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Pakistan Press (07 Sep 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Instruments of Terror: New Age Islam's Selection, 07 September 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

07 September 2016

Instruments of Terror

By Imtiaz Gul

Imitation and Limitations of Liberalism

By Aziz Ali Dad

Democratic Political Parties

By Dr Ikramul Haq

American Exceptionalism

By Paul Pillar

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Instruments Of Terror

By Imtiaz Gul

September 6, 2016

The equation is quite even as far as allegations and suspicions go. Pakistan is at pains to convince the world that the intermittent violence it experiences is inflicted by groups, which can be termed instruments of terrorism and instability. Groups such as the TTP, Jamaatul Ahrar, the Islamic State, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Baloch Republican Army stand out as some of those instruments.

Outsiders like India, Afghanistan and the US look at the Haqqani network, the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad in more or less the same way i.e., as instruments of terror using Pakistani territory against neighbours.

The latest such pronouncement came from US Secretary of State John Kerry, making it clear to Islamabad that it needs to act against groups such as the Haqqani network and LeT that are suspected of operating from Pakistan to launch attacks against its neighbours. Kerry said this on August 31 in a press stakeout at New Delhi, using the occasion to also appreciate the pain that Pakistan has endured at the hands of terrorists. He more or less repeated the same words that constitute the essential part of the official Washington narrative and which underscores the Indo-American-Afghan convergence on the issue. Kerry did concede Pakistan’s “progress in the fight against extremism in recent months” but also underlined that it “has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in extremist activities” and represent a threat to the neighbours.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, too, think alike and have gone even further in speaking about countering terror with terror. Most of what we see today seems to flow from a deadly tit-for-tat contest of gaining influence in the region. At the same time, commercial interests trump oft-propagated virtues such as morality and principles. The brutal handling of Kashmiri protests and the near indifference to it from almost all G-20 countries reflects their quest for preserving commercial interests in India. And this of course provides India enough space to have the last laugh. This same attitude helped Sheikh Mujeeb carve Bangladesh out of Pakistan, with the  anti-Pakistan Awami League government in Bangladesh still receiving magnanimous support from India. The Bangladeshi government continues to bash Pakistan and its supporters at every opportunity. The controversial war crimes trials are the most glaring example of digging up the past and keeping anti-Pakistan sentiment alive.

Taking advantage of Pakistan’s past foreign policy blunders and the erstwhile support for militant groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir, India has successfully created a huge political constituency in Afghanistan. The narrative sprouting from this puts the entire blame for Afghan ills on Pakistan. Elsewhere, as an active member of BRICS, India continues to exploit China’s ambitious global economic and trade cooperation agenda. At the same time, Indian leaders have publicly expressed their displeasure over the CPEC and term it as the Pakistan-China nexus, a derogatory characterisation of the multi-billion dollar undertaking.

And now, New Delhi and Washington have signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, which allows the two allies to use each other’s military facilities for checking China’s growing influence in Asia and in the fight against terrorism. Both are also finalising two other foundational agreements to expand their strategic cooperation. Curiously, India and Afghanistan will be part of the trilateral dialogue that US will hold in Washington later this month – as if they were all direct neighbours. Viewed in this context, Pakistan faces the unavoidable spectre of an ever-growing Indo-US-Afghan alliance that requires us to do more in the anti-terror fight. We also need to clean up our image that became tainted because of our alliances with or support for non-state actors.

Any analysis of Pakistan’s current security quagmire bereft of this aspect of the deadly triangular proxy war is like condemning and executing the wrong person — do these groups really possess the wherewithal to force the state of Pakistan into submission and impose their way of life on the country? Certainly not. Neither are they stronger than the state, with even mainstream apologists of these terrorists having hardly secured any national power through elections. The only way to fend off adverse alliances and retain friends like China is to institutionalise a whole-of-government approach on domestic and foreign policy issues.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1177522/instruments-of-terror/


Imitation and Limitations of Liberalism

By Aziz Ali Dad

September 07, 2016

In the aftermath of 9/11, the question about the compatibility of Islam with modernity, or to be precise liberalism, has become the burning question of the decade among intelligentsia belonging to liberal, progressive, leftist, atheist, moderate and Islamist persuasions.

