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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

Pakistan's Soft Power Can Be its Religious Minorities
Yasser Latif Hamdani

Meanwhile, a video by a local Barelvi cleric is making the rounds on social media in which the said cleric claims that ours is not a religion of peace. He goes on to argue — quite inaccurately that there is no verse in our holy book that speaks of peace. This goes against the very grain of what Muslim activists all around the world have been at pains to establish. Now here comes a cleric with a huge following telling people that what we have been saying is untrue.....

 

Cross-Border Sanctuaries Are Major Obstacles in the Fight against Insurgencies and Terrorism
Zahid Hussain

The Jamaat ul Ahrar, which is responsible for the recent attacks claiming over 100 innocent lives, is the largest and most lethal of Pakistani militant outfits currently operating from the Afghan border region. The network has pledged allegiance to the militant Islamic State group (IS) making the situation much more dangerous...

 

Pakistan Returns to Carnage
Ajit Kumar Singh

'Revengeful' and 'regrouped' terrorists are again on the rampage across Pakistan. During a span of just seven days (February 13, 2017 to February 19, 2017) Pakistan accounted for at least 205 fatalities [100 civilians, 21 Security Force (SF) personnel, 84 terrorists) in 22 terrorism-related incidents.....

 

The Attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s Shrine: Butchery of Our Soul
Yasser Latif Hamdani

The attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine at Sehwan as well as the attacks in Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar was nothing less than an attack on Pakistan’s soul. It shows that the terrorists, be they of Jamaat-ul Ahrar or Daesh, are acting in a coordinated way and are clear about their targets. It is a war against Pakistanis’ agency to decide to how to live their lives. Terrorists need not bother though. Our own state institutions have been waging this war on individual rights for decades now....

 

A Battle for the Soul of Pakistan
Beena Sarwar

Of all Pakistan’s provinces, Sindh traditionally has the strongest, most inclusive and tolerant syncretic Sufi culture. That is clearly something the militants are desperately targeting. The attack on Pakistan’s Sufi shrines is part of a larger strategy that aims to grab political power. This includes the kidnapping and forced conversions of Hindu girls, the misuse of ‘blasphemy’ laws, targeted killing of Ahmadis, Shias, and anyone these extremists consider ‘deviant’ from their version of Islam....

No Place for 'Soft Islam' In a Hard Country, Pakistan
Shamil Shams

Pakistan's southern Sindh province is famous for its pluralistic culture. For centuries, the area has been a centre of religious tolerance and cultural harmony, where not only different Islamic sects have co-existed but people from other religions - particularly Hinduism - have contributed to the enrichment of its social fabric. Mystical Islam preached and promoted by Sufis, have played a vital role in this social construct. But on Thursday, February 16, the diminishing Sufi culture in Pakistan received another blow when a suicide bomber belonging to the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) organization blew himself up in a packed shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.....

 

The Fight Pakistan Must Wage Within
Husain Haqqani

The Jihadis justify their violence against Sufi shrines as attacks against ‘impure’ manifestations of the Islamic faith. Killing ‘unbelievers,’ ‘heretics’ and ‘deviants’ is an integral part of their plan to create a purer Islamic state. The same justification has been used in the past to attack Shias and Ahmadis as well as Pakistan’s Christians and Hindus. Although Jihadi groups were originally nurtured by Pakistan for proxy wars in Afghanistan and against India, at least some Jihadi groups consider Pakistanis as legitimate targets....

Does Religion Form the Core of the Pakistani Identity and Is It Reconcilable With Democracy
Khaled Ahmed

General Zaheer ul Islam Abbasi tried to stage an Islamic coup in 1995 because Pakistan was “not based on Quran and Sunnah”. Gul found instant traction with the madrasa leaders, who in turn agreed with al Qaeda chief Aiman al-Zawahiri’s treatise proving how Pakistan was not an Islamic state despite the constitution and a supra-constitutional Shariah court....

 

This Is Not Khuda Hafiz for Now: the House Arrest of JuD’s Chief Is Not a Policy Shift
Dr Ayesha Siddiqa

The stories of different mullahs and Maulanas travelling to Beijing and back are now fairly old. In any case, the bulk of Pakistan-based religious-radical groups do not consider China an enemy. Therefore, we need to re-think before jumping to the conclusion that the house arrest indicates a policy watershed. This may serve the purpose of signalling to the world the state’s ability to control these elements but it is not a precursor to a strategic change especially at a time when the geo-political plate seems to be in flux....

Afghanistan: Unrelenting Bloodshed
S. Binodkumar Singh

At this time, even though the Afghan Taliban has declared that it has no intention of participating in peace talks with the Afghan Government, despite international efforts, an attempt is being made to bring the rebels to the talks table. The first round of official peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan Government had taken place in the intervening night of July 7 and July 8, 2015, in Murree in Pakistan, with an agreement to meet again on August 15 and 16, 2015, in the Qatar capital, Doha....

 

The Undumpable Hafiz Saeed
Khaled Ahmed

Pakistan can’t dump Hafiz Saeed because he is too big organisationally and funding-wise. His outreach is comparable to Fethullah Gülen who controls the Turkish mind, but Saeed went one better — successfully running stealth courts handing down punishments, 5,500 cases in Lahore alone, and he takes on India while the politicians are quaking in their shoes....

