Showing posts from August, 2010

Who else will speak up for the Muslim Community Center in New York?

Who Else Will Speak Up?
New York Times Editorial, August 31, 2010

The hate-filled signs carried recently by protesters trying to halt plans to build an Islamic center and mosque in Lower Manhattan were chilling. We were cheered to see people willing to challenge their taunts and champion tolerance and the First Amendment. But opportunistic politicians are continuing to foment this noxious anger. It is a dangerous pursuit.

Already New Yorkers have seen a troubled young man slash a Muslim taxi driver with a knife. A zealot in Florida is threatening to burn a stack of Korans on the anniversary of Sept. 11. Where does this end?

The country needs strong and sane voices to push back against the hatred and irrational fears. President Obama made a passionate defense of the mosque, but only once. Most Democratic politicians are ducking. So far, the leader with the courage to make the case repeatedly is Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He has said firmly that the developers have a right to build and…

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Preparing Your Relief Contribution for Flood Victims: Some Helpful Tips -
Amid Floods, Bigger Tests Loom for Pakistan's Government - Asia Society

Militants on the move in Pakistan?

Militants on the move in Pakistan?
By Farhana Qazi, AfPak Channel, Foreign Policy, August 27, 2010

Militants in Pakistan have a limited track record of providing aid to refugees in times of crisis. Amid the country's most recent human tragedy, its flood disaster, militant groups or affiliates are allegedly offering social services and relief in affected areas, generating concern that aid will translate into long-term support for these organizations. But while no substantial evidence exists to suggest that militants will seize control in Pakistan, fear inside Washington among experts and policymakers suggest that terrorists' might seize the country's tribal areas-a concern that would turn back the clock on U.S.-Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts.
For complete article, click here
US aid chief warned of threat at Pakistan camp - Reuters
Pakistan floods: Pakistani Taliban threats don't deter foreign aid workers - Chreistian Science Monitor
Can Pakistan learn fro…

Pakistan, Drowning in Neglect

Graph Source: New York Times - aug 27, 2010
Pakistan, Drowning in Neglect
Ali Sethi, New York Times, August 25, 2010

THE old man was sitting on his string bed. But it was upside down; its finely rounded legs were pointing to the sky, and the knotted ropes strung across its wooden frame were wet. Underneath it were several plastic drums — once used for storing diesel fuel — that had been emptied out and tied to it for buoyancy. The makeshift raft was bobbing up and down, and the man sitting on it had his legs in the yellow-brown water, which stretched around him for miles and miles like a strange sea, the tops of faraway trees sticking out of it like little islands.

“Hold it like that for five more minutes!” cried the cameraman.
I had accompanied a TV crew to this submerged village in the western Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The floodwater had dissolved the villagers’ mud houses, turned the rice fields they tilled into a lake and the road above into an embankment.

The villagers…

'Institutional radicalisation of public schools'

VIEW: Institutional radicalisation of public schools
Ali K Chishti, Daily Times, August 25, 2010

There are millions of ‘non-state actors’ whose handlers could prod them into doing anything by evoking emotions through misquoting Quranic verses

“Hindu pundits were jealous of Al-Beruni” (Social Studies, Class VIII, Punjab Textbook Board, page 82). Another textbook reads, “The Hindus who had always been opportunists” (Social Studies, Class VI, Punjab Textbook Board, page 141). Still another reads, “The Hindus had always been an enemy of Islam.” (Urdu, Class V, Punjab Textbook Board, page 108). An e-mail I got from a Pakistani Hindu friend asked me what did they do to deserve this treatment. I had no answers. It is probably a classical example of our state’s deterioration because of its relentless pursuit of a destructive foreign policy agenda, and also abdicating its role in education to the jihadi organisations. Worse, whatever little education the state provides is not much better than w…

Mulla Omar's new constitution

Mulla Omar's new constitution

S Iftikhar Murshed
The News, August 22, 2010

The Quran exhorts Muslims: "O you who have attained to faith! Why do you say one thing and do another? Most loathsome is it in the sight of God that you say what you do not do!" The timeless implications of this passage from the Holy Scripture is also relevant in the context of the promises made in the new constitution promulgated by Mulla Omar who professes to be the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban.

The Aug 3, 2010 issue of the Quetta-based newspaper, Azadi, carried details of the 35-page document which contains 14 chapters and 85 clauses. Omar's constitution emphasises that jihad should be strictly in accordance with God's command and the sunnah (Traditions) and every mujahid should win a place in the hearts of the people. Three days later, Afghan police discovered the bodies of 10 unarmed medical aid workers who were killed in the northern province of Badakshan. Six of the slain…

Help Pakistan before its too late

Editorial: Some Help for Pakistan
New York Times, August 20, 2010

Pakistan needs more help now and will need much more in the weeks and months ahead. This week the world — finally — began waking up to the devastation wrought by monsoon flooding that has already affected 20 million people.

