Pakistan political discussions

Discussion in 'Pakistan' started by A.V., Feb 16, 2009.

  1. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan

    Editorial: The question of entertainment

    A debate in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday has revealed the anxiety that exists among our elected representatives about the death of entertainment in the face of tough Islamic provisions and considerations that are trickling in from areas under the sway of the Taliban. Acting unapologetically, a good number of them called on the government to not ban theatres and dances, “as they are a source of entertainment for the masses and are the culture of Punjab”. Punjab has had a run-in with its “10 pm theatres” that cater to the retiring shopkeepers’ taste for hilarious but somewhat ribald comedy.

    Acting morally prim, a lady MPA first demanded through a resolution that action should be taken against theatre performances and dances being presented across the province. The reference here was to theatres not only in Lahore — targeted with medium-sized bombs by elements sympathetic to the Taliban earlier this year — but also many in such cities as Gujranwala and Gujrat that entertain the shopkeeper class after the closure of markets at around 10 pm.

    The MPAs who responded to the draft resolution were mostly ladies. The mover of the bill kept insisting that “such theatres and dances as now in vogue are against the teachings of Islam, therefore stern punishment should be given to those involved in the activity in order to save the future generations”. After this some male MPAs also jumped in and made observations that represent the clerical point of view to the point of being trite. One gentleman went to the extent of saying that “such dances and theatres are not a part of our culture, rather they are a step to destroy the future generations”, and added that “airing of dances and theatres on TV channels should be replaced with historical and moral programmes to entertain the public”.

    The enthusiasm for inquisition and pietism was cooled by the observation made by a more knowledgeable MPA who reminded the house that the Lahore High Court had already decided that theatre and dance in the province was “entertainment” and not a corruption of morals. He suggested that the matter be directed to the Culture Department which should submit a report on whether the entertainment damned by the MPAs was actually in violation of the policy of culture in the province. The MPAs were however reluctant or unable to engage in any intellectual debate over the issue and kept repeating that theatres were a “legacy of the Q-League” and therefore the present government was not to blame for moral backsliding in Punjab.

    The fact is that that there is a Punjab Arts Council with offices in the cities that have cultural activity. It has been fighting a losing battle against local bureaucracy — especially police officers and magistrates out to gain fame through piety who attack theatres during performance to contain fahashi (obscenity) while the actresses caught at the theatre miraculously end up in houses set aside by the moralist officers for their own entertainment. :rolleyes:Gujranwala and Gujrat have seen this happen in violation of laws of the province which one “pious” police officer actually refused to obey during a discussion on TV.

    Culture is a spiritually balancing factor in society because it is 90 percent entertainment and serves as a safety valve. By closing it to the common man, the state takes risks that it cannot even calculate. But alas that is what has been happening for the past 20 years and is now happening at a galloping pace because the Taliban are here and are claiming Pakistan as their moral domain. Nothing actually changes for the better; it just goes underground. When the political agent in Khyber inspected the house abandoned by Taliban on the run from the Pakistan Army he discovered that the entertainment-banning warriors had been watching xxx movies to while away their boredom. :cool:
     
  2. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    Pakistan News Service - PakTribune

    Taliban demand withdrawal of cases, military from Swat

    Thursday February 19, 2009 (1756 PST)


    Taliban engaged in Swat presented their list of demands to Maulana Sufi Muhammad who held first round of talks with them here on Thursday.

    The demands include release of detained Taliban, withdrawal of cases against them, implementation of Sharia law in Malakand agency and retreat of army troops from Swat, said the channel.

    The first round of talk between the emissaries of Tehreek-e-Nifaz Shariat e Mohammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad and Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat was held at an unknown location.

    Maulana Muhammad Aalam, Amir Izzat, Maulana Samiullah and others represented the TNSM, while Maulana Fazalullah, Haji Muslim Khan, Maulana Shah Doran represented local Taliban in the talks.

    The two sides discussed various issues related to durable peace in Swat region. The second round of talks will be held Friday.

    End.
     
  3. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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  4. ZOOM

    ZOOM Founding Member

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    Well, in case of further terrorist attack on Indian Soil by someone like Taliban, it should not attract much reaction from pakistan in case we opt to strike targets in POK. We need to win the confidence of Pakistani government from back door channels to launch such attacks, as Pakistan can't no longer deny indian strike on Pakistani soil since India's patience is fast running out.
     
  5. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    This is getting interesting now

    http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-n...9/Iran-ready-to-chase-militants-into-Pakistan


    Iran ready to chase militants into Pakistan
    submitted 9 hours 42 minutes ago

    TEHRAN (Agencies)- Iran’s Police Chief Brigadier General Esmaeil Ahmadi Moqaddam has voiced preparedness of his troops to trace and haunt militants who escape to Pakistan after staging operations in the Islamic Republic. Speaking in an interview with Farse News Agency (FNA) here on Saturday, the Iranian police chief expressed his regret over the weak performance of the Pakistani border police in confronting terrorists, and said, “We are not witnessing any practical move” by the Pakistani border guard in harnessing terrorists’ border crossing. “...if they (Pakistan) are incapable of facing militants we are ready and have the power to seriously encounter terror groups inside Pakistani soil,” he added. Ahmadi Moqaddam also called on the Iranian foreign ministry to play a proactive role in resolving the issue. Reminding recent crimes by terrorist groups in eastern Iran, the General announced that there exists corroborative evidence to prove that such terrorist groups are supported by alien intelligence services. In a recent development, a sound bomb exploded in Al-Ghadir mosque in the city of Zahedan, southeastern Iran near Pakistan on Wednesday, causing minor damage but no casualties. “These blind acts aim to put Iran under pressure,” the Iranian police commander added. Earlier in January, a senior Iranian judiciary official said that Iran has documents to prove the United States and Britain back a group that killed 16 abducted Iranian police officers.
    The terrorist group Jundollah this month killed 16 police hostages who were abducted from a checkpoint in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province in June. Iranian officials say that Jundollah’s head, Abdolmalek Rigi, is part of the Al-Qaeda network. “There are documents that show that Britain and America are supporting Rigi’s terrorist group with arms and information,” First Deputy Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi said.
     
