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Pakistan Press (27 Dec 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Lacunas in Anti-Terrorism Law of Pakistan: New Age Islam's Selection, 27 December 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

27 December 2016

Lacunas in Anti-Terrorism Law Of Pakistan

By Sarmad Ali

The Intel War in Britain

By Musa Khan Jalalzai

Afghan Peace Prospects — 2017

By Faisal Ali Raja

Pakistani Textbooks Controversy

By Salman Ali & Saira Ahmed

A Boxful of Xmas Memories

By Jawed Naqvi

Real-Life Issues

By Farhan Bokhari

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Lacunas in Anti-Terrorism Law of Pakistan

By Sarmad Ali


The conviction of terrorists in Pakistan is low despite Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 which was enacted to deal with terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan, for last 15 to 20 years, has faced immense terrorism of all forms across the country. Despite Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, Pakistan has not been able to comprehensively deal with terrorism.

The mentioned law not only includes provisions for punishments to terrorists, but also has provisions dealing with terrorism at large in Pakistan. The law relating to anti-terrorism had been cemented further with the enacting Pakistan Protection Act, now expired, widely questioned and criticised for falling short of international human rights standards. The National Action Plan was launched in the wake Peshawar massacre in 2014. Despite all these efforts, conviction rate of terrorists has remained low. The police and other law enforcing agencies and authorities have done their level best to curtail terrorism-related activities in Pakistan, but it is the law of anti-terrorism that has allowed terrorists to get away despite the conviction.

Furthermore, the anti-terrorism law also includes provisions for giving preventive detentions to terrorists, lays down the simplified trial procedure for the speedy disposal of terrorism-related cases, and constitutes a special court for such cases. It also provides provisions in connection with witness protection programmes that comes to court for evidence. The problem with the anti-terrorism law of Pakistan is that it defines ‘terrorism’ very vaguely. The legislators who defined ‘terrorism’ couldn’t comprehend its implications, or I say, deliberately with the mala fide intention of using this very harsh law to suppress political dissent and oppress union movements.

The Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 was enacted to cater terrorism in Pakistan, and to date, a number of amendments had taken place in it. To the contrary, the British legislators were so serious and sure of their doings and consideration in defining terrorism that to do this task effectively, they engaged Baron Carlile of Berriew QC as an independent observer and facilitator for redefining terrorism in 2007. The amendments that have been made in the anti-terrorism law of Pakistan have redefined terrorism, but the idea and legal line are taken from the British definition of terrorism with certain alterations. The author is very sure, and even it is safe to say that legislators of Pakistan adopted the British law defining terrorism without giving consideration to its implications in the local context of Pakistan.

The author of this piece has noted that courts that were constituted under anti-terrorism law years ago after the enactment of anti-terrorism law have miserably failed to conduct a speedy trial and to convict terrorists. It appears that it is due to the vague definition of terrorism in the mentioned law. Anti-terrorism Act 1997 paragraph 6 defines ‘terrorism and acts of terrorism’ as follows: “Terrorism — (1) In this Act, “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where: (a) the action falls within the meaning of sub-section (2); and (b) the use or threat is designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe the government or the public or a section of the public or community or sect or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society; or (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a religious, sectarian or ethnic cause”. Moreover, anti-terrorism act 1997 includes the list of offences that are to be considered as acts of terrorism in sub-paragraph (2) however, subject to the specific conditions laid down in sub-sections (b) or (c).

It is said that the previous and incumbent governments of Pakistan, in order to curb political dissent on numerous occasions, used the anti-terrorism law to settle scores. This law, since its promulgation, has been used as a tool to curtail and curb political dissent.

The legislators of Pakistan who enacted it years ago defined it so badly rather recklessly that now every political agitation or political dissent cannot be considered as an act of terrorism. The genuine political dissent and agitation, most of the times, in Pakistan are treated as an act of terrorism which is highly condemnable. It is because of lacunas in the anti-terrorism law of Pakistan. It is not out of place to mention that 99 percent of every violent offence and political agitation in Pakistan perhaps are considered as acts of terrorism.

