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Pakistan Press (04 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Jingoism and Jihad: New Age Islam's Selection, 04 March 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

04 March 2017

Jingoism and Jihad

By Irfan Husain

Anti-Dowry Act

By Aisha Sarwari

Musharraf’s Four-Point Formula: the Devil in the Details

By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai

Residual Democracies, Wages of Hate

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

Fighting Daesh

By Adnan Adil

The Anticipated Benefits Of FATA Reforms

By Muhammad Anwar

Towards Mutual Connectivity

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Jingoism and Jihad

By Irfan Husain

04 March 2017

GEN Bajwa hands over a list of 76 terrorists based across the border to the Afghan embassy in Islamabad. The Afghan government hands over a list of 85 terrorists it claims are operating from within Pakistan. Our army chief summons Afghan diplomats to GHQ. The Afghan army deputy chief summons our ambassador in Kabul to his office. And on goes the blame game between the two countries, even as thousands are killed by terrorists on both sides of the border.

Pakistan and India play the same game across their border and the LoC. India blames Pakistan for a string of attacks on its soil, while we blame the Indians for financing and arming nationalist insurgents in Balochistan. While all three countries are suffering from terrorism, they are unwilling to cooperate in order to crush this menace.

In any objective evaluation of the situation, it must be admitted that it is Pakistan that has pioneered the use of non-state actors to further its agenda in the region. And, more often than not, it has used faith as a rallying cry.

It launched tribal zealots into Kashmir a few weeks after independence, and the resulting war with India led to an unending deadlock between the two countries. Before a full-fledged war broke out over Kashmir in 1965, plain-clothed Pakistani soldiers infiltrated India-held Kashmir with the intent of fomenting an uprising.

Invoking The ‘Good Vs Bad Terrorists’ Doctrine Has Not Worked

In 1971, the military used the militant wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in an attempt to crush the nationalist freedom struggle there. Millions of Bengalis fled across the border, providing India with a reason to attack and defeat our army. A few years later, president Daud indicated that the PPP government was attempting to destabilise his administration in Kabul.

After the Soviet invasion in 1979, Pakistan joined with the US and Saudi Arabia to arm, finance and train jihadists from across the Muslim world. Then known as freedom fighters, these ‘holy warriors’ committed many atrocities that were conveniently overlooked at the time. And when the defeated Red Army pulled out in 1988, thousands of trained jihadists turned their guns on targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India-held Kashmir. A few years later, the Afghan Taliban began their reign of terror, lasting until they were toppled in the aftermath of 9/11 and then allegedly finding refuge in Balochistan. Since then, they have used the province as a platform for attacks against Afghan and US-led coalition forces.

Another group that has created mayhem in Afghanistan is the Haqqani network. Based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, these terrorists have been largely exempt from attacks by Pakistani security forces. The unstated excuse is: they do not pose a threat to Pakistan, so why provoke them? Groups active in IHK are similarly shielded.

But invoking the ‘good versus bad terrorists’ doctrine has led us to where we are. With this backdrop, should we be surprised that India and Afghanistan are paying us back in our own coin?

I have little doubt of Indian involvement in the Balochistan uprising. Why would Indian intelligence not take advantage of local grievances and nationalist aspirations in our biggest and most backward province? And there is solid evidence regarding Indian assistance for the MQM. Again, most governments would fish in the troubled waters of a hostile neighbour’s biggest city.

Afghanistan, too, has permitted a number of anti-Pakistan jihadist groups to operate from its soil. But in all fairness, it doesn’t control large swathes of the territory along our border. This, of course, was equally true of Pakistan until the security establishment got serious about clearing Fata of the hydra-headed monsters it had itself created.

Most bordering states that have suffered from years of terrorist violence would muster up the maturity to put political differences aside and cooperate in excising this cancer. Sadly, successive governments in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have been too weak and self-serving to take the hard decisions needed to sit down and work together.

The basic problem lies in Pakistan, where three generations of generals have been trained to see the world through Kashmir-tinted glasses. The obsession with the perceived threat from India has blinded them to other security concerns. After having seen the difficulty of crushing rural-based jihadists in ungoverned areas where they have safe havens, they have still been unable to draw the obvious conclusion.

