Archive for November, 2018

Richard Falk and Palestine

November 29, 2018

Nasir Khan

Dr Richard Falk’s single-minded struggle to show the situation of the captive population of Palestine stands out as a conspicuous example of a man of conscience who has been an inspiration to so many! For long, the Zionists and their friends have vilified him and distorted what he said or stood for. Yet, despite all that, he has stood his ground with courage and determination. The Zionists have even called him ‘a self-hating Jew’ (!); they were not interested in to know that he was not a self-hating Jew, but a beacon of light for truth and justice, siding with an oppressed people, not the oppressors!

It takes some intelligence and much humanity to see that. The Zionists are not without intelligence; they use their intelligence to mislead, to lie, to cover-up the incremental ethnic cleansing of Palestine and thus further the cause of Zionist expansion while using the name of the Jewish people, as we all know. Their humanity? They had banished humanity for good because of their dedicated service to the cause of imperialism, colonialism and deception.



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What public praise for a philosopher’s ideas leads to

November 28, 2018

— Nasir Khan

“I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.”

— Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BC – 271 BC)

Epicurus was a renowned philosopher and he certainly was aware of the worth of his ideas. In a simple and subtle way, he has also touched our profound longing to be appreciated by others for our mental and intellectual prowess and skills. Some may call it a human trait, some sceptics may call it a human weakness. Let us see what the public approval of one’s ideas, especially those of a philosopher in reality amount to. That idea is framed and presented in such a way that they will appeal to the feelings of the ordinary people, who, in return, will heap praise on some ‘clever’ guy!

Can a philosopher or thinking person really expect to validate his ideas with the help of popular applause and praise? Epicurus reply was in the negative. So is mine, after having seen how things work in our times!

In fact, the cheap tricks played on the unwary and simple people (simple people never think they are simple!) are a form of manipulation. In extreme cases that has led to personality cults, from the olden times to the present times, with disastrous consequences. We are still reaping the toxic fruits of our gullibility as common people because those personality cults are still shaping our history. The dead of the ancient and past history still rule us from their graves. We never question them or their motives. We simply worship them!

A Response to Dr. Nyla Ali Khan and Dr. Nasir Khan, Concerning the Kashmir Question

