Saturday, 21 November 2015

War is total destruction - give peace a chance, presentation made by Dr Shabir Choudhry

War is total destruction - give peace a chance, presentation made by Dr Shabir Choudhry
The title of seminar is ‘War is total destruction - give peace a chance’; and is arranged by United Kashmir Peoples National Party in Leeds, England on Sunday 15 November 2015.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam and very good afternoon.

Before I make my presentation on the topic of the seminar, I want to say a few words on the terrorist attacks in Paris. Whether you belong to Daaesh, Taliban, Al Qaaeda, Lashkar e Taiba or any other terrorist group, I, as a practising Muslim, strongly condemn what you have done in Paris. Please don’t these evil acts in my name. I am a Muslim and I promote peace, tolerance and love.

It is true wars kill people and destroy villages, towns, cities and nations. Furthermore, wars do not solve problems; they only exacerbate problems and create new problems. Also wars add to human sufferings and misery.

But it is also true that rivalry, wars, fights, competition, hate, intolerance, greed, and many other evils are part of human societies. First human being was killed as a result of hatred, competition and intolerance; one brother Cain killed the other brother - Abel. After that throughout history of human beings people have fought each other for economic, religious, cultural and personal glory; and have mercilessly killed each other.

No matter how much we despise war, we will continue to face more wars, more deaths, more human suffering, more widows, more orphans and more destruction. However, it does not mean that we should not oppose wars. To stop wars, we have to look at the causes of wars; and try to resolve those issues that lead people to wars.

There are many causes of wars. Economic and strategic gains, profits, greed for more power and influence are among the main causes. Whereas wars kill people and cause misery and suffering; wars also suit interests of some people, and they need more wars that their business can flourish. To promote wars or create a war like situations, manufacturers of arms and dealers promote extremism, religious intolerance, hatred, regionalism, xenophobia that states, regions and tribes continue to compete with each other and fright each other.

With time the strategy has changed. Now, many countries don’t engage themselves in wars, but they create proxies who do the actual fighting and promote and protect interests of the country which set up these proxies and finance them. Role of these proxies or non state actors have become very important over the past decades. These proxies claim to be working for some ideology or a noble cause; and that helps them to recruit people to advance their agenda.

You must have noticed that all those who deal in arms or manufacture arms; and those who promote extremism and religious intolerance are financially very well off, and they are protected by people with vested interests. What that means is that they have a common agenda of creating rifts to divide people and start civil wars and wars between the various states.

Mr Chairman
Title of the seminar is ‘War is total destruction - give peace a chance’, and which is rather open ended; but I am sure the organisers of the seminar want to focus on the situation in South Asia.

So let me give you an example by explaining the situation in South Asia. We all know that Pakistan is a God Father of Taliban. Mr Mushaid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist was promoted as a Federal Minister; and now he is a Senator. He is generally perceived as a ‘spokesman’ of some sections of the Pakistani establishment. At present, he serves as a Head of Pakistan’s Senate Defence Committee. In a statement on Friday 13 November 2015, he said:  ‘Afghan Taliban is not considered as an enemy, and that Afghan Taliban is not a threat to Islamabad.’

At one time all Talibans were friends and disciples of Pakistani establishment and were regarded as important strategic assets. However, later on some sections of the Taliban challenged writ of the Pakistani State, and they were castigated as bad Talibans. Now despite Pakistani war against terrorism, still some militant groups are not perceived as terrorists and they are still important assets that could be used to advance the Pakistani agenda.

This hypocrisy is the root cause in the fight against terrorism; and that is why many American terrorism experts regarded Pakistan a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

Let me give you an example how hypocrisy works in our society.  I was invited to attend an annual gathering to commemorate death of my old friend. We all recited Holy Qur’an and before we could make dua, Maulana sahib who appears on one Islamic channel and knows me well asked me a question about political situation in Pakistan. Because it was not appropriate to discuss politics on this occasion, while we were waiting for food that he can make a dua, I politely replied that there was nothing special. He said, Dr Sahib you are well informed person, tell us what will happen. Again, I politely said Maulana Sahib, situation is same as before.

He smiled and insisted, Dr Sahib I know you are well connected, so please tell us something new.  At that point I said, now listen to me, and I don’t like to be interrupted. I bluntly said both me and you are hypocrites. He did not expect this frontal and uncalled personal attack. He tried to interrupt me, I told him to remain quiet and listen to me because you asked for it.