For its part, India has been less than helpful. By fielding around 20 army divisions on our border, it has ensured that it poses an existentialist threat to us, thereby forcing the Pakistan Army to respond. Also, the worst nightmare for our military planners is encirclement by both our neighbours.

But overcoming this threat calls for better relations with Afghanistan. This cannot be achieved by allowing the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network sanctuary in Pakistan.

Source: dawn.com/news/1318202/jingoism-and-jihad

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Anti-Dowry Act

By Aisha Sarwari

March 3, 2017

As if it wasn’t already difficult enough for a woman in Pakistan, there is this bile-inducing custom to have a woman weighed in against what material and monies she brings into a marriage. Dowry determines a woman’s worth in this culture. About 95% marriages are said to practise the custom that is not built on functional need but a status symbol and a show of women’s subservience. Seemingly the more dowry a woman has, the more her takers will be and therefore the less dispensable she is. Less dispensable women are apparently treated by in-laws with more kindness. Not really.

Whereas India has the highest number of dowry-related deaths, it is Pakistan that has the highest number of dowry-linked deaths per 100,000 women. We murder and hack to death, via stove burnings and poison ingestion than any other country in the world. No amount of money gets in-laws to stop torturing new brides to seek more cash from their families. No wonder there is a funeral-like feel to a household a girl child is born to. Our customs are meant to stifle the caretakers of girls as if they bear the burden of a curse and the only way to make it up is cough up dough to marry off the girl.

This is not just a class issue. The elite in our country — do check the latest few destination weddings in our social magazines — are just as marred by it. Show more love and dote with money, flounder it across the far seas so everyone knows not to mess with your daughter. Why not equip them with the law instead? Teach them to stand up for their rights first.

K-P, in a landmark move, has barred a bride’s family from making dowry payments to the groom and his family. So basically the groom and his family have to make alternative means of extorting money, or for a change find a job or start a business. The K-P law restricts value of gifts given by the bride to Rs10,000. It is enough to buy a good juice blender, a hair dryer, a low-end vacuum cleaner or a few good books.

It’s time for men to seek out women for who they are and not what they bring. Dowry is an evil custom. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Dowry, Bridal Gift and Marriage Functions Restriction Act of 2017 has thankfully put an end to it as far as the law in K-P is concerned. It’s one of the few sensible pro-women legislation to come out of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

Last year in December a woman called Shumaila was forced to consume poison in Multan when her father could not pay her husband and in-laws the promised Rs50,000 in dowry. Shumaila, like the estimated 2,000 dowry deaths per year in Pakistan, are an abomination and tell that we are a nation on the brink. Don’t be fooled by the mere gains in our standing — women remain a severely neglected in all parts of our society. Rights experts say that this number is hardly reflective of how many women are actually tortured because of the heinous custom and many of their deaths remain unreported and marked falsely natural.

Pervasive in the middle class, we are extremely proud of the list of things we bring with us into our marriages — our cars, our washing machines, our furniture and the godforsaken toaster — these are spoils of the war on women. Reject it. Reject it as the girl bride, reject it as the father of the bride and certainly reject it as the groom. There is nothing dignified in it. Women must only be armed with one resource that is the real true asset for any family — their education, their aptitude, their ability to brace uncertainties like death and disease and more importantly their sense of justice. Don’t compromise on this. Everything else can be acquired, especially the toaster.

Now that we are making strides in banning dowry, can we look to please increase the Haq Meher that the groom needs to pay the bride. This amount is to be allocated according to the groom and his family’s social standing but instead it is set as a pathetic token amount. This amount is payable to the woman on demand according to Islamic law. Fix the Haq Meher according to the intended standard and notice how the balance of power shifts. For a start, fewer women like Shumaila will be dead by poisoning.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1345406/anti-dowry-act/

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Musharraf’s Four-Point Formula: The Devil In The Details

By Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai

 04-Mar-17

“Four-point Formula does not want to resolve the Kashmir dispute but to dissolve it.” Ambassador Yusuf Buch

Abba Eban, an international diplomat, is reported to have once said, “History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they exhaust all other alternatives.” That wisdom was apparent when, in 1995, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan reportedly told India’s then Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral at Male: “We cannot take Kashmir by force, and you cannot give it peacefully; we have to find a way to span the distance.”

