Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Jihadi culture on rise in Pakistan

Jihadi culture on rise in Pakistan
Dr Shabir Choudhry 23 December 2009

Despite ‘war on terrorism’ and Pakistan’s war against Taliban and massive propaganda against Muslim militants ‘Jihadi culture’ is on rise not only in FATA but in various parts of Pakistan, including Punjab.

Renowned Pakistani writer and defence analyst, Dr Ayesha Siddiqa writes: ‘Madrassas nurturing armies of young Islamic militants ready to embrace martyrdom have been on the rise for years in the Punjab. In fact, South Punjab has become the hub of jihadism. Yet, somehow, there are still many people in Pakistan who refuse to acknowledge this threat.’

Religious groups promoting jihad have very organised system of recruiting and training young people to advance the cause of Islam. Poverty stricken areas with economic deprivation are fertile ground to spread extremist views. Young children are recruited from madrassas and are looked after so well that their own living style looks much inferior.

They undergo ideological indoctrination where they are told that jihad is must in life of a true Muslim; and this jihad must continue till the end of their lives or until all infidels have become Muslims. They are told that a martyred person (Shaheed) will be blessed with a place in heaven where they will get 70 hoors (extremely beautiful virgin girls); and one shaheed will be allowed to get forgiveness for 70 additional people.

This temptation is too much for poor and impoverished young boys to reject. They not only want to enjoy better status in this life – power of gun, prestige and economic stability; but also dream of heaven, hoors and bounties of heaven look so real that they abandon their existing life for a better future.

The poor and the underprivileged generally become an easy target of militant outfits, which offer money, power and better future; and country’s deteriorating economic situation would surely attract more people to militant fold. It is also possible that they will help to recruit their friends and relatives as they also want them to embrace martyrdom that they can live in heaven together.

The jihadi culture nourished during General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule. It had three clear objectives: A proxy war of America against Soviet Russia in name of Jihad, a proxy war of Saudi Arabia against Shia Community and Iran and to extend his military rule. Talented secret agency of Pakistan, ISI under watchful eyes of CIA created many jihadi outfits. Later on this jihad was also ‘exported’ to Kashmir and other countries as well. These Jihadi outfits get official patronage as long as they work within the parameters set up by the establishment.

The Jihadi outfits which are still actively recruiting and training people are: Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). According to Dr Ayesha Siddiqa between 5000 and 9000 from South Punjab are actively engaged in fighting in Aghanistan and Waziristan. However, according to a renowned Pakistani researcher, Hassan Abbas, around 2,000 militants are fighting in Waziristan.

The recent attacks in various parts of Pakistan could not have been carried out without careful planning and logistical support of Punjabi Talibans. The government and policy makers deny this fact because they don’t want to draw attention of the US and other Western powers to gravity of situation in South Punjab. Apart from that they don’t want to eliminate them altogether, as this home grown crop could be used against India at an appropriate time.

Another difficulty in crushing them is that these militants and outfits are closely associated with Pirs, religious institutions, landlords and drug mafia and the authorities do not find it easy to eradicate them. Also using army or rangers in East Pakistan, FATA, Balochistan even in Sind is one thing but it is totally different cattle of fish to use it in any part of Punjab.

Madrassas and seminaries flourished in all parts of Pakistan in 1980s and 1990s. They have also shown impressive growth in South Punjab as well. According to one report prepared in 1996 there were 883 madrassas in Bahawalpur, 361 in Dera Ghazi Khan, 325 in Multan and 149 in Sargodha district. The madrassas in Bahawalpur outnumbered all other cities, including Lahore. These madrassas belong to Deobandi sect of Islam and do not include the Ahl-e-Hadith, Barelvi and other branches of Islam.

According to estimate of Intelligence Bureau of Pakistan, there were approximately 1,383 madrassas in the Bahawalpur Division which had 84,000 students in 2008. Bahawalpur alone has more than 36,000 students. It is estimated that there are more than one million students in various madrassas in Pakistan. It is difficult to tell how many of them will pick up gun to advance cause of these militant groups, and how many of them will become suicide bombers in search of heaven and hoors.

Question is if these students who graduate from Madrassas don’t resort to violence then what future do they have? At best they will become imams of some mosques or open more madrassas in some remote areas of the country. The existence of madrassas is very important for the teaching of Islam but these madrassa should also teach other subjects that people graduating from there could find alternative jobs in the society and play their due role in the progress of society.

