Books and Documents

Pakistan Press (09 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Fleeting Moments- Why The US Needs War: New Age Islam’s Selection, 09 September 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


September 9, 2017

Beyond diplomatic isolation

By Hussain H Zaidi

Faceless tragedies

By Irfan Husain

Whatever has happened to Zeenat?

By M Ziauddin

Where To, Now?

By M Ziauddin

The inhumanity of humankind!

By Khalid Saleem

Legal eye: State and non-state

By Babar Sattar

US imperialism vs N Korea’s ultranationalism

Pak Observer

Tolerance threshold for militancy

By Abbas Nasir

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/fleeting-moments--why-the-us-needs-war--new-age-islam’s-selection,-09-september-2017/d/112473


Fleeting Moments- Why The US Needs War

By Iftekhar A Khan

September 9, 2017

US President Donald Trump has warned Pakistan to either stop harbouring and abetting terrorists or be prepared to face the consequences. In other words, Trump has placed us in a probationary period to either conduct ourselves to his satisfaction or suffer. He expects us to follow his dictates on the pattern that a village tough expects his inferiors to suck up to him. Toughs are always hard to please.

Trump’s warning has alarmed many Pakistanis. Despite our full support – by providing routes for Nato supplies and air strips to launch drone flights – the US accuses us of supporting terrorists. In fact, the so-called war on terror has cost us thousands of precious lives and triggered losses worth billions to our economy. Yet, we are being blamed for not doing enough and for playing a double game.

Owing to this war, our way of life has changed forever. Ours was a free country. People could freely move about in military garrisons. But all that has changed. Security checkpoints put up on main roads and thoroughfares cause hardships and miseries. All large government buildings, schools, colleges and universities have put up high walls with barbed wire running on them. And yet, the imperial power thinks we have not done enough.

However, before Trump came to power, he showed no inclination for wars or launching military aggression against any country. Before his election, he said, “Syria is not our issue” or “we should stay out of Syria”. But after moving into the White House, he stepped up the intensity of war in Syria and ordered 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to be launched in the war-torn country. Trump’s turnaround from pacifism to jingoism is phenomenal. What compelled him to change his mind?

When he made anti-war statements, he was a novice in politics. He had never occupied any key political position in the government. After moving into the White House, he found himself surrounded by retired military generals in some of the most important decision-making positions. With John Kelly as the White House chief of staff, Jim Mattis as the defence secretary and H R McMaster working as his national security adviser, Trump had to acquire jingoistic views. Generals are combative by deportment.

Even though the US president is considered the most powerful man on earth, he is only a spokesperson of the influential military-industrial-corporate complex that plays a dominant role in formulating a country’s foreign and defence policies. Let us remember that the US economy is primarily based on wars. Its powerful military machine, laced with state-of- the-art equipment, is not meant to sit home and yawn. It must be launched to occupy weaker states on one pretext or the other. Consider Libya and Iraq.

After Trump’s warning to Pakistan, a debate ensued among the official circles and on TV and print media that the new American policy of sending more troops to Afghanistan is doomed to fail. Some have quoted examples of Vietnam and Iraq to prove their point.

Success and defeat don’t matter much to the US. What matters is that wars must go on. Wars justify spending the taxpayers’ money to pay weapon manufacturers. Wars rejuvenate the war-based economy. In return, the weapon manufacturers donate to the election campaigns of congressmen and the ruling oligarchy. If in the process, the ordinary American Joe and Jane are deprived of their hard-earned money and the world loses it peace, it’s just tough luck.

It’s also cited that Obama wanted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Yes he wanted to, but only at the fag end of his second tenure in the White House when he had nothing to lose. On the other hand, Donald Trump has just occupied the White House. He would surely need a whipping horse to sail through his stay in power. And what better choice than the land of the poor Afghans, a tried-and-tested ground for weapon testing.

To understand the American psyche of wars, Marines Major Gen Smedley Butler’s speech in 1933 should be examined: “War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses”. He added: “There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket”. Are the present American wars mere rackets? This is a question for the American public to answer.



Beyond diplomatic isolation

By Hussain H Zaidi

September 9, 2017

Pakistan is in a tight spot and it must dig itself out of it. For a country that is already fending off America’s cutting remarks about its alleged role of a show-spoiler in Afghanistan, the declaration issued at a recent Brics summit has added insult to injury.

Without naming Pakistan, the 10-year-old bloc, which represents major developing countries, has for the first time termed militant outfits that are allegedly based in the country a regional security concern. Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, paragraph 48 of the declaration states: “We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates including [the] Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, [the] Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani Network, [the] Lashkar-e-Taiba, [the] Jaish-e-Mohammed, [the] TTP and [the] Hizbut Tahrir”.

Para 49 adds: “We deplore all terrorist attacks worldwide, including attacks in Brics countries, and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism. We reaffirm that those responsible for committing, organizing, or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable”.

The strongly-worded declaration issued at the Brics summit, which was hosted by Pakistan’s all-weather friend China, may have cut the country to the quick. At the 2016 Brics summit that was held in India, China had opposed the incorporation of a similarly-worded text in the joint statement. However, the impression that Beijing has ratted on Islamabad by agreeing to include the text in a statement issued at the recent summit a year later is wrong.