Clearly, the frustration created by what could easily be characterised a standoff is a case that argues quite convincingly for taking steps toward diplomacy on the issue of Kashmir. The expression of that frustration through military might, cross-border shootings, arrests, rapes, disappearances, and shooting the eyes out of teenaged protesters with pellets from shotguns has long been proven to be a failure. All the bloodletting this past summer in the valley of Kashmir simply led to greater polarisation and has only further distanced the dispute from resolution. Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram is said recently to have felt that he had “a sinking feeling that Kashmir was nearly lost for India because the central government used brute force to quell dissent there.”

There have been numerous attempts, indeed, in the past to present proposals for resolving this dispute, but none has seemed to take hold. The revival now of Musharraf’s four-point formula which was widely discussed in 2006 has again been raised as a solution that offers the most promise of hope to those who have grown weary of the struggle and are willing to accept serious compromises in the interest of alleviating some suffering.

So, let’s look at the proposed compromise. General Musharraf’s four-point formula involves the following. Firstly, demilitarisation or phased withdrawal of troops; secondly, there will be no change of borders of Kashmir. However, people of Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to move freely across the Line of Control; thirdly, self-governance without independence; and lastly, a joint supervision mechanism in Jammu and Kashmir involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Let Us Analyse These Four Points.

A demilitarisation is an option that was suggested by the United Nations and in particular by Sir Owen Dixon of Australia. This has been the demand of the leadership of the Kashmiri resistance that demilitarisation from both sides of the Ceasefire Line will pave the way for a serious and thoughtful solution to the Kashmir dispute.

However, the Line of Control is, in fact, a line of conflict which needs to be eroded so that the people of Kashmir can move freely from one area to the other. But the problem arises when the ‘Four-point Formula’ says that borders cannot be withdrawn. That is a very loaded phrase. That means that the Line of Control should, in fact, be established permanently as an international border. Such an option is an insult to the intelligence of the Kashmiri people.

The subject was brought up when I had an opportunity sometime back to meet with Congressman Gary Ackerman, Democrat from New York, who was the Chairman House and Foreign Relations Committee on South Asia. He was considered to be the friend of India. In fact, President Clinton, after having visited India, told Congressman Ackerman that he was more known in India than he himself (Clinton).

Congressman Ackerman told me in 2000 that he had a proposal for the settlement of Kashmir. If we pursue it, he said, each party, India, Pakistan and Kashmir, will benefit. No one will lose. Each of them will be a winner. That seemed like a sound idea, and I asked him to explain his proposal. To my astonishment, he proposed that the Line of Control be accepted as an international border.

“You just told me, Congressman, that in your proposal no party would be a loser. But if we accept the Line of Control as an international border, India is not a loser because it is in fact still in possession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is not a loser either because it has held on to Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The only party which is a loser is the people of Kashmir who get nothing except the imposition of rule by both India and Pakistan. And your proposal will legitimise Indian sovereignty over Kashmir.”

Self-governance undoubtedly has abroad meaning. Self-governance means freedom, independence and autonomy. It means that the people would be makers of their destiny. It also means that one has to be the shaper of one’s future. So, the term self-governance by itself is not an issue. The four-point formula is problematic because, under this plan, self-governance excludes the option of freedom or independence. In fact, it clearly says that the people of Kashmir will be given self-governance without independence. Will India retain the power to tax the Kashmiris? Will they have a hand in the politics and influence who has the mandate to rule? Will they pass new laws which infringe on the limited self-rule the Kashmiris possess? Where does self-rule begin and where does it end, if Kashmir does not possess sovereignty over its land?

