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Pakistan Press (17 Feb 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Terror Revisited: New Age Islam's Selection, 17 February 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

17 February 2017

Terror Revisited

By Shahzad Chaudhry

Reforming Madrasas

By Raja Qaiser Ahmed

Hekmatyar’s Homecoming

By Shazar Shafqat

Executing Children

By Miqdad Naqvi

Thank God Valentine’s Day Is Over

By Maria Sartaj

This Is America

 By Askari Raza Malik

Duty towards Refugees

By Mary Sanchez

Marking the Difference

 By Javaid Iqbal Bhat

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Terror Revisited

By Shahzad Chaudhry

February 17, 2017

Have we comprehended the various facets of our war against terrorism to their fullest extent? Or, are we just groping in the dark with half-baked conceptions and even fewer mature response options to fight this persisting menace?

Only this week, there have been repeated incidents of terror which have manifested in loss of life and property across Pakistan, bringing into question both our resolve and claims to have almost ‘broken the backs’ of those who mean ill.

The threat of terror remains existential. Existential is the operational term; persisting and continually evolving – as must be the resolve and the means to fight it. Declaring victory is not the right strategy in this war. It can easily lull you to sleep.

The war against the Pakistani state by terror groups was always a mix of insurgency and terror. When Sufi Mohammad raised the flag of rebellion against the state in Swat and wanted to march to Islamabad, he sought control of a larger physical space beyond the Shangla and Swat valleys through an insurgent effort. The military fought him and ultimately evicted him and his insurgents out of Swat. Out of those ashes rose the TTP – a terror group.

They then found havens in various agencies of Fata, but mostly in South and North Waziristan. The two operations which followed – principally Zarb-e-Azb – and many sub-operations, were then launched as counter-insurgency efforts to reclaim the geographical areas from the control of these groups. Numerous terror actions by these groups against the state and its innocent people continued alongside to scare them into submission and dilute state resources in the war. A counter-terror war also began through the length and breadth of Pakistan. This combination of counter-insurgency and counter-terror formed the kinetic components of this war to eliminate terrorism.

The army fought insurgency while a combination of police and paramilitary forces fought terror. The counterterrorism department of the police in each province was created to meet the needs of fighting terror. While fighting insurgency meant an incremental advance along a physical line and clearing spaces and reclaiming them, fighting terror in our cities meant its heavy dependence on intelligence and timely action. Where it was needed, the army assisted its special operations troops against larger and stronger groups – as was the case with the Army Public School attack in Peshawar which required a sustained operation to eliminate the terrorists who had successfully insurrected the safety of the provincial capital.

After the APS attack emerged the third facet of the complete response action – the non-kinetic part – which was translated as the National Action Plan. It consisted of 20 points of both kinetic and non-kinetic actions which were essential to eradicate terrorism from its roots. The non-kinetic actions were vastly more intricate with longer gestation periods for results. They needed a committed engagement of the political leadership to enact them over time with all the intensity to accrue favourable sustenance of the gains made through counter-insurgent and counter-terror efforts.

If and when enacted in full, it would, over time, help fight extremism and radicalism in a society which exploits latent religious sentiments to its own purpose. These steps were as varied as closing the financial loop supporting the extremists to reforming the syllabi in madrasas to their registration, and the involvement of religious scholars and the clergy in interpreting Islam in its more moderate and inclusive form. A lack of attention in this regard has meant that the misuse of religion has gone on unabated, continuing the slide towards a more radicalised society.

While Operation Zarb-e-Azb culminated the counter-insurgency phase of this war, more rounds may still be needed if we slide back into the complacency of a mission achieved. It is the counter-terror and the non-kinetic set of NAP actions which lag significantly.

Politicians have been seized with a plethora of legal cases. Half of them are petitioning while the other half are defending themselves, sparing little time to fight terror or implement NAP. In the absence of central ownership of the entire effort, what gapes instead is a vacuum. This leaves the chance for the maleficent to dominate perceptions in a relative space. One incident, and there is that overpowering sense of whether the bad old days of terror are back. The need for a centrally-coordinated leadership for this entire effort remains absolutely essential to dominate perceptions and convey the purpose that the war against terror continues to be won. This sense hasn’t been apparent for some time now.

