One step forward in Pakistan, but more is needed

February 18, 2017
Nasir Khan, February 18, 2017
The passing of the Hindu marriage bill was an important step in Pakistan, which is a mutti-religious country.
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If common sense prevails in the ruling strata of Pakistan, they should take the next bold step and make Pakistan a Secular Democratic country, where there is no state religion, but all offices of the state are open to all irrespective of the religious identities of the citizens of Pakistan. It means a believer of any faith – Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Bahai, Ahmadi, etc. — can become the president and prime minister of Pakistan.
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To start with, I would love to see a Hindu, a Sikh or a Christian being elected to the highest offices of the country. That can only happen when Pakistan becomes a secular democratic country where religion of its citizens is a private matter for the people and has nothing to do with the running of the democratic system of governement.
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At the same time, I am deeply conscious of the poltical reality that the vicious effects of Islamist anti-humanism, morbid fanaticism and anti-social garbage preached through toxic clerics make the prospects of the rise of secular democracy in Pakistan a distant dream. But we have to speak up and say what is in the interest of all.
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Pakistan Senate passes landmark Hindu marriage bill

The much-awaited landmark bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan is set to become a law with the Senate unanimously passing it.

The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017, which is the first elaborate Hindu community’s personal law, was adopted by the Senate on Friday.

The bill had already been approved by the lower house or the National Assembly on September 26, 2015, and it now just needs signature of the President, a mere formality, to become a law.

Dawn News reported that the bill is widely acceptable to Hindus living in Pakistan because it relates to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, with the minimum age of marriage set at 18 years for both boys and girls.

The bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.

It will be the first personal law for Pakistani Hindus, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The Sindh province has already formulated its own Hindu Marriage Law.

The bill presented in the Senate by Law Minister Zahid Hamid faced no opposition or objection. It was mainly due to the sympathetic views expressed by the lawmakers of all political parties in the relevant standing committees.

The bill was approved by the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on January 2 with an overwhelming majority.

However, Senator Mufti Abdul Sattar of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl had opposed the bill, claiming that the Constitution was vast enough to cater to such needs.

While approving the bill, committee chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had announced, “This was unfair —— not only against the principles of Islam but also a human rights violation —— that we have not been able to formulate a personal family law for the Hindus of Pakistan.”

Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a leading Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League—Nawaz, had been working relentlessly for three years to have a Hindu marriage law in the country.

“Such laws will help discourage forced conversions and streamline the Hindu community after the marriage of individuals,” he said, expressing gratitude to the parliamentarians.

Mr. Vankwani also said it was difficult for married Hindu women to prove that they were married, which was one of the key tools for miscreants involved in forced conversion.

Frederick Engels about his role in Marxist theory

February 9, 2017

Nasir Khan, February 9, 2017

The names of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels are inseparably linked for laying the foundations of Scientific Socialism in contrast to the previous versions known as utopian socialism. As long they lived, their intellectual partnership was in the service of a common cause but deeply rooted in rigorous scientific work in social sciences including history, economics and the socialist movement.

After the death of Marx in 1883, Engels had the ardous task of sorting out the unfinished notes and scripts that eventually he published as the rest of the volumes of Das Kapital. He wrote a number of books on history and philosophy which hold a pre-eminent position within Marxism.

But how did he see his contribution to the new theories the two friends had developed? Any normal human being who works all his life and produces so much worthwhile scientific works will take pride in his/her accomplishments and will not allow anyone or anything to take away the credit he/she deserves. It is just being human to think so.

But the co-founder of Marxism was a great human being in another respect also. He refused to take any credit for his contributions and instead accredited Marx with developing the fundamental theories that are called Marxism. In fact, I can’t find another example of a dedicated thinker and writer anywhere in world history who showed so much modesty as Engels did about his role.

While reading once again Engels’s Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (first published in German in 1886), the following marginal note he wrote profoundly stirred me. Such was the friend of Karl Marx!