As China inches closer to becoming an economic superpower, one of the most potent threats that it faces is militancy. The declaration prefigures that China is toughening its stance on supporting subterranean outfits regardless of where they are based. At any rate, bilateral relations involve taking the rough with the smooth. At the same time, Islamabad will be ill-advised to put all its eggs in one basket, regardless of whether it is Beijing’s or Washington’s. Whether it is in the East or the West, inter-state relations are shaped by perceived national interest.

Pakistan has sallied forth in the war on terror, with thousands dead and billions lost. But it has not been able to make a persuasive sales pitch that it is set against militancy in any shape or form. Hence, its commitment to fight terrorism remains under question from both its friends and foes. With the situation in Afghanistan going downhill, the pressure on Pakistan to do more in the war on terror is racking up.

In any event, the growing Taliban militancy can’t be set down to the alleged acts of omission and commission on the part of Pakistan. The Afghan predicament is too complicated to warrant such a skin-deep diagnosis. The narrative that support and sanctuaries provided by Islamabad to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network in the pursuit of strategic depth in Afghanistan are the principal reason that the country is bleeding is short on substance.

Pakistan is not the villain of the piece in Afghanistan. Other players are also present on the scene, each trying to hit the bull’s eye in pursuit of its perceived national interest. This has made the country a theatre of divergent and often incompatible interests. The US has fought as well as encouraged reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban and has backed the now largely futile quadrilateral peace process.

American presence in Afghanistan has been actuated less by the fear of the Taliban and more by the apprehension that after Al-Qaeda, the war-torn nation may become the stronghold of another transnational militant organisation, such as the IS. It is only now that Washington has announced to go all-out against the Taliban. But in case the US has to choose between an IS-like organisation and the Taliban, it’s not difficult to conjecture who it would prefer.

For India, a friendly Afghanistan is an instrument of outflanking Pakistan, both politically and economically. New Delhi has set upon itself to have a strong commercial and political presence in the unstable but strategically important country. Given the zero-sum game that New Delhi and Islamabad are engaged in, any gains made by India anywhere are seen by both countries as a loss for Pakistan and vice versa.

Iran, which provides an alternative transit route for Afghanistan’s overseas trade, also wants a friendly government in Kabul. The Chabahar Port in south-east Iran, which is being developed with New Delhi’s assistance, will provide India a long-cherished market access to Afghanistan and beyond that to Central Asia. Tehran may not like Afghanistan to provide sustenance to transnational terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeda and the IS. At the same time, it would not mind if the Afghan campaign eats up more US resources. It may even like the US to pull out of Afghanistan on a losing note.    

There are also internal forces of instability at work in Afghanistan. Years of infighting have ravaged the Afghan economy. On the other hand, a feeble economy has thwarted efforts for peace and reconciliation and encouraged corruption as mighty warlords compete for meagre resources. It has also reduced Afghanistan to a vassal state that serves the often mutually incompatible foreign policy objectives of key regional and international players.

Amid this clash of interests and conflicting objectives, the US, with all its might and main, has failed to stem the rot in Afghanistan. It will be grossly unfair to expect Pakistan to take the rap for US failure in Afghanistan. Pakistan also has a valid point that the US has sold its sacrifices in the war on terror short.

Be that as it may, Pakistan can’t just shrug off the mounting criticism of its counter-terrorism credentials. Far from pleasing Washington or even Beijing, coming clean on the issue is in Islamabad’s own interest. Religious extremism has put the nation’s future at risk. Even higher education institutions are in the thrall of the diabolical ideology on which extremism rests.

The foreign minister hit the nail on the head through his comment on the Brics declaration. He emphasised the need for Pakistan to set its house in order. Evidently, this entails more than erasing negative perceptions about Pakistan. Quite a few banned outfits continue to operate under different names as the National Action Plan remains largely unimplemented.

Trump’s threats may be viewed as either a form of sabre-rattling – implying that Pakistan should not care a hoot – or a reality. In either case, Pakistan should not wait to find out what they mean. It is unlikely that Pakistan will go bankrupt or its people will starve without American aid.

At the same time, a cash-strapped country like Pakistan is always in need of foreign assistance to keep the wheels of the economy moving and to move up the ladder of economic progress. Contrary to the claims of a few rabble-rousers, external aid is not a Greek gift. Instead, foreign capital supplements domestic savings, which in the case of Pakistan are quite low.

However, more than the aid, it is a question of fending off the growing diplomatic isolation. As a result, the government ought to get around the problem by engaging all the stakeholders – including the US – and putting across its own viewpoint.



Faceless tragedies

By Irfan Husain

September 09, 2017

JOSEPH Stalin is reputed to have said: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths are a statistic.”

The same applies to migrants. Today, we are concerned about the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar that has driven over 100,000 un­­for­­­tunate Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh. But these are mostly faceless refugees: to be pitied, but hard to empathise with.