The military leadership, since General Raheel Sharif retired, has been rather staid but reserved. In the aftermath of how the former chief was unfortunately treated in an attempt to cut him to size, the apparent effort of the new team at the GHQ has been to not tread on the toes of the civilian structures – whether it is the government or the civil society. As a consequence, the state and the nation seem to have entered a period of drift. This is when those across the border from foreign soils have found the opportune moment to re-impose their agenda of terror. This has been the consequence of an absent leadership from the country.

A few things should stand out. As the Afghan and Indian supported TTP launches sporadic raids on Pakistani troops at the border in a weak attempt at resurrecting insurgency, effort should be made to nip them in the bud right away. The focus on fighting terror in our midst must again be razor-sharp – with the possibility that Pakistan itself may need to neutralise the source of such malfeasance if Afghanistan is unable to stop the menace. Where the political leadership seems shorn of sufficient commitment to implement the elements of NAP, the military should also begin assisting the government in achieving what is essential to sustain the gains made on the battlefield. Now is not the time to sit on past laurels or be deterred by apprehensions of stepping on touchy toes.

This nation has done remarkably well by fighting a terrible war with groups that imposed terror for their heinous objectives by engendering chaos and fear – some of which was on foreign bidding. The country has stood the test well and come out successfully on the other end – something which more noted nations of the world have failed to achieve wherever they have undertaken such wars. This is not the time to slide back the gains made on the blood of the thousands who have died in this cause.

This is a generational effort and will remain so for some time to come. Only holding the baton of responsibility and staid resilience against all ulterior attempts at derailing this nation can help us realise ultimate success. Leadership at all levels must rise to the occasion. It remains a combined responsibility without differentiation of domain or antecedence.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/186797-Terror-revisited


Reforming Madrasas

By Raja Qaiser Ahmed

February 17, 2017

Pakistan’s terrorism quagmire is multipronged. It involves violent non-state actors operating under religious outfits. It has crime and terror syndicates and finally sectarian outfits that are serving as a breeding ground for radicalisation and terrorism in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s counterterrorism doctrine can be lauded for its operational preparedness – although it remained counterproductive in curbing the roots of terrorism. Radical extremism and violent terrorism, while interrelated, are misleadingly clubbed together in the equation of Pakistan’s counterterrorism strategy.

Under the national counterterrorism plan, the government declared it would launch a decisive crackdown against sectarian hate-mongers and all those madrasas that refuse to register under the new registration policy announced by the government to regulate and regularise madrasas in Pakistan.

A coalition comprising five bodies of religious seminaries belonging to different schools of thought had assured the government that its madrasas would register under the new policy within three months. It had also agreed to modernise curricula and a committee was to be formed to review courses taught in madrasas.

To date, the above tasks have not materialised. “Madrasas are universities of ignorance”. This statement by former information minister Pervaiz Rashid in the past had resulted in a furious backlash from those who vehemently justify madrasas.

The prevalent global discourse on terrorism is primarily focused on the interpretation of religious doctrine. Post 9/11 the revamped global scenario and a redefined contextualisation has put the issue of religious radicalisation vis-à-vis religious indoctrination right in the limelight. The overriding of the Western liberal political order and extreme reaction from the volatile Muslim world have further sharpened the rifts. The existing polarisation, coupled with the blurred lines of integration, has resulted in a hybrid structure.

Talk on reforming the curricula of madrasas has been on for quite some time now – without much having been achieved though.

Madrasas have always been seen as an antidote to modernity whether during the colonial rule or afterwards. The setting up of Darul Uloom Deoband in 1866 by the religious clerics of that time was a reaction to the seeping process of modernity initiated by the British Raj. With a defined mindset, an anti-modernity and retrogressive discourse was instilled. All this was happening in the backdrop of the technological changes and industrial avant-garde that had reshaped the traditional modes of means of communication and led to the rise of the middle class.

Madrasas were part of the resistance against the colonial rule. Deoband, Jamiat ur Raza and Nidwatul Ulema are a few examples of such madrasas. The curricula of madrasas have always been considered the sole jurisdiction of the set of jurisprudence that madrasas subscribe to. Even the British could not transform madrasa education in the Subcontinent.