  6. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    Isn't all muslims are one? Then why this

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009/02/22/story_22-2-2009_pg3_1

    Editorial: A Shia backlash in the offing?

    After a suicide bomber killed at least 30 Shias and injured another 157 who were attending the funeral of an already murdered Shia leader in the southern district of Dera Ismail Khan in the NWFP, the victimised Shia community has staged protests in all the big and small cities of the country. The Shia youth organised under the Imamia Students Organisation (ISO), and led by their local clerics, clearly manifested signs of disquiet that may give rise to more widespread sectarian violence.

    For some years now, the ISO has been lying low after realising that avenging Sunni violence is counterproductive. It was formed in 1972, and in the 1980s it aimed to protect the Shia community against a freewheeling spree of Shia-killing on the part of the politico-sectarian militias created by the state to fight jihad in Kashmir against India. Today, that policy of low-profile reaction could be coming under pressure simply because the state is not capable of giving them the protection they deserve under the Constitution.

    The problem the Shia face is in the nature of extremist Sunni violence. These terrorists kill indiscriminately and target innocent people. This requires not much planning and the victims are easy to reach. On the other hand, when the Shia organisations reacted to violence in the 1980s, they had to seek specific targets. They had to ascertain the sectarian identity of the targeted Sunnis, which made the war unequal for the Shia. The other consideration which stayed the Shia hand was the general reactive Sunni hatred of the Shia community in the aftermath of a battle.

    In due course, the Shia religious leadership adopted a new strategy of moving closer to the Sunni clergy in the hope of persuading the sectarian extremists to exempt them. They joined the Mutahidda Majlis-e Amal (MMA) electoral alliance before the 2002 elections and sat in the councils of the great Sunni clerics to see if protection would be given to them. Unfortunately, no protection was forthcoming and the Shia went on dying while being allies of the big Sunni religious parties in the country. The MMA did not give them a single seat in the assemblies in the provinces or the centre.

    Our neighbour and brotherly country Iran, whom we keep referring to as our energy lifeline, came to the help of the Shia of Pakistan in the beginning, but later agreed to the “lie-low” strategy adopted by the Shia leaders in Pakistan. It toned down its routine protests in Tehran in front of the Pakistan embassy every time a Shia pogrom was carried out in Pakistan. It pocketed the humiliation of the killings of its military personnel sent to Pakistan for training. It took in stride the destruction of its cultural centres in Lahore and Multan, and the killing of its two diplomats. An Iranian diplomat kidnapped from Peshawar last year has not yet been recovered. Greater restraint could not have been demonstrated in the face of such provocation. And yet our state has done nothing to protect the life and dignity of Iranian diplomats in Pakistan.

    The Iranian protests have now restarted. Earlier this week, a crowd of youths attacked Pakistan’s embassy in Tehran, protesting the killing of the Shia in Parachinar in the Kurram Agency of the tribal areas of Pakistan. The crowd desecrated the Pakistani flag and broke windowpanes and shouted slogans against America. The Shia are under siege in Parachinar for the past many years. The massacres in Kurram Agency have seen regular trickles of Shias migration. Over the years, cities like Thal, Hangu and Kohat have developed significant pockets of migrant Shia population. All this area is also the target of the Afghan refugees who have leaked out of the Afghan refugee camps and don’t plan on going home because becoming a part of the Al Qaeda fighting machine is more lucrative. They take the identity of Taliban and do a lot of Shia-killing on the side. An informally named ghetto, Shiagarh, is an obvious target, located just 10 miles from Kohat going to the city of Hangu.

    Recently, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bhakkar in Punjab too have seen Shia massacres with the government standing helplessly by. The latest Shia protest all across Pakistan may be signalling a change of policy through sheer desperation. If this happens, Pakistan will see more bloodshed than it can take and survive.
     
  7. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    check this:

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/holnus/000200902221414.htm

    Taliban dispute govt claim of permanent truce in Swat

    Islamabad (PTI): The Pakistani Taliban in the restive Swat Valley have contested the government's claim that they had agreed to "a permanent ceasefire" in the region, saying a decision in this regard would be taken by the 'shura' or council of militants.

    "We have heard that the government has announced a permanent ceasefire but we have already announced a 10-day ceasefire and we will consider an extension when it ends," Maulana Fazlullah, the commander of the Taliban in Swat, said in a broadcast on his illegal FM station.

    Syed Mohammad Javed, the commissioner for Malakand division which includes Swat, had said yesterday that the Taliban had agreed to a ceasefire. He also said both the security forces and Taliban would observe the truce.

    The Taliban had unilaterally announced a 10-day ceasefire on February 15 to facilitate peace talks which began after the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Mohammadi, a banned group of religious hardliners, reached an agreement with Pakistani authorities to enforce Islamic laws in Swat and Malakand. {Why Pakistani government is dealiong with banned groups}

    Fazlullah said in his broadcast last night that the future of the truce would depend on the government's sincerity in implementing the "Nizam-e-Adl" regulations or Islamic laws.

    "This is our constitutional right. We struggled and made sacrifices to achieve our constitutional right," he said. Javed had also announced that boys' schools would reopen on Monday though there was no word on whether girls' schools would resume classes.

    Hundreds of schools were closed down in Swat after the Taliban objected to their curriculum and banned girls' education.

    However, Javed did not say how the militants would be disarmed. There are also few details on the agreement reached by TNSM chief Sufi Mohammad and Fazlullah, who is his son-in-law, during their meeting on Friday.

    Dawn newspaper quoted its source as saying that the Taliban had agreed not to brandish weapons and to dismantle check posts they had set up across Swat.

    The source also said the Taliban wanted a general amnesty and that the government had "apparently agreed to this pre-condition to allow them to assimilate into the mainstream".

    The government has also agreed to compensate the kin of those killed since a military operation was launched in Swat in late 2007. Compensation will also apply to the Taliban, who have furnished a list 2,000 militants killed in the operations. {This is too much so now terrorists will get compensation and see the numbers 2000 only}

    Though the army and other security forces will remain in Swat, the government has reportedly agreed to remove "unnecessary check posts".