This goes for all the hundreds of thousands fleeing from conflicts, lawlessness or poverty in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eretria, Nigeria and many other countries that are sinking into chaos. Even as their westward movement is tracked by TV cameras and well-meaning commentary, they remain anonymous.

It’s only when you actually meet somebody displaced from his home that a refugee moves from being a statistic to a real, flesh-and-blood human being. In my case, this happened while watching a recent production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Usually, musicals are fluffy entertainment that seldom carry a serious message, or force the audience to think beyond the songs and dances they provide, often with great panache. But they are hardly ever vehicles for big ideas.

Fiddler on the Roof is set in the shtetl, or ‘little town’, of Anatevka in Russia. For some 250 years, Russian Jews were restricted to these small rural communities, barred by law from going to university, or entering professions like law and medicine, or owning land. They were hardly ever given permission to leave their shtetls, and this lack of mobility contributed to a high degree of social cohesion. Although life must have been tough, it still evokes a lot of nostalgia among Jews descended from shtetl refugees.

They are to be pitied but hard to empathise with.

As the audience meets the superstitious, raucous inhabitants of Anatevka, the distant rumours of anti-Semitic pogroms are audible. But life goes on, and Teyve, the play’s central figure, struggles to balance the winds of change with the community’s deeply conservative ethos. Tradition! is a rollicking song about the need to cling to the old ways.

But Teyve — brilliantly played by Omid Djalili, the Iranian stand-up comic and actor — is forced to fight a rearguard action to preserve his authority in his family as one by one, his four daughters persuade him to agree to marriages with men he initially didn’t approve of. One of the young men, a radical student from Kiev, is sent off to a labour camp in Siberia, and is followed by his loyal young wife.

Against the backdrop of small-town gossip and bickering, the harsh reality of tsarist persecution approaches ever closer. A wedding party is disrupted by Russian soldiers, even though one of them later apologises, saying he was following orders. But soon, the people of Anatevka are told they have to vacate the shtetl in three days.

In the final scene, Teyve and the other townspeople say farewell to each other, and leave with the belongings they can carry to different destinations. Some announce their decision to go to America; others head for Western Europe; and the matchmaker is determined to reach Jerusalem.

Theatre demands a suspension of disbelief, and over the two-hour long production, we come to know the characters who come to life on the stage. Watching their funereal procession as they leave their beloved shtetl, it was hard not to shed a tear for their forced departure.

Multiply this misery by a million and more, and you get some idea of the pain being suffered by so many unfortunate people around the world today. In many cases, these expulsions are the result of nationalism and faith: if you are not a member of the majority community, you are the ‘other’ and therefore pose a threat.

Thus, for the majority Buddhists of Myanmar, the Muslim Rohingyas are outsiders who do not deserve nationality, dignity or the right to their own homes. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been displaced in Iraq; non-Muslims are forever at risk in Pakistan; and Shias and Sunnis are locked in battle across the Middle East.

As tribes have evolved into nations, and religious views have become more intolerant, the killing frenzy has mounted. In fact, these two forces have led to more death and destruction than any other cause. Even secular ideologies like communism and fascism have triggered inhuman butchery.

Old footage from Partition of the countless people killed and displaced reminds us of the high price we paid to separate Muslims from non-Muslims, even though there are as many Muslims in India today as there are in Pakistan. Then many thought Bengali Muslims could not live with their West Pakistani brethren, and today, many Sunnis consider Shias to be apostates, and vice versa.

So where does this atomisation end? Nations, faiths, sects and ethnicities have divided us as never before. Education and progress have done little to break down these ancient barriers as we build walls instead of bridges. As the Rohingyas are driven out, we must ask if it’ll be our turn next.



Whatever has happened to Zeenat?

By M Ziauddin

Defence of Human Rights has reported that more than 5,000 cases of enforced disappearance have still not been resolved


In August 2015, Zeenat Shahzadi, a Pakistani journalist who had been following the alleged enforced disappearance of an Indian engineer, Hamid Ansari, went "missing" from Lahore.

According to Zeenat's family, she had been receiving threatening phone calls asking her not to pursue the case before her alleged enforced disappearance.

Two years later, her fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has mentioned Zeenat's case in its latest report (released on August 30, 2017)titled - "No more 'missing persons': the criminalization of enforced disappearance in South Asia".

In Pakistan, enforced disappearances are largely reported in the North-

Western region, where people accused of belonging to militant organizations or of involvement in terrorism-related activities are known to have "disappeared".

The practice is also reported in large numbers in Balochistan, where there are ongoing movements for self-determination and greater provincial autonomy, as well as in Sindh, against people belonging to or perceived to be sympathetic with nationalist groups.

With the ‘disappearance’ of a number of bloggers and journalists earlier this year, the practice of enforced disappearance appears to be expanding — both in terms of geographical reach and the categories of people being targeted

With the "disappearance" of a number ofbloggers and journalists earlier this year, the practice of enforced disappearance appears to be expanding - both in terms of geographical reach and also the categories of people being targeted.

The number of cases of enforced disappearance has recorded significant increases in the early 2000s, beginning with Pakistan's involvement in the US-led "war on terror" in late 2001.

