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Pakistan Press (02 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Pitfalls of mainstreaming: New Age Islam's Selection, November 2, 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

November 2, 2017

War by other means

By Ihtasham Ul Haque

Trump on the wrong side of history

By Mirza Aslam Beg

Future as freedom

By Syed Sikander Mehdi

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pitfalls-of-mainstreaming--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-2,-2017/d/113100


Pitfalls of mainstreaming

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

November 2, 2017

You can soft pedal in the realm of nomenclature by calling them militants, the disaffected and the angry. But you cannot shy away from the fact that those who kill innocent citizens to spread terror are nothing but terrorists.

Similarly, you can call their supporters extremists, but they remain what they are: terror apologists. Ergo, the concept of mainstreaming them falls under one rubric. This one.

And while we are at it, let’s also face the fact that mainstreaming is most likely the right word representing what you intend to do here. A terrorist culture is built on an ideological infrastructure. Without demolishing this infrastructure, any attempt to bring such groups or individuals online in the mainstream will most certainly influence moderate, if not impressionable, minds. Hence, this stands the risk of mainstreaming terrorism itself. The word that you are looking for is reintegration – that too after due diligence and psychological rehabilitation.

But since there is little interest in such petty issues in our country, the random use of terms goes unchallenged. And the loss of thousands of precious civilian lives has not dampened the enthusiasm of those who want to see their ‘estranged brothers’ back in positive light. Therefore, this debate has been raging behind curtains for long before the Milli Muslim League was formed or decided to make its debut in the NA-120 by-election.

It is true that proscribed organisations come in all hues. There are the ones that are hell-bent on killing Pakistanis. Then, there are those who don’t want to see peace in Afghanistan. There are also groups whose names India doesn’t let us forget. Then, we have a sectarian mix and an anti-West mix. These groups essentially draw their philosophical legitimacy from a weaponised version of religious ideology. And since this ideology stretches the religious doctrine to a breaking point, it should not be difficult to dismantle it. Yet, curiously enough, we have not seen any serious attempt to deconstruct it in the 16 years of our fight against terrorism.

It can easily be attributed to the lack of political courage, especially after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer. The other reason could be the near-consensus among the religious on not cooperating with the state to do so. But even so, the state has many levers to be persuasive when it needs to. When the state has not been able to convince all elements within itself that this needs to be done, how can it convince others?

And there lies the biggest problem in mainstreaming. Consider how all these combustible materials, when put together, can cause a massive explosion. And you can immediately understand that mainstreaming – even in the most innocuous cases – can help slip in a few Trojan horses, biding their time and waiting quietly for the right moment to unite with other elements to cause maximum harm. After all, we do not have any mind-readers just to be sure. You have enough ideological foundations, sympathisers, resources and motivation to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it is at this point that the paranoia gets the best of you and the National Action Plan starts sounding like a tactical instruction rather than a coherent plan.

But this doesn’t mean that reintegration is an impossible task. Every other day, authorities capture foot-soldiers belonging to various terror groups who can easily be rehabilitated, bringing an end to the indoctrination and regimentation of their minds. After a precautionary period, they can be absorbed back into the normal national life. But this would involve meticulous planning and hard work. Sadly, because this hard labour looks like too much work, the entire idea revolves around accepting a few assurances and working out nominal deals with proscribed organisations before letting them in.

This course of action promises nothing but an absolute disaster. It needs to be stressed here that no leader of a proscribed organisation or its poster child deserves to be allowed back into society.

Then comes the matter of groups that have never attacked Pakistani citizens but were accused of using Pakistani soil to attack other countries and were subsequently banned internationally. Owing to a set of omnipresent conspiracy theories, there exists enough denial in the country to breed defiance. But this defiance is self-defeating. You cannot hope to win a war that was conclusively lost a decade ago. You can blame governments of the past all you want, but trying to mainstream such groups, reinvent them politically is bound to play right into the hands of the country’s enemies who want to convince the entire world that Pakistan promotes terrorism as a state ideology. In short, this is plainly suicidal. Conserve some energy to fight future battles instead of squandering it by obsessing over the past.

And India-focused groups present another challenge. Unlike other militant groups, it is not easy to dismantle their ideology, especially in the presence of a hawkish government in New Delhi. When the Modi government constantly attacks Pakistan verbally, diplomatically, covertly and overtly, the idea of building bridges with the country looks like a form of appeasement. So, even if you find a way to destroy the ideological infrastructure of other groups, with India-specific ones you will have to be particularly careful because they can act like horcruxes of terrorism.

