The War Within Islam
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....
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. ....
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...
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….
Shahid M Amin
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
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....
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....
Yasser Latif Hamdani
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.....
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
Ajit Kumar Singh
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.....
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....
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....
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 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....
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....
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
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....
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
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...
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.....
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.....
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.....
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......