Friday, May 10, 2013

Pakistan's Future With or Without Taliban?

Someone somewhere is pulling the strings and pushing the nuclear armed Pakistan towards extreme right to bring in power the forces who should stand for the military-specific security goals of the state after the May 11 general elections. The threat perception is not very much visible in the West at this stage but a majority moderate Pakistanis are concerned about their country's future more than ever before. The consequences will ring alarming bells in Washington DC, western capitals, New Delhi, Kabul and even Beijing if the polls results empower the born-again post-9/11 militant Islam in Pakistan. The final month-long campaign race has already divided the political forces into two clear groups-pro-Taliban and anti-Taliban. 
Taliban and their supporters are mainly responsible for drawing a line of divide. The Pakistan-based Taliban movement (TTP) has issued threats in the very beginning of the election campaign and said the suicide attackers would bomb three parties-the nation-wide Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pashtun secular party Awami National Party (ANP) and Urdu-speaking Muttahidda Qaumi Party (MQM). They were the coalition partners in the previous PPP-dominated government.
The TTP threats provided an upper hand to the country's major right-wing and Islamist parties-Pakistan Muslim League (N) led by conservative Punjabi leadership of Sharif brothers, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also known as Taliban Khan for his soft corner for Taliban, Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-F (JUI-, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman who is considered the spiritual father of Taliban and Jama'at-e-Islami (JI), led by Syed Munawwar Hasan, known for radical views against liberals and US.  
The right-wingers were free till last day of the campaign and crisscrossed the whole country for attracting voters. However, none of the secular parties-PPP, ANP and MQM, managed a rally nor their leaders visited their constituencies due to security regions. The secular parties leaders have said certain forces want to impose a kind of mind-set over the 180 million people and enslave the masses.   
The polls surveys so far suggest electoral successes for the right-wingers. In that case a five years rule of the Islamists would take out all the bad genes out of the bottle. 
With a military internationally known for defending the state in accordance with the religious ideology and religious fanatics-Taliban, Mujahideen and Fidaeen, a future government dominated by the religious right-wingers would be a double-edged south-Asian democratic facade in Pakistan. And at stakes are the  secured withdrawal of the US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2014, a reasonably stable and democratic Afghanistan, a somewhat capped terrorism, regional stability, nuclear arms safety and Pakistan existence as a nation.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jama'at-e-Islami in Pakistan & Bangladesh

Bangladesh's new laws takes it miles ahead of Pakistan in combating radicalism and ideology-oriented genocide and rape. The two countries with a combined history of around 24 years (1947-1971) are going in totally different directions. Pakistan lives up with unleashing more of its monsters with more freedom, more hit targets and more space to move around. Bangladesh is in top gear towards capping the jin in bottle by amending the laws to prosecute and punish its all time vampiric Jama'at-e-Islami (JI) accused of genocide and rape while working as Pakistan's proxy in 1971 war that led to the division of the state founded mainly on religious grounds per text books.

