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Pakistan Press (29 Jun 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

No to Proxy Wars: New Age Islam's Selection, 29 June 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

29 June 2016

No to Proxy Wars

By Imtiaz Alam

Terrorism and the Drug Trade

By Dr Ikramul Haq

Iraq’s Continuing Nightmare

By S P Seth

Something to Learn From the EU Referendum?

By Sameer Ahmed

Post-Brexit Future of Pakistani Scots

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

FATA: The Forgotten Land

By Rafi-Ud-Din Mehsud

American Elections and Muslims

By Talat Masood

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


No to Proxy Wars

By Imtiaz Alam

June 29, 2016

Army chief General Raheel Sharif has called for an end to the ongoing proxy wars that are causing greater destabilisation in the region. How far can this approach help stabilise the region and bring the adversarial countries on the same page?

This most important pronouncement by Gen Sharif came at a time when Pakistan’s international and regional isolation had become too obvious, despite the denial mode that was not appealing any more to the international community.

Although Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had the guts to deny an overwhelming impression of the failure of Pakistan’s isolationist foreign and over-extended security policies, Director General ISPR General Bajwa was quite straight forward in stating that Pakistan was left alone in its war against terrorism. However, neither the denial by Aziz nor the lament of General Bajwa can help with the much-needed correction of a strategically flawed course.

Ever since Gen Musharraf’s decision to join the war against terrorism, Pakistan started to move on the difficult but contradictory course of the reversal of its decades-old pro-jihad policies adopted by Gen Ziaul Haq and patronised by the free world at the peak of the cold-war times. Strategic depth in Afghanistan remained elusive and the so-called strategic assets or non-state actors created during that period were not only kept but also extended to Indian-administered Kashmir.

In the post-cold war period and with the rise of Islamic terrorism, the outdated security paradigm and the use of proxies to promote strategic objectives in the region became counter-productive and, ironically, turned into a principal security threat.

In the post-9/11 period, a forgotten ‘most allied of allies’ became a non-Nato strategic ally of the US. Gen Musharraf used this exceptional opportunity to play his double-game: helping the US-led Nato war on terror with a focus against Al-Qaeda while preserving strategic assets – Quetta Shura and Haqqani Network – for strategic depth in Afghanistan. Like Gen Zia, Gen Musharraf played intelligent vis-a-vis India to neutralise the eastern front. By halting cross-border militancy, he engaged New Delhi in a path-breaking dialogue on Kashmir; but his regime was derailed before he could seal a pragmatic deal on the ‘core issue’.

By the time Gen Kayani assumed leadership, Pakistan had become a victim of its own device. However, despite terming internal terrorism as an “existential threat” to Pakistan’s security, Gen Kayani hesitated to take on renegade non-state actors, who had taken over vast border regions and were threatening the monopoly of state power. Although a successful military operation was undertaken in Swat and South Waziristan, he avoided wiping them out of their bastion of power, North Waziristan, for fear of a massive blowback.

Gen Raheel Sharif took the terrorists head on in their stronghold by launching Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan, and cleaned up other tribal regions. The National Action Plan brought all political forces in the country on the same page and initiated a tedious process of the reversal of the pro-jihad policies.

The military and political leadership resolved to fight to the last terrorist, without preference for any, and vowed not to let Pakistan’s territory be used for terrorism against any other country. Yet, despite the success of Operation Zarb-e-Azb, certain proxies were kept – partly because of the hangover of the past and mainly due to continuing uncertainty in Afghanistan. If Gen Sharif is to be taken on his words being a true soldier, then it opens a great possibility – if India and Afghanistan also reciprocate in letter and spirit.

Proxy wars are not new to this region. Both India and Pakistan have been running proxy wars against one another ever since the bloody partition of the Subcontinent. India did not accept Partition and Pakistan sent tribal militias into Kashmir to complete the ‘unfinished agenda’ of Partition. If Ayub Khan undertook Operation Gibraltar to help Kashmiris secede, India trained Mukti Bahini during the secession of East Pakistan or Bangladesh’s war of independence. In cohorts with India, the Afghan authorities supported the Pakhtunistan movement as they refused to respect the agreements on the Durand Line and Z A Bhutto backed Islamist dissidents of the Afghan monarchy, who later became the leaders of the Afghan Mujahideen against the Saur revolution and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.

Soon after the emergence of the Kashmiri intifada, General Zia diverted some of the Jihadis from the Afghan front to the Kashmir front. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been providing sanctuaries to the terrorists operating against the other side of the Durand Line. And India is finding the high-profile acts of terrorism a good pretext to sponsor terrorism and secessionist movements in Pakistan.

