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Pakistan Press (04 Oct 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Pakistan: Eroding Democratic Values By Zahid Hussain: New Age Islam's Selection, 04 October 2017





New Age Islam Edit Bureau

04 October 2017

Pakistan: Eroding Democratic Values

By Zahid Hussain

This Is How Rohingyas’ Plight Goes On

By Shazia Mehboob

Afghanistan: New Security Dilemma

By Dr Muhammad Khan

The Mainstreaming Debate

By Zaigham Khan

Mesut Kacmaz

By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Urge For Going

By Mahir Ali

Brave New World

By Asad Rahim Khan

Trump At The UN

By Shahid Javed Burki

Books As Guides

By Dr A Q Khan

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

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Pakistan: Eroding Democratic Values

By Zahid Hussain

October 04, 2017

The controversial amendment in the election laws may have allowed Nawaz Sharif to retain the leadership of his party, but it has further dented democratic values. The government bulldozed the bill through, with a fractious opposition failing to block it despite its majority in the Senate.

Surely the government seemed to be in a big hurry to accord political legitimacy to the disgraced former prime minister who is facing indictment on a litany of corruption charges. Where the PML-N is concerned, he is back in the saddle running the ruling party in defiance of the Supreme Court ruling.

Indeed, Sharif’s re-crowning will help maintain a façade of unity within the party ranks and prevent the possibility of the leadership passing to the other branch of his family’s political dynasty. But can this also win him moral legitimacy? Just holding on to the party leadership will not clear him of the charges he is facing in a court of law.

The way the government railroaded the bill through parliament does not augur well for democracy.

Most worrying is that this person-specific amendment in the law and the manner in which it was railroaded has further eroded democratic norms. Now anyone condemned by a court of law can form and lead a political party. Ironically, a person barred from holding public office can still be kingmaker and continue to run the government through proxies.

Apparently, the reason behind this hasty passage of the amendment was to bring the courts under pressure. But the move may not work. Instead, it may trigger yet another round of legal battle as the amendment has already been challenged in the courts.

Undoubtedly, the military-led government of Pervez Musharraf used the law for its own ulterior motive of preventing Benazir Bhutto from leading the PPP. But, in this case, the objective of striking it down was certainly not to correct an unfair move; it was to benefit a disqualified leader.

It also exposes the absence of a democratic culture within our political parties that have increasingly become family fiefdoms and a tool for the protection of the interests of a few. Democracy draws its strength from the rule of law and not from defying it. Democracy can work effectively only if political parties are able to censure their leaders for their wrongdoings and not wait for the court to decide their fate.

But it is completely opposite in the case of Pakistan where those facing corruption charges continue to hold high office and are eulogised by their supporters. For instance, how can a man indicted for money laundering remain in charge of the country’s economy and finances? One can argue that Ishaq Dar has still not been convicted; one can even question the fairness of the trial. But would it not be better for him to step aside until he is cleared of the charges?

For sure, a tainted finance minister cannot fulfil his responsibilities effectively in running an economy that seems to be in free fall. Foreign exchange reserves are depleting at an alarming rate with falling remittances and declining exports. The record balance-of-payment deficit has made it almost inevitable that the government will return to the IMF. The debt burden is becoming untenable. It will be a serious problem for a finance minister under trial to negotiate with multilateral agencies. For months now, the finance ministry has been in a state of paralysis.

The government, which is preoccupied with the political rehabilitation of the former prime minister, is fast losing its governing space. The clash among institutions has made the situation extremely chaotic. The bizarre incident outside the accountability court on Monday during the appearance of the former prime minister is quite ominous. The controversy over the deployment of the Rangers reflects an anarchic situation.

It is, indeed, a serious issue that the interior minister did not know who called the Rangers. The situation turned weirder still when Ahsan Iqbal was stopped from entering the court premises. Surely the Rangers did not come there without orders from somewhere. His public outburst and remarks about a state within a state demonstrated his helplessness.

It is certainly not a good omen for the government. The incident reinforces the perception about the government’s shrinking governing space while it is focused more on defending the ousted prime minister and his family. It is not enough to shout from the rooftop about the ‘invisible hand’. It is the governance, stupid. We have already seen the establishment gaining greater space.

Nawaz Sharif has called for a Grand National dialogue among political parties. One cannot disagree with the proposal. There is, indeed, a serious need for the main political parties to come to an agreement on some kind of framework to strengthen the democratic process. But Sharif’s call may have come too late and at a time when he has been disqualified for not being honest and is facing trial. That makes the other political parties suspicious of his intent. There is scepticism that it is all about him being bailed out of his plight.

Sharif had a great opportunity to strengthen the institutionalised democratic process over the last four years. Instead, he rendered parliament ineffective and weakened other civilian institutions thus allowing nonelected elements to expand their space. He established his personalised rule with the help of close family members. Even the cabinet seldom met and was virtually turned into a rubber stamp. His current confrontational approach towards the judiciary will not inspire other political parties to gather.

