Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Implications of blocking ID card, Dr Shabir Choudhry
1. Because of what I do to promote cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir and expose wrong doers, Pakistan has blocked my ID card with instructions that this person should not be allowed to come back to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.
2. In order to create problems in my family and increase family pressure on me, they have also blocked ID card of my daughter who is married and lives with her husband and children separate from me; and who has no role at all in politics.
3. Many citizens of Jammu and Kashmir take this matter very lightly, perhaps they do not understand implications of this Pakistani move. Pakistani establishment wanted to send this message to the nationalists of Jammu and Kashmir that they can also become target of their wrath.
4. As a direct result of their action, the following fundamental rights are violated:
· My right to travel and visit my home in Azad Kashmir;
· My right to meet my relatives and friends;
· My right to visit grave of my beloved father. It must be noted that I was unable to travel with dead body of my father due to this matter.
· My right to bank – my accounts are frozen;
· My right to buy property;
· My right to sell property;
· My right to inherit;
· My right to even stay at a hotel, or hire a car etc, because without a valid ID card one is not allowed to function as a normal citizen;
· My right of movement as I can be stopped anytime and anywhere and asked to produce a valid ID card.
5. Many political activists of Jammu and Kashmir have decided to remain quiet on this matter; maybe, to them, it is not important. Soon they or their friends can also face similar problems.
6. Good thing is, despite many hearings in High Court, to date; no evidence is presented against me.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Pakistan - The rise of religious extremism
ßDecember 11, 2017I By Claude Rakisits
The recent and successful ‘sit-in’ by religious extremists in Islamabad and the release of the founder of the LeT will strengthen both the hand of Islamists as well as the advantaged position of the military vis-à-vis civilians. This is not good news for the future stability of Pakistan. It will also complicate its bilateral relationships with both the US and India.
Two critical events in late November — the end of a long ‘sit-in’ in Islamabad by some 2500 followers of an Islamist political party and the release of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), from house arrest — may well turn out to be the inflection point when Pakistan’s political trajectory takes a radical turn and religious extremism deepens. This would not be good for Pakistan’s future stability. Let us briefly examine these two events as well as their potential long-term significance for Pakistan’s domestic scene.
The Islamabad ‘sit-in’
On 27 November 2017 a three-week-long ‘sit-in’ by the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLY), a relatively new Islamist political party led by Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi, at a major intersection in the capital eventually ended peacefully. Still, six protesters and a policeman were killed and 200 injured during a clash a few days earlier as the police tried to disperse the protesters.
But the final agreement came at a great political cost to the newly-installed Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The ‘sit-in’ was a protest for what appeared to be a softening of the government’s stance on the country’s blasphemy laws meant to appease religious minorities such as the Ahmadis. The protestors demanded the resignation of the law minister, Zahid Hamid. Under intense pressure to resolve this protest, which had spread to other cities, notably Lahore and Karachi, the government not only fired the law minister but also freed and dropped all charges against the protesters. This capitulation became inevitable when the army refused to use force to remove the protesters. As a matter of fact the final agreement was brokered by the army’s intelligence service (ISI) during talks which did not include civilian government officials. Needless to say, Rizvi and his thousands of followers were pleased and only had praise for the army and its head, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Hafiz Saeed’s release
Turning to the second event under discussion, a court in Lahore released Hafiz Muhammad Saeed on 24 November from a three-month house arrest on the grounds that the government had not provided sufficient evidence for extending his detention. The government had argued that Saeed remained a threat to public safety and that his release would attract financial sanctions against the country and lead to a halt in foreign funding due to Pakistan’s failure to move against terrorism financing. Saeed is the leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a proscribed charity organisation generally considered to constitute but a front for the LeT, a US- and UN-designated terrorist organisation.
India has accused Saeed of being the mastermind behind the Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people in November 2008. Not surprisingly, the Indian government was “outraged” by the court’s decision. The Indian foreign ministry stated that Saeed’s release was an attempt by ‘the Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorists’. Notwithstanding these Indian outcries, privately Delhi probably was not too surprised. Saeed had been arrested several times on criminal and terrorism charges since the 2008 Mumbai attack, but each time his house arrest had been lifted. The Indian government has repeatedly made clear that any improvement in the bilateral relationship would require Pakistan to hand Saeed over for trial in India.