The proxy wars sponsored or backed by almost all the countries of the region – Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in particular – are fuelling unending destabilisation in the Af-Pak region with wider repercussions for the whole region. Similarly, the conflict over Kashmir is overshadowing the whole ambit of relations between India and Pakistan and allowing both state and non-state actors to damage the other side.

The conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan at this juncture is dangerous for both countries and will help the extremists to destabilise both countries. On the other hand, India needs to learn from the US experience of using Islamic radicals against the Soviets (they later turned their guns on their erstwhile patrons). By helping the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Baloch radical nationalists, India is becoming instrumental in not only destabilising the Af-Pak-Central Asia region, but also inviting extremists to fish in India’s troubled communal waters, besides encouraging the unleashing of a huge stock of Jihadis across the border.

This is dangerous brinkmanship, which Pakistan and India must avoid for peace and economic benefits of regional cooperation. Pakistan’s utmost security priority must be its own secured borders and not over-stretched unsustainable security agendas. Afghanistan requires peace and reconciliation, rather than making claims on Pakistan territory. Pakhtuns and Pakhtun nationalists find greater assimilation towards south, rather than opting for a bleak future in the northwest – even though they would like to keep Afghanistan as a secondary market like Afghan refugees.

For a greater role in the Asia-Pacific region, India needs to settle issues with all its neighbours as Saarc presents a bigger promise in conjunction with the energy-rich Central Asia that is being held back because of the enmity between India and Pakistan. Without a mutually cooperative relationship with Pakistan, India cannot have a more convenient access to Central Asia and Iran. Similarly, Pakistan cannot benefit from its geo-economic location without overcoming its enmity-hangover with India.

Gen Sharif has realistically arrived at the right conclusion – as he did while taking on the terrorists in North Waziristan. The logical conclusion of Operation Zarb-e-Azb should be a paradigm shift, and Gen Sharif seems to be arriving at that point if he finds willing partners in Kabul and Delhi.

Pakistan should be more confident in taking this initiative, having ensured its nuclear defence against India’s asymmetrical conventional threat and almost over-powering terrorists and isolationist secessionists. Afghanistan has no option but to find ways for peace within, with the cooperation of Pakistan. Both Saarc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation can provide platforms for bringing an end to all kinds of bloody proxy wars.

Imtiaz Alam is a senior journalist.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/131375-No-to-proxy-wars


Terrorism and the Drug Trade

By Dr Ikramul Haq

June 29, 2016

June 26 marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The day was decided by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987 to raise the level of awareness in the international community about the dangers of drug abuse, to prevent its spread and to encourage all efforts to combat the menace at international level.

Terrorism, drugs-for-arms and money laundering, intrinsically linked, pose a considerable threat to global peace and security besides destabilising the political and financial stability of many nation-states. These issues became more common after 9/11.

Militants and extremists have a nexus with criminal networks involved in drug and the arms trade. Evidence available with intelligence agencies confirms that, from Al-Qaeda to Isis, the real challenge is that of free flow of legal and illegal funds. And till today, the international community has failed to sever their financial lifeline.

It is an open secret how the drug trade in post-Taliban Afghanistan was institutionalised – courtesy the puppet regime in Kabul and patronisation of war lords in many provinces of Afghanistan. Once opium started being processed into morphine and heroin inside Afghanistan at a mass scale, it brought tons of money for commanders on the ground.

The controlled democracy in Afghanistan since 2004 has been playing into the hands of more sophisticated narco-enriched commanders. It is no more a secret that the Taliban, with whom the US and allies have always been in negotiation, knew how to buy or muscle a vote which would protect their opium interests in every election.

Even Afghanistan’s neighbours have been making profits from the windfall. According to the UN, criminal groups from Central Asia made profits of $15.2 billion from the trafficking of opiates in 2015. Tajikistan is by far the worst affected by the drug plague, due to a combination of history, poverty and geography.

In the late 1990s, the drug trade was believed to be a source of finance for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist group which had bases in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. After the war in Afghanistan, the IMU lost most of its influence, but the drug trade continued, with organised criminals taking the place of political or religious activists.

In a survey conducted by the Open Society Institute, eight out of ten of those polled said, hardly surprisingly, that “the main reason to turn to drug trafficking was to make big money”. Geography also contributed to Tajikistan’s drugs problem: at 1,400km, the country’s border with Afghanistan is longer than its Central Asian neighbours’, and commensurately more difficult to guard.

Afghanistan’s north-eastern province of Badakhshan, an important poppy-growing area, is close to the border with Tajikistan. From there, most narcotics move to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan before continuing to Kazakhstan and onwards to Russia.