“Lately repeated reference has been made to my share in this theory, and so I can hardly avoid saying a few words here to settle this point. I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years’ collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, and more particularly in its elaboration. But the greater part of its leading basic principles, especially in the realm of economics and history, and, above all, their final trenchant formulation, belong to Marx. What I contributed—at any rate with the exception of my work in a few special fields—Marx could very well have done without me. What Marx accomplished I would not have achieved. Marx stood higher, saw further, and took a wider and quicker view than all the rest of us. Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name. (Note by Engels, in Chapter IV)

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Palestinians, Zionists, Jews and Israel

January 24, 2017

Nasir Khan, January 24, 2017

My new facebook friend Phil Clarke said to me in one of his comments, “You seem to think that all Jews and all Israelis are Zionists – that is not an accurate picture.” I will take only this point and add the following few lines:

I do not think that all Jews and Israelis are Zionists. In fact, no person can think so who has any knowledge of the historical background to Israel’s establishment in 1948 and the consequences of this event for the people of Palestine. However, under the incessant barrage of the Zionist propaganda many Jews in Israel become Zionists and believers in their supranational status as the exclusive children of their god, and who have an exclusive right to the whole of Palestine. The captive population of Palestine has no significance in their calculations. Under an apartheid, racist system that exists in Israel as a matter of state policies, they will gradually disappear from the political scene.

The number of Israeli Jews who are still not Zionists or upholders of Zionist outlook is fast shrinking and more and more extreme right-wing militants and fanatic, terrorist settlers are spreading throughout Israel and in the occupied territories.

But there are also Jews who have rejected Zionist plans for an exclusive Jewish state, which in practical terms will be a Zionist state based on the Jewish religious law, more of a prehistoric theocratic state, not a democratic one. The extreme right-wing Zionist rulers of Israel have their sights on such a project.

Among the Jews we reject an anachronistic Zionist state are a few prominent academics and historians, lan pappe, Avi shlaim, Miko Peled, for instance. Besides these, there are some orthodox Jews both in and out of Israel who do not see this Israel the same that was mentioned in the Old Testament.

There are many Zionists in the West and they come from mostly Christian denominations of various types. Such non-Jewish Zionists also come from other religions and rightist forces. In America, they wield much leverage and political clout and influence the US policies in the Middle East, mostly to bolster Israel and ostracise and marginalise the Palestinians. The Zionist organisations operate systematically to advance the Zionist projections through Europe and the rest of the world.

If we take into account all the objective conditions that prevail at present, there can never be any peace in the Middle East as long as Israel has the power over the United States and is able to control its foreign policies with regard to the Middle East.

In fact, with the new US administration in place under President Trump, Israel will use its power to persuade America to attack Iran, which will inevitably lead to Israel as the only regional superpower in the Middle East. The prospects for any solution to the Palestine issue, according to the U.N. resolutions becomes no more than a pious wish of some noble souls if Israel continues on its dangerous path.

Religious fanaticism versus humanist values

January 19, 2017

Nasir Khan, January 19, 2017

The only reasonable way to get out of the mindset of religious fanaticism is to turn to humanism and humane values that fanatics fight against. It is true the road is long and hazardous but it is worth trying to explore. If rational people start thinking on these lines, they will also start walking along these lines and they will influence others. Otherwise, we will remain mired in the mud of religious fanaticism and barbarism.

There are many people who are justifiably afraid of the enormous influence the right-wing forces wield and exploit religions for their nefarious political agendas, communalism, hatred against other religious communities, creeds, oppose social justice and equal socio-political rights for all. These forces are a danger to all and are very active. They are a big danger to all human values, which are foundation stones of modern democratic societies, their organisation and functioning.

But we should keep in mind that there are also many people who are actively involved in combating and fighting against these forces of darkness and inhumanity. What our friends and sympathisers can do in this struggle is not to become only silent spectators and leave the field open to the fanatics but to side with those who are involved in political struggles against the reactionary forces.

This work involves, among other activities, using the media for highlighting the harm the fanatics have caused by their indoctrination and falsehoods. This process strengthens the struggle of creating common bonds of humanity and respect for all members of society where the development of all in a fair and democratic way is possible. That means to reject religious fanaticism in all its forms and advance the cause of democratic values and humanism.

Religious fanatics in India and Pakistan

January 18, 2017
Nasir Khan, January 18, 2017

(I wrote the following piece in reply to a comment by a Facebook friend.)

