Sunday, 27 November 2011

Predictions of Molana Azad on future of Pakistan

Predictions of Molana Azad on future of Pakistan

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Lord Nazir Ahmed and issue of Kashmiri nationality, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Lord Nazir Ahmed and issue of Kashmiri nationality

Dr Shabir Choudhry 26 November 2011

Lord Nazir Ahmed knows how to stay in news. There are other Kashmiri and Pakistani Members of the British Parliament, but very rarely they make headlines. Lord Nazir Ahmed, on the other hand is always in news, especially in Kashmiri and Pakistani media.

This time he is in news because of his help to a PPP ‘rebel’ Dr Zulfiqar Mirza; and Azad Kashmiri Cabinets resolution that strongly criticised his conduct, and threatened him to revoke his Kashmiri nationality.

Lord Nazir Ahmed and I belong to same region and have had friendly relations, but we don’t see eye to eye on many issues. I don’t like his politics; and he hates my political ideology and activities I conduct to promote pro peace and pro Kashmir policies. Despite our different views and different political paths we are both Kashmiris and we have one vote each. Whether it is vote in local elections in Pakistani Administered Kashmir or vote in future plebiscite to decide future status of Jammu and Kashmir, my vote will be just as good as his vote.

Both Lord Nazir Ahmed and I hold dual nationality – we are British and citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. Whereas the British citizenship can be revoked in certain cases by the British Sovereign, or by the British government on behalf of the sovereign; but the Kashmiri citizenship cannot be revoked by any government, be it Jammu and Kashmir government or Azad Kashmir government.

The Azad Kashmiri Cabinet passed a resolution stating that: ‘Lord Nazir Ahmed is “a despicable person” and the government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has the right to take legal action against him, the AJK cabinet declared in a unanimous resolution when it met in Muzaffarabad late on Thursday.’

Critics say Lord Nazir Ahmed is a Member of the British House of Lords, but it looks that Pakistani politics is closer to his heart; and he spends more time with Pakistani leaders and issues related to Pakistan than the British politics. He is a good speaker and courageously speaks on different issues; and do not hesitate to raise controversial issues. Lord Nazir Ahmed has helped former Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza in his ‘crusade’ against MQM and its Chief Altaf Hussain who lives in London and controls politics of Pakistan and Karachi from here.

This policy of Lord Nazir Ahmed is not only loathed by the MQM leaders and stalwarts; but also fiercely opposed by the Pakistani government, as they fear that activities of Dr Zulfiqar Mirza could annoy the MQM to the extent that they could once again walk out of the coalition making the unstable PPP government more vulnerable. President Asif Ali Zardari is more powerful than the Prime Minister of Pakistan even though it is a Parliamentary form of government, and Yousaf Raza Gilani is the Chief Executive, but he has no control or influence over a Member of the British Parliament, especially when he has become a ‘rebel’.

But Asif Ali Zardari had a few cards up his sleeve, and he thought he can try to discipline Lord Nazir Ahmed through his puppets in Azad Kashmir. The puppet Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir also belongs to the same area as Lord Nazir Ahmed; and also belongs to the same tribe and they know each other well. It was expected that both leaders will work closely to promote issues related to common good; but unfortunately under pressure from Zardari government Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir opened fire on Lord Nazir Ahmed, hoping to intimidate him by passing a resolution against him and by calling him a quomi mujram – national criminal, as if he has committed a serious crime or committed treachery.

The puppet Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and its Cabinet, apart from threatening Lord Nazir Ahmed to revoke his Kashmiri nationality has also declared to confiscate his property in Azad Kashmir. The Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir knows his role is to safeguard interests of Pakistan; but perhaps he forgets that he is controlled by four Pakistani lent officers appointed by Pakistan and he is not even in a position to make any major appointments or promote certain officers in Azad Kashmir.

He should read Act 74 again and see for himself that Azad Kashmir government has no control over 55 important subjects, and that includes laws concerning: Nationality, citizenship and naturalisation, migration from or into Azad Jammu and Kashmir, admission into, and immigration and expulsion from AJK including in relation there to the regulation of the movements in AJK;

Furthermore, Kashmiri citizenship was not granted to Lord Nazir Ahmed by any puppet government. He is a Kashmiri by birth, and no one can take that away from him. Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir did us a great service by defining the State Subject laws. State Subject Definition Notification dated the 20th April, 1927, states:

‘That all emigrants from the Jammu and Kashmir State to foreign territories shall be considered State Subjects and also the descendants of these emigrants born abroad for two generations. Provided that, these nationals of the Jammu and Kashmir State shall not be entitled to claim the internal rights granted to subjects of this State by the laws, unless they fulfil the conditions laid down by those laws and rules for the specific purposes mentioned therein.’