The National Action Plan and its precursor, the National Internal Security Policy,  envisaged the development of a platform to deconstruct the narrative of terrorists and to come up with a counter-narrative to combat them. Unfortunately, this glorious idea is lost in the mist of political expediency. No one seems to be ready to dive deep into the ocean of religious scholarship and find a lasting rebuttal of the perversion of our faith by terrorists. This work is left to the religious scholars who do not seem to be ready to oblige. In such a situation – and without defanging the militant ideology – the idea of mainstreaming such groups needs to be rethought.



War by other means

By Ihtasham Ul Haque

November 1, 2017

War is a fascinating thing. Its nature is constant and is branded by violence. Its character, however, keeps changing. So do the ways in which it is waged. The state of Pakistan has been at war for the past 16 years. It may be just short of a full-blown war but no less violent. War, as the 19th-century military theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously put it, is simply the continuation of politics by other means. In our dear motherland, however, it seems politics is the continuation of war by other means. Politics here is dirty and demeaning. It is always egocentric and on many occasions downright destructive for the state itself.

The abduction of certain social media activists lately has become the talk of the town. Nawaz Sharif in a rare statement, over his party’s official Twitter account talked of upholding the freedom of expression and demanded the immediate release of bloggers who were allegedly whisked away by the Federal Investigation Agency for apparent denigration of the armed forces and the judiciary over social media. The statement itself is blunt evidence of the Nawaz League’s ownership of the missing ‘intellectuals’ who indulged in unabashed vilification of sensitive state institutions in support of Nawaz. While the deposed PM calls the acts in question a direct attack on the freedom of speech, the interior minister seems to have dropped the pretense and agreed that the concept must not be exploited and used against the state. The conflicting statements are a surefire sign of diverging interests and divisions within the party.

The concept of absolute free speech is intrinsically defective in theory. In practice, it is even more blemished and highly politicised. Pakistan is a textbook case study. Anyone and everyone can say just about anything about anyone and get away with it on the pretext of freedom of speech. Nowhere in the world is the concept practised in such unbridled manner. Even the most liberal of countries have constitutional provisions to protect the sanctity of cardinal state institutions which invariably include the armed forces and the judiciary. Throughout the liberal world there are libel laws, laws for defamation and sedition, journalistic standards and rules that govern the social media. In the land of the pure, ironically, freedom of speech is probably the only thing that is absolutely pure.

Supporters of the PML-N, it appears, chided state institutions through an organised social media cell run by the ousted PM’s daughter herself. The social activists were no ordinary citizens but in fact ran their well-planned narrative in lieu of salaries paid to them by the PML-N as per reports coming out of various sources. These stooges were willing to wage war against their own armed forces to seek vendetta for their leader’s dismissal at a time when they are preoccupied with internal and external threats. Is it not exactly how the fifth column operates: weakening defence lines by spreading disinformation and clandestinely sympathising with enemy? How long do they believe the common man would not take notice? Is this not treason? Is this not war against the state? After all, it was the interior minister who explained the phenomenon terming social media a weapon of fifth-generation warfare being used for spreading anarchy and chaos in the country.

The political mood in Islamabad is fast changing. The Senate has apparently repented its previous sin and adopted a resolution that prohibits a disqualified person from heading a political party. According to Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, the former prime minister would give up party leadership if a similar resolution is passed in the National Assembly. With surfacing of such reports highlighting flagrant anti-state behaviour of the ruling party’s top leadership, it is becoming increasingly difficult for even their staunchest supporters to stand for the father-daughter duo who seem to be arbitrarily calling the shots and disregarding the saner voices in the party. Ahsan Iqbal’s refusal to make a statement in favour of the missing PML-N social activists despite Nawaz Sharif’s overt support for them is a stark reminder of this fact.

It is often said that paid intellectuals and rented bloggers are using the medieval principles of prejudice and hate in the garb of the liberal principle of freedom of speech. We need legislation to rein in such ‘anti-social activists’ and teach them that the right to insult individuals or subjugate state institutions is not unconditionally free. The case here goes beyond the defence of law-enforcement agencies, armed forces and the judiciary. Unrestrained speech has the capacity to generate great social upheaval, stoke sectarian hatred, promote religious intolerance and fuel ethnic prejudices. It is evidently the most lethal existential threat to the state. We must remember that peace and order are not build on self-enforcing principles. They need to be organised and guarded with fervour. Are we passionate enough?