 It is a serious problem that has enabled the government to misuse the legislation to the extent that even routine delinquencies are registered under this law which defines terrorism and acts of terrorism vaguely. To cement this argument, an example of this can be seen from an incident in Lahore where a jilted lover threatening to commit suicide with a firearm some years ago was booked under the anti-terrorism law. Moreover, legitimate protests of students in Islamabad, wherein public transport was destroyed, and public property was damaged were booked this law. It is safe to say that routine misdemeanours are registered under this law, which shows that this legislation is used as a tool to curtail genuine political dissent and disobedience.

In the very end, it is submitted that this legislation, since its promulgation, has been used to curb political dissent, and the legislators miserably failed to understand nature and form of terrorism that Pakistan faced. A number of amendments have been taken placed into this legislation but the legislators couldn’t manage to amend the acts of terrorism and terrorism at large. The legislation in question vaguely defined terrorism because of which convictions of terrorists is very low and courts are not able to conduct a speedy trial and actually convict terrorists. It is, therefore, a need of time to reconsider the anti-terrorism law in the parliament fora narrow and precise definition of terrorism so that it actually addresses the issue in Pakistan. The current definition of terrorism has been taken from the British anti-terrorism law, which should be transformed into the local context.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Dec-16/lacunas-in-anti-terrorism-law-of-pakistan


The Intel War in Britain

By Musa Khan Jalalzai


Intelligence unambiguously linked with defence and security provides a decisive advantage to law enforcement agencies and military commanders in times of war and peace. Some significant events in Europe and Asia recently occurred that left deep impacts on the evolving nature of EU intelligence cooperation on law enforcement level with the United Kingdom. Major Private and state intelligence agencies failed to intercept and disrupt the exponentially growing networks of radicalised groups and lone wolf attacks; for that reason the increasing number of dangers across borders could not reflect in their policies and strategies. The current waves of lone wolves attacks in EU are the most extensive and dangerous the continent has ever seen due to the massive increase in migrants in EU that caused insecurity and political pressure, while their involvement in recent terror-related attacks in Brussels, France, and Germany raised serious questions about the nature of their perceptions and resentments towards European values. Majority of people, who entered the EU and the UK, used false documents and information to hide their identity. Britain learnt a lot from these consecutive EU intelligence failures, and adopted an intelligence-led operational mechanism against terrorists and radicalised elements.

Recent trends in extremism, radicalisation and street crime in major cities in the UK can be judged from the fact that the arrival of numerous criminal gangs and radicalised elements from Asia, Europe and Africa during the last ten years painted a controversial picture of religious believes by which they are misleading the young generation to become part of their dirty business. The emergence of ISIS in Middles East and Gulf region, and the involvement of British citizens in the civil war in Syria and Iraq further endangered the peaceful environment in the country. In the presence of these extremist elements, the crisis of law and order management has become deep. Police commanders and law enforcement agencies have now tired to tackle the exponentially growing terror and criminal networks, lone wolves, and radicalisation with empty hands and a changing national security approach.

Every year, police chiefs, parliamentarians, law enforcement authorities and intelligence chiefs issue ear-splitting statement in which they blame either foreign states or non-state actor for their unwanted role in the deterioration of law and order in the country. This has now become a popular culture to distract and divert attention of critics from their inattention and failing security strategies. We understand the pain of the police department and its stakeholders vis-à-vis the deteriorating law and order, the emergence of new culture of violence, racism and foreign sponsored intelligence war in cities and towns, but one thing is clear that blame game, empty promises, ruckus, and unnecessary blankets of intelligence surveillance cannot help cure the exponentially growing pain and frustration of civilian population. To restore the confidence of citizens on the policing community or community policing, the involvement of communities in law enforcement process, professional security measures and technical approach is a constant need.

