Showing posts from November, 2006

Latest Sectarian Attack in Chitral

Ismaili holy site torched
Daily Times, December 1, 2006

PESHAWAR: Unknown miscreants burnt down a holy site belonging to the Ismaili community in Chitral district, which has seen sectarian violence in the past, police said on Thursday. The incident took place on November 25 when an Ismaili place of worship was reduced to ashes in Rech village, Torkhow tehsil, 170 kilometres away from Chitral city. “We are investigating the incident,” DSP Headquarters Sultan Bacha told Daily Times over the phone from Chitral. Police have not arrested anyone yet and Bacha declined to say whether the incident was linked to past sectarian violence. Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili sect, has spent billions of rupees on community development projects across the district and continues to invest in the development of the area. staff report

The Debate in Boston about Two Pakistani Imams

Arrests of local imams divides community on law enforcement
Dueling petitions spark debate over immigration
By Kristin Erekson :Jewish Advocate - Thursday November 30 2006

Two Bostonians expanded the debate on immigration rights to the Web last week as they created an online petition in support of the recent arrests of local Muslim leaders.

Imams Hafiz Muhammed Masood of the Islamic Center of New England in Sharon and Hafiz Abdul Hannan of the Islamic Society of Greater Lowell in Chelmsford, along with Masood’s 24-year-old son, Hassan, were released on bail from the Plymouth County House of Correction last Tuesday.

The Pakistan natives were among 33 individuals taken into custody around the country as part of an ongoing investigation into a visa fraud scheme. The plan allegedly helped large numbers of illegal aliens fraudulently obtain religious worker visas to enter or remain in the states, according to a statement released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Local bloggers “…

Muslims in America - All's well that ends well?

Lawyer wrongly arrested in bombings: 'We lived in 1984'
CNN: November 29, 2006

PORTLAND, Oregon (CNN) -- The U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday it is paying $2 million and apologizing to an Oregon lawyer wrongly accused of being involved with the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, Spain.

Brandon Mayfield was arrested in Portland on a material witness warrant in May 2004, less than two months after the bombings.

According to an FBI affidavit at the time, his fingerprint was identified as being on a blue plastic bag containing detonators found in a van used by the bombers.

The FBI's fingerprint identification was wrong, however, and Mayfield was released several days later.

The bombings of four commuter trains March 11, 2004, killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.

Mayfield charged he was a victim of profiling because the Portland-area attorney was a Muslim convert.

He and his family later sued the U.S. government for damages.

"We lived in 1984," Mayfield told rep…

Pakistani Journalists in the Line of Fire

Journalists err, militants punish
By Iqbal Khattak
Daily Times, November 29, 2006

PESHAWAR: “Let me chop off his head who has reported that I have surrendered to the army,” late Taliban commander Nek Muhammad said a day after his April 24, 2004, deal with the army that was dubbed a “capitulation” by the media.

The remarks frightened a group of journalists, among them this correspondent, who were interviewing Nek Muhammad in the Kaloosha area of South Waziristan a day after the Shakai deal, which collapsed on foreign terrorists’ issue within months. The journalists looked at each other with pale faces after hearing from Nek Muhammad that their necks depended on their reporting from Waziristan.

On our way back to Wana after meeting Nek Muhammad, my BBC colleague and I were laughing to recover from the unbelievable moments since we did not know how our organisations interpreted the deal. People in Peshawar, Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi may not realise it, but it is very difficult for journa…

Inside Chitral

Pakistan's Chitral District: A Refuge for al-Qaeda's Top Leadership?
By Hassan Abbas
Terrorism Focus - Jamestown Foundation
Volume 3, Issue 46 (November 28, 2006)

In the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders, security services continue to focus on Pakistan's Chitral district in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Chitral became a concern after the release of a bin Laden videotape from September 2003 in which trees native to the Chitrali mountain range were evident. Extensive search operations for the al-Qaeda leader and fellow operatives by Pakistani and U.S. forces were conducted in the area in February-March 2003 (Dawn, March 7, 2003). More recently, in May there were claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had established an office in Chitral to monitor militant activities in the district (The Nation, May 1). Other links to the district include Abu Khabaib, an Arab explosives expert who has been spotted several times in the hills of Chitral. …

Pakistan growth creates wealth gap: BBC

Pakistan growth creates wealth gap
By Paul Moss
BBC News, The World Tonight : November 28, 2006

Salman has a way with words. He also has a snappy dress sense, and a keen knowledge of the communications industry. He should be going places.
In fact, Salman was going places, a rising success at the firm where he's been working in Karachi for the past two years.

