Islam Edit Bureau
Racial Discrimination An Issue In Pakistan?
Uloom Haqqania — When The Past Is Present
Of The Fatherland
Muhammad Maisam Ali
Travesty of Truth
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
to which Pakistan has complied with human rights standards set out in the
International Convention of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD),
will be assessed by a United Nation’s expert committee in Geneva on August
16-17, this year. The committee will look at a report to be presented by the
government of Pakistan, encapsulating three periodic reports — 21st, 22nd and
23rd. The previous two reports were not submitted on time, hence the assessment
period of six years (2009 — 2015).
convention is one of the core human rights treaties that the international
community managed to achieve as early as 1965. Pakistan, considering itself a
supporter of a world free of racial equality, became a party to the treaty
without any reservations soon after it was offered voluntary ratification in
Treaty Implementation committee, the federal ministries for law and justice and
commerce have been leading the preparation of the Pakistan’s compliance reports
since 2014 — a burden that previously rested on the foreign office.
clarity has been achieved on the institutional responsibility of adherence to
international commitments on human rights, the focus must be on improving the
quality content of the reporting as well as achieving the recognition,
protection and fulfilment of those human rights in Pakistan.
reporting, representing Pakistan’s official narrative, has relied on denial of
facts, citing normative assurances and a deflection of issues because officials
and consultants preparing the reports were handicapped by the stalled progress
on human rights and proper functioning of institutions. Unfortunately, the
current report to the UN CERD committee hasn’t succeeded in overcoming these
claims that racial discrimination is “non-existent” in Pakistan. This can be
challenged on several accounts. For instance, the claim is challengeable in the
consistent economic, social and political deprivation of Pakistanis of African
origin (Sheedis), the diminishing rights of the Kalash people as a result of
forced conversions and occupation of means of their subsistence, and the government’s
inability to document nomads, gypsies and tribesmen. The report’s claim can
also be challenged on account of the mass killings of minority sects.
government’s comprehension of racism grossly ignores the pervasive
ethnocentrism that creates extremely dangerous sense of ‘otherness — a cause
behind interprovincial conflicts and different forms of violence. If
ethnocentrism had not plagued politics and society, linguistic groups,
including the Punjabis would not be complaining about their language being
ignored by the state. Therefore, it is a convenient claim as long as we do not
recognise racial discrimination.
was not a signatory to the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant
Workers and their Family Members. The report stated that Pakistan was not a
labour-receiving country, and hence not a party to this convention. Why then,
is Pakistan a party to the convention on racial discrimination, as accession to
it relies on the acknowledgement that problems do exist.
the reporting to international treaty bodies will have to get rid of the
state’s narrative, crafted to defend dictatorships that relied on the
techniques of denying facts and averting all chances of accountability. Our
image in the outside world cannot be starkly different than our internal
reality and our relation and place among the nations will depend on the quality
of improvement of internal processes.
has come to realise that racism is a historical as well as contemporary
phenomenon. No state or society is immune to it. Therefore, there is no way
forward than admitting its existence, engaging in reforms and repairing the
harm through social processes. Although the Constitution of Pakistan
discourages discrimination in several forms, we do not have a proper law that
defines and punishes discrimination.
discrimination does exist in Pakistan in several subtle as well as manifest
forms, and unfortunately, in state policies as well. We can choose to turn a
blind eye, but the price will be social conflict, underdevelopment and
We have to
choose between continuing to live in a society fragmented on the basis of
caste, colour, descent, ethnicity and language, or make efforts to ensure
equality, justice and accountability through internal and external scrutiny
according to international standards of human rights. The earlier choice will
leave us with the status quo the on the other hand, the latter can deliver rule
of law and better governance. The choice rests with us.
Uloom Haqqania — When the Past Is Present
star in 1996 was Imran Khan. As a newbie in politics, he was a fresh face with
fresh ideas and fresh hopes for Pakistan.
Farooq Leghari had a revolving door: exit Benazir Bhutto; enter Imran Khan.