November 25, 2018
By Luis Lázaro Tijerina
Recently Dr. Nyla Ali Khan wrote in The Daily Times an essay that could be misconstrued as more of a defense of a family member than an actual objective historical account of a politician who played a pivotal role in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir— that being her mother’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who eventually resigned as Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, after a fallout with the Nehru Government during the period of 1948-1953. In Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s OP-ED essay “In politics there are no permanent friends or foes — I”, she stated “Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did not lose faith in the international system which was premised on Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination, post-World War 1. The Sheikh, I argue, sought self-determination for Jammu and Kashmir as a territorial unit, not as a Muslim nation. He wanted Kashmir to be an international polity. I posit that he perceived the evolution of Kashmiri nationalism in world-historical terms, as opposed to a domestic and local issue.” Although the author on the Kashmir Question has shall we say ‘good intentions’, she fails to understand that Kashmir Self-Determination and Independence goes well beyond whether Nehru oppressed her grandfather’s political agenda, or whether the territory of Jammu and Kashmir should be also be understood as religious issue regarding Hindu and Muslim faith peoples who live in that region that is located between India and Pakistan. The Question of Kashmir is also a class struggle which needs to be addressed in the most formidable terms.
In a response to the issue of Nehru and the fragile situation in the Jammu and Kashmir region, Dr. Nasir Khan wrote in a response to Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s essay that “However, the situation in Kashmir region was a bit more complicated for him for a number of reasons. Despite his personal friendship with the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru also thought himself a Kashmiri. Kashmir was not only part of India, but it was also his ancestral home! Consequently, he was not the one who would allow anyone, even a personal friend like Abdullah to assert an independent position for himself or for his people when it came to Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an ‘integral part’ part of India. The legal fiction of ‘Accession’ was always at the back on Nehru’s mind! Many still believe in that false claim.” Actually, I would say that the situation for Nehru, who ideologically was a socialist, but who had been influenced in his youth by Marxism, was caught up, like the leadership in Kashmir, with political and military intrigues that neither parties could escape with their bourgeois fetters of governing their two regional or state principalities.
According to Mehr Chand Mahajan, who was the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India prior to the complicated and shall one say the messy events in Kashmir (Maharjan being the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, would play a key role in the accession of J&K to India) the intervention into the affairs of Kashmir went both ways. If we are to believe his point of view on the ‘accession’ of the Kashmir region, let us study his memoirs on that situation, when he wrote “Give army, take accession and give whatever powers you want to give to the popular party (National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah), but the army must fly to Srinagar this evening, otherwise I will go and negotiate terms with Mr (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah (the Pakistan leader) as the city (Srinagar) must be saved,” Mahajan had reportedly told Nehru and Patel.” ” and it should be understood here that during this period “Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had request that his British commander-in-chief send the Pakistani army and take over the Kashmir state. However, the British military officer refused to follow this order and told Jinnah that he could not do it without consulting the Supreme Commander of all British forces remaining in India and Pakistan, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck. Seemingly, such was the political and military affairs of the Kashmir Question which had nothing to do with personalities or even class difference between the regional warring parties.
Nehru, would not accept a military interference by Pakistan forces, and his hand was forced to send Indian troops into the Jammu and Kashmir region. This political and military escalation was inevitable, as the tensions between the two nation-states of India and Pakistan had not been resolved. One only has to look at the situation regarding the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the horrific political and military tensions between the fascistic state of Israel and the fragile leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected President of the State of Palestine by the PLO Central Council. Amid all such chaos what is forgotten is that the people of Kashmir and Palestine are factory workers, small farmers, students and a progressive intelligencia in both regions that are seeking a normal life. Neither Nehru, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah nor any of the Pakistan leadership could stop the unsettling and justified need for an independent state of Kashmir.
Recently on the website “CPI(M)-CPI” there was a statement on Kashmir that was posted on September 3, 2016, which although goes back two years ago, still has weight in my opinion, in which the author or authors wrote:
The consistent stand the Left parties have been taking is that Jammu & Kashmir has a special status which was reflected in the adoption of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. At the heart of the matter lies how in letter and spirit its autonomy and special status, eroded over the years, can be restored. A political agreement must be reached, which should be acceptable to the people whereby the state of Jammu & Kashmir would remain as part of the Indian Union but by fulfilling the commitment, made to the state and the people in 1948.
The entire geo-political situation has changed in the post-independence decades. A solution to the Kashmir problem has also the dimension of India and Pakistan discussing to settle long standing disputes. For the past nearly two months Kashmir has been in turmoil. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Commander, the people in the Valley have been out on the streets in mass protests. More than 70 people have died in the firing by the security forces and a few thousand have been injured. Two security personnel have also lost their lives. Pellet guns used by the security forces have blinded and maimed many. Instead of quelling the protesters, it only intensified with each death and injury in police firing. The main force driving these protests are the youth. These mass protests that have spread into rural Kashmir, graphically illustrate the deep sense of alienation of the people from the Indian State. At no time has the gulf between India and the Kashmiri people been so wide. This serious situation calls for an examination of the entire Kashmir problem. v
The situation of the Kashmir Question will not be settled by legislation neither by India or Pakistan, nor by any ‘Article’ within the framework of the Indian Constitution. In my most humble opinion, I would state equivocally that neither India nor Pakistan will allow Kashmir to become a democratic or socialist state by a referendum— the voting for independence at the ballot box. One only has to look at the Catalan Question in Spain and the ongoing repression of the Catalan people, or the decades of repression of the colonized Mexican Americans who live in the United States, to understand that Self-Determination and Independence is not given to any people, they have to fight for it. Indeed, the Vietnamese peoples and their revolutionary leadership knew that, when they undertook the political and military struggles against the French and then the American regimes to find their complete freedom from colonial bondage. As Stalin so aptly put it “The principle of self-determination should be limited in such a way as to make it applicable only to the toilers and not to the bourgeoisie. Self-determination must be a means of attaining socialism …” , and as I would say about the Question of Kashmir, it is the right of the common people of Kashmir to decide their right for Self-Determination and Independence, for their rightful place among the nations of the world.