That was until they brought the new guy in.

"He didn't know anything about the industry," Salman explains.

"But he comes from an important Pakistani family, one with land, power. Our aristocracy.

"The family made a call to my firm, told them to hire this guy, and that was that."

Salman says that since the new arrival was put in charge of his department, morale and output have both plummeted.

And he has particular reason to be bitter.

He is one of a growing number of Pakistanis who have lived abroad, but decided to come back to work in their homeland, and try to make their mark on its newly-growing e…

Politics, not religion, at the heart of growing Muslim-West divide

UNITED NATIONS: Alliance of civilizations

Politics, not religion, at the heart of growing Muslim-West divide, new report argues

(ISTANBUL, TURKEY 13 November) The key reasons for the growing divide
between Muslim and Western societies are not religious, but political, concludes a report presented to Secretary-General Kofi Annan today in Istanbul.

On receiving the report, the Secretary-General said: "We need to get away from stereotypes, generalizations and preconceptions, and take care not to let crimes committed by individuals or small groups dictate our image of an entire people, an entire region, or an entire religion.

"We should start by reaffirming -- and demonstrating -- that the problem is not the Koran, nor the Torah or the Bible. Indeed, I have often said the problem is never the faith - it is the faithful, and how they behave towards each other."

In its report, the High-level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations maintains that although religion is of…

Armitage in the News again: Not for threatening Pakistan!

Afghanistan may destabilise Pakistan, India: Armitage
Daily Times, November 28, 2006

SINGAPORE: Failure to restore peace to Afghanistan may jeopardise stability in neighbouring Pakistan and have a knock-on effect on India, said former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage on Monday.

Calling on the international community to pay more attention to Afghanistan, Armitage said persistent violence in that country might wreck Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s efforts to defeat forces of religious extremism at home.

“I want to call your attention to Afghanistan. The stakes in Afghanistan are actually larger in the near term than they are in Iraq,” said Armitage at a seminar for conflict mediators in Asia.

Continued clashes in Afghanistan could also have knock-on effects on India, which may already perceive itself to be surrounded by failed or failing states such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, he said.

Afghanistan is currently enduring its bloodiest period since US-led coaliti…

Bajaur Bombing?

US carried out madrasah bombing
The Sunday Times November 26, 2006

THE bombing of a Pakistani madrasah last month, in which 82 students were killed, was carried out by the United States, a Pakistani official has admitted, writes Christina Lamb.

The madrasah in the tribal agency of Bajaur was bombed during a visit to Pakistan by the Prince of Wales amid allegations that it was being used to train suicide bombers.

“We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US,” said a key aide to President Pervez Musharraf. “But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.”

The Americans are believed to have attacked after a tip-off that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, was present. Local people claimed the victims included boys as young as 12 and that the tribal area had been negotiating with the Pakistan government for a peace deal.

Pakistani officials insist they were shown satellite images of people traini…

Changing Realities of Asia

VIEW: The Asian age —Dr Ayesha Siddiqa
Daily Times, November 27, 2006

In India, Hu spoke about Beijing’s desire to befriend India and find an amicable solution to resolve their bilateral disputes. Hu also offered India bilateral cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy, which is a major step in reducing the overall tension between the two countries

It is after ages that Islamabad was decorated with such fervor to receive a foreign dignitary. The main roads were lit up at night and the garbage cleaned, all to welcome the Chinese President, Hu Jintao. The gracious welcome signified the importance of China’s friendship for Pakistan.

Islamabad’s relationship with Beijing has remained reasonably steady since the early 1960s, especially in terms of the supply of conventional and non-conventional military technology. In the past seven years, Islamabad has also generously welcomed Chinese investment in Pakistan and made room for Chinese companies to exploit Pakistan’s real estate, agric…

Tariq Ramadan on Islam and the West

Watch Tariq Ramadan talking about Islam and the West: click here

For views of Tariq Ramadan, visit his website: Click here

Cutting the holy fathers down to size: how?