The drafters of the four-point formula have been quite conscious of the sentiments of the people of Kashmir. They knew that the resistance to foreign occupation that began in 1931 and continues until now does not accept de-facto rule by any country over Kashmir. Therefore, they came up with the idea of self-governance which is a deceptive and misleading term that gives an appearance of sovereignty without any substance. It is purely a mask. Without actual sovereignty for Kashmir, under the four-point formula, the people of Kashmir will have to accept the supremacy and rule of India over their lives, and the possibility of that being eroded by whatever whim, fancy or circumstance may intervene in the future. Perhaps self-governance now, designed and managed by external powers, which is subject to the will of those foreign powers without due respect for the sovereignty of Kashmir and all the international protections that accompany it, has the appearance of a step in the right direction but on an extremely slippery slope. Self-governance is a mere illusion: what is given can be taken away, when it does not, in fact, include real sovereignty.

Those who believe that the people of Kashmir should accept Musharraf’s four-point formula should be bold enough to say exactly what it is, i.e. that the method gives the people of Kashmir only choice and that is to be part of India. This is only a slightly broader version of Article 370 drafted in 1949 which today is meaningless.

Famed jurist and author, A. G. Noorani is correct when he said on November 2, 2009 (The Hindu), “The solution (to Kashmir) should be such that a Kashmiri leader could announce it in Lal Chowk.” I totally agree with Mr Noorani. If the leadership of Kashmiri resistance genuinely believes that the four-point formula is the only way out, let them announce it in Lal Chowk that this form of self-governance is not what we were striving for. Self-governance is neither freedom nor independence. Self-governance is a declaration that Azad Kashmir is an integral part of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir of India. Let there be a referendum and the people of Kashmir should get a chance to decide. If they vote in favour of the formula, the verdict must be final and acceptable to all.

I still believe that in order to reach an imaginative settlement of the Kashmir dispute, all parties concerned will have to show flexibility. But in the four-point formula, the only party which becomes a sacrificial lamb and shows flexibility and makes sacrifice are the people of Kashmir. That should not be an option. The demand for self-determination is greater now than it has been in many years. It’s time for all parties to recognise the realities on the ground, see the need to include the Kashmiri leadership at the table, and begin to negotiate in good faith for the durable and permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/04-Mar-17/musharrafs-four-point-formula-the-devil-in-the-details

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Residual Democracies, Wages of Hate

By Aijaz Zaka Syed

March 3, 2017

Feed a monster and there is every danger of you ending up as its fodder. What makes the killing of yet another Indian techie in the US last week – the second such tragedy in February – even more tragic and ironic is the fact that Indian Americans have perhaps been the most passionate of Donald Trump’s supporters. The community played a significant role in his groundbreaking election.

As the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported ahead of the US elections in November, both the Indian American diaspora and Hindutva groups in India strongly rooted for Trump. The Hindu Republican Coalition and Indian Americans began pushing for the billionaire businessman very early in the campaign. Shalabh Kumar, the founder of the Hindu Republican Coalition, has been one of Trump’s biggest donors and has been lobbying for the job of the US ambassador to India.

According to The Hindu, while Indian Americans like most immigrants and ethnic minorities, have always supported the Democrats, in this election they broke away from that tradition and voted for Trump in large numbers. While Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close Muslim aide, was seen as one possible reason for turning away her Indian voters, most Indian Americans saw in Trump a ‘strong, politically incorrect leader’ a la Narendra Modi and an ally against ‘Islamic terrorism’ and Pakistan.

The Times noted with particular interest the elaborate ‘yagnas’ that were performed by the Hindu Sena in India seeking divine blessings for Trump’s success. The paper also highlighted the striking similarities of style, rhetoric and approach between the US leader and Prime Minister Modi. Steve Bannon, the chief strategist of the US president, admires the Indian leader and calls him ‘Indian Reagan’.

“It may be pure coincidence that some of Trump’s words channel the nationalistic and, some argue, anti-Muslim sentiments that Modi stoked as he rose to power. But it is certainly not coincidental that many of Trump’s biggest Hindu supporters are also some of Modi’s most ardent backers,” wrote Jeremy W Peters in the Times.

Even when Trump unveiled his now infamous ‘Muslim ban’, many in the Indian media continued to cheer for him. Some even suggested taking a leaf out of Trump’s book to throw out India’s own ‘illegals’ and ‘Bangladeshis’ from the north-east.