This State Subject Notification was issued by the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir; and the State of Jammu and Kashmir was one political entity at that time. According to this Notification all citizens of Jammu and Kashmir State (people of present Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu) are lawful citizens of Kashmir; and because the former State is forcibly divided, no one part of the former State can revoke that Notification, or change legal status of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, especially when they are not independent themselves and are subject to control and rule of neighbours of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lord Nazir Ahmed has very rightly said that no one can revoke his Kashmiri nationality; and that no one can stop him going to his motherland. Furthermore, no one can legally take over his property. I know Lord Nazir Ahmed is a fighter; and I am sure he will fight back and defeat these puppets of Zardari government who want to deprive him of his Kashmiri identity, and may be his property.

If these puppets can illegally revoke Kashmiri nationality of Lord Nazir Ahmed and deprive him of his property, then it will open a flood gate and corrupt officials will do same to millions of other citizens of Jammu and Kashmir living in Britain, Europe and America and confiscate their properties by revoking their Kashmiri nationality or blackmail them by giving them a threat of revoking their Kashmiri nationality.

We can all find reasons to oppose Lord Nazir Ahmed; but in this fight we must support him because it is not only his fight it is our fight, as any changes to the State Subject Notification of 1927 will have far reaching consequences for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I suggest that Lord Nazir Ahmed should pack his bags and travel to Azad Kashmir to challenge these puppets on their home ground; and I am willing to travel with him and support him. Of course I will pay for my own expenses.

Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir


Thursday, 24 November 2011

JKLF played into ISI hands - Kashmir was never a Muslim struggle

JKLF played into ISI hands - Kashmir was never a Muslim struggle

Born in Nakker Shamali in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) Dr Shabir Choudhry has been in the UK since 1966 and holds dual nationality. He regularly takes part in the UN Human Rights (Commission) and has addressed many conferences and seminars opposing violence and highlighting the Kashmir cause. He has 25 books and booklets on various aspects of the Kashmiri struggle to his credit. Throughout his life he has worked for the cause of Kashmir as a JKLF founder-member since its inception in 1977. Due to differences with top leaders of the JKLF he parted ways and formed the Kashmir National Party (KNP). He spoke with RC GANJOO on a host of issues:

Current: You were an active member of JKLF but what forced you to launch the KNP in London.

Shabir Choudhry: JKLF was formed in Birmingham, England in 1977, and I was among its founders. The JKLF believed in a united and independent Jammu and Kashmir free from both countries, and of course from China as well. The JKLF head office was shifted from Britain to Muzaffrabad when Amanullah Khan was expelled from Britain in 1987. Perhaps that was the first serious tactical mistake we made, and I take responsibility for that as I forcefully advocated this change. The late Afzal Jatalvi and I were senior office bearers at that time and we both agreed that it was in the best interest of the party because we feared action against the JKLF in Britain as a result of Rawinder Mahtre’s (Indian diplomat in Britain) kidnapping and subsequent killing.

The JKLF believed in non communal politics — religion to us was a personal matter. We strongly believed in equality for all citizens, rule of law, democracy and liberal ideals; and to us both India and Pakistan were occupiers, hence equally bad as far as imperialism and occupation was concerned. Our struggle was against both.

But when Amanullah Khan was expelled from Britain he decided to take help from one occupier (Pakistan) to fight against the other occupier (India). With that secret deal of Amanullah Khan and the ISI began a gradual shift in JKLF policy as the party was used as a vehicle to promote a proxy war. The struggle for independence or right of self determination was transformed into a ‘Jihad’ against Hindu rule or Hindus in which minorities were targeted. Cinemas, beauty parlours, tourists, religious festivals (Amarnath Yatra) were targeted. All this was against Islamic teaching, but unfortunately it happened, and the JKLF leadership unfortunately either remained quiet or became part of this communal game.

From then onwards it became a Muslim struggle and not a Kashmiri struggle and the JKLF group while still wearing a secular hat became part of this game.