China says Southeast Asia’s lawless ‘Golden Triangle’ region remains the overwhelming source of the heroin and methamphetamine used in the country. A report on China’s drug situation – released on June 24, 2015 – underscores the threat posed by the region.

The Golden Triangle incorporates parts of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. The drug problems continue despite efforts at cross-border cooperation.

It said that 90 percent of the 9.3 tons of heroin and 11.4 tons of methamphetamine seized in 2014 came from the area that borders China’s southern province of Yunnan.

The report is the Chinese government’s first comprehensive look at drug use in China, where synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and ketamine have overtaken heroin in popularity. The report says said China has about three million registered drug users, but estimates of those who have tried drugs run as high as 14 million people.

Three of Afghanistan’s five big drug-producing provinces, Helmand, Uruzgan, and Kandahar, have emerged as ‘new Colombia’ – places where drug lords capture and wreck governments and the economy alike. Successive Afghan governments in the post-Taliban period have made little progress against poppy-growing, except declaring it illegal and establishing a new policy body, the Counter-Narcotics Department (CND).

The goal of 100 percent elimination by 2013 proved a farce. In reality, production has increased after the establishment of the CND. This is confirmed by the 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).

INCSR 2016 observes that “the cultivation, production, trafficking, and consumption of illicit drugs flourish in Afghanistan. A symbiotic relationship exists between the insurgency and organized narcotics trafficking. Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and other material support to the insurgency in exchange for the protection of drug trade routes, cultivation fields, laboratories, and trafficking organizations. According to credible media reports, the Taliban generates revenue by taxing drugs trafficked through areas they control.

“Some insurgent commanders reportedly traffic drugs themselves to finance their operations. Nevertheless, drug trafficking is not limited to insurgent-controlled areas, and the narcotics trade undermines governance and rule of law throughout the country. 2015 saw a resurgence of the security challenges seen in earlier periods of the insurgency, and the intensity of active battles undermined progress toward the Afghan government’s drug control goals”.

While the INCSR highlights the spectre of the Taliban, it does not discuss the widespread poverty in Afghanistan and the growing gap between the rich and poor. For many local politicians, such economic factors, along with natural disasters and border problems, constitute far bigger headaches than the Taliban.

Human rights activists contend that the ‘Taliban threat’ is being exaggerated to crush all forms of dissent, religious or otherwise. But even those who think that Islamic radicalism and terrorism are real dangers criticise the US-backed governments for not countering the Taliban through economic initiatives.

The US could have played a useful role by acknowledging and supporting Iran’s efforts at waging an all-out crackdown on warlords and commanders engaged in drug trade. However, according to reports, the Americans were supporting them. People are thus sceptical of US policies in Afghanistan to counter drug trade and religious fundamentalism. The Chinese view this as the Americans’ ‘hidden agenda’ for its containment through militancy – using the Islamic card, as was done against erstwhile USSR.

Dr Ikramul Haq is an advocate of the Supreme Court and adjunct faculty at LUMS.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/131377-Terrorism-and-the-drug-trade


Iraq’s Continuing Nightmare

By S P Seth

 29-Jun-16 121

The recently launched military offensive to retake Fallujah from IS has reportedly made considerable progress, though it is not clear if IS has made a tactical retreat to rethink their entire strategy. If it is the latter, they might concentrate more on guerilla operations to include suicide bombings and an array of “lone wolf” and other small operations targeting high impact public places in the US and Europe. The operation to retake Fallujah was a multi-pronged offensive combining Iraqi forces and Iranian militias, with considerable help from US aerial attack on IS positions. The US has never officially approved Iranian militia involvement, but unofficially, it is tolerated as IS has come to be virtually regarded as a common enemy. While winning back territory from IS is important, what is even important is to create a sense of security and stability among the civilian population. And that is the big question because civilians have become the cannon fodder in some ways in this murderous civil war.

While IS excels in brutality, Iraq’s Shia government and its militia allies are prone to go on rampage against Sunni population, and Fallujah is predominantly Sunni. The practice generally is to separate the young male Sunni population and send them to detention centres for interrogation, generally a euphemism for torture and even execution where considered necessary for “security” reasons. Iraq has a fundamental problem of a deep-rooted sectarian divide, with each side regarding the other as untrustworthy. Worst still, they are not the real Muslims as seen from either side’s prism. Now that the Shias hold power, the minority Sunni population of the country is at the receiving end as a pay back of sorts for the brutality of Saddam’s Hussein’s period when Shias were easy game for his regime.