On a cold
December afternoon in Islamabad, I found myself sitting next to the glamorous
Khan as his Pajero headed for the airport. Like a Cheshire cat, IK’s
distinctive mischievous grin told one that he had indeed received a hero’s
welcome from Leghari earlier that day.
had the Western media swooning over him after the press had dumped, “the pretty
girl who went to Harvard and Oxford”, said IK, adding, “As for Nawaz Sharif,
they don’t know him!”
testing the waters, I ventured with my first question: Your image of a playboy
sticks. You still have boys’ night out when Jemima is away?
can answer, Tehreek-i-Insaaf stalwarts sitting at the back look mortified while
their chief bursts into hearty laughter dismissing the gossip as “nonsense!”
My next few
questions are about his father-in-law, the billionaire Jimmy Goldsmith. Without
taking his name, IK brushes past my questions only to comment that neither the
father nor the daughter (Jemima) are Jewish as “Benazir would have all believe
… Jemima has converted to Islam”.
A place to
live becomes the place to love. The Akora Khattak of the ’70s and the ’80s
where I roamed free from fear, prejudice and discrimination may never return.
Imran Khan thinks otherwise, convinced that Darul Uloom Haqqania will produce
enlightened and peace-loving future citizens
marrying a foreigner and having two sets of lifestyles make him a split
personality? I continue.
understand”, looking me in the eye, “Jemima is not an issue for the masses;
it’s an issue for the elite classes suffering from inferiority complex”. IK has
more faith in the people than in the intellectuals.
of sweeping the 1997 polls, he says: “Look at the two, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif
and judge their track record, while not once do I think I am the best man to
lead the country, I still feel I can do a much better job than these two.
Almost definitely we will make a huge change”.
Forward from 1996 To 2016
wrought a “huge change” by handing over Rs300 million to Maulana Samiul Haq who
controls Darul Uloom Haqqania at Akora Khattak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
generous gift has shocked most who say that the religious seminary was the alma
mater of many prominent Afghan Taliban leaders, including the militant leader
of innocent Pakistanis have perished at the hands of these terrorists who
continue their rampage till today. But IK thinks, rightly or wrongly, that by
giving money to the seminary, terrorism, militancy, radicalism will end.
Will it or
will the beautiful landscape of Akora Khattak breed more jihadis?
A place to
live becomes the place to love. The Akora Khattak of the ‘70s and the ‘80s
where I roamed free from fear, prejudice and discrimination may never return.
quaint bazaar bordering the Darul Uloom Haqqania, I often drove down the busy
sloping alley to shop for provisions, or park the car and walk to my tailor
Noor Mohammad’s tiny shop.
the street, armed with sketches from Sears’s catalogues of the latest fashions
that Noreen, my sister-in-law, regularly mailed from the US, I’d harass that
gentle soul to reproduce the bell-bottom trousers and the sleeveless tops in
were ‘designing’ women always in step with the latest couture from the West,
never mind if we lived in the hinterlands of Pakistan.
dressed that didn’t warrant a full covering of cloth from head to toe, my comfort
level never flagged in the midst of locals who went about their business
without throwing a single glare or stare my way.
fields on the banks of river Indus, pastoral and undulating landscape dotted
with a bouquet of wild flowers with white, pink and cherry blossoms in spring,
that’s the memory I live with of Akora Khattak and its environs.
Samiul Haq had not appeared on the scene at Darul Uloom Haqqania then. The
seminary was run by his revered father Abdul Haq.
it in 1947. I never met him, but I am told that every year he came across to
the residential compound of the tobacco factory, [where I lived] to collect a
donation for the seminary.
manager and his officers would receive him extending a courteous welcome reserved
for VIPs. “You don’t need to come over, we can come to you with the donation,”
the manager would politely tell his exalted visitor, a thrice elected member of
the National Assembly from Peshawar division.