Trump on the wrong side of history

By Mirza Aslam Beg

AMERICAN Secretary of States’ hop-over visit’ to Pakistan, on his way to India, was a crude diplomatic gesture of brow-beating Pakistan. He handed over the demand note, as confirmed by a senior US diplomat – Alice Wells: “US wants to see practical steps from Pakistan, over the next few weeks, and not months, to use its influence to get the Taliban to the table,… thus ensuring that its own country is not destabilized.” Outrightly Pakistan rejected this demand because Taliban won’t listen to Pakistan and the demand to accept India as the Strategic Defense Partner of America, is unthinkable. Now there is a kind of diplomatic stress between the two countries and the credit goes to President Trump and the concept of achieving his purpose, by use of force, by whatever means possible.

In fact, Trump’s strategy is out-dated, because it is based on the post-WW-II notion of a super-power, enjoying un-precedented military and economic power for global domination, whereas over the period this super-power has lost its shine, particularly after its defeat in Vietnam and Korea and the deliberate loss of old allies and friends, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, in a short period of a decade and a half. All are Muslim countries and victims of post 9/11 Crusade. And this decline is sharp, while the today’s international relations, both geo-political and geo-economics dominate inter-state relations, with China and Russia providing strategic pivot, towards which regional countries are gravitating.

Oblivious of emerging global realities “Trump is doubling down on an unsuccessful war in Afghanistan, which is a sign of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He didn’t even bother to look at the Soviet decision of withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, because Soviets knew they were defeated and logic of conflict suggested a timely withdrawal. That timely decision of the Soviets helped them make good friends of Taliban. And now a timely withdrawal by US is not forthcoming, because of two basic reasons: One: America hates Islamic States and Political Islamic State such as Egypt under president Morsi, as well as a moderate Islamic State like Pakistan, of today. Two: By retaining American influence in Afghanistan, they are hoping to prevent formation of alliance, between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan that could provide depth of security, to these countries. The proposal for the formation of the said Alliance was expounded to the formation commanders and garrison officers of Rawalpindi on August 25, 1988, as to how Strategic Depth of Security to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan could be achieved. This concept was distorted by some of our own and foreign writers saying, that I had proposed a defeatist concept of “withdrawal to Afghanistan for territorial depth, against Indian military ingress”. This was unthinkable, because our armed forces mission is: “Defend all territories of Pakistan and develop counter offensive capability to carry the war into the enemy territory.” Thus, the Offensive-Defensive Concept was developed based on our real military capability. I spoke verbatim, as recorded by ISPR, I quote:

“It is a matter of great satisfaction that in this hour of struggle, we are not alone. The entire nation is with us… The second positive note which has emerged is the heroic struggle on the north-western borders… The days of hegemony of super powers are over and now we will witness the dawn of the supremacy of Islam. The triumph of democracy is in sight…The three countries – Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan – are emerging free, strong and resilient, and are moving towards a common destiny, to unite together and form the bastion of power – Strategic Depth of the Muslim World. It’s a vision which must be converted into a reality.”

The Indo-US collaboration against Pakistan is a failed attempt. After occupation of Afghanistan, India was facilitated by USA and its coalition partners to establish a vast spy network in Afghanistan, targeting mainly Pakistan. Thus India let loose a reign of terror in Pakistan which has continued unabated. In order to establish Indian Hegemony over the region, Afghanistan was declared as part of South Asia and the Strategic Partnership agreement was reached in 2005/2014, with declared objective to curb and contain rising Chinese military and economic power. These attempts failed as the Afghan Taliban defeated the occupation forces, while the Pak Army and its Air force, dismantled Indian terror network extending into Pakistan.

Both USA and India are facing serious internal problems. Trump has emerged as the most unpopular President because of his style of governance and whimsical decision making. Secondly, his top advisors and policy makers are the Generals who failed to deliver in their war in Afghanistan. They can only repeat failures and no better, and that is what precisely they are doing now. “Trump has been tragically effective at dismantling environmental and health regulations, as his most enduring legacy of Cancer, Infertility and diminished IQ” (Nicholas Kristof). On the other hand India is faced with a serious socio-political crisis of conflict between the Secularists and the Ultra-Nationalists. Historically, such trends had emerged in India, in the past, causing serious polycentrism, that would now be accelerating regional drift by more than a dozen on-going insurgencies.