Given this mutual admiration between the right in the US and India, it’s understandable if many fellow Indians are bewildered by these rising attacks targeting the Indian Americans. The Indian media has noted with dismay that Trump has not condemned the attacks on Indians. (He has condemned the killing in his State of the Union address to Congress).

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Information Minister Venkaiah Naidu urged the US leader to condemn the Kansas City shooting in the strongest terms saying it was important for the “US government to restore the faith of ethnic minorities in the country”.

One couldn’t agree more with Singh, the solitary voice of moderation in his party. But why this selective outrage? Why did the home minister not proffer the same advice to his own boss when such killings happened less than 30 kilometres from Delhi? We are yet to hear Singh, PM Modi or any other minister condemn the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq or many others like him. Instead of bringing the killers to justice, central ministers like Mahesh Sharma visited Dadri to express solidarity with his killers and even tried to justify it in the name of ‘Hindu sentiments’.

Indeed, the BJP staged a ‘Maha Panchayat’ in the village to demand a case against Akhlaq’s family for ‘cow killing’ and no eyebrows were raised in Delhi or in the media. By the way, even though the shaken wife of the slain Indian techie, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, stated in the US that they had moved out of their ancestral village because they thought they did not belong there, this isn’t true. Ashfaq’s family moved out because it couldn’t take all the threats and hate anymore.

There cannot be a greater tragedy for a society when some of its members conclude they do not belong there, especially for a multicultural society which has diversity as its chief strength. It takes a lifetime to make a home and ages to build a vibrant, civil society and a united nation. Hate and bigotry can destroy it all in no time. As Edmund Burke would famously argue, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

We have seen this happen again and again in what my friend Prof Badri Raina calls ‘residual democracies’.  Indeed, it has been happening all around the world.  Intolerance is on the march everywhere.  The rabid right is rising across Europe, the land of Magna Carta.

The European Union, which with its open borders and celebration of democracy and human rights once inspired nations around the world, faces an uncertain future as it gets assailed by the same dark forces. Instead of looking to the future, in the 21st century, we are walking back in time. Rather than nipping evil in the bud, we are flirting with it, and allowing it to mutate into a monster.

All those shocked and bewildered at Trump’s actions like the Muslim ban, mass deportations of immigrants, the wall with Mexico and the plan to multiply the US’s nuclear arsenal cannot complain now. The man is doing precisely what he had promised. At least, he cannot be accused of being a typical politician. As for the liberals, they did not do enough to stop his march to the White House.

The same is true of our own answer to Trump. Notwithstanding his eventful past and his worldview, many good, reasonable Indians, tired of the numerous scams and the lack of direction under the Congress, voted for the ‘strong leader’ hoping he would carry everyone along.

And to be fair to PM Modi, he has certainly given a more effective and responsive administration. Corruption in high places is down. But all that good work is undermined and undone by his deafening silence in the face of the antics of his Parivar, many of them honourable members of his cabinet.

When men in power and authority remain silent in the face of such actions, they send an unmistakable message of complicity. This is why even as Modi preaches ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’, his party leaders and ministers go about their business as usual, spreading sweetness and light. Look at the Ramjas College episode in Delhi and how a 20-year old student, daughter of a Kargil martyr, is facing abuse and threats – some from central ministers – for standing up for her beliefs.

And this is why there is a sudden, visible surge in attacks on immigrants in the US. Because men like the Navy veteran who killed Srinivas Kuchibhotla believe that they have the highest sanction for their despicable actions.

Therefore it’s important for leaders to not only speak out against hate and intolerance in clear, unequivocal terms but to also show with their actions that they do not sanction or tolerate it. Hate hurts us all whether we are white, black or brown. For many in the US, all immigrants and brown-skinned people are ‘Muslims.’

India and the US – the nations of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr – should be leading the world with their celebration of diversity and tolerance, not by accepting hate and bigotry.       

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/189808-Residual-democracies-wages-of-hate

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Fighting Daesh

By Adnan Adil

March 3, 2017

A section of the security establishment has come out of its denial mode about the presence of Isis/Daesh in Pakistan and started recognising the challenges posed by it.