Abdul Haq was awarded an honorary PhD in Divinity from the University of
Peshawar for services rendered in the cause of Islam. After his death in 1988,
his son Samiul Haq became the chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqania. It was during
his tenure that the seminary was dubbed as ‘The University of Jihad’ due to the
militant mindset it has nurtured.
years later, the words of Nisbat Chisti, a PTI leader sitting behind Imran Khan
as we drove to Islamabad airport echo in my mind: “It is his [IK] unmistakable
faith in God that amazes us.”
it’s the same faith Imran has in Darul Uloom Haqqania that “amazes” us!
of the Fatherland
bugle has sounded, a faint one but it comes as expected, the nation’s permanent
agitator, Imran Khan, announcing the start of agitation on the Panama leaks
from August 7. With Ramazan gone, the hiatus is over and the political
temperature is set to soar.
kind of support will Imran’s PTI garner? How much of public enthusiasm can he
whip up? We don’t know.
though is clear. The PTI is very much on its own. The PPP has other problems on
its plate and the Jamaat-e-Islami is playing a pantomime, with its heart not in
any anti-government agitation. Its chief, Sirajul Haq, talks in terms of
sweeping generalities, a nation-wide crackdown on corruption and nostrums like
that. But on specifics the Jamaat will not be pinned down. The PTI is on its
own. Hence the key question, how much steam in Lahore can it generate on its
mercurial and uncertain cleric, Allama Tahirul Qadri, has the street power,
most certainly in Lahore, where if his party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek, so
chooses it can field a force of several thousands to march in the direction of
that unlikely fortress being strengthened at public expense, Jati Umra. (If
instead of Jati Umra the walls of Bilawal House were being buttressed at public
expense there would have been no end to the media outrage. I suppose different
standards are applied to Punjab-centred excess.)
Allama pitch in? We don’t know. He’s keeping his own counsel. A lot will depend
on how much heat Imran is able to generate. When momentum builds and a caravan
starts going recruits and fellow-travellers join in. Still, the pressure is
telling on the ruling party. Is it a coincidence or something else that the
usual brass band of the Daniyal Azizs and Talal Chaudhrys has gone relatively
quiet? Is this on instruction or a sign of plummeting morale?
just the prime minister who’s been ill and whose ‘recuperation’ is taking
forever. The entire government looks sick as if functioning on a life-support
system. Who’s been running the show in Islamabad? One solitary, overweight
bureaucrat and the PM’s daughter, and even they seem focused more on
atmospherics and media management than anything substantive.
wonder if Islamabad gives the impression of marking time, waiting for
deliverance, waiting for this crisis to somehow resolve itself. Wherever you go
the one question asked is, what is going to happen? Questions many but very few
political class and the commentariat are living not in the present but in the
unfolding future, everyone’s favourite line being that something is bound to
happen in August. Even astrologers have pitched in and their services are much
in demand. According to them the configuration of the stars suggests that
August is crucial. In an irrational environment, and when civilisations
decline, numerology becomes the reigning science.
and it’s just that is that even the army high command is not really clear about
what it wants. Its dissatisfaction with the present arrangement is pretty
clear. But what does it want? What is it gunning or playing for? Again, there
are conjectures galore, theories being floated – adding to the uncertainty –
but no clear answers.
extension argument was seemingly clinched when the army chief declared in
January that he was not interested in staying beyond his term. But even that
seems not all that settled now. Such are the vagaries of the Pakistani
situation where even seeming certainties soon fall apart.
one man’s opinion is worth, I personally think any kind of extension would be
disastrous for Gen Raheel. Because of Fata, Karachi and other things he has won
himself standing and reputation and all of it will go down the drain if,
emulating Gen Kayani’s example, he settles for an extension. The N-League’s
brass band will have a field day ridiculing him.
forget, there must be generals mentally lining up to take his place. Such is
the reality of power. Which death of a Mughal emperor was not followed by a war
of succession? Sons revolting against their fathers, brothers pitted against
brothers. Power brooks no rivals or competitors, and everyone is for himself.
Gen Raheel stands tall today but come the end of August and the race for the
succession – at least in the minds of the generals concerned – will have begun.
ugly scene whichever way we look at it and it doesn’t help that the Sharifs’
grip on power – even if on the civilian half of power – has weakened. Nawaz
Sharif is sticking, and desperately at that, to the shadow of power. The
substance of it – and we need not go into the reasons here – has slipped away
from him. And the knives are out and the wheels of agitation are being oiled
and no one knows – not even the astrologers if you question them closely – what
is happening, or is likely to happen.
constitution – that sorely-tested document – is there, the assemblies are in
place, the courts are functioning but uncertainty fills what there is of the
national mind. All because time, the remorseless march of time, is finally
catching up with Nawaz Sharif, the longest survivor in Pakistani politics, and
exposing his many inadequacies.
