Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

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.

ISIS attacks in Brussels

March 23, 2016
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Terrorist attacks in Brussels in a wider context of US imperial wars

zaventem-airport

by Dr. Nasir Khan

On 22 March 2016, some suicide bombers carried out their indiscriminate attacks on the innocent people in Brussels. Their acts of vicious violence are shocking and despicable.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for these attacks.

ISIS has shown once again that it can strike anywhere it chooses and by such violent actions,  it gains maximum publicity for its ideological stance and objectives. The murders of 22 March are part of the pattern that ISIS had established and since last year has extended its operations to Europe.  As the organisation has many sympathisers in different countries and many of its indoctrinated fanatics are willing to be suicide bombers, it shows its reckless attitude towards all it regards enemies or opponents.

Despite the utterly abominable crime we witnessed, we should also try to see the terrorist attacks in European countries like France and Belgium in a wider context. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and to some extent Pakistan also have been in the throes of imperial wars as well as internal conflicts for many decades. What has happened in Paris last year and now in Brussels was an extension of the violence from Iraq and Syria to Europe.

We rightly condemn what happens at the hands of fanatic terrorists in Europe but when it comes to US wars and EU interventions in the Islamic countries,  we, who live in the western hemisphere,  show little concern over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people there. Apparently, the people of the world are not in total darkness about the recent history of Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, and Syria. Under the slogan ‘War on Terror’, the US rulers with the help of their allies have pursued their geopolitical objectives by wars and terror, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Unfortunately, political leaders and the media show great reluctance to give the same attention to the vast numbers of innocent victims of genocidal wars. However, when it comes to any terrorist attack anywhere in the west they give a forceful response to any acts of violence and terror. Such attitudes are unhealthy and discriminatory. In fact, religious fanatics take advantage of such debunked standards and successfully show the enmity of the western nations towards Muslims. The aim of propaganda is not to inform and enlighten but to terrify and mislead. In this, US rulers have been the role model for Muslim extremists.

Now let us briefly mention the role of recent US wars. It was no other power than the United States that unleashed the first Gulf War in 1991. The real objective of the United States was not only to evict the Iraqis out of Kuwait but also to diminish the power or potential of Iraq as a regional power.

In fact, President Saddam Hussein had accepted the UN terms for military withdrawal from Kuwait to end his occupation, but US rulers did not allow him to do so. There was a simple reason for this:  A peaceful withdrawal of Iraqi army from Kuwait would have left Saddam’s military power and military hardware intact. That was not acceptable to Washington and the Pentagon hawks. Therefore, they attacked and destroyed brutally the retreating and helpless Iraqi army.

General Colin Powell boasted of having killed so many encircled soldiers and burying many thousands of them alive in the desert. By such bravery, he must have added another medal to his uniform.  Saddam had no options left. The United States initiated and imposed sanctions on Iraq with the formal approval the United Nations. Incidentally, such a formal U.N. approval has the magic to make any major war crime by the US rulers legitimate! The United States has exploited this façade of the U.N. approval routinely.

We rightly condemn what happens at the hands of fanatic terrorists in Europe but when it comes to US wars and EU interventions in the Islamic countries,  we, who live in the western hemisphere,  show little concern over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people there.

In 2003, America took the second major step to invade and occupy Iraq.  This practically meant finishing off Iraq as a possible regional power if it ever raised its head at some future date. That was in consonance with the neocon strategy to have only one regional big power in the Middle East that was both strategically and politically indispensable part of U.S. hegemonic power and dominance. That regional power was and is Israel.Without an iota of credible ground or reason, President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq and invaded a vast secular Arab country, which did not let any religion or sect to interfere with the affairs of the state. After a massive destruction by the invaders of life, property and infrastructure in Iraq, President Bush became the eventual conqueror and master of Iraq and of its rich oil resources.