The practice has now become a national phenomenon. Defence of Human Rights, has reported that more than 5,000 cases of enforced disappearance have still not been resolved.

The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons alleges 18,000 people have been forcibly disappeared from Balochistan alone since 2001.The officially constituted Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, which has been granted a three-year extension on Friday, on the other hand, reports 1,256 cases of alleged enforced disappearance as of 31 July 2017.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, whichdocuments human rights violations in 60 selected districts in the country, has documented nearly 400 cases of enforced disappearance since 2014 from the 60 districts it monitors.

So far the Government has failed to bring perpetrators to account in even a single case involving enforced disappearance.

On the contrary, it has enacted legislation that facilitates the perpetration of enforced disappearance - including by explicitly legalizing forms of secret, unacknowledged, and incommunicado detention - and giving immunity to those responsible.

Enforced disappearance is not recognized as a distinct crime in Pakistan.

Police register complaints of enforced disappearances against 'unknown persons' under section 346 of the Penal Code that relates to "wrongful confinement in secret", and prescribes a penalty of two years imprisonment.

Families of "disappeared" people have also made habeas corpus petitions in the high courts and the Supreme Court under Article 199 and 184(3) of the Constitution respectively, requesting the courts to find out the whereabouts of their "missing" loved ones.

Courts have responded by directing concerned authorities to "trace" the whereabouts of "missing persons" and producing them before court.

The Supreme Court first took up the issue of the widespread practice of enforced disappearances in Pakistan in December 2005, when it took suomotunotice under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of a news report citing the growing numbers of enforced disappearances in the country.

During the hearings, the Supreme Court acknowledged evidence establishing that many of the "disappeared" were in the custody of the government agencies and summoned high level officials before the Supreme Court to explain the legal basis of the detention and to physically produce the detainees.

As the number of cases of enforced disappearances pending in the Supreme Court steadily grew, the Court directed the Government to establish aCommission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance to investigate enforced disappearances across Pakistan and to provide recommendations to curb the practice.

The 2011 Commission was initially established for six months but its mandate has since been extended a number of times, and the Commission remains in operation at the time of writing.

Among other functions, the Commission has the mandate to "trace the whereabouts of allegedly enforced disappeared persons", "fix responsibility on individuals or organizations responsible", and "register or direct the registration of FIRs against named individuals…who were involved either directly or indirectly inthe disappearance of an untraced person."

Despite the broad mandate, the Commission has failed to hold perpetrators of enforced disappearances criminally accountable.

In one of its strongest judgments yet on the practice of enforced disappearances, the Supreme Court held in the Mohabbat Shah case that the unauthorized and unacknowledged removal of detainees from an internment centre amounted to an enforced disappearance.

The Court expressed concern at the "Kafkaesque workings" of the government forces and held that "no law enforcing agency can forcibly detain a person without showing his whereabouts to his relatives for a long period" and that currently, there was no law in force in Pakistan that allowed anybody to "unauthorizedly detain undeclared detainees".

Notably, the Supreme Court also held that even though Pakistan has not yet become a party to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED), principles enunciated in the Convention are applicable in Pakistan in the interpretation of other rights such as the right to life.

The Government responded by filing for a review of the judgment, askingthe court to delete remarks implicating the agencies as such findings could "demoralize the troops".

The Pakistani Government has committed to criminalize enforced disappearances on multiple occasions. However, it has taken no concrete steps to fulfil this commitment.

For example, the Government constituted a "Task Force on Missing Persons" in 2013 to provide recommendations on how to deal with the prevalent practice.

The Task Force submitted its report in December 2013. While the report has not been made public, members of the Task Force have revealed that one of the recommendations in its report was the criminalization of the practice.

The Committee also urged that Pakistan should also ensure that "all allegations of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings are promptly and thoroughly investigated; all perpetrators are prosecuted and punished, with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crimes.



Where To, Now?

By M Ziauddin

Published: September 9, 2017

Keeping in view the current situation in the world and the region, Pakistan will have to swiftly “change its direction,” said Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday, September 7th, after the conclusion of the Pakistani envoys’ conference.

But do we have the time to change course before the onrushing train of world public opinion crashes into Pakistan?

On the face of it, however, it seems only an impossible Houdini act can snatch us from the jaws of the oncoming challenges. Indeed, we have missed this bus so many times that it has now stopped coming our way.

Still, there are a number of steps that we could quickly take to convey to the world that this time at least we mean what we are saying, so that those who are driving the onrushing train take their foot off the throttle for a minute or two as they take a closer look at what we are offering.

The first step that needs to be taken urgently is to remove foreign policy from national pride and link it up with national interest even if it appears on the face of it to be a move for appeasement, especially towards our enemy number one — India. The next step is to immediately proceed against all those who were allegedly involved in the Mumbai massacre of November 2008.

Those who have worked on this case believe that we have enough evidence to get a guilty verdict from the courts against its alleged perpetrators.

Next, we must stop testing China’s friendship by having Beijing block a proposal by the US to designate Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist.