Amanullah Khan also realised that he was used to advance a Pakistani interest, but he is a stubborn man who is dictatorial. He with the support of the ISI managed to keep his stature and his JKLF group functioning. Anyone who dared to challenge him was expelled from the party on charges of working for either the ISI or R&AW. The reality, however, is that he is the one who closely worked with the ISI and continues to do so. My friends and I have been fighting establishment policies on Kashmir and their stooges since 1992. We sincerely worked hard to unite the factions of the JKLF and correct the wrongs. I have no hesitation in acknowledging our failure; the JKLF senior leadership with the help of the ISI won and we lost in our attempt to unite the JKLF.

In 1995 when Yasin Malik and Amanullah Khan fell out we thought maybe Yasin Malik will be better than Amanullah Khan and supported him. But he proved to be worse. When we realised that the top leadership of JKLF had abandoned the ideology of Maqbool Butt, we decided to say good bye to the JKLF and formed Kashmir National Party to advance the cause of a united and independent Jammu and Kashmir.

Now the two factions of JKLF, one headed by Ammanullah Khan and the other by Yaseen Malik have joined hands. What could be the politics behind their merger?

Shabir Choudhry: Unity of like minded people with a common agenda is must to advance and common agenda; but that unity must be based on certain principles and there must be sincerity. In my opinion it is not unity of JKLF groups, as two individuals met and without taking any senior leaders in to confidence announced this unity.

Still people are questioning the real motives behind this unity. If it was a JKLF unity then the question is why other JKLF groups were left out. Even in the final declaration prepared by the working group of both J Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik, only urged Rauf Kashmiri to abandon his group and join them; but they completely ignored the Aftab Group and Bitta Karate or Farooq Dar Group.

What prompted you to observe 22 October as a black day in London?

Shabir Choudhry: Pakistan and pro-Pakistan political parties want people of Jammu and Kashmir to observe 27 October as a Black Day because it was on this date Indian troops landed in Kashmir. Under the influence of Pakistani propaganda and wrong history that has been taught to people, we all observed 27 October as a Black Day, and some still do. However, with time we realised that Black Day should be observed on 22 October, because it was on this date Pakistani sponsored tribesmen attacked the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir and killed, raped and looted innocent people of Kashmir, especially non Muslims.

It must be noted that Indian troops came to Kashmir on a request of the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir and after a treaty (provisional accession); but Pakistan sent in their warriors to capture Kashmir by violating a treaty (Standstill Agreement) with the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir after lapse of paramountcy became an independent ruler; it was Pakistan which unleashed an unprovoked attack on Jammu and Kashmir. The Maharaja requested help from India when he realised that his forces were unable to save his country and his subjects from this savage attack and subsequent killing, raping, kidnapping and looting. In other words, if there was no tribal attack we could still have been an independent country and what happened on 27 October is a by product of events that started on 22 October and which have changed the course of our history. So to us the root cause to our past and present problems is 22 October and we should all observe this as a Black Day.

POK and Gilgit-Baltistan are reeling under the authoritarian rule of Pakistan. How long will the people of these areas have to suffer?

Shabir Choudhry: It is true the people of POK and Gilgit Baltistan are manipulated intimidated, oppressed and deprived of their fundamental rights. It is unfortunate I don’t have any good news for the people of these regions.

However, the facts are totally different and the people on the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir have better living standards and economic development. Unless people of PoK and Gilgit Baltistan realise that they are occupied and denied of fundamental rights there can never be change on this side of the divide. Furthermore, they need to understand that our struggle is against the Pakistani side of the divide; and those who tell us to fight against Indian occupation only want to focus attention on the Valley. We are occupied by Pakistan and our struggle should be against the country that occupies us; and those who are occupy by India they can struggle over there according to their situation. However, we must not become tools in hands of agencies who want to advance their own agenda.

Do you foresee a sinister game being hatched for Pok-GB regions where China’s presence is there in guise of development activity with the permission of Pakistan?

Shabir Choudhry: I have said this many times that policy makers of Pakistan want to make China part of the Kashmir dispute and in this regard some so-called Kashmiri leaders and political activists are also working hard. Till very recently China was not a party to this dispute even though China also occupies some territory of Jammu and Kashmir – some of this territory was occupied in 1962 Sino-India war; and some territory was gifted to China by Pakistan in 1963 to link both parts.

