hope order and normal life there will be recovered as soon as possible’. China has made heavy investments in Myanmar and is currently building a transit route through Myanmar. This will be a crucial energy corridor that will reach the sea in Rakhine state. The pipeline will cost nearly $10 billion. There is an 868-km railway project, parallel to the Shwe natural gas pipeline adjacent to Rakhine. The trans-Myanmar infrastructure will link China’s Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal. China has long been competing with India for influence in Myanmar. Another reason that could be influencing China’s stand on the Rohingya issue is its worry about Islamist secessionists in Xinjiang province. Realpolitik is clearly guiding China in its stance towards Myanmar.

Indian Prime Minister Modi, who visited Myanmar recently, has supported Myanmar’s policy towards Rohingyas, mainly for geostrategic reasons. Some observers hold there is a “Sino-Indian Great Game” taking place in Myanmar. India is worried about China’s rising influence in Myanmar and is determined not to be left out. There are concerns in India over China’s extensive military involvement in ports, naval and intelligence facilities, specifically the upgrading of a naval base at Sittwe, a major seaport located close to Kolkata. India is also cooperating to modernize Myanmar’s military. It is the largest market for Myanmar exports.

These realpolitik motives explain India’s turning a blind eye to genocide of Rohingyas. Moreover, Modi’s Hindutva philosophy is basically anti-Muslim. He is worried by the strong separatist movement in Indian-held Kashmir and views Rohingyas as Islamist secessionists and extremists. Many Muslim countries have spoken out forcefully against persecution of Rohingyas because Myanmar is of marginal importance for them. But when it comes to Indian atrocities in Kashmir, Muslim countries are silent because their national interests could be hurt by antagonizing a big power like India. Here again, realpolitik prevails over morality.

Source: pakobserver.net/morality-and-realpolitik/

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Words Speak Louder Than Actions

By Imran Jan

September 19, 2017

Trump has trumpeted the “do more” rhetoric with his signature style of making hubris more pronounced. The “do more” is not new and neither is it going to be old anytime soon. But there is something very interesting about this “do more” mantra: One, it is a testament to the privilege of powerful nations to define things as they please and for the rest to follow. Two, with repeated loud noise almost nobody questions the character of the noise-makers. More disturbingly, the only counter-argument or the reply given is that Pakistan has lost so many lives, so much of the infrastructure, so much money, and so forth.

David Cameron, the first world leader to have met Nawaz Sharif when the latter was elected prime minister in 2013, had advocated stopping Pakistan from exporting terror to India, Afghanistan or anywhere else. The UK, the junior partner of the American empire, usually repeats its master’s rhetoric. As for the Pakistani leadership, claiming victimhood from terror is fine but it is not enough. The honour of 200 million people is at stake. When faced with accusations on one’s character and credibility, one doesn’t bend backwards to prove oneself as the victim. That is a very lowly manner of conducting the business of politics. Pakistan should start making noise about some issues that have already been pushed down the Orwellian hole. Let me highlight some of them.

Pakistan is criticised for supporting the Haqqani Network, the people America and its junior partner supported in the ’80s. The same nefarious individuals were supported militarily and financially during the Kosovo war. Bases were set up in Albania and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was backed along with al Qaeda to provoke the Serbs and trigger a military response from Nato. The biggest purpose was to make Nato relevant. All this support was given to the KLA and al Qaeda while Bin Laden had declared a holy war against America. But changing the definitions of enemies and negotiating with terrorists when it is convenient is the privilege of strong nations.

Keeping Bin Laden in Abbottabad, protecting his capture by the US is always there if nothing else works. Al Qaeda was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. British intelligence despite knowing this, tolerated the Advice and Reformation Committee — Bin Laden’s London base — to operate on British soil. This too was after 1996, the year when Bin Laden declared a holy war against the United States.

Why would the British tolerate Bin Laden’s base to operate on its soil? The British had tried to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi in 1986 but the plan failed and instead Qaddafi’s adopted daughter was killed in the attack. Ten years later, another opportunity presented itself when a Libyan military intelligence officer approached the MI6 with a plan to kill Qaddafi. The Libyan who was codenamed ‘Tunworth’ advised the MI6 to support the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) to kill Qaddafi. This group was formed in Afghanistan in 1990. Noman Benotman, the former head of the LIFG, who travelled to Afghanistan as a 22-year-old in 1989, said that he worked under the command of Jalaluddin Haqqani and received extensive support and training from British training programme. He was trained by the elite units of Mujahideen who were trained by Pakistan Special Forces, the CIA, and the SAS.