He was a
product of a different era when the army needed a political face – an
acceptable face from Punjab – against the Bhuttos. Those battles are long over.
Now left on his own, the ‘establishment’ looking at him through suspicious
eyes, Nawaz Sharif is suffering from the cruelty of exposure, his many
inadequacies being revealed one by one. The Panama leaks have merely added to
this basic predicament.
irrelevant of all in this evolving drama are the MNAs of the ruling party. Poor
souls, are they told anything? Does anyone bother to consult them? They have no
voice because groomed in the great school of political obedience they choose to
have no voice. They strut about in their constituencies – and I should know for
I was one of them – but in the corridors of Islamabad they count for less than
shadows. Such is the truth of our parliamentary democracy.
think a coup is being planned. The army lacks the nerve – and a good thing that
it does. I don’t think a Field Marshal el-Sisi initiative as in Egypt after
Morsi’s overthrow is on the cards. The army lacks the political imagination for
that – and again perhaps a good thing that this is so. But at least the army
has something going for it…it has won laurels in the fight against terrorism
and that’s not a small thing. The politicians are clueless and directionless.
And the PML-N is a tired party, bereft of anything resembling fresh ideas.
anyone in this motley crowd – civilian and military – who has a vision to sell,
a compelling vision that appeals to the raw emotions of the Pakistani nation?
That is the dispiriting thing…the Sahara desert of our imagination.
in this paper there was this gem from the Khadim-e-Aala: “Standing there in the
suffocating heat, I realised…that we had to refocus our health system on one
single focal point: patient care.” This revelation strikes him after three
decades in power. What were they previously focusing on, the stars? This is the
intellectual baggage he carries and he is itching to succeed his visionary
brother. The heavens preserve us.
Baloch’s horrific murder in the name of ‘honour’ is testimony to the failure of
the women’s movement to overturn patriarchy in Pakistan. Against the backdrop
of the spate of anti-women violence, comes a report by Dr Rubina Saigol written
for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German foundation. Titled Feminism and the
Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Actors, Debates and Strategies, this excellent
document should provide much food for thought.
an eminent sociologist, touches the heart of the issue — especially in cases
like Qandeel’s — when she points out that there are “silences” (neglected
subjects) that surround questions of family and sexuality, the mainstay of
patriarchy and women’s subjugation. These have generally not been addressed by the
women’s movement and she recommends that they should be.
But that is
not all. More than these silences, the author points out, and feminists have
failed to devise a successful strategy to empower women and create public
spaces for them. That accounts for their inability to make a profound impact.
here never tried to be inclusive.
observes that today there is “a deafening disquieting quiet in the women’s
movement”. She quotes a number of well-known feminists who contend that
Pakistan lacks an autonomous vigorous movement, notwithstanding the vocal
female protests against the oppression of women.
substantiates her argument by pointing to the absence of a “common collective
vision of a better world, agreed upon strategies to create such a world, and
shared understandings of the world in which we live and work”.
agree with the writer who traces the history of the women’s struggle in
Pakistan to show how it evolved in response to internal politics and external
events along with the globalisation that began in the post-cold war age.
formulate a unified stance has not been possible given the many serious
constraints that exist, many of which are deeply rooted in our socio-cultural
values, such as a general trend towards glorification of patriarchy that is
reinforced by religion, the adversarial relationship between feminists and the
state, and the depoliticisation of the women’s struggle. The impression
conveyed is that the feminist movement has been a victim of circumstances — be
they the induction of donor-driven NGOs or extremist religious ideologues in
the women’s ‘movement’ in Pakistan has always been bifurcated by great schisms.