The foundation for instability in the Middle East dates back to the collapse of the Ottoman rule when the British and French colonialists helped themselves to the spoils by dividing much of the Middle East between them. In the process, they created territorial entities and kingdoms of incompatible parts that laid the foundation for subsequent trouble that is still with us. And when they finally decided to withdraw --but still keen to pull the strings — they left behind territorial and constitutional arrangements that would be unworkable even at the best of times. No wonder, the Middle East is such a mess.

If this wasn’t chaotic enough, the US and its western allies further inflamed the situation by introducing the external phenomenon of an Israeli state, which become a flamethrower in an already incendiary situation. And when the Shah of Iran, a US ally, was overthrown in 1979 and replaced by a clerical regime thus turning the US and Iran into bitter enemies, Washington encouraged Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Iran’s regional rival and enemy, to attack Iran, thus starting a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s that was fought to a stalemate, but with hundreds of thousands of Iranian casualties.

The Iraq-Iran war bankrupted Hussein’s treasury owing lots of money to some of the Gulf monarchies that had bankrolled his operations. That led him to attack Kuwait, hoping that its oil riches would solve all his financial problems, and also make him into a determining force in the Middle East. And because of his virtual alliance with the US during his war with Iran, he didn’t expect the US to get so worked up over his Kuwait adventure as to start the first Gulf War. But with their dependence on Middle Eastern oil, the US wasn’t going to tolerate a regional upstart like Hussein to upset their carefully laid down strategic plans over many years. The first Gulf War put Hussein back in his box, but President Bush senior wasn’t yet decided about overthrowing him, and replacing him with some one more compliant. At the time, the US hadn’t thought through what might come after Hussein, as there were too many imponderables.

The US had encouraged the Shias to rise, but when they did and Hussein turned on them with great ferocity, the US administration declared a no-fly zone to warn off Hussein. To punish him for his Kuwait adventure, an already vanquished Iraq was subjected to a severe international sanctions regime, which hit badly its vulnerable people, like children and the old folks. The estimates of children’s deaths from lack of essential medicines and the like went as high as half a million. The conservative cabal around George W Bush when he became president, some of whom had been his father’s close advisers, weren’t happy that Bush senior had left half-finished the Iraq business by leaving Hussein in the saddle even though in a very weakened position. They had plans to finish that job, now that they were ruling the roost with President Bush dependent on them to run the administration.

And they got their opportunity when September 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, and Hussein was said to have al-Qaeda connections. He was also accused of running a clandestine nuclear weapons programme as well as working on missile launchers — his so-called weapons of mass destruction. Even though there was no confirmation by the relevant international nuclear regulatory agency of any such nuclear programme, the Bush administration decided to go ahead with plans to invade Iraq and to get rid of Hussein. Which they did and Saddam was hanged, with his state administration demolished but with no alternative blueprint or structure to run the country. The result was total chaos, and out of this chaos emerged the Iraqi version of the al-Qaeda.

In other words, in a country where there was no al-Qaeda to start with as Hussein would never have tolerated another power centre or insurgency movement, this one grew up in the chaos of the aftermath of his overthrow. Which eventually was suppressed by the American forces with the collaboration of the Sunni tribal chiefs who had turned on the al-Qaeda in Iraq, as they seemed to become a law unto themselves treading on the Sunni traditional power structures. But after the Americans withdrew from Iraq, and handed over the country to the incoming Shia regime, the new regime fractured the fragile unity forged by the US forces with the Sunni tribal allies by starting an orgy of revenge against the country’s Sunnis. And that created the conditions for the emergence of a more brutal and extreme version of the al-Qaeda in the rise of IS that went on to carve out the so-called caliphate out of a large chunk of captured Iraqi and Syrian territory.

The depredations and brutality of IS have brought the US and its allies back into Iraq, this time deploying more of their air power and less of their ground forces, mostly in advisory roles. And they are now engaged, with Iraqi army and its associated militias to push back IS, which seems to be making progress as seen in Fallujah and elsewhere with the overwhelming use of American air power.

But pushing back IS here and there, welcome as it is, won’t solve the problem unless Iraq has a nationally cohesive state with the joint stake of its people. Moreover, that state would need to provide basic security to its people to live and plan their lives without fear of persecution and torture. Without this, an al-Qaeda or IS or some variant of it, will tend to emerge.

 S P Seth is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney, Australia.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Jun-16/iraqs-continuing-nightmare


Something To Learn From The EU Referendum?

By Sameer Ahmed

 29-Jun-16 103

There has been plenty of noise over the referendum in the UK. They’ve quit the European Union (EU) -- the English mind you; the Scots and Northern Irish have other ideas. The turnout was 72 percent. There is a petition asking government for another referendum, and it has now upwards of three million signatures; but another referendum seems like a distant possibility. “Stay or not stay,” there are at least three key words from the UK-EU affair relevant to the Pakistani context: parliament, referendums and democracy.