Britain allowed the LIFG to operate on its soil and do fundraising. The LIFG believed the Qaddafi government was “an apostate regime that has blasphemed against the faith of God Almighty” and that its overthrow was the “foremost duty after the faith in God”. These calls were issued in London. Several Afghan war Jihadist LIFG members were enjoying political asylum in England. So, an extremist organisation is allowed to operate on its soil in planning and executing assassination attempts on the leader of another sovereign nation, in this case Libya. Pakistan is criticised for something similar in terms of the Haqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Pakistan’s support for terror is wrong but criticising Pakistan by bigger sponsors of terror is textbook hypocrisy. Furthermore, Afghanistan is a neighbour and security issue of Pakistan. Libya was neither for British. But if oil and profits are factored into, one can easily connect the dots.

After the fall of the Third Reich, many Nazi officers were given American immigration. These Nazis worked for the CIA as spies in the Cold War against the Soviet Union despite the fact that the CIA knew of their serious war crimes.

There are numerous similar accounts, which the limited space does not permit me to write about. But you get the idea. The key is noise. In the business world, the simplest brand name with the simplest logo remains in memory, as Steve Jobs believed. However, in the complicated arena of global politics, the one who is the loudest and the most skilful in repeating the noise wins the day. It’s a crime when Pakistan supports the Haqqani Network; it’s a crime when Pakistan doesn’t “do more”. It’s a crime when Pakistan gives sanctuary to Bin Laden and on and on. However, the above-mentioned dirty realities and many more not mentioned above are not crimes because no noise is made about them. Those criticising Pakistan are good terrorism hating nations because they say so and that is enough for it to be true. My message to the Pakistani leadership is this: In politics, words speak louder than actions.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1510052/words-speak-louder-actions/

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Their Burden, Our Resolve

By Awais Anwer Khawaja

September 20, 2017

The recent Afghan policy of Trump’s administration manifests the centuries-old imperialist disposition. In Rudyard Kipling’s words in ‘The White Man’s Burden’: Take up the White Man’s burden/ Send forth the best ye breed –/ Go blind your sons to exile –/ To serve your captive’s need;/To wait in heavy harness,/ On fluttered folk and wild-/Your new caught, sullen peoples,/Half-devil and half child.

Historically, the white imperialists craved the conquest of other nations – at least in theory – with the objective to provide them medicine and education. Clearly, facts narrate the opposite of the myth. The Great Bengal Famine of 1769 that occurred soon after the British conquest proves to be the antithesis of Kipling’s theory.

The strong ties between Pakistan and the US date back to 1949 when a report was presented for the joints chiefs of staff on South Asia. This report noted that Pakistan “might be required as [a] base for air operations against [the] central USSR and as a staging area for forces engaged in the defence or recapture of [the] Middle East oil area”. The swathe of countries – from Turkey in the West to Iraq, Iran and Pakistan in the East – were knotted in an omnibus agreement known as the Baghdad Pact. The US couldn’t afford to have Pakistan fall within the communist bloc.

The Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation, signed between India and the Soviet Union in August 1971, had further complicated the situation for the capitalist world in the cold war. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979 marked an era of strategic cooperation between Pakistan and the US.

Contrary to the common dilemma in the US administration, Pakistan offers countless shared values with the free world. It is a capitalist economy with strong property rights. While the educational level is low, there are visible signs of improvement. Democracy is not as promising as what it is in the free folk’s world. But it is headed in the right direction. The discourse against corruption is gaining momentum, the media is largely gag-free and women are in the mainstream. Moreover, Pakistanis are peace-loving and hard-working and, despite numerous socioeconomic problems, are committed to the hope of a promising future.

The Trump administration’s Afghan policy is an escape from the harsh realities of the region. The hostile plains of Afghanistan are not prone to an easy invasion. Around 65 percent of Afghanistan is still out of allies’ control. US taxpayers have spent more than $61 billion on the Afghan war. But the desired outcome is still quite remote. The economic pivot is nowhere in sight. Reconstruction and war perhaps don’t go hand-in-hand. Afghanistan lacks the financial, managerial, technical and legal capacity to support or maintain what has been built thus far. All modern concepts, such as health, education, gender equality and social justice, are too modern for Afghan society.