Pakistan had the choice to go after the non-state actors (NSAs) immediately or dismantle their infrastructure gradually. The first option was considered too dangerous as the militants, it was feared, would morph into many groups once their leadership was arrested and jailed, making it impossible to monitor the splinters. So, the second option was adopted. This was based on the theory that if one tried to jump from the top of the ladder, there was this possibility of ending up with broken limbs. It was therefore decided that we would climb down the ladder one step at a time.

The gradualism theory seems to have done us no good. We seem to have lost a lot of limbs already. We have lost as many as 53,000 Pakistanis, including 7,000 security personnel and suffered a massive dent of $120 billion to the economy.

More importantly, we have lost a lot of ideological space to the distorted version of Islam propagated at gunpoint by these NSAs. This ideology has spread like wildfire from Fata to Punjab and Karachi, to rural Sindh and Balochistan.

As a result, Pakistan has become a pariah state, almost. No country wants to play cricket here and our tourism has taken a big hit. Even our most secure establishments, like the GHQ and the naval and air force installations have come under attack.

We consistently deny the presence of safe havens for the Haqqani Network in the tribal belt, or the existence of the so-called Quetta Shura or/and Peshawar Shura. But let us make doubly sure that this is what the actual truth is.

We took a long time going into North Waziristan despite the heavy price the nation kept paying all these years in terms of men, money and the all- important ideological space.

There were said to be about 3,500 foreigners in North Waziristan, about a few scores of Arabs, a thousand or so children of Arabs from Pashtun mothers, some tourist jihadists, and a sprinkling of Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens and Uighurs.

It used to be argued that if we tried to send boots into the region, the jihadists would use the civilian population as human shields resulting in colossal collateral damage. If we bombed them from the skies, the collateral damage would be equally enormous. Using gunship helicopters would be disastrous because the terrorists would shoot them down.

The inordinate delay in launching this war for peace has also injected a large dose of trust deficit between Islamabad and Washington, and two of our immediate neighbours — India and Afghanistan — continue to suspect our intentions and accuse us of playing a double game.



The inhumanity of humankind!

By Khalid Saleem

Published: September 9, 2017

The on-going international refugee crisis in the wake of the ambitious adventures of the powers that be should serve to bring home to all right-thinking people that welfare of human beings does matter. Riding roughshod over people’s right to life and livelihood is just not on — no matter what the justification.

On the outskirts of the beautiful city of Algiers, a visitor would find the very well-maintained Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. Buried there are servicemen who lost their lives fighting for the victors during the Second World War. Those who have had the opportunity to visit this cemetery will have noticed etched on the gravestone of one young soldier the epitaph: “Someday we shall know the reason why.” One could hardly think of a more apt summing up of man’s anguish over the insanity of war than this poignant outcry of the distraught family of this young victim.

Over the years, men have gone to war against other men at the behest of ambitious leaders, killing and maiming their fellow beings in the process. And yet, when history was at long last written — by the victors — nothing but nothing emerged to justify the carnage, the cruelty and the havoc wrought as a result of these horrendous campaigns.

The history of man’s march towards civilisation is replete with vivid instances of man’s inhumanity to man; of man’s greed, rapaciousness and untold ambition. All to what end? Man’s inherent mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong is, instead, utilised to justify the unjustifiable; man’s covetousness of what is not his but rather the veritable right of his fellow beings.

Each war that has been fought has had its own peculiar justification and particular set of advocates. These advocates take pains and go to any extreme not only to justify the conflict but also to glorify the gory details. In the current conflicts the powers that be have coined a brand new pretext: pre-emption. This pretext is based on the philosophy that a mighty power has the inherent right to hunt and destroy any hapless minion that in its opinion could one day pose a threat to its own selfish interests.

The recent conflicts are no different from the wars in the past waged by those who coveted what was not rightfully theirs. The solitary difference is that the visual media have conferred on the conflicts an entirely new dimension. People around the world follow them like on-going soap operas; only that the bullets are real, the smart bombs and daisy cutters lethal and it is real human beings who are being cut down.

The world is passing through an extremely difficult, nay critical, phase. Talk everywhere is of belligerence, not peace; of bigotry, not tolerance. War, which was once regarded by sages as the last option, is now being peddled as a quick-fix solution for all ills. Human life, shorn of its sanctity, has never appeared so cheap or so dispensable.

A wanton act of terror has turned the entire world order upside down. Doesn’t the irrational response of the great world leaders over the past years indicate that they have played right into the hands of the ‘terrorists’? After all what does a terrorist hope to achieve through his desperate act, but to create terror? A dispassionate look back would indicate that this is exactly what the perpetrators of 9/11 have managed to achieve.

Response to terror does not lie in counter-terror, just as the riposte to murder does not lie in vendetta. The international agencies have yet to pin a plausible definition to ‘terrorism’ or, more importantly to ‘state terrorism’. No religion condones wanton violence per se. All uphold the sanctity of human life. Advocate justice, fair play and righteousness. It is the greed of man rather than his creed that breeds violence. And greed has no nationality or ethnicity.

Time may be opportune for the elders of the world to join their heads together to devise an integrated plan to tackle the root cause of terrorism, as also of chauvinistic adventurism. If this course were to be followed, the elders may well come to the conclusion that the remedy lies not in an open-ended sordid adventure, but rather on a course of conciliation.



