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Current Affairs

Pakistani Cleric Qadri Energizes Calls for Reform
Sean Maroney
It is his call for the military to participate in the election that has left many in the political establishment worried. For the first time in Pakistan's history, the country is poised to have a peaceful handover of power from one civilian government to another. But Qadri's demand for military involvement, as well as his ties to the Zia- and Musharraf-era governments, have led critics to accuse him of being a military puppet.

Anarchy and Chaos in Pakistan
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam

Anarchy and Chaos in Pakistan
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, New Age Islam
The Pakistan army plays an important role in ‘running’ the country. The civilian government at the moment took after General Parvez Musharraf resigned and decided to leave Pakistan. Musharraf was the hero of Kargil and the entire operation was an open secret yet completely denied by Pakistan army. They continued that it was a Jehad by the Mujahiddins and not a war by Pakistan army.


Pakistan’s Army Lurks Behind Cleric
Tarek Fatah
A Canadian cleric, who has twice played a part in backing military juntas in nuclear-armed Pakistan, is back in that country. And once more, he appears to be facilitating a military takeover in Islamabad. Tahir-ul-Qadri is better known for his role in the creation of the infamous “Anti-Blasphemy Law” of Pakistan that has brought untold misery to religious minorities and agnostics.


Area of Darkness: Anger across urban India
Saeed Naqvi
Nothing in recent history has gripped India like the gang-rape and subsequent death of Jyoti Singh Pandey. Saeed Naqvi analyzes the crime as well as the urban youth's unprecedented response to it, and in both cases comes up against the unchecked social pressures of Indian society


The Rapist In The Mirror
Praveen Swami

For many men, then, violence against women works much as drugs do for addicts: it offers at least the illusion of empowerment where none exists, fixing feelings of rage and impotence. This, in turn, points to a wider malaise. Marxist scholar Antonio Gramsci noted that Fascism arose in a society “where mothers educate their infant children by hitting them on the head with clogs.” How men behave — on the streets with women, with other men, with animals — is taught. In our society, violence is not an aberration; it is the tie that binds us.

We Must Speak Up Now
Rajdeep Sardesai

We Must Speak Up Now
Rajdeep Sardesai

Liberal Muslims, too, need to speak out strongly against the MIM brand of politics. Only an alliance between Hindu and Muslim liberals can isolate noisy extremists from both communities. The silent majority can't remain silent any longer. Don't forget that it was the same Akbaruddin Owaisi who physically attacked the Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen at a public function a few years ago. Why wasn't there a similar outcry then, one wonders.

The Owaisis, Both Muslim And Hindu, Must Be Brought To Justice
Shirish Koyal
It’s just right that Akbaruddin Owaisi has been charged with sedition and waging war against the state, besides other serious offences. It’s time all Owaisis, Muslim or Hindu, are given similar treatment and punished. Never mind if they are potential Prime Ministers. Hope Akbaruddin’s case will make peddlers of hate think twice.

Owaisi, Raj Thackeray: The Suave New Faces Of Hate Politics?
Akbaruddin Owaisi and Raj Thackeray

With the rise of Akbaruddin Owaisi, the new icon of hate-speech in India, Raj Thackeray, the ‘Hindutva hottie‘, has competition. But, together, they seem to have demolished the long-held stereotype of hate politics in the country.

They are among the limited edition of younger, hate-speech politicians in India: clean-shaven, suave, well-educated and sharply dressed. Both had an urban and privileged upbringing and went to schools and colleges where they mixed with cosmopolitan crowds.

But when they open their mouth, there is something shockingly misplaced: it’s pure venom that goes well – to our trained eyes and ears – with saffron, vermillion, beards and skull-caps.

Owaisi Arrest: How The BJP And MIM Hope To Gain From It
Akbaruddin Owaisi

“The MIM has bowled to the BJP a well-flighted delivery that we have hit for a sixer.” This was the reaction of a BJP leader from Andhra Pradesh, who spoke on condition that he would not be named, describing the face-off between the two parties.

“Yes, there is a lot of anger and anguish over the kind of language Akbaruddin Owaisi used against our Gods and Goddesses but there is also the realisation that there is a tremendous opportunity that we should exploit politically,” he explained.