    Pakistan has described as "speculative" the concerns expressed by the world community over the move to enforce Islamic laws in Swat.

    Observers believe the measure will embolden militants in other parts of Pakistan to make similar demands.
     
  8. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7904382.stm

    Official in Pakistan 'kidnapped'

    A government administrator in Pakistan's troubled Swat valley has been abducted by gunmen, officials say.

    Kushal Khan was seized by "miscreants" on his way to Mingora, Swat's main town, local commissioner Syed Mohammad Jawed told Reuters news agency.

    But Taleban sources are quoted as saying Mr Khan was a "guest" of the group and would be released soon.

    Taleban rebels have been taking part in negotiations with the government over a permanent ceasefire in Swat.

    More than 1,000 people have been killed and many more have fled the valley since violence intensified in 2007.

    Permanent truce?

    Following the administrator's disappearance a Taleban spokesman, Muslim Khan, in Swat told Reuters: "He is our guest. We have to discuss some issues with him. We will serve him with tea and then free him."

    Last week the government and the rebels announced a 10-day ceasefire in the area.

    On Saturday, the Taleban said they would announce in the coming days whether it should be made permanent.

    Muslim Khan told the BBC the rebels were reviewing government progress on the implementation of Sharia law in Swat.

    The Taleban control the entire countryside of Swat, limiting army control to parts of Mingora.
     
  9. ahmedsid

    ahmedsid Top Gun Senior Member

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    A Classic case of give them an Inch, they take a Mile! No negotiation of Peace with the Taliban I say. Shoot to Kill. The Administrator will be let off after being brain washed to turn against GOP maybe. Taliban has foothold in many areas, and has Sympathizers at many places, So it wont be surprising!
     
  10. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    oops............

    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\02\22\story_22-2-2009_pg3_4

    the other column: Getting rid of walls? —Ejaz Haider

    Somewhere else, in a rough country in West Asia, a superpower had been licked. Its withdrawal from that country, in conjunction with other factors, unravelled its empire. The process that led to the fall of the Wall, unbeknown to anyone at the time, began thousands of miles away from Berlin and Central Europe

    Growing old, I realise, is not so much about ageing as losing interest. Guess that is also called losing one’s spirit. By that benchmark, I have grown old.

    As the plane touched down at Tegel, Berlin, the city I had come to love when I travelled there rather frequently in the late nineties was covered in snow. It looked murky, wet, and depressing. Even five years ago, the weather would not have bothered me. It does now, even in Berlin, one of the hippest places in Europe and a happening town.

    But then many things bother me now and the list keeps growing. Symbols; high-sounding talk and literary flourish; travelling, especially long haul flights, which is essentially anything beyond 35 minutes; hope; reform; setting things right; ideas etc.

    At school, someone came up with a terribly annoying punch-line which we would mouth every time a teacher said something meaningful or profound — hala’n-kay iss say farq tau parta nahin koi (even though it’s not going to make a fig of difference). We said it jokingly and to annoy teachers, never realising its profundity.

    Today, knowing a tad more than I did at school, history is evidence of one annoying fact: nothing really makes a difference, and if it does, you can be sure it’s for the worse.

    I mention this because I am in Berlin at the invitation of Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures). The event: Global Histories pegged to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

    On November 9, 1989, the Wall came down. Berlin got united; Germany followed. The Cold War ended. The danger of a nuclear exchange between the Soviet Union and the United States evaporated with the Wall. People were euphoric. Totalitarian governments in Eastern and Central Europe began to fall; the domino effect was mind-boggling. Even at the start of 1989, no one could have predicted it and no one did.

    An epochal war had ended. Hope reigned supreme.

    It didn’t last long. This is one of the ironies of World History, the point at which “histories” meet and converge to form a grand narrative.

    Somewhere else, in a rough country in West Asia, a superpower had been licked. Its withdrawal from that country, in conjunction with other factors, unravelled its empire. The process that led to the fall of the Wall, unbeknown to anyone at the time, began thousands of miles away from Berlin and Central Europe.

    But just like that process had begun almost furtively in Afghanistan, bringing to an end ultimately one epoch of conflict, so did another begin in that country and equally surreptitiously. Such is our fate, the moment of happiness at the end of one troubled phase leading to another episode of tragedy.

    If I were in school at the time the Wall had come down, I would have said, halan-kay iss say farq tau parta nahin koi.

    But I wasn’t; I had become more educated, acquired more seriousness, which is the bane of education, become more inspired about ideas and their power to make a difference. And so it took me many years, years of unlearning, to realise that nothing had changed, at least not for the better; if anything, the deadly “stability” of the bi-polar world had been replaced by the deadlier instability of a de-regulated world.

    I also know now that the seeds of the fall of the Berlin Wall were sown in Afghanistan. As I prepare my talk for the conference, Afghanistan, and with it Pakistan, find them lodged in the belly of the beast. They are the centre of attraction for all the wrong reasons.

    Here’s the irony. The Obama administration has hyphenated Afghanistan and Pakistan. The new strategy is being called AfPak and the region, AfPakia. The Taliban, who want to conquer Pakistan ideologically, also think like Obama. In fact, much before Obama and his AfPak policy, the Taliban penetrated through Pakistan on the basis of their hyphenation.

    The struggle is now between two sides and both want to claim AfPakia. Berlin, happy at the fall of the Wall, is now worried. The last epochal war has given way to another and this one is far more unstable than the previous one.

    The opening plenary had Wole Soyinka and Timothy Garton Ash, one a Nobel Laureate, the other a celebrated writer, analyst and professor at Oxford. Soyinka moved with the grace and confidence of someone used to being fawned over. He spoke from a prepared script and it was a purple patch, heavy on symbolism and literary cross-references. One couldn’t expect less from someone who has written novels, poetry and plays. It’s quite another thing that, as a certified philistine, I have never read Soyinka.