Yesterday’s battles
By Ayaz Amir: Dawn, November 24, 2006

WAS there no Islam before the Hudood Ordinance, 1979? Will there be no Islam after this iniquitous law is amended? What storm of absolute nonsense are the mullahs trying to whip up?

Not that they are succeeding but that’s beside the point. We have other problems that need attending to. But trust our talent for irrelevance to raise a tempest over non-issues.

Some of our more imaginative clerics have warned that the Women Protection Bill (which amends the Hudood law) will lead to sexual anarchy. Funny and not a little titillating. Sexual anarchy in God’s own republic? Ghalib comes to mind: “Keh khushi say mar na jatay gar aitbar hota...” (Wouldn’t we die of joy were we to believe this.)

To see the way we go on about things relating to women, it would seem that women are our biggest problem, bigger than democracy, bigger than anything else. The more we have segregated and separated them, the more they seem to ride our imagination. Natu…

Indian-Islamic Civilization and Persian Language

AUTHORS: Preserving links
By Asif Farrukhi
Dawn: November 19, 2006

Down to earth and unassuming, Professor Latif Ullah is a reserved and simple man. He shuns publicity and stays away from the limelight. He is the author of five books related to Sufism and poetry and has translated some eight books from Persian into Urdu. Not associated with any of the so-called learned bodies, he carries out his intellectual pursuits with a remarkable degree of independence and personal devotion. This is how I have been seeing him for a long time now; neither green in sawan nor dry in bhadon.

“What’s in a name,” he may ask. Some of his books carry the name Professor S.M. Latifullah, which may sound ponderous in Urdu. He was named Mohammed Latif Ullah by his father but later on added Sohail himself. His full name is documented on his passport, but is hardly ever used. His matriculation certificate states his date of birth as July 1928, but he thinks that it is most probably an estimate. Born in the state …

Ground Realities in Pashtun region

US faces snowballing Afghan war, says Orakzai

Says US, Nato and Kabul closing their eyes to reality | 50,000 more troops needed | Hopes for treaty in Bajaur

ISLAMABAD: The United States and NATO face a snowballing war in Afghanistan and will suffer a military disaster unless they back peaceful means to end the conflict, NWFP Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Orakzai said on Friday.

He said Washington, NATO and the Afghan government were “closing their eyes” to the reality that a military-based strategy was making matters worse. “Either it is lack of understanding or it is a lack of courage to admit their failures,” Orakzai said. “Like in Iraq, it was the lack of courage to admit their faults. They have admitted them now but at very great cost.” Rather than fighting just the Taliban, Orakzai said, NATO forces now faced a wider revolt from Afghanistan’s Pashtun ethnic majority that had grown alienated because of indiscriminate bombings, economic deprivation and a lack of representation. “T…

Empowering Muslim Women - From New York!

Bid To Bring Female Voice To Islamic Law Ben Arnoldy
Muslim Women From 25 Countries Meet In New York, Forming Council
Christian Science Monitor:November 21, 2006

For centuries, devout Muslims have looked to the fatwa — an opinion based on religious reasoning of a learned individual or committee — for direction on how to resolve moral dilemmas ranging from the mundane to the sublime. And for centuries, Muslim women have conceded the ground, for the most part, to the men who issue these opinions.

That's beginning to change.

Meeting in New York over the weekend, Muslim women from 25 countries began laying groundwork for the first international all-female council formed to issue fatwas. Their idea: to ensure that women's perspectives on Islamic law become part of religious deliberation in the Muslim world — particularly on issues such as domestic violence, divorce, and inheritance.

"There's this growing sense on the part of literate Muslim women ... that there is a vital need…

Pashtun Jirga for Peace: Will it Work under the Circumstances?

Jirga for peace
By Rahimullah Yusufzai: The News, November 24, 2006

The Pakhtun amn (peace) jirga hosted by the Awami National Party (ANP) in Peshawar on November 20 was the first of its kind and it seems there will be a few more in the coming months. The event brought together Pakhtun politicians, religious scholars, intellectuals, ex-bureaucrats and diplomats, and artistes, all sharing the carpeted stage despite having conflicting political views. Some of the participants were non-Pakhtun but they belonged to the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and as such were sons of the soil.