The United States and the United Nations deserve credit for raising the alarm and twisting arms. At a special General Assembly session Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to increase American aid by $60 million, to $150 million, and she pressed other nations to do their share. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that donors had so far contributed $230 million, or about 60 percent of the United Nations’ appeal for disaster relief — up from less than 50 percent a few days earlier.

The rest needs to be sent, swiftly. The European Union has increased its pledge to about $90 million, but needs to do more. So do Islamic nations. Saudi Arabia has pledged more than $110 million, …

'Burn Quran Day' an outrage to Muslims

'Burn Quran Day' an outrage to Muslims
By Akbar Ahmed, Special to CNN, August 20, 2010

Editor's note: Akbar Ahmed is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington. He is author of "Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam," Brookings Press 2010.

(CNN) -- In less than a month, Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida plans to host "Burn a Quran Day" to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The pastor, author of the book "Islam is of the Devil," is using the burning to urge American Christians to "stand up" to what he describes as a monolithic Muslim threat. A Facebook page for the event has accrued thousands of "likes" and Jones has said people have been mailing him Qurans to burn.

As a Muslim scholar, an adherent of one of the Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- and as someone committed to interfaith understanding, I urge Jones…

Pakistan Flood Update: Political Will, International Image and Capacity Issues

Political forces join hands in disaster management
The News, August 17, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The top political leadership of the country joined hands on Saturday to cope with the worst ever floods in the country and agreed on setting up a body to raise funds for the rehabilitation of flood victims.
Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistam Muslim League-N (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a joint press conference after a meeting here at the PM House, expressed deep shock and grief over the wide scale devastation that displaced around 20 million people and caused losses of billions.

The two leaders expressed the resolve to work together for the rehabilitation of the flood-affected people. Prime Minister Gilani said he also telephoned Asfandyar Wali of Awami National Party (ANP) and would continue to contact other leaders to gain their support for a national cause.

"The calamity demands of us that all political parties rise above their differences to jointly cope wi…

Zero tolerance and Cordoba House By Basharat Peer

Zero tolerance and Cordoba House
By Basharat Peer, Financial Times, August 13 2010

On the evening of July 27, a mild sun shone on the elegant and imposing New York City Hall building in Manhattan. Commuters headed underground to subways departing for outer boroughs and bedroom suburbs. In a dance studio adjacent to City Hall, a Korean-American boy practised physics-defying moves with a Mexican-American girl. A short flight of stairs up, a few hundred people had gathered in an auditorium for a public meeting of the Lower Manhattan Community Board. The meeting was supposed to be one of the city’s regular exercises in local representation, where people can raise with board members issues that concern them. Citizens spoke about walking tours, extending bus routes, hospitals … and then a man from the audience shouted: “What about the mosque!” In an instant the auditorium was charged with angry shouts of “No mosque! No mosque at Ground Zero!”

A shrill debate about religious freedom, limits…

What explains the tight-fisted response to the Pakistan floods

What explains the tight-fisted response to the Pakistan floods
The steady drip of negative 'terror'-obsessed media coverage has done Pakistanis a great disservice
Catriona Luke, Friday 13 August 2010

Compare and contrast: within days of the 2004 tsunami, £100m had poured into Oxfam, the Red Cross and other charities, and by February 2005 when the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) closed its appeal, the total stood at £300m. The Haiti earthquake appeal closed with donations of £101m. The DEC total for the Pakistan floods appeal has just reached £10m.
The reasons for this disparity aren't complex. There has been a slow steady drip of negative media coverage of Pakistan since the 1980s, and if it lessened a little in the 90s as civilian governments went in and out of administration, it became inevitably tougher with the return of a military government, 9/11, the "growth" of Islamic extremist organisations in Pakistan, and the ins and outs of apparen…

Pakistan Flood Situation Update: Impact and Consequences

Pakistan says won't divert forces from militant fight
By Zeeshan Haider, Reuters, August 13, 2010

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's army is playing the leading role in rescue efforts after the worst floods in decades, but it will not divert forces from the battle against Islamist militants, military officials said on Friday.

The floods, the country's most severe natural disaster, began two weeks ago and have killed more than 1,600 people, forced 2 million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people, or 8 percent of the population.

The army has deployed about 60,000 troops for rescue and relief operations out of a force of about 550,000 soldiers.