    Timothy Garton Ash was another story; not only have I read him and read him, for the most part I find him a very incisive commentator, someone who can connect dots and speak a lingo that I can understand. He was brilliant; he spoke with a flow that would be any speaker’s envy and his command of German was equally impressive. He was both convincing and provocative.

    The world, as I said, has entered another epoch, more confusing than the previous one. That’s the negative; on the plus side, the conference itself is an indication, as one speaker said, that Europe realises that there is more to the world than just Western values. Not only that, but Europe also realises that that world, its values, its aspirations, its frustrations, and its demands need to be understood.

    More than any solutions that might emerge from this effort, and I have already implied that there are no solutions, only new sets of problems, the conference is useful in its approach, the acceptance that the world is multi-polar and the West is just one part of the new epoch; and, significantly, as the century unfolds, that it may not even be the most important part.

    Did I say I don’t like symbols? Well, let me make an exception. Symbolic of the changing world was the fact that the first plenary was kicked off by a Nigerian!

    Ejaz Haider is Consulting Editor of The Friday Times and Op-Ed Editor of Daily Times. He can be reached at [email protected]
     
  11. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    this admission of defeat by pakistan to the taliban will empower and embolden the taliban to take the whole country, stupidity by pakistani government.
     
  12. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    Bajaur Taliban offer conditional truce

    PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Bajaur chapter, on Saturday offered to renounce militancy and remain peaceful if the ongoing military operation against them was stopped. According to tribesmen, the operation has caused more losses to them than the militants.

    The government had launched a full-fledged military operation, involving jet fighters, gunship helicopters and artillery guns, against the militants in Bajaur on August 6, 2008, causing displacement of around half-a-million people. The operation, however, inflicted heavy losses on the militants.

    The Baitullah Mehsud-led TTP, which was formed on December 14, 2007, including all the militant organisations operating in the tribal areas and settled districts of the NWFP, had announced that none of its component groups would sign a peace accord with the government separately.

    However, the TTP leadership allowed its Swat chapter, led by Maulana Fazlullah, to negotiate a peace deal with the Awami National Party-led NWFP government last year.

    In Bajaur, the military operation was launched rather late. Yet it was fierce and deadly and has been continuing for the past several months.

    Several villages have been flattened in the heavy bombing by warplanes and gunship choppers. The government claimed to have killed more than 1,500 Taliban militants, destroying their command and control system.

    Though the local tribesmen disagree with the government on the number of militants’ casualties yet they admit the military operation has weakened the capability of the militants to continue activities in the region.

    “The seven-month operation has forced the militants either to leave the region or go underground, which I personally think is a great success of the government against the militants,” said a senior tribal journalist in Bajaur, who pleaded anonymity.

    He said the militants, who before the operation were in control of most parts of Bajaur, had been restricted to their hideouts in Charmang and Mamond areas. “Any kind of peace deal with them at this stage will make them stronger again,” he observed.

    The TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar admitted that peace talks with the government were under way through a Jirga comprising tribal elders and senior civil and military officials.

    However, he said they did not trust the government’s peace talks as earlier when their negotiations had entered a crucial phase, the government sent troops to Inayat Kellay, one of their strongholds, and used jet fighters, gunship helicopters and tanks to pound their positions.

    After that deadlock, Omar said, talks between them and the government resumed but the government continued pounding their positions heavily in Mamond and Inayat Kellay.

    “Earlier, they launched the war against us to appease President Bush and now for his successor Barack Obama,” the spokesman noted.

    The Taliban in Bajaur have presented six demands for restoration of peace in the region. Omar said they had informed the Jirga, negotiating the peace deal between them and the government, about their conditions.

    He said the government would need to announce a ceasefire and withdraw the regular Army from Bajaur. The paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) would be allowed to remain in Bajaur but in barracks.

    Similarly, he said all roadside checkpoints manned by the Army, the FC and Khassadar Force should be removed.

    Another condition put forward by the militants for peace accord was compensation to the militants and tribesmen for their losses they had suffered in the military operation. Omar said they wanted exchange of prisoners as the government was holding several of their people while they too, had taken hostage the government people, including soldiers.

    He also said the government would have to help over five hundred thousand displaced tribesmen now living in refugee camps in Dir, Mardan, Peshawar and Nowshera to return.

    However, Omar alleged that there were differences between the elected government and military officials over the peace initiative. He feared the peace process could derail once again.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=20491
     
  13. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

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    FM Qureshi, Army officials in Washington for strategic talks

    WASHINGTON: Three key allies in the war against terrorism – the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan – begin a series of crucial talks in Washington on Monday to devise a common strategy for fighting terrorists.

    The United States remains focused on eradicating al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts from Afghanistan and Pakistan’s tribal areas. Pakistan too wants to uproot the extremists but is also worried about the future, particularly when US troops leave. They fear that soon they will be forced to face a host of angry tribesmen and religious extremists without outside support.

    Afghanistan too wants to get rid of the Taliban militants but doubts Pakistan’s sincerity and seems unsure if the Americans will stay long enough to help Kabul extend its rule to other parts of Afghanistan.

    Like Afghanistan, Pakistan has sent a high-powered delegation headed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The delegation also includes two senior military officials, Director General ISI and Director General Military Operations.

    Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani will also be in Washington during the talks, although he will not participate. Instead, he will hold separate meetings with senior US officials and generals.

    It is worth noting that the ISI chief and DGMO are not in his team and will work under the foreign minister, at least, while in Washington.

    The Pakistani delegation will focus on two major issues: the fight in Fata and the truce in Swat. On both issues, Pakistanis have some differences with the United States, although more on Swat than Fata.

    There seems to be an agreement between Pakistani and US authorities that Pakistan alone cannot defeat the militants in Fata. It needs US military support.

    Perhaps, that’s why Pakistan has never officially opposed US drone attacks inside Fata, although publicly Islamabad condemns such attacks vociferously.

    But the Pakistanis have made it obvious that US ground troops should not enter Fata because such an intrusion could seriously damage the government’s image at home.

