Showing posts from February, 2011

Park 51 Community Centre New York Event on Feb 26 - Celebrating Early Prophetic History

February 26
Celebrating Early Prophetic History and its Inspiration in the Modern Day
At Park51, 5:00-7:00PM

Lectures, Q & A session; Food will be served

In the spirit of intrafaith peace and understanding, Park51 is honored to host a night of lectures, dinner, and discussion relating to the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him. This discussion will focus on how the early life of the Prophet reflects upon people today, and how his teachings apply to contemporary society, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


Shamsi Ali, Imam of Islamic Culture Center of New York
Professor Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair, Columbia University
Opening Comments and MC provided by Lawyer and Stand-up Comedian Azhar Usman

For all details, click here

An Islamic Domino Theory

Regime Change In The Arab World: An Islamic Domino Theory
By Dr. Paul Cole, Eurasiareview, Feb 24, 2011

During the Cold War, western security policy was shaped, in some cases decisively, by the Domino Theory, which stated that if one country fell under communist control, all of that country’s neighbors were threatened with the same fate. Recent events in the Arab world suggest that there is an Islamic variation of the Domino Theory. If one country overturns an autocracy, then all of autocratic neighbors of that country may follow suit.

The internal story unfolding in each Arab country undergoing regime change, though extremely important, should not divert attention from a question of equal, if not greater importance. What are the implications of regime change in the Arab world for the future of the international system?

Is Conflict Permanent?

After the 1980 U.S. presidential election, outgoing Carter national security officials briefed President-elect Reagan. One of the out-going Carte…

What is happening in Kurram Agency?

COMMENT: Kurram: sacrificed at the global jihad altar
Dr Mohammad Taqi, Daily Times, February 2011

While the Pakistani media went hoarse over Raymond Davis, it conveniently ignored several other foreign thugs of the tallest order, operating with impunity inside Pakistan

As the world at large focused on events in the Arab world and Pakistanis remained preoccupied with CIA contractor Raymond Davis, a jirga composed ostensibly of tribal elders from Kurram Agency announced on February 3, 2011 a ‘peace’ accord between Shias and Sunnis in Parachinar, the headquarters of the Kurram Agency.

However, a closer look at the players involved in brokering the deal shows that what appears, prima facie, as a welcome solution to years of deadly impasse, is nothing but the Pakistani establishment’s attempt to roll out its own version of the end game in Afghanistan. Never mind the jihadist history of reneging on deals, but without actually addressing the grievances of the Sunnis displaced from Parachin…

Bahrain in the eye of the storm ?

Dim View of US Posture Towards Bahraini Shiites Is Described
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN, New York Times, February 21, 2011

MANAMA, Bahrain — The United States military undermined efforts to improve relations with Bahrain’s Shiite majority and understated abuses by the Sunni royal family, according to one present and one former American government adviser and a Bahraini human rights advocate.

As Bahrain’s leaders struggle to hold back a rising popular revolt against their absolute rule, Washington’s posture toward the Shiite majority, which is spearheading the opposition, could prove crucial to future relations with this strategically valuable Persian Gulf nation. The United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based here, helping ensure the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and the gulf, and safeguarding American interests in this volatile region.

Over the years, the military, according to the advisers and the human rights advocate, believed that King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his court …

COIN in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Is it working?


Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Where Are We Now?
Asia Society: Reported by Matthew Whitt

NEW YORK, February 16, 2011 – Two experts, two different perspectives on the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But both Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Professor at Columbia University and Bernard Schwartz Fellow at Asia Society and Michael Fenzel, Colonel, US Army and Asia 21 Fellow at Asia Society agree on the following: The counterinsurgency plan in Afghanistan is very complicated.

The US, NATO, and Afghan security forces need to build a better strategy, focusing primarily on investing in key issue-areas in order to strengthen institutions and build relationships that are vital to long term success. One of the main problems with the counterinsurgency today, Fenzel argued, is that the strategy on the ground does not address security maintenance issues in areas that have seen successful military operations.

“The insurgents in Afghanistan… they are like water, and we a…

“The future of Pakistan”

How Pakistan is seen by the Washington think tanks
Arnold Zeitlin, The News, February 19, 2011

WASHINGTON: After four and a half hours of listening recently in Washington DC to South Asia specialists on three different panels divining Pakistan’s future and the US role, Moeed Yusuf, of the US Institute of Peace (USIP), a Pakistani native and a convener of the marathon session, concluded with a sigh of relief: “At least no one suggested Pakistan and the US go their separate ways.”

His remark actually conjured up what is essentially that mythical elephant in the room. For such a pessimistic and as yet unspoken option lurked beneath the much of the gloomy analysis of some of the most knowledgeable commentators of the region. If Pakistan and the US were a married couple instead of being strategic players (if not partners), counselors would recommend at least a long, trial separation, if not total divorce.