A quick look at the Afghan policy that has spanned over various US administrations speaks volumes of its incoherence. George W Bush’s threat to bomb Pakistan in the event of non-cooperation, the Obama administration’s plan to pull out from Afghanistan, the formation of a quadrilateral group and, in the end, the US nudging India to adopt a mainstream role in Afghanistan presents an incoherent, divergent and a grotesque scheme.

The civilisation took a long time to evolve from tribal societies to ordered states. Afghanistan is still a patrimonial and stratified society and the basic characteristics of state-level formation remain largely absent. The evolutionary process from a feudal society to a coherent state is a long journey. The world cannot expect an evolution in Afghanistan in just a few decades, particularly in the backdrop of a political vacuum created after the end of the Soviet occupation.

From Pakistan’s perspective, the global view of the Afghan situation isn’t conducive either. Trump’s policy, followed by the Brics declaration, doesn’t sit well it with the country. Ostensibly, there is an emerging need to change the overall Afghanistan policy and the entire discourse on the war on terror. Pakistan needs to take decisive action against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks. We can’t continue to pursue the policy of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban. The Foreign Office saying one thing, the establishment saying another and the cabinet enunciating entirely a different narrative confounds the whole situation. Absolute civilian oversight is the cornerstone of the success in any civilised nation.

Soon after being voted into public office, the incumbent government tried to iron out the differences with the TTP through diplomatic means. However, Major General Sanaullah Khan Niazi’s martyrdom at the hands of the TTP after peaceful overtures by the government halted the peace process. It always takes two to tango and the state cannot singlehandedly resort to non-lethal means for the diplomatic resolution of differences. With the malaise in the economy and other problems at hand, Pakistan cannot ignore the global view of its role in the war on terror.

Of course, Pakistan has been one of the largest victims of terrorism itself. But something is wrong somewhere and the state has yet to determine what that is. Real peace is not being in a state of war. Sustainable peace is the implausibility of war. How can the implausibility of war be ensured by all the stakeholders?

Both Pakistan and India have to find peaceful means to work with each other. Would machinating to cancel or postpone the Saarc summit in Pakistan ensure peace? Would strong arming smaller states to not to play cricket in Pakistan bring peace? Or would shrugging off Pakistan’s genuine concerns with respect to fomenting terrorism in Pakistan by the likes of Kulbhushan Jadhav bring peace in the region? Similarly, dithering on taking decisive action against those who are responsible for any terrorist attack against any state and are seeking refuge in Pakistan cannot be the implausibility of war. Over the course of time, humans have learnt that war is not the destiny of our race. After the two world wars, the warring Europeans have learnt to live conterminously.

The sitting government under the command of Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi is contemplating means to assuage the smouldering crisis. The prime minister, who himself is a graduate of a US institute, realises the significance of a global political outlay. The annual plenary session of the UN presents a good opportunity to find political and peaceful means to resolve all outstanding issues.

While the US should not risk losing an ally that has historically enjoyed shared values with it, leaders in Pakistan and India are to stand the test of their vision in the General Assembly. At best, both the nuclear-armed nations will find common grounds for an objective resolution of their differences. I would like to respond to Rudyard Kipling in my own words, ‘The Brown Man’s Resolve’: We art the children of destiny-/ Sublime and Blissful,/ You hath not conquered us/We are your peers,/My women transcend in equality/Much as yours across [the] Atlantic,/There shouldn’t be blood in [the] streets-/Not mine, not thine.

Source: henews.com.pk/print/231089-Their-burdenour-resolve

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The Tide Turns Now

By Talimand Khan

20-Sep-17

The history of Pakistan’s by-elections have rarely assumed as much importance as the by-election of NA-120. The seat was vacated by the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s five-member bench verdict on the Panama leaks. However, his disqualification was done on the grounds of not declaring the salary which he did not receive. Thus, the verdict and result of NA-120 is another addition to the benchmarks of Pakistan’s treacherous political history and vantage point of analysis for predicting shape, tone and tenor of ensuing political events.