Historian Tahir Kamran conducted a survey in which he says there were 1320 madrassas in Punjab in 1988 and this rose to 3153 by 2000. This dramatic increase is about 140%; and worries all those who are concerned about the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan. These madrassas were expected to train and supply militants for the war theatre in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Before 9/11 there were more than 15000 militants from the Bahawalpur division alone.

The government instead of facing the challenge find it more convenient to deny the existence of these extremist groups or rise of these madrassas; and just call it propaganda of anti Pakistan forces. This is more so when matter is related to Punjb; and especially Maulana Masood Azhar who is perceived to be so influential that authorities feel unable to arrest him or detain him in real sense.

One such claim made by the authorities was that Maulana Masood Azhar was on the run and he never visited his home town in the last three years. Truth was that on 29 April 2008, Maulana Masood Azhar had a massive book launch of his new book - Fatah-ul-Jawad- Quranic Verses on Jihad, in Bahawalpur. What is more intriguing is that, JeM’s armed volunteers were in full control of the relevant parts of the city, even they controlled all entrance and exit routes of the city that day. The police or any other personnel related to the government were not visible that day.

Dr Ayesha Siddiqa further writes: ‘The LeT’s presence in South Punjab is far more obvious than others courtesy of the wall chalkings and social work by its sister outfit, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Despite the rumours of friction between the LeT and the JuD leadership, the two segments operate in unison in South Punjab. Three of the favourite areas of recruitment in South Punjab for all outfits are Cholistan in Bahawalpur, the Rekh in Dera Ghazi Khan, and the Kacha area in Rajanpur’.

This militancy, one way or the other, is supported by middle class Pakistanis and some government departments. Rich Pakistanis pay Zakat – Alms to help poor and needy. They also support religious institutions, as they provide religious teaching, shelter and food to poor. Also huge amount of funds are diverted from the Middle East and Gulf States in support of these institutions.

Furthermore the government collects huge amount of money by directly deducting Zakat from accounts of people and help these institutions by providing Zakat money to them. Apart from that, government apparatus, especially secret agencies share certain information with them; and at times provide training and weapons to them.

I regularly support one madrassa in Pakistani Administered Kashmir; and I have asked the management of that madrassa to introduce other subjects as well, including computing. I have donated them a computer and printer that students, apart from gaining Islamic knowledge are also equipped with other useful skills.

It is religious duty of all Muslims to give Zakat and Sadqa; and help the poor and needy. It is also our duty to help and support religious institutions and help them to spread message of Islam. My request to all donors is that they should urge the management committees of madrassas that they should teach students other subjects apart from the religious teaching.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.
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Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Riots after rigged elections in Gilgit Baltistan

Riots after rigged elections in Gilgit Baltistan
London, 22 December 2009

Elections were held today, 21 December 2009, in LA19, District Ghizer, to elect member for Gilgit Baltistan Assembly.

Front runner in this election was Nawaz Naji, a leader of National Balwaristan Front. It was widely believed that Nawaz Naji would win this seat with a big margin. Through out the day all the poles and reports from all 12 poling stations indicated that Nawaz Naji was leading the poles. Up till 8pm at night it was declared that Nawaz Naji was leading the poles.

Supporters of Nawaz Naji were preparing for celebrations when, to surprise of everyone, at 9pm it was declared that Peoples Party candidate Pir Saeed Karam Ali Shah has won the elections.

This news resulted in a strong protest by supporters of Nawaz Naji in various localities. The police and Rangers responded by firing at the protesters which killed on person and injured.

This further infuriated the angry people and they have started attacking official government building and public property. The situation is very tensed and supporters of Nawaz Naji fear for life of their leader and other senior political activists.

The protesters reject Pakistani style of democracy in Gilgit Baltistan and demanded new elections.

Shafqat Inquilabi, a leader of BNF while talking to Dr Shabir Choudhry on phone said, ‘All those who love democracy and believe in human rights of people must protest against this attack on fundamental rights of people, and oppose Pakistani imperialist design in Gilgit Baltisan’.