As a matter of imperial policy to divide and rule, the Americans started the sectarian favouritism that fuelled sectarian violence and killings. Even after the ‘nominal’ ending of the occupation, the fire of sectarian violence America had ignited to further its objectives is still raging on. Thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis have died.

The forces of terror, revenge, religious sectarianism and fanaticism that American rulers unleashed in Iraq are out of control; no one is able to control them. Only the ordinary people of Iraq have become the victims of the genocidal war in Iraq. The mayhem and anarchy America created in Iraq has extended beyond the frontiers of Iraq.

Out of the ensuing chaos and instability in Iraq arose ISIS and its Islamist fanatics. ISIL is a direct result of US wars on Iraq. President Bush has said that God asked him to invade Iraq. If the killing of  hundreds of thousands of Iraqis can be  justified because of  listening to the command of God then ISIL can also invoke the support of the  same God for whatever they do or have plans to do! In fact, the US Constitution allowed for a democratic form of government, not a theocracy; ISIL, on the other hand, claims to be a theocracy and its administrative structure is that of a caliphate.  According to its way of interpreting, ISIS has ‘God on its side’.

Another major US imperial adventure was in Afghanistan. It is common knowledge that the United States was instrumental in creating and arming the Mujahidin to fight the Soviet army that had come to help the Afghan revolutionary government. After the Soviet leaders pulled their military from Afghanistan, the American-sponsored Mujahidin of 1980s became the Taliban, the new rulers of Afghanistan.

There is no doubt that the Soviet army suffered heavily in Afghanistan. The US imperialists, with the help of reactionary Saudi and Pakistani rulers and their well-equipped mercenary fighters crushed the Afghan revolution. In this way, they turned the clock of history back by empowering the primitive Mujahidin/Taliban. But that friendship did not last long.

In 2001, America attacked Afghanistan and ended the Taliban rule. The occupiers started a brutal suppression of the Afghans who had no quarrel with America at all. During their long Afghan war, Americans were not able to break the resistance of the Afghan patriots and the Taliban. They finally forced the occupiers to end their occupation. The puppet regime of the former president Karzai and now the present president Ghani have faced the consequences of the imperial invasion. The country suffered enormously and its people reduced to abject poverty and deprivation. At present, the Taliban are still there and fighting the Kabul government.

In short, countless millions of people have suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Whether we call it a civil war or war by proxy by regional powers, the war in Syria has reduced many cities to rubble. Hundreds of thousands have died.  Millions of Syrians have become homeless. They are trying to escape to any place where they can exist as normal human beings.

Other victims of wars from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and numerous other countries also join them in this quest for a safe haven in Europe. These people are in dire difficulties who need all the possible help. However, it is also important to underline the fact that Europe has no solution to the problems of millions of refugees and asylum seekers. Their number will keep on multiplying, not decreasing. Those who think otherwise live in a world of fantasy.

By attacking innocent civilians in France, Belgium and Turkey, ISIS is able to create a sense of insecurity and fear throughout Europe. No state or public authority can provide complete safeguards against any random attacks. There is no shortage of weapons in Europe or anywhere else. Those who want to commit any terrorist attack will be able to acquire any bombs or weapons they need.  It is a false hope that any intelligence agencies in an open society can stop all indoctrinated and ideologically motivated suicide bombers from their criminal behaviour.

Most of the western societies including Australia have become multi-cultural and multi-religious that have ethnic communities of Afro-Asian origin. Among the immigrant communities, strong social bonds exist through their tribal and religious identities. While the western societies have developed a more relaxed attitude towards their religions and deities, most of the immigrants have gone the other way. There is a strong tendency to adhere to the formal religious traditions where their clerics play a vital social role. Any terrorist attack has negative consequences for these people, especially the Muslims.  They become suspect merely because some Muslim terrorist has done something seriously wrong, somewhere. This strengthens cultural and social stereotypes.

– See more at: http://www.mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/57987-isis-attacks-in-brussels.html#sthash.TYCQ5Nod.dpuf

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

April 18, 2015

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter

Published time: March 30, 2015 12:52

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007.  (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

In the comprehensive 101 pagedocument ‘Body Count,’

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.