The amended laws, approved on Feb 17, 2013, will allow the prosecution of the country’s largest Islamic party Jamaat-i-Islami and other organizations for its alleged involvement in the 1971 war crimes. The move can lead to banning JI and others groups involved in the war crimes against their own people.
Bangladesh Parliament also amended war crime laws to ensure the Jama'at leaders can be swiftly executed if convicted. It further allows petitioners to challenge the sentence if it is less than death. It set a 60-day limit for the supreme court to dispose of appeals.
In Pakistan, its the other way round. The Jama'at-e-Islami of 1947-71 has given birth to 100s of bloody proxies, clean shaved civil/military establishment, radicalized institutes,  paranoid writers and journalists. It has its anchors on Pakistan's so-called vibrant electronic media koshering day and night the murderous agenda of TTP, LeJ, al-Qaeda, Jundullah, SSP, Lashkar-e-Islam, Ghazi Brigade, Afia Siddiqi Brigade-to name a few. Its members are treated at par with Pakistan's largest political parties on media despite its zero representation in the country's parliament and provincial assemblies.
The TTP which could be better called 'Butcher of Pakistanis' consider JI, what Bengalis call JI and its leader Abdul Quader Molla the 'Butcher of Bengalis', as the godfather of all radicals. Most of al-Qaeda top leaders were arrested from the houses of JI members in Pakistan. Its top leadership in Pakistan has been fanning fratricide in the neighboring Afghanistan for the last 30 years to a level of craziness. And the TTP lately rejected the Feb 14th APC for resolving terrorism on the grounds that the JI didn't participate in it.
Pakistanis have yet to identify their enemies. Bangladeshis have identified their own. The tens of thousands of Bengali youth is seeking a secular future for themselves at Dhaka's Shahbagh square since Feb 5, 2013, rejecting the politics of the JI. The youth in Pakistan, instead, is following a former cricket star Imran Khan who is more radical than many religious leaders and hence got the title of 'Taliban Khan'.
The right wing media in Pakistan has made it hard for people to recognize the enemy  within the country's political and geographic boundaries. The enemy is wearing religious robes with a security cap on the head, taking the name of Allah when slaughtering a fellow Muslim. That is an acceptable practice to the country majority ethnic group Punjabis as long as the throat of a non-Punjabi Pakistani slits.
The coward enemy has neither the resources nor the will to fight against US or Indian  troops on the battlefield. He is existing and multiplying only to kill the unprotected civilian leaders, activists they think is a threat for their master.
Today Bangladesh deserves applaud from the world civil society for taking actions against those involved in the mass murder of over three million people and raping 1000s Muslim women in 1971. The genocide of Muslims was committed by none but the Muslim radical groups led by Jama'at-e-Islami. They were Pakistan military proxies then and they continue so now. Nothing changed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Northwest Pakistan Abandoned to Taliban

The Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in the northwest Pakistan are bearing the full brunt of Islamabad's 'strategic depth'. Taliban are the masters of huge swaths of the countryside here. 481 bomb blasts in 2012 in KP only, killing hundreds but scaring millions. The helpless eyes turn towards the Pakistan's powerful military after each fall of a town and every act of terror. But every time the public has to hear only the creaking noise of a kind of  'strategic silence', instead, from the military's power corridors in Rawalpindi. It is more a story of the military's 'abandonment' (appeasement--not at all) of its territories and less of what the West sees as the War on Terror (WOT) through the glasses of a Pakistani general.
Today TTP has its writ in Pakistan's northwest countryside and suburbs of the cities, extending its authority to over 27000 sq kilometers area--a land equal to Belgium in area. About seven million population-considering only FATA, PATA and semi tribal regions residents, more than the Georgians and many other states, are living in the shadow of the 'Made in Taliban' horror. Its religious courts have the power to grant life or death sentence to the TTP opponents in the presence of over 80,000 troops deployed in FATA. The towns and markets are manned and patrolled by Taliban gunmen under the watch of the US-funded Pakistan military posts. The tribesmen have been rendered as the forced subjects of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan (IEW) with headquarters in the North Waziristan. And imagine the Pakistan military kindness--the 'caliph' of the Islamic Emirate on the Pakistani soil is Afghan citizen--Siraj-ud-Din Haqqani. Just about 300 km eastward from Miram Shah in North Waziristan, a Pakistani with dual nationality can not sit in the parliament in Islamabad. Mr Haqqani's brothers and cousins move freely in convoys of motorcades between Rawalpindi and Waziristan with brief spills in UAE and Saudi Arabia
Break the rules of the IEW and death is just next door even if the violation takes place beyond the boundaries of the parallel Taliban state. They target the civil society figures at their free will whether its the defenseless six female aid workers in Sawabi on the 1st day of 2013, a teenager education activist Malala Yousafzai in Swat or an elderly politician Bashir Ahmad Bilour in Peshawar. The violent foot soldiers of the Strategic Depth named as Taliban are the unleashed wolves tearing down all the good faces of the northwest Pakistan. The victims of a Taliban-claimed suicide attacks can be anyone--an elderly mother, a newly wed couple, a bread earner for a family of nine members, a newly born daughter or a student of the 1st grade. They choose the place, timing and target for the fight without fearing the consequences.
All this goes for purifying the religion for Taliban; and securing the region for the military.  The goals are 'sacred' and so are the Jehadi tactics--everything is Kusher. Behead the opponents; blow them up in the suicide attack; abduct them; torture them; accuse them of spying; declare them infidels; call them a threat to the state and security. The terror Hollywood has its main studio in Pakhtunkhwa and FATA with branches in Baluchistan and Karachi.
There is no military operation on the cards for retaking the lost territory despite the increasing public demands. The main opponents of the operation are the military and militants. Both parties are not willing to challenge the status quo--a kind of their extra-parliamentary coalition rule in FATA where the "live and let live" policy is comforting both sides. The nexus is, however, dangerous for the civilized people of Pakistan and stakeholders in Afghanistan. Right now it can be termed as a recipe for the slow murder of everyone and everything they don't like, including Polio, in Pakistan. In the months to come, the IEW & Co. will return the favors with interest in Afghanistan by doubling the current efforts there.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Taliban Will Cross Indus