He further said, ‘He would hold a press conference in Muzaffarabad (tomorrow 23 December) to expose the rigging and Pakistani oppression in Gilgit Baltistan.

Those who want to get more information or express support, they can reach Shafqat Inquilabi on this number: 0092- 436 5100 270

Issued by Dr Shabir Choudhry
Mobile: 0044 77909 42471

Friday, 18 December 2009

Can Pakistan win this war?

Can Pakistan win this war?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 18 December 2009

Pakistan is at war, and this time the war is not with India. The wars with India proved disastrous. This war is with its own people and within its defined borders. Some call it America’s war whereas the government and the army call it ‘Pakistan’s own war’. Is it really? Pakistan is determined to win this war; and I sincerely hope they win it, as this is very important for peace and stability of Pakistan, Kashmir and the region.

As a result of this war Pakistan is under attack. One by one all highly guarded institutions have been attacked, clearly showing that those who target these attacks are few steps ahead of Pakistani secret agencies. Pakistan claims Talibans are behind these attacks.

Before we answer that question we have to establish who are the Talibans? We are told they are people who have studied in Madrassas (Muslim religious schools) and generally belong to poor families. They are not considered educated or even rational. They are labelled as illiterate, backward and narrow minded extremists.

If the above is true then where did these ‘backward’, ‘illiterate’ and ‘irrational people’ learn art of modern warfare? Where did they learn art of espionage and counter espionage? In which Madrassa did they learn to plan terrorism so meticulously and execute their plans so effectively that the top Pakistani intelligence agencies find themselves helpless?

How could backward and uneducated people living in caves and mud houses in neglected areas of North West Frontier and FATA have access to secret information about various places, especially offices of secret agencies, their movements and who is living where and doing what?

I am not condoning what they are doing, but question is why are they targeting offices and officers of secret agencies and officers of the Pakistan army? How do they know who belongs to ISI and who is a senior officer in the army; and where they live?

Are these terrorists – Talibans - ‘illiterate’ and ‘backward’ people who are calling the shots; or they are among those who were trained to export violence and jihad in other countries? Are these the people who were considered an ‘asset’ to conquer and control ‘strategic depth’; and now there was a conflict of interest between the trainers and the trainees? And these trained ‘boys’ feel that their mentor is fighting America’s war and protecting a ‘big Satan’, which is trapped in Afghanistan.

Apart from that, unlike Kashmiris, these ‘boys’ have grown up and have become fully matured men, and feel that they can decide what is good for them. Furthermore, unlike Kashmiris, they give preference to their interest and not to the interest of those who trained them and funded them. They think their ‘jihad’ has not ended yet, although interest and priorities of their mentors to some extent have changed.

People could argue, Taliban are wrong, they have started targeting mosques and public places where civilians get killed. But the counter argument put forward by supporters of the Taliban is that those 83 boys and girls who were killed in Bajour Madrassa were also innocent, and were there to learn Qur’an. They were killed when Tribal leaders agreed to respect the writ of government and lay down their arms. It was only when innocent children were killed in the Madrassa in Bajour that the wave of suicide attacks started. Similarly those girls and boys who lost their lives in Red Mosque and Jamia Hafisa were also innocent and they were killed and burnt by use of white phosphorous, an illegal chemical weapon.

In response to this one could say that the target was ‘terrorists’ inside those establishments and girls and boys died in a ‘collateral damage’ – a term used to cover up or justify killing of innocent civilians. But there are not many takers of this argument. If terrorists takeover London University and refuse to come out, should the innocent students, teachers and other staff be gunned down with use of heavy weapons and burnt to ashes with use of white phosphorous?

I won’t talk here of big targets like attacks on GHQ and various offices of secret agencies including offices of ISI, elite secret agency of Pakistan. I want to briefly analyse three attacks which happened in Rawalpindi.

A serving General of Pakistan army’s car was targeted by a 15/16 years old suicide bomber on the Maal Road Rawalpindi in which the General lost his life. How did this young uneducated teenager know that this was the General’s car? How did he know what time the General would be leaving hospital and reaching those traffic lights where the car was attacked?

In another incident dozens of innocent civilians lost their lives near a bank in Sader, in a suicide attack. Apparently this attack was on civilians, but reliable sources reveal that the target was a Major of ISI and his four colleagues who reached there in a car which was parked in a car park; and that was where the attack happened. The ISI Major was injured in the attack but his four colleagues together with dozens of other people perished. The question is how the bomber knew he was an ISI officer and he had four other ISI personnel with him?