Madressah education is an inward-looking strategy and any effort to reform madrasa education and curriculum is taken as a conspiracy. The strength and success of madrasas is due to this strategy of looking inward. It resists the outward influences and marks them as a conspiracy of non-believers against the teachings and the scriptures of Islam.

Under this mindset, reforming madrasas is not an easy task. Violent religious political outfits are also attempting to make inroads into the political setup. The recent election win of Mirza Masroor Jhangvi from Jhang highlights this phenomenon. Political parties like the JUI-F, doing real politik at the name of saving madrasas, are also a major impediment in madrasa reforms.

At this critical juncture, Pakistan needs a clear and decisive policy roadmap. Mere lip service to the National Action Plan will not guarantee a solution. A comprehensive policy in this regard, one that is aimed at imparting a rationalised discourse on madrasas, and a mechanism of effective monitoring are direly needed to tackle the problem of radical extremism turning into violent extremism in the country.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/186798-Reforming-madressahs


Hekmatyar’s Homecoming

By Shazar Shafqat

February 16, 2017

Is this a time for jubilation, apprehension or assorted thoughts? It depends on how you look at it. Whatever the case, it is surely going to be a topsy-turvy ride.

There’s finally something to cheer for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. He, at last, seems to have the last laugh. He’s been envisioning negotiations with the insurgent outfits in Afghanistan for long and the time may finally have come. Last week, the UN Security Council lifted the sanctions against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA).

The political astuteness and level of perspicacity that the Afghan government is going to display will determine the future outcome. Will these latest turn of events be the precursor for change in Afghanistan? Can this move serve as a curtain-raiser for a peaceful bilateral relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Will the militants be allowed to come into the national foray? And will it be prudent enough to do so, anyway? Any attempt to dig deep and discover what transpired in the past might not help in providing answers to these questions. It is time to delve into what lies in the future.

First, there might be no backing off this time around. Hekmatyar’s decision to reach an agreement with Kabul may serve as a vestibule of peace deals in the region. The HIA chief and the former prime minister has always been an influential figure and, of late, has burnished his credentials as a peacemaker. The discord between Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah continues to hog the limelight.

At this stage, it remains to be seen how both the stalwarts of the Afghan government will work this one out. However, there is also a downside to the recent brouhaha: if the government fails to implement the agreement in its entirety, the backlash could be as severe as it can get. As a result, the divisions within the central government in Afghanistan on the peace deal can alter the security apparatus drastically. The ramifications could therefore be devastating.

Second, a slight dissemination of the pact’s terms could come in handy in setting the course for the future. As per the agreement, Hekmatyar and his commanders will have a guaranteed role and a formidable say in government affairs. The dynamics have yet to be determined. At this point in time, establishing these dynamics appears a long shot. The pusillanimity espoused by the Afghan government and the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the premier intelligence agency, towards the militant outfit can result in the abatement of the conflict with the HIA.

However, there is a twist in the tale: Amrullah Saleh, the former head of the NDS and an influential figure in the country, has shown a perpetual aversion to hold talks with the militants, which could rarefy the situation even more. The Taliban, on the other hand, will continue to cherish the fault lines.

Third, the Wilayat Khorasan, the seldom talked about affiliate of Daesh’s in the region, might also rears its head. Its proponents may have been in hiding for a long time, but we cannot rule out the group’s reincarnation just yet. When the IS allegedly kidnapped 12 religious leaders from Nangarhar, Afghanistan on January 16, the country was already seething with terrorist activities. The emergence of the outfit therefore went largely unnoticed.

The Afghan Taliban have, historically, been pitched against the IS fighters in, primarily, the Helmand region. The Wilayat Khorasan has 3,000 foot soldiers fighting in the region. Isis may be on the retreat in Syria and the Levant, but its re-emergence in Afghanistan can turn the worst of the nightmares into reality. To put it in simple terms, there is something being concocted by the Wilayat in Afghanistan and the authorities need to watch out.

Fourth, the Pakistan conundrum cannot be ignored. To make peace or employ virulent rhetoric against its neighbour is the question that has repeatedly baffled the Afghan government. To the surprise of many, it has been able to engage in both. Hekmatyar has had strong ties with Pakistan’s establishment and if the former stalwart of the Afghan jihad can manage to make his way into the Afghan government, then the Pak-Afghan bonhomie should definitely be on the cards. If something goes wrong, the usual blame game would take the centre-stage. We can rest assured that either of the two options are going to transpire – if it wasn’t already all too easy to decipher.

