Over years, there is a rising opinion in and outside politics that the distorted meaning that secularism has acquired over decades needs to be debated and corrected. The mainline media has so far swept this other and the correct view under the carpet and perpetuated the distortion. Result, the Indian secularism is neither Indian in the sense of equal protection to all faiths nor Western in the sense of equal repugnance to all religions…..
The question of where Muslims stand after an election in which their vote has clearly not been relevant is an important one. One of six Indians is a Muslim; the community constitutes our largest religious minority. Everything that affects India’s Muslims must affect India and vice-versa; at least that is the ideal…..
As an India-friendly Pakistani currently living in exile in the US, I observed the Indian election through the media as well as the eyes of many Indian friends. That, admittedly, does not qualify me as an authority on Indian politics. But as Benazir Bhutto used to say “There is a bit of India in every Pakistani and there is an element of Pakistan in every Indian.” Pakistan’s democrats admire Indian democracy and have always done so, even at the risk of being accused of being pro-Indian…..
“Whatever we know about the Gujarat riots is because of Mukul,” Mr. Khanna said. “He was the only one willing to fight these cases and he forced the Gujarat government to face the facts. No one was willing to take on Narendra Modi like Mukul.” Several of those who spoke on Thursday said they lost all hope after 2002, but Mr. Sinha kept them believing in themselves......
Imran’s relationship with the “Angels” is another fascinating subject for research. He has unfailingly whipped up public sentiment in their favour whenever they have been cross with elected civilian governments: on Rehman Malik’s attempt to bring the political wing of the ISI under his boot; on the “objectionable” clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid to Pakistan bill; on the May 2nd Osama bin Laden debacle; on Memogate; on the “state within the state”….
Marxists attributed great significance to imperial differences over Iraq. All along these years, certain influential Marxist theoreticians have been pointing out the possibility of inter-imperial rivalries translating into global conflicts. Should Ukraine be seen in this context? Is it the case that Russia and China, two rising imperial centres, will go in violent contradiction with Euro-US imperialisms?....
Coming as they do in quick succession, the two developments — the implementation of Sharia and the realisation of dwindling oil reserves — can be said to bear some connection. Indeed, Pakistan, which has (as per the Brunei definition) already seen some enforcement of Sharia, has experience in using large-scale legal reforms during times of crisis......
The Israelis say they must be strict because they are responsible for keeping the peace. In 1834 hundreds were killed in a stampede. This year’s Holy Fire flared without injury. But Catholic priests suggest that Israel is using extra security measures to change the Old City’s status, providing for unfettered access to Jews, while limiting the number of Christian worshippers......
This time not only does it feature Dr Qadri and his followers, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shiekh Rasheed and the Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) alliance as well. It’s a peculiar bunch but that is often what makes the carnival more appealing – one exuberant theatrical performance after another. Dr Qadri will now compete with Imran Khan’s egocentric diatribes and JI’s eulogies for terrorists.....
These questions lead to the scepticism over the method and timing of the protests. While the PTI cadres are all excited about another show of force in Islamabad, others are worried what this political instability means for the country. The civil and military pillars of the power matrix don’t appear to be comfortable with each other. Media freedoms are under attack. Pakistan is inching towards a pariah state....
Boko Haram’s rampage of indiscriminate violence and tyranny has been going on for over three years now in Nigeria, but the organization has never grabbed international headlines quite like this before. They’ve bombed churches, killed innocents and done just about everything else in their mad pursuit to establish “Sharia Law,” but the recent kidnapping and potential sale and enslavement of around 200 to 300 schoolgirls has really reverberated across the world......
Borno is frequently described as Boko Haram’s heartland and has long been under a state of emergency; with most schools shut down on account of frequent armed attacks by a militia whose Hausa nomenclature translates roughly as “western education is forbidden.” Scores of schoolchildren have previously been killed by Boko Haram in Borno and neighbouring states…..
It’s often said that Indians don’t so much cast their vote as vote their caste. This is supposed to be even more true for minority voters, with claims that parties deliberately cultivate vote banks and India’s minorities frequently vote as a bloc. But this view needs rethinking. Research on Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh demonstrates that, in fact, they often cross identity lines in order to make pragmatic decisions about who to vote for based on local considerations....
