Showing posts from April, 2007

On Sharif-ud-Din Peerzada

Ayub didn’t have good opinion of PirzadaBy Umar Cheema: Daily Times, April 30, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Late Field Marshal Ayub Khan had a very bad opinion of Sharifuddin Pirzada and summed him up as a man “very suspicious by nature”, who “is frightened of taking a definite stand on any issue”.

As the foreign minister Pirzada turned out to be an utter disappointment for Ayub, who accused him of making purposeless foreign visits and running a personal foreign policy instead of Pakistan’s.

Field Marshal Ayub Khan has given Pirzada’s profile in his personal diaries, which are set to be launched on Friday in book form published by the Oxford University Press.

Ayub gives his candid opinion about his contemporaries, various heads of state and discloses a number of secrets in these diaries, which cover the period between September 1966 and November 1972.

For example, Ayub repented his decision of appointing Pirzada as foreign minister and gave solid arguments in defence of his disliking for the man who i…

Pakistan being ruled by five governments?

‘Pakistan being ruled by five governments’
Daily Times, April 30, 2007

LAHORE: Five governments governed Pakistan today; one was a squad of 76 ministers, the second was of the occupants of the Lal Masjid, the third the Sufi of Malakand, the fourth in FATA was directly controlled by the Taliban and the fifth was of the Pakistan Army, said Dr Mehdi Hassan on Sunday.

He said that Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, the secretary general, censored Quaid-e-Azam’s speech of August 11, 1947, on the grounds that it negated the Two Nation Theory.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Commission for Peace and Human Development, in collaboration with Liberal Forum Pakistan and Christian Study Centre, he said according to Quaid-e-Azam, religion had nothing to do with the business of state.

Dr Hassan said Pakistan came into being through a democratic process while the mullahs had objected to its establishment.

He said that Bengalis, who were the first to pass a resolution in support of Pakistan in their legislative …

Shia Crescent?

Shiite Crescent' might not be what it seems
By Brenda Shaffer
April 25, 2007: Baltimore Sun

"Shiite Crescent" is Washington's new buzzword. Coined by Jordan's King Abdullah, the Shiite Crescent extends from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon and threatens the Middle East's status quo. With the Shiite community's rise to political prominence in Iraq, instability in Shiite-majority Bahrain, and Iran's invigorated confrontation with the West, the spotlight is shining on the rising power of this religious minority.
The premise of the Shiite Crescent assumes that states sharing common sectarian ties tend to form alliances and choose cooperation partners. But do they?

Several new Muslim-majority states emerged in the Caspian basin and Central Asia from the dissolution of the Soviet Union, neighboring the self-declared "Islamic Republics" of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Islam and cultural affinity were a basis for alliance formation and cooper…

Inside Turkey: Secular Vs. Religious forces

Gul defiant as secular Turks rally
CNN - April 29, 2007

Story Highlights
• Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul vows to continue campaign for presidency
• At least 300,000 secular Turks gather in anti-government protests in Istanbul
• Friday's statement by military chiefs condemned by government, EU, U.S.
• Gul's candidacy has raised fears about threat to Turkey's secular political order

ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has vowed to continue in his bid to become the country's next president despite opposition from lawmakers, business leaders and military chiefs and a massive public demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday.

Gul's nomination, supported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has raised concerns among Turkey's secular establishment over growing Islamist influence within government.

In a parliamentary vote on Friday, Gul fell short of the two-thirds majority necessary to be elected after opposition lawmakers boycotted the process an…

So that they can blow themselves up inside Pakistan!

Daily times, April 29, 2007
‘Safe passage’ for Kashmir militants being considered: Sardar Qayyum
By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, former prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has claimed here that the governments of India and Pakistan are considering granting “safe passage” to foreign militants active in Indian-held Kashmir.

“The proposal has been discussed for sometime now and I hope an agreement comes through as soon as possible,” he said while delivering a lecture at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a think-tank.