The last attack in Rawlapindi was in a mosque on 4 December 2009. It was a deadly blow to Pakistan army and its image. This attack, like others in the past, was condemned by the government and the army. There was also a strong reaction from the people of Pakistan as well because the attack was in a mosque during a Friday congregation at a Parade Lanes mosque. Many declared that those who attack mosques are not Muslims. May be they are not.

But the counter argument is what about the attack on Red Mosque and Jamia Hafisa, and destruction of other seven mosques in Islamabad on Murree Road which happened during Musharaf’s rule? Those people who destroyed these mosques, were they Muslims or non Muslims?

And moreover, what about the attack on Holy Kabbah by Hijaj Bin Yousaf? No mosque on earth can match the sanctity of holy Kabbah. Hijaj Bin Yousaf was a Muslim. His army was Muslim too; and those he was fighting were also very good Muslims. Also what about attack on holy Kabbah by some Iranians about three decades ago? Were they Muslims or non Muslims?
I am not justifying an attack on any mosque or holy Kabbah. I, in fact, in line with Islamic teaching respect all religious shrines and places of worship. I only want to make a point that sometimes fighting forces do attack places of worship, wrong as it is, to promote a cause they believe in or to eliminate high value target; or simply to take revenge.

In Rawalpindi mosque the target was not ordinary people who went their to pray, but the prime target was Hashim Masood the only son of the corps commander of Peshawar, Lieutenant General Masood Aslam, who is commanding operations in South Waziristan. Apart from him, 17 officers of the Pakistan Army were killed; among them was a General of the Armoured Corps, Major General Bilal Omar, a Brigadier some Colonels and Majors.

I, like other people, also condemn this attack; and express full sympathy with the families of those who lost their love ones in this tragic act of terrorism. I pray Allah to grant heaven to those who lost their lives.

Mufti Waliur Rahman Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan, while accepting the responsibility for the Rawalpindi said their ‘primary targets’ were the army officers in the mosque. He did not even express any remorse on the death of civilians, because in his view they were relatives of army officers and their demise ‘did not matter’.

When F16 strikes or Drones attack, innocent people get killed. They are labelled as terrorists; even when among the death include innocent children and women. There is no one to show who the victims are; and those who kill have no interest to show the damage they have inflicted. If somehow it is known that there were no terrorists and only innocent people were killed, a few lines statement is issued to say it was sad, but it was a ‘collateral’ damage.

Can anyone cover the death of innocent people in the Rawalpindi mosque under the term of ‘collateral damage’? People should not be allowed to kill innocent civilians under the cover of ‘collateral damage’, whether the killer is using F16 or a suicide jacket.

That aside my question is how did these ‘uneducated and backward’ tribesmen knew that Lieutenant General Masood Aslam’s only son was in the mosque? How did these attackers managed to enter this highly guarded and secured zone with so many weapons?

Talibans or Pathans are good fighters, and we all know that. But it is beyond their ability to collect so much intelligence, analyse it, make sense of it, and monitor activities of their targets and plan attacks with so much precision.

What this means is that someone else is providing them the required information. It is this someone else who plan attacks with military sophistication and precision; and Taliban only provide manpower or volunteers to carry out the job.

Important question is who is this someone? Many Pakistanis claim that Blackwater (new name Xe) is behind these attacks. Others say RAW and Mossad, Indian and Israeli secret agencies are behind them. Some others claim that the American’s are providing the intelligence and the Taliban are implementing the plans.

It is possible that there is more than one agency at work to destabilise Pakistan. It suits their national interest to destabilise Pakistan. But destabilisation of Pakistan also suits many Pakistanis as well; and they have different reasons for that. Because of this aspect of the war which Pakistan is fighting, some still think it is ‘inside job’.

They claim the disgruntled elements of the establishment and security apparatus are helping the Taliban by providing important information. It must be understood that the war Pakistan is fighting is not against any tribe or geographical area of Pakistan. They are fighting fanatics belonging to a cult, which is willing to die and blow them up to promote their cause. They are also determined to kill anyone who is perceived as an ‘enemy’ or threat to their cause.