A huge majority in Pakistan and almost the whole of the Punjab province have their heads in sands while on the western side of the Indus river Pakistan military is losing land, writ and citizens to the brutal Taliban. If someone has doubts, ask the locals in FATA who are their masters.

Taliban's Evaporating Ideology:
The civilians-specific war theatre will not stop at the other side of the river. The Taliban ideology is evaporating in Pakistan, transcending the mountains and rivers. Their foot soldiers are in the safe havens of the mountains of Waziristan and sleeping cells in Peshawar, Karachi and elsewhere. But their masterminds and apologists have already fortified themselves on the eastern bank of the Indus river. They can be heard and seen every minute with their loud slogans and long arguments in the idiot boxes people have in their homes and lounges.

Dont be an Ostrich:
They will come after everyone as they want their writ in the whole country. If ignoring their knocking at the door is not an option then don't be such an ostrich--the sands are running out in the plains of Punjab, Pakistan's most populated province contributing over 90 percent military to the armed forces of Pakistan. Taliban didn't forgive Pashtuns, the most religious ethnic group on Pakistan's social fabric, and they would kick others too out of their cosy comforts they made for themselves.

Afghanistan Example:
It happened in Afghanistan and it would repeat itself in Pakistan too. The Hindukush mountains separate north from the south Afghanistan. The leaders of the  uzbek-dominated north were telling its people in early 1995 that Taliban couldn't cross the Hindukush--the tallest mountains in that part of the world. Taliban proved the Uzbek leaders wrong twice--in 1997 a failed attempt was converted into a successful attempt after one year. Hindukush mountains failed to deliver as a bulwark against the invading Taliban. All sorts of atrocities were reported as the rival forces didn't share the language, culture and future.

Threat to Civility:
The same can happen in Punjab and elsewhere in Pakistan. The military's inaction at a remote battlefield in north or south Waziristan has the risk of an uncertain future for the rest of Pakistan. True, Punjab and parts of Sindh are safe from terror attacks right now. But has anyone thought over the increasing Talibanization in Punjab and Sindh? More pro-Taliban voices are coming from the center and not from the northwestern peripheries today. Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has called Taliban his brothers. Imran Khan's PTI is opposing drone strikes against the militants in FATA despite the fact that one such attack killed Pakistan's top enemy Baitullah Mehsud, the then chief of TTP. The military has so far a soft corner for Taliban. All retired generals, except Gen Talat Masood, justify military's vague policy towards terrorism. Most of the TV anchors and column writers from the Punjab province give 101 reasons for maintaining the status quo. On top of that, a strong network of all sorts of Madrassas, Jama'at-u-Dawa, LeT, LeJ, SSP, HeT, Ghazi Brigade, Lal Masjid, Jaish-e-Muhammad, IJT, JI and many more have their roots in the fertile soil of Punjab. To put it in the military terms, they are the advance surveillance parties of the Taliban. The actual horror can be the next episode.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bashir Bilour--A Victim of Military Inaction