A recent report attributed to Sindh’s counterterrorism department claims that Daesh has avenues to establish itself in Pakistan and can exploit sectarian hatred and the existence of extremist religious organisations to recruit members.

Since 2015, Daesh and its affiliated outfits have perpetrated four major horrifying bombings in the country. This includes an attack on a Shia mosque in Shikarpur in January 2015 – in which its affiliate Jundullah was found to be involved. Isis has also been involved in an attack on the Ismaili community in Safoora Goth, Karachi in May 2015. The attack on the Shah Noorani shrine in Khuzdar in November 2016 was also perpetrated by Daesh, and the outfits also claimed responsibility for the attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan Sharif last month. Dozens of people were killed in each of these strikes.

Although signs of Daesh’s footprint in the country began to appear in 2014, top officials of the federal and Punjab governments dismissed the organisation’s presence in Pakistan until recently. Daesh had established its bases in eastern Afghanistan’s bordering areas with Pakistan in 2014 and, soon afterwards, had penetrated into South Waziristan. Daesh’s sanctuaries, training camps and financial resources in Afghanistan have infused a new life into Pakistan’s outlawed militant sectarian groups which were struggling for survival before joining the group.

The Balochistan government was the first to detect the organisation’s activities. In November 2014, the provincial government reportedly sent a confidential report to the federal government, saying Daesh had recruited around 12,000 men from Hangu and Kurram Agency. However, the warning was not taken seriously.

The same year, Daesh activists made their presence felt in several cities, including Lahore and Islamabad, through graffiti and wall-chalking. The organisation’s print literature was also distributed. The interior ministry still remained unmoved. In November 2014, the interior minister said that “the militant Islamic State group, which is a Middle Eastern organisation, has no presence in Pakistan”. In his view, other terrorist groups were using Daesh’s name and causing death and destruction in the country.

This stance was at variance with obvious empirical evidence. In January 2015, security agencies reportedly arrested Yousaf al-Salafi, a local leader of Daesh, along with his two companions in Lahore. In 2016, the alleged culprits behind the Safoora attack were arrested and found to be affiliated with Daesh. In December 2015, Punjab’s counterterrorism department claimed to have busted a Daesh group in Daska area of Sialkot.

In February 2016, Aftab Sultan, the director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), in a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, reportedly said that Daesh was emerging as a threat in the country because “several militant groups had soft corner for it”. The IB chief named outlawed organisation such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan as examples. In sharp contrast, the interior minister recently insisted that sectarian outfits and terrorist organisations cannot be equated.

The confusion at the highest level – and the consequent inaction of the authorities – has allowed Daesh to expand its network in the country and carry out deadly attacks after short intervals, particularly in Sindh. The recent lethal strike at the Sehwan Sharif makes it obvious that the organisation has devout followers with a supply line of arms and ammunition, a logistical support network and funding to carry out their activities. Intelligence reports revealed to the media suggest that associates of Daesh have hideouts in the bordering districts of Sindh and Balochistan.

There is a clear pattern in the areas of operation for the activities of militant and extremist organisations. Daesh and its affiliates have conducted various attacks in Sindh and Balochistan. The TTP has focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Jamaatul Ahrar have chosen Punjab. The well-organised, systematic functioning of terrorist groups in Pakistan has outsmarted our security setup.

Daesh’s stronghold in Afghanistan is a source of worry for other neighbouring countries of the region – including Russia, China, Iran and the Central Asian states. Media reports suggest that Russia’s Muslim community has become a major recruitment base for the organisation. It is feared that that these Russian-speaking Daesh members can set up bases in northern Afghanistan along the border with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to penetrate the Central Asian states. Likewise, leaked Daesh records provide evidence that more than 100 Uighur extremists from China have joined the organisation.

Given the reach and extent of Daesh’s threat, the concerned countries in the region have started coordinating with each other to counter the threat. On December 27, 2016, representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan met in Moscow to discuss regional security with a special focus on emerging Daesh threat. The recent meeting of Russian ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Yurevich Dedov with COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on February 28 can also be seen in this context.