Earlier, speaking to the media, Khan appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to grant “general amnesty” to all militants and withdraw all cases against them. Khan said youths from several countries were lured by militant groups to join their ranks and were now holed up in Pakistan, AJK, or IHK. They want to return to their own countries, he said.

Defending Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Khan said it had no political motives. “They are generally …


By Dr Farrukh Saleem
The News, April 29, 2007

On April 20, Islamabad-based newspapers and magazines got some unexpected mail. A letter in the mail read: "Pakistan is an Islamic state and all media organisations have to follow Islamic rules and regulations. If they do not stop carrying vulgar and un-Islamic content every possible step shall be taken to put an end to such practices." The author: Judge, jury and executioner all in one.

Two hundred and sixty kilometres from Islamabad is Lahore. As if on a different planet, Lahore is now home to Porsche Centre. Porsche, the German sports car maker, had projected to sell thirty of their six million rupee, high-performance vehicles in their first year of operation. On April 20, Porsche Lahore announced that they had already sold eighty.

On April 5, Bismillah Khan had also received an unexpected letter. As he opened up, an Rs500 note fell out. The letter read: "You are not living your life as per the prescriptions of Islam.…

Who is behind suicide bombing attack on Sherpao?

Suicide blasts reaction to mily action: Ex-IB chief
Daily Times, April 29, 2007

LAHORE: Former Intelligence Bureau chief Massod Sharif while talking to a private TV channel on Saturday said suicide blasts in Pakistan were the reaction to military action in the tribal areas of the NWFP. “This is the internal reactionary force resorting to suicide attacks to register their protests against incidents like the bombing of Bajaur madrassa and military action in Waziristan,” Sharif said in Geo television’s programme ‘Meray Mutabiq’. Muttahida Qaumi Movement Convener Dr Imran Farooq condemned the blast saying the moment had come for all the people against religious extremism to join hands and make a joint strategy to counter terrorism and religious extremism. Awami National Party head Asfand Yar Wali said if the present situation continued the future of Pakistan was in danger. He said the security situation in NWFP was alarming. “Suicide bombers register and ensure their presence by killing inn…

Banning Burqavaganza - double standards

Anger at Pakistan burka play ban
BBC - April 27, 2007

The head of a Pakistani theatre company whose play about burkas was banned by the government has said that she is hurt and astonished by the decision.
The government banned the play because it said that it made "unacceptable fun" out of Pakistani culture.

Madeeha Gauhar, head of the Ajoka Theatre group, said that there was nothing offensive in the production against Islam or any other religion.

She said that she was being pulled up for "promoting moderation".


Complaints about the issue came to light after Islamist MPs raised the issue in parliament on Thursday. They complained that the play was against "Koranic injunctions on the veil".

"The veil has long been part of local culture and nobody is allowed to make fun of these values," Minister for Culture Ghazi Gulab Jamal said.

The satirical play Burqavaganza was staged this month by Ajoka Theatre group in the eastern city of Lahore, know…

La Patrie en Danger

La Patrie en Danger
The Nation, April 26, 2007

Pakistan was born free, sovereign and independent. Today it is in chains, under military rule for the fourth time and in deep, deep trouble. Once we believed we were possessed of a unique destiny. Today our country is dysfunctional and sleepwalking toward disaster. It is, in the evocative French word, “Pourri” – rotten to the core.
On March 9, the die was cast. On that day, General Musharraf crossed an invisible Rubicon. The ‘suspension’ of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was seen by the people as an affront. Pakistan’s fledgling democracy hit rock bottom. That was the moment when Pakistan lifted its head and began to fight back against military fiat. Chief Justice Iftikhar has ignited a flame that would soon engulf the entire country. General Musharraf thought himself poised on the cusp of power but is sliding down a slippery slope. That is for sure.
General Musharraf’s fateful decision to ‘suspend’ the Chief Justice reminds me …