These fanatics were recruited during General Zia time and groomed during 1980s and 1990s to promote a particular brand of Islam and export that ideology to serve the cause of Islam and Pakistan. To them end justify means; however wrong that might look to others. These fanatics were appointed in various ministries and in different sections of the Pakistani establishment; and with time they earned promotions and increased their area of influence.

These fanatics did not belong to one tribe or one region of Pakistan. Thousands of them were from various towns of Punjab and Frontier Province. Because of their common ideology and common goal they had good networking and coordination among them. It is this relationship which is causing so much trouble to Pakistan and Pakistani secret agencies, as their loyalty to the cult is much stronger than their loyalty to their departments.

When Pakistan made a U Turn on its policy and joined the America’s war against terrorism these people, as a matter of policy, became part of the war on both sides. However this policy could not continue for too long. Some people were made to retire and others were posted to less significant posts; but some others decided to become inactive for some time.

Some Pakistanis are claiming that they have won this war because of some success in Swat and in South Wazirstan. In my opinion it is too early to make this claim, as the war has just begun. True, Pakistan wants a quick end to this war; but the Taliban leaders have a strategy to drag it on for many years. Moreover external factors will influence the final outcome of the war.

If Pakistan wants to win this war then they have to change their strategy. They must not only rely on use of F16 and helicopters gunship. They have to win minds and hearts of the people and that could not be won by use of brute force and making more people homeless, making more orphans and martyrs. Above all they seriously need to look for moles among their ranks. It is these people who are cause of so much death and destruction in Pakistan.
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.
To view other articles see my blog:

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Another Kashmiri abducted by Pakistani secret agency

Another Kashmiri abducted by Pakistani secret agency
London 16 December 2009

It looks that Pakistani secret agencies have decided to crush activities of Kashmiri dissidents in Azad Kashmir or more appropriately Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, area under their control since 1947.

Another young Kashmiri Kabeer Shah has been abducted from Athmaqaam three days ago, and no one knows his where about.

Four Kashmiri youths were abducted by ISI Lt Col Hamza from Muzaffarabad about four weeks ago and were only released after a massive campaign for their release in Muzaffarabad and close coordination and support of Asian Human Rights Commission and other human rights groups.

The detainees were taken to a Pakistani city of Peshawer where they were severely tortured and their families harassed and intimidated.

Neelam Valley and Athmaqaam are the worst areas for human rights abuse by Pakistani agencies and forces of occupation. These areas are not easily accessible and are divided by LOC. Also these areas are the focal point for infiltration of militants across the LOC therefore very sensitive as far as the Pakistani agencies are concerned.

In view of growing activities of the secret agencies and abduction cases Kashmiris in Muzaffarabad have set up Missing Persons Society to monitor activities of the secret agencies and to provide support and legal help to victims of abduction.

Famous political activist and a leader of NSF Mahmood Baig has been elected Chairman of this group and Afzaal Sulehria, Zonal President of Kashmir National Party has been elected Secretary General. Both of them played a lead role in the release of the four abductees last week.

While speaking to Dr Shabir Choudhry, Afzaal Sulehria said, we are really concerned about the growing abduction cases of Kashmiri political activists, and request all freedom loving people to help us to fight illegal activities of the Pakistani secret agencies.

Pakistani secret agencies, especially ISI has little regard for the Pakistani law, but as far as Pakistani Administered Kashmir is concerned they are law themselves, as they do not come under jurisdiction of the local law. Local administration even President and Prime Minister of Pakistani Administered Kashmir have no control over them. IG police of Pakistani Administered Kashmir is always a Pakistani and has no control over the activities of the secret agencies.

Issued by Dr Shabir Choudhry

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Is Pakistan a failed state?

Is Pakistan a failed state?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 12 December 2009

Many people say Pakistan is a failed state; others say no it is not. Some Jihadi groups and right wing people call Pakistan a ‘fort of Islam’; and a ‘successful’ state, as it made a valuable contribution in the collapse of one Superpower; and has virtually bankrupted the other Superpower in a ‘war on terrorism’.

They make these lofty and irrational claims despite the fact that the country has not won any war against its arch rival, and lost East Pakistan in the war of 1971; and suffered humiliating defeat with imprisonment of more than 90 thousands prisoners. The country is on a verge of economic collapse and rulers are going out with a begging bowl from one country to another; and there is a civil war going on and bombs are blowing in every city and all highly secure institutions have become targets of these bombs.