Both Hindu and Islamic architecture have influenced each other in many ways. By its appearance, Jejuri Temple seems to be a clear example of this interaction in architecture.

Regarding your views on the division of Hindus and Muslims, my reply is: If these people, Hindus and Muslims, regard one another as human beings first where people’s religious beliefs are left as their personal matters and nothing more, then a common human and humane bond will emerge that will allow cultural diversity but wherein all people will stand for common humanity and common political, social and economic rights and obligations.

But in India and Pakistan things are working in the reverse order. In these countries, the first consideration is towards religious identity while what is obviously common, our common humanity and our oneness as human beings, is pushed out of sight! The result is fanatics and fundamentalists in Hindus and Muslims have made living for ordinary people difficult.

The Hindutva fanatics in India have poisoned the minds of vast numbers of Hindus and have made them anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan by their continuous propaganda. Many feel that is the only way to make India a purely Hindu state by preaching the mantra of Akhand Bharat. There is so much hatred against Muslims and Islam in Indian right-wing Hindus, which I find hard to believe.

In Pakistan, the right-wing religious and political parties have equally viciously poisoned the minds of millions of people for establishing a theocratic state instead of a modern democratic state.

Consequently, their continuous indoctrination and misleading information against the non-Muslims has relegated religious minorities in Pakistan to a secondary status. The victimisation of some innocent people for having violated the so-called blasphemy laws of Pakistan under concocted charges is a living proof of the cancerous fanaticism and primitive mindset that once flourished in the early middle ages.

What sort of productive system Marx and Engels saw in Britain

January 8, 2017

Nasir Khan, January 8, 2017

The following photo is from Victorian England, which in those days had the largest empire in the world. It gives a small glimpse into the living conditions of young children.

Where did the wealth by trade and commercial activity with the colonies and the rest of the world go? Certainly, it didn’t go to the working class people, the poor, the paupers, and their children but only in the coffers of the ruling elite and the bourgeoisie.

Many writers and social historians wrote about the wretched conditions under which the poor and underprivileged people lived. Among them were two friends of German origin, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who witnessed the condition of the working class and poor people in Britain.

In their prognosis, the expanding capitalist system was based on greed and profit-making, where the social, economic welfare of the working class had no meaning for the owners of means of production and the control they exercised over the process of production.

Such an unjust and inhumane system needed to be replaced by a system where the means of productions were not to be left in the hands of a tiny minority but were held jointly by the majority to create a humane and caring society. Marx and Engels formulated their ideas in their books and papers that form the basis of Scientific Socialism.

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Happy New Year

December 31, 2016

Nasir Khan, Dec. 31, 2016

Happy New Year to all our readers and friends!

Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of spring
Your winter garment of repentance fling.
The bird of time has but a little way
To flutter – and the bird is on the wing.

— Omar Khayyam

A comment on US Secretary Kerry’s speech

December 28, 2016
  Nasir Khan, Dec. 28, 2016

No doubt, Secretary Kerry’s speech was crafted quite cleverly. One can’t but be amused by the linguistic chicanery he displayed by putting Israeli Zionists and occupied Palestinians in the same category!

However, the task of defending the undefendable policies of US imperialism in relation to the occupied people of Palestine and the Zionist rulers is not easy. Nevertheless, the question is: Why did he make this speech now when the Obama administration would be gone in about three weeks’ time, and not before? He had some four years to speak candidly in public, even for facilitating the continuing expansion of the Zionist state!

As I see it, Kerry’s speech will be exploited to the full by Zionists, both in Israel and America, to play the victim card and blame the Palestinians for having stood in the way of peace! Period.
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John Kerry has delivered perhaps his most impassioned speech on the Israel-Palestinian crisis – insisting that a two-state solution is the only way to achieve peace…
independent.co.uk

On the unity of workers for a socialist world order

December 27, 2016

Nasir Khan, December 27, 2016

When the workers of all countries unite for the common cause of a creating a society where the capitalists and owners of the means of production do not control the lives and destinies of the 99% of human beings in the world, any such unity in Marxist thought is known as proletarian internationalism.