We are living in a society of races, colours and cultures, face spectre of violence, but we have failed to mix the colours and integrate all races into one. We still look at each other through tainted glasses, do not understand each other, do not purchase from another shops, and do not exchange views and thoughts. This is the basic challenge we face today. We have failed to manage the increasing population burden, violence, and so many other law enforcement challenges that deeply affected our social stratification. This gap of social interaction, cooperation and integration invites foreign powers to further divide our social system. Policing and intelligence officials recently acknowledged that Russia was waging a “campaign” of propaganda and unconventional warfare against Britain. They also blamed Russia for undermining Britain through fake espionage, misinformation, cyber attacks and fake news. Cabinet Office and intelligence circles also voiced the concerns about the exponentially growing Russian threat in a high level meeting two months ago, and the panacea they proposed to fix the hole was the strict and harrowing blanket of snoopers’ charter surveillance law that generated numerous controversies in print and electronic media across the country. On 21 December 2016, the EU’s highest court ruled against this law and said that the EU member states cannot force internet companies to keep email data on a “general discriminate” basis. During the last ten years, cyberspace has become a new theatre of war and one of the most important priorities in Russian interpretation. Russian understanding of cyberspace and Chinese military strategy in Asia and Europe generated a worldwide debate in print and electronic media that they want to openly challenge the US hegemonic power in Asia and Europe. Since his return to Presidency in 2012, Mr. Putin adopted a new violent cyber strategy and adorned its intelligence with modern information collection technology. To effectively respond to the consecutive Russian cyber war, in March 2016, Britain announced to set up National Cyber Security Centre in London, but it is yet unable to fully enter the information warfare.

In the United States, Russian President was also accused by the authorities of waging cyber war against the country. The US intelligence complained that Mr. Putin was directly involved in a Russian-led hacking campaign to influence the outcome of election. There are concerns that Russian spy agencies may have penetrated British companies and state institutions to collect important data. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach expressed the same concern in his media statement: “We need to pay more attention to counterespionage and counterintelligence to protect our hard-won research, protect our industry, and protect our competitive advantage”.

One time, Britain’s powerful intelligence agency (SIS) issued an unprecedented warning that Russian intelligence was targeting British spies and former agents in an aggressive way. On 08 March 2016, The Sunday Times reported a memo was sent to former employees and staff of the SIS, and warned business community that Russian intelligence will eliminate their business and recruit double agents to retrieve classified information. Before this unprecedented warning, on 16 January 2015, Financial Times published parts of the GCHQ report that warned of future cyber attacks on a financial sector. However, on 05 September 2016, the GCHQ Director Ian Lobban warned heads of big companies of cyber attacks, while Russian cyber forces warned of attacks to disrupt government departments and TV channel businesses.

All of these warnings and statements during the last two years are indicative of the frustration and irritation of British government and its law enforcement agencies vis-à-vis the imposed intelligence war in cyberspace. Security experts have put forward a proposal to the Prime Minister that a war cabinet must be set up to respond to the Russian intelligence war in Britain. On 17 December 2016, Telegraph reported Mr. Putin’s war game, his national defence centre, run by military officers. This centre has set an agenda to bring together hybrid weapons of media, economic, politics, cyber and dirty tricks to ensure all activities are carried out in pursuit of an agreed goal, such is the collapse of the European Union and NATO. On 17 July 2016, Daily Mail reported former GCHQ official warned that there are more Russian spies trying to gather intelligence information in Britain than at the height of the cold war. However, John Bayliss said that Russian intelligence use code to mobile phones and monitor calls.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Dec-16/the-intel-war-in-britain


Afghan Peace Prospects — 2017

By Faisal Ali Raja

 27-Dec-16 301 301

Will the New Year bring any solace to the war-torn Afghanistan? Who will play a critical role to ensure peace in the coming year? Will Taliban hold on for another year or buckle down under pressure from the US and its allies in Afghanistan? These questions will depend upon the nature of the insurgency, type of intelligence operations, reactions of inside actors and locus of control of external players in the region.

