Showing posts from January, 2007


Karbala: ultimate surrender
By Nasim Zehra: January 30, 2007

Throughout time the power of narrative has remained a potent force for constructing common zones of collective existence, ones that often travel through multiple generations. This power is like the miracle that overwhelms the human consciousness with its pathos, its sensitivities and its emotional appeal. Few narratives in history have so captured the human consciousness as has Karbala. Of the multiple messages it has left behind, four are particularly significant.

One, Karbala represents indivisibility of being, of values, of sensitivities, of thoughts and of action. So in the heat of the struggle, at the height of what one believes is the virtuous act, the correctness of human behaviour must not be compromised. Pursuit of the virtuous and the moral provide no license for the immoral. In collective zones these are easy licenses to give to oneself, as in Guantanamo Bay, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. No less is this license at work w…

Taliban Recruitment Area

Pride, grief and anger at a Taliban recruiting area in Pakistan
Riaz Khan And Matthew Pennington
Canadian Press: January 28, 2007

SHABQADAR, Pakistan (AP) - Near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, pride mixes with grief and anger over dozens of young men lost to a stepped-up recruiting drive for the Taliban.

Like the anti-Soviet rebels of the 1980s and the pre-9/11 Taliban, the recruiters of today have turned to this cluster of about 25 ethnic Pashtun villages in search of volunteers.

The father of one dead enlistee says he feels honoured, but with many of Shabqadar's young men dead or feared missing on the battlefield, mujaheddin recruiters are no longer welcome here.

A shopkeeper says 100 or more young men have gone missing, including his cousin, a 10th grade student, who mysteriously left home during the summer vacation and is believed to have gone to fight.

People here are religious, and recruiters play on that sentiment, "recruiting the youth with raw minds," he …

Facing a wave of sectarianism in globalising ‘Islam’

EDITORIAL: Facing a wave of sectarianism in globalising ‘Islam’
Daily Times, January 29, 2007

We predicted two days ago in this column that the NWFP would be targeted this Muharram and urged the NWFP government to be prepared to forestall the menace. Unfortunately, judging from the top police officers killed in the latest suicide bombing in Peshawar, the police was the first target of the Sunni extremists. A Muharram procession near Qasim Ali Khan Mosque in Qissa Khawani Bazaar was targeted, killing 15 people and injuring around 60. The bomber took the life of the city’s senior police officers: Peshawar police chief Malik Saad, DSP Khan Raziq and Kabuli SHO Nawaz Khan. Also killed were the leaders of the city government: Union Council nazims Mohammad Ali Safi and Mian Iftikhar.

Most of the killed were police officials because they were there to stop suicide-bombers from joining the Shia procession observing the rituals of Muharram. But the NWFP law minister put a convenient gloss on the…

Islamabad mullahs threaten suicide attacks

Reconstruct mosques or Else: Islamabad mullahs threaten suicide attacks
* Cleric says 10,000 students to be taught significance of jihad
By Mohammad Kamran and Mohammad Imran
Daily Times, January 27, 2007

ISLAMABAD: The administration of Lal Masjid on Friday threatened the government of suicide attacks if it continues to demolish mosques and madrassas. The clerics also acquired a commitment to this effect from thousands of worshippers at the Friday congregation.

Addressing the Friday sermon, Maulana Abdul Aziz, key prayer leader of Lal Masjid, asked the government to reconstruct the demolished mosques and urged President Musharraf to “seek Allah’s forgiveness” for demolishing “seven mosques in the country”. “We are ready to carry out suicide attacks if the government does not meet our demands,” he said, adding that the clerics would accept General Musharraf president for life if he accepts all their demands in letter and spirit.

Maulana Aziz, who is also the principal of Jamia Hafsa and Jam…

Pakistan-Afghanistan Border Crisis: CFR

Pakistan’s Broken Border
January 25, 2007: Prepared by: Carin Zissis
Council On Foreign Relations

The frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan serves as the flash point for tensions between the two countries as Kabul grows increasingly critical of Islamabad's seeming inability to control cross-border raids by Islamic militants. The solution proposed by Pakistan last month to mine and fence the roughly 1,500-mile Durand line (VOA) did little to reassure Afghans, who have long disputed the boundary. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose criticism was echoed by Washington and the United Nations, said Islamabad should instead eliminate terrorist sanctuaries (BBC) within Pakistan rather than separate families who live in the border region. Pashtun tribal leaders on both sides of the boundary warn if Pakistan carries out the plan they will remove any barriers or mines (Pajhwok Afghan News).