Fifth, there appears to be considerable interest from China in Afghanistan and the peace deal. China is on a mission to fix the chaos in the countries where it has strategic interests. If it can do the needful in the Middle East, then China would not want a mess in its backyard in 2017. The threat posed by the Uighurs, the Belt and Road Initiative, the $800 million China-Central Asia gas pipeline, and other massive investments in Greater Central Asia are some of the key reasons why China wants peace and stability to be maintained in Afghanistan.

China is not asleep. Neither would it let these projects be mired in controversy or conflicts. China – considering its massive clout in the region – will not allow the extremist elements to run the show in Afghanistan. Takeaway: we shouldn’t be surprised if China announces an investment plan in Afghanistan just to assuage the dissidents within the government, particularly those running private firms.

The sixth factor to consider about Afghanistan’s future is, perhaps, the most interesting one – even though it may be the most obvious. With President Trump at the helm, Afghanistan is likely to be one of the countries where he will contemplate upping the ante. He already fancies his chances.  Hekmatyar and his men joining the government wouldn’t please the US president. Don’t be surprised if Trump goes on to mention the staunch resistance that the HIA had to offer to the comrades of the Charlie Wilson War. One thing is for sure: Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan’s decision to join the ranks of the government and the security apparatus of Afghanistan wouldn’t go down well with the new US president.

Can we then assume that the US and China are once again at a crossroads in Afghanistan?

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/186544-Hekmatyars-homecoming


Executing Children

By Miqdad Naqvi

17 February 2017

SIXTEEN years ago, Pakistan promulgated the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) 2000 to bring its current juvenile justice framework into conformity with its international obligations. The law was meant to shield children who came into conflict with the law from the rigours of the formal judicial system. This included right of legal aid, expedited trials held in separate courts, access to services for rehabilitation and reintegration with their families. The law also provided protection to accused children from corporal punishments, torture and the death penalty.

Despite the existence of such a comprehensive legal framework (and being one of the earliest countries in the world to ratify the 1998 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), the government has failed to demonstrate much interest in implementing a comprehensive juvenile justice system.

The JJSO was not enacted retroactively. A significant proportion of the population of juvenile prisoners, therefore, fell outside the ambit of the protections accorded by the law, including protection from the death penalty. However, the Pakistani president issued a notification in 2001, in exercise of his powers under Article 45 of the Constitution (ie, the power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court).

The police and courts follow no age determination protocols.

Under the notification, juvenile offenders sentenced to death prior to the enactment of the JJSO were to be accorded remission following an inquiry into their juvenility. An upcoming report by Justice Project Pakistan, Death Row’s Children, reveals that such inquiries hardly ever took place; when they did they were marred by arbitrariness and inefficiency.

Additional shortcomings in Pakistan’s juvenile justice system, which result in the government’s unlawful, arbitrary implementation of the death penalty against juvenile offenders have been highlighted in the report. The research analyses individual cases of juvenile offenders who have been executed or are awaiting executions to highlight the many junctures at which violations occur, starting from the arrest to the juvenile’s unlawful march to the gallows.

In Pakistan, police and courts follow no age determination protocols. This is especially problematic for a country where birth registration rates are dismal. According to official estimates, nearly 10 million children below five years are unregistered, with the figure growing by nearly 3m every year. Courts inevitably posit the burden of proof on juvenile offenders who are not accorded any benefit of doubt. Since a majority of those facing arrest lack any form of official documentation, they are placed in a virtually impossible situation.

In May 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in its concluding observations urged the government to order a stay in executions involving minors and launch a review of all cases where there is an indication that the accused was a juvenile.

The need for such a review cannot be overemphasised as it is estimated that 10pc of the current death-row population constitutes juvenile offenders. Muhammad Anwar was sentenced to death in 1998 for a crime allegedly committed when he was just 17-years-old. Despite having sufficient proof of juvenility the government remained unable to provide the benefit of this presidential remission and he is still on death row. In December 2014, Anwar came within hours of execution; he remains at serious risk of receiving another warrant.