Soldiers in helicopters and boats have plucked numerous survivors from the water that has inundated the Indus river basin. Army engineers are rebuilding broken bridges and washed-out roads while other units have set up relief camps.

But there has been worry, especially in the United States, that the Pakistan…

Nigar Nazar: Pakistan's First Lady Cartoonist deserves wider international recognition and support for her admirable work

Interview: Nigar Nazar CEO, Gogi Studios
By Siham Basir, Newsline,  28 June 2010

“I believe Gogi teaches you to laugh at yourself in the worst of situations” -  Nigar Nazar, CEO, Gogi Studios

Gogi is Nigar Nazar’s mouthpiece. A cartoon character, Gogi sounds off on every domestic issue under the sun.

Born in the ’70s from Nazar’s pen, the ageless Gogi has done the rounds of newspapers, magazines and TV channels in Pakistan and abroad. Nazar describes her as the symbol of the enlightened, energetic and adventurous Pakistani woman who refuses to kowtow to authority and finds humour in the most trying of situations – not unlike her creator, Nigar Nazar, the first woman cartoonist of Pakistan and CEO of Gogi Studios.

Q: What inspired you to address issues like social hypocrisy through an unconventional medium like Gogi, a cartoon character?
A: I read a lot of comics in my school days – and I still enjoy reading comic strips in newspapers. I’ve always felt that the art of cartoons is an app…

"Criticism of Zardari in Pakistan hides a political game": BBC

Criticism of Zardari in Pakistan hides a political game
By M Ilyas Khan
BBC News, August 7, 2010, Islamabad

The Pakistani media's criticism of President Asif Ali Zardari over his visit to the United Kingdom has been unprecedented. Newspapers and television news have criticised him for being absent when Pakistan was struck by the worst floods in living memory.

While the president has been out of the country, more than 1,500 people have been killed and scores of villages have been swept away.

Over four million people have been displaced. They now face hunger and disease.

In the initial days of the disaster the government failed to provide any response, and now the politicians are being heavily criticised for it.

In contrast, the media repeatedly drove home the point that, while the army's response was also inadequate given the scale of the disaster, at least the soldiers were out there.

The absent president has been criticised by the international media for his apparent indiffe…

The man on the Gujranwala omnibus will define Pakistan?

Mr Cameron doesn't understand Pakistan.
Sadly, he is not alone. We see the extremes, but ignore those in the middle and our blinkered thinking is not only stupid, but dangerous

Jason Burke The Observer, Sunday 8 August 2010

A week before her death, travelling through the same lowland towns of the North-West Frontier province of Pakistan that are now half-buried under mud, Benazir Bhutto said to me: "Pakistan has changed Mr Burke, Pakistan has changed. And I need to learn about it once more."

Bhutto had returned to her native land three months earlier and after an eight-year exile, a comeback in large measure due to arm-twisting by the Bush administration's top officials and the British Foreign Office. With characteristic brio, she had thrown herself into campaigning for scheduled elections. Her comments came after she had halted her armoured vehicle to plunge into a market in the scruffy town of Pabbi to buy oranges. "I need to know the price of vegetables,"…

Flood Situation in Pakistan worsens

Pakistan floods 'hit 14m people'
BBC, 6 August 2010
BBC's Adam Mynott: 'It's a catastrophe... and that's no overstatement'

The worst floods in Pakistan's history have hit at least 14 million people, officials say. Twelve million are affected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces, while a further two million are affected in Sindh. In Indian-administered Kashmir, at least 113 people died in mudslides.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a charity connected to a group with alleged al-Qaeda links has been providing flood relief.

Flooding has submerged whole villages in the past week, killing at least 1,600 people, according to the UN.

And the worst floods to hit the region in 80 years could get worse, as it is only midway through monsoon season.

According to the federal flood commission, 1.4m acres (557,000 hectares) of crop land has been flooded across the country and more than 10,000 cows have perished.
A UN official, Manuel Bessler, told the BBC that wit…

Pakistan Police loses another courageous officer to terrorists

High-Ranking Pakistan Police Official Assassinated By ISMAIL KHAN, New York Times, August 4, 2010
(Pictures credit: AP and GEO TV)
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber clad with 20 pounds of explosives assassinated the prominent leader of a Pakistani security force and three other people on Wednesday afternoon at a busy intersection here in northwest Pakistan, security officials said.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the principal victim, Safwat Ghayur, the commander of Pakistan’s Frontier Constabulary, a force controlled by the Interior Ministry that has carried out campaigns against militants in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas.
A car carrying Mr. Ghayur, 50, had just left the force’s headquarters and was stopped at a traffic signal when a young suicide bomber ran up to the car and detonated his explosives, Mr. Ghayur’s driver told journalists at the city’s main hospital.

