Religions are for People, not for any State

November 16, 2016
 –
Nasir Khan, November 16, 2016
 –
In 1971, the people of East Pakistan achieved their political separation from West Pakistan at a very high cost. The country since then called Bangladesh like many Asian countries has been a traditional country where religions in the lives of its people have played an important part as a cohesive force. There are Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others living in this country.
It is good to see a state adhering to the principle of non-partisanship in matters of religion and treating the followers of all faiths as equal citizens where the followers of minority religions have no fears of discrimination and recriminations. Obviously, the role of state in modern times is much different from what it was in the middle ages.
In democracies, religion and state are separated. No person of sound mind any longer stands for a coercive state that imposes its own version of religion on its citizens. Only the misguided and indoctrinated people oppose the separation of state and religion. However, a democratic state remains neutral in matters of religion; it does not favour or patronise one section of the population over the others merely because of religion. This is the path of secularism in which state respects all religions without letting any religion dictate its political and social policies in any way. Under such a system, people can practise their religions and follow their religious traditions without any intervention from the state.
If Bangladesh follows the democratic model and allows the people to follow whatever religions they want to follow without patronising one religion as state religion then the country has taken a major step in the right direction. No doubt, conservative and retrogressive forces within the country will oppose any such democratic and humane path.
                                     . . . . .

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/bangladesh-islam-state-religion-government-considers-dropping-a7418366.html

Government officials in Bangladesh are considering dropping Islam as the country’s national religion after a senior politician claimed Bangladeshi people have embraced “a force of secularism”.

Dr Abdur Razzak, a leading member of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party, proposed the religion be withdrawn from the country’s constitution during a discussion at the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka.

“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. Here we live with people from all religions and Islam should not be accommodated as the state religion in the Bangladeshi constitution,” Dr Razzak said in his report.

 “I have said it abroad and now I am saying it again that Islam will be dropped from Bangladesh’s constitution when the time comes.

“The force of secularism is within the people of Bangladesh. There is no such thing as a ‘minority’ in our country.”

Dr Razzak added he believed Islam had been maintained as the state religion for “strategic reasons”, but declined to elaborate on this during the discussion.

Islam is the largest religion in Bangladesh, with a practicing Muslim population of approximately 150 million – making it the fourth largest Muslim population in the world after India, Pakistan and Indonesia.

According to a national survey from 2003, religion was the primary way Bangladeshi citizens identified themselves, and atheism was found to be rare.

During a recent speech, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the importance of “taking care” of those who follow minority religions.

“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony which should be maintained at any cost for development and brighten the country’s image.”

The prime minister also condemned the recent actions of the militant group Isis, who have carried out various violent attacks against religious minority communities this year.

“You have to remain careful so that no such incidents, which are taking place sporadically in different parts of the country, take place anywhere in the country,” she added

Making of History

November 11, 2016

Nasir Khan, November 11, 2016

“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 emphasised 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-realisation of man by practical social activity. While Hegel’s ideas were couched in somewhat obscure language, Marx was able to find the essntial 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.

Education of girls

October 31, 2016

Nasir Khan, October 31, 2016

In these times, in all civilised countries governments and civic organisations strive for the educations of all, boys and girls, men and women. The right to education is respected by all and people are doing their best to uplift women socially who have been victims for thousands of years of gender discrimination and servile existence.

Even in the third world countries, most of people recognise the importance of the education of girls, As a result, we all witness some good progress made in the positive direction. Unluckily, there are also some people in traditional societies who oppose the social uplift of women in society. They want to keep women tied to the old customs and traditions. The only justification for their opposition to women’s education and their adamant opposition to the equality of opportunities to women in all walks of life as full human beings is rooted in deep ignorance and the patriarchal norms of male domination. Somehow, such people also misuse religion for their vicious struggle against women’s worthy existence.

As I see it, all sane people in Pakistan feel proud that a young girl, Malala Yousafzai, who became a victim of violence at the hands of some ignorant terrorists but recovered and has stood for the right to education of all girls. She is a brave girl. What she stands for is in the best traditions of the heroic figures who become symbols for humane causes and people’s struggles.