The occasion was a full morning entitled “The future of Pakistan” at the DC headqu…

India-Pakistan Resumption of Dialogue

Talk, and just talk
Zafar Hilaly, The News, February 18, 2011

Blessed is the man who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed. That’s the feeling virtually all have about the forthcoming India-Pakistan talks. At best we will get a bit of friendliness when what is needed is friendship. Hardly anyone, therefore, whether in government or the public at large, expects anything to come out of these talks. They are likely to be thoroughly inconclusive and demoralising, much like the previous rounds and diplomatic interactions. They will consist of all the contradictions and inconsistencies that have become an integral part of the so called India-Pakistan ‘dialogue’ – truly the dialogue of the deaf.

“Meetings are only really necessary”, said an ex ambassador, “when you don’t want to do anything”. And as it happens there is nothing of substance that either wants from the other and which either is remotely in a position to concede or, frankly, in the mood to do so. India perhaps nee…

A Look at Muslim-American Immigrants

Strengthening Our Diversity

A Look at Muslim-American Immigrants
By Eleni Towns, Philippe Nassif, Centre for American Progress, February 17, 2011

America is home to a large and diverse immigrant population. The immigration debate usually focuses on Latino communities but the reality is more complex. Muslim-American communities, for instance, encounter their own sets of challenges that are both similar to and unique from other immigrant groups in the United States.

Muslim-American immigrants have taken a proactive approach to dealing with these problems. They are working with other immigrant groups and communities to create a dialogue around solutions and these efforts will ultimately make our country stronger and more diverse.

Muslim-American immigrants face common challenges with other immigrants

Muslim Americans are one of our most diverse and vital immigrant communities. They have come here from more than 100 nations and range from high-skilled professional and technical workers to s…

Pakistan Police Needs Help: Express Tribune Blog

Help! Our police needs help

Asad Badruddin, Express TribunePakistan Blog,
February 14, 2011

There he stands; his black uniform stretched across a protruding belly, he has a certain fondness for chai and ‘pieces of paper with pictures of the Quaid’. This is the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a Pakistani policeman.

In the pre-Musharraf era, crime was a major problem. Mustering the political will to clean up the police force was hard because the political elite found it useful to make alliances with certain police departments.

Two important things have changed since then. Firstly, another threat has emerged, the militant threat, which attacks not only the common man but also the political elite. The army cannot fight this threat alone especially in cities where this job falls to the police.

Secondly, the upper echelons of the judiciary are at their most independent since Pakistan’s history. This means that reformists have tremendous leverage because they already have a fou…

What Pakistani Journalists are Thinking...

Op-Chart: Inside the Muslim (Journalist’s) Mind
New York Times, Feb 12, 2011

The Pakistani public, long skeptical of American goals in Afghanistan and the Muslim world, is now outraged over Washington’s insistence that the authorities release a former United States Special Forces soldier charged with killing two Pakistani men last month. In this instance, as always, Pakistan’s tumultuous news media is the prism through which United States policy is reflected to the people, who have found themselves at the center of America’s struggle against terrorism.

So far, the picture has not been pretty: the George W. Bush administration demonized the Muslim news media; Muslim journalists returned the favor. But research shows that the Obama administration has the opportunity to take a more sophisticated approach to those who drive public opinion throughout the Islamic world.

Pakistan is a case in point: last year, we conducted a nationwide survey of 395 Pa…

Pakistani writers in an age of extremism

Pakistani writers in an age of extremism
By Nosheen Abbas, BBC, 13 February, 2011
Karachi: When journalists and political activists prominently feature in a literary festival, you know that freedom of speech is a major issue.

"We're like the villain of a horror film," said Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid about the international view of Pakistan.

This statement set the stage for an alternative narrative in Pakistan during the recent Karachi literary festival. The event was attended by some of the best-known writers, activists and artists in the country.

But what was clear throughout all the crowded, passionate sessions was that these voices are at risk of being drowned out by extremism.

Play banned

On a hot and tropical day, the halls of a coastal Karachi hotel were filled with young and old, some wading slowly through the crowds on crutches. The most popular sessions were those that discussed the identity of the country and the ever-present question of Pakistan's futu…

The Accidental Theologist


Counterterrorism in Pakistan: Role of Media

Pakistan TV dramatizes fight against terrorism
By Karin Brulliard, Washington Post, February 11, 2011

IN ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN In newspapers and on television here, a recurring villain is the United States, with its drones and its war in Afghanistan - all portrayed as instigators of Pakistan's increasingly bloody battle with terrorism.

But in the latest drama series airing on state television, a different story line unfolds. Here, the scoundrels are bearded mountain men with distorted ideas about Islam, and the heroes are the security forces and civilians dying at the hands of the extremists.

The glossy, 11-part program is the latest rally-the-public effort by the army, long Pakistan's most powerful institution and now a favored target of homegrown militants. Although the series is meant for a domestic audience and does not mention the United States, its theme of Pakistani sacrifice is one that military officers have been impressing upon U.S. officials, who are pushing for mo…

Song of Freedom: Sout Al Horeya صوت الحريه


Victory for the People of Egypt: Hosni Mubarak Steps Down

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president
Egyptian president stands down and hands over power to the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces.
Aljazeera, February 10, 2011

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was "waiving" his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Suleiman's short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted "We have brought down the regime", while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the "greatest day of my life", in comments to the …


Obama: History is unfolding in Egypt
Politico, February 10, 2011
Amid reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will resign when he speaks on state television later Thursday, President Barack Obama addressed the developing situation, saying, “We are witnessing history unfold.”