Pakistan, under U.S. pressure to stop Taliban incursions into Afghanistan, has sought to place bla…

President Ayub Khan's Legacy

Ayub 40 Years Later
Khalid Hasan
The Friday Times, January 26-February 1, 2007 - Vol. XVIII, No. 49

The fate of books written by holders of power while in office has generally not been a happy one. Seldom does their work outlast them and this is especially true of those who are not born writers, like Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia. This is something General Musharraf will do well to remember, regardless of what his sycophants and his inept ghost writer(s) might tell him. As long as he is in office – and from all accounts he plans to stay there till the cows come home, and then some more – he can live in the pink haze in which live all rulers, especially those whose mode of transportation to the presidential palace has been a tank. Seldom has a book by a head of state been pilloried as has been In the Line of Fire. It reminds me of the time when I cycled past a section of the Danube river in Vienna where nature lovers were hanging out to sun themselves. “Most human beings should never be…

Islamic Society of Boston has some questions

Islamic Society's turn to get answers
Boston Globe: By Jessica Masse | January 24, 2007

IT SEEMS that the normal rules of civility and legal tradition no longer apply to Muslims living in America. The mere mention of the words "Muslim" and "Saudi Arabia" in the same breath elicits accusations of "ties to terror" and charges of extremism in a complete reversal of innocent until proven guilty.

For example, in 2005, the Islamic Society of Boston was approved for a $1 million loan from the Islamic Development Bank, with headquarters in Saudi Arabia, to partially fund its ISB Cultural Center in Roxbury. According to the new logic of guilty-by-association, because the ISB is a Muslim organization and the Islamic Development Bank is in the Middle East, the public should be scared.

Yes, the ISB borrowed money from the Islamic Development Bank, which has ties to Islamic countries of all types. But the institution's members are Islamic countries that practice…

Credibility of Intelligence Reports?

Role of agencies in appointment, promotion assailed
By Amir Wasim
Dawn, January 24, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Jan 23: Acting Senate Chairman Jan Mohammad Jamali on Tuesday criticised the role of intelligence agencies in the promotion and appointment of officers in the civil services and called for a system based on merit.

He made these remarks when senators from the treasury and opposition jointly voiced their concern over the government policy of ignoring officers from Balochistan for appointments and promotions.

Pointing out the faulty method of preparing “I-reports”, Mr Jamali said he did not even smoke but one such report declared that he was a drunkard.

“The country cannot run on these lines. Justice needs to be done to run the country,” he added.

Earlier, during the question hour opposition senators staged a token walkout to protest against the alleged discriminatory attitude towards the people of Balochistan.

The issue came under discussion when in response to a question of the MMA Senator Ismai…

Waziristan Crisis Expanding

EDITORIAL: Weakness in Waziristan can no longer be concealed
Daily Times, January 24, 2007

A suicide car bomber killed four soldiers of the Pakistan army when it hit an army convoy on its way from Bannu to Miranshah in North Waziristan on Monday. This killing was supposed to be in retaliation against the Pakistan army’s attack a week ago in a suspected militant hideout of warlord Baitullah Mehsud in Zamazola in South Waziristan. He has now hit back and killed our soldiers. And the style adopted was purely Arab, meaning that our warlords are indoctrinated and trained by the Arabs of Al Qaeda.

The military spokesman says the attack was carried out by those who don’t like the peace deals made by the government with local ‘pro-Taliban’ leaders of the region. The place where the attack was mounted is near the border with North Waziristan, the area from which the army had removed all its checkposts following the deal.

While this tragic incident took place in the tribal agency, NATO soldiers fir…

Muslims in Canada: Concerns and Perspectives

Canadian Muslim right attacks Muslim MP over Israel trip
By Khalid Hasan
Daily Times, January 23, 2007

WASHINGTON: Wajid Khan, a former Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter pilot who was shot down over India during the 1971 conflict and now a member of the Canadian Parliament, has come under attack from his own Muslim and Arab ‘brothers” for having visited Israel.

But Khan, who remained a Prisoner of War (PoW) in India for over a year, has refused to express regret over his mission, which his supporters have stressed was undertaken in the interest of peace and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to a column appearing Monday’s edition of the Canada-based Globe and Mail, Khan ruled out resigning from his parliamentary post, as some of his co-religionists have demanded. The paper quoted Khan as telling Muslim community leader Tarek Fatah: “Listen to me very carefully, my community is the Canadian community; I am not the ambassador of some country to Canada; I am an MP repr…

Understanding Rise of the New "Jihadis" in Pakistan

VIEW: Explaining social schizophrenia
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa
Daily Times, January 22, 2007

In trying to explain my opinion on the social schizophrenia of the Bahawalpuri society, Ejaz Haider has mentioned the increase in the Deobandi influence in the Southern district. He is right. The area has traditionally been a Barelvi stronghold. But the rise of the Deobandi school has resulted in no small measure to the rise of the jihadi who is also, for the most part, sectarian.