At no stage was a common platform created where women of all views could gather
on a minimal common agenda. The fact is that feminists of all shades never
tried to be inclusive. Hence no group had the numerical strength to assert a
claim to supremacy. WAF had the greatest potential for leadership due to its
financial and political autonomy. Yet it never brought in its fold
non-professional disadvantaged women who constitute the bulk of Pakistan’s
female population. It focused on them only in nuanced consciousness-raising
and, to its credit, condemned strongly individual cases of abuse of
activism didn’t go very far although it pushed the women’s issue on the
national agenda. Some laws were changed but never implemented. The lives of the
majority of women didn’t change. Though they support large families, as Qandeel
did, they have to bow before patriarchy. They have no time to be mobilised to
learn about their rights which they know would never be actualised.
the same women are willing to respond to a call which offers them services that
to an extent facilitate them in fulfilling some of their basic needs. That is
why various development NGOs working in the education and (reproductive) health
sectors — even the donor-funded but honest ones — have been able to achieve
more than the feminists in creating awareness of women’s rights.
them have taken the indirect, but more effective, route to empower women and
instil in them a vision of a better future. They understand the importance of
female participation to create awareness in them. The next generation of women
definitely show the promise of being more skilful in negotiating their way
through rough patriarchal waters.
advocacy groups tried to link up with the services groups they would have
reinforced each others’ work. I remember the iconic development worker, Perween
Rahman, lamenting the inability of the women’s movement to mobilise huge
numbers to protest against injustices inflicted on women. She recognised the
fact that women’s development was possible only if their rights were given full
recognition. “But we are so busy attending to the basic needs of men and women
that we have no time and resources to do advocacy. If the women’s rights
movement were to join hands with us, we would definitely support them as that
is what we also want.”
to be recognised is that human development is an integrated and holistic
process. To be effective, rights activists must address all areas and classes
of human development simultaneously.
she visited the family was one of the options available for ending the Qandeel
Baloch episode. There were not too many ways one could think of through which
the story that had unfolded at breakneck speed could have been resolved. In the
days preceding there was a prevailing sense as if something was about to give.
The lady did not have too many options after she had failed to take the known
means to resettlement in society.
It is not
at all difficult to address her as a lady or as a heroine when she is no more
there to bring disrepute to those who address her with respect. For the
duration of the time she was there on stage hogging attention one point of
concern — for at least some of the people in the crowd — was about where and to
what conclusions her daring flight was to ultimately take her.
a country of vulnerable, frequently straying people. There have been other
women who had diverted far away from the ‘right’ path. Some of those had later
chosen total oblivion as an escape from the wrath and lust and honour-inspired
curses they had been subjected to. Others, particularly a few in recent times,
had confessed they were lucky to have rediscovered themselves via the most
likely route in the Pakistani circumstances: religion brought to them by a
Baloch might have been under the impression that she could prolong the
confrontation she had picked with a society fed on formula.
famous has been the case of the film actor who chose to challenge both moral
standards and norms of patriotism. She was saved by the timely intervention of
the sages and put back on the right path. She has since been thrust in the
faces of the Pakistani ‘sinners’ as an example of rehabilitation without
altogether giving up this world.
There are a
host of other stories about other well-known and not-so-prominent people who
have been made to realise the sheer futility of the life they had been living.
They were made to feel guilty about the ways in which they had been leading
their lives and made to repent.
Baloch had her chance. It is obvious that she was not ready to wrap up,
conclude or resolve her story, or this particular phase of it, in the most
obvious manner — despite that there was someone present to steer her through
the ‘mess’. She might have been under the impression that she could as yet
prolong the fever-pitch confrontation that she had so boldly picked with a
society fed on formula, a society which had a tendency to look badly at those
who acted other than routine.
had her own idea of how and when she wanted to resolve the situation she had
created by and large by herself. But the one man who had offered her a hand in
escorting her towards the usual exit was quick to point out that there were
lessons for others in her violent end: the lessons that most certainly promised
condemnation for those who refused the formula answer.
who now sat reading into Qandeel’s story and who had not too long ago offered
her redemption, was no ordinary maulvi himself. If the young woman surprised
many in the gaping audience with a steady stream of incidents from her past —
standard scenes to build hype around her rise as a popular media personality,
the mufti from the laid-back Multan was at the origins of so many incredulous
stories on his own.