Speaking in Michigan Thursday afternoon, Obama revealed no new details about the apparent transition of power, saying only that the White House is “following events in Egypt very closely” and vowing that “America will continue to do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt.”

Military officials in Egypt have told several media outlets that they have taken power and that Mubarak will indeed announce he is stepping down. The military has been meeting throughout the day Thursday without the president in the room — a sign that he is on the way out.

For complete article, click here
Egypt Protesters on Verge of Victory? W…

Shahnamah - A Prince's Manuscript Unbound

A Prince's Manuscript Unbound: Muhammad Juki's Shahnamah
Asia Society, New York, February 9 - May 1, 2011

Asia Society Museum presents one of the finest surviving Persian manuscripts—an exquisite and richly illuminated 15th-century volume commissioned by the Timurid prince Muhammad Juki (1402-1444). This rarely exhibited manuscript, now in the collection of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, features more than 30 miniatures that illustrate scenes from the Persian national epic, the Shahnamah (Book of Kings).

This is the first time that the intricately colored and gilded illustrations in the manuscript—recently unbound and conserved—have all been exhibited together in the United States.

Although it is not known when the epic was first illustrated, countless copies of this poem have been made through the ages. Written by the Persian poet Firdausi (ca. 935-1026), the nearly 60,000-couplet poem is based on a history of the kings of Persia, depicting legendary…

Watching Cairo from Kabul and Karachi - Asia Society

Watching Cairo from Kabul and Karachi

Hassan Abbas, Asia Society, Feb 7, 2011

The spectacular developments in Egypt are being projected and interpreted in Asia in a variety of ways. By and large, authoritarian and dictatorial regimes are downplaying the message emanating from the courageous people struggling at Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, whereas democratic states are generally supportive of the anti-Mubarak movement.

Intriguingly, Afghan media have been sparing in their coverage of the remarkable series of protests in Egypt. Reasons range from a lack of public interest to concerns for stability. Apparently, it also suits the Karzai government that Afghans should remain unaware of this news. However, it is likely that the news about Egypt and Tunisia (even though it will reach a larger audience a bit belatedly) will ultimately influence Afghan politics in a positive way.

The situation is somewhat different in Pakistan, where the media are more vibrant and assertive. Alth…

'Islamist' Menace in Europe - Myth and Reality

The not so great Islamist menace
By Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen, January 5, 2011

If someone mentioned terrorism in Europe, you would probably have an idea about the size of the threat and who's responsible.

It's big, you would think. And growing. As for who's responsible, that's obvious. It's Muslims. Or, if you're a little more careful with your language, it's radical Muslims, or "Islamists."

After all, they were at it again just last month. On Dec. 11, a naturalized Swede -- originally from Iraq -- injured two people when he blew himself up on the way to a shopping district. On Dec. 29, police in Denmark said they thwarted a plan by five Muslims to storm the office of a newspaper and kill as many people as possible.

So the danger is big and growing and Islamists are the source. Right?

Wrong, actually.

The European Union's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 says that in 2009 there were "294 failed, foiled, or successfully ex…

Why Sufi Shrines?

Source: Pakistan Today, Islamabad

Three Major Debating Issues in Pakistan Today - Involving Veena Malik, Sherry Rahman and Raymond Davis

1.  Veena Malik and Social Tyranny
Nadia Naviwala, The Express Tribune, February 2, 2011

The discussion on the Veena Malik controversy has centered on her “Frontline” interview with Kamran Shahid. However, I was more disturbed by Abdur Rauf’s “50 Minutes” on Geo TV, which came on two hours earlier. In a town hall-style format, dozens of people in the room, goaded by their host, parroted the same opinion: Veena Malik had shamed Pakistan as a country and culture.
I understand that many Pakistanis feel this way. But was there not one audience member who had an inkling of doubt, who worried about the implications of condemning a woman based on what she wore or did in another country, or just outright disagreed? There was one, but she was silenced. If there were more, we would never know. The atmosphere was decided, and it intimidated anyone in the room with a minority view to stay silent or convert to the dominant opinion. The show seemed more like a hoax trial before a witch burning, r…

How to Reform Pakistan Police ? - A New USIP Special Report

Reforming Pakistan‘s Police and Law Enforcement Infrastructure: Is It Too Flawed to Fix?
USIP, Special Report by Hassan Abbas, February 1, 2011


•An efficient, well-functioning police service is critical to counterinsurgency as well as counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan, now and in the future. At the same time, the police force must also address rising crime rates and a deteriorating law-and-order situation, among many other tasks.

•The capacity of the Pakistan Police Service to deliver on all these fronts is severely diminished by political manipulation, the lack of forensic services, inadequate training and equipment, corruption, and weaknesses in the judicial sphere. Disconnect and lack of coordination between numerous kinds of policing and intelligence organizations are major hurdles on the path leading to collective strategizing.

•Upgrading the existing police system as the central law enforcement institution in the country cannot occur in isolation, however. Instead, it m…