The British say their parliament is sovereign because it can legislate on any matter. There are no fetters on its domain. Right then, isn’t there the faint possibility that the unrestrained power of the British parliament could morph into some kind of dictatorship? Especially when you consider that the majority party in parliament may not always enjoy an actual majority. This kind of situation could emerge if the turnout in an election were particularly dismal; say 50 percent or less of the electorate turning out to vote (it hasn’t happened to date). Fifty percent of the people coming to vote would mean that the votes would be divided among the parties contesting the election. The government formed thus would in fact be a “minority” government since it would have the support of less than half the electorate. This brings us to the second key word.

The “Remain or Leave” referendum in the UK, last week, proved most of these fears wrong. In democratic dispensations, such as the UK, the government can hold a referendum when it is faced by a decision that is anticipated to impact the country far beyond the tenure of the sitting government. The government goes back to the people saying, “This seemed like too important a matter for us blokes to decide in the House, so we’ve brought it to you.” This is what David Cameron did. The people then decide, as they did in favour of the British exit from the EU. Since it is the people who decide the outcome, the danger of a minority government dictating the path the country has to take is thwarted. And Cameron’s wasn’t even a minority government to begin with.

But what if the people take the wrong decision? What if it was a terrible mistake to part ways with the EU? On the same tack, what if uncritical masses elect someone like Donald Trump? What if elected leaders behave like autocrats? Democracy, it seems, might have its pitfalls. Detractors of democracy have often invoked arguments such as these. And they might be right on some counts. There are many such people on our TV channels. And they seem hell bent on having the sitting government, and usually all elected governments, removed. The sitting government, like most civilian dispensations, has left more than a lot to be desired. Does that mean democracy just isn’t right for us?

It is ironic but democracy is still everyone’s recourse. Even dictators have sought legitimacy through some form of public participation. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt organised regular elections that brought him landslide victories. A similar trick was pulled by military strongman General Abdel Fateh al-Sissi, who reversed the Arab Spring in June 2013. A handy tool for dictators in Pakistan has been the referendum. Here these exercises were held by dictators who had toppled elected governments to ask the public if they wanted the dictators to stay on. Technically speaking, this is not what a referendum is meant for since the constitution requires regular country and province-wise elections for people to choose their representatives. But dexterous legal wizards and pliant superior court judges have always been, and perhaps always will be, aplenty. All referendums in Pakistan were controversial with serious allegations of massive rigging. All such exercises resulted in a favourable outcome for the incumbent military dictator. This is what referendums have been reduced to. But it tells us that every ruler needs to have some semblance of legitimacy, some claim on being representative to have a chance at an 11-odd-year stint.

In Pakistan, sections of the urban population often deride parliament and hurl (sometimes deserved) expletives at parliamentarians. An oft-repeated argument goes like this. Most Pakistanis are illiterate. Many do not know whom they are voting for. Constituencies can sometimes be bought. The people are completely unaware of, or display blatant disregard for the principles of constitutional democracy. Democracy could have worked if we enjoyed the same levels of literacy and public awareness that Europeans, Americans and Australians do. Well! Most Pakistanis are also completely unaware of, or display blatant disregard for traffic regulations. They stop on, not before, zebra crossings; overtake traffic from whichever side they wish to; go the wrong way on one-way streets; cross red lights; smoke at petrol pumps and urinate on sidewalks. Does this mean Pakistanis shouldn’t be allowed to drive? So, should we confiscate all vehicles and wait until we are civilised enough to regulate democracy and traffic on a par with European countries? Democracy is not wedded to western society or politics.

According to the last Democracy Index, some of the most democratic countries in the world include South Korea, Mauritius and Uruguay, in addition to the US and the old European democracies. This means that democracy is not a Euro-centric phenomenon. The world’s freest welfare states — countries with the highest literacy rates, the best education, near-universal healthcare, technological advancement, and public amenities — are democracies not dictatorships. This means that democracy is about more than just elections. Incidentally, these are also the same countries Pakistanis most desire to immigrate to.

There is yet another problem the anti-democracy camp in Pakistan highlights. And it is a valid point. Collective wisdom might be wrong on occasion. The exit from the EU might be a grave mistake. But even here is a lesson for us. Referendums and democracy are not infallible. But with democracy comes collective responsibility. Brexit or no Brexit, it is the people who will decide and bear the consequences — collectively. Perhaps what we in Pakistan should learn from the Brexit affair is that the only solution to problems within democracy is more democracy.