The current talks are happening behind the façade of war. These peace overtures are taking place at a critical time when Afghanistan is probably facing the toughest resistance from insurgents and is constantly in the throes of bomb blasts, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, frequent gun battles and suicide explosions. According to United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), a total number of 3565 civilians were injured, and 1601 were killed in first six months of 2016. Most of these deaths and injuries resulted from ground attacks (38 percent), IEDs (17 percent) and complex suicide attacks (20 percent) respectively. These incidents were mainly concentrated in southern, eastern and central regions of the country. The United States of America has also accelerated aerial bombardment along with CT surgical strikes in the country. Since 2001, total Afghan war causalities stand beyond 104,000 civilians and military officials combined. Since August 2016, more than 30,000 civilians have died as a result of the war. The majority of these casualties occurred due to unsafe roads and improper health facilities. A cumulative effect of war is also observed on poverty, poor sanitation, environmental degradation, malnutrition and violence against women.

The peace process in any war-torn country involves internal and external actors along with an environment which sets the tone for negotiations. The process for achieving peace is not static in nature but has a high fluidity and dynamism attached to it. The latter is dependent upon creating a favourable opportunity, finding a middle ground for mutual agreement and showing the sincerity of actions initiated by actors involved. The Taliban have been demanding three things; firstly, the removal of their names from terrorist lists and ending sanctions against them. Secondly, the release of various Taliban affiliates languishing in the US and the Afghan jails who are subjected to routine brutal treatment. According to a UN report released in 2016, nearly one-third of total 800 Taliban-linked detainees are facing a tough situation in Afghanistan. The Guantanamo Bay facility at Cuba houses approximately 60 inmates with majority affiliated with Taliban-associated insurgency. The figure has been gradually reduced from a total number of 779 detainees at the controversial facility. Thirdly, complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan soil.

The Afghan government has been trying to goad Taliban leadership to join negotiation process for a permanent political settlement to end the decade-long insurgency. A growing incompatibility of objectives has strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A regional troika is emerging with Afghanistan, India and Iran as its main components. The recent Heart of Asia conference in India has exemplified this notion where Pakistan was completely isolated without any meaningful involvement. Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) has been conducting operations on Pakistani soil. The emergence of new faces in Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies in the region may have a considerable shift in their thinking in 2017. The intelligence agencies networks can converge on a common point which qualifies for mutual acceptability and position. The contours of such strategic compromise must have the win-win situation for all actors. Otherwise, we shall observe a similar tit-for-tat intelligence action across the borders. The newly elected US president has brought two things with him. First, he shall see global war zones as black spots for business prospects. Second, CIA shall have a greater operational leverage under his command.

The United States wants to consolidate its position through initiating a stabilisation process so that effective transnational counter-terrorism measures can be sanctioned to mitigate cross-border jihadi movement. The recent nuclear agreement with Iran will also be utilised to enhance border patrolling and boosting security measures to restrict these instances. Furthermore, the policy of Al Qaeda of creating unmanned and ungoverned spaces through rift manipulation between various regional actors should also be stopped. Such free battlegrounds provide unhindered training facilities to the insurgents on one hand and camouflage the actual intention of Al Qaeda’s top command on the other.

The Chinese government has two main interests in the peace negotiations. First, it wants to limit the Islamisation process in its hinterlands and wants to share intelligence through Taliban for pinpointing main Uighur culprits involved in terror activities in Xinjiang and Taoyuan regions. Second, China is interested in regional development since its strategic economic thinking aims at tagging along regional improvement for national prosperity. A recent Chinese economic document shows that the top leadership has earmarked North Korea, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Guinea as high-risk countries. The new economic policy delves upon rehabilitating these disturbed areas through mediation, consultation and financial support. Pakistan has its own priorities bordering on securing its urban and rural areas from terrorist attacks. The Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and its success depends upon a lasting and durable agreement between Taliban and the Afghan government. Any truce between the parties will squeeze operational space for terrorists in the region. It will also curb the IS phenomenon in the borderlands of Af-Pak region. Lastly, Pakistan needs economic investment, and China is the biggest foreign investor who is doling out billions of dollars in different sectors in Pakistan.