However, as Pakistan is getting weaker and more unstable and occupied in the civil war and war on terrorism, policy makers of Islamabad feel they need extra help on the issue of Kashmir to counter Indian hegemony.

Whereas I have no problem with China helping Pakistan with different development projects in Pakistan, I have serious concern with the presence of the Chinese army and other civilian and technical staff on my territory – Gilgit Baltistan and PoK. Both Pakistan and China under cover of different projects are looting and plundering our resources, as contracts and large areas are leased out to China for exploration without any knowledge and agreement of local administration and to the detriment of our interest. Further, the presence of the Chinese army on our territory will only exacerbate the situation and attract challenges from those who also have interest in the region. What that means is that our territory could become a battle ground for competing military strategic and economic interests of very powerful countries of the world.

It must be understood that China is not part of South Asia and it will be wrong to drag China into the affairs of South Asia as it could prove disastrous for Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and the entire region.

Will Taliban ever get neutralized by Pakistan in a joint operation with Afghanistan?

Shabir Choudhry: The issue of Taliban and their politics is directly related to the mindset of the Pakistani establishment. In my opinion, those forces which promote communalism and regard these “jihadi” outfits and Taliban as strategic assets are very powerful in Pakistan and as long as they call the shots and determine foreign policy and other issues related to security and stability of Pakistan, I am afraid not much is going to change. Pakistan has to go through a transition – rather a blood bath, if ever it is going to put things right and live in peace and harmony with itself and with its neighbours.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Memogate’s Mansoor Ijaz arranged a meeting of Yasin Malik with RAW, Iftikhar Gilani

Memogate’s Mansoor Ijaz was once an NDA guest, Iftikhar Gilani

The Pakistani-American businessman played a key role in facilitating talks between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir dispute

Iftikhar Gilani

Soon after lush green meadows started reappearing from beneath the melting snow, the Indian Army and the paramilitary forces had begun relentless search operations and a crackdown in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district in the spring of 2000.

Reason—the military intelligence (MI) sleuths from across the LoC had informed that Abdul Majeed Dar, chief operational commander of the only formidable Kashmiiri militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) was missing from its headquarters in Muzaffarabad. According to intelligence inputs gathered by the MI and some other agencies, Dar was last seen travelling towards a border village to sneak into Indian territory. The air was already thick with rumours about his movements and meetings with the top brass of HM.

Little did they know that external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had a major scoop up its sleeve. In a successful operation, they had airlifted Dar to Srinagar via Karachi, Dubai and Delhi in May 2000, to enable him to announce a unilateral ceasefire. And the man, who negotiated and mediated the short-lived truce, was believed to be Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani American businessman, now at the centre of controversy, nicknamed ‘Memogate’, that is taking a toll on the civilian government of Pakistan President Asif Zardari in Islamabad.

Later, Ijaz was also involved in brokering a Kashmir solution between India and Pakistan in 2000 and 2001, as an unofficial interlocutor, it was claimed, for then United States President Bill Clinton.

Though India opposes any third party mediation on Kashmir, the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee accorded Ijaz a status that befits only high-profile emissaries and, at least, on two occasions he visited Delhi on special “out-of-passport” visa, with full secrecy of his identity and itinerary. Ijaz made half a dozen trips to India and Pakistan at that time to arbitrate the Kashmir dispute.

In an interaction with the media at a hotel in the outskirts of Delhi, he denied acting on behalf of the US government but claimed that he was drawn to the Kashmir problem because “oppressed people have no capacity to speak for themselves and stop violations that occur against them in the name of religion or politics or money.”

Ijaz, a nuclear physicist and a New York-based investment banker as also a member of the influential US Think Tank Council on Foreign Relations, had given contours of his efforts in an interview to Pakistani daily The News International on 25 December, 2001, seven months before the Agra summit between Vajpayee and President Musharraf Pervez failed, dashing the initiatives he had taken. He described the HM ceasefire as “a momentous event in the tumultuous history of the Kashmir valley,” which opened a door to search for an earnest resolution of the conflict.

Recalling his visit to Delhi, Ijaz heaped praise on Chandar D Sahay, then point-man on Kashmir in the RAW, (he later became its chief). Sahay, he believed, was the key man who made India’s hawks understand that peace in Kashmir meant giving the Kashmiris a stake—economic, moral, emotional— in the success of their choice to remain with India or become a semi-autonomous region.