That aside the issue of a failed state is mentioned from time to time by political commentators and journalists. A failed state is the one which fails to fulfil basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. All sovereign states have legitimate right to control its territory and have monopoly of use of force within that territory. A state is perceived as a failed state if:

• It loses a physical control of some parts of its territory;
• It loses monopoly over use of legitimate physical force;
• Its writ of government is challenged by militant groups;
• It’s power to make collective decisions is gradually eroding;
• It is unable to provide basic necessities and essential public services;
• It is unable to interact and make legally binding agreements with other states.

Whether we call Pakistan a failed state or ‘dysfunctional state’, phrase coined by a famous writer Tariq Ali; some, if not all, of the above characteristics do apply to Pakistan. A failed state has a weak government which is unable to assert its authority in parts of its territory. In a failed state public services are either non existent or very ineffective and there is widespread corruption, nepotism and criminal activities. In a failed state there are internally displaced people forced out of their homes because of law and order or civil war and sharp economic decline.

According to various indicators including America’s ‘Foreign Policy’ and ‘The Fund For Peace’ Failed States list 2009, Pakistan is a failed state and is among the ten top failed states, with Somalia being at number one. The following list shows the worst 20 states in the world:

1/Somalia, 2/Zimbabwe, 3/ Sudan, 4/ Chad, 5, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 6/ Iraq, 7/ Afghanistan, 8/ Central African Republic, 9/ Guinea, 10/ Pakistan, 11, Cote d’Ivoire, 12/ Haiti, 13/ Myanmar, 14/ Kenya, 15/ Nigeria, 16/ Ethiopia, 17/ North Korea, 18/ Yemen, 19/ Bangladesh, 20/ East Timor
Indicators of state vulnerability
There are twelve indicators which demonstrate state’s vulnerability. Out of twelve indicators four are social, two economic and six political. Social indicators which put a state in a category of a failed state are:
1. Demographic pressures – high population density relative to supply of food and other life sustaining resources, ownership of land and transport; and control of religious and historical sites etc;
2. Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced peoples –forced uprooting of large communities causing food shortages, disease, lack of clean water, land competition, and turmoil that can spiral into larger humanitarian and security problems;
3. Vengeance seeking groups - recent or past injustices, atrocities committed with impunity against communal groups or specific groups, institutionalized political exclusion;
4. Chronic and sustained human flight - both the ‘brain drain’ of professionals, intellectuals and political dissidents and voluntary emigration of the middle class.
Economic indicators
1. Uneven economic development along group and tribal lines – inequality and injustice perpetrated against a group or a tribe in education, jobs, and economic status.
2. Severe economic decline – shortage of food items, high inflation, drop in foreign investment, debt payments, collapse or devaluation of the national currency and a growth of hidden economies, including the drug trade, smuggling, and capital flight.
Political indicators:
1. Criminalization or de-legitimisation of the state – in a failed state there is endemic corruption and ruling elites oppose transparency, accountability and political representation and use their positions to misappropriate funds in a systematic way;
2. Progressive deterioration of public services – gradually functions of the state become ineffective and fail to protect citizens from terrorism and violence; and fail to provide essential services, such as health, education, sanitation and public transportation etc.
3. Widespread violation of human rights: in a failed state political system is authoritarian and dictatorial, where constitutional and democratic institutions and processes are suspended or manipulated. It is common to have politically inspired violence, rising number of political prisoners, widespread abuse of legal, political and social rights, including those of individuals, groups or cultural institutions, harassment of the press, politicization of the judiciary, internal use of military for political ends, public repression of political opponents, religious or cultural persecution;
4. Security apparatus as ‘state within a state’- in a failed state some individuals and organised groups operate with impunity. State-sponsored or state-supported private or religious militias terrorize and eliminate political opponents, perceived enemies, or civilians considered to be sympathetic to the opposition. This ‘army within an army’ or ‘state within state’ protects and promotes the interests of the dominant military, religious or political elite.
5. Rise of factionalised elites - the ruling elites and state institutions have conflict of interest. They could have divisions based on religious, tribal or nationalistic or sub nationalistic lines.
6. Intervention of other states - in a failed state there is a direct or indirect military or Para-military engagement of other countries – they support one or the other group in accordance with their interest, which seriously affect internal balance of power. This intervention is more extensive by those who provide military and economic help.