Owing to the overall ambiance and the way production of knowledge is connected to different centres of power and ideologies, the discourse of liberalism projects itself as the sole emancipator of diverse human societies, which still live under different systems and follow different worldviews.

In the particular context of Muslim societies, liberal intellectuals tend to follow the linear course of history espoused by liberal discourse that took its contours in a Western context and spread across the world during the period of colonialism, cold war and globalisation. Though colonialism started to wane in the post-World War II period, its ideas about democracy, liberalism and freedom have become part of the collective history and memory of colonialised societies.

It is under the influence of liberalism’s deterministic narrative of history, which claims: ‘first the West and then the rest’, that our liberal intellectuals posit liberal Islam as a panacea to the threats posed by new militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram and Isis. Owing to this, our liberal thinkers attribute the radicalisation of Pakistan to the rejection of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s ideas and the adoption or acceptance of Allama Iqbal by state and society.

Other writers trace the roots of the current radicalisation directly to the Khilafat movement in South Asia in the early 20th century. This is not to deny that these and other intellectual ideas and political movements do not have an impact on the mindset of people, rather it is to show the multiple sources of the modern Pakistani self, society and state.

Scholars subscribing to the end of history thesis propounded by Francis Fukuyama think that ideologies, societies and states opposing liberalism are the one that still live within history and have failed to come out of it. The proponents of this thesis optimistically assert that with the expansion of economic and political liberalism in the age of globalisation, societies and ideologies antagonistic to the liberal system are doomed to be relegated to the dustbin of history. However, the resurgence of religion in politics and emergence of different political and social movements in various parts of the world nullifies liberalism’s linear narrative of history and even the postmodernist proclamation of end of meta-narratives.

Whether it is the experience of liberal thought in the colonial period or the Pakistan movement, dictatorships, political ideologies in post-colonial period and jihad in Afghanistan – all of these have contributed to our current way of thinking. Whatever went into our history has become part of our collective unconscious. The historical experiences during the colonial and postcolonial periods are writings on palimpsest that cannot be completely erased through a new narrative.

The new narrative may scrape old texts off from the page but it retains traces of old writings, albeit illegible. Thomas De Quincy refers to the palimpsest structure as an “involuted” phenomenon where otherwise unrelated texts are interwoven, competing with, and infiltrating each other. Similarly, the political and social domains in Muslim societies have become so complicated that they defy being explained away through a monolithic frame of reference.

One of the features of the narrative is that it explains the world or reality, while suppressing its contradictions to make reality amenable. What we are witnessing today in the world is the domination of the liberal narrative, which suppresses alternate narratives and worldviews by coercing them to follow the linear march of history on liberal lines. Unfortunately, our wishy-washy liberals prescribe liberalism as the right historical path to get rid of all the ills that afflict Muslim societies, Pakistan in particular.

Followers of liberal Islam do not realise that currently liberalism is a major player in the politics, conflicts and wars that have been waged in different parts of the world. The very status of the dominant narrative and power in the world constricts liberalism’s universality and implicates it in the web of vocabulary that it spun for domination.

Fredric Jameson in his book, ‘The Political Unconscious: Narrative as Socially Symbolic Act’ describes such problems as one of “transcending the categories into which our existence as individual subjects necessarily locks us and opening up to the radically distinct trans-individual perspectives of collective life or historical process.”

Those who deem that can take Muslim societies out of the current morass by dovetailing Islam with liberalism posit a simple solution for a very complex phenomenon with diverse manifestations at multiple cultural and social locations. Zaheer Kazmi from Oxford University in his recent article ‘Liberal Islam is not the answer to Islamic State’ (Prospect August 22, 2016) rejects attempts to fuse Islam and modern liberalism because these “represent little more than the ghost of a renaissance”. He thinks that “Muslim liberals tend to prescribe modern answers to postmodern questions.”

The form of militant Islamism that we are witnessing today does not stem from a dead past or imagined golden period of Islam, rather it is very much a product of modernity. One of the outcomes of movements like Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Isis is that they have challenged traditional Islam, which has succeeded to sustain itself against the onslaught of modernity.

In this regard Western liberalism and Islamism seem to be strange bedfellows which challenge traditional Islam and create ruptures in its continuity. By destroying the basis of traditional Islam and its spiritual manifestations and authority, they clear the way for new or alternate thinking to emerge. That alternate thinking cannot be offered by liberalism. Zaheer Kazmi is of the opinion that “the deeper problem is that Muslim liberals have yet to offer a clear alternative to both Islamist militancy and western secularism.”