The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.

“The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely,” the executive summary says.

Continues >>

Pakistani blasphemy laws and minorities

November 6, 2014

Nasir Khan, November 6, 2014


This unthinkable and horrifying news of the breaking of the legs of  a working-class Christian couple and burning them alive by a large mob of Muslims in Pakistan shows the utmost inhuman acts in the name of religion in general and blasphemy laws of Pakistan in particular. (For details, see:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-147-2014) It is also important to see that this was an extreme example of that social and moral degradation that prevails in Pakistan. The morbid disregard shown by some extremist or even some ordinary Muslims for crimes against the members of any religious minority, such as Christians, Ahmadis or Hindus, etc. is not frowned upon by many Muslims but is rather viewed as an act of devotion to God and the Prophet. Such is the lower depth of depravity that prevails in Pakistan and very many indoctrinated ignorant  people  rejoice over such acts of  unspeakable savagery in that  country.

But there is little ground to criticise only the ‘uneducated’ or ‘brainwashed’ people; many ‘educated’ people including many lawyers also support such blasphemy laws. For instance, in 2011 Mr Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab province, a secular leader and opponent of the unjust blasphemy laws, was killed by his own bodyguard because he had spoken against the ill-treatment of Christians and advocated the repeal of the blasphemy laws. It may come as a somewhat surprise to many people in the world that many people in Pakistan had zealously demonstrated in favour of the murderer and among such demonstrators were the Pakistani lawyers who wanted to stand by the murderer and protect the blasphemy laws!

Pakistani rulers and legislators imposed the blasphemy laws in a country where Muslim populace was religious but never morbidly extremist or intolerant of other faiths or viewpoints. However, the introduction of the blasphemy laws changed things drastically. They strengthened further the hands of the rightist and obscurantist forces in the land. Such laws could easily be used and exploited in matters that had nothing to do with religion as such. For instance, they provided a pretext, a cover-up to those who to settle their private conflicts or disputes could readily accuse their opponent of having said anything derogatory about matters covered by the blasphemy laws. Thus any Christian or the follower of any other minority faith can be falsely accused by anyone; it has been happening regularly. Once charged, their fate was sealed. There was little any such accused people could do to prove their innocence because the charge of blasphemy had already tilted the balance of justice against them. To the outside world such things may seem too primitive and stupid for a country in these times. But that’s how the things are in Pakistan. And the injustices ordinary innocent people suffer especially the religious minorities are getting worse in Pakistan.

What can the international community do to stop this savagery in Pakistan? Let me leave this question for consideration to other writers and activists also. In this context, I appeal to all human human rights organisations, individuals who defend human rights and political activists for their help and solidarity for a common struggle against the most frightening crimes committed in Pakistan against the ordinary people belonging to various religious minorities. As long as the present blasphemy laws are on the statute book such brutal crimes as we saw in the case of the inhuman murder of this Christian couple will not stop. The minorities of Pakistan are extremely vulnerable and they need our help and protection. There are many things that need to be done; to demand the repeal of the blasphemy laws in one of them because these laws are a flagrant violation of human rights and a sickening misuse of Islam, a great and noble religion of compassion and toleration. This matter should also be brought before the organs of the United Nations. All civilised people around the world have a moral responsibility to raise their voice against the violations of basic human rights under the blasphemy laws and the victimisation of religious minorities in Pakistan.

(The server to Humanrights.Asia for the link seems out of order now. But the tragic news can be read on this link: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33445)

Violence in Pakistan and religion

November 3, 2014

Nasir Khan, November 3, 2014

Yesterday 60 people were killed in Pakistan and many were injured. Such killings of the innocent people have become a matter of routine that are repeated so often. Ordinary people are helpless; they can’t do anything. The government cannot control this pervasive violence because the causes of violence are many. It is obvious that no pious wishes can change the situation because without uprooting the causes of violence, none can stop the violence. There are many causes for this, starting from the manipulative policies of Pakistani rulers and their subservience to US imperialism, to the Saudi role in Pakistan and the exploitation of religion in general for well over six decades.