Surely there is a need for a charter of democracy or Grand National dialogue to establish civilian supremacy and remove the existing imbalance of power that has allowed non-elected institutions to undermine elected civilian governments. But personalised power is not an alternative for civilian supremacy. Democracy is not limited to winning the electoral mandate, it also means implementing the rule of law and democratic accountability. One wishes that Nawaz Sharif understood this.

More importantly, there is a need for an economic charter among political parties to guarantee the continuity of economic policies irrespective of whichever party is in power. Perhaps, this will become possible after the elections.

Source: dawn.com/news/1361527/eroding-democratic-values

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This Is How Rohingyas’ Plight Goes On

By Shazia Mehboob

October 4, 2017

THE recent brutality of the Myanmar authorities against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State triggered a strong criticism worldwide. People and leaders across the world are furious over Rohingyas genocide and condemning Aung San Suu Kyi’ for her silence over this inhuman action of the authorities. Hundreds of thousands of people have registered their protest over the genocide, besides condemnation and criticism messages appeared on social media since the issue started. Suu Kyi is under strong pressure to stop the violence being committed against the Rohingya community. This pressure is appreciated and a positive move towards resolving the Rohingya’s long-standing plight. However, this pressure should not be for the time being like the past years as their plight is stretched over decades. Rohingya Muslims have been facing various problems since the independence of Burma because they are not a legally accepted ethnic community like others in the country. Their disputed status, in my opinion, is the main cause of their earlier and the recent atrocities and needs a permanent solution.

Reports show that the Myanmar authorities were directly involved in the atrocities committed against Rohingya. However, the rise in these atrocities started after the 1982 Citizenship Act passed by the government, as this act denies equal access to citizenship to the Rohingya community. Since the implementation of this act, Rohingyas have been subjected to grave human rights abuses not only on the hands of the majority population but at the hands of the government institutions. These state actors have perpetrated grave violence against Rohingya, claiming thousands of innocent lives so far. Apart from this, over one million Rohingya Muslims have become the victim of torture, arbitrary, detention, rape and other forms of serious physical and mental tortures. More unfortunate is that this harm is continued. Rohingyas don’t have equal access to property, health, education and other work opportunities. Rohingyas atrocities further increased when General Ne Win introduced an amendment in the act. This was the first state-level curb against Rohingya as an ethnic community. The law prohibits Rohingya from obtaining equal access to citizenship. Taking advantage of this act, the Myanmar authorities withheld identity cards of Rohingya. They don’t have right to proceed their cases in Myanmar courts.

The local authorities routinely denied the existence of the Rohingya ethnicity in the country. For instance, Myanmar Minister for Foreign Affair Ohn Gyaw said in1992 that there had never been a Rohingya sect in the country. Such kind of denials further aggravated their plight. Forced displacement has become a routine affair with Rohingya. As a result, a large number of Muslims have been migrated to escape the brutal actions of the authorities. Rohingya Muslims also remained the main target of Naga Min military operation. The forces, during the operation, abused, raped, and murdered many Rohingya women. More than 200,000 Rohingya people fled across the border into Bangladesh to avoid abuses. The Myanmar security forces forced women and men into labour work. They were asked either to pay them a weekly fee to avoid labour work or to perform manual labour. A UN report has stated that Rohingya had been killed for refusal to perform forced labour.

The government institutions also remained involved in the racial and religious persecution of Rohingya. The Human Rights Watch reported in 2002 that the government had issued a military order demanding unauthorized mosques be destroyed. Following the order, many mosques and seminaries were destroyed. Likewise, mobs attacked dozens of mosques and seminaries in 2001 and destroyed them. The Muslim community is also banned to renovate religious places. The marriage-related restriction is another long-standing plight of Rohingya Muslims. They are prohibited of getting married without prior approval from the authorities concerned. The Myanmar forces along with the Rakhine majority population have also raped and sexually assaulted Rohingya women and girls. They sexually assaulted and gang rape women in front of their male family members. Rape of Rohingya women at the hands of military forces is a routine dealing if they remained unable to fulfil their forced labour duties. Since the 1990s, the Myanmar military has held Rohingya women as sex-slaves. Detention of Rohingya women for weekend’s joys is another common practice since years. Many women have died as a result of gang rape at military stations but the perpetrators have not been punished for these abuses.

According to international law, the ongoing persecution of Rohingya constitutes genocide as defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention declares that the genocide is a crime under the law if it is being committed by killing members of the group. The case of Rohingya is staying under the international law. To conclude, protest and criticism are appreciated efforts, but cannot be a permanent solution to the lingering Rohingya issue. The solution of this long-standing plight needs more consolidate efforts and a long-term strategy, both on legal and political grounds, which is only possible when we are honest to resolve this issue permanently.