Nehru, Abdullah and Kashmir

November 22, 2018

— Nasir Khan, November 22, 2018

My introductory remarks to Dr Nyla Ali Khan’s article:

Khan’s article is well-written. She has given her views, fairly and judiciously, on the troubled history of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since the 1947 Partition of India. The roles of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah in the history of J&K are the focal points of her narrative.

Indeed, the tasks before Nehru as India’s prime minister after the independence from Britain were enormous. Among such tasks was the policy towards the princely states of the Indian Subcontinent and their incorporation into the Indian Union by all possible means. No one and nothing was to be allowed to stand in the way of the enforcement of such a policy.

However, the situation in Kashmir region was a bit more complicated for him for a number of reasons. Despite his personal friendship with the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru also thought himself a Kashmiri. Kashmir was not only part of India, but it was also his ancestral home! Consequently, he was not the one who would allow anyone, even a personal friend like Abdullah to assert an independent position for himself or for his people when it came to Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an ‘integral part’ part of India. The legal fiction of ‘Accession’ was always at the back on Nehru’s mind! Many still believe in that false claim.

As long as Abdullah followed the path Delhi had decided for any political leader who held power in J&K, he was free to do some good work, including the land reforms, which Khan has mentioned in her article. But if he ever imagined that he could pursue an independent course for his state under the Union, then he was not being realistic. Perhaps, he knew he had not many options. In fact, his ouster from power and subsequent imprisonment, etc., were inevitable, and Nehru and his policymakers had no qualms about it.

Of course, Nehru and his successors always had the upper hand to use Kashmiri leaders as pawns as long as they thought them useful to their ends. Obviously, they are still in the same business, and they pursue the same policies towards J & K and its people. They can easily hire and fire any status-seeker politician in the Valley. There is not shortage of such self-serving political figures in Kashmir.

How many people remember or tell the simple facts that during the turbulent period following the Partition, the Indian army was sent to J & K, which, with the help of militant right-wing Hindu organizations, massacred from 300,000 to 400,000 Muslims in Jammu region to create a Hindu majority region versus the Kashmir Valley where Muslims were in the majority?

It was the famous British historian Perry Anderson who lifted the veil of secrecy on such pogroms in his groundbreaking three large papers in London Review of Books in 2012 which were later published as a book (LRB, Vol. 34 No. 13, 5 July 2012, LRB Vol. 34, No. 14, 19 July 2012, LRB. Vol. 34 No. 15, 2 August 2012).

These massacres took place when Nehru and Sardar Patel were adjusting the political map of Independent India.

Raised in Kashmir in the 1970s and the 1980s, I instinctively knew that my parents would protect me from the shackles of restrictive traditions and…

Making of History

November 11, 2018

— Nasir Khan

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.

The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living.”

— Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

The social, political and economic factors in shaping history have been emphasized time and again by socialist theorists. Here in this short extract, Karl Marx points to the importance of prevailing objective conditions that determine the course of history. How he sees a logic in the social developments is part of his philosophy of history.

The conscious efforts of human beings sometimes set in motion the wheels of history and sometimes accelerate the speed of that process. But these variables are also dependent on the major trends that already exist. What exists is not independent of what has gone before but is rather a result of the earlier conditions under which historical events took place and the steady historical processes that have been in operation. Even in the realm of speculative thought and old metaphysical issues, we are profoundly conditioned by the old modes of thought and traditions.

Even a great thinker like Marx elaborated his thought by imbibing the ideas of the French Enlightenment, from Montesquieu to Linget and Condorcet, and by the Scottish historians. He took from Hegel the idea that history is the progressive self-realization of man by practical social activity. While Hegel’s ideas were couched in somewhat obscure language, Marx was able to find the essential meanings they contained. As a result he developed his ideas by subjecting Feuerbach and Hegel in matters of the role of religion, State, civil society, bureaucracy and the class structure of the industrial society.

His ideas of revolutionary Socialism became clearer in his thought by his critical assessment of the older socialist thinkers. The same thing applies in his understanding and explanation about the capitalism by his close scrutiny of the earlier economists.

Marxism and Freedom

November 11, 2018

— Nasir Khan

“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.”