    Despite these agreements, Pakistan seems to have serious concerns about the US strategy for Fata. The Pakistanis fear that once the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are eradicated, the Americans will either quit the region or reduce their presence to the minimum, leaving Pakistan to face the consequences on its own.

    The Americans have assured Pakistan that they are not going to quit and that they will stay as long as it takes to stabilize Fata but given the history of US engagements abroad, the Pakistanis fear that the Americans may not be able to keep this promise.

    The Pakistanis are also reluctant to believe the US assurance that India is no more an enemy and that Pakistan should move its forces away from India and on to the northwestern border.

    The Pakistanis say that they have solid evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan and fear that India will also try to stir trouble in Fata once the Americans leave.

    They suspect that both Russia and India have already established contacts with some of the militants in Fata and Swat and are likely to further exploit these contacts if the situation worsens.

    Pakistan is also concerned about the unprecedented increase in Indian influence and involvement in Afghanistan after the 2001 US invasion and fear that India is likely to use its presence in Afghanistan to squeeze Pakistan from both western and eastern borders.

    The US administration, however, finds such concerns unfounded and is likely to use the Washington talks to convince Pakistan to get rid of its ‘India phobia,’ as some US officials describe Islamabad’s concerns about India.

    US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has blamed the Pakistani military for the country’s preoccupation with India and has also questioned its sincerity to President Zardari’s commitment to fight terrorists.

    He has said that the US side will also discuss the Swat peace deal with the Pakistanis, particularly with the military representatives in the delegation.

    Pakistan also has serious differences with the United States over Swat. The Pakistanis feel that to bring peace to the restive region, they must engage the local militants in peace negotiations. But the US opposes such talks.

    But the Pakistani military does not want to get sucked into a situation where it has to fight an all out war with its own people.

    US officials may also share with the Pakistanis their concerns about the alleged link between the ISI and the militants, a charge Pakistan vehemently denies.

    The United States is likely to urge Pakistan to increase its anti-terrorism efforts, shift its focus away from India and on to Fata, to increase its cooperation with the US forces and to address Afghanistan’s concerns.

    This leaves little room for the Pakistani delegation to negotiate a favorable deal in Washington. The best it can do is to return home with more pledges of US financial assistance and continued political support for the new government.

    http://dawn.net/wps/wcm/connect/Daw...ficials-in-washington-for-strategic-talks--za
     
  14. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    So this is next:

    http://thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=20491

    Bajaur Taliban offer conditional truce

    By Mushtaq Yusufzai

    PESHAWAR: The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Bajaur chapter, on Saturday offered to renounce militancy and remain peaceful if the ongoing military operation against them was stopped. According to tribesmen, the operation has caused more losses to them than the militants.

    The government had launched a full-fledged military operation, involving jet fighters, gunship helicopters and artillery guns, against the militants in Bajaur on August 6, 2008, causing displacement of around half-a-million people. The operation, however, inflicted heavy losses on the militants.

    The Baitullah Mehsud-led TTP, which was formed on December 14, 2007, including all the militant organisations operating in the tribal areas and settled districts of the NWFP, had announced that none of its component groups would sign a peace accord with the government separately.

    However, the TTP leadership allowed its Swat chapter, led by Maulana Fazlullah, to negotiate a peace deal with the Awami National Party-led NWFP government last year.

    In Bajaur, the military operation was launched rather late. Yet it was fierce and deadly and has been continuing for the past several months.

    Several villages have been flattened in the heavy bombing by warplanes and gunship choppers. The government claimed to have killed more than 1,500 Taliban militants, destroying their command and control system.

    Though the local tribesmen disagree with the government on the number of militants’ casualties yet they admit the military operation has weakened the capability of the militants to continue activities in the region.

    “The seven-month operation has forced the militants either to leave the region or go underground, which I personally think is a great success of the government against the militants,” said a senior tribal journalist in Bajaur, who pleaded anonymity.

    He said the militants, who before the operation were in control of most parts of Bajaur, had been restricted to their hideouts in Charmang and Mamond areas. “Any kind of peace deal with them at this stage will make them stronger again,” he observed.

    The TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar admitted that peace talks with the government were under way through a Jirga comprising tribal elders and senior civil and military officials.

    However, he said they did not trust the government’s peace talks as earlier when their negotiations had entered a crucial phase, the government sent troops to Inayat Kellay, one of their strongholds, and used jet fighters, gunship helicopters and tanks to pound their positions.

    After that deadlock, Omar said, talks between them and the government resumed but the government continued pounding their positions heavily in Mamond and Inayat Kellay.

    “Earlier, they launched the war against us to appease President Bush and now for his successor Barack Obama,” the spokesman noted.

    The Taliban in Bajaur have presented six demands for restoration of peace in the region. Omar said they had informed the Jirga, negotiating the peace deal between them and the government, about their conditions.

    He said the government would need to announce a ceasefire and withdraw the regular Army from Bajaur. The paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) would be allowed to remain in Bajaur but in barracks.

    Similarly, he said all roadside checkpoints manned by the Army, the FC and Khassadar Force should be removed.

    Another condition put forward by the militants for peace accord was compensation to the militants and tribesmen for their losses they had suffered in the military operation. Omar said they wanted exchange of prisoners as the government was holding several of their people while they too, had taken hostage the government people, including soldiers.

    He also said the government would have to help over five hundred thousand displaced tribesmen now living in refugee camps in Dir, Mardan, Peshawar and Nowshera to return.

    However, Omar alleged that there were differences between the elected government and military officials over the peace initiative. He feared the peace process could derail once again.
     
  15. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009/02/23/story_23-2-2009_pg3_5

     
  16. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/world/asia/23terror.html?_r=1&hp

    Secret U.S. Unit Trains Commandos in Pakistan

    By ERIC SCHMITT and JANE PERLEZ
    Published: February 22, 2009

    BARA, Pakistan — More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas, American military officials said. The Americans are mostly Army Special Forces soldiers who are training Pakistani Army and paramilitary troops, providing them with intelligence and advising on combat tactics, the officials said. They do not conduct combat operations, the officials added.