The reactionaries and ignorant people have their mentors, their barbarian perspectives and their terrorist methods. But the people who want to see a third world society where both men and women can contribute to social progress and universal norms of civilised behaviour see the work of Malala Yousufzai as an inspiration and a way forward.

———–
https://www.facebook.com/lahorifeminist/photos/a.177057436067202.1073741830.158828937890052/188994661540146/?type=3&theater

Image may contain: 1 person , close-up and text

Real dangers of World War III

October 27, 2016

Nasir Khan, October 27, 2016

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”

― American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
————–


At a time when the military alliance of European countries and the U.S. are poised on hurling the world in the inferno of World War III, a war in which obviously both the conventional and thermonuclear weapons will be used, Hemingway’s words of wisdom are a timely reminder to the imperialist dogs of war and also the ordinary people around the world. 

The civil war in Syria should not be used as a pretext to start a war against Russia. Instead, every effort should be made to de-escalate the Syrian crisis. Both the U.S and Russia should engage in a constructive dialogue and sincerely cooperate with each other and the parties involved to bring to an end the tragic situation in Syria.

We who are peace activists should oppose all warmongers, expose their dangerous war strategies and their militaristic jingoism. We should inform the people of the dangers of a great annihilation.

Why did the U.S. rulers destroy Iraq?

October 9, 2016

Nasir Khan, October 10, 2016

The Twin Towers in New York did fall on 9/11. In fact, the third high building, not far from the twin towers, also mysteriously fell without any plane crashing into it on the same day.

There are two main versions of the tragic happening. First, the official version that has come to be generally accepted by many. The second one does not accept the official version and offers its own explanations. However, I am not getting into any discussion here to argue which version is more reliable than the other. One thing is clear: The tragic event happened on American soil and a foreign country was punished for it that had no hand in 9/11.

No one in American Government (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell) accused the government of President of Saddam Hussain of Iraq or any Iraqi being involved in the events of 9/11. But in 2003 the Bush administration unleashed its destructive war on an innocent country without any reason.

Why did American government commit this unnecessary war of aggression that destroyed this major Arab country and brought unmentionable misery on its people from which Iraq has not been able to recover even after 13 years? Iraq is in shambles.

I have no answer. I think, no sane person in the world has any remotely justifiable reason for this barbarous war of aggression. Neither can anyone claim that Iraqi oil and U.S. hegemony were justifiable policy decisions of the U.S. rulers.

The Kashmir Conflict Needs a Solution Now

October 7, 2016

Nasir Khan, October 7, 2016

Despite Indian army’s blinding of hundreds of Kashmiri youth and terrorising millions of Kashmiris in the recent weeks, there is only one outcry that is reverberating throughout the Kashmir Valley: Azadi, Azadi (Freedom, Freedom) from the Indian occupation of Kashmir.

Instead of heeding to the demands of the people who have ipso facto rejected the Indian rule, the Indian government is resorting to the same old methods it has used since 1947 and expects the people will forget what they have been demanding for the last seven decades. This is a myopic political game. It has not worked in the past. It will not work in the future.

The ongoing military skirmishes along the Line of Control are meant to divert the world attention from the major issue that India is facing in Kashmir and refusing to accede to people’s demands. A wise leadership in Delhi will look at the issue from a different angle now with a view to find a solution to the old conflict we inherited because of the Partition of British India in 1947.

The fate of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was decided by military power, shabby deals and false promises of holding plebiscite that would allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide their future. What is needed now is not military confrontation and warmongering. A new war is not going to solve the Kashmir issue. India and Pakistan have already fought two wars because of the Kashmir conflict. Did they solve the Kashmir issue? They did not. Any new military confrontation will prove to be even more destructive and totally futile. Hurling poor soldiers, both Indians and Pakistanis, in the kiln of war and killing innocent people will hardly have any positive consequences. The Kashmir conflict will not disappear even if they unleash a third war. The Kashmir conflict has to be addressed politically and with good will a negotiated settlement is possible.