Believe it or not, the thinking is on the same lines in the political enemy camp. The MIM admits it is on the back foot after Owaisi’s arrest but now its leaders and cadre are determined to fight it out, both legally and on the streets and polarise Muslim public opinion in its favour, even outside Hyderabad’s Old city area.


Bhagwat ka Bharat: Foeticide, infant mortality among girls, dowry deaths, khaps, honour killings – which of these have we imported from the West
Javed Anand

Respected Bhagwat Ji,

First you said that rapes and gangrapes happen in India, not Bharat, because the former has embraced Western ideas and abandoned Indian values. You’ve spoken again now, to put women in their proper place:

serving their husbands in their marital homes. Some people think you’ve put your foot (make it plural) in your mouth. But I say, right on, keep talking. Young India, the middle class especially, is listening. And I am sure you’ll be hearing from them soon. Meanwhile, permit me to point out that your views are pretty close to many voices from the Muslim world: from the Taliban in Pakistan to the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it’s time votaries of Hindutva and champions of Islamic fundamentalism came together in a new coalition of the culturally constipated: “Us vs the West”.

Communal Riots -2012: Petty, Sometimes Personal Quarrels Assumed Communal Shape
Asghar Ali Engineer

The Assam communal violence made Indian Muslims once again very insecure like the Gujarat riots and in Mumbai during the month of Ramadan they took out a huge procession consisting of some 45 thousand people which resulted in violence on the streets of Mumbai in South Mumbai. Once again the atmosphere was charged with communal tension. Here in this article I am not giving details of these unfortunate events as I have already written on them in Secular Perspectives.

The Arab Spring's First Constitution
Larbi Sadiki

Article 14 came to embody the public demand for freedom, dignity and "bread". It commits the state through the instrument of development planning to work towards social justice, solidarity, equitable distribution, consumer rights and workers' rights. Moreover, it promises to "divide development costs between capital and labour" as well as equal sharing of revenue.


Not many in Pakistan are happy at Dr Hoodbhoy’s elevation to UN’s Advisory Board
Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy

He is one of the best scientists Pakistan has produced. Apart from being a scientist and an academician, Hoodbhoy is an environmentalist and social activist and regularly writes on social, cultural and environmental issues. He is seen in Pakistan as a crusader for the cause of scientific rationality in a society beleaguered by religious obscurantism, fundamentalism and orthodox religious thought.

A New Drone Experiment
Najam Sethi

If Dr Qadri’s long march materialises, the chances are that a crisis will be precipitated to draw the military into the fray. The government’s reaction could be one cause. Terrorist attacks on the procession could draw blood and create a law and order problem. Imran Khan and other oppositionists including pro- military religious groups and organisations could join hands with Dr Qadri to exploit the occasion to destabilise the government and engineer its ouster.

John Kerry Is A Good Fit For The U.S. State Department
David Ignatius

Kerry’s weakness is that, like Hillary Clinton, he lacks a close personal relationship with Obama. To understand the benefits of being a presidential confidante, think about the George W. Bush administration. Colin Powell was a distinguished, experienced soldier, but he couldn’t represent the president with the same authority as his successor, Condoleezza Rice, who had Bush’s ear.


Why are so many Muslims willing to kill themselves and others? It is an expression of cultural despair. Muslim civilization is disintegrating under the onset of modernity, as I argued in my 2011 book How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too). The encroaching sense of social death motivates the most horrific sort of acts.

Modi Hat Trick and Muslims
J.S. Bandukwala for New Age Islam

Modi Hat Trick and Muslims
J.S. Bandukwala, Vice-President, PUCL

Where do we go from here? Bearing in mind Modi's plans for 2014, we must alert Muslims of other states, in particular Bihar, UP, West Bengal and Assam. These four states have Muslim populations of between 20 % to 30 %. The BJP is weak in these states. The communal polarisation will not be so easy as it is in Gujarat, especially as there are powerful third parties that seek Muslim votes. These four states send about 200 Lok Sabha members, as against 26 from Gujarat.