Pakistan is a paradise but its milk and honey are for the two groups--the over 500k military and a few 1000s unleashed militants. The rest of the masses in the 180 million population has options open, though. They have to surrender to the will of the military and militants; keep calm towards the horror theater around them; or stand up.
The last choice comes with a painful ordeal. It blocks your path to bread and butter, exposes you to the fear of death, merciless beheading, blasts and opens gates of hell. This is what Pakistan has rewarded with all of its brave daughters and sons in recent history. Bashir Bilour-the loudest voice against atrocities in the country is the latest addition to the 'made-silenced' list.
Military and Militants Shared Interests:
The post-9/11 moments, instead of waking up the country's defenders to mounting challenges, were exploited for cleansing the state with what they call them rotten eggs--Bashir Bilour, Salman Taseer, Benazir Bhutto, Saleem Shehzad to name a few. They were all eliminated by a mindset that is hugely considered a brainchild of Pakistan military nationally and internationally.
Bashir Ahmad Bilour is a victim of deliberate inaction by Pakistan military. Under the watch of military's 11th corps, responsible for protecting the north-western borders and its people, FATA, PATA and fringes of Peshawar are no more governable. The militants attack their targets from their safe sleeping cells in the cities at their will. Just this week on Dec 16, a blatant attack at Peshawar's airport and nearby installations showed how openly the militants move around. The militants forced this week the government for suspending the essential polio vaccination after murdering the unguarded young female polio vaccinators in Peshawar and Karachi. The only force Taliban face is Pakhtunkhwa's police. That is one other reason Taliban treat police with the most horrible terror. One police officer of the level of SP was beheaded near Peshawar and they took away his head along with themselves, terrorizing the less-budgeted force who are never trained for fighting terrorists.
In Benazir Bhutto case, the then military ruler and commander of all armed forces of Pakistan Gen retd Pervez Musharraf is wanted in courts for his alleged involvement in treating her with a combo of bullet and powder.
Salman Taseer was martyred by his own security guard. The current Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani told western diplomats he couldn't condemn the murder as he had sympathizers of the killer in his rank and file.

Public Perception of Military:
Pakistan's Lahore-based journalist Najam Sethi gave several reasons for a failed policy against terrorism. However, one reason for military's inaction is very much relevant at this moment of national mourning. He wrote in Friday Times 21st Dec issue:
"The military leadership is wary of taking additional casualties. COAS General Ashfaq Kayani has been internally sapped by a string of developments - an unprecedented three years extension in service that hasn't gone down well with the rank and file, the Raymond Davis affair, the US Navy Seal raid to kill and extract Osama Bin Laden, the botched-up Memogate witch-hunt, mishandling of the NATO supply routes blockade, and aspersions on the business conduct of his brothers - and is therefore hesitant to take the brunt of decisions that could rebound on him."
The North-western Pakistanis add one  more sentence to Mr Sethi's comment--military and militants are the same in northwest Pakistan. They may appear different in shapes--one with clean shave in Khaki uniform, the other with long thick beard and flowing trousers. Their common target is, however, the same--people of northwest Pakistan and their culture. They may deny it but this is what people experience on daily basis. Late Bilour was the latest bitter pill they swallowed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tattoos-God's Gift to Mullahs

Here it is. The tattoos on the dead bodies of militants in Peshawar finally proved the world was wrong and a few Mullahs in Pakistan were right. They all responded with one voice--'See! we were telling you Muslims can't carry terror attacks against their Muslim brothers. The tattoos proved the terrorists are not Muslims but agents of '--' open to their guesses.