Sameer Ahmed is a lecturer in English Literature at GCU, Lahore.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Jun-16/something-to-learn-from-the-eu-referendum


Post-Brexit Future of Pakistani Scots

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

29-Jun-16 190

On June 23, through a referendum, about 52 percent of the British voted in support of the exit of Britain, called Brexit, from the European Union (EU). In 1973, Britain joined the precursor of the EU, the European Economic Community, and the decision was reinforced through a countrywide referendum held in 1975 in which 66 percent voters cast a favourable vote. In the media, much has been discussed about the pros and cons of Brexit for Britain and the EU, but less has been debated about the post-Brexit future of the Pakistanis permanently settled in Scotland, called Pakistani Scots, who are originally immigrant settlers.

After 1947, Pakistanis as immigrants got settled in Scotland because of two main reasons. First, the United Kingdom (UK) was represented mostly by the English during their colonial rule over the undivided India. Secondly, it was because of the policies of UK’s Labour party, which continually kept ruling the centre, London. Hence, Pakistani immigrants settled in Scotland neither because of Scotland itself nor because of any Scottish political party. These two reasons make Pakistani Scots vulnerable to exploitation in any new situation where the hold of London over Scotland wanes and where the influence of the Labour party reduces. The turn of events indicates that such a situation — where a departure from these two L’s, London and Labour, is possible — is imminent and perhaps ineludible.

Since September 1997 when the simple majority referendum in Scotland engendered a devolved government, the Scottish parliament has been extracting more and more powers from London. The consequent decentralisation is kindling the hope for independence in the Scots, though in a referendum held in Scotland in September 2014, about 55 percent Scots opposed and 45 percent supported Scottish independence from the UK. The results were a caveat for London, which devolved more powers to Scotland, recommended by the Smith Commission and incorporated into Scotland Act 2016. The change in the thinking of the Scots about power distribution between London and Scotland has also witnessed a dwindling appeal for the Labour party in Scotland. Consequently, Pakistani Scots have been facing a problem of representation and protection. Some have taken refuge in supporting the Scottish Labour party — a subsidiary of UK’s Labour Party — in the Scottish parliament, whereas others back the Scottish National Party (SNP), which hankers after independence.

Nationalism, steeped in identity crisis, is a double-edged weapon. Nationalism is the force behind Brexit to make Britain leave the EU; nationalism is going to be a force behind “Scexit” to make Scotland leave the UK. That is, Brexit has shown the importance of nationalism to the Scots who are keen to show their kind of nationalism to the UK. Secondly, Brexit has produced a rift between London and Scotland, as the results of the referendum disparage the aspirations of the Scots who wanted to remain in the EU, as one of the major arguments given by pro-independence Scots during the 2014 referendum was that as an independent country, Scotland would sustain financially by being in the EU. Now, after Brexit, the surge for independence is bound to rise in the Scots so that they could express their nationalism and be part of the EU. The same surge is bound to strain relations between London and Scotland.

Over the years, Pakistani Scots who kept on exploiting Labour slogans to their advantage now tend to think that they can side with the Scots who would embrace them as a minority reality after seeking independence from the UK. Pakistani Scots are mistaken. Nationalism does not respect multiculturalism, which is a vague umbrella term to obscure the nude realities of multi-ethnicity or multi-racism. Given the rage of racism — an expression of nationalism — rampant in Scotland especially in the post-Brexit phase, it is highly likely that the Scots may court Pakistani Scots to vote for independence from the UK in any future referendum, and after winning the referendum get rid of them under the same spell of nationalism. It is apparent that the distance of Pakistani Scots from London and from Labour is bound to uproot them from Scotland.

Some argue that Pakistani Scots are integrated into Scottish society, and hence they cannot be jettisoned by the Scots. In this regard, an observer may find two main trends. First, some Pakistani Scots have married with the Scots. Second, at their work place, Pakistani Scots also employ the Scots. Collectively, these two points may give Pakistani Scots a sense of security and association, but these also indicate that Pakistani Scots are facing a perceived compulsion of engaging the Scots, whereas this compulsion is almost absent in England. Similarly, Pakistani Scots are no doubt active politically in Scotland, but they leave no opportunity to make the Scots realise their separate identity. For instance, in May this year, Humza Yousaf, a Member of Scottish parliament elected on the ticket of the SNP from Glasgow Pollok, took oath in Urdu, besides English, in the Scottish parliament. Moreover, at the oath-taking ceremony, instead of dressing up in a formal suit, he wore a traditional Scottish kilt with a Sherwani jacket. Both these acts were to express his identity somehow, and the same belied the claims of integration into the Scottish society.