Source: pakobserver.net/rohingyas-plight-goes/

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Afghanistan: New Security Dilemma

By Dr Muhammad Khan

October 4, 2017

ACCORDING to some of the recent media reports, Mr Trump, the Businessman President of US is now eying at the Afghan minerals and rare metals. Since he was concerned over huge US expenditures in Afghanistan, therefore, now, he would like Afghanistan to pay back the amount, US has expended in that country since last 16 years. According to economic survey, US has expended over $117 billion in the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the last one and half decades. The US Geological Survey has estimated the cost of mineral deposits in Afghanistan as over $1 trillion. Whereas, other survey reports estimates that, mineral deposits in Afghanistan are much more than US estimates and there are some rare metals are also found on Afghan soil. The known metals in Afghanistan include; deposits of gold, silver, platinum, iron ore, uranium, zinc, tantalum, bauxite. Besides, the country has huge reserves of; Oil, coal, natural gas and significant copper – a particular draw given the dearth of rich new copper mines globally.

President Trump is fearful about Chinese investment in Afghanistan. Over the years, China has made a lot of investment in Afghanistan. Besides China, India is also making a lot of investment in a number of areas. The Indian investments include in areas like; mining, Information Technology (IT), agriculture and livestock industries and logistics. Currently more than 17 Indian companies are working in Afghanistan in a number of fields. US may not be bothered about the Indian investment; however, there is a real worry over the growing Chinese investment in that country. President Trump and US policy formulators feel that, US has fought the Afghan insurgency for 16 years, but economic advantages are being gained by others. It is worth mentioning that in October 2014 President Ashraf Ghani emphatically said, “We look at China as a strategic partner, in the short term, medium term, long-term and very long-term.” President Ghani made such a commitment with China during his first international tour after taking over as the new President of contemporary Afghanistan.

China and Afghanistan signed strategic partnership agreement in 2012, after which both countries are cooperating on a number of projects, mostly socio-economic in nature. China pledged to provide financial assistance to Afghanistan on many accounts, mainly the developmental sector, providing 2 billion Yuan ($330 million) in grants to Afghanistan through 2017. Besides, China also provided assistance to Afghanistan in the provision of professional training for 3,000 Afghans over the next five years. It is worth mentioning that Chinese state-owned companies are already working in the mining sector of Afghanistan, exploration and bringing to use of many minerals; copper deposits of Aynak, being the biggest sector.

In this regard, Chinese companies have invested $4.1 billion to develop 5 million-ton copper deposits. Oil and gas exploration in various parts of Afghanistan by Chinese companies is also being undertaken. The Year-2017 marked the ninth anniversary of the Mes Aynak concession, which was agreed in 2008. Two Chinese state-owned companies, the China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) and the Jiangxi Copper Company Limited won the projects and since then has made a lot of progress in the development of the projects. The consortium later called itself MCC-JCL Aynak Minerals (MJAM) to formally operate the project. It is estimated that, Mes Aynak mine is the 2nd largest copper ore body in the world, with the deposit estimated to contain 5.5 million metric tons of high-grade copper ore. Some experts opine that, Afghanistan has the potential to become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. This rare metal has its usage in cell phones and electric car batteries.

The experts of international relations opined that, President Trump is seriously considering the option of privatizing the war in Afghanistan. The new US strategy of ‘re-engagement in Afghanistan’ is said to be part of privatization of war. Already, there were thousands of civil contractors, employed in Afghanistan, following the drawdown of US and NATO forces in 2014/15. Sending additional 5000 US troops and may be another 5000 troops by NATO partners would aim at providing security to these contractors. There are even media reports that, nine US military bases are located on or near those areas, which have costly and rare metals, explored in that country. There is confirmed news that, on the issues of minerals and rare metals, President Trump has taken into confidence the Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani in a recently held meeting. President Trump feel that, US has right to receive the War reparation, which it has fought for 16 years.

With the economic dimension of Afghan war, which remained overt so far, there will be fewer chances of peace and stability in this region. Afghan economy is one aspect, US is eying at the vast resources of Central Asia and Caucasus regions. It is premature to say, how China and Russia would respond to this new development. However, this for sure that, US and its strategic ally, India is eying at the regional resources apart from strategic objectives. Pursuit of these objectives will give way to a new dimension to the ongoing conflict; putting the region into a new security dilemma.

Source: pakobserver.net/afghanistan-new-security-dilemma/

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The Mainstreaming Debate

By Zaigham Khan

October 4, 2017

During a visit to my village in Muzaffargarh in 2000, I was told that Sajid, the younger brother of one of my class fellows, had been killed in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Sajid was an introvert, an obedient young man who was always in awe of his older brother. I had seen him grow up and could not imagine that his life would end in this way. It was after his death that I came to know about his association with Lashkar-e-Taiba.

I knew what to expect at his home when I went for condolences. Two years earlier, the Lashkar had made the mistake of giving me access to their sprawling headquarters in Muridke near Lahore. I was given a chance to interview dozens of its fighters and commanders as well as family members of slain fighters. I also had a chance to visit the home of Hafiz Saeed where I met some of his close relatives and interviewed him at his office at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET). My special report in a leading magazine where I then worked ended up extremely upsetting the organisation – and remains one of the most cited sources on the organisation.