The success of these peace talks, therefore, pivots around finding a mutual ground of understanding to reach a final agreement. There will be a lot of accusations and counter accusations before the parties will finally come towards the actual issues. Each side will be facing immense pressure not to concede an inch on their demands. Nonetheless, everyone can visualise lurking dangers if they fail to concur on an arrangement. The Afghan government is reeling under the recent Taliban attacks, whereas Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada is eying at IS as an existential threat to the insurgency. Hizb-e-Islami, a Sunni Islamic Afghan group having a strength of approximately 1500-4000, has also signed a deal with Afghan government which will put extra pressure on Taliban to urgently look for a common peace platform. Recently, the United States of America has started conducting drone attacks in Afghanistan on permanent basis — another point of concern for Taliban insurgents.

With the next round of talks due in the near future, all stakeholders are keeping their fingers crossed. Since the talks have been labelled as Afghan owned and Afghan led initiative, therefore, Dr Ashraf Ghani and his administrative paraphernalia have greater responsibility and must show magnanimity on critical issues. Taliban and its leadership will have to reconsider its strategic options through careful calibration of national and regional realities. The US will have to conduct another surgical strike for Taliban top leadership elimination and nominate a favourable non-Kandahari Taliban commander to subdue the insurgency. The IS phenomenon may also be used to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan. This, of course, cannot be done without the cooperation of Pakistan.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Dec-16/afghan-peace-prospects-2017


Pakistani Textbooks Controversy

By Salman Ali & Saira Ahmed

 27-Dec-16 272 272

On August 11, 1947, three days before the announcement of the independence of Pakistan, the Father of the Nation Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech said, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.”

But on the other hand, students of government schools in Punjab and even other provinces are being taught, “Muhammad Ali Jinnah felt that Hindus wanted to make Muslims their slaves and since he hated slavery, he left the Congress.” At another place in grade-III, it says, “The Congress was actually a party of Hindus. Muslims felt that after getting freedom, Hindus would make them their slaves.” Moreover, Pakistani textbooks portray non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan as sympathetic towards its perceived enemies: Pakistani Christians as Westerners or equal to British colonial oppressors and Pakistani Hindus as Indians, which causes hatred for minorities among the Muslim population. Such history books are poisoning and brainwashing the young minds with systematic and institutionalised lies and bigoted teachings.

The good thing is that the Sindh Textbook Board has included this part of Quaid-e-Azam’s speech in the eighth and ninth grade syllabus, but practically, students are not being taught in the real sense. The latest study in this regard made public by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended the review of the Pakistani textbooks, insisting that overemphasis on Islam as being the “only correct” faith in textbooks was against the Constitution of Pakistan, as well as the ideals of the Quaid-e-Azam.

The report titled ‘Teaching Intolerance in Pakistan — Religious Bias in Public School Textbooks’, claims that the foremost recurring trend in textbooks from all grade levels is an overemphasis on the glorification of war and war heroes. “In particular, the conquest of Sindh by Muhammad bin Qasim and 17 famous attacks by Sultan Mehmood Ghaznavi are included proudly in every textbook. Highlighting these two events as the beginning of civilisation in the Subcontinent, while ignoring the evolution of art, architecture, and culture, remains a key problem in textbooks,” the report said.

Another research study, conducted by the Pakistan-based Peace and Education Foundation (PEF), says that in the social studies, Pakistan studies, and history curriculums, students are taught a version of history that promotes a national Islamic identity of Pakistan and often describes conflicts with India in religious terms. The report says that the findings of the study substantiated much of the evidence found in the 2011 study and analysis that textbooks typically emphasise the concepts of communalism and Islam. “Conflation of these concepts is an attempt to build a nation-state anchored in religion, which was pursued by the Bhutto, Zia, Nawaz Sharif, and Musharraf governments from 1971 till 2008.”