A tree is known by the fruit it bears. Pakistan is harvesting the fruit now in the shape of senseless killings, violence and religious fanaticism. In this country different political and social forces have done much to banish sanity from the public and private lives of its citizens. Political elite and religious establishment had set the process of making Pakistan a citadel of ‘pure’ Islam. We see how that citadel looks and how the rest of the world sees it. The results of myopic indoctrination and misuse of religion are clear. No realist observer can predict any change for the better in the foreseeable future either because the communal hatred, sectarianism and ignorance [jahilia] have taken deep roots that cannot be uprooted by any emergency measures. Pakistan needs a new direction in politics and in educational system to stop the misuse of religion and new strategies to cope with violence and fanaticism.

Paul Craig Roberts: Agenda Prevails Over Truth

December 30, 2012
 
Paul Craig Roberts, IPE, December 28, 2012

In the Western world truth no longer has any meaning. In its place stands agenda.

Agenda is all important, because it is the way Washington achieves hegemony over the world and the American people. 9/11 was the “new Pearl Harbor” that the neoconservatives declared to be necessary for their planned wars against Muslim countries. For the neoconservatives to go forward with their agenda, it was necessary for Americans to be connected to the agenda.

President George W. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neil, said that prior to 9/11 the first cabinet meeting was about the need to invade Iraq.

9/11 was initially blamed on Afghanistan, and the blame was later shifted to Iraq. Washington’s mobilization against Afghanistan was in place prior to 9/11. The George W. Bush regime’s invasion of Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) occurred on October 7, 2001, less than a month after 9/11. Every military person knows that it is not possible to have mobilization for invading a country half way around the world ready in three weeks.

Continues >>

Some Comments on Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 19, 2011

by Nasir Khan, January 19, 2011

Editor’s Note: Gorki wrote a comprehensive comment on my article ‘Resolving the Kashmir Conflict (Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011 ) in which he offered his perspective and also raised some important questions. In reply, I have written the following remarks. For the sake of convenience, I have split his comment into a few parts followed by my reply:

Gorki:

Dr. Khan I find your article useful because it allows one to hear the views of the Kashmiris themselves regarding the Kashmir imbroglio.

On the face of it your statement “The best course left for India is to make a break with its previous policy, and accede to the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. This will not weaken India; instead, it will show the strength of Indian democracy as well of the humane aspects of Indian cultural tradition…” sounds reasonable and taken in isolation such views even find many sympathetic listeners in India itself. However the Indians must keep other consideration in mind that cannot be considered imperialistic by any stretch of imagination.

Nasir:

Gorki , thank you for your balanced opinion on a number of points and the important questions you have raised in your comment. I will try to reply to some points.

My roots are in the Indian culture and I am deeply proud of our historical heritage. I am well aware of the Indian Civilisations stretching back to the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation, some five thousand years old. Merely because of the hostile Indo-Pak relations since the partition of India in 1947, the Kashmir Issue has been the main cause of tension between the two states, I have regarded both India and Pakistan as parts of the same body, the body being the subcontinent of India that holds diverse races, cultures and mores showing much diversity while geographically belonging to the same entity. We can compare the subcontinent’s position with the broad geographical areas identified with Europe. In Europe there have been many languages, diverse cultures, political and religious conflicts for well over two thousand years. Despite all that various nations and people of this continent identity themselves with Europe and its civilisations, old and new. In a similar way, as an individual I identity myself with the subcontinent. My regional identity with Kashmir and the historical connection I have with with Kashmir is only natural; it is the affinity of part with the whole. As such they are mutually interdependent, not exclusive of each other.

