Islam Edit Bureau
and the Drug Trade
By S P
to Learn From the EU Referendum?
Future of Pakistani Scots
The Forgotten Land
Elections and Muslims
By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
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?
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.
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.
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
post-cold war period and with the rise of Islamic terrorism, the outdated security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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Triangle incorporates parts of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. The drug problems
continue despite efforts at cross-border cooperation.
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
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.
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
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
To Learn From The EU Referendum?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Sameer Ahmed is a lecturer in English Literature
at GCU, Lahore.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elections And Muslims
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.