Another report, prepared by a local non-profit organisation, National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), says that the government has failed to keep its promise to eradicate religious “hate material” from textbooks used in schools. The report, ‘Freedom from Suffocating Education’ claims that no curriculum reforms have been adopted at the school level, aside from the production of a few booklets — which I also highlighted in one of my previous articles titled “History at the alter of Dogma.”

The report, which focused on textbooks used in the 2015-16 school year, noted that “hate material” previously identified had not been removed from the curriculum. The NCJP study cited several passages from textbooks that teach falsehoods about other religions, or criticise or encourage animosity toward them:

The Sindh Textbook Board’s Class VII (ages 11-12) book on Islamic Studies teaches: “Most of the [other] religions of the world claim equality, but they never act on it. The Punjab Board’s Islamic Studies textbook for Class VIII (ages 12-13) reads: “Honesty for non-Muslims is merely a business strategy; while for Muslims it is a matter of faith.” The Punjab Board’s Class VI book on Islamic Studies says: “Though being a student, you cannot practically participate in jihad, but you may provide financial support for jihad.”

The History textbook for Class VIII students, published by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Textbook Board, reads: “Sikhs used to do many brutalities to Muslims and did not allow them religious freedom. The British did not trust Muslims and the policy of injustice and brutality hurt economic and educational conditions of Muslims. And the discriminatory attitude of Hindu landlords further made their condition worse. Under the influence of Hindus, they adopted several heresies.”

We believe that the “Islamisation” policies introduced by General Ziaul Haq also included a complete revision of the curricula so that the entire content could be re-organised around a certain variant of Islamic thought to inculcate Islamic ideology in the young generation supposedly. Though political analysts have severely criticised the educational system of Zia era for creating the bedrock for militant extremism, no later administration showed any resolve to address the questionable content.

That is why the biased material in the syllabus is one of the major aspects of growing religious intolerance and extremism secondly it is in contradiction with the constitution of Pakistan. Any material considered ‘inflammatory’ or ‘discriminatory’ to religious minorities should be removed from the syllabus as the government should seriously take action on this matter. Secondly, unless and until the young minds are encouraged to develop a critical mind, and the willingness and ability to research and reach for the truth and facts, a country’s national ethos cannot become progressive with social justice and economic development of the citizen as the primary priorities.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Dec-16/pakistani-textbooks-controversy


A Boxful Of Xmas Memories

By Jawed Naqvi

December 27th, 2016

CHRISTMAS brings good cheer and revelry and rekindles our innate warmth towards each other. It is also a doleful season for the unloved. Christmas blues is a syndrome with characteristics of depression. Suicide rates spike in forlorn crevices of Europe and the victims are the lonely folks, overlooked or ignored in the hullaballoo.

Extremists of a different hue have taken over from the erstwhile IRA, which was an early exponent of using Christmas as an occasion to terrorise people by ambushing festive crowds. Muslim misfits may harbour the more virulent anti-bodies for Christians but, in India, a Hindutva-inspired state seems determined to undermine the community. Christmas Day has been spitefully renamed ‘good governance day’. Religious extremists in Pakistan and Bangladesh can congratulate their Hindutva cousins for keeping the minority Christians terrified. In Pakistan they routinely invoke the law to charge Christians with blasphemy, which became a capital crime under Ziaul Haq.

Christmas ushers mixed memories to a differently wired world of idealists and partisans. The Soviet Union imploded on Boxing Day in 1991, which is a day after Christmas, usually observed in Commonwealth countries as a day of exchanging gift boxes, hence the name. The plight of the Soviet cosmonauts is well chronicled; they left the USSR from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for their space mission before Christmas and returned after Boxing Day to find their country gone.

We generally notice our first white hair or a wrinkle one fine morning in the mirror. Most of us rarely experience the change happening every moment through a complex cellular motion. The same is true of political analysts. People may be competent at describing or disputing the elephant in the room but they are not always alert at figuring out the steady gait of the beast as it heads to its denouement.