Sindh: Fragile Peace
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Sindh: Fragile Peace
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Almost 75 per cent of militants on the terrorism watch list for their alleged links with over a dozen proscribed organisations remain untraceable in Karachi, according to official documents. The Sindh counterterrorism forces were unable to trace 142 of a total of 190 terrorists, who were listed in 'category A', a term used for terrorists put on exceptional risk or high risk. Six most wanted terrorists belonging to proscribed organizations had shifted to Holland, Bangladesh, Dubai, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan...

 

How the ‘Good’ Jihadis Pose a Bigger Risk in the Long Term
Cyril Almeida

But the conversation about what to do with the good Jihadis isn’t going to be held by the average Pakistani, it will be held by the state whose calculus is necessarily different: It has been served loyally in the past by the good Jihadis; the security apparatus is battle hardened, but the state war weary; and merger is a helluva lot simpler to effect than dissolution.....

 

Pakistan's Punjab: Two-Faced On Counterterrorism
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Punjab has long consolidated as a nursery of terrorism. Media reports in May 2016 quoted a senior counter-terrorism (CT) officer, citing a confidential report titled "Proscribed/Jihadi Organizations", who noted that major banned outfits in the country were still recruiting madrasa students to wage jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and that such non-state actors had become very dangerous for Pakistan as well.....

 

The Absentees at the Astana Talks on the Syrian Conflict Hold the Cards for the Next Steps
Vijay Prashad

It is those who were absent who hold the cards for the next phase. Turkey’s main proxy, Ahrar al-Sham, did not come to Astana, but uncharacteristically it sent its blessings for the deliberations. It might, in time, join the process. The two parties that are outside the ceasefire are the Islamic State (IS) and the al-Qaeda proxy, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS). These groups have attempted to peel away fighters from those who went to Astana, saying that the negotiators shame the ‘revolution’....

 

Although he still despises the guards who tortured him, Shogre says that he also saw the best of humanity while in prison. Other prisoners helped to save him, giving him their food rations so that he could live, and paying guards not to kill him. Although practising Islam was banned in Sednaya, he silently memorised 18 chapters of the Quran during his time in confinement, taught in whispered exchanges with other prisoners.....

 

Pakistan’s Unending War on Civil Society
C. Christine Fair

Pakistan continues to burnish its credentials as a state sponsor of terrorism abroad and as a repressive, murderous environment for dissidents at home.  It is a well-known fact that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies provide a full suite of state support to a deadly menagerie of militant groups proscribed by the United Nations, the United States, and others......

 

The authorities, apparently, were quite receptive. In English textbooks for use in madrasas, all Hindu, Christian or foreign-sounding names have been replaced by Muslim names. Conversations between boys and girls have been omitted. Illustrations of girls with bare heads have been edited out. The word “period” was removed from a section on girls’ physical development. The name of the chairman of the textbook board, a Hindu professor, does not appear....

 

Federally Administered Tribal Areas: Smouldering Fire
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in NWA on June 15, 2014, in the aftermath of the attack on the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, on June 8-9, 2014, in which at least 33 persons, including all 10 attackers, were killed. Since then, according to partial data compiled by South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 2,563 terrorists and 232 soldiers have been killed....

 

Bring Pakistan’s Missing Bloggers Home
Raza Rumi

Throughout Pakistan’s history, dissent and free speech have been muzzled by a state that inherited a repressive legal framework from the British colonizers who ruled the Indian subcontinent until 1947. Journalists, poets, intellectuals and many politicians who questioned the state were labeled traitors, sometimes jailed or exiled, and on occasion killed. ...

 

Pakistan's Violent Cyberspace: No Place for Dissent
Rabia Mehmood

Dissent or critique of state policy is not only not tolerated but snubbed in a way that an example is set for others. It has been happening to outspoken voices against religious conservatism, state's appeasement of clergy or the military establishment for years.....

 

In Pakistan, Justice for the Killers among Us
Mohammed Hanif

For a long while we were told that the Taliban in Afghanistan were our assets and the Pakistani Taliban were our misguided brothers. Today we are told that everyone who attacks us is bankrolled by India. But all these stories are just a way of refusing to admit that for many years now, we have been fighting an enemy who lives among us and who believes in many of the things we believe in.....

 

Pak Army Using Chemical Weapons against Pashtuns
Areeba Falak

...the Pakistan army is indiscriminately using chemical weapons in Waziristan and in certain areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both areas dominated by Pashtuns—apart from Balochistan. Until recently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa acted as a rescue point for IDPs escaping the Pakistan army’s so-called war on terror in Waziristan and surrounding areas. The Pak military has been using the “war on terror” to bombard its restive regions that are seeking independence from Pakistan....

Erdoğan Could Be Losing His Grip On A Dangerous, Divided Turkey
Bahar Baser

Rather than downplaying the divisions among different ethnic and religious groups in Turkey in the post-putsch period, the ruling party and the president are deepening the country’s many divisions, all the while assisted by the mainstream media. They are creating a fractured political environment which will enable them to promote constitutional amendments, in the long run presenting Erdoğan’s long-held dream of an executive presidential system as the only thing that can bring Turkey back from the brink.....

 

In Turkey’s Unrest, Some See an Extreme Version of Post-9/11 America
Tim Arango

“As we’ve seen after the coup, the reaction is way outside of the formal rule of law. You started arresting police and gendarmes, now writers, actors, journalists — so there is no limit,” he said. “When you start pulling the thread on the rule of law, the whole sweater can come off. And that’s where we stand.”...

 


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