The result of NA-120 will probably be a barometer for democratic and anti-democratic forces. The result might have boosted the morale of the ruling but beleaguered PML-N but it can also create panic in the ranks of opposite camps to think about the crude methods of upsetting Punjab’s new found cause of civilian supremacy through sanctity of the ballot paper. For the first time, workers and voters of a political party ruling the center as well as Punjab faced crude tactics on polling day from powers that no one has the courage to name. In effect, the scenario paraphrased the whole saga of Pakistani parliamentary system and civilian supremacy. This is proof that the sovereign powers of the state are lying elsewhere, and until the people locate them they cannot fix responsibility and accountability for the political, economic and social decay the country is heading towards.

Punjab has a rare opportunity of promoting national integration by accomodating competing regional interests

However, there is a ray of hope as PML-N workers in Punjab showed a marked resolve and commitment to the cause of democracy and civilian supremacy in the face of all odds. It is a good indication that Punjab is steering towards becoming a strong political leadership that espouses the cause of democracy and civilian preponderance rather than a civil-military bastion.

By finding a leader in Nawaz Sharif and leading the democratic project, Punjab has a rare opportunity of national integration through democracy to accommodate competing regional interests that can ultimately blunt the ethno-linguistic divide. Moreover, it will be able to falsify Zia’s notion of unity through uniformity that justified the political use of religion, one of the nightmares faced by the country and its people.

So far, one of the complaints repeated by the democratic forces in smaller provinces against Punjab is either its apolitical attitude or inclination to side with anti-democratic forces suppressing the voices of democratic forces through its numerical majority.

In the 1980s, the voices of democratic forces in interior Sindh could not reach the plains of Punjab and were easily suppressed by incriminating them as miscreants and robbers.

Another glaring example of sacrifice by the people of smaller provinces is that it is off the radar of our national memories is the struggle of the Pakhtun of Balochistan. Dejected by the deepening silence against the Zia dictatorship and absence of solidarity with the democratic struggle of rural Sindhi, on October 7 1983, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, chairman of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, gave a call for a peaceful march with the only slogan of ‘long live democracy’ that was ruthlessly crushed by the martial law authorities by killing and injuring several workers. Achakzai narrowly escaped amid direct firing. That was one of Achakzai’s sins never forgiven by anti-democratic forces. For about seven years he remained underground due to threats to his life. The workers of PkMAP were subjected to a vicious witch hunt, in which they were forcefully taken to the Jamia Masjid in Zhob and forced to recite the Kalma to renew their faith as the mullah declared them apostates by talking about democracy and opposing the so-called Afghan Jihad. Additionally, the mullah declared their marriages null and void and called their in-laws to pressurize their son-in laws to either leave PkMAP and renew their faith or divorce their wives. This is the democratic struggle of those was turned into a stratagem to rally support for the Afghan jihad. As those workers stand exonerated of their ‘apostasy’, the country remains deeply mired by the same Afghan jihad policy.

But today, those political workers support their counterparts in Punjab struggling for the cause of democracy. When a non-Punjabi political worker finds out about the political struggle of workers in Punjab; some who have gone missing a day before the elections and others who have been subjected to baseless charges of blasphemy for raising voice in favour of civilian supremacy and democracy, a common cause is automatically established. This confluence of ideology that struggles for the larger cause of democracy can ensure plurality and diversity and can provide constitutional guarantee for their cultural, political and economic rights providing an impetus for national integration exceeding the ethnic and linguistic divide. The struggle, without a doubt is a worthy cause. Now that Punjab is facing the brunt of forces controlling democracy, the possibility of representative democracy is not too elusive.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Sep-17/the-tide-turnsnow

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The Enlightened White Man

By Miranda Husain

20-Sep-17

Forest School in northeast London was home to me for most of the 1980s. As it had been to the creators of a pioneering comedy sketch show that turned the mundane post-colonial narrative on its head by superbly satirising British cultural stereotypes about South Asians. Whilst poking equal fun at the latter’s own idiosyncrasies and biases. Cheque please! Rather controversially, this secondary school also counted amongst its alumni the young man behind the kidnapping and murderous beheading of an American journalist in Pakistan.

Yet when I think of these days — what springs to mind is the heady mix of big hair, Sun-In and perms. All laminated in squirts of industrial strength hairspray. This was also the time that I fell in love. He was England’s most miserable genius. And it was his poetry collection — The Whitsun Weddings — that turned my head.