Among the competing narratives about Islam, militant Islamism has assumed the role of destroyer. However, the creator of a new order of things in the wake of such destruction is marked by absence in Islamdom. Here we are witnessing a divorce between the destroyer and creator. This situation is contrary to what happened in the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions in which the destroyers of the old system laid the foundation for a new system.

Traditional Islam being pushed back will create a vacuum within the Islamic world if the intellectual class in Muslim societies remain poor in thought. Then that space will turn into an abyss of nihilism where anarchy will prevail. New ways of thinking are needed and, to bring about change in self and society, there is a dire need to intervene in every site of human life.

These sites range from state, religion, poetry, piety, hermeneutics, attire, morality to architecture, literature, women and aesthetics. In order to create a new self and society, the Muslim intelligentsia have to engage with the world imaginatively – not imitatively. In order to find new ways, it is imperative to muster courage to diverge from the versions espoused by liberals and Islamists.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/148364-Imitation-and-limitations-of-liberalism


Democratic Political Parties

By Dr Ikramul Haq

September 07, 2016

The lack of democratic values within political parties is a perpetual weakness of our system. Dominated by individuals, parties openly defy laws concerning their affairs, both internally and externally.

Every year, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finds that the majority of registered parties do not file their accounts in time and in the prescribed manner. Similarly, elected members are also lax in submitting declarations of assets/liabilities/expenses. This year too only eight political parties submitted their annual accounts by the deadline – August 29, 2016.

According to the ECP, the compliant parties were the Awami Muslim League-Pakistan, Islami Tehreek Pakistan, Jamaat Ahle-Hadith Pakistan, Pakistan Muslim League-J, Awami National Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaniyat, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Pakistan Women Muslim League. None of the leading parties complied with the law.

Not submitting accounts, which have been certified by a chartered accountant containing details of income/expenses/sources of funds/details of assets and liability, is a violation of the Political Parties Order and Rules, 2002. It renders the defaulting party ineligible to get an election symbol to contest any elections for parliament or a provincial assembly. This rule has never been enforced by the ECP.

Our leading parties are not ready to introduce democracy within their ranks. Laws require them to hold intra-party elections and get their accounts audited. None of the political parties ever file tax returns or disclose details of expenses and names of donors. What makes the situations more painful is the fact that the departments to check these lapses, the ECP and the FBR, have never showed any inclination to enforce the relevant laws and regulations.

Rule 4 of the Political Parties Rules, 2002 says that “every political party shall maintain its accounts in the manner set-out in Form-I indicating its income and expenditure, sources of funds, assets and liabilities and shall, within sixty days from the close of each financial year (July-June), submit to ECP a consolidated statement of accounts of the party audited by a Chartered Accountant, accompanied by a certificate, duly signed by the Party Leader to the effect that no funds from any source prohibited under the Order were received by the party and that the statement contains an accurate financial position of the party.”

The majority of registered political parties defy Rule 4 of the Political Parties Rules, 2002. The purpose of this rule is to enable voters, political workers, media and civil society to know about transparency in the financial matters of political parties. However, the ECP is least bothered to enforce it.

Section 42A of the Representation of People Act, 1976 and Section 25A of the Senate (Election) Act, 1975 make it mandatory for the elected representatives to file in the prescribed manner details of their assets and liabilities on the closing date of each financial year. Failure to fulfil this obligation leads to disqualification.

Every year, the ECP suspends a substantial number of lawmakers for not complying with this statutory obligation in time but in the end they file and no penal action is taken.

There is also no mechanism to verify the statements of assets and liabilities submitted to the ECP as the FBR does not verify data or take any action for understatement of incomes and assets by legislators. NAB has also never bothered to check the veracity of declarations by legislators vis-à-vis the standard of living maintained by them. In their tax returns, the majority of them show emoluments received as members of parliament as the only source of income – while they enjoy palatial residences, expensive cars, foreign tours and an army of servants.

It is also a matter of record that political parties in Pakistan do not file tax returns. The FBR has never bothered to issue them notices. In India, there is a mandatory provision of law [section 13A of Income Tax Act, 1961] requiring political parties to file returns or lose exemption from taxation. The chief election commissioner of India invariably asks the Indian Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to scrutinise accounts submitted by political parties. In Pakistan, neither the ECP nor NAB/FBR has bothered to consider this vital matter.