Tattoos & Circumcission: The Weight in Argument
The apologists of Taliban have now bagged two proofs for their narrative of terrorism. The old one said that many militants killed in fightings were found uncircmcised. The latest evidence is the clear picture of the demonic tattoos on the back of a militant killed in a police operation near Peshawar airport on Dec 16, 2012. The Taliban sympathizers are putting their utmost efforts to exploit the minor events, favoring their version of the narrative, in the over 10 year long war on schools, markets, mosques and fellow citizens.
The pro-Taliban lobbyists' arguments lack knowledge about local cultures and historical facts while linking circumcission so close to Islam and tattoos as a heretic act. The culture of circumcission is more or less the same in Waziristan and parts of Central Asian states. People in Waziristan would tell you that circumcission was not that in among the locals till lately.
So is the Central Asia. The Muslims' conquests of the Central Asia took place in 705-715 A.D. The then newly appointed governors there doubted the religious allegiance of the converts to Islam as they were evading taxes. The governor of Khurasan, for example, tested their faith by ordering circumcission of the newly converts. The then caliph of the Ummayyads era Umar 2nd forbade it. The history has recorded his order as saying: "Mohammad was sent to spread the message of Islam among the people, not to circumcise them."
The practice of circumcission is still not existing in several Muslim population pockets  of the Central Asia. The long rule of the former communist Soviet Union in Central Asia  also distanced Muslim communities from several religious rites and culture. Unlike the male Muslims in the mainstream Pakistan, the chances are that many militants hailing from the Central Asia and Waziristan might not have gone through the ordeal of circumcission.
So is the culture of tattoos. A Muslim in Madina or Lahore might not go for tattooing on his/her body but if our Mullahs look beyond those two cities they would see a variety of cultures, influences, cults and behaviors in the diverse Muslim communities. For example, female circumcission is almost common in some African countries, including Muslim states. If it happens in Pakistan, people would come out on roads. The PAF base attacker in Peshawar is from Daghestan (Russia). Tattoos are considered common among the youth in that part of the world and should not be a surprise. Nor should be treated as a game changer in the narrative of militancy.

A Muslim Can't Fight Against Muslims:
Soon after the tattoos were found on the dead body of the militant/s, clerics and scholars of the rank of Jama'at-e-Islami's (JI) Prof. Khurshed Ahmad said tattoos were haram in Islam and it showed a Muslim can't fight against the Muslim, declaring the dead militant as non-Muslim. (Prof Khurshed's hypocritic comment on Dec 16 ignores the deadly past of his party's involvement in the genocide of the Bengali Muslims.) To their surprise, a note found with the tattooed militant body said his name was Masa'ab and his goal was to fight against the heretics. That is neither the first nor the last evidence proving the fact that Muslims do fight against Muslims.
Mullahs and their extensions in media have always defied history when it comes to the bloody civil wars within the Muslim Ummah. The history of Muslims shows groups of Muslim dissidents fought against the mainstream Muslims in days when CIA, ISI, Mossad or RAW didn't even exist. Those small groups have been referred to as 'Khawarij', (Kharijis) or heretics and sometime 'apostates'.
The first known FORMAL fight, for example, against the Khawarij in history is known as Battle of Nahrawan (March 22nd, 658). It was the fight between the forces led by the 4th caliph of Islam Hazrat Ali and hundreds of the rebels (Mostly Koran readers) who committed atrocities against the Muslims in eastern Iraq . The rebels mercilessly cut the throat of Abdullah bin Khabbab, the son of a Companion of the Prophet of Islam and speared his pregnant wife to death, providing an immediate cause for the war. The Muslim historians have a unanimous version on the murder of Abdullah bin Khabab and his pregnant wife. They say the couple came across  the Kharijis in eastern Iraq who questioned them about the 3rd caliph of Islam-Hazrat Uthman. The husband replied he was a just caliph. It infuriated the Kharijis and ordered their murder. Hazrat Ali marched towards them, though he was on way to Syria, and asked them to return allegiance and surrender those who committed murders. They said they were equally responsible for the murders. Though some withdrew, 1800 die-hard opted for a fight at Nahrawan. The forces of Hazrat Ali won it while all but seven Kharijis escaped live. A read to the History of Islam tells that Kharijis and orthodox Muslims have always been treated as enemies of the mainstream Muslim Umma.

Living in the Land of Confusion
The latest and early history of Islam authenticate the fact that Muslims fought among themselves in their very 1st century and they do kill one another in the current 21st century. There were bad guys in its history. There will be forces of darkness fighting with those bearing torches in the Muslim Ummah in its future too. By their very existence, they give a choice to the beholders to go for the good or bad. TTP claimed their men attacked the PAF base in Peshawar. Their apologists said the tattoos on the militants bodies showed Muslims can't carry out such attacks. The winners are the killers in the prevailing state of confusion.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Raza Rumi's Model: Shahbaz Sharif & Punjab

Its not clear what tempted Raza Rumi, a columnist and twittarati with over 22k followers, for writing a 'sab acha' (everything is OK) in Punjab kinda piece under the rule of 'Khadem-e-Aala' Mia Shahbaz Sharif: May be he did it as he was once a little 'cog' in his government machinery or he obliged CM Punjab for something he owned to him but we don't know it. With due respect to Mr Rumi but his article was for public consumption and its missing points need to be fixed.