Due to my strong interest in the rituals and anthropology of death, I had noted that the organisation was inventing rituals that had no precedence in Islamic societies. These rituals mainly involved celebrating the death of its martyrs. So I had to congratulate the family on the martyrdom of the young man and I would be served sweets.

I could not muster the courage to congratulate the old man and he did not follow the rituals. After all, I was like his son. He showed me Sajid’s notebooks where he had written S after his name. “I did not know what S stood for till the news of his death reached us – S stands for Shaheed”, he said. As I had seen in other cases, the family had become deeply religious and the father had grown a flowing beard. I had already met a father, called ‘Abu Shaheedain’ (Father of two martyrs), who wanted to go to Kashmir because he did not have a third son to offer for fighting.

I found that just as the Tableeghi Jamaat has reduced Islam to its brand of Tableegh, the Lashkar had reduced the religion of peace to its brand of jihad (or Qital to use the proper vocabulary). Some Deobandi scholars assert that instead of preaching religion (Tableegh-e-Deen), the Tableeghi Jamaat has created a religion of preaching (Deen-e-Tableegh). I don’t want to say the same about the Lashkar because I do not enjoy the authority of a Deobandi scholar.

My exposure to Lashkar-e-Taiba challenged many generalisations I had made about members of militant organisations. I had reported on militant and sectarian organisations for years, regularly visiting their dens, which were no-go areas for outsiders and law-enforcement personnel. I had seen how they bullied the locals and kept them in constant fear.

Militancy, after all, is deviant behaviour – like other crimes. A militant dissociates himself from the larger society and tries to inflict pain on the mainstream. In case of the Lashkar, I found that it was quite the opposite. Its fighters thought that they were sacrificing themselves for the sake of the country and the larger society. There was a socio-economic reason behind it. Unlike other militant groups, the Lashkar’s recruits belonged to the lower middle class of Central Punjab and had attended government school. They appeared to believe from their heart of hearts what they were taught in their Pakistan Studies classes.

The Lashkar’s fighters were not supposed to keep arms at their homes. They were rather required to serve their communities till they were called to make the ultimate sacrifice. I found that they were full of humour and energy and were often the darlings of their Mohallas and villages. “What wonders we can do with this kind of youth”, I had thought.

Much has been made of the ideology of militants. ‘Mind-set’ is one of the most popular terms with our commentators. This term, however, does not exist in any psychology or sociology textbook. I did not find the ideology of Lashkar fighters any different from what our children are learning through their school textbooks. Every nation prepares its soldiers for death and teaches them a variant of the ideology of legitimate warfare – which is called jihad in Islam. In Pakistan, soldiers have administered the medicine back on the whole nation.

Four decades of research on terrorism in psychology has yielded nothing. We can conclude that what is most important in this regard is ‘How’, not ‘Why’. Indian Muslims are far more sectarian than Pakistani Muslims. You can find dozens of YouTube videos where men of the whole village have been required to redo the nikkah ceremony because they dared to pray behind an imam of another sect. However, Indian mosques and imam bargahs are safe for worshippers.

Iqbal, perhaps the greatest Muslim thinker of the 20th century, was declared an apostate by an authority no less than the Imam of Kaaba. The move to push him out of the pale of Islam was spearheaded by the Khateeb of Lahore’s second most important mosque, Wazir Khan Masjid. However, he never felt that his life was under any threat and no one dared to use violent means against him. The last laugh belonged to him and not to his tormentors.

In contemporary Pakistan, the JUI has asserted on many occasions that its differences with the sectarian Sipah-e-Sahaba are confined to methodology alone. In the world of organisations, methodology trumps ideology – process is everything.

Mainstreaming provides an answer to the ‘how’ question. It makes the militant groups change their tools from guns to microphones. Guerrillas are hard to defeat in the battlefield. In the democratic arena, they can be outnumbered and outgunned too easily. Islamist groups are a huge threat in countries like Egypt where their democratic rights and the freedom of association was trampled. In countries like Pakistan, they are routinely humiliated on the ballot box by the ‘secular’ parties.

Syed Maudoodi did us a great favour when he converted his Islamist movement into a political party during its most controversial annual gathering in 1956. Hafiz Saeed appears to be doing us the same favour. However, no one appears happy because many questions remain unanswered.

Mainstreaming is often part of a well-debated and well-thought-out strategy. It usually requires a legislative process to grant amnesty to a group or individuals if they have broken the law or committed any crime. If such a policy has been devised, we are not aware of its contours. In the absence of an open relinquishing of arms by a militant group, a political party can be just a political adjunct to a militant outfit.

Mainstream political parties like the PML-N have other reasons to worry as well. During the last three decades, voters of religious parties have become mainstreamed. They have left religious parties and joined larger national parties. This mainstreaming of the religious voter has reduced the leverage enjoyed by the establishment over the mainstream parties. The PML-N fears that this process is being reversed artificially.