America’s Deadly Love Affair With Guns
Irfan Hussain

Another day, another tragic massacre in the United States. As parents of the 20 children killed in Newton, Connecticut, struggle to come to terms with their agonising loss, voices are being raised for tighter gun controls. But as we all know, this is a recurring theme: each time some nut goes on a shooting spree, newspaper editorials call for tightening up gun laws.

The Dead Soul Of Adam Lanza
Patrick J Buchanan

The Dead Soul Of Adam Lanza
Patrick J Buchanan

“No set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.” So said President Obama in words of comfort in Newtown. The president was right to speak of evil, but mistaken when he called the massacre “senseless.” For this was a premeditated and purposeful act of mass murder, and the devil that did it knew exactly what he was doing and why.

Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter 6
Krishna Pokharel and Paul Beckett

Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter 6
Paul Beckett

“We want schools, hospitals, factories and mills so that the unemployed people get jobs,” said Mohammad Aminullah Khan, 22 years old, who drives a small van for a living. “We want a peaceful resolution to this dispute.” As they have for centuries, bearded Sadhus wander in small groups through town. So do pilgrims, who arrive in throngs for festivals. At the bus depot, sheets of saffron – a colour considered holy in Hinduism — hang from buses packed with the aged. Women in saris visit street-side stalls full of the paraphernalia of devotion: small food for offering and sacred threads, bells, and lamps. Cows lope and monkeys scamper through the crowds....


Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter Five
Paul Beckett

In its judgment, the Supreme Court couldn’t resist a commentary on what happened on the day of the Babri Masjid’s demolition. The Hindu community must, it said, “bear the cross on its chest for the misdeed of the miscreants reasonably suspected to belong to their religious fold.” In early 1995, the frontlines of the dispute shifted back to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. The suits claiming title to the site were bundled together to be part of the same case. On the Muslim side, there was the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Board of Waqfs, which was responsible for maintaining Muslim holy sites, and six individual co-plaintiffs from Ayodhya and neighbouring areas....

Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter Four
Paul Beckett

A fresh government was installed in November 1990 with a new prime minister, Chandra Shekhar Singh. He was a blunt-spoken socialist. This time, the government was supported by the Congress party, led by Rajiv Gandhi. The new prime minister tried, again, to find a solution to the Ayodhya dispute. He asked Subodh Kant Sahai, then minister of state in the home ministry, to lead discussions with Hindu and Muslim representatives, eight from each side. Three chief ministers – of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh – participated to smooth tensions....


Ayodhya, The Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter One
Paul Beckett

Our story begins in 1949; two years after India became an independent nation following centuries of rule by Mughal emperors and then the British. What happened back then in the dead of night in a mosque in a northern Indian town came to define the new nation, and continues to shape the world’s largest democracy today. The legal and political drama that ensued, spanning six decades, has loomed large in the terms of five prime ministers. It has made and broken political careers, exposed the limits of the law in grappling with matters of faith, and led to violence that killed thousands. And, 20 years ago this week, Ayodhya was the scene of one of the worst incidents of inter-religious brutality in India’s history....

Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter Two
Paul Beckett

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s prime minister, was greatly perturbed by an idol of Lord Ram being placed in a mosque. Polished, intellectual and sceptical of religion, Nehru was trying to propel the nation into an era of modern socialism and scientific thinking. But the events in Ayodhya forced him to grapple anew with the centuries-long friction between Hindus and Muslims – and to try to counter the spreading belief that a deity had materialized in the dead of night. “I am disturbed at developments at Ayodhya,” Nehru said in a telegram on Dec. 26, 1949, to Govind Ballabh Pant, chief minister of United Provinces, which roughly included what is now the state of Uttar Pradesh....


Ayodhya, the Battle for India’s Soul: Chapter Three
Paul Beckett

It started in 1981 in Meenakshipuram, an unremarkable village deep in the countryside of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, more than 2,000 kilometres from Ayodhya. The village hit the national news when its low-caste Hindus – about 400 families, villagers say — converted, en masse, to Islam. “We became Muslims to become equal,” said 65-year-old N. Hidayathullah, one of the converts, in an interview on the porch of his modest home, as a herd of goats wandered by. The families had felt ill-treated by local upper-caste Hindus, he said. “Nobody told us to convert; it was our desire to be treated with respect,” he added.....

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