Gorki:

The reality is that the entire former British India is organically connected and anything that happens in one part has an echo elsewhere in the sub continent. For example when a sacred relic went missing for 17 days from the Hazrat Bal mosque in 1963; there was rioting all over India. Thus any action in or regarding Kashmir cannot be taken in isolation.

While self determination and independence by themselves are honourable goals, anyone arguing for self determination only for the Kashmiris of the valley would either have to argue on the basis of some kind of Kashmiri exceptionalism or else should be willing to accept similar demands for self determination from others such as the Sikhs in the Indian Punjab and the Baluch in Pakistan. Conceding any such demands then would risks major man made disasters like the ethnic cleansing and huge population displacements that occurred in the wake of the partition in 1947.

Nasir:

Here your formulation about the organic connection has the Spencerian undertones! We have histories of India and Indian states before the British came. When the British gradually took over different parts of India by force of arms or by their political skills (and tricks), our people and many of our rulers evinced little concern to what happened to small or big states who were being devoured by the East India Company. Some of them had treacherously sided with the Farangis against those Indian rulers who resisted the British. This is also our history.

The instance of the disappearance of a holy relic in Kashmir you cite has more to do with religious feelings and identities than with the organic connection throughout the subcontinent. Such relics can also be seen as having extra-territorial dimension and impact.

In fact, we have seen major political conflicts and killing of innocent people by the Indian state (and also by Pakistani army in the Northwest Pakistan at the bidding of the United Sates as a continuing policy of crushing and eliminating those who resist and oppose the American wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The vast majority of these countries has not shown much resolve to oppose the policies of their governments. But, a religious relic or what believers may call a ‘religious place’ is something different! That moves our masses, and they do what they think is serving their deities!! We know how the religious passions of ordinary people inflamed by rightist forces in India in which the Indian rulers were implicated, led to the destruction of the Babri mosque by the Hindu mobs and the killing of thousands of innocent Indian Muslims in Gujarat.

But what sort of policies a state formulates and implements has a direct bearing on the political developments of a country. The same is true in the case of India; a wise political lead by responsible politicians influences and shapes the political landscape.

Now the question of ‘Kashmiri exceptionalism’ if India and Pakistan hold plebiscite to meet the demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir: I myself, do not regard the case of Jammu and Kashmir an exceptional one; but no doubt there is a historical context to it. The circumstances under which India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir is much different from other princely states. At the end of the British rule in India and the partition of India by the imperial rulers, there were 562 princely states, big and small, over which the British held suzerainty or ‘paramountcy’ as in the case of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We know how these princely states were incorporated into the two new states. How India extended its control over Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is relevant to the whole question of the Kashmir Issue. After the military conflict and the ceasefire mediated by the United Nations, both India and Pakistan agreed to hold plebiscite that would enable the people of J&K to determine their future. That promise still remains unfilled and the consequences of that denial have been catastrophic for India, Pakistan and especially the people of J&K.

The Kashmir Conflict continues to be the unfinished task of the 1947 partition. This conflict has not disappeared; neither will it go away because the bullet has so far overridden the ballot and common sense.

Gorki:

Letting Kashmir valley join Pakistan OTOH would in essence be conceding the two nation theory; again not without risks. As you rightly pointed out, India remains a home to some 130 million Muslims. Letting the Muslims of the valley to go join Pakistan would in no way enhance the security of the non-Kashmiri Muslims elsewhere in India and if anything would make them even more insecure and strengthen the very forces of Hindutva that you pointed out threaten India’s fragile communal amity. (Ironically this is exactly what happened to the Indian Muslims of UP and Bihar who had allowed themselves to be emotionally led into voting for the AIML’s election plank of a Pakistan in 1946 which then left them high and dry).

Even within the state of Jammu and Kashmir itself, there would be major upheavals in case the current structure is tampered with. What would happen to the minority Muslims in Jammu and Ladakh?
Also if one argues that Kashmir is a homeland for the Kashmiris then what happens to other non Kashmiri populations of the valley such as the Gujjars etc.? Where would their homeland be?