Pakistan’s fight against Daesh has two components. One is related to its associates and affiliated outfits and sectarian militant outfits within Pakistan – which are the target of the ongoing Operation Raddul Fasaad. The other – which is both significant and tricky  – concerns the organisation’s main bases in Afghanistan close to Pak-Afghan border, which can only be eliminated in a full-fledged military operation involving troops on the ground, heavy fire and the use of the air force.

Obviously, Pakistani forces cannot launch a war in the bordering areas of Afghanistan without the consent and collaboration of the Kabul government and, more importantly, the US – which has stationed nearly 9,000 troops on Afghan soil. The policy of US President Donald Trump’s administration will be crucial for a complete victory over Daesh in our region.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/189811-Fighting-Daesh

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The Anticipated Benefits of FATA Reforms

By Muhammad Anwar

March 3, 2017

This piece is in response to Rustam Shah Mohmand’s Article in this paper titled ‘The Unanticipated Perils of FATA Merger with K-P”. While targeting the reflexivity of Fata parliamentarians and those advocating the reforms as ‘alien’ to the region’s culture as they might not be living in Fata, hence not qualified to debate Fata reforms, I may not be qualified too according to this definition of ‘competency on Fata’ as I belong to K-P. However, I take the liberty for the fact that he has served as Chief Secretary of my province while hailing from Fata. What is more distasteful is the disgust he has shown for the system which he has served as a top bureaucrat. Furthermore, if not living in Fata should be the sole reason for not advocating Fata reforms, this principle should also be applied on those who are apposing reforms but living in Peshawar and in Islamabad.

Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand in his article attacked the legitimacy of the Fata parliamentarians by quoting their ‘handful’ votes in the general election 2013. However, if we compare the votes secured by them, other constituencies in mainstreamed Pakistan, this is still a high margin. Mr Shahji Gul Afridi from NA-45 secured 29,488 votes and Mr Sajid Hussain Turi secured 30,524 votes. Both are strong advocates for reforms. There are 10 MNAs from the rest of Pakistan, including Federal Minister for SAFRON ministry, who have secured less than 29,000 votes but still represent their constituencies. In fact, Mr Muhammad Jamaluddin from the JUI-F secured only 3,356 votes; the lowest of all MNAs in Pakistan and the JUI-F is the only representative party in Fata which is opposing the reforms. Therefore, if any political party should stop opposing Fata reforms based on the number of votes, the JUI-F should be the first one. Majority of political parties want merger and only the JUI-F and PkMAP is standing in the way of political and human rights of people of Fata.

Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand has shown disgust for the judiciary and democratic form of government by predicting chaos and civil war as consequences of the Fata reforms. To make his argument stronger, he has presented Karachi where the law and order situation is dismal for the last three decades. But he failed to acknowledge that worsening law and order situation and taking total control of area are two different things. Most parts of tribal areas remained under the full control of the Taliban where the state writ was minimal. It seems he is fully supporting the existing farm of governance in Fata without superior courts jurisdiction and non-representative status. How can any sane person defend FCR in 21st century is beyond my understating. Yes, the majority of people in Fata are against FCR and this is obvious from the recent study published by Fata Research Centre titled “Governance Reforms in FATA: People’s Perspective”. The study depicts that 68% population of Fata is for abolition of FCR, and 74% endorsed the option of merger with K-P. In this survey, in any case, if FCR is so perfect for tackling the Taliban, why should it not be extended to Karachi and other parts of Pakistan as well?

Mr Rustam Shah Mohmand has rightly pointed out the need for social and economic development of Fata. However, this development is not possible when Fata is governed administratively through K-P, economically and politically through the federal government. Those who are supporting merger are well aware of the fact that Fata Senate seats will have to be reduced. Yet, due to geographical, cultural and economical proximity of Fata agencies with K-P districts, increase share in NFC award (which should be at least 5% given the population and backwardness of Fata), and protection of fundamental rights owing to extension of superior courts jurisdiction are some of the key consideration which help understand the thinking of proponents of merger. The existing governance structure is no more working in Fata and the federal government has to move for reforms for giving full citizenship status to the people of Fata. Normalcy will not return even after many successful military operations until and unless the civilian administration is capable enough to take over. Let’s not delay the process of reforms. As a first step, the federal government should immediately extend superior courts jurisdiction to Fata.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1345416/anticipated-benefits-fata-reforms/

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Towards Mutual Connectivity

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

March 3, 2017

The 13th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) in Islamabad marks a great achievement for Pakistan. The summit took place at a critical time when the country faced a fresh wave of terrorism and its neighbours Afghanistan and India are making attempts to isolate it on the diplomatic front.