In Pakistan, on the contrary, the Protection of Economic Reforms Act, 1992 gives a free hand to tax cheats and money launderers to whiten their billions. All public office-holders or their dependents who have taken advantage of this law to avoid paying taxes should have been disqualified for open admission of cheating the state but not a single case has been filed till today and the ECP, FBR and NAB have never taken cognizance ofthis even in the wake of the Panama Papers.

It is high time filing of tax returns became mandatory for all registered political parties, which should be scrutinised and made public extending right to citizens to question their veracity. Contributions/donations received by parties should qualify for tax credits. Political parties are treated as non-profit organizations all over the world, working for public good.

In Pakistan we have not yet promoted the idea that political parties should be exemplary non-profit organisations, fully committed to the cause of furthering public consciousness and welfare on all matters related to governance. This idea is important. Once people associate themselves with a particular party that has clear objectives and aims, they also extend financial support for their achievement, thus eliminating the influence of undesirable ‘financiers’ – people with money power taking control of parties for personal gains.

Meaningful participation of the people in democracy and the electoral process can only be ensured if they have the right to question their leaders about use of their money. This would also make the party a responsible and accountable entity when in power.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/148365-Democratic-political-parties


American Exceptionalism

By Paul Pillar

September 07, 2016

Hillary Clinton gave a speech last week in which American exceptionalism was a major theme. She obviously chose that theme partly because it would appeal to her specific audience (an American Legion convention) and partly because it would enable her to criticize Donald Trump, who has said he doesn’t like the term “American exceptionalism” because people in other countries don’t like to hear it and feel insulted by it.

Trump is right about that, although in many other respects he shows he doesn’t have qualms about insulting people in other countries, including Mexico, the country he briefly visited on Wednesday and has described as a nation of rapists and drug dealers.

America is indeed exceptional in some obvious respects, and there is nothing wrong with Americans reminding themselves of that, as long as they do not stick the concept in the face of non-Americans. It is some of the corollaries that tend to flow in an unthinking fashion from the concept of American exceptionalism that have caused problems. Several such tendencies in American exceptionalist thinking have contributed to bad policy.

One particular common corollary of the notion of exceptionalism that Clinton emphasized in her speech was that of indispensability.

“We are the indispensable nation,” she said. “So no matter how hard it gets, no matter how great the challenge, America must lead.”

As with exceptionalism itself, it certainly is true that the United States is, or at least has been, indispensable in some respects. An example would be the role of the US dollar as a reserve currency and of US government debt as an instrument in international finance.

The problems come from the tendency – which is implicit in much of the wording of Clinton’s speech – to consider the United States and US leadership as indispensable in addressing all significant problems abroad. But not all problems abroad are US problems, not all such problems are solvable, what solutions there are do not all come from the United States, and in some problems US involvement or leadership is instead counterproductive.

A related and common tendency is to invoke the physical metaphor of a vacuum. “When America fails to lead,” said Clinton, “we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void.”

The vacuum metaphor has several problems when applied to foreign policy. It understates or overlooks altogether whatever was present before any outsiders rushed in. It incorrectly assumes a zero-sum or mutual exclusion relationship between the supposedly indispensable superpower and any other players who may be involved.

Clinton talked about values and about how American exceptionalism includes the idea of “America’s unique and unparalleled ability to be a force for peace and progress, a champion for freedom and opportunity.”

The overlooked question in this kind of rhetoric concerns the conditions in which other nations are, or are not, receptive to the freedom and opportunity being championed. Herewith is an inherent internal tension in American exceptionalist thinking?

The more exceptional are the conditions in which American values arose, the less transferable are those values to others. And that is a problem with the corollaries about indispensability and American leadership in addressing problems hither and yon.

Clinton did invoke Abraham Lincoln’s concept of the last best hope of Earth and Ronald Reagan’s image of a shining city on a hill. The idea of making the American republic the best, and the best example, it can possibly be – so that even a Donald Trump can’t wreck it – is a better way to implement ideas of exceptionalism than to act like an indispensable vacuum-filler.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/148367-American-exceptionalism

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/instruments-of-terror--new-age-islam-s-selection,-07-september-2016/d/108487


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