“In my hotel suite in New Delhi in November 2000, I brought Sahay and a prominent Kashmiri activist, Yasin Malik, together after nearly a year of painstaking negotiations following the military coup in Pakistan,” he claimed. Maintaining that Malik had taken unprecedented risks in dealing with Sahay secretly, Ijaz claimed having persuaded even the toughest Kashmiri loyalist, Syed Geelani, to not oppose progress towards permanent peace.

Ijaz revealed that Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official, who had piloted Osama bin Laden’s aircraft in Afghanistan during the Afghan resistance, had also taken unprecedented risks in bringing him in contact with Syed Salahuddin, the chief of HM and also allowed him to hand-carry his written messages back to President Clinton at the time. Khawaja was murdered by Taliban militants in April 2010.

In his interview with The News International, Ijaz had claimed: “The process of empowering both civilian and militant Kashmiri voices remains the central objective of our efforts at present because a strong Kashmir provides Pakistan and India with face-saving exit strategies.”

Ijaz also spoke of a mid-January 2001 meeting of political and militant leaders in Islamabad to set a common agenda for talks with New Delhi and take General Musharraf into confidence about the merits and rationale for the talks. “There will also be a clear effort made to deal with the so-called mercenary problem whether or not to allow non-indigenous Pakistani-backed insurgents a seat at the peace table. Once the internal agenda is agreed upon and the various Kashmiri parties are united on a message and a delegation, Indo-Kashmiri dialogue can begin,” said he.

Ijaz also referred to ground ceasefire modalities and a possible Musharraf-Vajpayee summit and said in that interview that “the Kashmiris will be free to suggest Pakistan’s inclusion either partially or wholly in political dialogue aimed at a permanent solution. Delhi understands this as a condition for beginning talks with the Kashmiris.”

Stressing that “Pakistan is a party to the (Kashmir) dispute, Ijaz had gone on to affirm: “But General Musharraf is rapidly, flexibly and correctly adapting the Pakistani position to the reality that Islamabad’s pursuit of Jihad-based resistance in Kashmir has not worked.

As head of state rather than just head of the army, his responsibility to the larger interests of the Pakistani people go far beyond the narrow pursuit of an ideological war that is decimating an innocent population while deeply scarring the image and vitality of Pakistan as a nation.

“That is why General Musharraf is wisely preparing the people of Pakistan for a policy of maximum flexibility in its negotiating stance. By doing so, he accommodates growing Kashmiri willpower to test India’s sincerity for peace and resolution while maintaining a firm bottom line that protects Pakistan’s security interests.”

Ijaz’s ‘Mission Kashmir’ did not take toll on the Vajpayee government for allowing a mediator against India’s declared policy as he always maintained a low profile unlike an article he wrote for a British paper last month to strengthen President Zardari’s stance, which boomeranged. He narrated how he felt threatened from encroachments by Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

If he is to be believed then Zardari had sought him out, after the US Navy Seal raid to extract Osama bin Laden from Abbottabad in May, to convey its insecurity to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff and avowed “friend” of General Kayani to fend off a possible coup. Ijaz reportedly drafted and dispatched a secret “memo” portraying the Pakistani military as being part of the problem rather than the solution to America’s dilemma in Afghanistan.

Once the “memogate” became public, Ijaz tried to prove his credibility by revealing all, even though he may no longer be sought by anyone any longer as a credible and confidential interlocutor. It is because of his reveal-all mess that the Pakistan military has turned its guns on Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington. Running afoul of Musharraf in 2002 for his critical newspaper columns in Urdu and English, Haqqani had fled to the US where he wrote his seminal book on the unholy historical nexus between the mosque and military in Pakistan. Since he was appointed ambassador to Washington in 2008, the Pakistan military has since embarked upon a campaign to defame him, he reasoned.

Iftikhar Gilani is a Special Correspondent with

US state department removes India-Pakistan maps

US state department removes India-Pakistan maps


Related Stories

The US state department says it has removed what it called "inaccurate" maps of India and Pakistan from its website.

The maps failed to show the divided territory of Kashmir as a disputed region, Indian media reports say.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir and both countries claim the region in its entirety.

Most maps depict Kashmir as a disputed region provisionally split into areas under Indian and Pakistani control.

"We have taken the map [of India] off the website. It did contain some inaccuracies which were associated with the boundaries of some geographic features," state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday.

"We will put up the new map when we acquire one that we are confident is accurate," she said.