She was a
rebel energised by experience and ambition. In his role as an arbiter people
often took their issues to, he was known as advising caution and compromise
over more dire remedies available to the parties. He had the reputation in
Multan of being a man who favoured amicable settlements of all kinds of issues
with minimum damage. Indeed he was not categorised as a pro-violence cleric of
whom we have so many these days, and yes, he was given to these flights of
fancy in which he cast himself as some kind of a romantic wanderer seeking the
company of beautiful women.
characters in the story were media savvy and the media had no reason to fear
any of them. Even the cleric didn’t scare the channels and papers in this case
because he had no known militia at his command and it was clear after the
initial probing on screen that he was not the kind who would resort to abuse
and threat to get out of a tough spot.
The best he
could do was to issue denial, which is a little difficult to accept unless
accompanied by sufficient amount of force. In his present single-tone, even a
little intimidated avatar he appeared docile enough for some of those who are
not usually inclined towards speaking harsh of the clerics — any clerics — to
openly question his character, aiding Qandeel Baloch to win rounds after rounds
Qandeel Baloch’s death, Mufti Qavi has been referred to in some accounts as a
suspect who might have encouraged her brother to kill her. Legal proceedings
are under way to establish who was to blame how much for the tragic departure
of the young woman from the stage she had taken by storm.
to a version which may be considered too sympathetic to Mufti Qavi considering
the sentiment against him, he has already paid a big price for his association
with Qandeel Baloch. He might get himself rehabilitated in the set-up but it
will take effort and time.
He can in
the meanwhile be used as a target by all those who have been angered by the
punishment the individual violating the moral code has been meted out. But so
long as a large number of people here believe that he offered her the (only)
alternative to death he must not worry too much.
Rehman is Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore.
It has been
conventional to take poverty, unemployment, and other similar drawbacks to be
the root causes of terrorism, though this view has been repeatedly
contradicted. Ahmad Omar Said Sheikh, for instance, who orchestrated the
abduction and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, hailed from
an affluent family, and studied at the renowned London School of Economics.
Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al-Qaeda, who once topped the FBI list of Most
Wanted Terrorists, also came from a prosperous family, and was a successful
entrepreneur himself. Mohamed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the September 11
attacks, was a successful architect. But here one might ask why would an
educated and well-settled person, with no evident motive to commit terrorist
activities, choose to do so?
and the USA in particular, has often been portrayed as a threat to the
sovereignty and security of the Islamic world, stated a Counter Terrorism
Department (CTD) official in an interview. Terrorist organisations have
exploited this by declaring the USA an enemy of the Muslim community that the
USA plans to debilitate all Islamic countries it sees as a hazard to its own
interests. They insist that the 2003 Iraq conflict and the war in Afghanistan
(both of which were conducted by US-led coalitions) resulted in the unjustified
devastation of the economy and people of both states, calling upon all Muslims
to rise against the USA. Many people, even highly educated persons like Ahmad
Omar Sheikh, accept this propaganda, and join terrorist organisations who, like
them, believe that violence is the only course of action.
not underestimate the extent to which this view is prevalent in Pakistan. An
alarming number of people, including many highly educated individuals, are led
to believe that a fabled campaign is being conducted against Islam, which aims
to weaken the Muslim world. Many would deem it appropriate to join terrorist
organisations in order to counter the oppression of the antagonists of Islam.
Additionally, the youth, inclusive of the well educated of our country, lives
in an atmosphere that does not promise a bright future, because given the
current deteriorating economic situation, it may prove difficult for even a
highly educated person to be employed to a satisfactory position, leading to
frustration and a sense of low self-worth, contrary to the affirmation a
terrorist organisation would make.