We had a new English Literature A’ Level teacher. He was a bit of a rebel in that he always sided with pupils over senior teaching staff. There he was right in the thick of it: that failed lunchtime plot that saw most of us clambering on to the roof while the boys got into position, ready to water bomb the Head of Sixth Form. Who, sadly, must have got wind of what was afoot. For not once did he return to his office during the entire lunch hour. At the time, we believed that the ‘support’ from our rebel teacher afforded him untold street cred. Looking back, it should perhaps have signalled a warning of sorts.

According to Mr T, young American women had no right to protest campus rapes — simply because they are more privileged than women in India and Pakistan

I found myself in touch with him a few years ago, after coming across a comment he had left on a school friend’s social media post. He was a published author living in the US, married to another teacher from our school. They had cats. Naturally, we had much to talk about. For my part, I couldn’t bring myself to use his first name. Interested to know what I was doing here in Pakistan — I began to tell him some of the challenges of living here as an independent, unmarried yet crazy cat person. Some of which were not too dissimilar to living in England as an independent, unmarried crazy dog person.

It was almost imperceptible at first. The way he recast me with an identity of his own choosing: an oppressed Pakistani woman living in a country that is said to be no place for any of us women. Mere happenstance this was not. For it allowed him to reinvent himself as the Enlightened White Man, an authority on the Muslim world and the plight of women here. Given that he had spent a little time in the MENA region. Not to mention his stint teaching Pakistanis in England. Well, then.

Increasingly, he engineered our online conversations to critical assessment of how the US media covered rape. Manufactured contempt over how one such incident in India had yet to make headline news on CNN. Before proffering much needed Enlightened White Man insight: this is what Americans think of Muslims, that they are a bunch of ragtags. His Muslim world experience allowed him such liberty. A shame, then, that it didn’t afford him to recognise India was not an extension of Pakistan. Yet my greatest misstep came by way of musing about how a recent gang rape in this country — the one that isn’t the world’s largest democracy — hadn’t grabbed headlines here. For the simple and tragic reason that such crimes against women are all too commonplace.

Here, he informed, me was where I was going wrong. The patriarchy wasn’t at fault. It was those pesky young women in the US, those white, middle-class university students, those dastardly feminist activists. Those women whom he said took advantage of the confabulation of rape culture with patriarchy that reduces sexual politics in American universities to nothing more than a pro-active play for power. Which he believes is afforded by victim status. These conversations took place against the backdrop of the Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz’s endurance performance art, Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight). Aimed at protesting the university authorities’ lackadaisical attitude towards a reported incident of rape.

According to Mr T, who was never part of the A-Team for obvious reasons, young women like her had no right to protest campus rapes — because they are more privileged than women in India and Pakistan who are routinely raped by factory owners. Thus does the Enlightened White Man pit women against each other as he casts himself in the role of judge, jury and proverbial executioner of crimes about which he has no understanding.

It was hard to know to what to respond first. Mr T gave not a fleeting thought to prevailing class systems in this part of the world, the small percentage of women who are not bonded labour. For the Enlightened White Man doesn’t do nuance. Far more comfortable is he reducing women here to a one-dimensional stereotype that is largely perpetuated by the western media. And men like him take this single stereotype to ‘justify’ his position that American students both cry false rape and have themselves created this on-campus rape culture through binge drinking and casual hook-ups.

This is cultural appropriation at its most base.

Thinking back to that day on the roof all those years ago. We should have thrown the water bombs anyway.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Sep-17/the-enlightened-white-man

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New Wine into Old Wineskins

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

20-Sep-17

NA-120 election results must be taken as a wakeup call — it is question of now or never. While one would not like to go into the debate as to how and why it happened and that it was a manifestation of victory for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s strategy of defiance and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s victory is the triumph of democratic forces over establishment troika and those in cahoots with it.

What should be a matter of more serious concern is coming of the Jihadis wanting to establish a so-called Islamic state to perpetuate through violent methods their subjugation of — by and large — peace loving Pakistanis still committed to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan as a secular, social welfare state.

Though they had their vote count around thirteen thousand, independent candidates a vowedly belonging to Jihadi network not allowed registration as political parties by the Election Commission of Pakistan — JuD’s Milli Muslim League of Hafiz Saeed and Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s Labbaik Party have caused a shockwave. One is sure the emergence of these groups must definitely be a cause of profound worry for those who want to see Pakistan blossom as a democracy.

