The War Within Islam
C. Raja Mohan
Delhi, currently preoccupied with elections, will have to grapple, sooner rather than later, with the consequences of the changing regional balance of power in the Arabian Peninsula, the extension of the Saudi-Iran rivalry into the subcontinent and the multiple contradictions in US policy towards the Gulf......
Peace has never been so elusive or desirable for the Pakistan government. Faced with the limited success of a military operation, it is engaging with an enemy which is egregious and unrepentant. The start of the talks was not propitious and there is a sense of déjà vu of little coming of it. On the other hand, the government and the military say they can strike when needed, without resorting to a full-fledged operation. For now at least, that seems to have brought the TTP to the table once again and the peace dialogue seems to have been revived....
Given the awkward nature of identity incongruence within Bahrain, it is argued that the kingdom witnesses grave internal-security challenges. Bahrain is a sectarian fault line between Sunnis and Shias, positioned within a few kilometres of both Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is a station where a confrontation between the two regional mighty rivals can happen, with overwhelming geopolitical consequences. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia realise the significance of Bahrain and conflict between the two for lasting influence on Bahrain has a long history.....
Rami G. Khouri
Both countries face a problem of strong regional or tribal identities that never fully accepted their inclusion in the independent Arab countries that came into being in the 20th century. As Libya and Yemen move ahead with plans to draft new national constitutions, they remain threatened by destabilizing regional tensions, including armed clashes and threats by certain regions or tribal groups to break away from the state…..
Nadeem F. Paracha
Three years ago graffiti appeared on the walls of Karachi with the word ‘Altafism.’ To be precise it went something like this: ‘Altatfism = Realism.’ When I approached a few of the party’s senior leaders and asked them what this realism was about, they proposed that the party stood for ‘progressive pragmatism.’ Some further inquiry into the matter suggested that the party was trying to rationalize some of its policies and actions that had seemed contradictory…..
Afiya Shehrbano Zia
Several mainstream Islamists and scholars have expressed dismay at what is being seen as a mainstreaming of the Taliban’s religious narrative. This threatens to displace all their efforts of seaming together a moderate and peaceful, scholarly and pragmatic Sharia that is compatible with modernity and globalization. However, the ones who are most wary of the implications of this shift, as a result of justifications and rationalizing of the Taliban narrative, are women and the religious minorities of the country.....
They were extremely wary of any groups linked to al-Qaeda. And for good reason, since al-Qaeda had long made it clear that it sought the overthrow of the existing Saudi regime. One thing that worried them especially was the Saudi citizens who went to Syria to engage in jihad. They feared, remembering past history, that these individuals would return to Saudi Arabia, ready to subvert it from within…..
Establishing training centers for Saudi judges is a bold step that defies the long resistance from hard-line religious scholars who have stood against any attempt to accelerate judicial reforms in the kingdom. They have supported the legal system that is in place, claiming that it is based on Shariah laws and cannot be changed to address our modern needs….
Saudi Arabia has always helped in propagating the Salafi-Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam and considers itself the guardian of Islam’s holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina, but the Shiite-led revolution in Iran challenged its authority and created a competitor and alternative for what it preaches….
The Islamic camp itself is bitterly divided. Most communities support Erdoğan against the greatest community, the Gülen movement, which has a few Islamic allies as well. Then there are a few non-aligned individual voices, criticizing the excesses of both sides and advising them restraint. They are marginal now, but perhaps they hold the key for a post-war reconciliation…..
There's no doubt that the U.S. exploited Saddam's stupidity -- especially considering he was a character whose stupid actions were easy to predict. The possible conspiracy in this is not that the West pushed Saddam towards crossing the border but is the reestablishment of relations with him after he got involved in the war and after arms warehouses were opened for him….
Yasmeen Aftab Ali
Shopping for a sugar daddy, Pakistan needs to understand that its interests and those of the sugar daddy may converge on some levels and may diverge on others. A pragmatic evaluation of the long-term national interest of Pakistan needs to be made in the light of the changing geopolitical scenario. Pakistan alone should define Pakistan’s national interest. When lollipops are accepted from a sugar daddy, there is always a price to pay.…..
Taliban aspires to making its chief, Mullah Fazlullah, the caliph of Pakistan under a suzerain in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, the “Amirul-Momineen” of a universal state that will come into being after the Taliban’s triumphal return to the throne of Kabul. One of the Taliban negotiators, Maulana Abdul Aziz of the rebellious Lal Masjid fame, has made the constitutional state of Pakistan shake in its tracks by saying: “the Taliban are most interested in implementing Sharia law in Pakistan”….