Intellectual Dishonesty:
Whatever---but one thing is clear. Mr Rumi is NOT playing on the pitch of intellectual honesty in his almost toothless column, published in Express Tribune on Dec 3rd. The only thing Mr Rumi missed, thanks to his oversight, he fell short of calling Shahbaz Sharif "Umar of Punjab"---many of the so-called good administrators in Muslim history are often called as Umar in reference to the 7th century 2nd caliph of Islam Hazrat Omar (Pakistan text books boards have Omar with O when it refers to Islam's 2nd caliph), known for good governance in the history of Islam. You all have heard stories of the 2nd caliph walking in nights in the streets to find out who was in trouble, for instance.
On the style of the historical stories related to the 2nd caliph, the article mentions the heroic deeds of Shahbaz Sharif when he was 'seen walking himself in knee-deep water, after a monsoon rain, to get to areas inundated by the water and oversee relief work.' The author ignores the fact to tell his readers whether Punjab has taken enough steps to prevent future floods. It doesn't challenge Shahbaz Sharif's self-acclaimed title of 'Islamic Socialist' but refers to the claim, though purposely.

Punjab Vs Other Provinces:
Mr Rumi writes: 'When compared to the other three provinces, he stands out for his responsiveness and ability to set the parameters of governance right'. Thats very pathetic. Mr Rumi simply ignores that the other three provinces, including territories such as FATA, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, have yet to come out from the storm phase of state/nation-building and existence. Terrorism has crumbled down the ages old development and institutions in Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. Since Sharif has become CM, 100s of schools were constructed in Punjab and 1000s were destructed in KP and FATA.  Such is the race in education sector in the two provinces. While Punjab is progressing, Baluchistan is on fire since 2006. Mr Rumi's tweets on Baluchistan's plight tell a lot how the province turned into a hell in the last couple of years. Sindh's capital Karachi is losing investors to Punjab's Faisalabad due to violence there. FATA and GB can't be mentioned here as Shahbaz Sharif's 'bros' called Taliban have opened killing fields there.

Advice for Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Baluchistan:
'It is time for other provinces to learn from this (Sharif) model', writes Raza Rumi. Thanks but no thanks. Its not Sharif's model that prospers Punjab. The scheme of things does so. Pakistan's armed forces are from Punjab province. Every single penny of defense budget, which is the largest after debt service, goes to families in Punjab. People of other provinces and territories have less than 5 % share in Pakistan's defense budget and armed forces. 
The national and private lenders in Pakistan have their money and resources at the disposal of investors, entrepreneurs, farmers, medium-small businessmen from Punjab province. Check it with a bank in Mardan in Pakhtunkhwa, Dera Murad Jamali in Baluchistan or Jacobabad in Sindh how much loans it has provided to farmers or local entrepreneurs there in the last one year. A comparison will show that farmers in Cheechwatni in Punjab got loans and government subsidy but farmers in Pakhtunkhwa, to give an example, were arrested in Charsadda on Dec 12 for they were protesting against the lower than market prices for their cash crop tobacco.
And BTW, what Punjab lost in the all out terrorism in the other three provinces and elsewhere in Pakistan? Its a win/win phase for Punjab. US $$s coming to Pakistan go to armed forces and end up at the threshold of Punjab. The scared pale-faced industrialists in the other three provinces are shifting their money and factory to Faisalabad and elsewhere to secure their future. Individual rich families even can't afford resisting terror in Quetta, Peshawar or Karachi. Many have moved their families to the so far most safest place, Punjab, fueling real estate business there.

The author disappoints objective viewers as he fails to give some facts and figures on corruption in Punjab and its comparison with the other three provinces. Reports recently quoted head of Pakistan's anti-corruption watchdog NAB as saying Punjab's share in corruption stands at 65%---other provinces have to learn it from Sharif's admin how he does it so successfully that even Raza Rumi can't see it.