    They make up a secret task force, overseen by the United States Central Command and Special Operations Command. It started last summer, with the support of Pakistan’s government and military, in an effort to root out Qaeda and Taliban operations that threaten American troops in Afghanistan and are increasingly destabilizing Pakistan. It is a much larger and more ambitious effort than either country has acknowledged.

    Pakistani officials have vigorously protested American missile strikes in the tribal areas as a violation of sovereignty and have resisted efforts by Washington to put more troops on Pakistani soil. President Asif Ali Zardari, who leads a weak civilian government, is trying to cope with soaring anti-Americanism among Pakistanis and a belief that he is too close to Washington.

    Despite the political hazards for Islamabad, the American effort is beginning to pay dividends.

    A new Pakistani commando unit within the Frontier Corps paramilitary force has used information from the Central Intelligence Agency and other sources to kill or capture as many as 60 militants in the past seven months, including at least five high-ranking commanders, a senior Pakistani military official said.

    Four weeks ago, the commandos captured a Saudi militant linked to Al Qaeda here in this town in the Khyber Agency, one of the tribal areas that run along the border with Afghanistan.

    Yet the main commanders of the Pakistani Taliban, including its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and its leader in the Swat region, Maulana Fazlullah, remain at large. And senior American military officials remain frustrated that they have been unable to persuade the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to embrace serious counterinsurgency training for the army itself.

    General Kayani, who is visiting Washington this week as a White House review on policy for Afghanistan and Pakistan gets under way, will almost certainly be asked how the Pakistani military can do more to eliminate Al Qaeda and the Taliban from the tribal areas.

    The American officials acknowledge that at the very moment when Washington most needs Pakistan’s help, the greater tensions between Pakistan and India since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November have made the Pakistani Army less willing to shift its attention to the Qaeda and Taliban threat.

    Officials from both Pakistan and the United States agreed to disclose some details about the American military advisers and the enhanced intelligence sharing to help dispel impressions that the missile strikes were thwarting broader efforts to combat a common enemy. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the increasingly powerful anti-American segment of the Pakistani population.

    The Pentagon had previously said about two dozen American trainers conducted training in Pakistan late last year. More than half the members of the new task force are Special Forces advisers; the rest are combat medics, communications experts and other specialists. Both sides are encouraged by the new collaboration between the American and Pakistani military and intelligence agencies against the militants.

    “The intelligence sharing has really improved in the past few months,” said Talat Masood, a retired army general and a military analyst. “Both sides realize it’s in their common interest.”

    Intelligence from Pakistani informants has been used to bolster the accuracy of missile strikes from remotely piloted Predator and Reaper aircraft against the militants in the tribal areas, officials from both countries say.

    More than 30 attacks by the aircraft have been conducted since last August, most of them after President Zardari took office in September. A senior American military official said that 9 of 20 senior Qaeda and Taliban commanders in Pakistan had been killed by those strikes.

    In addition, a small team of Pakistani air defense controllers working in the United States Embassy in Islamabad ensures that Pakistani F-16 fighter-bombers conducting missions against militants in the tribal areas do not mistakenly hit remotely piloted American aircraft flying in the same area or a small number of C.I.A. operatives on the ground, a second senior Pakistani officer said.

    The newly minted 400-man Pakistani paramilitary commando unit is a good example of the new cooperation. As part of the Frontier Corps, which operates in the tribal areas, the new Pakistani commandos fall under a chain of command separate from the 500,000-member army, which is primarily trained to fight Pakistan’s archenemy, India.

    The commandos are selected from the overall ranks of the Frontier Corps and receive seven months of intensive training from Pakistani and American Special Forces.

    The C.I.A. helped the commandos track the Saudi militant linked to Al Qaeda, Zabi al-Taifi, for more than a week before the Pakistani forces surrounded his safe house in the Khyber Agency. The Pakistanis seized him, along with seven Pakistani and Afghan insurgents, in a dawn raid on Jan. 22, with a remotely piloted C.I.A. plane hovering overhead and personnel from the C.I.A. and Pakistan’s main spy service closely monitoring the mission, a senior Pakistani officer involved in the operation said.

    Still, there are tensions between the sides. Pakistani F-16’s conduct about a half-dozen combat missions a day against militants, but Pakistani officers say they could do more if the Pentagon helped upgrade the jets to fight at night and provided satellite-guided bombs and updated satellite imagery.

    General Kayani was expected to take a long shopping list for more transport and combat helicopters to Washington. The question of more F-16’s — which many in Congress assert are intended for the Indian front — will also come up, Pakistani officials said.

    The United States missile strikes, which have resulted in civilian casualties, have stirred heated debate among senior Pakistani government and military officials, despite the government’s private support for the attacks.

    One American official described General Kayani, who is known to be sensitive about the necessity of public support for the army, as very concerned that the American strikes had undermined the army’s authority.

    “These strikes are counterproductive,” Owais Ahmed Ghani, the governor of North-West Frontier Province, said in an interview in his office in Peshawar. “This is looking for a quick fix, when all it will do is attract more jihadis.”

    Pakistani Army officers say the American strikes draw retaliation against Pakistani troops in the tribal areas, whose convoys and bases are bombed or attacked with rockets after each United States missile strike.

    Eric Schmitt reported from Bara, Peshawar and Islamabad, Pakistan, and Jane Perlez from Islamabad.
     
  17. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=163789

    Myths vs facts about fundamentalism
    Part I

    Saturday, February 21, 2009
    by Rubina Saigol

    Religious fundamentalist movements of all shades and hues have gripped large parts of the world and have posed a threat to the prevalent political, economic and social systems. While "fundamentalism" is a term that is used in varying contexts to denote differing realities, its origins lie in 1920s America where it was used to refer to puritanical evangelist movements. The term is sometimes used to deny history by suggesting a return to some imagined early purity or "golden period" that supposedly existed in a bygone era. Fundamentalisms have manifested themselves in virtually all kinds of cultures and societies, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish. Like anything that is not much explored or understood, fundamentalisms have given rise to certain myths that tend to seduce public imagination. The purpose of this article is to try and dismantle eight of the most common myths about Muslim fundamentalism and extremism in our part of the world by juxtaposing such myths against observable facts.