If one examines situation of Pakistan impartially then one reaches the conclusion that most of the above are clearly visible in Pakistani society today. I leave it to the judgement and wisdom of the readers to decide if Pakistan is a ‘failed state’, ‘successful state’, a ‘fort of Islam’ or a state struggling for its survival. However one thing is clear that Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not dream this kind of Pakistan. Dream of his Pakistan was shattered in early 1950s, and then the country physically disintegrated in to two countries with the ruling elite having any remorse over it.

I wrote this piece because I was asked why ‘You Kashmiris want to join a country which has a begging bowl in hand and which is a failed state?’ I am not in a position to pass on a judgement if Pakistan is a ‘failed state’ or a ‘successful state’, but one thing is sure that Pakistan is not the country of our dreams. We Kashmiris don’t want to become part of this society or this country which appears to have no future; and those who express their desire to become part of Pakistan are either doing it for ‘rewards’ or have a myopic view of politics and future of Kashmiris.

But that does not mean we want to be part of India or any other country. Our dream is liberal, democratic and independent Jammu and Kashmir. I hope we get this dream in our life time; and if that does not happen then I hope that our future generations will continue the struggle until they get unification and independence. I hope our future generations will benefit from fruits of liberal and democratic society and establish a society based on Kashmiri culture of tolerance and coexistene.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

To view other articles see my blog:

Monday, 7 December 2009

Protest against ISI in Muzaffarabad

Protest against ISI in Muzaffarabad
London 7 December 2009

People of Muzaffarabad today once again protested against clandestine activities of Pakistani secret agency ISI which kidnapped four Kashmiris from the city about two weeks ago.

One of the four was released after many days of torture and inhuman treatment, but the remaining three are still kept in a secret location by the ISI. People of the city have been holding protest marches since the kidnapping of these people.

These people were taken by the ISI from a local police station where they were kept for some questioning. People of the area demand that the detainees should be released without any delay otherwise they will have no choice but to continue their protests and expose injustice of the Pakistani agencies.

These protests have been organised by Ifzal Suleria, Zonal President of KNP and Mahmood Baig, leader of NSF. A large number of women and people from the business community took part in the demonstration. The demonstration started from the Bank Road and ended at Central House of Journalists, where leaders of the campaign addressed the gathering.

While condemning this act of ISI female speakers took off their bangles that they could present them to the local government officials and local police who could not even protect life and liberty of their citizens; and Pakistani secret agency in a day light violate human rights of local people and detain them against the law.

While talking to Dr Shabir Choudhry, Ifzal Suleria said ‘While we were busy arranging protests everyday, some political parties have been taking credit for these protests and sending wrong news on internet and to other media people. He said reality is that those who claimed credit for these demonstrations were not even present in these protest marches. They didn’t even send a single person to these demonstrations, but they were quick to send news to claim credit for this.

Ifzal Suleria said, ‘Our main concern is the release of the detainees. People of Muzaffarabad know who have been making sincere efforts to get the detainees released’.

He further said, among the arrested were: Raja Shahid Qayyum, a fourth year student from Centre Plate, Faizan Butt first year student from Centre Plate, Ali Rathore from Madina Market and Shafiq Butt from Centre Plate Muzaffarabad.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘while attention of the world is focussed on war against terrorism and what happens in FATA and to some extent in Srinagar, secret agencies of Pakistan have a free hand to oppress and intimidate those Kashmiris who challenge Pakistani rule in Azad Kashmir’.

Dr Shabir Choudhry said, ‘human rights of people in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan must also be respected and non Kashmiris must not be allowed to disrupt peace and tranquillity of the area’. He said, ‘all non local people in whatever capacity they are there must be made to leave our territory that we can manage our matters without any outside interference’.

KNP leader said, ‘violence and terrorism must be opposed in all its manifestations and one must not be selective in this regard. All those who espouse terrorism must be condemned and opposed and those who try to justify it in name of religion or under any other banner, for example, strategic asset are not sincere in this matter.’

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

To view other articles see my blog: