Posted on 09 February 2012 by Tea Server
Posted on 08 February 2012 by Tea Server
This is a brief comment on Saroop Ijaz’s otherwise brilliant article in Express Tribune.
Good news is that Saroop Ijaz has woken up to the Ahmadi issue. Bad news is that what he finds irksome is not as much the mistreatment or discrimination but that those who choose to speak against this discrimination choose to do so in Jinnah’s name. Tragic that not everyone is as well educated as Saroop Ijaz to produce references of obscure authors at a drop of a hat.
Here it must be stated that Jinnah’s relevance to Ahmadi case is not limited to piddling subsection of his career such as his championing unpopular causes like child marriages restraint act or his efforts to legalize inter-communal marriage without renunciation of faith or his warnings against the misuse of 295-A, grandfather clause to 295-c. No Jinnah’s relevance has to do with the fact that he was last popular political leader who said that Ahmadis were Muslims and no one had the right to say otherwise. His relevance is that he resisted all demands by the Mullahs to expel Ahmadis from the League. Indeed the Majlis e Ahrar started its anti-ahmaddiya campaign partly to discredit Jinnah and as an election slogan.
This is precisely why the Munir Report dedicates an entire section to Jinnah’s Pakistan. Maybe their lordships Munir and Kayani were not as educated as Mr Ijaz.
Posted on 21 January 2012 by Tea Server
By Dr. Zaeem Zia
Pakistan in my opinion is a bundle of strange contradictions. We always beat the drums and propagate tyranny of Indian and Israeli forces for what is happening in Kashmir and Palestine and yet are criminally negligent of things which are happening on our own soil.
Gilgit-Baltistan is my home town and is strategically located in an important region and lies right in the middle of four nuclear powers, India, China, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. There used to be a time when it was a tourist heaven but now it has turned into a hell on earth. Peace and fraternity was our identity, but random killings are a routine
tradition in Gilgit now. Our ancestors were once famous for brotherhood, and now the progeny has turned into worst enemies based on sectarian issues.
The question arises, as who is responsible for all the bloodshed in Gilgit-Baltistan? What makes people of Gilgit-Baltistan to grab weapons against each other? And what is so difficult for the security agencies to get hold of miscreant trouble shooters?
Gilgit-Baltistan has 6000 police force, elite force, quick response force (QRF), Rangers, a whole Military division comprising of three brigades. Apart from these, ISI, MI, and other intelligence have their best networks in the region compared to other parts of the country. Almost 22 intelligence and law enforcement agencies work in this area and yet fail to control the situation and to track the miscreants even in the Gilgit City alone.
The major troublesome area is Gilgit City, which is no more than 5 kilometers in length and barely three kilometers in width. The total population in this small city is scarcely 150,000. Technically, it should be easy to handle the miscreants with iron hands, but practically it is not happening. The question rises, whose fault is it?
Some quarters have publically announced on record and threatened that unless the present PPP Government is forced to leave and the present Chief Minister and the Governor are removed, peace cannot prevail in the whole region.
Consequently the region is under constant terror and people are being assassinated on the streets and at times right next to the security bunkers. For example Syed Zia Ud Din Rizvi (most influential religious scholar), Dr. Sher Wali (a professional doctor) , Saif Ur Rehman Khan (a political leader), Asad Zaidi, (Deputy Speaker of GB Assembly), and Ramzan Danish (a renowned businessman, and a political leader ) have been assassinated. Once again a simple question can be asked: Why can’t it be controlled by our security agencies?
Streets are haunted from the fear of assassination; economy is almost zero; tourism, due to the violence, is record low, educational institutions barely work, offices are shut and hospitals, post offices and other departments are divided on sectarian basis and to top it off there are no go areas.
There is such uncertainty that anyone can get assassinated anytime, anywhere- There have been more than 600 killings over 5 years. Who will be responsible for their children? They are now orphans for the rest of their lives? Who will compensate for their miseries in the rest of their lives? Almost every other home bears a widow, helpless and without support and lack of justice? The favorite prey of the terrorists are either the most learned, influential or prominent political figures.
It is the need of the time to focus on the strategies to tackle the highly volatile situation in Gilgit- or else the situation will get worse and uncontrollable. Writ of law should prevail, more rigorous legislation on security issues should be done, and instead of making “aman Jirgas” the miscreants should be dealt with an iron hand and made an example in front of others. Rather than raising fingers at our nascent legislative structure, we should help them flourish. And I urge youngsters to take part in the peace process and intra-faith harmony.
Gilgit-Baltistan Zindabad, Pakistan Payindabad
Posted on 01 January 2012 by Tea Server
Dear Mr. Khan,
I write to you as your supporter and well-wisher. You have provided us with hope after a very long time and having desperately clutched at it, I am unwilling to to let you be squandered, like Bhutto and his daughter before you. Hence I address to you this letter.
Khan sb! Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are pygmies atop big political parties. They are incompetent, corrupt and self serving. Yet as I look at the state of our nation, I do not feel threatened by them. Democratic process was going to deal with them and your growing popularity and almost certain victory in the next elections shows that one cannot fool all the people all the time. As a Pakistani who believes in Jinnah’s Pakistan I feel threatened rather by a certain line of thinking – a line of thinking that still believes that the military has a role to play in Pakistani politics, that ISI and GHQ should hold a veto against corrupt politicians, and that some how the Pakistan Army is defender of some arbitrary ideological frontier of the country. Sadly many of our fellow travellers in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also subscribe to this view. The truth is that so long as this mindset prevails, no political leader no matter how well intentioned or honest will be able to dent the systemic failure which affects the democratic process in this country. I fear that you will be marginalised by these people in the PTI and ultimately you will fall and after you there shall be the flood or Tsunami of a kind that you do not envisage.
The second thing I feel particularly pinched about is the existence of an insulated inward-looking isolationalist Islamic nationalism within the PTI ranks. If you wish to build an egalitarian, modern and prosperous welfare state, then this particular sentiment will be an insurmountable roadblock in your way. Forget the great debate about Islamic v. Secular. The real question is do you want a Pakistan that is a theocratic and closed insulated society or do you want a Pakistan that in some way resembles the social welfare model that Scandinivian countries have successfully implemented. In other words do you want the Pakistan favoured by the religious right where everyone other than a Hanafi Sunni Muslim is a Kafir and a second class citizen or do you want the Pakistan once – perhaps naively- imagined by Jinnah as a state which would treat all citizens of the state equally without consideration of personal belief and where faith would be personal matter and not a matter of public inquiry and inquisition. This is not about the small “liberal” class or the large Pakistani class. This is not about wanting Shariah or not wanting Shariah- this is much more fundamental. This is about Insaf itself.
In this regard perhaps you should look towards Teyyip Reccip Erdogan. No one can question the fact that he is one of the finest leaders in the Muslim World today. You yourself have praised him and put him up as a model. He comes from a populist Islamist base. Yet he is firmly a secularist. His prescription for Egypt recently – blasted by Muslim Brotherhood and the like- is a secular democratic constitution that is impartial towards the considerations of faith. To Erdogan, Turkish secularism is perfectly compatible with Islam and Shariah. Erdogan does not pit secularism against Islam. Erdogan believes in religious freedom and equality for all citizens of Turkey. This is keeping with the finest traditions of Islam from its earliest period where Islam preserved religious pluralism of the areas Islam conquered. You should, skipper, follow the example set by Erdogan for that is the only way forward for our time. It may also appeal to you know that Allama Iqbal was not particularly opposed to this idea either. In his lecture on the principle of movement in Islam Allama Iqbal writes:
“They therefore reject old ideas about the function of State and Religion, and accentuate the separation of State and Religion. Now the structure of Islam as a religio-political system, no doubt, does permit such a view.”
It is time for you, Khan sb, to pick up from where Iqbal ended. Iqbal gave hope to a Muslim minority in the great subcontinent. Had he lived beyond the creation of Pakistan, he no doubt would have endorsed the idea of a inclusive and pluralistic Pakistani polity that Jinnah articulated. In addition to Iqbal therefore it is time you also paid some attention to Faiz and Jalib, who incidentally was the first one to describe you as Pakistan’s great hope in his poem dedicated to you. Faiz- a devout follower of Iqbal- was the next stage in our national evolution. You must embody this evolution of a Pakistan that is in tune with humanity and universalism. That is what Iqbal would have wanted.
The task before you is great. The forces of reaction and radicalism that are in your ranks have to be dealt with. You cannot speak of a progressive Pakistan and also send a note to Jamaat-ud-Dawa rally in Lahore. You cannot on the one hand rightly condemn Mumtaz Qadri and then have Ejaz Chaudhry represent you at the free Qadri rally. Imran Khan sb please choose, so that we may also not be under illusions about anything. Enough with the ambiguity and doublespeak, it certainly does not fit in with your personality and character. Remember these fascists and reactionaries that you seek to appease will tomorrow target you – as they targetted Jinnah, Zafrulla, Bhutto and Abdus Salam in the past. Don’t forget that a section of these fascists beat you up at the PU campus four years ago. So it is time you decide whether you are going to continue to appease them or are you going to make an effort towards making PTI a truly inclusive and democratic Pakistani political party committed to a plural and progressive Pakistan.