― Jamaican musician Bob Marley (1945-1981)
To gain freedom from social, political and religious oppression is a great thing for every sentient human being. As we know we are living in a world where the ‘ruling ideas of the age’ we are living in, are related to Power – in all its nefarious forms. Political power, economic power, social power, religious power – all such different faces of power are intertwined; they contribute to the same goals and the same targets. Politically conscious people know that the targets are the ordinary people of any given society, whether in the advanced capitalist societies or the ‘developing’ countries. If the people became aware of the overall bondages they are subjected to, they will strive for freedom.

The fact remains that only a very tiny minority develops such consciousness; for the vast majority the established order is more like the divine writ, which none should question. However, the ideas and actions to challenge the established order are not easy either; they often have unexpected harsh reactions and consequences. The revolutionaries of the past ages have shown that nothing comes without struggle. In our age, it is still the revolutionary thought and praxis of Marxism that has to ‘bear the cross’. This is despite all the howling of the jackals of reaction and their ilk.

The Importance of the Separation of Religion and State

November 7, 2018

— Nasir Khan

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.

[Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803]”

― James Madison (1751-1836). He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and its fourth President.

While underscoring the importance of the separation of Church and State, James Madison had in view the gory history of Europe over the course of at least 18 centuries of political strife, horrifying torture and violence because of the unquestioned power of the church over the states and within the political systems of states. The rulers had to obey the commands of the Catholic Church. After the Reformation, the Lutheran including the Calvinist churches also had immense power over the states.

In fact, the question of the separation of Church and State in a broader sense is the question of the separation of Religion and State. After the end of the medieval times, there was a movement towards the freedom of conscience. The people had to be freed from the suffocating clutches of Religion.

It meant a challenge to the clerical authorities that had imposed their will and their interpretations of what God may have said or ordered. Thus, the chief custodians of the divine truth, who had arrogated all powers on behalf of God to themselves for so long found themselves confronting a new situation. Their monopoly over what God said was under question. That was dangerous, very dangerous!

Now some thinkers and enlightened people said what people believed in matters of a Divine Power or Religion was a personal matter; this was secularism. It was no business of the state to impose the will of the clergy on the people. According to them, people should have the freedom of conscience.

For most people, it was a novel idea; they never had anything like this for so many centuries. Thus, a revolutionary idea was introduced that had far-reaching effects. Consequently, the process of freedom of conscience and the secularization of the state and society gained more ground in most of Europe, North America and Australia, etc.

While the western countries made such inroads into enlightenment, freedom of conscience, and gave legal protection to people to believe or practise any religion, the vast majority of Muslim countries has followed a different course.

The ruling classes and the Muslim clergy became close partners to advance their respective agendas. In fact, they found Islam as a convenient tool to gain power and influence over a people who had a strong cultural identity with Islam. This they exploited to the maximum. That opened the way for the fanatics, misguided and indoctrinated people to clamour for an Islamic polity under the rule of God.

As a result, we see the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the terrorists of the Islamic State in many countries and many Islamist groups and organisations causing havoc. One thing: They are convinced they represent the ‘light’ of Islam. They are offering the salvation to worldwide Muslim community people (the Ummah); the golden age of ‘Islamic truth’ and ‘Islamic justice’ is near when the Sharia laws of the seventh-century Islamic Arabia will be enforced.

In fact, many ordinary Muslims think that the era of the early Caliphs of Islam of the seventh-century Arabia will solve all their worldly problems. It is logically possible that such a golden age can emerge if there was anything like this before!

However, we may pause for a second and think (not easy though): The world has moved with the times, including the Christians of Europe and their descendants in North America and Australia, etc. How will Islamists go back from the 21st century to the seventh-century Arabia? The only possibility I can see is if Aladdin with his magic carpet appears and transports us back to our golden age, back in time. If he does that I’m sure he will give me some space on his magic carpet; I promise to report back to all of you my story from there!