Having seen the retrogressive role of TTP in the 2013 elections when both PPP and ANP were denied a free and fair campaign — we ought to ensure that the latest entrants into electorial politcis with their notorious affiliations with terrorists don’t use highhanded tactics to instill fear of terror in their opponents

To add insult to this injury is the news circulating in the media quoting a retired general who claims to have ingress in the corridors of power (he is supposed to have shown messages from previous ISI DG to him about the new scheme of white washing terrorists into mainstream), that plans are on the drawing board to induct the jihadi groups into mainstream through a policy to win them over and suck them into mainstream.

This retired gentleman who masquerades as a sort of defence/security expert and political analyst on various TV talk shows, says a policy is on the anvil to allow banned outfits to enter main stream politics. In this context one remembers the interview of former President General Pervez Musharraf to Kamran Shahid recently minced no words in his praise of Hafiz Saeed as a national hero, a vital strategic asset who was not being treated well by the government.

Both Labbaik Party and LeT/JuD backed Milli Muslim League supported Independent candidate polled nearly thirteen thousand previous PMLN votes. The voting pattern of by election in NA-120 shows dark state sponsored further division of vote in Punjab and emergence of strong elements that could always be used to destabilize an elected government or even derail democracy.

Having seen the retrogressive role of TTP and its associates in the 2013 elections when both PPPP and ANP were not allowed free campaigning, their candidates were attacked, killed or kidnapped — the new religious parties with their notorious affiliations with the terrorists — would in still fear of terror in their opponents. While IK had openly called for talks with Taliban and his KP government provides funds for Maulana Samiul Haq’s seminary that had hosted Benazir Bhutto’s alleged killers, PML-N was already in cahoots with Hafiz Saeed’s Let/JuD to carry their sizeable vote bank among the trade/shopkeepers/markets and bazaars.

The overall murky political situation made murkier by statements such as attributed to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (published in Financial Times) regarding the limitations of its operations, saying the bombers who killed more than 90 people in the attack in Kabul in May were likely to have come from Pakistan and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s remarks that Pakistan shall have to do something more to alley the fears of its friends of its involvement with the terrorists who allegedly have safe havens in Pakistan — do not require any further indictment.

Giving likes of Hafiz Saeed’s new political identity for operations as strategic assets or non state actors under the garb of political parties is like branding New Wine into Old Wineskins. Renowned American scholar Selig Harrison speaking in London in Conference on Terrorism (March 2001) had the following to say: “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan to create the ‘monster’ that is... Afghanistan’s ... Taliban... I warned them that they were creating a monster.” CIA believed that Taliban were religious fanatics, they would fight until death to “oust the Soviet infidels” from their land. Similar was the deposition by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton many years later before the Senate that “people we are fighting today we funded twenty years ago…” She felt that Pakistan too should have known that when one breeds poisonous snakes in one’s courtyard, they should also be prepared to be bitten.

Mumbai terrorist attacks (Nov 26, 2008) threw cold water on President Asif Zardari’s initiative to move forward with India on various issues including Kashmir. India alleges that it was Hafiz Saeed who had masterminded the operation that killed over 150 at the behest of his invisible masters. Similar was the case when Indian Prime Minister Modi made a surprise visit to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday in December 2015. Shortly afterwards Indian Air Force base in Pathankot was attacked by terrorists. Delhi sees Hafiz Saeed’s hand in it too. Mumbai and Pathankot obviously were aimed at forestalling talks.

Punjab is the province that has bluest of blood in patriotism, it is home to a martial race that has overwhelming numerical majority among the defenders and it has always been a safe haven for religious parties including those who opposed Pakistan and MAJ. These Jihadis or sectarian warmongers have been very loyal to the PMLN. Their unconditional support to the two brothers gave them freedom to roam unhindered. White washed they shall be given a new role.

Being classified as non-state actors as they are- they will be available to the powers that be — to be used by them for or against as per their wishes. As such one should dread their role as Trojan horses for disrupting democracy — especially to counter all those forces that want Pakistan to return to MAJ’s vision of a secular ideals.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Sep-17/new-wine-into-old-wineskins

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Different Kind of Refugees

By Javaid Bhat

20-Sep-17

Civilisation hosting refugees — For years together we have been informed that India as a civilisation has hosted refugees from countries far and near. So there came people who, we are told, felt persecuted in their respective countries, and decided to come to India. That is why there are Parsis in India, or Christians who came from the Middle East. The acting out of a good host was not only for refugees, but for people who came to India for different reasons, and chose to make it home. Like the Malabar Muslims in the South of India who came for trade, and gradually settled in the new place. It is said that the oldest mosque in India is Cheraman Juma Mosque in Methala, Kodungallur Taluk, Thrissur District, which was made during the life time of the Prophet. Therefore, India as a host was celebrated and strategically posited against countries and civilizations which have a bad record in this regard. It is another matter whether the notion of ‘India’ or ‘Indianness’ existed when these people came to this landmass.