Almost all the speakers highlighted the pain that they had suffered due to the continuing violence in the Pakhtun-inhabited areas across the 2,500-kilometre long Durand Line border in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They voiced the yearning of the Pakhtuns for peace in a region that has been turned into a battlefield by the world and regional powers. It was pointed out time and again from the stage that bloodshed…

India-China Relations Warming up

Hu favours Council seat for India
Amit Baruah
The Hindu, November 24, 2006

Both sides moving in the "right direction" on civilian nuclear cooperation, say officials
NEW DELHI: Chinese President Hu Jintao has gone "beyond" the support extended by Premier Wen Jiabao to India for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, according to senior South Block officials.

Mr. Hu told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that China would be happy to see India in the Council, the officials said on Thursday.

Referring to a provision in Tuesday's joint declaration that India and China should have regular summits, they said the idea was to have annual meetings in either of the two countries. From the Chinese side, either the President or the Premier could be present.

"Negatives" discussed

While maintaining that relations with China required "careful management," the officials warned that if negatives were allowed to dominate, the relations…

What is going to happen in Iraq?

Secret story of US retreat in Iraq
Daily Times Monitor: November 23, 2006

LAHORE: According to credible Iraqi sources in London and Amman, a secret story of America’s diplomatic exit strategy from Iraq is rapidly unfolding, The Huffington Post reports.

The report says that key events include: First, James Baker told one of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers that Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, would be released from detention by the end of this year, in hope that he will negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership. The discussion recently took place in Amman, according to the Iraqi paper al-Quds al-Arabi.

Second, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice personally appealed to the Gulf Cooperation Council in October to serve as intermediaries between the US and armed Sunni resistance groups not including Al Qaeda, communicating a US willingness to negotiate with them at any time or place. Speaking in early October, Rice joked that if then-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld …

"Arms for Peace" Fair

Pakistan holds 'arms for peace' fair
By Syed Shoaib Hassan BBC News, Karachi

Pakistan is bolstering its position as a trading zone for small arms and military hardware through arms fairs that have become a regular feature in recent years.
The International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (Ideas) fair, held every

two years in the southern port city of Karachi, provides a platform for Pakistan to display its products, ranging from light arms to tanks and missiles.

The fair also attracts major manufacturers of arms and military support equipment from around the world.

Since 2000, when the first Ideas fair was held, the number of participants has grown both in number and prestige.

This year's participants include, among others, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Saab, Rolls Royce and Thales.

Some governments also have an official presence. The UK is represented by the Ministry of Defence.

'Global security'

"We are looking to promote industrial cooperatio…

Disappearing Journalists: Who is Behind all this?

Disappearing journalists
Husain Haqqani
The Nation, November 22, 2006

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents more than half a million journalists in over 115 countries, has described the state of press freedom in Pakistan as “rapidly skidding towards lawlessness,” and entering a state of crisis. During the last six months, Pakistan has seen four journalists killed and each of the four cases remains unsolved. The younger brothers of two journalists were brutally murdered, as if to teach the older brothers a lesson. In addition, four journalists were reportedly detained and tortured by intelligence agencies.

The latest victim of what Amnesty International calls “enforced disappearances” is Dilawar Khan Wazir, a BBC Urdu service reporter in Pakistan’s tribal region of South Waziristan. He has not been heard of since leaving Islamabad for home on the morning of Monday, November 20. On November 1, the body of Mohammad Ismail, Islamabad bureau chief for Pakistan Pre…

Honoring Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam

EDITORIAL: The tragedy of our treatment of Dr Abdus Salam
Daily Times, November 22, 2006

Dr Abdus Salam (1926-1996) died ten years ago. He was the first Pakistani to get a Nobel Prize in 1979. But he might be the last if we continue to allow our state to evolve in a way that frightens the rest of the world. Our collective psyche runs more to accepted ‘wisdom’ than to scientific inquiry; and even if we were to display an uncharacteristic outcropping of individual genius the world may be so frightened of it that it might not give us our deserts.

We are scared of honouring Dr Salam because of our constitution which we have amended to declare his community as ‘non-Muslim’. When Dr Salam died in 1996 he had to be buried in Pakistan because he refused to give up his Pakistani nationality and acquire another that respected him more. But the Pakistani state was afraid of touching his dead body. He was therefore buried in Rabwa, the home town of his Ahmedi community whose name is also unacceptab…