When Al Saud royals decided to sink their teeth into the colossus of the Levant, Syria, little did they realize that President Bashar Al Assad would oppose their hegemonic plans in the region with defiance and utmost stoicism. Three years into the war and Saudi Arabia has been forced to step out of the shadows and announced itself as the grand terror master, the driving force behind Al Qaeda and its Takfiri affiliates….
The world’s worst sandwich is the one that finds Pakistan, marinated by its own incompetence, and lack of creativity, stuck between Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran on the other. If the only response we have is to claim victimhood in this uncomfortable position, we are destined to remain locked in it. It may work for Saudi Arabia and for Iran, but it has never, and will never work for Pakistan. ....
Hariri must be worried that the sons of the Sunni sect are being dragged towards religious extremism and terrorism. The danger is compounded by the fact that thousands of brainwashed terrorists are arriving from Europe, the U.S. and Central Asia to fight in Syria. In addition to that, there are also Arab fighters. If Lebanese Sunni youths shift towards extremism, they will also fight Hariri and the other Sunni leaders just as they fought their co-religionists in the liberated areas of Syria. That is the worst case scenario. In the case of a victory, Hariri is formulating an early analysis of the Syrian struggle’s repercussions in Lebanon....
Going by past experience, the government is faced with the challenge of evolving a more dynamic and deep-rooted strategy to curb terrorism instead of fire fighting when pushed to the wall....
Akbar S. Ahmed
The future would be difficult for Pakistan, but I could see hope. Despite the chaos and mayhem of contemporary Pakistan, there was still wisdom and compassion deep in the soil of Pakistan. This, I thought to myself that night, was after all the land of Data Sahib, Bulleh Shah, Baba Fareed, Rahman Baba and so many other mystics and spiritual leaders throughout Pakistan who advocated faith and peace. Their mystic verses had influenced the great Guru Nanak and his followers invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of their most revered house of worship, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. This land was rich with bridge-builders….
Can Islam, or for that matter any other religion, be enforced by force? In a country where Islam is already the state religion and where at least 97 percent of the population is Muslim, what danger does Islam face to warrant tactics such as those being employed by the Taliban? If such an assumption is conceded, the state and society will have to condone any offence committed in the name of religion be it the killing of non-Muslims and members of other sects or burning down places of worship.....
Retrospectively, I find it hard to understand why we had to push for an ‘identity’ in a country that was in reality created as our collective identity regardless of language, race or creed. However, much to the contrary, the forthcoming generations of Mohajirs, myself included, are ostracised for having migrated from India while the groups that did not fret are more comfortably assimilated in the national soil….
Akbar S. Ahmed
The clash between Shias and Sunnis has seen relentless tit for tat killings, especially religious heads, medical doctors, and scholars. Pakistanis believe that Saudi money supports the Sunnis and Iranian money the Shia in their violent confrontation with each other. They also believe there is a confrontation between Indian agents who want to destabilize Pakistan and Pakistani security forces, thus reflecting the historical clash between Hinduism and Islam. Pakistanis will also talk about attempts by Western powers, namely the United States, to break up Pakistan…
Akbar S. Ahmed
…relationship between the center and the periphery has reached a breaking point across the Muslim world, due to the failure of the modern state to accommodate the diversity of minority groups and give them their due, especially on its borders. The delicate balance between center and periphery is now in jeopardy, from Morocco to the Caucasus Mountains. In most cases, the center has prevailed with brute force. Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain are some examples. However, the periphery has also succeeded in some cases in not only challenging but overwhelming the center, as in Libya…..
A lasting solution, which may well not be the one favoured by many Pakistanis, will come after the US and its auxiliaries have left the country. The puppet president, Hamid Karzai, is aware of all this, which is why he has declared: "The Taliban are our brothers," and denounced the British presence in Helmand. He will probably try to promote Pashtun nationalism to weaken Islamabad. The stakes are high for all sides….
Although Netanyahu insists on the “recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people” and security for Israel through military presence in the West Bank, as key issues in the negotiations, he is not in an enviable position within his country. The latest warning from U.S. Secretary of State Kerry that Israel might face international isolation if negotiations fail has increased pressure on Netanyahu….