Highly sensitive

The move comes after Delhi reportedly raised objections with the US that the India map ignored India's claim on Kashmir while the corresponding map of Pakistan showed Pakistani-controlled Kashmir as part of Pakistan without acknowledging its disputed status, according to Indian media reports.

The disputed border between India and China in the Aksai Chin region in the north, however, did reportedly acknowledge an Indian claim.

"The government has consistently rejected incorrect depiction of India's borders on maps used by the US government," the Indian ministry of external affairs said.

Earlier in November, China's ambassador to India became involved in a heated exchange with an Indian journalist at a business function over a map that showed parts of India within China's border.

The map showed the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh in China and a disputed part of Kashmir as Pakistani territory.

Correspondents say the depiction of the disputed borders between India, Pakistan and China are highly sensitive and potentially incendiary issues in the region.

Extremism, Pakistan Foreign policy and international response Dr Shabir Choudhry

Extremism, Pakistan Foreign policy and international response

Dr Shabir Choudhry 22 November 2011

I know many Pakistanis will not like this, but the fact is that they are fighting a monster which their government and secret agencies worked hard to create; and sad aspect of this fight is that despite more than 35 thousand deaths and loss of billions in business and property, some sections of the Pakistani society continue to support the monster which is destroying them and threatening very foundations of the Pakistan State.

True, extremism is not confined to Pakistan, but where else would you find so much support for it among different state organs, officials and groups representing different sections of the society. Sad thing is that for many years it was perceived as a state policy to nourish those groups and individuals who promoted violence, terrorism and extremist views in name of religion; and anyone who oppose this or even question the rationale of this policy is considered as unpatriotic and subject to severe punishment.

What pains us more is that despite so much suffering and partnership in war on terrorism, one can see the continuation of that policy in different forms and shapes. And instead of taking concrete actions to put things right, policy appears to be still denials and allegations against those who point fingers at this disastrous policy, by calling them anti Pakistan and anti Islam etc.

A columnist of BBC Urdu, Aamer Ahmed Khan in his investigative report said, in last forty years twenty five extremist groups emerged in Pakistan; and most of them had some kind of official patronage. Up till 1971, extremist groups which had official support had nationalistic approach, as they were there to support a fight against India; but after defeat in a war against India in 1971 all this changed. Pakistani establishment created religious groups who would, as none state actors fight Pakistan’s wars and advance Pakistani policies, as it happened in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Afghanistan.

Religious extremism and intolerance has increased in Pakistan; and through these extremist groups have influenced societies in India, Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. These fanatics and extremists groups have become so strong that, at times, they even show their arrogance to those who created them and despite all the pressure still support them. Result of this policy is that forces which promote liberal and democratic ideals are retreating, as they don’t want to confront a trigger happy religious fanatic, who like Mumtaz Qadari, can kill anyone in hope of getting Heaven and many women of Haven as a reward.

Mumtaz Qadari killed Governor of Punjab, a man he was supposed to protect even at the cost of his life, but despite this premeditated murder which he committed by breaching his oath and by using a gun which was given to him to protect the Governor. He is hailed as a hero for killing the Governor in some sections of the Pakistani society. What surprised many was that Mumtaz Qadari was not a hero of illiterate or religious fanatics, among his ‘fans’ are lawyers who are supposed to uphold rule of law and promote equality and justice.

Arshad Mahmood, a columnist and a writer, in his article published in Viewpoint ( asserted:

‘Our state has policy always focused on “keeping the Kashmir issue alive and to see India bleeding.” As we kept playing the dirty politics to the disadvantage of the Kashmiris, Kashmir was not liberated nor will it ever be in this fashion. However, the dirty game transformed Pakistan’s security establishment into the most powerful and the most prosperous institution of the country. Pakistan kept bleeding as a result of thoughtless military adventurism against India. The economy, the society and all dreams of a progressive state died down and institutions devastated. Preparing militarily and providing equipment to religious fanatics to be used against neighbouring countries proved suicidal. During the past 30 years, our state remained an active partner in the destruction of Afghanistan, after obtaining dollars from the US. Our establishment got finances to create Taliban and is now asking for money to destroy them. Presently we are viewed as mercenaries in the whole world. Our state is still caught in the rigmarole of good and bad Taliban…..’