Today, the scene is completely different. Despite much criticism levelled against him, Karzai has succeeded in holding the country together and giving democracy a chance. After the dark days of the Taliban, when girls were not allowed to study, Karzai ensured that girls went back to school and were in workplaces. In 2009, he passed the Elimination of Violence against Women decree, which, for the first time, tried to legally protect women’s rights. Music and dance were no longer banned and Afghanistan was once again a moderate Islamic State…..
Bangladesh is an oddity. Roughly the size of Nepal and the US state of Iowa (56,980 square miles), Bangladesh packs over 160 million people. Nepal's population is 26.5 million, Iowa's only 3 million. The population densities of adjacent India and Myanmar are a fraction of Bangladesh's. Pakistan is 6 times bigger than Bangladesh. Myanmar is 4.5 times and India 22 times larger.....
C. Raja Mohan
Amid growing Saudi concerns about the shifting Middle East balance of power in favour of Iran, Pakistan is walking the tight rope between Riyadh, a close ally, and Tehran, an important neighbour.....
General Zia could think only like an ideological warrior. If Pakistan goes back to being a moderate Muslim state, it will not slide back into India. Instead, it will become a useful trading partner of India, bringing prosperity to the common man, who will learn to prize peace rather than jihad, the only strategy Pakistan has been able to invent…..
Changing Land Use in Swat
Adil Zareef and Fazal Maula Zahid
Swat is the food reservoir not only for the two million people that comprise its populace, but also for billions of other living species including diverse plants, wildlife, birds, bees and micro-organisms. Rare and precious natural resources are now under severe threat, owing to unsustainable development. Fertile green land is being converted into roads, homes, townships schemes and so on......
With the advancement of democratic ideas associated with the European Enlightenment, religions have more or less retreated from politics, spawning an enlightened state that protects its citizens irrespective of their beliefs. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism—while influencing everyday lives of followers—cannot influence policies of states. This trend is countered by Islam, with Muslims generally approving its role in political systems....
The reaction from Israel was disappointing. Instead of waiting to see how the agreement between the two former enemies would unfold, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot it down. "So instead of moving into peace with Israel, he (Abbas) is moving into peace with Hamas," Netanyahu said. "He has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other."…..
The military has long demanded a stiff law for use against terrorists because the existing anti-terrorist laws, which still require due process and solid evidence beyond the anti-terrorist court stage, are just not good enough to lock up terrorists and throw the key away. Hence terrorists are let off by the courts or end up “missing” and are “disappeared” of necessity.....
Proposed military cantonments in fertile lands of Kabal, Khwaza Khela and Barikot shall irreversibly impact this traditional food basket, which not only sustains the livelihoods of local population, besides, contributes to food security of down country, earning huge foreign exchange for national exchequer.....
Mr. Vajpayee’s silence, like that of his predecessors, wasn’t cowardice. The use of covert action inside Pakistan will, almost certainly, invite retaliation — ending, thus, in more violence, at least in the short run. It can cause large-scale civilian fatalities, with damaging international consequences. It can end in the arrest of Indian assets, damaging the country’s credibility. It can succeed in its aims, as Israel, the U.S. and the United Kingdom have sometimes proved — or, as those very countries have learned, just as easily fail. There is no easy path to be taken, for each winds past the taking of human life. It is imperative, therefore, that India’s new security czars discuss their choices dispassionately, before a decision has to be made in rage.
With all the problems at hand, for a person like me, who came from more or less the same background like that of Mr Modi, democracy in India for the last 10 years was the most stable and welfarist, focusing around bottom-up development and modernist transformation. From 1947 to present, no 10-year period was as stable and as empowering for the poor at the village level, as this period was. The combination of Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, even though with the coalition team around them, the government of India functioned for bottom-up change......
A quick reading of Ambedkar’s essays told me that the Sangh Parivar had yet again sought to give a highly selective interpretation of the Dalit icon, just as they are prone to doing with Sardar Patel or other important leaders of the freedom movement. Whether it is Ambedkar, Sardar Patel or Gandhi, the Sangh Parivar continues its attempt to co-opt these leaders in one way or other. But the key question is -- can a leopard change its spots? …..