Similarly, Muhammad Azam is another juvenile offender who was arrested in 1998 for murder and convicted and sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court prior to the JJSO’s promulgation. Copies of his birth records, jail re­­cords, including a copy of the birth roll confirm he was 17 when he was first admitted into custody. Jail records also demonstrate that Azam was initially held in Youthful Offenders Industrial School Karachi — a borstal institution especially designed for juvenile offenders. Following the 2001 notification, jail authorities sent a request to the trial court asking the court to determine Azam’s age to ascertain whether his sentence should be commuted. However, he couldn’t get the relief on the basis that the court was already functus officio following the conclusion of the appeals.

JPP in its report asks the government to reinstate the moratorium in the first instance, especially for those prisoners who were juveniles or can avail the benefit of reasonable doubt of juvenility at the time of offence committed. The report additionally asks for the enforcement of the solid age determination protocols, in compliance with international legal and policy standards.

As Pakistan prepares for the Universal Periodic Review in November 2017, it is absolutely essential that it institutes these measures in order to demonstrate its commitment to human rights in both the domestic and international arena.

Source: dawn.com/news/1315015/executing-children


Thank God Valentine’s Day Is Over

By Maria Sartaj

Valentine’s Day may be over but the strife of our females in respect to the roadside Romeos is not yet done with. Yes, the heart-shaped crimson balloons, candies and the equally red, palpitating mullahs-against-Valentines are thankfully out of sight but the Majnus of lovey-dovey WhatsApp forwards are not. Desi men make such lousy lovers that Valentine’s day ought to be banned keeping them in mind, not because it is Haram. What we need instead are Izzat-Karo Day and T-for-Tameez day in the sub-continent. While the elderly generation of Pakistan squeals with disgust, beating their chest, at the mere mention of Valentine’s day celebrations, the same crowd happily accept gifts on Mother’s and Father’s day. Yup, no one ever seems to have rejected a kurta from Sapphire, neatly tucked in a gift bag from their offspring, calling it an un-Islamic gesture of love.

There can be no disagreement that loves — the romantic kind — is one of the purest emotions that a human being can experience on this planet. After all, ours is the land of Heer Ranjha, of the fables of Sassi Pannu and also of Bulleh Shah, who advocated love for all beings irrespective of class and caste. The romantic expression can never be obscene as long as it is accompanied by sincerity and respect. Take these two aspects out, however, and one has a relationship that resembles a half-baked naan, great to look at but tough on the digestive system. Love is beautiful, Luv not so much; unfortunately, this version of instant-pyar has gripped Pakistanis like there’s no tomorrow.

Today, it is more important for a young guy to be seen with as many females as possible to up his sexual quotient amongst friends as the social value of a devoted man has considerably gone down. Along with the near-extinction of houbara bustards, family-oriented decent guys also seem to be diminishing in the country as well. All political parties must look into addressing this moral vacuum in our society but then again morality and politics do not go hand and hand, so we shall overlook that.

In the western world, a gora (caucasian) couple can live together for years, without uttering the sacred three words but, bhaiyon, I-love-you seems to be dirt cheap here despite the inflation. It is more inexpensive than onions and potatoes, hence, people love throwing it around ever so casually, pretty much like the exchange of fire between India and Pakistan occurring across the LOC every few days.

In the past, our understanding of romantic love was heavily influenced by the films of Nadeem-Shabnam while Hindi films also made their contribution. More recently, however, our youth has sought inspiration from the virtual world and all of its excesses. It is a reason to worry because lust has been replacing love, not adding to it or enhancing its value. This is why even platonic friendships between males and females have heavy undertones of flirting now. Countless married women have also complained about young lads in their surroundings busy crossing all boundaries of decencies because suddenly they have the aunty-fever, a new phenomenon to have hit our country like a cyclone.

In comparison to what goes on in the name of love today, arranged marriages and relationships of yesteryears appear to be more wholesome and goal-some than the hollow hashtags and labels of #relationshipgoals found online. As regressive as it may sound, the romantic alliances of the 50s and 60s — the generation of the parents and grandparents — where the bride and groom hardly saw each other’s faces, had more dollops of love and a lot more kilogram’s of understanding than the shaadi-circus of this century.