Some also argue that Pakistani Scots and the Scots share one thing in common: they call themselves colonial cousins. That is, as England colonised undivided India, England also colonised Scotland, and as Pakistani Scots are a product of independence from England in 1947, the Scots are yet to be independent from England. Pakistani Scots are confident that after Scotland seeks independence, minorities including them will not be thrown out of Scotland. However, no one has given Pakistani Scots any guarantee in this regard. The point is simple: minorities may not be thrown out of Scotland, but life can be made hell for them socially to let them think about an alternative place to live.

Dr Qaisar Rashid is a freelance columnist

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Jun-16/post-brexit-future-of-pakistani-scots


FATA: The Forgotten Land

By Rafi-ud-din Mehsud

29-Jun-16 76

FATA is the land of mountains, hard rocks and hard people. It exist on the map of Pakistan, and is mentioned in the Article 1, Section 2 of the 1973 constitution of Pakistan. However, it seems as if it has no existence in reality. Although it is “famous” as a “No-Man’s Land” and a “safe haven” for terrorism and militancy, FATA remains, in the 21st century, the most neglected, deprived and forgotten part of Pakistan.

Pakistan came into being in 1947, and after more than 68 years of independence our country is on its way to progress. The whole country is enjoying facilities of modern technology. However, our leaders have completely forgotten the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The people of those areas had a great role in the freedom movement. In 1947, when our army refused to fight in Kashmir, tribal people came forward to fight for Kashmir.

It is quite sad and strange that the people of FATA have still not been given their constitutional status. FATA has the Pak-Afghan border spanning over 2,250 kilometres, and the total population of FATA is more than seven million. In the war on terror, tribal people left their homes and sacrificed their life, wealth and everything for the sake of their country. However, tribal people are still suffering from issues like poverty, illiteracy, lack of proper health facilities and others necessities of life. There is not a single university and medical college in the whole of FATA, and the literacy rate is decreasing day by day. According to the latest report the literacy rate in FATA is 37 percent for boys and 11 percent for females, which is very low as compared to the literacy rate of the rest of Pakistan.

In the last seven years more than 1,500 schools of both boys and girls were destroyed by militants, and most of those have still not been constructed by the government. Mostly, the talented students do not continue their studies due to lack of financial support from their families. The children of IDPs have been without school for several years because their families cannot afford to send them to expensive schools in cities. No government, whether provincial or federal, is prepared to take the responsibility of looking after the IDPs who left their homes for the future of this country.

However, the tribal people have formed their own organisations for promotion of education in the youth of FATA. Mahsud Welfare Association (MWA) and Wana Welfare Association of South Waziristan agency are two organisations that provide merit-based scholarships every year to a thousand talented students from the South Waziristan agency. Although it is government’s responsibility to have scholarship programmes for talented students, it is private entities that are doing government’s job in FATA.

Similarly, the condition of health care in FATA is abysmal, and there are no proper health care facilities in FATA. People are forced to go big cities for treatment. There are many cases of stillbirth, and many women also lose their lives during pregnancy due to lack of proper baby-delivery services. Government should announce a special financial package for the region. Educational and employment opportunities should be created for the tribal youth.

The most important thing regarding the tribal people is that more than 40 percent population of the FATA is living in the different areas of the country as IDPs — Internally Displaced People. These people are living in very bad conditions, and life is very hard for them due to lack of facilities in IDP shelters. It is the responsibility of both the military and civilian leadership to take some quick steps for the rehabilitation of these people. Their rehabilitation must be a matter of top priority.

The most important thing regarding FATA is the need to mainstream the tribal areas with the rest of the country. In this regard the 12th point of the National Action Plan also deals with the issue of reforms in FATA. Nonetheless, it seems that this point has been totally forgotten. FATA, ruled by the old British law FCR, is in dire straits, and there is a dire need to have local body elections so that the power is transferred to the common man. One wonders if government can conduct elections for the National Assembly why it cannot have an election for local government in FATA.

Government and respective authorities must take some steps on an emergency footing, especially in the field of education, as education is the best way to defeat terrorism and extremism in Pakistan.

Rafi-ud-din Mehsud is a member of the Pildat Youth Parliament, Pakistan.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/29-Jun-16/fata-the-forgotten-land


American Elections And Muslims

By Talat Masood

June 28, 2016

During the Cold War, for nearly four decades, most Muslim countries remained the closest of allies of the US and other Western countries in the common fight against the spread of Soviet communism. Pakistan, along with Saudi Arabia, played a leading role by providing bases, facilitating training of jihadists and extending logistic support. Afghan jihadi leaders were heroes, not only in their own countries but revered as freedom fighters by no less a person than the late President Reagan. America has since come full circle. Disdain and prejudice for Muslims in America is on the rise and the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump misses no opportunity in targeting and demeaning Muslims with particular focus on Pakistan. What are the implications of this and how should Muslim countries, individually and collectively, respond to such an attitude?