‘On the other hand the militants and their supporters have become so powerful that the state has surrendered before them. All sects have taken up arms against each other and all minorities are living in fear, while the state is but a silent spectator and the political leadership follows a policy of opportunism. The government is only interested in affairs of the state on a daily basis. It does not have the will and the capacity to take critical decisions, while the deep state obstructs them to function effectively.’

This policy, despite criticism and opposition from various countries continued; and situation is getting worse with international patience running out. America, which was also a partner in creating such extremist groups in fight against Communism find itself at the receiving end now; and accuse Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan. Situation in Afghanistan is getting from bad to worse for the Americans and the NATO; and they cannot see any honourable way out of this quagmire.

Americans cannot have the desired outcome without the help and support of Pakistan; however, both countries despite being partners in the war against terrorism have divergent views and interests on the final outcome of the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan is Afghanistan’s neighbour and both countries, despite love and hate relationship have to live in the same region. America is thousands of miles away from this region, but as the saying goes – America is a neighbour of every country because of its international role and ambitions to control and dominate policies of other countries.

Tension, or more precisely low intensity war between Pakistani establishment and the American security agencies is increasing; and some kind of showdown is not ruled out in near future. Apart from other serious areas of conflict, there is apparently serious dispute over role and future of Haqqani network. America wants Pakistan army to take tough action against the Haqqani network, as they did against other militant groups in Swat and some parts of FATA. The Haqqani network is among the best, and is very effective against the NATO and the Americans in Afghanistan; and they have never harmed interest of Pakistan.

Many experts believe that among others, the Haqqani network is very valuable strategic asset of the Pakistan army, which has never harmed interest of Pakistan; and that is why despite so much pressure from the Americans the Pakistan army is not prepared to take any action against them. But NATO and America are losing patience, as they continually suffer and losing lives in Afghanistan; and some believe these military actions could not have been achieved without some logistic support of Pakistani secret agencies.

The NATO, Americans and others who oppose Pakistani sponsored interference in Afghanistan and oppose Talibanisation of the society find it difficult to understand why Pakistan army cannot take any military action against Haqqani network when they are conducting military operations against their own people in Balochistan. According to the interior ministry’s Crisis Management Cell, Pakistan army has spent Rs 900 million in military operations to put an end to rising violence in Balochistan.

English ‘Daily Times’ of Pakistan in its editorial Baloch blood on our hands’ on 21 Nov 11, wrote: ‘This is astonishing considering that the money is being spent on the same forces that the Baloch people hold responsible for their miseries. A military operation is going on in the province and the ‘kill and dump’ policy being pursued by the military and its intelligence agencies is no secret. … Killing innocent Baloch whose only fault is to ask for their basic and just rights is criminal. Thousands of Baloch are missing. Tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons are found every other day in the province. Under these circumstances, pursuing a repressive policy is not just the height of injustice but also a threat to the country’s unity. The military made the same mistake in East Pakistan. Instead of learning from past mistakes, our military keeps making new and more senseless mistakes.’

Situation is getting from bad to worse in all respects – relationship with America, control of militant groups, internal stability, relationship with Afghanistan and economic stability; and some American commentators and politicians are openly advocating tough policy against Pakistan. Those who are at the helm of affairs in Pakistan need to realise seriousness of threats Pakistan is facing and take immediate actions to put things right. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA employee and Advisor to President Obama on South Asia, wrote:

‘Ironically, many of its terror groups have long – standing ties with the Pakistan army and its intelligence services, making Pakistan both patron and a victim of the Frankenstein it helped to create, which may eventually destroy it.’

Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Indian Muslims feel secure under secularism, by Farooq Suleria

Indian Muslims feel secure under secularism, by Farooq Suleria

Leaders like General Musharraf, patronized the Taliban as many did before him (Benazir Bhutto for one) without bothering to analyse the consequences it would have for secular thought and the nation

“Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought,” says Seema Mustafa. A leading Indian journalist, peace activist and public intellectual, Seema Mustafa also contributes for Viewpoint. In an interview, she discusses different aspects of secularism in the Muslim world. Read on:

Why has secularism not taken root in the Muslim world? If Islam and secularism are incompatible?

Islam and secularism are totally compatible, as is any religion practiced in its true sense. Syria, Libya and Iraq earlier did try to develop as secular states keeping religion out of politics. Last month I was in Syria and in a long conversation, the Grand Mufti in Damascus made it very clear that there was no room for religion in politics, that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood were unacceptable so long as they insisted on mixing the two, and that the secular character of the Syrian state would not be compromised.