In India, a Hindutva-inspired state seems determined to undermine the Christian community.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was nigh when it was trapped in Afghanistan. It was happening also when it invaded Hungary 35 years before the endgame. Chroniclers of the journey have included communist and anti-communist analysts alike. Warnings would come in novels scripted by disillusioned partisans. Some would speak through the popular arts, including cinema and theatre. Ziaul Hasan and Nikhil Chakravarty among Indian journalists and Faiz and Mazhar Ali Khan across the border, in Pakistan, were partisan journalists who saw early signs of trouble.

The Soviet Union waded into a fatal fall in Afghanistan around Christmas time in 1980. However, even in 1979, there was evidence that trouble was brewing for the larger communist world long before the Soviet tanks rolled into Kabul. A telling story of the mayhem among the comrades came in religious satire well before the Afghan fiasco. Monty Python’s Life of Brian starts with the birth of Jesus in a barn. The rip-roaring blend of political farce and religious satire offered what in my view could pass for insights into what was rotting within the partisan ranks in India.

The story begins when baby Brian is mistaken for Christ in the manger. He grows up to oppose the Romans, like Jesus. A dialogue in a light-hearted scene comes as a description of apparently agreeable Marxists becoming factional and self-destructive adversaries. Ziaul Hasan’s astute observations on Indian politics in a critical phase of1989, two years before the Soviet Union expired, are prescient. But the dialogue between Brian and his would-be anti-Roman allies also describes the comrades in India, possibly Pakistan too.

Brian: Are you the Judean People’s Front?

Reg: (Expletive)

Brian: What?

REG: Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front. Cawk … Listen. If you really wanted to join the PFJ, you’d have to really hate the Romans.

Brian: I do!

Reg: Oh, yeah? How much?

Brian: A lot!

Reg: Right. You’re in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the (expletive) Judean People’s Front.

People like Ziaul Hasan were trained to see early warnings of momentous changes though. One of my favourite senior journalists, Zia sahib was a crucial witness to the highs and lows of communist idealism in India. He was among the better-informed professionals of his generation not least because communist intellectuals of his time were required to keep their ear faithfully to the ground. Nikhil Chakravarty was another from that generation of amazingly informed cluster of professionals who peaked between 1970s and 1980s.

Recently Zia sahib’s daughter Saba Hasan, a celebrated artist, published some of his columns. I hope to share the important insights sometime soon.

Tomes have been written about the collapse of the Soviet Union 25 years ago. But I liked how Fidel Castro responded to a world in disarray, limping markedly to the right. Asked by an Indian journalist why he would not budge from his singularly rigid embrace of Marxism in the middle of the global calamity haunting his comrades, he said: “As the world lurches to the right, I move that much to the left without actually shifting at all from my preferred perch.”

In 1992, Castro agreed to loosen restrictions on religion and even permitted church-going Catholics to join the Communist Party of Cuba. He began describing his country as ‘secular” rather than “atheist”. Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998, the first visit by a reigning pontiff to the island. Castro and the pope appeared side by side in public on several occasions during the visit.

In December 1998, Castro formally reinstated Christmas Day as the official celebration for the first time since its abolition by the Communist Party in 1969. The pope sent a telegram to Castro thanking him for restoring Christmas as a public holiday. Naturally, then, amid the carols and the hymns and the beautiful church services across the globe, a brilliant new memory of another Christmas Day will be gliding through the chorus.

Source: dawn.com/news/1304710/a-boxful-of-xmas-memories


Real-Life Issues

By Farhan Bokhari

December 27th, 2016

THE media hype surrounding recent appointments to top slots in the army and the ISI, ironically coincided with the state-owned PIA practically grounding its ATR planes for checks following the crash of the ill-fated flight PK-661 from Chitral to Islamabad.