The Trump Administration was also not pleased at all with Saeed’s release. The US State Department posted a $10 million bounty on his head in 2012. The White House “strongly condemned” his release and urged Saeed’s “immediate re-arrest and prosecution”. Significantly, it stated that if Pakistan did not detain and charge Saeed, this would have “repercussions for bilateral relations”.
The government’s complete surrender to Rizvi’s political blackmail and concession on all his demands will most likely tempt other religious groups to stage ‘sit-ins’ in order to advance their extremist agenda. In other words, the successful tactics of the TYL have boosted the power of extremist groups in Pakistan. Yet even more worrisome for Prime Minister Abbasi and his governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), is that the existence of the TYL is evidence of rising Barelvi militancy. And this is bad news for the prime minister and his party whose base of support are Barelvi voters.
For a stark proof of the rapid rise of militant Islamic parties one only needs to look at the September by-election results for NA-120, the Lahore-based federal seat which former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to vacate after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court of sitting in Parliament. Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, the wife of Nawaz Sharif who ran for her husband’s seat, managed to keep the seat. However, and not surprisingly, the party’s 2013 overwhelming majority of over 40,000 votes was reduced to 14,000 thanks to a credible showing by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). Much more troubling still were the results of the two new Islamic parties. The TLY candidate came third, with almost six percent of the votes; the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front for the JUD, came fourth with almost five percent. While these figures are low, they do 1 indicate a significant rise in the popularity of these parties. One needs to bear in mind that neither the TLY nor the MML competed in the 2013 election. Moreover, the MML was only created a month before the election. Compare these results to those of the traditional, long-established Islamic parties, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, which could never muster any electoral support. Significantly, now that Saeed has been released he will be legally allowed to run as a MML candidate, undoubtedly strengthening the party’s political hand. So while the PML-N is not likely to lose the next federal election, which has to be held in the second half of 2018, the competition will be fierce and could throw up some real surprises.
More power to the military
In addition to the TLY and potentially other Islamic groups, the army is the other big winner of these two events. The army’s crucial role in brokering a peaceful end to the ‘sit-in’ and its refusal to use force against the protestors as requested by the government reaffirmed the army’s pivotal role in Pakistani politics. This civilian government is now beholden to the army for having resolved this issue peacefully. As to the release of Saeed, given that the army has long been considered the midwife in the establishment of the LeT, the end of his house arrest would have been very well received among the military establishment. Former military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf even stated that he was the “biggest supporter” of the LeT, confirming that the Pakistani army still values the LeT’s contribution to the country’s on-going confrontation with India. Of course the army’s position was already very strong before these events, having had, among other things, parliament pass bills in 2015 and 2017 amending the constitution in order to establish military courts allowing the army to try civilians charged of terrorist acts. Yet the army’s hand vis-à-vis the civilians is now even stronger. It is important to remember that all these developments need to be seen in the present political context, which includes some 50,000 civilians killed since about 2007 as a result of terrorist acts and on-going counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency military operations, principally in the tribal areas.
So what does it mean for the future of Pakistan?
The likely fallout of these two events — the ‘sit-in’ and the release of Hafiz Saeed — is bad news for Pakistan’s long-term stability for two reasons: it strengthens the position of both religious extremists in general and the military establishment vis-à-vis civilians. But this should come as no surprise to anyone given the military’s tacit, if not direct, support first for some Islamic parties soon after Partition and later for Jihadist groups, whether India- or Afghanistan-focussed. It was in the 1980s under Gen Zia-ul-haq that this collaboration really took off. Inevitably, it would only be a matter of time before the effects of this support would spill over into the wider society and radicalize large swaths of the population, especially amongst the youth. This steady process of radicalization has been reinforced with the rapid growth of madrassas (religious schools), the bulk of them financed by Saudi Arabia. This normalization of religious extremism combined with Pakistan’s myriad of socio-economic problems, such as lack of funding for public schools, health care, public transport and housing, and insufficient energy, is a toxic mix for the future stability of Pakistan. Moreover, the continued radicalization of society will further complicate Pakistan’s relations with the US and India. This is not good news for a region which is already very fragile and whose future is uncertain.
— Claude Rakisits is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is also Director at PoliTact, a Washington-based advisory firm which focuses on South Asian and Middle Eastern issues.
Courtesy — SADF