Nasir:

Here you raise some important questions and also some legitimate concerns. First, the ‘two nation theory’. In fact, the partition of India was on the basis of  the two nation theory. For the sake of argument, I will say that if the people of J&K join A or B country, or decide for some other option they should have the democratic right to do so. The organic linkage you seem to emphasise in case the Valley joins Pakistan is worthy of consideration, but what Kashmiri Muslims want is their right to determine their future and to gain freedom. What that freedom entails is the freedom from Indian rule. This is their wish and to crush their aspirations the Indian state has used more than half-a-million soldiers. They have killed more than one-hundred-thousand people. It is military occupation of a country where India has committed horrific war crimes.

Who contributed to such a perspective that shaped the political history of India and led to the division of India by the British? Well, an easy way for amateurs is to have a bogeyman to explain away the historical facts and blame the Muslim leadership for all that! Even before Mr Gandhi came to India from South Africa, one of the most prominent Indian politician at that time was Mr Jinnah, who was commonly known as the ‘ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity’. He had the vision of a democratic, united India at the end of the British raj. But alas that was not to happen because this liberal, secularist lawyer was able to see the machinations of the Hindu leadership of the Indian National Congress and other Hindu militant organisations standing for the Ram raj and the Hindu domination of the whole sub-continent.

In my political work, at no time have I ever said what the people of J&K should stand for or how they should decide about their future. Neither have I ever advocated that the people of the Kashmir Valley should join Pakistan. That is something for the affected people to decide.

The Kashmiris’ demand and their struggle for Azaadi (freedom) is not directed against any other people, ethnic or religious minorities, who make up the population of their country. The people of J&K, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., have traditions of tolerance and inter-religious accommodation. In 1947, I was a six-year-old; I had seen how Hindus and Muslims had a shared and fraternal existence in our area. If the people of J&K are given a chance to live as free human beings and not under the terror of military power of India, then our age-old traditions of mutual respect and acceptance will reassert. That will be a good example for the Hindutva rightist forces that pose a great threat to the Indian democracy and religious minorities, Muslims being their major target.

I am also conscious of the dangers you rightly point to if the ‘current structure’ is changed. But I don’t suppose you offer your solution as the continued rejection of the demands of the Kashmiris because that safeguards some ‘ideal’ unity of India, knowing that India has carried out a militarist solution to crush the demands of the Kashmiri freedom movement. Simply put, it has been state terrorism by an occupying power. This short-sighted policy will fail in the long run as it has failed in the past.

Gorki:

You rightly mention that Kashmir is currently a big source of contention between India and Pakistan. However how certain can anybody be that this will not be the case if this issue is sorted out? Former Pakistani president, General Musharraf once said that India will remain Pakistan’s considered foe even if Kashmir issue is resolved. There are people with strong following in Pakistan who argue for waging a war on ‘Hindu India’ to conquer the Red Fort and restore the Mughal Empire. What of those?

Nasir:

If the main source of conflict between India and Pakistan is resolved according to the wishes of the people of J&K, then we expect the two neighbours will live amicably side by side and their bilateral relations and socio-cultural contacts will increase which will benefit all the people of the region. What Musharraf said is his view and it should not be taken too seriously. Apparently, the climate of hostility and mutual recriminations between India and Pakistan since the partition, people on the both sides have been fed on cheap propaganda. The nonsensical slogans to restore the Mughal Empire is the daydreaming of some Rip Van Winkles who are living in past, not in the twenty-first century.

Gorki:

I agree with you however that the current stifling atmosphere in Kashmir has to come to an end; human rights violations need to be investigated in a transparent manner and the culprits have to be vigorously prosecuted. Kashmiris need to feel that they control their political and economic destiny in their own hands. For this to happen however both the Indian state and the Kashmiri separatists have to demonstrate courage and pragmatic far sightedness.