I strongly believe that secularism has not taken root in parts of the Muslim world—I hesitate to club all countries together----because it is always easier for rulers, Dynastic or otherwise, to use religion to consolidate nations. The powerful appeal and threat that defines the use of religion in politics is used to mesmerize and subdue the populace in a manner that eventually becomes autocratic, repressive and brutal. Unfortunately even the leaders professing secularism in the Arab countries have not remained immune from autocratic rule, and have used force to suppress opinion and dissent.

In Turkey, Tunis, and Bangladesh where secularism was granted a constitutional status, we have seen the growth of Islamists of various hue. In Somalia, Afghanistan, and Yemen where left captured power, hardcore radical Islamist forces have come to dominate the polity. What explains these secularist failures?

I am not going into specifics as there are details peculiar to each of these countries you have mentioned. But speaking generally, secularism has to absorb, modify, interact, convince. And this has to be done through persuasion and not force. Unfortunately in some countries force has been used instead of persuasion and that always allows fundamentalists to gain ground.

Also, Opposition in the Muslim countries to largely secular regimes has used religion to consolidate its support base, as it is easier (as we have seen in South Asia) to mobilize on grounds of religion than on the basis of a concrete, comprehensive alternative agenda. This also suits the agenda of countries like Saudi Arabia, proxies at best for US hegemony.

Many Muslim leaders considered secular were in fact repressive dictators. Can we have secularism and tyranny simultaneously? Isn’t it the case that secularism is and should be a by-product of democratic revolutions?

Yes of course. Secularism ideally should be a by-product of democratic revolutions but then this world is far from ideal. In my view it is great to see many leaders adopt the secular mantle, despite the dissent within. Theirs has not been an easy path to follow and yet they did keep fundamentalism at bay while in power. Unfortunately unbridled power and dynastic rule creates repression, that has not been effectively challenged in the region. It must be pointed that often governments in so-called democratic and secular nations have been repressive and guilty of human rights violations. And if the US and Nato had not intervened the secular states would have found it easier, in the long term, to get rid of dictators than the repressive, religious regimes.

Secularists in Pakistan keep painting Jinnah as a secular leader mere because he did not dine, wine and dress like conservatives. Even Gen. Musharraf was ‘hailed’ in certain liberal discourses as secularist owing to his ‘liberal’ ways of life. Can somebody be a secular while practicing confessional politics like Jinnah or Musharraf who was not conservative in his social outlook but patronizing Taliban, and was a dictator?

Secularism is not about lifestyle, it is about ideology and thought. Some of the most liberal souls in South Asia have practiced the worst kind of fundamentalist politics, using their positions to sow the seeds of conservative thought. Instead of striking out with an aggressively secular agenda they find it easier to compromise with the extremists in their land, encouraging and in many cases even nurturing them. Leaders like General Musharraf, patronized the Taliban as many did before him (Benazir Bhutto for one) without bothering to analyse the consequences it would have for secular thought and the nation.

In India, Islamist forces find refuge in secularism. But in Pakistan, Islamists have issued fatwas against secularism. Similarly, large sections of diasporic Muslims living with rights guaranteed by secularist polity, want their respective countries to go Islamic. What explains this conflicting attitude?

Ignorance, and an unquestioning belief that religion can be the balm for all ills. This is because nations have not developed, and the people have been led to believe by the political class that religion can answer all the problems of non-governance. In India the Muslims are in a minority and feel secure with the secular doctrine and Constitution that gives them complete protection. In Pakistan for instance the Muslims are in an overwhelming majority and instead of using secularism to move forward, often give in to the appeal of religiosity.

What should be done to foreground the secularist ideas in the Muslim world and occlude the hegemony of anti-secularist discourses?

Difficult question as a great deal has to be done but there is no uniform solution. What holds good for Pakistan is certainly not the way to go in Yemen, or Syria or any other country for that matter. There is a certain uniqueness that has to be respected along with a general resolve that secularism is the only way for true justice and peace.

Farooq Sulehria is working with Stockholm-based Weekly Internationalen ( Before joining Internationalen, he worked for one year,2006-07 at daily The News, Rawalpindi. Also, in Pakistan, he has worked with Lahore-based dailies, The Nation, The Frontier Post and Pakistan. He has MA in Mass Communication from Punjab University, Lahore. He also contributes for Znet and various left publications in Europe and Australia.