The coincidence of these two events was a powerful reminder of a national obsession with routine changes in the armed forces, while real-life issues that will define Pakistan’s future remain partially or fully neglected. It also points towards Pakistan’s failure to appreciate the downward drift in the country’s outlook with ultimate consequences for national security, notwithstanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government repeatedly predicting a coming economic ‘take off’.

The trouble surrounding the national flag carrier is just one of the many examples of the rapid decay in Pakistan’s public-sector companies after becoming larger-than-life white elephants. The failure under successive regimes to stem the rot while Pakistan’s leaders repeatedly promised to leave no stone unturned in defending the country’s security must count among the biggest ironies in the nation’s history.

Exactly what will decide the fate of Pakistan’s security? Is it just halting of the advance by militants who at one time practically ruled parts of the country and whose influence still persists, or is it more centrally the fate of Pakistan’s mainstream population? Tragically, those compelling questions have never been robustly addressed by successive regimes which ought to have been the first step towards a long overdue national revival. Ultimately, Pakistan’s huge security challenges have only become increasingly acute with the passage of time. The fundamental flaw in tackling those challenges has been the failure to appreciate exactly how Pakistan’s best interests need to be protected, beyond fighting the fight in a military style.

Exactly what will decide the fate of our security?

And while the headlines continue to be grabbed by exactly what brought down the ill-fated flight PK-661, the multiple maladies that have brought down PIA and turned it in to a white elephant need to be aggressively examined. Whether it’s the case of PIA’s two hotels in Paris and New York which should have been sold long ago to rescue its core business, or why the boilers in ATRs collapsed long ago leaving passengers without hot drinks, the list goes on and on. A similar set of issues stands at the heart of other failed or failing state institutions such as Wapda or the Pakistan Steel Mills or Pakistan Railways. Their history of balance sheets along with the general state of affairs in any one of these institutions is an indication that the government has no business to be in business.

Meanwhile, key services for the people which ought to be at the centre of the state’s responsibilities, notably education and healthcare, remain neglected. And there’s also a dark side to the security gains, so proudly pronounced by Pakistan’s leaders as evidence of success. While militant sanctuaries were clearly attacked in army campaigns especially in the past two years, policing in urban and rural areas all across Pakistan presents yawning gaps that have been left unattended. The clear politicisation of Pakistan’s police and the loss of independence of decision-makers across the board have turned a once reasonably functioning institution in to a series of fiefdoms controlled by local influentials.

Meanwhile, the findings of the inquiry commission of the well-respected Justice Qazi Faez Isa probing the Aug 8 terrorist attack in Quetta, marks a powerful reminder of where lies the rot. Contradictions between words and deeds such as Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan’s reported meeting with a head of a banned outfit, says much about Pakistan’s direction. Unless key functionaries from top level leaders to those in the field learn to become law-abiding, no amount of work otherwise to enforce the law will bring sustainable change across Pakistan.

And last but not the least, in sharp contrast to frequent claims of Pakistan heading towards economic rehabilitation, the reality on the ground presents a compelling case to the contrary. The collapse in Pakistan’s agricultural incomes notably in the past two years and a decline in exports marks a twin whammy for economic growth.

The evidence from the ground clearly suggests that the majority of the population which relies on agriculture and industry is nowhere even remotely close to seeing the spin-offs from a recovery often bragged about in official claims. These contradictions have tragically coincided with little evidence of the ruling structure becoming more focused in aggressively tackling the mother of all economic ills, namely widespread tax evasion across Pakistan.

The challenges confronting Pakistan are multifaceted but the contradiction at the centre of Pakistan’s sorry outlook is just one. The country’s ruling structure must lead by example, defining security through tackling issues that mainstream Pakistanis confront in their daily lives. Otherwise, the ground regained from militants will be in danger of being lost with the passage of time.

Source: dawn.com/news/1304709/real-life-issues

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/lacunas-in-anti-terrorism-law-of-pakistan--new-age-islam-s-selection,-27-december-2016/d/109503


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