The driver, Shakirullah Khan, who suffered minor inju…

The West must engage, not demonize, Turkey

The West must engage, not demonize, Turkey
In Washington and European capitals, it will be tempting to conclude that Turkey is already “lost,” that it is fated to become a rising theocracy that will work against rather than for international order. This would be a grave mistake.

By Daniel M. Kliman, Joshua W. Walker, Christian Science Monitor, August 3, 2010
A hundred years ago, debate raged in Europe over how to exploit the Ottoman Empire’s decline. Today, the Turkish question is turned on its head: How can the West manage an ascendant Turkey?

It can start by understanding Turkey’s position in the world. Turkey is a member of a select geopolitical club: rising democracies. This club encompasses not only Turkey, but also India, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa. Their emergence is a crucial – but untold – development of the 21st century.
Rising democracies

Rising democracies offer the West an opportunity to perpetuate the international order founded in the wake of the Second World Wa…

Karachi is burning again

45 die in revenge attacks in Pakistan's Karachi
By ASHRAF KHAN (AP) – August 3, 2010

KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen killed at least 45 people in Pakistan's largest city after the assassination of a prominent lawmaker set off a cycle of revenge attacks, officials said Tuesday. Dozens of vehicles and shops were set ablaze as security forces struggled to regain control of Karachi.
Schools were closed and most business ground to a halt Tuesday in the southern city of more than 16 million, Pakistan's main commercial hub. While a thriving trading center, Karachi has a history of political, ethnic and religious violence and has long been a hide-out for al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

The latest unrest came after Raza Haider, a provincial lawmaker, was shot dead along with his bodyguard in a mosque while preparing to offer prayers Monday in Nazimabad area.

Haider was a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the political party that runs the city and represents mainly descendants of U…

In Pakistan, Echoes of American Betrayal

In Pakistan, Echoes of American Betrayal
By MOHAMMED HANIF, New York Times, July 31, 2010

PAKISTAN’S premier intelligence agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, has been accused of many bad things in its own country. It has been held responsible for rigging elections, sponsoring violent sectarian groups and running torture chambers for political dissidents. More recently, it has been accused of abducting Pakistanis and handing them over to the United States for cash.

But last week — after thousands of classified United States Army documents were released by WikiLeaks, and American and British officials and pundits accused the ISI of double-dealing in Afghanistan — the Pakistani news media were very vocal in their defense of their spies. On talk show after talk show, the ISI’s accusers in the West were criticized for short-sightedness and shifting the blame to Pakistan for their doomed campaign in Afghanistan.

Suddenly, the distinction between the state and the stat…

Pakistan Floods - Donations and Relief

To find links for sending donations & relief goods, visit Beena Sarwar's Blog or click here

China pays condolences over Pakistan floods - Xinhua
US pledges US$10m flood aid - Straits Times
Officials fear disease outbreak in flood-hit Pakistan - CNN
Pakistan floods 'kill 800' people and affect a million - BBC
UAE orders urgent aid for flood-hit Pakistan - Khaleej Times
Militants see opportunity in disaster - Asia Times

Lack of foresight
Dawn Editorial; 02 Aug, 2010

Floods have caused damage and devastation across the country in recent days, but perhaps nowhere more so than in northern Pakistan. Nowshera, Charsadda, Swat, Shangla, the information coming in from such districts is very grim. There is already speculation that the death toll will rise further and that may well be the case as the water recedes and the presently inaccessible areas are scoured. At this point, what the state is capable of doing on short notice is being attempted, from rescuing the stranded peop…

US attempt to steal N-secrets was foiled in 1994-5: Former DG ISI

‘US attempt to steal N-secrets was foiled’
The News, August 01, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Former DG ISI Lieutenant General Javed Ashraf Qazi has disclosed that Pakistan had foiled an attempt of a CIA official to steal documents of Pakistan N-secrets with the help of a Pakistani military officer.
Talking to a private TV channel here on Saturday, the former ISI head said that in 1994-95 secret agencies had foiled a theft attempt of Pakistan’s nuclear secrets and arrested several CIA officials as well as a major.

Qazi said he was informed about such a case at that time when he was working as DG ISI. He said that the CIA officials and Pakistan Army major were immediately arrested in a covert operation. He said the major was court martialled while the CIA agents were deported from the country.

The former ISI chief said that Western secret agencies have a double standard about Pakistan. On the one side, they appreciate Pakistan’s role and on the other hand defame the ISI on the international level. H…