    Myth: Fundamentalism is the result of mental and moral backwardness, attitudes, religion and beliefs.

    Fact: Fundamentalism is about geopolitics, involving power, money, and control over territory, people and resources. If we examine the actions and pronouncements of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the Swat Taliban – actions that include beheading, rape, murder, public display of dead bodies, public executions, suicide bombings killing scores of innocent people – it is not hard to discern that such actions have little to do with religion or a moral order. Through brutal means and barbaric methods, the Taliban have gained control over territory in Swat and Waziristan. They have forced the government to accept their power over people and resources through the Nizam-e-Adl agreement reached between the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammdi's Maulana Sufi Muhammad and the provincial government of the ANP. Apart from drug trafficking, the money is raised from donations received from Saudi Arabia and other countries and goes to pay Rs15,000-20,000 per month to about ten thousand militant followers of Maulana Fazlullah.

    Myth: Fundamentalism in Pakistan can be traced back to the era of General Zia.

    Fact: Fundamentalism can be traced much further back to Imam Hanbal, Al-Ashari, Imam Ghazali (he influenced writers like Ashraf Thanvi who wrote Bahishti Zewar), Abdul Wahhab and the Darul Uloom, Deoband.

    Contrary to the common perception that General Zia's Islamisation laid the foundation of extremist and fundamentalist strands of religion, the seeds were sown much earlier. Reactionary Islamic thought goes back centuries, to the time when rationalism first appeared in Muslim lands. The Asharite revolt against the Mu'tazila rationalist thought located in Greek philosophy, Imam Ghazali's total repudiation of Reason as a source of truth apart from Revelation, and his denunciation of the great scientists, medicine men, mathematicians and thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Razi, Ibn-e-Rushd and Ibn-e-Sina who introduced enlightenment within the Muslim world between the 8th and 11th centuries, are reflections of early fundamentalist reactions. In the heyday of Baghdad, the genius of these thinkers was much admired and they were highly respected during the time of Khalifa Al-Mamun. However, later Muslim rulers like Al-Mutawakkil punished them severely for injecting innovative thought in the Muslim world. It was political power that chose to ally itself with the traditionalist and conservative ulema who crushed innovative and scientific thinking in favour of obscurantism.

    The 18th century Arabian thinker Abdul Wahhab, who was also protected by and aligned with the House of Saud and political power, rejected all later accretions in Islamic thought and insisted on returning to purported versions of pure Islam during its early years. The bland Wahhabi version of religion that he propounded was exported to the subcontinent through Saudi Arabian funding of religious movements in Pakistan. The much more syncretic, tolerant and non-violent versions of Sufi Islam were rejected by a highly intolerant version which came though Saudi imperialism. In the context of the subcontinent, fundamentalist thought was furthered by Maulana Maudoodi, who used his influence in the passage of the Objectives Resolution in 1949 which laid the foundation of a potentially "theocratic" state. General Zia made the Objectives Resolution a substantive part of the Constitution in 1985 through the insertion of Article 2-A. General Zia thus merely accelerated a process begun by his predecessors.

    Myth: Only religious parties and sectarian outfits support or forge fundamentalism.

    Fact: Fundamentalism has been supported or encouraged as much by the so-called secular elite as by religious parties to maintain class power and privilege.

    The common assumption that only parties like the JUI-F, JUI-S and Jamaat-e-Islami and sectarian and Jehadi outfits like Sipah-e-Sahaba-e-Pakistan or Harkat-ul-Mujahideen support fundamentalism in Pakistan overlooks the constant capitulation to religious extremism by seemingly secular and liberal parties. Most analysts like to quote Jinnah's August 11, 1947, speech to argue that he envisioned a secular state, but in several of his other speeches he catered to the religious lobby's sentiments to justify the two-nation concept. In 1940 he declared: "It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religious in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, literatures. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilisations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions."

    Even though Ayub Khan was considered modern and enlightened, a large number of his speeches cater to the religious lobby, in particular the ones that were designed to ensure "national integration" and emphasise Pakistani identity over ethnic and regional identities. In 1962 he declared: "Pakistan came into being on the basis of an ideology which does not believe in differences of colour, race or language. It is immaterial whether you are a Bengali or a Sindhi, a Baluchi or a Pathan or a Punjabi – we are all knit together by the bond of Islam." The Council for Islamic Ideology was established during his rule to scrutinise laws for their conformity to religion. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, often associated with the Left and socialist thought, caved in to the demand to declare the Qadianis non-Muslims in 1974 through the Second Amendment, and later capitulated to the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement by taking certain symbolic measures towards Islamisation. The National Education Policy of 1972 declared that Islam is woven into the warp and woof of Pakistani society and would be reflected centrally in education. It was during Benazir Bhutto's second tenure that the Taliban gained ascendancy in Afghanistan in 1996 and her government was the first to recognise their rule.

    Again, it was the right-of-centre PML-N which, during Nawaz Sharif's first tenure, instituted the death penalty (295c) for blasphemy, a law much abused by religious zealots against the Ahmadi and Christian communities. In his second tenure he introduced his infamous Shariat Bill (15th amendment) which would have effectively made him Amir-ul-Momineen, for it was designed to gain power by deciding virtue and vice and imposing it upon the country. Most recently, the ANP has entered into a desperate agreement with TNSM for Shariat in return for peace – an expensive peace which may or may not come about! Liberal, centrist and Left-oriented leaders and parties have contributed heavily to the rise of religious fanaticism in order to maintain their hold on power.



    (To be continued)

    The writer is an independent researcher specialising in social development. Email: [email protected]
     
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  18. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=164109

    Myths vs facts about fundamentalism
    Part II

    Monday, February 23, 2009
    by Rubina Saigol

    Myth: Fundamentalists want a genuine Shariah-based system of quick and affordable justice.

    Fact: Fundamentalist and extremist outfits have little or no understanding of Shariah and have devised a highly convoluted version of Shariah that is rejected by a large number of serious religious scholars.