A married female friend of mine believes that no one is happy in Pakistan because “behen, koi aurat yahan khush nahin hai chahe married hoya unmarried ho (no female is happy here, be it married or unmarried).” The wives are forever complaining about their spouses not caring enough for them or being tortured by them over insignificant issues like having served them a cold food item while also tending to a munna attached to the hips. The single ladies also face tremendous social pressures as they have to listen to the taunts of the aunties of their world, enough to give them sleepless nights.

Pakistan is obsessed with weddings and not crazy enough about love, that is where the fault lines lie, in wanting the Mr. and Mrs. status without really having the intention of investing into each other sentimentally.

Remember that classic song from the nineties, Ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa lagga? Today men will feel very differently when they look at a girl, it’s all about her voluptuous assets rather than definitive facial features like her eyes, hair or smile. If Abrarul Haque were starting his career in the current decade he would have to modify the lyrics of his first blockbuster song and transform them into Asaan tey lena Billu da number. Acquiring more numbers to add to their contacts list gives our men immense pleasure at the end of their day.

Lust can be pleasurable but it is a momentary sweetness, an aspect that comes with an expiry date, it can never compete with true love. True love is almost like a prayer. It demands full participation, requiring complete presence through the ebbs and flow of life. Love, in its mythical and also classical untainted form, means never letting go of your partner’s hand. There is no blocking feature available in this purest form of affection.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/16-Feb-17/thank-god-valentines-day-is-over


This is America

 By Askari Raza Malik


“Welcome to America, but what are you doing in a Muslim country?” He must have been as usual amused. Colonel (r) Anil Madan is a Christian from an illustrious family of Lahore. He was visiting the US. Anil was known for his truthfulness. His Commanding Officer, Colonel Dilawar Bangesh, called him the best Muslim young officer in the unit. This was despite the fact that in those days the religion seldom featured in social discourse and talking sects was considered small-mindedness. Discussions on religion, politics and women were not allowed in the Army messes. Still, Anil kept reminding us that one of the most valued traits in a Muslim was truthfulness.

At heart, they were all better Muslims than today despite being short on rituals. A bearded cab driver was readily preferred over others. They were famous for their honesty and trustworthiness. They never preached and never talked about the virtues of saying regular prayers. In those days wearing religiosity on one’s sleeve was not in fashion. The performance of rituals in public was a rare exception. Human values were the primary concern. The bearded cab driver was an example, truthful and trustworthy. It was by no means a sinless society. It also never bragged about sin, supported or defended it.

Religiosity as commonly perceived elsewhere denotes virtuosity, humility, courtesy, love and peace. It does not mean being a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or a Sikh as Mr. Trump foxed us into believing and a notion Mrs. Clinton could not effectively dispel. All the religions were sent down with the sole purpose of reforming the society and to turn a person into a good human being. That is why a good Christian is no different from a good Muslim and vice versa.

The nurse in the doctor’s office had voted for Trump and not Hillary despite her being a woman and a well-known Women’s Rights Activist. She had not voted for her because she thought ‘Hillary was a big liar’. It was perhaps the same email scandal she had in mind. The official emails found on her private server, which could have been used for ‘private trading’. Though Trump was a reckless radical, he was still preferred over a perceived liar. The doctor like me was all for Hillary. In our view, she with her intellect, experience, balances and grooming, was a perfect mix for a presidential candidate. She lost because all who voted against her thought she had lied.

A mere allegation of lying could prove so fatal in consequence is a truth Pakistanis will take perhaps centuries to fathom. Heaps of daily lies, on every aspect of life and governance, glaring being the power shortage and dependence on foreign loans, shameless statements on the floor of the House and half-truths being fed to the courts, and it looks as if the government is taking every one of us as a sheer idiot.

Going back by the virtues of the bearded of the 60s one thought the previous Chief Judge would make an example of the kleptomaniac elite. He turned his back on the people. Panama leaks are not an issue between the government and the opposition. It is a long woeful tale of people being swindled, exploited and oppressed. The present honourable Chief Justice has promised Justice. We hope he delivers it not only for the sake of Pakistan and its people but also for his own sake for his inevitable meeting with the Maker.

Trump clamped a visa ban on seven Muslim countries. Constitutionally he is the most powerful chief executive in the world. Yet, he must have found to his grief that he is not a god. The judges have stopped Trump in his tracks. His appeal to the Federal Court also proved fruitless. The legal battle is on.