In this scenario, the presence of the head of states of all ECO member countries in Islamabad has been touted as a big success of the country’s foreign policy – which is largely based on promoting regional peace, integrity, stability and mutual cooperation.

Through this summit, Pakistan’s leading role on the regional level has been proved once again. The election of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the chairman of the ECO is likely to yield positive results while the participation of China’s executive vice foreign minister along with a UN delegation has shown their commitment to the region. Unfortunately, the Afghan president was the only head of state who did not attend the summit.

Pakistan, Iran and Turkey had jointly laid the foundation of this important organisation in 1985. The ECO aimed to promote economic ties. Following the defeat of the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the Central Asian States attained freedom and seven more countries became member of the organisation.

Pakistan and the Central Asian States had enjoyed historical and cultural ties for centuries since the British Empire ruled the Subcontinent. The Russian occupation temporarily impacted these relations. However, after the Central Asian States were liberated from Russian occupation, they resumed their friendlier ties with Pakistan and considering it to be their real source of freedom.

In addition, the strong relations between Pakistan and Turkey can be gauged from the fact that Pakistanis are welcomed in Turkey and locals refer to them as their brothers. Various speculations about the future of Pak-Iran relations have also been erased through the active participation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the ECO summit.

In the opening speech of the summit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the ECO region is the hub for 52 percent of world trade and Pakistan wants to have peaceful relations with all neighbours. Talking about the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Sharif was of the view that it is a comprehensive development project for the entire region and will play a crucial role in improving the economic and strategic environment of the region. He maintained that the regional connectivity is essential in this regard.

Pakistan’s geographical position is unique and important in the context of Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. But it is a matter of concern that the Afghan president could not attend the summit and instead sent the Afghan ambassador to represent him. Pakistan and Afghanistan have countless grievances with each other.

But all these mutual issues can be resolved through communication. The ECO summit was the best platform for this. The theme of the summit – ‘Connectivity for Regional Prosperity’ – urges all member states to direct the region toward progress and development.

Despite the anti-Pakistan steps – which were taken by India to destabilise regional peace – our prime minister always adopted a positive approach without compromising on his Kashmir stance.

He has invited India to promote bilateral trade relations as economic ties can provide a peaceful solution for the Kashmir conflict.

On different occasions, many countries have shown interest to become part of CPEC. If any attempt is made through the ECO summit to support CPEC as a whole, it will benefit the entire region – especially the Central Asian States located on the historical silk route. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is under Indian influence to oppose CPEC.

It is a grave mistake on the part of the Afghan leadership if they believe that the Central Asian States have no other option but to reach the warm waters of Gwadar via Afghanistan. Wakhan is the narrow strip of territory in northeastern Afghanistan that separates Tajikistan from Pakistan.

During his last visit to Pakistan in November 2015, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has discussed various infrastructure projects to establish road link between both countries with Sharif. The NHA chairman has delivered a detailed presentation on the possible options – including the Gwadar-Peshawar-Kabul-Kunduz-Dushanbe route, the Chitral-Ishkashim-Dushanbe route and the Khunjerab-Kalasu-Murghab route. The last option completely bypasses Afghanistan.

According to Chinese media reports, a border trade zone is also being established there in Tashkurgan Town, Xinjiang – which borders with Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan – and it is expected to be completed in the current year.

Afghanistan must therefore understand that due to its non-serious and hostile attitude towards Pakistan, regional countries, including Russia and the Central Asian States, it might consider obtaining access to Gwadar without passing through Afghan territory.

We must join hands so that mutual cooperation among the member states is strengthened in the fields of infrastructure, connectivity and transportation for the development and the progress of the entire region.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/189810-Towards-mutual-connectivity

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/jingoism-and-jihad--new-age-islam-s-selection,-04-march-2017/d/110279




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