Pakistan has faced challenges of myriad dimensions during the last decade and a half, yet it is politically stable despite weak governance, poor decision making, and now is focusing on the elections 2018, that would lead the nation to a robust democratic order. Moreover, Pakistan has found its rightful place in today’s international relations, based on geo-political and geo-economic relations – the forceful trend sweeping the region that would actualise a peaceful environment, without fighting a war.

— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.

Email: friendswriteup@hotmail.com



Future as freedom

By Syed Sikander Mehdi

November 02, 2017

WHEN a country prepares itself for general elections, it invariably faces two questions: which party will win, and who will form the government? Not Pakistan. Here the questions that are asked are: Will general elections be held? Will they be held on time? Will a democratic disposition be able to hold its own? Or will a ruthless dictatorship be imposed in the name of good governance, eliminating corruption and controlling anarchy control?

The season of general elections has arrived in Pakistan. Elections are due by the middle of next year, and all sorts of rumours about what the future holds are making the rounds. Federico Mayor, former DG of Unesco, once observed that “the future is freedom — for the most part, it will be exactly what we make it”. However, Pakistan has often been denied this future. Often imposed is a dead future proclaiming the demise of the demos (people). The quest for the future as freedom continues.

So what should be done to ensure that a dead future is not forced upon us again? Of course, the battle for democracy has to be waged everywhere and those bent on imposing a future which is ‘un-freedom’ should be exposed.

Ayub and Mirza left a new future waiting at the gate.

Likewise, the past needs to be visited as a new journey, and ordinary people informed as to how the future, which could have meant freedom, was bled during the early years of Pakistan by the troika of governor general Ghulam Muhammad, Maj Gen Iskander Mirza and Gen Ayub Khan.

Iskander Mirza — who was exiled on this day 49 years ago — and Ayub Khan were close friends. Both hated democracy and despised politicians, both worked overtime to engineer political instability, and disallowed the future as freedom to enter the country. However, the fear of elections and of another future, a different future, always hounded them. They had successfully postponed the general elections due in 1957 and 1958, but they couldn’t postpone elections forever. Polls were now due in February 1959.

Mirza was not sure if the new government formed after the elections would be as submissive as the preceding ones, and if he could be re-elected president by the new assemblies. Likewise, Ayub had his own worries. The last extension in his service was to expire in January 1959, and a further extension was unlikely.

Being fearful of a different future hard on their heels, both joined hands and aborted the expected elections by imposing martial law on Oct 7, 1958, abrogating the constitution, dismissing the central and provincial governments, dissolving the national parliament and provincial assemblies, and abolishing all political parties. Explaining the move to thwart the future which was so near, Mirza observed: “The constitution of 23rd March, 1956, is not only unworkable but dangerous to the integrity — and solidarity — of Pakistan. If we go on trying to work it we will have to say goodbye to Pakistan” (Pakistan: From Religion to Fascism by Muhammad Ali Siddiqi).

Likewise, Ayub in his first speech after the coup said: “This is a drastic and extreme step, taken with great reluctance, but with the fullest conviction that there was no alternative to it except the disintegration and ruination of the country” (The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan by Aqil Shah).

Meanwhile, power began to grow out of the barrel of the gun of chief martial law administrator Ayub Khan, and Mirza felt uncomfortable. This was not the future he had designed for himself. According to Ahmed Salim in Iskander Mirza Speaks, he attempted to regain his slipping power by declaring that martial law would run for the shortest period, reportedly tried to get some trusted generals of Ayub arrested (Mirza vehemently denied this charge), and initiated yet another move to checkmate Ayub. He constituted a new council of ministers comprising three military generals and five civilians, and nominated Ayub as prime minister. Perhaps the aim was to quickly lift martial law and appoint a new commander in chief to weaken Ayub’s position, and to remove him from premiership at an opportune moment.

But this was not to be. On the night of Oct 27, 1958, Ayub sent Gen K.M. Sheikh, Gen Azam Khan and Gen W.A. Burki along with military personnel to storm President House and obtain the written consent of the president to abdicate. The task was accomplished swiftly and Ayub stayed in power till March 1969. All these years, the future which was freedom kept waiting at the gate. Gen Ayub is gone. Also gone are Gen Zia and Gen Musharraf, but the future which is freedom still waits at the gate.


URL: http://newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/pitfalls-of-mainstreaming--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-2,-2017/d/113100


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