Yasser Latif Hamdani
A supporter and a well-wisher.
Posted on 28 December 2011 by Tea Server
This past Sunday was Christmas Day, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif‘s birthday, and the 135th birth anniversary of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan.
This past Sunday was also Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (“Movement for Justice”)’s much-anticipated political rally in Karachi. For those of us not physically at the Minar-e-Quaid (Jinnah’s Mausoleum), the PTI jalsa was cause to gather at friends’ houses, tweet feverishly, and offer sideline commentary to no one in particular. Or maybe that was just me.
By this time, you have undoubtedly read a flurry of news coverage on said jalsa. But for those who haven’t, here is the rundown. PTI leader Imran Khan – the oft-labeled “cricketer-turned-politician” – has gained much political traction and popularity in the last year, after launching his political party officially in 1996. Fahad Desmukh, in his radio piece for PRI’s The World, noted,
The PTI attracted mostly urban educated professionals, but failed to get a mainstream following. In fact, in the 2002 parliamentary elections, Imran Khan was the only candidate from his party to win a seat…But now Khan has managed to mobilize enough young urban professionals to become a rising political force. In the past, this demographic shunned politics as a dishonorable activity. But young people are coming out now out of frustration with the current leadership.
Last month, PTI’s jalsa in Lahore garnered between 100,000 to 200,000 supporters – one of the largest political rallies in the country. This past Sunday, thousands of people came out on the streets of Karachi. Although PTI estimated the number at 500,000, news agencies report that the number in attendance was closer to 100,000, still making it one of the largest rallies in Karachi in recent years. Mutahir Ahmed, a professor at the University of Karachi, told Dawn, “He is riding a wave of popular politics right now. There is a lot of frustration among ordinary people, as well as political workers right now, which he is cashing on.”
In an article for the Express Tribune entitled, “Imran Khan Wins Hearts & Minds at Karachi Rally,” Shaheryar Mirza and Saad Hasan interviewed one rally attendee, who said, “I don’t know why but Imran Khan gives me hope. I want change, security and a better future for my children.”
Ah, the psychological underpinnings of hope and change. We saw it work with the Obama 2008 presidential campaign, and leveraged again by Afghanistan’s Abdullah Abdullah during his recent presidential run. It’s the promise of something different. And though it may just be semantics, words like hope and change induce positive associations with absolute ideals of happiness, progress, and prosperity. For a fatigued and frustrated Pakistani populace, that is a fuzzy but welcome option.
I don’t claim to be an expert on our political system (I actually don’t claim to be an expert on anything), but I have been fascinated with the perceived rise of PTI & Imran Khan in recent months. Here are a few observations both on the lead-up to the December 25th jalsa, the rally itself, and subsequent reactions post-rally.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been impressed with the perceived meteoric rise of Imran & his party. His speech, especially in comparison with the other speeches at the jalsa, was powerful & hit all the right notes – from wishing Pakistani Christians a Merry Christmas to addressing the Balochistan issue. And though the PTI Manifesto can and should be a better representation of how PTI aims to do much of what they promise (including, ahem, ending corruption in 90 days! Eee!), I do think Imran has steadily moved away from the days where he stood against everything and for nothing. Does that mean I still have my reservations? Hell yes. Does he really have the establishment on his side and what ramifications will that hold? What does an Islamic Welfare State mean in reality? What does all of this mean in reality?
Every political leader in our country has set out to prove that they can undertake the ideals laid out in Jinnah’s vision. Every leader makes vague promises, tugs on our heart strings that this time, dear citizens, they will be different. The difference with Imran is that he is an option we have not tried before.
Does that merit my vote? I’m still undecided, but at least his campaign has spurred me to vote. You should too.
Other blog posts/related pieces you should read:
A Reluctant Mind – Pedaling Obscurantism (esp. on the female dress issue)
Obama Says Do More – The PTI Rally in Karachi or Democracy is Alive & Well in Pakistan But Not Really
Dawn – Cowasjee’s Open Letter to Imran Khan (from 1996)
Filed under: Op-Eds
Posted on 27 December 2011 by Tea Server
Benazir Bhutto , the clear foreign policy leader.
Benazir Bhutto was a political leader of Pakistan whose charm and charisma swept the people’s vote towards Pakistan Peoples Party in elections all over the country. From Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s dynamic, populist political legacy to Benazir Bhutto’s determined thrust towards democratic people’s rule we see how this young, Oxford educated leader
Posted on 21 December 2011 by Tea Server
This is the first in a 3-part year in review series on war crimes around the world in 2011.