The state has to take the above listed steps in the short run. In the long run it has not only to deliver on the economic measures promised previously but also to scrupulously avoid the mistakes of the past such as blatant rigging of elections as it did on the 80s in Kashmir and elsewhere in India.
For their part the Kashmiri separatists have to realize that the peaceful and constitutional methods of protest are in the best interest of all Kashmiris and the constitution is their best ally. India is not an empire; it is a Republic and a civic nation.
The constitution does not hold the rest of India in any special position over Kashmir; if anything it is the Kashmiris who hold a special place within the constitution.
Today if the separatists were to come to power via electoral politics, there is absolutely nothing that such a government could not do within the existing framework to better the life (or freedom) of an ordinary Kashmiri that it could do if they had complete ‘Azaadi”.

Nasir:

Some suggestions you make and the prognosis you offer are reasonable. If Kashmiris hold a special place in the Indian Constitution, then obviously Indian control over Kashmir was unlike any other princely state. That also shows that the Indian government had political considerations to accord special status to Kashmir within the Union. But what stops the Delhi government from acceding to the demands of the people of J&K to plebiscite? Why should a great power like India be so afraid to listen to the voice of the people instead of using state terror to crush them?

It is also possible that the vast majority may opt for India. Thus by a generous and courageous political move, India has the power to defuse the conflict for ever. If that happens, then those who stand for separation from India will lose and the consequences will pacify all sides. This can usher in a new era of improved inter-communal and regional relations. Religious fundamentalists and rightist forces on the both sides will not be able to exploit the religious sentiments of the people any longer. That will be a victory of the common sense over emotionalism and communal frenzy.

Gorki:

There is already a precedent of such a dramatic change in political struggle within India. In the 1980s many Sikh leaders were charged with sedition and jailed for demanding a Khalistan and burning copies of the Indian constitution as protest. Today, one of those former separatist is an all powerful Chief Minister in Punjab and there is no opposition because the remaining separatists cannot list a single point in which way the life of an average Sikh would be different in an independent Khalistan.

I do hope to hear form you.
Regards.

Nasir:

In India there are still many regional and ethnic conflicts. I don’t think the Khalistan movement ever had any justifiable political stance and I am happy it reached its cul de sac. But we should be aware of the pitfall of equating Khalistan with the Kashmir Conflict.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to respond to your wise and erudite comment.

Cordially yours

Nasir Khan

Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 14, 2011

by Dr. Nasir Khan, Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011

Almost the whole world had condemned the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Such terrorism had also, once again, reminded us how important it is to combat the forces of communalist terror and political violence in the Indian subcontinent. But what is often ignored or suppressed is the fact that there are deep underlying causes of the malaise that erupts in the shape of such violent actions; the unresolved Kashmir issue happens to be the one prime cause that inflames the passions and anger of millions of people.

Kashmir Conflict

However, to repeat the mantra of “war on terror” as the Bush Administration had done for the last eight years while planning and starting major wars of aggression does not bring us one inch closer to solving the problem of violence and terror in our region. On the contrary, such short-sighted propaganda gimmicks were and are meant to camouflage the wars of aggression and lay the ground for further violence and bloodshed. The basic motive is to advance imperial interests and domination. The so-called “war on terror” is no war against terror; on the contrary, it has been the continuation of the American imperial policy for its definite goals in the Middle East and beyond. Obviously any serious effort to combat terror will necessarily take into account the causes of terror, and not merely be content with the visible symptoms.

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Benazir Bhutto And Her Commitment To Democracy?

January 6, 2011
By Shahid R. Siddiqi. Axis of Logic, Jan 5, 2011

Editor’s Comment: December 27, 2011 was the 3rd anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and Shahid R. Siddiqi updates the essay he wrote for publication on Axis of Logic on the second anniversary of her death.

Associated Press of Pakistan reported Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani’s words on this third, sad anniversary. Gilani told the Pakistani people that the life of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto is “a classic study of courage, commitment towards people’s welfare, and steel like determination to accomplish the goals she set before herself.” The PM continued, calling Bhutto “an incarnation of steadfastness, perseverance and determination.” He said that her name would be “chronicled in golden words in the annals of history.”