Rightly or wrongly, the religious voter is angry. In my opinion, it must be given the political means to express its feelings. For decades, we failed to curb this criminal association. In our zeal, we should not put tabs on the legitimate freedom of association guaranteed in our constitution.

Personally, I would be happy if Sajid were to become a leader of the Milli Muslim League (MML), rather than a fighter who died in Kashmir. This at least would have given me a chance to argue with him. It would also have saved his father from the pain of serving sweets to those who came to condole with him.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/234422-The-mainstreaming-debate

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Mesut Kacmaz

By Rasul Bakhsh Rais

October 4, 2017

The name is a subject itself; he is a benefactor of Pakistan, a friend of our people, and one of the thousands of Turkish teachers who have lived in our country and taught tens of thousands of children over the past several decades. It is the missionary spirit of the Gülen movement that has motivated Turkish teachers to leave their home and live in Pakistan and tens of other countries to give world-class education to children, with disregard to faith and nationality. The central principle of the movement is service to humanity, as the name Hizmet Harketi indicates.

The Hizmet Harketi has played a critical role in the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan and had remained an ally since the 2002 general elections. They have shared a similar ideology on reconstructing the Turkish identity, politics and society embedded in religious conservatism, old social values and Ottoman intellectual heritage. Both have prudently avoided open ideological confrontation with secularism, but have quietly redefined the place of religion in society, if not making it a base of political legitimacy. The alliance worked both ways, in favour of the two groups, one devoted to changing society through politics, and the other by the spiritual values of Islam. Never has this been a clear demarcation, as they had had overlapping worldviews and political interests. They succeeded in replacing the old order shaped by dogmatic secularism run by a coalition of political and military elites.

Last year’s failed coup attempt not only put an end to the alliance but has turned the two former allies into bitter enemies. Actually, the Gülen movement believes the coup attempt was a ‘drama’ staged by Erdogan and used as an excuse to eliminate the influence of Gülen and Hizmet Harketi in the Turkish society. Why? He felt threatened by their position in the media, civil society, the police and judiciary — some of the critical spheres of new power. Erdogan has very successfully used the occasion to systematically destroy the base of the Gülen movement by closing its schools, colleges, universities, media houses and jailing tens of thousands of its followers along with scores of soldiers apparently involved in the coup.

President Erdogan has not spared the Turkish schools and colleges run by the Hizmet Harketi, including Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan. He has applied his influence over the Sharif brothers to get the schools transferred from the Gülen Foundation. He applied more pressure to get the Turkish teachers expelled and repatriated to Turkey, obviously to risk questioning and jailing. Fearing arbitrary arrest, persecution and torture, the Turkish teachers, including Kacmaz, have sought an asylum certificate from the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. This certificate is used universally to seek stay and protection in a foreign country. At the time of his abduction or disappearance, Kacmaz and his family had secured this certificate. The four members of this family have joined hundreds of ‘missing’ persons, leaving much to speculation who could be the agency or a department of the Punjab or federal government taking them into custody.

We hope Kacmaz and his family are fine, and they are not sent back to Turkey against their will where it is certain they would be mistreated. In Turkey today, members of the Gülen movement cannot plead under the principle of presumption of innocence, as they have already been declared ‘guilty’. If not grateful to these teachers for having served our society, at least we shouldn’t push them into harm’s way.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1522161/mesut-kacmaz/

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Urge For Going

By Mahir Ali

October 04, 2017

“AND I get the urge for going,” sang Joni Mitchell more than a half-century ago, “When the meadow grass is turning/ And summertime is falling down.” That sentiment has been echoed in recent days in two very different parts of the world.

Last Sunday’s contentious referendum in Catalonia was preceded six days earlier by an equally controversial vote in Iraqi Kurdistan. In both cases, the longing for independence goes back a long way. And in both cases the states from which the Kurds and Catalonians wish to separate have reacted in a manner that is likely to exacerbate tensions.

The disturbing scenes witnessed in Barcelona as a massive police force deployed by the authorities in Madrid sought to thwart the Catalonian vote, and more generally the belligerent attitude adopted by the conservative government of Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy, can only serve to fuel regional passions and drive waverers into the nationalist camp. Perhaps not entirely fairly, the repression evoked memories of the Franco dictatorship, which 80 odd years ago snatched back the autonomy that Catalonia had secured under the Spanish republic.

Hostile responses to the referendums will worsen matters.

It was only four decades later, with the return of democracy, that the region was gradually able to re-establish its right to manage its own affairs. A substantial number of Catalonians consider that insufficient, and the sense of injustice has grown since the financial crisis of a decade ago, which was particularly rough on southern European states.

Catalonia is considered a relatively well-off region in the Spanish context, but the Rajoy government has gone out of its way to undermine its aspirations. Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont holds the view the recent referendum provides an adequate basis for a unilateral declaration of independence. Madrid, meanwhile, has threatened to invoke a hitherto unused clause of the Spanish constitution to suspend regional autonomy.