    Recent interviews of a cross-section of religious scholars and thinkers in Punjab and the NWFP conducted by a team of researchers reveals the following: There is not a single serious scholar of Shariah and Islamic jurisprudence who believes that bombing and torching girls’ schools, digging out dead bodies and hanging them from trees, murdering with wild abandon and killing innocent people with suicide bombing are Islamic. Similarly, these scholars informed us that there is no known school of Islamic thought that forbids the education of women and disputes their right to work, or their freedom of movement to carry out their daily tasks. Rather, virtually every scholar or religious leader that we interviewed said education is the foremost duty of every Muslim, man or woman. There is no respected religious scholar who supports the beating of women for going out of their houses or starving children to death by disallowing women from earning a livelihood. Virtually, every scholar, belonging to various sects and schools of thought, strongly condemned the actions of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of Baitullah Mehsood and Fazlullah’s actions in Swat as efforts to give religion a bad name.

    Myth: Fundamentalism is the antithesis of imperialism and Jehadis/Taliban are fighting against imperial domination.

    Fact: Fundamentalism and imperialism are deeply linked and invoke each other for their own aims; fundamentalism is itself a specific form of imperialism.

    In his thoroughly researched book Jihad-e-Kashmir o Afghanistan, journalist Muhammad Amir Rana reveals the following: After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Jimmy Carter’s administration created a secret fund of $500 million to create terror outfits to fight the Soviets. Nicknamed “Operation Cyclone,” this fund was kept secret even from Congress and the American public. Subsequently, the Reagan administration and Saudi Arabia provided $3.5 billion to General Zia’s regime for the funding of madrassahs for the Afghan Jihad. Militants were trained in the Brooklyn School in New York and in Virginia by the CIA. In Pakistan they were trained by MI6 and the Inter-Services-Intelligence. Between 1979 and 1990 there was a mushroom growth of madrassahs – Jihad-related organisations grew by 100 percent and sectarian outfits multiplied at the rate of 90 percent. By 1986 the rate of increase of deeni madaris was 136 percent annually, whereas in previous times it had been a mere 3 percent. By 2002, 7,000 religious institutions were offering degrees in higher education. Currently, it is estimated that there are between 18,000 and 22,000 madrassahs operating in Pakistan, teaching over 1.5 million children. Pakistan is in fact located at the nexus of multiple and competing imperialisms representing the US (and the so-called West), Saudi Arabian Wahhabiism and Iranian forms.

    Myth: Fundamentalism and related terrorism are problems of the Frontier regions/FATA/Swat.

    Fact: The Largest recruitment for Afghan and Kashmir Jehad is from the Punjab followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan.

    Amir Rana’s study reveals that Punjab contributes about 50 percent of the Jihadi workforce, followed by the NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan. Punjab has the largest number of deeni madaris (5459 according to a 2002 study). The NWFP, Sindh and Balochistan have 2,483, 1,935 and 769, respectively. Karachi alone accounts for about 2,000 madrassahs. Statistics collected by the ministry of education show that FATA has 135 while Islamabad alone has 77 deeni madaris. According to Rana, the great majority of militants from the Punjab were sent to fight in Kashmir by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad, while most of the Pakhtoon and Balochi youth from the NWFP and Balochistan were sent to and killed in Afghanistan. Most belonged to the JUI-F and the TNSM (which has now entered into an agreement with the ANP government of the NWFP). A large number of organisations, such as Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat-ul-Jabbar wal Islami, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Badr and Lashkar-e-Islam have participated in the Kashmir and Afghan Jihad getting their poor foot soldiers killed while the leaders enjoy luxurious lifestyles that include Pajeros, expensive mobile phones, large houses and frequent air travel.

    Myth: Only non-state actors are involved in religion-based terrorism and fundamentalism.

    Fact: State policy, in line with imperial and vested interests, has fully encouraged and supported the growth and rise of fundamentalist and sectarian outfits.

    The state is fully implicated in backing, supporting and fanning the growth of extremist outfits. Pakistan’s “strategic depth” theory effectively helped keep the Taliban in power in Afghanistan, even as they killed, murdered and butchered children for playing football, women for going to the bank or school, working or lifting the lower part of the burqa to cross a river. The reign of terror had Pakistan’s official support while the rest of the world remained incredulous. The policy of “bleeding India with a thousand cuts” through infiltration in Kashmir also had state sponsorship. One look at the curriculum and teachings by Jamaat-ud-Daawa, an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Taiba, reveals the main purpose of this organisation. Their alphabet revolves around killing, murdering and jihad and their hatred is focused on Hindus. The games children play are war games designed to inspire them to lay down their lives for “holy war.” Going into the Afghan jihad in return for dollars was also a state decision.

    Myth: Fundamentalist outfits have the support of local populations.

    Fact: People have invariably voted in secular and liberal parties in elections.

    A frequent defence in favour of religious hegemony is that the people are essentially religious and want a religious order in Pakistan. An examination of all elections held since 1970 reveals that people invariably voted for secular and liberal parties, while religious parties were promoted only by dictators: the Jamaat-e-Islami by General Zia and the MMA by Musharraf! The major winners of elections in 1970, 1977, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2008 were the Awami League, the PPP, the PML-N, the ANP and the MQM, along with smaller nationalist parties. The religious parties failed to capture people’s imagination in a significant way in any election.

    The myths that one has tried to unpack above need detailed scrutiny. As a nation we need to contemplate our choices: can we afford religious extremism with its negative obsession with controlling women as well as its anti-democracy, anti-development stance and its propensity towards violence because of its love for martyrdom, death and the next world? Or, do we need a plural democracy that can ensure fundamental rights while also accommodating and balancing the concerns of the different provinces, ethnicities, religions and genders into a just system of production and distribution.

    (Concluded)

    The writer is an independent researcher specialising in social development. Email: [email protected]
     
  19. nitesh

    nitesh Mob Control Manager Stars and Ambassadors

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    Two conflicting news stories:

     
  20. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    why can't Russians be arbitraters?
     

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