It is curious to consider how difficult it is for human beings to speak in plain language and write honestly about the dead. Notions of “honoring the dead” seem to compel most to ignore or paint over the wrongs committed by them when they were alive. It’s a sin of kindness that can be easily forgiven in personal and family atmospheres where loved ones suffer loss and are in need of comfort. But when the person who dies is a public figure such as a head of state with great responsibility for many people, it is important to look honestly at the life lived, service rendered, values exemplified and decisions made. It’s important to measure the gains and failures wrought by that life for the historical record and for lessons to be learned by others. Shahid Siddiqi has done just this on the second and third anniversary of Benazir Bhutto’s death.

– Les Blough, Editor

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated
three years ago, December 27, 2007

South Asians are sentimental people. Over the centuries, their romanticism about revered religious deities and historical social icons has shaped their psyche of nurturing personality cults. To this when you add pervasive illiteracy and ignorance about political realities of the present times, it is not difficult to understand why some political leaders have managed to achieve their meteoric rise to power merely on the strength of their charisma.

For lack of substance, such political heroes did not last very long. They owed their fall to incompetence in management of the affairs of the state and misuse of power and often met violent fate. Their warts were posthumously removed by their hangers-on who, for their own self aggrandizement, transformed them into martyrs, clearing the way for their dynasties to rule after them. Those who survived, ensured that their parties became more like their personal “jageers” where they were surrounded by sycophants and succeeded by immediate family members.

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Pakistan flood victims face harsh winter

December 23, 2010
by: Brian McAfee, People’s World, December 20,  2010

PakistanFloodIDPs520x318
Photo: A woman and her two children stand in their makeshift shelter in the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. Their home was destroyed in the floods that have affected an estimated 2.5 million of the province’s 3.5 million residents.
( UN Photo/UNICEF/ZAK/CC)

Reports indicate that the hardships from Pakistan’s earlier monsoon floods have been exacerbated by the onslaught of winter.

The floods affected 20 million people — more than 10 percent — of Pakistan’s population of just over 180 million people.

Yet, as the temperature dips, hundreds of thousands of displaced children and adults are susceptible to pneumonia and other cold-related diseases. According to Director of the National Institute of Child Health (Pakistan) Professor Jamal Raza, the flood victims becoming ill from cold related causes, particularly children, could almost double from the current number. Many are living in non-winterized tents, and there are shortages of dry firewood/fuel and other materials, such as adequate clothing, needed to create warmth.

Further, many of the flood ravaged areas from this year’s monsoon remain covered in water and millions are still displaced. Concurrently, many displaced are farmers whose fields are still flooded, and they have no source of livelihood. Food distribution is difficult to carry out under the circumstances.

Concerning the children, Raza says that it will be an uphill battle to save many of the them as they are malnourished, and have experienced a great deal of weight loss due to poor diet. Moreover, he says, their  capability for immunity is very low and, accordingly, they are susceptible to a wide range of respiratory diseases. Consequently, there is an urgent need for blankets, quilts and better shelter to fight the cold, as well as provisions for the obvious nutritional and medical needs.

Reports out of Pakistan indicate a further danger caused by the floods: the release of stored toxic chemicals into the flood waters. An article in New Scientist reports the floods released an estimated 3,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals into the environment. The chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) include several insect repellents, such as DDT. At the same time, many of them do not biodegrade in nature, and are purportedly linked to hormonal, developmental and reproductive disorders. Pakistan’s floods have awakened some nations and scientists to this ongoing threat as changes in weather patterns become more evident.

Reputable organizations currently active in the relief effort in Pakistan include OXFAM, AmeriCares and United Nations Refugee Agency. If you consider helping the people of Pakistan through a  contribution to any one of them, be sure to specify that the donation is for Pakistan flood relief.