Either option would deepen the crisis in Spain — whichever comes first would likely provoke the other. Puigdemont’s case is somewhat sullied by the fact that the turnout in the referendum was well below 50 per cent, notwithstanding the claim that almost 90pc of those who cast their ballots opted for independence.

On the other hand, the Spanish state’s reaction — which resulted in injuries to 900 people and involved the confiscation of an indeterminate number of ballot boxes — detracts from its moral authority. Further, it’s hard to take seriously Rajoy’s insistence on altogether ignoring the referendum, partly on the basis that it had been ruled illegal by the highest court in the land.

The EU has, by and large, sought to stay aloof, characterising the dispute as an internal affair for Spain. It is understandable why the would-be architects of a European super-state would be inclined to view regional aspirations for independence as a potential Pandora’s box, but turning a blind eye to repression can only serve to reinforce the impression that the bureaucracy in Brussels is self-serving.

The Kurdish bid for independence from Iraq has also received little international backing, including from those who effectively set the region on its way by guarding its autonomy against Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf war. Within the Middle East, only Israel has backed the idea of an independent Kurdistan, for strategic reasons of its own. Conversely, there have been threats of military action and economic sanctions from not just Baghdad and Tehran but particularly vociferously from Ankara.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan had hitherto been reasonably chummy with the Iraqi Kurds, in contrast to his attitude towards the Turkish and Syrian segments of the Kurdish population. The Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic group without a national homeland, of which they were deemed unworthy when the British and French colonial powers carved frequently incoherent boundaries across the Middle East following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.

The case for an independent Kurdistan has existed ever since, with the Kurdish minority besieged, or used as strategic pawns, to varying degrees across four states. Turkey and Iran are particularly ill-disposed towards the idea of sovereignty for Iraqi Kurds primarily because they fear the effect it would have on their respective Kurdish minorities. Massoud Barzani, head of what is effectively a family firm at the helm of the Kurdish regional government, has thus far not hinted at a unilateral declaration of independence, even though the referendum, again with an affirmative vote of around 90pc, is on various scores more credible than its Catalonian counterpart.

In both cases, there was scope for serious-minded political negotiations to pre-empt a crisis, whereas a belligerent response can only strengthen the urge for going. There’s a crucial lesson in this for many nations, not least Pakistan in the Baloch context, but it’s likely to remain unheeded until it’s too late.

Source: dawn.com/news/1361524/urge-for-going

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Brave New World

By Asad Rahim Khan

October 04, 2017

IN Olaf Caroe’s The Pathans, one passage, reheated and served to foreign audiences again and again, reads, “There arose one of those strange and formidable insurrections among the Pathans which from time to time sweep across the Frontier mountains like a forest fire, carrying all before them. As on a previous occasion there followed a reaction, but the fire is not wholly put out. It continues to smoulder dully until a fresh wind blows.”

As with many of our colonisers, governor Caroe’s words have survived him. We enter a world of exotic warrior races running down the mountain every five minutes, to be beaten back by ‘reaction’ — because it makes for better writing to say the fire was put out, than to describe an alien empire that crushed the rebels and brought in black laws to keep them crushed.

Yet the state keeps reading its Caroes and Kiplings, if only because a new generation of brown sahibs has learned to love its ex-abusers.

Done right, Fata could well see the greatest reforms.

Consider: this country has called itself a republic for 61 years, and a free state for 70. Yet we continue to call over 27,000 square kilometres of it the ‘Federally Administered Tribal Areas’. And we continue to call what governs it the Frontier Crimes Regulation, a law every bit as cruel and stupid as it sounds.

The FCR has been going strong since 1901; its Collective Responsibility Clause a throwback to the days when British colonels would round up every Afridi tribesman they saw, sell their cattle, and blockade them from trade. We saw the modern version in action in September: 10-year-old Iqtidar was thrown behind bars — by the grace of the same clause — after a bomb blast in Landi Kotal. He was released some days ago.

Then there are the darkest parts of the state itself: FC personnel opening fire in Parachinar; Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ploughing billions from the Fata budget into his own constituencies; the Muslim League weighing Hazara votes heavier than fundamental rights.

Why we continue the crimes of our colonial overlords is because we view Fata the same way they did: the British thought it a buffer zone against the Russians, we thought it a testing site for the Soviets.

Nor is it a coincidence that the same place be thought fair game for Great Games. Drones continue to roar overhead, via video game joysticks in Virginia. “As a military person,” one of retired Gen Stanley McChrystal’s advisers told The New Yorker, “I put myself in the shoes of someone in Fata and there’s something about pilotless drones that doesn’t strike me as an honourable way of warfare.” It doesn’t strike anyone as legal, lawful, or humane. Yet why should anyone listen: ever the playground for proxy wars, Fata has been allowed to burn by default.

Only, this can’t go on. Our latest fight — against maniacs and militants — was for the soul of this country, and it is no coincidence it was fought in Waziristan.

Which brings us to the business of reform. At every step, the state has preferred the path of least resistance: we think that by handing Torkham to the Levies, we’ll pave the way for proper police control. We think that by having political agents nominate ‘councillors’, local bodies will thrive. We think that by taking some of the wheels off the FCR and calling it different names (Jirgas, Qazis, the Rewaj Act etc), the rule of law will reign supreme.

