Archive for June, 2017

The electoral success of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom

June 10, 2017

Nasir Khan, June 10, 2017

All credit for the recent electoral gains in the United Kingdom goes to the election campaigners, party activists, left-wing writers and bloggers, ordinary members, including the students and old-age pensioners, and the leaders of the Labour Party for their hard work to achieve such surprising results.

The role Jeremy Corby played in the election and his focus on issues that matter most to the electorate as the leader of the Labour Party is a lesson in modern politics how a dedicated leader can inspire confidence and point to a better future for all. Despite being maligned from the Tories and also from many labour leaders, he refused to be sidetracked and continued to highlight the political and social issues in a magnanimous way. The traditional right-wingers in the party, Blair and Blairites, attacked him for not being ‘charismatic’ and ‘strong’.

But what such people ignored was the simple fact that politics is not merely an arena where only the people with rhetorical methods can mesmerise people and then leave them at the mercy of the anti-working class elite, but rather to speak the language of the people and then stand for their interests in a dedicated way. In many ways, Jeremy Corbyn has surprised his foes and detractors. He showed that in politics, adherence to the principles of honesty and truth are not demerits, but noble avenues that can lead to desired results in a meaningful way. However, this does go against the normal understanding of politics as a game of false promises and stage-managed show for playing with a gullible majority of the ordinary people and then forgetting them when the phoney leaders have achieved their political leverage.

On this occasion, I extend my congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues for their political work and the results they have produced. The foundation of the Labour Party was to protect the interests of the working class people in a society where political power and influence were reserved only for the elitists, not the ordinary people. Therein lie the roots of the Labour Party, not a party to tow the line of ruling-class establishment, but rather a party of the working class people. The present successes have revived the faith of many socialists and working class people that a just and fair political course is possible in the United Kingdom.

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Modern democratic states and religion

June 9, 2017

Nasir Khan

“If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. That is everybody’s personal concern!”

― Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

These are the words of a wise leader of Indian freedom movement, who was an inspiration to millions of people in the world for his message of non-violence and love for truth.

It is important for us to remember that Gandhi was not an atheist or agnostic. He was a devoted Hindu and a believer in God like Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian, Baha’i, Sikh and Jewish believers. However, for him the religion of an individual was a personal matter. No one should impose a religion or a belief on others. It was not for the State to tell people which religion to follow or which god to believe in (there are different views about god in many religions and his attributes, etc.). In the middle ages, State and Church in European countries were united. But that changed. The secularisation process became the norm and new ways of looking at the roles of state and religions became widely accepted.

Secularism is rooted in the political idea that state and religion have two different spheres and roles. They should remain separate and we should not allow anyone to mix them. People should follow whatever religions they want to follow without the interference of the state. As a result, there is no more religious coercion from the state or public bodies/institutions of the people. People have freedom of religion, freedom to practise any religion, freedom to convert to any other religion if any choose to do so, freedom to leave or reject religion and accept agnosticism, atheism, humanism or any other viewpoint. In democratic countries and their civil societies, these freedoms are essential ingredients of a civilised existence.

Unluckily, such views have had much opposition in traditional, conservative societies. For example, in my country of origin, Pakistan (‘Land of the Pure’!), Muslim clerics and political manipulators have distorted the meaning of secularism. According to their version, which most Pakistanis accept, it means rejection of Islam and Allah! It is anti-Islam and a threat to Islam and Pakistan!

Briefly, to attribute such things to secularism is totally wrong and pernicious. But the vested interests that played with the religious susceptibilities of the people for so long, and so successfully, will continue their exploitation. As I see it, our hope is that only progressive and democratic people can combat the reactionary forces and their toxic indoctrination. No doubt, the task is difficult. But our friends and comrades are doing what they can, both within and outside Pakistan.

Glad tidings to all believers

June 7, 2017

Nasir Khan, June 7, 2017

“Sacrificing the earth for paradise is giving up the substance for the shadow.”

— French writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

Many people are more concerned with the afterlife than this life. Who can blame them? In any case, when we see how the vast majority of human beings exists and suffers an existence on the earth, we can understand why they desire to have the comfort and grand living in the paradise or the kingdom of heaven, as some call it. Not only for some dismal few years or decades as we have in our worldly existence, but also visualising the rosy prospects of an eternal life somewhere up there where we will have everything we can think of in abundance and without any price-tags!

Those interested in carnal and sensual pleasures will be given to their hearts’ content, possibly much more then they need. There is no shortage of anything up there. All one will have to do is to say: I desire this delightful object or that pure creature! Soon the desired object or the lovely creature will appear in the blink of an eye.

It is all ready and waiting for us. The only thing we have to do is to wait a bit longer, be patient, and all will be ours. But we should also keep in mind that to get there we may have to do some hard work first that would appease the heavenly powers. This may include obligatory self-mortification and rigorous rituals to cleans our physical body wih a view to purify our souls, thus making us worthy of the upward journey and the heavenly rewards.

Thanks to our great visionary sages, teachers and preachers for having provided us detailed information about all this. I envy their wisdom and their concern for human beings.

Another terrorist attack in London on June 3, 2017

June 4, 2017

– Nasir Khan, June 4, 2017

Whatever reasons and political grievances any followers of Islamist ideology may have, their latest attack on innocent people on London Bridge was an act of indiscriminate killing of innocent people. If the facts are as reported in the media, and no false flags are involved, then I condemn this barbarous act of terrorism as a private citizen living in Norway, a peaceful, democratic and secular country.

The role played by western imperialists, especially the US, Britain, and their allies, in starting destructive wars of aggression in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. etc. in which millions of people, mostly Muslims, were killed and maimed, their cities and homes destroyed, were enormous crimes against humanity in recent history, for which there was no justification under international law.

Meanwhile, it is important to keep in mind that such crimes of genocide were committed by the governments of these countries, and not by ordinary citizens of any of these countries. There lies an essential difference between what the governments do and what private individuals do.

For instance, what George W. Bush and Tony Blair did that led to the genocidal wars and large-scale destructions of the targeted countries had nothing to do with the ordinary citizens of the United States or Britain. Ordinary pedestrians walking on London Bridge were not and are not responsible for the actions of people like former prime minister Tony Blair, or former president G.W. Bush.

In the hands of religious zealots and fanatics a religion and its teachings can easily be transformed into an instrument of terror and oppression. This happened in the last two thousand years, but historical evidence points to much earlier times also. Let’s take only the Middle East region. Here some major world religions arose and some of them are still with us. The histories of  all monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are replete with examples of heinous crimes against innocent people under the guise of religion.

That happened during the wars of religions and inter-religious conflicts; such things are still happening in many parts of the world. It is true that such conflicts may also have deep socioeconomic and political causes. But the killing of ordinary people under one pretext or another does not mitigate the gravity of terrorist crimes and madness.