Ratko Mladic – Europe’s Most Wanted War Criminal
In early April Bosiljka Mladic, Ratko Mladic’s wife told the media that her husband was dead. Less than two months later he was arrested in Lazarevo in northern Serbia, ending a 16 year manhunt bringing Europe’s most wanted war criminal to trial. Mladic was the military commander responsible for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995 where 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed, and oversaw the years long siege of Sarajevo in which 10,000 civilians were killed. Mladic is currently on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague. The number of charges against Mladic was reduced from 196 to 106 this month in order to expedite justice in light of Mladic’s deteriorating physical condition.
Goran Hadzic – The Last Of The Big Three Falls
Goran Hadzic was also captured in northern Serbia this summer where he was rumored to have had sanctuary in an Orthodox monastery. Hadzic was president of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Krajina, located in Croatia mostly along the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 1992-93. He was a political leader of the Serbian rebellion in Croatia beginning in 1991 that lead to the creation of Krajina. Hadzic was indicted by the ICTY for 14 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Hadzic is allegedly responsible for ethnic pogroms in Zagreb and the notorious Ovcara massacre where 250 hospital patients were rounded up from a hospital in Vukovar and mass executed at a local pig farm. Hadzic was the last of the three war criminals (along with Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic) that the E.U. demanded be brought to justice before considering Serbian assention to the Union.
Radovan Karadzic – Building A Case Against Himself
Radovan Karadzic’s trial continued this year as the Bosnian Serb president got the chance to directly address witnesses against him. Karadzic, the political mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre, seemed to implicate bizarre alternative hypotheses concerning events he is being held responsible for – that at the Keraterm concentration camp instead of the hundreds reported to have been massacred, it was only one mentally deranged person that was killed presumably in self-defence; and that the emaciated Fikret Alic pictured in the iconic photograph from Keraterm was just a very skinny man. Karadzic’s former Chief of Crisis Staff, Milan Tupajic was arrested this month and charged with contempt of court for refusing to testify against his former boss.
Fatmir Limaj – A Second Chance For Justice
Kosovar MP Fatmir Limaj was arrested following charges by the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo that he was responsible for torture and execution of civilians in the Kleçkë detention camp, and took part in a human organs trafficking ring. He was initially released invoking immunity granted to Kosovar MPs, but a ruling by the Constitutional Court in Kosovo held that the immunity did not extend to acts taken outside of the scope of their official responsibilities and was subsequently placed under house arrest. A previously unnamed key witness against him, Agim Zogaj, was found dead in protective custody in Germany a week after the Constitutional Court’s decision. Zogaj’s death was ruled a suicide. Limaj was acquitted of war crimes charges in 1995 at the ICTY in The Hague.
Elderly Nazis – It’s Never Too Late To End Impunity
Former Nazis John Demjanjuk and Heinrich Boere were convicted in Germany for Holocaust related crimes. Demjanjuk served as a prison guard at Sorbibor the Polish concentration camp where 29,000 people were murdered. Heinrich Boere was a part of an assassination squad that murdered Dutch resistance figures.
Venezuelan Terrorist Praises Gadhafi At Sentencing Hearing
Carlos ‘The Jackal’ Sanchez was sentenced to a second life sentence in France for bombings there in the early eighties which killed 11. Sanchez has been serving a previous life sentence since 1997, and claims to be responsible for the deaths of 2,000 people in various terrorist attacks throughout the world. Sanchez offered praise of deceased Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at his sentencing. Gadhafi sponsored much of Sanchez’s terrorist efforts.
Former U.S. President Under Increasing International Pressure
Former U.S. President George W. Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland amidst threats of legal action possibly being taken against him for violating the Geneva Conventions by condoning the use of torture by the U.S. military in its ‘War on Terror’. He and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were convicted in abenstia for the war crime of aggression at the symbolic Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia in November for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The tribunal has no enforcement power and the U.S. has not ratified the Rome Statute defining the crime of aggression as a war crime. The Rome Statute went into effect in 2002, and the U.K. ratified the Statute in 2001.
Zelaya Ouster ‘A Coup’ – H.T.R.C.
The Honduras Truth and Reconciliation Commission ruled that the 2009 ousting of president Manuel Zelaya was an illegal coup. The Commission was established under the auspices of the Organization of American States. Mr. Zelaya returned in May to Honduras from exile in Costa Rica. He is expected to run for president again in 2013.
Next up: War Crimes Year in Review – Asia & Oceania