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The fanatic mobs of Pakistan are a threat to democracy and the rule of law

November 1, 2018
— Nasir Khan, November 1, 2018
It may come as to jolting shock to many civilized human beings in the world that hundreds of thousands of Muslims of Pakistan are protesting, not against something awful that happened, but because an innocent Christian women, Aasia Bibi, who had falsely been accused of blasphemy was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on her appeal.
The judges of the Supreme Court found that she had been falsely charged by some Muslim co-workers on some very trivial dispute; the trial judge had sentenced her to death on the basis of false accounts of the witnesses of the true nature of the petty dispute. Aasia Bibi, a married working-class woman, had languished in prison for the last eight years in solitary confinement.
Now, so many Pakistani Muslims are protesting and threatening to bring the country to a standstill for the acquittal of Aasia Bibi!
It is difficult to believe this, but that is exactly what these people are doing, and they think they are doing it to ‘defend and exalt the honour of Prophet Muhammad’.
The events in Pakistan show how the Islamic clerics, with the support of the Pakistani ruling elite over the years, had a free hand to spread the poison of religious fanaticism among the ordinary people and turn them into extremists, who, apparently have become indifferent to the distinction between right and wrong because of their religious indoctrination.

Pakistan: Thousands protest blasphemy acquittal, ignore PM’s call

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan-led protests take place across the country, a day after Supreme Court clears Aasia Bibi.


Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Thousands of far-right religious demonstrators continue to block major roads across Pakistan in protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case.

The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) political party, led by firebrand Muslim leader Khadim Rizvi, organised rallies in cities across the South Asian country on Thursday, despite a warning from Prime Minister Imran Khan not to “force the government to have to take action”.

Aasia Bibi, 53, who was on death row for eight years, was acquitted by the country’s top court on Wednesday, with judges saying the prosecution contained “glaring and stark” contradictions.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling was pronounced, Rizvi led a major protest outside government buildings in the eastern city of Lahore, with fellow TLP leaders declaring the three judges who acquitted Bibi to be “liable to be killed”.

The sit-in protest in Lahore remained the largest TLP demonstration on Thursday, with other major demonstrations being held in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest. Protesters are also blockading a major highway into the capital, Islamabad.

Most schools and many businesses remained closed in all three cities through the day, with hospitals on high alert in case the protests turned violent. Highways were partially shut down and the federal cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the law and order situation.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised address to the nation, accused the TLP of attempting to stir religious sentiments for political gains.

“I say to these people: do not confront this state … do not damage this country for your vote bank,” said Khan.

“If you do this, I promise that the government will do its duty … I ask you: do not force the government to have to take action,” he added.

On Thursday, Shehryar Afridi, Pakistan’s minister of state for interior affairs, told parliament that talks were under way with protesters to end the standoff.

‘Watershed moment’

Blasphemy against Islam and its prophet is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where the crime can carry a compulsory death sentence.

Increasingly, blasphemy accusations have resulted in mob lynchings and extrajudicial murders.

At least 74 people have been killed in violence related to blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

PM Imran Khan urged calm since Bibi’s acquittal but his call has fallen on deaf ears so far [Saudi Press Agency via AP]

There are still roughly 40 people on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy, in Pakistan, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Bibi’s case had become emblematic of fair-trial concerns in cases related to the country’s blasphemy laws, with two senior political leaders who stood up for her gunned down in 2009 for supporting her.

Rights groups have hailed her acquittal as a watershed moment.

“Justice has finally prevailed. The message must go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute the country’s most vulnerable minorities,” said Omar Waraich, deputy director for South Asia at human rights group Amnesty International.

Tense calm 

At the protest at Islamabad’s Faizabad interchange, roughly 2,000 TLP supporters had gathered to block a major road into the federal capital.

TLP volunteers had visibly beefed up security at the demonstration’s entry and exit points. They barred entry to journalists, saying they would only be allowed to pass after surrendering cameras and other equipment.

Among the protesters, a tense calm prevailed, with many young men interspersed among the crowd carrying sticks and metal rods.

Many sat on reed mats, listening to devotional poems and sermons extolling the virtues of loving Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. The TLP mainly represents the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, which places a particular importance on the veneration of the personage and honour of the Prophet.

Overhead, two military helicopters flew low over the crowd, prompting shouts from many protesters. Two young men manning a barricade angrily shook their sticks at the aircraft.

Further protests are expected on Friday following midday prayers, with other right-wing religious groups joining the TLP in its rejection of the verdict.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim

Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?

Inside Story

Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?

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