I said there was an old Masjid with name of Babari Masjid which was burnt by extremists in India. It was sad and condemnable. However, fact remain at the time of this the Babari Masjid was closed. There were no prayers held, no reciting of Quran, no Jumma prayer, no teaching of Quran or teaching of Hadees. Still the act of Hindu extremists was totally wrong and against the Indian law.

This incident was so much propagated by Pakistani government and secret agencies of Pakistan that riots broke out in various parts of India which resulted in deaths of hundreds of people and destruction of property worth millions of pounds. There were public meetings and demonstrations in various parts of the world to condemn this evil act. You and I also joined demonstrations against this in London.

The above evil act was done by Hindu extremists; and not by India troops or the government of India. Now look at what happened in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Before the Red Masjid and Jamia Hafsa were invaded and destroyed by Pakistani troops in Islamabad, five Masajid were destroyed by Pakistan government under the rule of General Musharaf on the Muree Road. In all these Masaajid prayers were held, every day Quran and Hadees were taught, Jumma prayers were held, Eid prayers were held; and still these Masjids were destroyed on the orders of the government because they were situated on the Muree Road and they were perceived as security threat to their visiting Americans and General Musharaf who frequently travelled on the Muree Road to reach Islamabad.

You and I, and other Muslims in England remained quiet. There were no public meetings and there were no demonstrations. You know why, because we are hypocrites. The act of Babari Masjid was done by Hindus extremists and we all rose up against that; the second act was done by Muslims and we chose to remain quiet.
Maulana Sahib had no reply to this and quickly he raised his hands and started reciting Quran; and I also joined the other with the dua for the deceased.
Mr Chairman
I would like to give another example where hypocrisy of people of Jammu and Kashmir is at its best. We claim that Jammu And Kashmir State is occupied by three countries, namely Pakistan, India and China.

One Kashmiri leader said we are holding a protest against Modi. I asked him why he said India occupy Kashmir. I said Pakistan also occupies Parts of Kashmir and Pakistani Prime Minister visited England some weeks ago, you and no one else held any demonstration. Also Pakistani Army Chief who is running the show in Pakistan visited England a few weeks ago; again no one held any demonstration.

Apart from that China also occupies parts of Jammu and Kashmir and President of China visited England about four weeks ago, no one arranged any demonstration or even issued a statement against him. He interrupted me said, that is a different matter, and you know Modi has killed Muslims in India and targeting other ethnic minorities.

I said, if demonstrations should be held because a country has killed Muslims then there should be demonstrations held against many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

You may not like it, but fact is that Pakistan has killed more Muslims than any other country in the world. Since 1947 they have attacked Balochistan 5 times with jet fighters, tanks and heavy weapons, and let me tell you that Pakistani bombs also kill people and destroy buildings. They have also attacked various parts of Pakistan where the main target were Muslims.

They attacked Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947, which resulted in death of tens of thousands of innocent citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. They killed Muslims in East Pakistan, and according to some reports, 3 million people were killed; and tens of thousands of women raped.

Pakistani involvement in affairs of Afghanistan is also well known. More than 3 million people have been killed in Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have waged a war against Yemen and have killed tens of thousands of Muslims. Also they, with help of other countries, started a civil war in Syria, in which more than 3 lakh people have been killed.

I said if you only have demonstrations against Modi the message you are giving to the international community is that people of Jammu and Kashmir are not against other two occupiers, but they are against only one occupier – Hindu India. This impression is detrimental to our struggle. This also shows that once again we are playing in hands of Pakistani policy makers.

The gentleman lost his patience and said, ‘It means you are supporting Modi’. I asked him when did I say this.  He had no reply or any logical reply to any of the points I raised; but he said his approach was correct and that we should all fight against India.
The question is how to counter this mind set and decades old propaganda which has made our struggle communal in nature.

At the beginning of my speech I said we need to identify causes of conflicts and try to eradicate them. One such cause is promotion of extremism. A Pakistani writer Farheen Rizvi asserted that, ‘The concept that terrorists are only products of religious seminaries and come from mountainous areas is not always true. Pakistan's universities are the new breeding ground for terrorists...The student wing of the Jamat-e-Islami has been serving as an incubator for militancy in the country.’

Mr Chairman, to conclude, whether we accept it or not unofficial third world war began some months ago; and big players are using their proxies at this stage; and are jockeying for positions and concluding alliances. Despite that I want to assert that we have to be honest with our struggle and approach and fight back forces of extremism, violence and terrorism which lead to wars and massive human rights abuses.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.


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