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Books and Documents

The War Within Islam

The conflict has taken an especially heavy toll on the adult male population, with several tens of thousands of Aleppan men killed or maimed in the past six years. Many more have been drafted by the government or are fighting in the ranks of one of Syria’s many militias, for or against al-Assad’s regime....

 

Syrian Refugees Are 'Left Out in the Cold' by the Biggest Arab States That Refuse to Welcome Them
Vijay Prashad

Those Syrians who do find their way to the GCC states enter the web of the Kafala or sponsorship system, where the rights of the migrants are minimal. GCC countries prefer to provide funds to the UN and others so that the refugees remain outside their fortress. ‘Assad must go’ is an easier slogan for them to chant than ‘Syrian refugees are welcome here.’...

Pakistan Approves Military Hero to Head Tricky Saudi-Led Alliance
Ben Hubbard

The appointment of a popular Pakistani general to head a Saudi-led alliance of Muslim countries has set off a furore in Pakistan, amid fears that the move could exacerbate sectarian tensions at home.....

 

A Khaleeji Venture: Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism
Asad Rahhim Khan

To embrace an alliance that excludes Iran, Iraq, and Syria is a political message wrapped in a sectarian bow. Pakistan’s success is defined by its neutrality: a parliamentary democracy siding with neither Sunni kings nor Shia theocrats. Second, a Khaleeji vanity project is the wrong vehicle to be fighting IS and affiliates anyway. As Kamel Daoud puts it, “Daesh [IS] has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex.” The kingdom may make the right noises, but it refuses to go after the radical trends it has encouraged for decades....

 

Pakistan’s Search for a New National Narrative Is a Fraught Endeavour
Khaled Ahmed

When Pakistan’s most sickeningly pathological terrorist Fazlullah killed 130 children in a school in Peshawar, he quoted from the Hadith which form a part of Sharia in Islam. Pushed back by Sharia, Sharif took himself to Karachi last year where he mixed with the Hindu minority community and made them happy by observing Holi with them....

 

Bangladesh: Lingering Darkness
S. Binodkumar Singh

Continuing these efforts, the Government banned Ansar al-Islam (Defenders of Islam), the Bangladesh chapter of al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), on March 5, 2017, as its activities constituted a threat to public security. The ban circular observed that the militant organization's activities went against peace and order in the country. The radical group was earlier known as Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT, Volunteer of Allah Bangla Team)....

 

Is Hamas Prepping For A 'State Of Gaza'?
Adnan Abu Amer

Hamas may believe that the new committee will address the governmental work left undone by the failure to provide for Gazans’ needs under the consensus government. No one can predict, however, at this point how the PA might act to punish Hamas....

 

In Pakistan, Judges Are a Part of the Problem of Religious Conservatism Trumping Justice
Khaled Ahmed

The policeman, Mumtaz Qadri, who shot Taseer, was hanged in 2016 after being sentenced by a judge of an anti-terrorism court. The judge left immediately for Hajj after the sentencing, but the prosecutor complained of death threats being flung at him daily. Qadri has a grand mausoleum just outside Islamabad, where thousands go to pay homage to him. The son of the murdered governor, Shahbaz Taseer, was kidnapped by the Taliban and kept under savage conditions in Afghanistan for three years before he was able to escape....

 

Who’s Pakistan's Enemy Number One?
Pervez Hoodbhoy

Fortunately, the ultra-religious sorts — which this land is abundantly blessed with — are free from useless doubt. For them more is better. Every newborn, say the ultras, comes with a guaranteed Rizq (provision) stamped on its forehead. Now let’s assume, ignoring the visible contrary evidence, that this is correct. Yet there shall remain an impossibly difficult problem even if food and water were to drop miraculously from the skies. ....

 

Erdogan Should Put Brakes on Himself
Shantanu Mukharji

Ever since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan survived the July 2016 coup attempt, he appears to have lost his sense of diplomacy, his statecraft and arguably even his mental equilibrium. This is visible in ample measure in the insecure President’s body language and rhetoric in the wake of a diplomatic row snowballing into a major crisis before the referendum he is seeking from the Turks, both within and outside Turkey...

 

Henna-Adorned Hands Give Voice to Turkish Referendum Opponents
Pinar Tremblay

Henna is a symbol of innocence and sacrifice in Turkey and the region. Turkish bridal showers often include the bride getting a henna design on her palm. Young conscripts also get henna on their hands just before they are sent off to serve their country, as a symbol of dedication. For the people of Anatolia, henna symbolizes new beginnings, excitement and sacrifice for an important cause. It is an ancient tradition that has been cherished by Jews, Arabs, Alevis, Kurds and Turks — it is an image that unites and transcends politics….

 

Bloodshed in the Middle East
Shahid M Amin

Bloodshed in Syria can stop only if Iran and Saudi Arabia come to terms. Iran must stop its military intervention in Syria and the Saudis should curb the Salafi religious institutions in their country that provide inspiration and recruits for IS and other religious extremists. ....

 

It is a tryst with the home-grown extremist organisations. The occasional attempts to selectively address the mushrooming terror nurseries are as cosmetic as they are inadequate. Pakistan must first learn to celebrate its own true history, vivid diversity and rich culture and not suffer from any inferiority complex, as that aids the facilitation of alien sensibilities and their brutal implications....

The TAK emerged in 2005 when the PKK had withdrawn from Turkey and was licking its wounds in sanctuaries in Northern Iraq, while its leader Öcalan was calling for a political solution to the Kurdish conflict. The TAK took advantage of the PKK’s troubles, offering an alternative, more violent platform to the most radicalised fringe of the Kurdish youth. Between 2005 and 2011 the TAK was actively involved in attacks against Turkish civilians and security forces, with a significant preference for the non-Kurdish West of the country....

 

The Shrine for Salman Taseer’s Killer Embodies the Real Danger Pakistan Faces from Within
Anam Zakaria

Extremism has cast a web over diverse religious practices. Whereas death anniversaries and pilgrimages to shrines have usually involved the veneration of peaceful Sufi saints symbolising tolerance and religious syncretism, today thousands pay homage to the shrine of an assassin and organise an “Urs” – death anniversary of a Sufi saint – transforming a murderer into a saint....

 

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....

 
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