I do not have the expertise to comment on the differences and nuances of the two creeds but, given the feedback on the earlier article, I find it important to explain what seems to have happened to Bahawalpur, once known for its Sufi tradition, its poets and its writers.

Much before the age of ‘enlightened moderation’, Bahawalpur glowed due to its tradition of tolerance and its rich cultural heritage. A certain level of conservatism notwithstanding the society offered generous space to great men and women of letters. The great S…

"Anti-American Rhetoric Vs. Reality"

Third World leaders faulted for keeping families in United States
By Khalid Hasan
Daily Times, January 22, 2007

WASHINGTON: A university professor, known to be President George Bush’s favourite historian, has attacked countries that are hostile to America or its policies and yet see no contradiction in the family members of their leaders living in the United States.

Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, writing in the Washington Times at the weekend, cites Pakistan as one of his examples. He writes, “Bilal Musharraf, son of Pakistan strongman Gen Musharraf, has been a Boston-based consultant and a Stanford business and education student. Meanwhile, his father’s government is either unwilling or unable to arrest on his soil the remnants of Al Qaeda, among them, most likely, Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.”

Another example he quotes is that of Nabih Berri, the Lebanese Amal militia chief who is now allied with both the anti-American Hezbollah and Syria, much…

Quotable Quotes: Ayaz Amir

The Joke Now Official
Dawn, January 19, 2007

The military-facilitation club, by now Pakistan’s premier institution, has a distinguished membership. The Gauhars may write the memoirs of military saviours, Mr Pirzada fixes the constitutional ropes for them.

In his book ‘In The Line of Fire’ — hugely acclaimed when it came out but now, alas, making its way to the sidewalks where second-hand books are sold, a boon for those who can’t afford the high price of new books in Pakistan — the president says he acquired his gift for public speaking when he was at the Command and Staff College, Quetta. The Staff College, I suppose, has something to answer for.

There is plenty of dissatisfaction across the country with the present scheme of things but none of the bitter polarisation as existed between Bhutto and anti-Bhutto forces in 1977. After seven years and a virtual cult of verbosity, Musharraf inspires boredom (and plenty of it). He still does not inspire hatred — the visceral hatred which b…

Resolving Kashmir Conflict: Time to give up Arms

Time to give up arms: Mirwaiz
Arun Joshi , January 20, 2007
Hindustan Times

All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has declared on Pakistani soil that time has come to say farewell to arms to seek solution of Kashmir crisis, in the boldest ever statement of his nearly 17-year-long political career. He has sought the help of both India and Pakistan in bringing about Kashmir solution through peaceful dialogue process.
Viewed as a dove and a man who could not gather guts to condemn the killers of his father Moulvi Mohammad Farooq, the Mirwaiz stunned his audience at a dinner hosted in his honour by Pakistan occupied Kashmir Prime Minister Attique Khan in Islamabad on Friday evening. He said that Kashmiris cannot afford to “lose more loved ones”.
At the same time, he said that there is a need to "end military hostilities from all sides. These hostilities have caused only problems and kept the solutions in abeyance,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told HT over phone from Pakista…

"Contrast Between Two Political Cultures": Insightful Comparison between Saddam Hussein and Gerald Ford

Contrast Between Two Political Cultures
By Husain Haqqani
The Nation (Pakistan), The Star (Bangladesh), Indian Express, January 3, 2007

The day Saddam Hussein was executed, Americans paid tribute to their 38th president, Gerald R. Ford, who died at the age of 93 a few days earlier. The dissimilarity between the circumstances and aftermath of the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Gerald Ford highlights the contrast between two distinctive political cultures. Saddam Hussein represented the pursuit and reverence for absolute power that prevails in most of the Muslim world. Gerald Ford, on the other hand, was the product of a political system that emphasizes legitimacy rather than the notion of a powerful ruler.

The U.S. role overseas has often been mired in controversy. But even the critics of America’s power-based foreign policy acknowledge that at home, the United States is by and large a nation of laws that attempts to restrain the power of individuals and institutions. The U.S. domestic polit…

Signs of Pakistan's Role in Supporting Taliban: A view

At Border, Signs of Pakistani Role in Taliban Surge
New York Times, January 21, 2007

QUETTA, Pakistan — The most explosive question about the Taliban resurgence here along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is this: Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?

The government of Pakistan vehemently rejects the allegation and insists that it is fully committed to help American and NATO forces prevail against the Taliban militants who were driven from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervor but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan’s vulnerable western flank.