A terrorist organisation may penetrate an
educational institution, where those sympathetic to its beliefs may corrupt the
minds of students and even staff members, as was seen when an IBA student was
discovered to be the mastermind of the 2015 Safoora Goth bus shooting.
consequently key to conscription by terrorist groups that an anti-West
propaganda is promoted, and they do so by making effective use of social media,
especially contacting young, impressionable people, instructing them to take up
arms against the West, convincing them that they are fighting for the cause of
Islam, therefore raising their confidence and sense of power, thereby gaining
because most of the terrorist attacks carried out are located in
Muslim-majority nations, it follows that a resentment of the West cannot be the
sole reason why an educated person would join a terrorist organisation. Indeed,
many do so after being persuaded to believe that it is the only approach that
will improve the current state of the Muslim world.
Muslims look back to the Muslim community of the earlier centuries, which they
believe was more prosperous and reputable compared to that of today. They would
then, of course, want to improve on their current situation, further explained
the CTD official.
A terrorist group would take advantage of this
by encouraging Muslims, especially young, even well educated, people, to fight
for the formation of a Khilafat, that is, a state governed by an Islamic
steward, a leader of the entire Muslim community, therefore, as terrorist
groups claim, uniting it, which would lead to prosperity and opulence of the
Muslim community. Many Muslims are convinced that a Khilafat would lead to a
return to the golden age of the Muslim world. Many affiliate with terrorist
organisations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda who they see as fighters for the
advancement of the Muslim world.
organisation would be able to exploit the sense of frustration that many
Muslims experience when they feel that the Muslim world is in decline. They
would believe the government to have failed to perform its duties in providing
even the basic necessities, for instance education and health services, or that
it has allowed immorality and lawlessness to penetrate the society.
They may agree with a terrorist organisation
that violence is required, that it is a reasonable solution, even believe that
a terrorist group would be more disciplined, would form a better government, as
would be suggested by its propaganda, thus would be prepared to promote the
validity of its aims. It is for this reason that many Muslims would reject and
condemn the aims and actions of terrorist organisations such as the Taliban,
which would be viewed as tribal groups, instead supporting other terrorist
organisations, such as ISIS, which have a specific objective, believing them to
be fighting for a cause that would benefit the Muslim community, in accordance
with religious guidelines.
terrorist attacks, current and recent, and all advancements made in technology
by terrorist organisations are a result of recruitment of well educated people,
who are vital to the prolongation of terrorism. While the military operation in
progress in KP, FATA, and Karachi has been, undoubtedly, effective, this alone
will remain inadequate in preventing the propagation of the ideology of
terrorism, or discouraging young, well educated persons from terrorist acts.
contrary, it may even further strengthen their will to do so. It would also be
necessary that the government draw up a counter-terrorism narrative, making
effectual use of the media, i.e. television, radio broadcasts, newspapers,
leaflets, and the Internet, especially social media, which is being employed as
a method by radical Islamists for self-promotion and recruitment, in order to
depict the undisguised barbarism of the ideology of terrorism. In addition to
this, the government must also provide security for unprotected educational
institutions, which are often important centres of recruitment, launching
investigation into the suspicious activities of students and staff members, as
deemed appropriate and taking action as necessary, in order to curb terrorism
by educated individuals.
Chairman Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, who is on an election campaign in Azad
Kashmir, has been spewing scathing criticism of the PML-N government,
particularly the person of the Prime Minister. For the opposition and its
leaders, criticising the sitting government and its policies is quite
understandable when supported by substantive facts. But when an issue like
Kashmir is involved, they are expected to be more circumspect and responsible
while taking umbrage at the government or the Prime Minister which descends
into the realm of travesty of truth. In his public rallies referring to the
current killings in Kashmir by the Indian forces, he has emphatically been
saying that not Kashmir but friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
was an important pillar of the foreign policy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and
that it was due to this friendship that he was silent on the Indian atrocities
in occupied Kashmir. What he has tried to say is that the Prime Minister was
least concerned about Kashmir and the plight of its people.