The goal of the struggle of the working masses including peasants and landless serfs is primarily to defend themselves against the power and domination of the owners of means of production that they mostly use for augmenting their own wealth and upholding their privileges. The ideas about the unity of working classes to create a humane world has been the focus of theoretical and practical activities of generations of socialists since the founders of Scientific Socialism formulated their economic and political theories in the 19th century.

The first major step in creating a socialist society took place in Czarist Russia where the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin overthrew the old dynastic rule and introduced the Soviet system.

The success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a catalyst for revolutionary activities of the working masses in many countries and also a clarion call to the colonised people to overthrow their colonial masters. As a result, anti-colonial struggles became a powerful force in many Afro-Asian countries. Many countries, big and small, succeeded in throwing off the yoke of European masters.

But in many instances the local ruling classes that emerged had their roots in privileged classes or groups. The struggle for political and economic exploitation became their sole interest. While such leaders plundered their own people and used the political system as a camouflage for furthering their interests, the plight of the poor people remained a non-issue for them. In any case, it is little consolation to the working class, poor or starving people that their “glorious” saviours and leaders have hundreds of millions of dollars stacked in secret banks accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain and America!

However, such exploitation and downright plunder is not incidental. It is endemic, and closely related to how the capitalist political and economic system works. As long as capitalism lives, such exploitation will have its sway. In the third world countries, the problem of institutionalied brainwashing coupled with the exploitation of religion and cheap deceptive slogans at the hands of the ruling elites will continue to play havoc with the people of many Afro-Asian countries.

No doubt, capitalism is wonderful for a few but a disaster for many. To address such issues, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels advocated socialist democracy and a socialist system in place of capitalism. To achieve that goal, political education of working classe people is the first step and that education is part of the political activity that is expressed by the unity of the workers.

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Eternal Glory to El Commandante Fidel Castro!

November 26, 2016

Nasir Khan, November 26, 2016

The death of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro is a sad occasion for all those comrades and friends who for decades have shown solidarity with the people of Cuba and the Cuban revolution.

Since the victory of the Cuban revolution, the U.S. rulers did their utmost to stifle the revolution and kill its leader. To this end, they hatched some 638 schemes to assassinate him and also made actual attempts to this end. However, the criminal syndicate of US rulers to carry out subversive acts in the world, the CIA, did not succeed. As we all know, Fidel Castro died a natural death in his mature age.

The American rulers could not face the fact that the Cuban revolutionaries who overthrew the US-ally, dictator Batista, were to choose the path of Socialism. In the eyes of Washington this was an unforgivable offence. To keep their hegemonic control of the Caribbean they organised the invasion of Cuba in 1961. But the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion failed.

In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer to a nuclear war but luckily the American military hawks did not send us into the nuclear inferno! In fact, it was the Soviet leadership that showed restraint by pulling the recently-placed missiles in Cuba that were placed there in the first place to defend Cuba against American military aggression. In this way, a major crisis was averted that had the potential to ignite a global war.

Despite all the hostile American policies and sabotage, the Cuban revolution stood its ground. Fidel Castro rose to every challenge and heroically mobilised his people to confront the American imperialism.

The collapse of the Soviet Union drastically changed the world political scene with far-reaching repercussions for the Socialist movement. Now Cuba was alone and many thought the end of Socialism in Cuba was just a questions of time. But the resilience of the Cuban people under the inspiring leadership of Fidel Castro and the Communist Party of Cuba did not slacken. Notwithstanding many economic hardships, the rallying cry of Castro was ‘Socialism or death’. That meant no compromise with the neighbour, the only superpower and bully that wanted its hegemony accepted without question.

Another disconcerting factor for the Cuban revolutionary government was to see China and Vietnam taking the path of ‘raw capitalism’ while they still retained the name of socialism for their one-party bureaucratic system. Yet, this did not dampen the spirit of Fidel Castro. The revolutionary remained firm in his resolve to lead the fight for Socialism and an independent Cuba. His example inspired Latin American revolutionaries like Hugo Chavez and others.

His name and legacy will endure and continue to inspire new generations of revolutionary workers and activists for a socialist future.
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