And that’s without starting on the spoilers: Maulana Fazlur Rehman, part of a proud tradition of far-right flamethrowers. These gents have taken a wrecking ball to the federation ever since we had a federation: the JI opposed independence. The Ahrar brought Punjab to a collapse. Munawar denied our martyred fallen. And now the JUI-F does its best to disenfranchise the al­­ready disen­­­­­­­­­franchised.

Done right though, Fata could well see the greatest constitutional reforms since Pakistan’s creation. That’s because extending basic citizenship rights to millions of people, as columnist Umair Javed rightly said, “hasn’t happened since decolonisation did that for ‘settled’ provinces”. Even the most major reforms — the disbanding of One Unit, the 1973 Constitution — all “fine-tuned existing citizenship rights. Fata’s merger will give citizenship”.

That can only happen one way: Fata’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa proper, anything less be damned.

That means dismantling the political agent and his creatures, complete electoral integration and party-based elections, real local bodies, Levies brought into the fold of the provincial police, protections for women from Swara and honour crimes, and the Peshawar High Court (and not the Islamabad High Court) coming to the fore.

At 70, Pakistan can yet march to what this paper calls a brave new world — and the Fata reforms are the shortest way there.

Source: dawn.com/news/1361525/brave-new-world

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Trump at the UN

By Shahid Javed Burki

October 3, 2017

The United States is now set on a course different from the one it had taken when it became the leader of the free world. It had then agreed with the victors of the Second World War that an international system would be built to guide member nations. In it, all member countries would give up some of their sovereignty and follow accepted sets of rules. This system worked and provided the world with relative peace and prosperity it had not known for centuries. And then Donald Trump arrived on the global scene as an exceptionally disruptive force. The moment he entered office as the US president, he went about upending the old system. What he intends to do and why he is doing what he has already done is based on his reading of the world situation. His system of beliefs was laid down by him in four speeches he has given, three of them to international audiences.

The first address in which the new structure began to be built was on January 20 in Washington when Trump took the oath of office. In the inaugural speech, the new president made it clear that “America First” would be the basis on which he and his administration would deal with the world. The second speech was given in May in Riyadh when he pledged an all-out war against international terrorism, singling out Iran and Qatar for lending support to dissident forces. The third came in July in Warsaw in which Trump divided the world into two country-clusters, the West and the Rest. He challenged the West to show the will to keep the Rest — and by that he meant mostly the world of radical Islam — at bay.

The United Nations address on September 17 closed the circle by laying out the basis on which the new Trumpian world was to be constructed, replacing the one that was no longer relevant — if it ever was — for what was required to manage the often unruly world. That order was structured over time; the first few bricks were laid down at Bretton Woods in 1944. Then the war in Europe had ended with Germany and Italy defeated by the allied powers led by the United States. The Asian war was still being fought as Japan, in spite of suffering heavy losses, had stubbornly refused to surrender. Surrender came after the devastating nuclear attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More bricks were added later, in particular in the area of international trade. President Trump had made the world aware of his impatience with the old world order during the long and bitterly fought campaign for the US presidency. It did not seem to concern him that he was alone among the leaders of world’s major powers in wanting to build a new system structured on the goals pursued by individual countries, not on the collective global interest.

In the UN speech, Trump used the word “sovereignty” 21 times, saying that strong sovereign nations should keep their citizens safe while enabling them to prosper economically. It was this belief that had led him to use the term “America First” in his inaugural address delivered on the steps of the US Capitol, eight months earlier. At the UN, he said strong sovereign nations could join together to fight common threats and constitute the irreducible blocks of global institutions such as the United Nations. In the election campaign for the US presidency, Trump had repeatedly expressed his doubt whether the United Nations system served any purpose. In the New York speech, he did not make that suggestion but maintained that the United States should not be required to shoulder a good part of the financial burden of carrying and running the UN system. “As president of the United States, I will always put America first,” he told his audience of heads of state.

The emphasis on sovereignty has a long history in the West. It goes back to Roman times. It was elaborated in agreements like the Peace of Westphalia that gave rise to the principle of non-interference in a country’s internal affairs. It was the foundation on which the victors of the Second World War erected the UN system. But some critics found Trump’s definition narrow and selfish. “It looks like we will respect the sovereignty of countries we like, whether they are dictatorship or democracies, but we will not respect the sovereignty of countries we don’t like,” said Vali R Nasr, an Iranian-American who is now the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. “His definition of sovereignty comes from a very narrow domestic prism,” continued Nasr. It did not preclude criticism of the countries and their leaders who did not fit into the Trumpian view of the world. Two of the three countries — North Korea and Iran — named by President George W Bush as belonging to an “axis of evil” were back on the Trump list.