Post-Independence refugees — After independence of India from the British, the refugees came to India. Initially as a result of the Partition when Hindus migrated from West and East Pakistan towards India. For them to come to the new home was smoother due to the atmosphere at that time, and the religious affinity with people of the host country. There was hope and expectation from the host country. No wonder then that Nayantara Sehgal says that her maternal uncle Jawaharlal Nehru’s compound was full of refugees. Then arrived into India Buddhist refugees from Tibet. Thousands of followers of the Dalai Lama came to India, and were allowed to set up a Govt. in Exile.

The closure of borders for Rohingyas confirms the belief that India is moving in a direction not good for its image on the world stage

In some places there are even seats reserved for the Tibetan students in educational institutions. To add to that, each time a high dignitary from China arrives in India they have the freedom to stage protests. Similarly, refugees from the Bangladesh War arrived in India during and after 1971, and were received with warmth. The Tamil sub-nationalism also led to migrations of people from Sri Lanka, and thousands of Tamils were hosted in India. There was no ill-will from their hosts. This is also the case with the Pakistani Hindus who have migrated to India long after Partition happened, and have even been granted citizenship.

A Zionist ‘Right to Return’ has been mooted in their favour. Not to mention in this category, the West Pakistan refugees in Jammu and Kashmir, for who the local and the central leadership is doing more than enough to give them same rights as that of the state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir. The policy towards refugees has been consistent from the above record with the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially its Article 14. However, adherence to this policy seems to have gone into a tailspin in the context of Rohingyas, described by UN in 2013 many as one of the most persecuted people on earth.

Rohingyas and India — What is different about Rohingyas? Ever since their persecution in the Rakhine area of Myanmar, they have migrated to different areas. Like India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. Many of them are living in the outskirts of Jammu. They are seen in parts of Haryana and West Bengal. An atmosphere has been created in India that these refugees are unwelcome. They have been linked to crime and even terror. With the result, whatever little things they have managed to gather around them in their new homes are vulnerable to attack and plunder. In Jammu they have been harassed and their properties gutted. They are now made to be a national security threat, as potential recruits for the ISIS and other terror groups. The central government has even taken them to the court, for deporting them out of India. This is unprecedented in the refugee history of India both in terms of the much-touted civilisational aspect and the post-Independence record with the refugees.

The problem with Rohingyas is that they look like people in India who are not liked by the regime in power. They are seen to be facing Ka’aba for prayer, and performing other rituals belonging to Muslims. In sum, they are Muslims and worship a different God. And that is their precise disqualification for being received as refugees in India. Further, their exit from Myanmar and arrival in India comes at a time of India’s rapid conversion into a security state. With the word “security” mooted at the drop of a hat, and used generally against people who question both the antecedents of the ruling regime and their current machinations in power. A peculiar justification for their deportation from India has been that they might attack the Indian Buddhists who they believe have persecuted them in Myanmar. On a similar justification one could have argued that Hindus from Pakistan should be deported because they might attack Muslims in India, because they believe Muslims have persecuted them in Pakistan. Or that Tibetan Buddhists may be deported from India because they might attack the Communists in India because the Communists have persecuted them in China. Or even Tamil Hindus should be deported because they might attack Buddhists in India.

The two reasons cited for their deportation viz national security threat and their animosity towards Buddhists are mere red herrings. The statistical evidence shows that while some of them are involved in petty crimes, they are not involved in any terror activities. Whatever be the case, it is certain that the Rohingya crisis has exposed the idea of India as a host of people of all hues and colours. With the closure of borders for Rohingyas, dies that idea and confirms the belief that India is moving in a direction not good for its image on the world stage.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/20-Sep-17/different-kind-of-refugees

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/an-almost-happy-country-by-rafia-zakaria--new-age-islam-s-selection,-20-september-2017/d/112586




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