Nonetheless, there were alarming signals on the social media for the Muslims travelling back to the US from abroad. I was one of them. Slightly sceptical when I landed at Chicago airport, the immigration routine did not take a second more than the normal. In the end, the immigration officer said, “have a good day.” “Thank you,” I said and back came his thank you, much louder, warmer and much more reassuring that all the Americans were not with Trump.

Again, on social media, there was a message from a Pakistani-American from Texas. The mosque there was completely gutted. When the devotees reached the sight in the morning, the local community, all White, all non-Muslims, had already collected over six hundred thousand dollars for rebuilding the mosque. The local church and the synagogue had offered space to the Muslims for offering their prayers until the mosque was rebuilt. I felt a pang of shame in my heart for the treatment meted out to the minorities’ worship places in Pakistan.

When the system of justice takes roots, it impregnates the heart and soul of the society. Basic human instincts give way to the finer human values. Justice and fair play become a way of life. Violence remains no more an option. It is found only in the deranged and the psychopaths. Our Chief Judge has a tremendous responsibility to change the entire psyche of this nation. The foremost necessity for survival for the people of Pakistan is justice, much more than our need for electric power, gas or even democracy.

The governments will keep changing. There might come more Trumps as the presidents. The United States of America will remain the greatest as long as the people here do not give up on human values of justice and liberty.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/16-Feb-17/this-is-americ


Duty towards Refugees

By Mary Sanchez

February 16, 2017

President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order halting the resettlement of refugees in America and banning travellers from seven Islamic countries has raised concern not only among liberals, civil libertarians and jurists. It has also led a group of prominent evangelical Christian leaders to remonstrate publicly with the president who rode to office in large part on the votes of their flock.

More than 500 of the nation’s most prominent evangelical pastors, authors and other worthies signed a letter asking Trump to reconsider the order. The letter, published in the Washington Post as a full page ad, reminded the president of the Bible’s story of the Good Samaritan, in which “Jesus makes it clear that our ‘neighbor’ includes the stranger and anyone fleeing persecution and violence, regardless of their faith or country.”

The letter added that “compassion and security can co-exist,” yet while Americans quarrel about policy, innocent people die. “For the persecuted and suffering every day matters, every delay is a crushing blow to hope.”

It’s heartening, amid the wasteland of cynicism that our politics has become, to see church leaders going out on a limb, challenging not only Trump but all Christians to attend to central call of their faith – “to serve the suffering” – even though it involves sacrifice and risk.

The clergy are looking at the big picture. Many are involved in the web of agencies across the nation doing the important work of settling refugees, and they see the dimensions of the current crisis, which are being missed by many Americans: We are in the midst of the largest global migration upheaval since World War II. At least 60 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their native counties, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a nonprofit group that has been aiding refugees for more than a century.

So it’s not a great time for America, long a beacon to the world’s oppressed, to close its doors.

Resettlement work is labour and time intensive. It’s social work, largely, with case managers helping refugees move into apartments, get training and find jobs, enrolling children in school and helping people learn English. Refugees arrive in their host cities often with little more than official documents stuffed in a plastic bag.

Refugees are not immigrants in the typical sense. They don’t leave their countries simply in search of better economic prospects. Under a 1980 U.S. law, refugees must prove they have been persecuted or have reason to fear it due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or association with a particular social group. Essentially, refugees must prove they are fleeing for their lives.

Opponents of immigration offer all sorts of bogus critiques of refugee resettlement. They accuse social services agencies of using refugees to greedily get federal funding; they argue our refugee policies are Cold War relics, no longer needed, and that in any case they don’t aid the most urgent cases.

Here’s the statistic that ought to make us all pause: Fewer than 0.1 percent of the world’s displaced people – yes, those seen on the news floating precariously toward European shores and trudging for miles with their children strapped to their backs – are ever resettled through refugee networks. According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, most live marginal lives in urban areas as unrecognized residents, while many others languish for years in primitive and unsafe camps.

That sheds damning light on Trump’s refugee policy. Amid incredible human suffering, the U.S. president has deemed that we should do less, not more.

Source: .thenews.com.pk/print/186547-Duty-towards-refugees


Marking The Difference

 By Javaid Iqbal Bhat

Enclosed in their small world of opinions and arguments, many people believe — and sometimes try to argue — that Trump and Modi are of the same breed. They are same as chalk and cheese. No doubt, both have faced stiff resistance in the run-up to the elections. Once they had come to hold the top chair, this bitterness grew to a crescendo.