Legal eye: State and non-state

By Babar Sattar

 September 9, 2017

Ten years, numerous investigations and a trial later, we are as unaware of the truth surrounding Benazir Bhutto’s assassination as we were the day she was taken. The saddest part is that this has come as no surprise. Had we stumbled upon the truth amid the state putting up a show of trying to bring offenders to justice, it would have been a break from our history and practice. The ATC ruling, considered dispassionately, epitomises the rot that parts of our state have come to represent. As a whole, it is a picture of depravity, complicity, inability and timidity.

There were at least three hypotheses regarding BB’s assassination: One, she was killed on Musharraf’s instructions; two, she was killed by the Musharraf regime by engaging non-state actors; three, non-state actors conceived and executed the assassination plan and the Musharraf regime – while being aware of the threat – was either incapable or unwilling to protect BB. To state the obvious, none of these makes the state look good. It was a state crime, or state and non-state actors being in bed, or non-state actors acting with impunity due to an inept state.

The ATC ruling clarifies nothing. There is no attempt to understand or analyse the larger picture. One gets no sense that the court tried to decrypt the motive of crime or pass a ruling that would unveil the facts surrounding it or announce a sentence that legal heirs of the victim could consider retributive justice or one that would have deterrent effect in general. Is a justice system anything more than a charade if it can’t decipher the truth surrounding a heinous crime, can’t identify or nab culprits and can’t bring peace to legal heirs or society-at-large?

The ATC seems to reject the third hypothesis (proposed and pursued by the state): that non-states/the TTP executed BB. This is the only slightly reasoned part of the ruling. The court decries lack of causal linkages between the accused and the crime and highlights the larger problem with criminal prosecution: the accused kept in illegal confinement, arrest date falsified, confessional statements taken under duress, evidence concocted, involvement of intelligence agencies, SOPs not followed, investigations rife with loose ends leading to prosecution presenting a fabricated story that doesn’t withstand scrutiny.

By separating Musharraf from the trial and ordering that he be tried at a later time, the ATC court doesn’t directly address the theory that Musharraf ordered BB’s assassination. But by convicting DIG Saud Aziz and SSP Khurram Shahzad (under Sections 119 and 201 of PPC, for concealment of design to commit an offence that the police were duty bound to prevent, and for causing disappearance of evidence) the ruling leaves both theories (state ordering BB’s assassination and executing it itself, or having it executed by proxies) open.

The part of the ruling that deals with the role of the police officers is almost devoid of reasoning. It deals with their defences mechanically and while convicting them doesn’t explain in cause-and-effect terms what “design” they tried to conceal. So without the court saying who killed BB and why, we have two police officers convicted (one for ordering that the police escort team assigned to BB attend to the firing incident targeting Nawaz Sharif and for not ordering a post-mortem, and the other for ordering that the crime scene be hosed 100 minutes after the incident).

(In the interest of disclosure, as a young ASP Saud Aziz was our neighbour in Civil Lines. Khurram Shahzad was a classmate in Quaid-e-Azam University and probably the mildest soul in class. And from police officers one has only heard about both being professionals). Notwithstanding the acquaintance, if they were part of or complicit in any ‘design’ to assassinate BB, they must face the wrath of law in its harshest form. But can someone be punished for protecting a design without determining what the design is or who its authors/executioners are?

Holding the police accountable for being negligent is one thing (and about time we do so) and punishing them for deliberately destroying evidence to protect real culprits is another. Have the officers been scapegoated or have they been punished for not revealing the identity of the hidden hands behind BB’s murder? Due to poverty of reasoning, the ruling doesn’t explain. The inability of actors within the justice system to be candid in such cases is evident from the fact that the only plain-speaking part of the ruling is where the judge quotes the findings of the UN Commission of Inquiry.

The UN Commission in its findings noted: “The [BB murder] investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth. Despite their explanation to the Commission that they do not have a mandate to conduct criminal investigations, intelligence agencies included the ISI were present during key points in the police investigation, including the gathering of evidence at the crime scene and the forensic examination of Ms. Bhutto’s vehicle, playing a role that the police were reluctant to reveal to the Commission.

“More significantly, the ISI conducted parallel investigations, gathering evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel investigations was selectively shared with the police. What little direction police investigations had was provided to them by the intelligence agencies. However, the bulk of the information was not shared with police investigators. In fact, investigators on both the Karachi and Rawalpindi cases were unaware of information the ISI possessed about terrorist cells targeting Ms Bhutto and were unaware that the ISI had detained for persons in late October 2007 for the Karachi attack.

“More importantly, no aspect of the Commission’s inquiry was untouched by credible assertions of politicized and clandestine action by the intelligence services – the ISI, Military Intelligence, and the Intelligence Bureau. On virtually every issue the Commission addressed, intelligence agencies played a pervasive role, including a central involvement in the political negotiations regarding Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and the conduct of elections.

“The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials to react effectively to Ms. Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases, deliberate. In other cases, the failures were driven by uncertainty in the minds of many officials as to the extent of the involvement of intelligence agencies. These officials, in part fearing involvement by the intelligence agencies, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions that they knew, as professionals, they should have taken.”