At a time
when the entire nation and the political leadership should have spoken with one
voice to show solidarity with the people of Kashmir, this irresponsible, naïve
and impulsive convulsion by him which is absolutely contrary to the facts, can
hardly be condoned by anybody in his right mind. That reflects his political
immaturity and incompetence of his advisors in keeping him abreast with the
real facts about the issues. That fact is that the Prime Minister has condemned
the Indian atrocities in the harshest possible words and convened a special
meeting of the cabinet to deliberate on the issue. The government decided to
observe 19 July as Black Day and also to raise the issue at the international
forums. Our permanent ambassador Maleeha Lodhi addressing the UN General
Assembly on 14 July not only sensitized the world body about what was going on
in Kashmir but also urged upon it to fulfill its commitments to the people of
Kashmir. The government has expressed its firm resolve to continue extending
its diplomatic, moral and political support to the struggle of the people of
Kashmir. It did everything short of military confrontation with India which in
any case is not the feasible option as the grandfather of Bilawal who promised
to fight India for thousands years, ultimately realised and signed the Shimla
Agreement for resolving the Kashmir issue through peaceful means.
irrefutable reality is that notwithstanding the efforts to build bonhomie with
India through the revival of the stalled dialogue and the overtures to make a
new beginning, the PML-N government has relentlessly pursued the Kashmir issue
with an unswerving commitment at the international level as well as with India.
During his visit to US last year, apart from the nuclear issue, the Prime Minister
also agitated the Kashmir dispute in his interaction with President Obama, who
emphasised the need for dialogue between India and Pakistan for the resolution
of disputes between them, including the Kashmir issue. After his meeting with
President Obama, while talking to media he stressed the need for a mediatory
role by US in view of the bilateral arrangement having failed to deliver the
desired results. US probably did not want to annoy India for the sake of its
own strategic interests in the region. Nevertheless having extracted
acknowledgement of Kashmir being an outstanding dispute from Obama, in itself
was one of the pluses of the visit.
interaction with the members of the Senate foreign relations committee the
Prime Minister emphasised that US was the proper third party for mediation
between the two countries. Dilating on the regional security situation in the
context of continued Indo-Pak tensions at the United State Institute of Peace
(USIP) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged the international community to play a
role in de-escalating the snow-balling Indo-Pak crisis by dissuading India from
belligerent posture towards Pakistan. He reiterated that there was no
alternative for India and Pakistan other than resuming a comprehensive dialogue
to resolve all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and
Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly on 30th September, particularly
the content pertaining to the regional issues was significant from a number of
perspectives. For the first time a Pakistani Prime Minister so vehemently
advocated Pakistan’s credentials as a front line state against terrorism and
itself being a victim of the menace; sensitised the international community on
Indian interference and sponsoring of terrorism in Pakistan, the evidence of
which reportedly was handed over to the UN Secretary General; enumerated
efforts that his government had made for promoting dialogue between the two
countries to resolve the disputes between the two nations; dilated on Indian
cold response and spurning of the peace initiatives; re-affirmed Pakistan’s
abiding resolve to live in peace with India; informed the world community about
persistent violations of the LOC and Working boundary; presented Pakistan’s
case in regards to the Kashmir issue forcefully; defended consultations with
Kashmiris whom he described as an integral part of the dispute and dared to
castigate UN for its failure to have its resolutions on Kashmir implemented.
More significantly he also gave a visionary four point formula to find a way
forward in building bonhomie between the two countries. But regrettably, as
expected, India readily rejected the formula.
It is noteworthy that in all the interactions
between the two countries at different levels, the issue of Kashmir has never
been lost sight of and invariably formed part of the deliberations.
issues taken up by the Prime Minister in his address one way or the other were
connected to the core issue of Kashmir which has bedeviled relations between
the two countries. As far as I can recall his discourse on Kashmir was the best
ever effort to highlight the issue in its true perspective during the last more
than three decades. His four point formula under the prevailing ambience of
tensions between the two countries provided a reasonable basis for moving
forward and establishing peace in the region.
evident from the foregoing facts and contrary to the assertions made by
Bilawal, the PML-N government has been the staunchest supporter of the cause of
the people of Kashmir and it has not allowed India to put the issue on the back
burner, invariably insisting that the comprehensive dialogue between the two
countries must include the core issue of Kashmir. As far as personal relations
between the two Prime Ministers are concerned, there is nothing wrong with it.
Sometimes cordial relations between the heads of governments can also help in
nudging the process of rapprochement.