Remember the time when women like Nayantara Sehgal had led an intellectual crusade against Modi. Many litterateurs also returned awards against the communal posturing of Modi. In a similar manner, Trump is also rising against a wave of protests since his entrance into the White House. There are men and women who have resigned and are threatening to come out of his team, if he continues with his rants and swagger. While in India intellectuals had run the gauntlet, human rights groups and judiciary have taken it upon themselves in the US to produce a wall before the sweeping policy changes of Trump. There remain other similarities between them as well, including religious overtones. And, yes, of course, if given a hint about their similarities, Modi might try to replicate the Mexico wall, and build one of his own against Pakistan. However, his core support base might remind him that the land across the wall is also India’s. Having said that, the similarities have extended beyond reasonable limits.

The first point of difference to be noted between Modi and Trump is that of their method. Modi rode into the power corridors over horses, which were made of blood. Can anyone in his right mind claim that Modi could have become the prime minister of India had Gujarat riots not occurred? In fact, can anyone even claim that the parent organisation of Modi, BJP, could have come to power without demolishing the Babri Masjid? Only someone hopelessly insane would believe so.

Blood and BJP are intertwined. From Savarkar to S M Mookherjee, violence remains a key tool in the discourse. It was only after violent agitations and subsequent polarisation that the right wing in India had come close to sniffing distance of powerful chairs. Time and again, it has been proved that communal polarisation comes to the aid of the right-wing in India. However, that is not the case with Trump. He does not have a history of blood on his hands. He might have had his share of Trump towers and flopped Trump University but there is no Naroda Patiya in his personal history. His name does not evoke images of loot and plunder; blood and gore; men and women folding hands, pleading for mercy. At worst, we conjure images of financial frauds and groping of women, but violence and threats of violence are far from his electioneering.

Secondly, while religion alone has played a significant part in the polarisation of Modi, Trump was thrown on the political horizon of the US by doses of both race as well as religion. The “white privilege” has itself acquired a kind of a religious status in the US. To be white, regardless of ancestry, is to be more American than say a red Indian who is autochthonous, and has more right to the land than Trump himself (and his Slovakian-origin wife).

These two men belong to right-wing politics. But their politics is not the same even if they might appear to be similar. The essential motivating force behind Modi’s right-wing politics is rooted in religion. He uses Hinduism to unite one religious community against the rest. That is not true of Trump. If he was only speaking against Islam then he would not have asked Mexican Christians to stay away from the US. He would not have threatened to impose higher tariffs on Mexican products, and then use that in building a wall. He prioritises Christians, however, beneath this prioritisation is the fear of the different-looking ‘other’. That ‘other’ is generally anyone who does not have a white colour. This includes all races, which are not white. Beneath the claims of the new president is the fear of being overwhelmed by the non-white population. Racial nationalism seems to be at work here, a racial aggregation, which threatens to take out the rest; commonly known through terms like white supremacism, white power, and even white civilisation. Was it not Toni Morrison, the African-American novelist, who clarified that it is the black, which united the US, and kept them from killing each other?

One major difference between the two leaders remains in the terms of protectionism and expansionism. Trump is withdrawing his country from international agreements and treaties, seeking to consolidate the internal position of the country. He is erecting a psychological wall around the collective imagination of the countrymen. He has been brusque in stating that the mess in the Middle East is due to the Iraq War, which the US should not have waged. Thus, he is calling for an end to such misadventures.

However, in the sub-continent, Doval Doctrine still remains in place, which has and continues to spur active intervention in foreign countries. The map in the deepest recesses of Modi is not the one with Jammu and Kashmir on the top but one in which the crown lies in Afghanistan. Akhand Bharat is a state of mind, and expansionism is, thus, a congenital need rather than a temporary strategic maneuver. One critical difference is that while Modi’s opposition has become like Team B of his plans, Trump’s opposition stands firm on its ideological footing, with no effort to copy his polarising tactics in order to win back the road to power.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/16-Feb-17/marking-the-difference

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/terror-revisited--new-age-islam-s-selection,-17-february-2017/d/110102


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