The people of India and Pakistan were not born to be the enemies of each other. The toxic propaganda by the rulers of the two states has been instrumental in creating enmity between the people of the two countries. Religious and political extremists and hate-mongers in both countries have also poisoned the minds of millions of people.

However, it is a fact that the people of the two countries belong to the same broad culture of the Subcontinent. They look very much the same. For example, a Pakistani Punjabi, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian is not different from an Indian Punjabi, whether a Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Christian. They are very much the same people. If they were left to themselves they will get on well with each other as they did before the Partition of 1947.

As a secular person in matters of State and a humanist in relation to all Believers and others, I appeal to the political leaders of India and Pakistan to follow the path of peace, stop sabre rattling, and avoid provoking nationalist and religious passions of the people. Nothing good will ever come out of cheap emotionalism.

Every political realist knows that the Kashmir Conflict is not so easy either. The parties have to take into account many factors in finding a workable, equitable and acceptable solution. This can only be done when the rulers of India and Pakistan take concrete steps to seek a solution to the conflict by letting the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide their own future. This way of dealing with the issue has the potential to make India and Pakistan as close partners in trade, education, joint projects for the welfare of the people of the region instead of using enormous resources on military and military hardware.

The Zionist hoax of “peace process” in Palestine

September 30, 2016

Russian think tank Katehon’s journalist Anastasia Zhukova  interviewed me last week per telephone. The following is her summary of the interview:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been under the virtual control of Israel and its authority limited to the West Bank. It has no control over the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority’s nominal president Mahmoud Abbas can operate only in the West Bank. However, most of the West Bank has been colonised and Israel has established its illegal settlements all over the place, leaving only a few areas for the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority was put in place in 1994 by Israel because after the Oslo Accords of 1993, the Zionists came up with the idea of creating an administrative body in the Israeli-occupied West Bank which could carry out its work on behalf of Israel. In such an arrangement, the role of the Palestinian Authority was no more than doing its work on behalf of the occupying power. At first, Yasser Arafat led the Palestinian Authority. Despite being an experienced man, he believed in the sincerity of the Israeli leaders. But he was gravely mistaken. Israel had no intention of giving up the occupied territories.

Then, in Israel ultra-right wing people, including Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, came to power. They had a huge number of operators to spread propaganda about the “peace process”. But there was no peace process. The whole thing was nothing but a big hoax.

No doubt, the rulers of Israel have consistently followed their plans for the expansion of Israel; they have not let anyone or anything come in their way. They have pursued their expansion by illegal settlements in the occupied territories. In doing this, the Zionists have not compromised with anyone. In essence, the Zionist mantra for settlements is that the whole of Palestine is their land, which God had given to them!

The United States and Israel have close relations. The Zionists were able to assert their control over the American political establishment through Israeli lobby and numerous Zionist associations in the U.S. As we can see, the American government is incapable of going against the Zionist interests. The U.S. rulers have to follow the commands of the Israeli rulers.

The American mass media have great power in the world, and in this it is the Zionists who exert enormous control over the mainstream media. They have an efficient propaganda machine which operates not only in in the US but also in Europe.

Despite all the heavy odds, some people have stood against the historical injustices inflicted on the people of Palestine, who have been trying to tell the truth about Israel’s policies against the Palestinians. These people work hard to tell the facts and expose the Zionist lies and deception.

India, the Kashmir Conflict and the danger of war

September 24, 2016

Nasir Khan, September 24, 2016

India is a big military power and it uses its military power to keep Kashmir under its colonial possession.

Indian rulers have shown no interest whatsoever in finding a workable solution to the seven-decade-old conflict about the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems they will continue the same old policy of playing for time and hope that the demands of the Kashmiris for freedom will die down. That is a false hope.
Under some flimsy pretext, India may even start a war against Pakistan to divert the world attention from its barbaric atrocities in Kashmir.