One option would be to ignore Trump’s rhetoric and expect that if he ever does get elected, realism will dawn on him and he will recalibrate his policies. Many consider his nauseating remarks as empty bluster that is unsustainable. Strategic and political compulsions and economic opportunities in Muslim countries will demand that the US remains closely engaged with the Muslim world. Similarly, most Muslim countries are heavily dependent on the US for regime survival as well as a prime source of weapons and equipment, for economic assistance and for enhancing national power.

Even if one were to accept Trump’s remarks to be frivolous, it would be naive on the part of the Muslim world to take such innuendoes lightly as these reflect a strong undercurrent of resentment against Muslims in America and the Western world. This level of alienation cannot be attributed to any individual or single event but is the result of interrelated phenomena. Terrorist attacks in the US, especially the iconic event of 9/11, and the series of individual or group attacks in the US and the rest of the Western world that have occurred, in which Muslims were involved have played a chief role. In contrast, Muslims hold Americans responsible for creating mistrust. They attribute the failure of the American military-oriented policies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and the Middle East as the root cause of alienation. Support for unrepresentative regimes to advance narrow strategic and economic interests has led to their strengthening and perpetuity.

Moreover, the failure of large segments of Muslims to integrate into Western societies and the discontent of youth has found expression in violence. Mass migration of Muslim refugees from war-torn countries to tight labour markets of Europe and depressed economies are triggering a backlash. Trump is taking advantage of the unpredictable and restive economic and political conditions that prevail worldwide despite the US’s relatively better economic performance. Britain’s exit from the European Union would provide him a further boost to promote anti-establishment and anti-Muslim sentiment. His gloating over Britain’s exit was reflected in his remarks to the press and he considers this event as a vindication of his exclusivist policy. And as seasoned international columnists and commentators are predicting if traditional Britain can opt out of Europe and take a leap into the unknown, the Americans, too, may decide to gamble with Trump as a sign of disgust with the establishment. However, it is encouraging that recent polls indicate Hillary Clinton leading with a reasonable margin and likely to sustain or even improve this lead.

Irrespective of whether Trump loses or wins, he has already caused much damage to Muslims through his rhetoric. The prejudice generated against them during the election campaign coupled with recent high-profile terrorist acts in which certain deranged Muslims were involved would reinforce the trend. It is a huge challenge for Muslim countries and Muslims in general to respond to this phenomenon, especially when the Muslim world is not a monolithic entity. Countries are at different economic, political and cultural levels and no one solution can possibly apply to all. Nonetheless, this situation provides an opportunity for serious reflection and the undertaking of corrective measures at the national and collective levels. Unless Muslim countries do not improve the conditions of their people by focusing on education, health, governance and rule of law, they will neither command the respect of their public or that of the international community. Presently, there is very little effort to change the status quo and reorient policies to achieve a certain level of autonomy and reduce dependence on the West. Another positive outcome of building of trust between Muslim rulers and their people would be that they will not have to rely on foreign powers to suppress internal opposition. A classic example of this is what we are now witnessing in Yemen, Syria, Libya and many other Muslim Asian and African states. Many Middle Eastern and Central Asian states have tried to impose order through promulgation of draconian laws and strict regimentation. This may achieve peace and calm on the surface but fails to actualise the potential of peoples and nations. Most of these nations are also heavily dependent on the West for ensuring internal and external peace and stability. Unfortunately, when voices of dissent become louder, the state turns more repressive. Suppression has given rise to internalising hatred for authority as terrorism and extreme ideologies take root. The strong bonds and links that you see in Western democracies between the state and people are missing in most Muslim countries. There is heavy economic dependence on foreign countries and internally there is social turmoil and political confusion.

Only a few Muslim countries, like Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, and to some extent, Pakistan, have representative governments and are striving hard to be a part of the modern world. Others, especially the Middle Eastern countries, on the basis of their oil wealth have made impressive strides in developing infrastructure and modern cities but are far away from democratic rule and lag in education and human development.

In this tough international environment, there is no other option for Muslim countries than to reform. Otherwise, they will continue to be humiliated. As most Muslim states are incapable of undertaking this challenge, it is for the people to organise themselves by strengthening civil society and pressing for political and economic reforms.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1132311/american-elections-muslims/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/no-to-proxy-wars--new-age-islam-s-selection,-29-june-2016/d/107793


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