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.