While Trump covered a great deal of ground in the UN speech what he said about these two countries drew the most attention. He used abuse and ridicule to get North Korea to pay attention to what he was saying. In the case of Iran — as he had done during the election campaign — the focus was on the nuclear accord as well as its alleged role in supporting international terrorism. He once again called the nuclear accord the worst deal Washington had ever concluded. The policies he is likely to pursue with these two nations will reverberate across the globe. The world is watching, wondering where Donald Trump is headed.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1521385/trump-at-the-un/

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Books as Guides

By Dr A Q Khan

October 4, 2017

Enough has already been said about the ongoing political activities, press conferences and cases in courts and the situation hasn’t improved. It’s much better to opt for reading books for enjoyment and to seek knowledge.

The first book I would like to bring to your notice is called ‘Muslim World: The Story of the Creation of Pakistan’. It is written by Ainuddin Siddiqui. I have known for a long time and he is a competent former civil servant. He is an all-encompassing national figure. We came into contact in the mid nineties when KRL was making the long distance ballistic missile, Ghauri, and needed fuel for it. Our aim was to be self-sufficient for fuel. My colleague, Dr. Hashmi, was asked to handle the project.

The book consists of 788 pages. It has been published by Sigma Press, Lahore. Siddiqui has used many reliable references for this monumental work. Starting from the Muslim populations in the world and international forms of government, he has discussed the Indian Independence Movement and subsequent events.

He also explored the Muslim rule in the Subcontinent, prominent politicians of the Subcontinent, the formation of the All India Muslim League, the ideology of Pakistan and the Pakistan Resolution, the relationship between the All India Muslim League and the Pakistan Movement, the partition of the Subcontinent and the disputes between India and Pakistan. Independence and the Two-Nation Theory, Lord Mountbatten and Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the Simla Conference, the Cabinet Mission Plan, Partition and the demarcation of borders, the Indus Waters Treaty, native states and disputes between India and Pakistan, independence migration and population exchange have also been examined.

Princely states and states ruled by Muslims, the constitutional history of Pakistan, M A Jinnah’s speeches and addresses from 1916 to 1948 and the eras of governor-generals, presidents, prime ministers and chiefs of armed forces, prominent civil servants and generals also fall within the purview of this book. The origins of present-day politicians and their families, the concept of Islam and grave-worshipping, the veneration of saints and pirs, the tombs of so-called saints in the Subcontinent have also been discussed. In short, Siddiqui has done an excellent and thorough job and his book is recommended for the libraries of all educational institutions and scholars of international relations and Pakistan Studies.

The second book is ‘Don’t Worry: Ghum na Karen’ by Dr Aaiz bin Abdullah al-Qarni. The translation has been done by Ghatreef Shahbaz Nadvi. The publisher is Darul Iblagh Publishers and Distributors Lahore. It is reported that immediately after it was published, more than one million copies were sold. The Arabic title of the book is ‘La Tahzan Innalla ha Ma’na’. Once started, this book is difficult to put down. It deals with matters concerning a person’s daily life – including his or her actions, way of living and contact with others. The author has discussed solutions to daily problems in light of divine edicts, with the Quran being the complete code of conduct and life.

Muhammad Tahir Naqqash has written a meaningful foreword. He says: “When you look around, you see that no one is happy in this world. Everyone has some problem, some worry. It looks like huge mountains of grief and pain are on them and they are trying to survive from this terrible situation, fighting…to wriggle out of this problem. People [may] look fit, healthy and happy, but from inside they are eaten up with grief, problems and pain. They just need an excuse, a small shock, to break down completely, shatter down depressed. The question arises as to how this situation – grief [or] depression – attacks the human being. It happens when the human being distances [himself] from the Almighty and forgets the message conveyed to him by Him through His apostle and indulges in wrongdoing”.

The author says that this book provides examples, pleasant stories and events and literary pieces as solutions to the ills that have beset people. There are divine edicts, sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), sayings of the companions of the apostle and suggestions from psychologists, scientists, sociologists and poets. It also contains the results of comprehensive research, newspaper articles, reports and magazines. It is a treasure of various useful findings and research. The message to readers is that they should be happy and optimistic rather than sad and depressed. However, saying is easier than doing. When people are depressed, it takes more than a few stories to set them right. This book, the author says, is for people who are facing, or have faced, hardships. It will, hopefully, enable them to prevail over their difficulties to become content and happy.

The best way to deal with depression, anger and mental distress is to offer prayers as this gives people peace of mind. Listening to or reading the Quran with its translation also helps. The Almighty has called us human beings impatient, hasty, quarrelsome, miserly, ungrateful and suspicious. But He has still blessed us with the title of ‘the best of all the living beings’. In Surah Rahman, the Almighty has repeatedly asked us to point out which of the favours of our Lord will we deny? If we follow the course described by the Almighty in the Quran, we will be able to overcome the ills mentioned earlier. No one’s life is without problems and strife of some kind.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/234426-Random-thoughts-Books-as-guides

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pakistan--eroding-democratic-values-by-zahid-hussain--new-age-islam-s-selection,-04-october-2017/d/112757




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