This last paragraph of the UN Commission’s finding cited in the ATC ruling is an apt critique of the ATC ruling as well. BB’s assassination and subsequent events, including bungled up investigations, the lies and cover-ups, death of a prosecutor and a clumsy trial scream out loud that instrumentalities of our state made a deliberate and sustained effort to ensure that no one gets to the bottom of who killed BB and why. The scarier bit, highlighted by the fact that BB’s party was in government after her assassination, is that everyone has made peace with the fact that survival demands not entangling with powerful state instrumentalities.

The Saleem Shahzad Commission headed by a SC judge had concluded that, while information wasn’t forthcoming and he couldn’t name names, he also couldn’t give a clean chit to intelligence agencies suspected of foul play. The issue of forced disappearances is alive and screaming to this day without an end in sight. The Axact case has been messed up just like BB’s with investigators pressurised and at least one prosecutor being delivered the ‘message’ with a grenade attack.

We saw bloggers being picked up, charged and convicted for blasphemy in a media trial by faceless accusers before being let off in the dark of the night.

So here is the message. You can survive non-state actors if you antagonise them, but neither they nor you can survive if you cross the state.



US imperialism vs N Korea’s ultranationalism

Pak Observer

THE world gets cautioned by the growing nuclear rift between Washington and Pyongyang, which has been doubled down by Kim Jong Un’s blunt initiative of exploding a hydrogen bomb test on Sunday. And yet, the real cause of the 15-year hot nuclear conflict between the two Cold War rivals lies in the US-coveted imperialist policy in the Korean Peninsula and North Koreans’ orchestrated policy of reactive ultra-nationalism against Washington. US tensions with North Korea severely brewed when President Trump opted to again highlight the threat the US military could pose to Pyongyang, tweeting that “military solutions are now fully in place” and “locked and loaded” should North Korea “act unwisely. The US Pacific Command is more signaling its promptitude to fight if need be than spoiling for a battle within days.

On the other hand, the UNSC has scheduled a second emergency meeting in a week about North Korea after a powerful nuclear test explosion added another layer of urgency for diplomats’ brain storming— what to do about the North’s persistent weapons programmes. The Americans apprehend not beyond thirty minutes about how long it might take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles. On July 4, North Korea carried out its first-ever successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Xi and Putin have had already shown their reservations over US deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea when the launch occurred. Both China and Russia advocated for a dual freeze solution soliciting that ‘’North Korea would freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile testing while both US and S Korea would hold their conventional exercises’’. But their precept did not work.

As for the North Koreans, the US-North Korea scuffle has to be seen within the perspective of Washington’s half century hostile and imperialist policy towards Pyongyang. The North Korean state attempts to engender a visceral hatred for the United States. Kindergarteners have demonstrated anti-American martial images. The Korean media releases videos of the US military— in flames as shown at the June 25 anniversary of the start of the Korean War—depicts the display of the day of struggle against US imperialism. The Korean veteran of war, Kim Il Sung, is revered as a god in North Korea and attributed with countless accomplishments, exclusively inventing the country’s guiding ideology, juche — which means self-reliance — and liberating the Korean Peninsula from Japanese occupation. The US has been deploying its most advanced capabilities to Japan, to further contribute to the security of Japan. This deployment has stimulated Kim’s rage after he warned this week US military escalation was dragging the world to the “brink of nuclear war”. “In case of a US- triggered aggression, the DPRK will opt for with a powerful nuclear treasured sword for self-defence’’.

Japan has mobalised missiles and defence systems to its major cities in preparation for a missile attack. Hiroshima, Shimane and Kochi are particularly at risk as any North Korea missile fired at the US territory of Guam would pass directly overhead. The fact is: any malfunction of the missile over Japan could put thousands of thousands of people at risk. Marc Pelini, a US general, commander of 6-52 Air Defence Artillery Battalion said ‘’in the Gulf War, the Patriot missile had just a nine-percent success rate; it’s now a key piece of protection’’. “We’re truly the first line of defence,” Pelini said. “We buy decision space for the president and for the Combined Force Command (CFC) Commander. General Vincent Brooks, Commander of the United States forces Korea (USFK) make decisions on how to potentially deescalate or escalate the conflict as necessary.”

The international condemnation notwithstanding, North Korea has conducted 10 missile tests this year. Two of them carried solid-fuel missiles, which the North could launch with less warning; while the US has a carrier strike group, the most powerful unit of naval power in existence, near North Korea’s shores. Washington has permanently stationed 25,000 members of the world’s best-organized fighting force near the North’s borders — and they just finished a massive military exercise. Adm. Dennis Blair, the former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, recently told a crowd at the Harvard Club that there was just no way to safely knock out all of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities in one go. He emphasised even the best systems can’t stop a determined foe with a handful of nukes.