Letter to Musharraf from Human Rights Watch

Letter to President Musharraf About Attacks on Journalists in Pakistan
April 27, 2007 : Human Rights Watch

Dear General Musharraf,

Human Rights Watch is concerned about concerted and increasing attempts by the Pakistani government to muzzle the media. The attempt to silence Aaj TV, the violent attack on Geo TV, improper pressures on Dawn, and torture and other physical attacks on journalists in many parts of the country are only some of the well-known examples of attacks on the media. Independent monitoring groups such as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) continue to document the steady erosion of press freedom under your government. In October 2002, Pakistan was ranked at 119 out of 166 countries in the RSF Press Freedom Index. By December 2006, this ranking had slipped to 157.

Though your government has consistently claimed that the media in Pakistan enjoys "unprecedented" freedom, this remains limited to publications and television channels that support your government and …

Latest on the US - India Nuclear Deal

India feels U.S. backsliding on prior commitments
Siddharth Varadarajan
The Hindu, April 25, 2007

`Hyde Act' sums up obstacles in the way of implementation of nuclear agreement

NEW DELHI: As Indian officials complete their assessment of the latest round of technical negotiations with the United States over the implementation of the July 2005 nuclear agreement, the words that comes up most frequently to summarise the obstacles in the way are the "Hyde Act."

Under the terms of the July 2005 agreement, the Bush administration was supposed to work with Congress to "adjust U.S. laws and policies" to enable full civil nuclear energy cooperation and trade with India.

This commitment was further amplified by the March 2006 Separation Plan, wherein Washington agreed to assist India with lifetime fuel supply assurances, including a "strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against any disruption of supply over the lifetime of India's reactors." In return for th…



Freedoms in Pakistan!: A harsh depiction but largely true

Pakistan: 'Bastion of freedom'
BBC: April 25, 2007
The BBC Urdu service's Masud Alam takes a wry look at freedoms in military-led Pakistan compared with those on offer in the West.

Freedom, like happiness and embarrassment, can be found in the most unlikely places.

I went looking for it - freedom, that is - across three continents and then returned home to find it here. Absolute, complete and unadulterated freedom for all, right here in Pakistan.

It's the kind of freedom people living in the West may envy all they can - but will never enjoy for themselves because they are so shackled by laws, bylaws, regulations and conventions.

They are so hemmed in that they cannot figure out for themselves what freedom is.

The Americans even had to include "pursuit of happiness" in their constitution! And how do they go about this pursuit?

Every week-end they stand dutifully in long queues outside night clubs, suffer humiliation at the hands of foul-mouthed bouncers, get served in…

How important is a cleric in any Muslim's life

Life without a cleric By Hafizur Rahman
The News, April 24, 2007

A NEWSPAPER report has disturbed me and my family and we don’t know what to do about it. In any case it is too late to do anything. The matter concerns our faith.

Since we believe ourselves to be Muslims, we are naturally anxious that the end should be satisfactory. And with all the talk about the Shariah in Pakistan we want to be sure that we are not deficient in the matter of faith.

All this while we have considered ourselves not only Muslims but staunch Muslims, but our eyes have been opened by a revelation made by a well-known Islamic scholar of Rawalpindi. And what we behold with open eyes is hardly calculated to give us solace.An Urdu columnist has referred to a maulana’s revelation and thus brought it to our notice. And it is because of his column that we find our peace of mind disturbed. It has created doubts in our minds whether we are really qualified to call ourselves Muslims. According to this column, the maulana…

Perspectives on Development Issues in Pakistan

Faryal Gauhar's Speech at Punjab Development Forum
Honourable Minister for the Environment, Dr. Anjum Arshad, Country Director of the Asian Development Bank Mr. Peter Fedon, Chairperson Planning And Development Board, Government of Punjab, Mr. Suleman Ghani, Respected Guests:

Allow me to take this opportunity to thank the organizers for granting me the opportunity to share a slightly different perspective on development. Much as I do not want to act as the Devil’s Advocate, and much as I do not want to point out the irony manifest in the fact that the Punjab Development Forum is being held in the hallowed halls of what used to be the Free Mason’s Lodge in Colonial Times, I feel I am compelled to do both, for that is the role of a member of civil society, a citizen of this beloved country who refuses to be cowed down by allegations made earlier against organizations such as the Lahore Bachao Tehreek for being invested with vested interests. Allow me this opportunity to place on re…

How Muslims and Americans View Each Other

How Muslims and Americans View Each Other
Comments by Steven Kull, editor of, at the US-Islamic Forum in Doha, Qatar, February 18, 2007.

For some years now, as part of developing the web resource, we have been conducting studies of public opinion in the Muslim world and the United States. We have been conducting focus groups, and tracking the polls of other organizations, as well as conducting our own polls.

As you may expect, the news is certainly not all good. There is a tremendous amount of mutual suspicion. The US is viewed negatively in virtually all Muslim countries. In a multi-country poll we just did for the BBC, we found that in all Muslim countries polled, majorities said that the US is having a mostly negative influence in the world and that the US military presence in the Middle East provokes more conflict than it prevents.

In some polls, views of the American people are not quite as negative as views of the United States or its …

Only good Muslims can vote in an Islamic state: A new political theory!

Lal Masjid calls for jihad against ‘un-Islamic’ govt
Daily Times, April 24, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Lal Masjid’s chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz on Monday decreed that Gen Pervez Musharraf’s government was “un-Islamic” and it was obligatory for every Muslim to wage jihad against it for rule of law and speedy dispensation of justice.

“The government is un-Islamic and the present system and political hierarchy have failed to deliver,” said Maulana Abdul Aziz in an interview with Daily Times at Lal Masjid.

He was accompanied by his younger brother and deputy Ghazi Abdul Rashid. “We have no intention to wage a war against the government leading to a bloodbath. However, if it launches a crackdown on Jamia Hafsa or Lal Masjid, of course our movement would automatically turn into a militant movement,” Aziz said. He said democracy was a flawed system. “Democracy is nothing but counting of heads. It cannot differentiate between good and bad people, as in this system the vote of a devout Muslim equals th…

Moderate Vs. Orthodox Islam: Insightful Distinctions

Why I am not a moderate Muslim
I'd rather be considered 'orthodox' than 'moderate.' True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to piously adhere to a religion's tenets.
By Asma Khalid: Christian Science Monitor: April 23, 2007

Cambridge, England: Last month, three Muslim men were arrested in Britain in connection with the London bombings of July 2005. In light of such situations, a number of non-Muslims and Muslims alike yearn for "moderate," peace-loving Muslims to speak out against the violent acts sometimes perpetrated in the name of Islam. And to avoid association with terrorism, some Muslims adopt a "moderate" label to describe themselves.

I am a Muslim who embraces peace. But, if we must attach stereotypical tags, I'd rather be considered "orthodox" than "moderate."

"Moderate" implies that Muslims who are more orthodox are somehow backward and violent. And in our current cultural climate, progress and peace are …

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

April 22, 2007: New York Times
I Pledge Allegiance By KAREN OLSSON

This is a book that pivots on a smile. A third of the way through Mohsin Hamid’s second novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” the narrator, a young Pakistani man named Changez, tells an American how he first learned of the destruction of the World Trade Center. While on a business trip to Manila, he turned on the television in his hotel room and saw the towers fall. “I stared as one — and then the other — of the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center collapsed. And then I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased.”

The novel begins a few years after 9/11. Changez happens upon the American in Lahore, invites him to tea and tells him the story of his life in the months just before and after the attacks. That monologue is the substance of Hamid’s elegant and chilling little novel.

In 2001, as he explains, Changez was hardly a radical. Fresh out of Princeton, he was livin…