But any war between the two nuclear powers – India and Pakistan – is fraught with great dangers for the people of the two countries and the region. A conventional war may soon become a nuclear war and therein lies the greatest danger to the people of India and Pakistan.

 

 

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11

September 11, 2016

Nasir Khan,  September 11, 2016


If we leave aside many questions around the falling of the Twin Towers and the mysterious collapse of the 47-storey 7 World Trade Center Tower on September 11, 2001, one thing is certain: Who brought these towers down and by whatever means were not Iraqis or President Saddam Hussain of Iraq. That much is well known and remains unquestioned.
The Bush administration did not accuse Iraqis of being involved in 9/11 in any way either. So, why did President Bush invade Iraq and unleashed a destructive war of aggression in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed and this once-rich and prosperous country reduced to shambles?

Kashmiris and Pashtoons – Reply to a commentator

September 4, 2016

Nasir Khan, September 4, 2016

.
In response to my today’s post “Indian forces’ atrocities and murders in Kashmir continue” in a Facebook group (“Daring Facts”) one Mr Jaffar Safi wrote a comment. I am producing his comment, which was not directly related to my post but I replied to him where I tried to clarify some questions he had raised that may be of general interest to my readers and FB friends:

Jaffar Safi wrote: But Nasir Khan you must know the fact…within 40 years at least 70 thousands kishmiris martaryed by the indian forces and the whole world is crying in general and pakistani people in particular…but within 7 years only in Pashtoon belt round about 80 thousands plus innocent people were killed within the jurisdiction of pakistan …but we did not see even a single protest in azad kashmir and even in the rest of provices of pakistan …even you did not write a word of condolence….NASIR KHAN is it parity or disparity equality or inequility or justice or injustice with our people?

————-

Nasir Khan replied: Jaffar Safi – What happens in Pakistan or has happened in Pakistan is not the theme of my brief piece on the ongoing killings of the people of Kashmir. That’s the first thing to keep in mind. However, the killing of Pashtoon that you refer to is part of the political power struggles within Pakistan.

Pakistani rulers have used Islam for their political ends and exploited this religion to the full in every conceivable way. They used the same Pashtoon fighters to wreak havoc in Afghanistan in the 1980s and were instrumental in the holy war as paid- and misguided mercenaries of USA, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary powers that were involved in destabilising Afghanistan to destroy the Afghan Revolution.

After destroying the Socialist rule and killing the Afghan President Najibullah the same Pashtoon fighters became the soldiers of Allah under the name of the ‘Taliban’ and started killing innocent Pakistanis, targeting schools and religious and ethnic minorities. It was at that juncture that the Pakistani army took major military offensive against the militants and their hideouts. Of course, many innocent people also died as a result of military operations and millions fled from their homes and sought refuge in other places. This I don’t deny or condone. The so-called Taliban and their Islamist backers are still a festering sore in the body-politic of Pakistan.

Secondly, you mention only the plight of the Pashtoons under the military operations. But you don’t say what the same army has been doing and is still doing in Baluchistan. How have thousands of people been killed or “disappeared” there? A precarious situation in Sindh prevails where the suppression of the national demands of the Sindhis have been the part of the oppressive policies of the Pakistani rulers. All provinces of Pakistan in varying degrees have grievances, not only the Pashtoons of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

You raise a direct question about me in this. For me that was quite strange to read. As an ordinary political activist I have opposed and written against the policies followed by Pakistani rulers and their mercenary army for decades. Since the internet became available for general use, I have used different websites to expose the policies and violations of human rights of people in Pakistan and other places around the world. By the way, I have not lived in Pakistan for more than half a century. All I know about Pakistan is from some general news in English media in the West. However, I appreciate that Pakistanis who live in Pakistan and know the daily events and the role of the army against the Pakistani people write and publicise as much as they can. It is their responsibility to do their work.

At the same time, I have seen very little support amongst my Pakistani Facebook friends or those who are members of Facebook groups for the Kashmiris who are under Indian military occupation. That shows clearly the level of political consciousness such Pakistanis are able to display. This is my first and last response to you. My best wishes to you if you do any constructive work.