More than two weeks of reporting along this fronti…

Two options for Pak military: Najam Sethi

Two options for Pak military
Najam Sethi's E d i t o r i a l
The Friday Times, January 19-25, 2007 - Vol. XVIII, No. 48
Until recently, US-Pak relations were hunky-dory. But a question mark has just cropped up. President Bush’s “democracy” project in Iraq has crashed. Worse, his “nation-building” project in Afghanistan has stalled at the hands of resurgent Taliban. Consequently, his ratings have plunged and he desperately wants to show some good results. So he is rushing 22000 additional troops to Iraq and considering the same option for Afghanistan. But there’s a difference. In Baghdad, he has only himself to blame for his woes while in Afghanistan he is inclined to blame Islamabad because the Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists are operating from borderland sanctuaries in Pakistan.

The “Taliban problem” in Afghanistan has resurfaced in 2006 with a bang. In 2003-04, the Americans prodded General Pervez Mush…

"You Can't Bake an Islamic State"

THE OTHER MALAYSIA: You can’t bake an Islamic state —Farish A Noor
Daily Times, January 20, 2007

Living as we do in a world that is undergoing rapid structural-economic transformation, many a Muslim government has tried to solve the problem of nation-building by recourse to Islam, through using religion as a system of values that may glue a nation together.

In some cases this has led to the development of a statist discourse of Islam, in which Islam is used as a discourse of legitimation by the state. In some other cases Muslim states have opted for selective appropriation and implementation of Islamic laws and norms in an attempt to impose some degree of order on society as a whole.

Much of this has been motivated by the fact that many Muslim societies are experiencing the visible signs of pluralisation and difference as a result of social advancement, widening educational opportunities, urban migration and the politicisation of citizens’ interests.

Well, the technocrats of the Muslim w…

Pakistan's Tribal Zone In Focus: Ground Realities

Putting out the fire in Waziristan
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
The News, January 19, 2007

First it was South Waziristan and then the violence shifted to neighbouring North Waziristan. Military operations during 2004-2006 were invariably followed by jirgas and peace agreements which somehow stabilised the two troubled tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. But the latest round of airstrikes in both North Waziristan and South Waziristan could lead to the collapse of the peace accords and plunge the tribal borderlands into another round of death and destruction.

The airstrikes, which the Pakistan Army is claiming to have unleashed against hideouts of suspected militants, have predictably triggered controversy. The government's credibility in view of its track record is so low that most people don't believe its claim that Pakistan Army's gunship helicopters were responsible for the airstrikes in Gurwek in North Waziristan and then on January 16 in Salamat village in Shak Toi area of Sou…

Musharraf's Threat to Mullahs....

Stop criticising me or face jail: Musharraf to Mullahs
Daily Times, January 19, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Law-enforcement agencies have warned clerics heading seminaries and mosques that they will be put in jail if they take part in “anti-government activities” or speak against President Gen Pervez Musharraf, sources told Daily Times. The sources said that three meetings had recently been held between local clerics and security officials, including from the army. “The clerics were told to stop participating in protest gatherings and giving speeches against the president and government policies, at least till the next general elections,” the sources said. They were told that if they did not stop, cases would be registered against them and they would be put behind bars, said the sources. After warning Islamabad’s clerics, the government intends to spread the message to clerics all over the country. The security officials also told the clerics that they had recordings of their Friday sermons and ant…

US - Pakistan relations under series strain

US presses Pakistan for Taliban crackdown
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad
Financial Times Jan 17, 2007

The US is stepping up pressure on Islamabad to clamp down on Taliban havens inside Pakistan as US and Nato forces prepare for a tough spring campaign in Afghanistan by the Islamic fundamentalists.

Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, this week laid down clear markers that it wanted General Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan, to crack down on Taliban militants in Pakistan.

"There are more attacks coming across the border, there are al-Qaeda networks operating on the Pakistan side of the border, and these are issues that we clearly will have to pursue with the Pakistani government," Mr Gates said in Kabul.

Relations between Washington and Islamabad improved significantly in the wake of the 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on the US after Gen Musharraf pledged full co-operation in defeating extremism. Washington has since been careful to calibra…

A Push for a Pakistan Plan

A Push for a Pakistan Plan
By Craig Cohen and Derek Chollet
Special to's Think Tank Town
Friday, January 12, 2007;

Now that Democrats in Congress are beginning to flex their muscles, everyone is guessing whether more intrusive oversight will influence the Bush administration's approach to foreign policy.

This week the House passed a bill to fully implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Included was a 180-day window for President Bush to come up with a long-term strategy for Pakistan. Since the 9/11 commissioners last year graded the administration's approach to Pakistan a lowly C+, this policy review is long overdue.

No doubt it comes at a difficult time for a weary administration. Given the range of crises confronting the United States today -- Iraq's implosion, North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs, Afghanistan's instability, and Darfur's genocide -- it is tempting to push aside seemingly less immediate problems.

But Pakistan remains …