However, a neutral Switzerland is ready to act as a mediator to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. Swiss President Doris Leuthard has said Swiss troops were strategically deployed on the demarcation zone between South Korea and North Korea and the country had an unprecedented history of neutral diplomacy. Though the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, favors a diplomatic solution of the said crisis, Seoul has requested United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after promptings N-Korea might launch more missiles in the wake of its sixth and largest nuclear test. As for Beijing, tensions with N-Korea are “now at a tipping point approaching a crisis” following its firing of a ballistic missile over Japan. Yet a close look at China’s military posturing reveals that If Trump opts for a military option, he could find himself in a fix— not only in a damaging war with N-Korea but also, potentially, with China.

— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.




Tolerance threshold for militancy

By Abbas Nasir

September 09, 2017

AFTER President Donald Trump asked Pakistan to crack down on the Afghan Taliban on its soil in his Afghan policy address, army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa spelt out his country’s response, saying Pakistan cannot fight Afghanistan’s war in Pakistan.

Speaking on Defence Day, the army chief also demanded that space not be allowed to terrorist groups opposed to his country on Afghan soil. The world can’t ask us to do more. It should do more itself, he added.

The army chief recounted the sacrifices of his soldiers in the fight against terrorism in the country and said Pakistan was determined to win this war as failure was not an option, for that would destabilise the whole region.

The army chief’s statement came at the same time as the consultations at the Foreign Office where envoys from key foreign capitals had been summoned home for a policy formulation session presided over by the newly appointed foreign minister Khawaja Asif.

The foreign minister acknowledged in a television interview the need to first set our own house in order before taking on critics elsewhere.

Interestingly enough, a Twitter handle usually articulating the point of view of an outlawed militant group active in India-held Kashmir had taken exception to the foreign minister’s statement and lauded the army chief’s address.

Following the foreign policy meet where recommendations were finalised for discussion in parliament, Khawaja Asif told the media that a “paradigm shift” was expected keeping in view the current environment and the options before the country.

But what happens when the state deploys non-state actors in pursuit of its policy goals?

The foreign minister also underlined Pakistan’s dilemma rooted in the legacy of “two dictators, Zia and Musharraf, a baggage that is best got rid of” where there was a dramatic divergence of views on how Pakistan saw itself (and its sacrifices) and how the world saw it.

The minister said that in any policy, Pakistan’s interests would be supreme and all else came second. The army chief had made similar remarks earlier, going on to say that if the world couldn’t help Pakistan fight terrorism, it should at least not pin its own failures on Islamabad.

The army chief had also words of counsel for those who think they are waging jihad against the state and said such elements were engaged in fasaad as jihad was solely the prerogative of the state and no individual or group could get endorsement for their own actions as jihad.

Although articulated somewhat differently, both the foreign minister’s ‘own house in order’ and the army chief’s ‘jihad vs fasaad’ statements referred to the same thing ie explosively radicalised and often misguided sections of society prepared to kill others and perish themselves in the name of faith.

Khawaja Asif was correct in saying the country was left with the baggage of the two dictators Zia and Musharraf where the first systematically radicalised and militarised society as an article of faith and the latter did nothing to challenge the purveyors of hate in any practical manner and made compromises to perpetuate his rule.

And this is where the complications start. Who can disagree with the army chief that only the state should monopolise the tools of coercion in order to have a civilised society? But what happens when the state deploys non-state actors in pursuit of its policy goals?

We have long lamented how the national security state leased out some of its key functions to these non-state actors. All was well so long as the non-state actors played ball. But when some of them decided to go rogue there was all hell to pay.

In private conversations, a number of army officers assert that the military’s entire top leadership today is battle-hardened, having commanded troops engaged in counterterrorism operations and fighting insurgents in not only the northwest tribal areas but elsewhere too.

“Most of the three stars today have either commanded brigades or battalions in the counter-insurgency operations. They have personally witnessed the ugly manifestations of extremism and militancy. There is no way that anyone of these commanders will have a soft corner for any non-state actor,” one Fata veteran told me recently.

Where differences of opinions crop up with the outside world or even with their critics within the country is on, for example, how to handle groups that the military believes have never gone rogue in Pakistan.

“We need to deradicalise these groups and try and mainstream them before attempting to disarm them. This is important as we can’t fight on too many fronts and layers at the same time,” explained one former officer.

The directives by Jamaatud Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed to his men to contest elections under the banner of a new party he has created is seen as one such step. Moreover, this newspaper has carried news stories that another militant leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, is also on the verge of launching a political party for mainstream, electoral politics.

It isn’t clear how would these militant groups-turned-political parties will react if they make no headway in electoral politics and their first attempts to secure seats in parliament to enforce their Islamic agenda are frustrated. Will they keep faith in the democratic process and persist or revert to jihad — this time here?

Even if there is a desire in each state institution to brush away the mess created by decades of near-suicidal policies and start with a clean slate, it won’t be easy. And if state institutions continue to differ on the way forward even now then help us God.

In terms of the global environment, China may appear as if it is in our corner vis-à-vis the US but it would be foolish to assume Beijing’s tolerance threshold for religious militancy in Pakistan would be any different to Washington’s. Hope the policymakers understand this.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/fleeting-moments--why-the-us-needs-war--new-age-islam’s-selection,-09-september-2017/d/112473


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