New Age Islam
Thu Nov 26 2020, 01:08 AM

Current Affairs ( 10 Aug 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

India-Pakistan Relations: Challenges and the Way Forward: New Age Islam’s Selection from Pakistan Press, 11 August 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

11 August 2015

Trying Terrorists: Myths and Reality

By Faisal Siddiqi

The Fateful Split of The Jamiat Ulema Islam

By Nadeem F. Paracha

Pakistan-India Peace Need Is Urgent

By Babar Ayaz

Empowered Women of Sindh, Pakistan

By Naween A. Mangi


Trying Terrorists: Myths and Reality

By Faisal Siddiqi

August 11th, 2015

TERRORISM is considered the most urgent public issue facing Pakistan. In popular public discourse about terrorism, the role of the courts that are dealing with terrorism cases is considered to be critical in the fight against it.

Underlying this popular public discourse is a theory about the law and the courts which is accepted as self-evident truth. This theory considers the lack of convictions by the courts as one of the main causes of terrorism. This is because it is propagated that the lack of convictions leads to both the acquitted militants again committing acts of terrorism and also that these lenient, non-convicting courts have no deterrent effect on other potential or actual militants as there is no fear of punishment. In short, this theory propagates that accused-loving or accused-fearing courts cause terrorism in a major way.

But what if this popular, ‘self-evident’ theory is really a myth?

Court causing terrorism myth: The ‘court causing terrorism’ theory is considered self-evident common sense. It would thus be quite shocking to many to learn that there is absolutely no evidence – from any other country in the world fighting terrorism or from historical analysis – that the major cause of terrorism is the lack of convictions by the courts or that militants or terrorists don’t commit acts of terrorism because of fear of punishment or of guaranteed court convictions. There are multiple reasons for the falsity of this theory. Firstly, the causes of terrorism are complicated and complex. Terrorism or militancy is caused by ideological, political, economic and social reasons and not by what the courts are doing in these terrorism cases. For example, does anyone seriously believe that the main cause of or solution to religious and sectarian militancy or political militancy of the Baloch separatists or the MQM is the lack of convictions by the courts?

There is absolutely no evidence that fear of punishment prevents militants from committing acts of terrorism.

Secondly, research after research has shown that these acts of terrorism are not committed only by repeat offenders but that the majority are committed by first-time or non-hardcore militants. So no matter how many people you convict, unless the causes of terrorism are removed, there will always be an endless supply of first-time or non-hardcore militants. For example, the American ‘war on terror’ has shown that it is an endless war because first it was Al Qaeda, then the Taliban and now the self-styled ‘Islamic State’. Thirdly, fear of punishment is only one of the reasons, and at times (especially in ideologically motivated conflicts) the least important reason, guiding human beings in violent matters. Human beings are complicated, ideologically driven, emotionally charged and risk-taking creatures, whose motivations cannot be reduced simply to the fear of punishment. Or to rephrase a popular PPP political slogan, how many militants will you convicts, a militant will emerge from every home.

Limited but important objectives: That is not to say that the courts don’t have a limited but important role and effect on terrorism or militancy. Firstly, justice for the victims of terrorism by punishing the guilty is the foremost objective, regardless of whether it prevents militancy or not. Moreover, justice for the victims contributes towards the legitimacy of the state. Secondly, how can punishing innocent persons prevent terrorism? This can only be ensured by providing every accused person a fair trial conducted by an independent court. This is especially critical in countries like Pakistan with a history of miscarriages of justice because of politicised and incompetent investigations and prosecutions.

Thirdly, by convicting and punishing dangerous and hardcore militants, it ensures that long-term incapacitation of these militants prevents them from committing violent acts again. Fourthly, one of the differences between a constitutional state and legal anarchy is that in the former even the most violent militants have a constitutional right to a fair trial. Our hatred for militant violence should not lead to the destruction of the very constitutional state that we are trying to protect. Moreover, research has shown that humane treatment of militants helps create a stake and incentive in the system for them. It helps some of them, especially non-hardcore militants, to leave militancy and pursue the same political objectives through peaceful means. On the other hand, inhumane treatment by the justice system reinforces the militants’ views about overthrowing the system.

Multi-dimensional problems: The lack of conviction of the guilty and the prosecution of the innocent are two of the obvious problems facing the anti-terrorism courts (ATCs). But what if one of the sources of continuing militancy is the stigmatisation, brutal state violence and incarceration of non-hardcore militants or ideological supporters of these militant causes? A century of research into criminality and violent actions shows that brutal state repression, long prison sentences and stigmatising people as ‘terrorist’, ‘extremist’, ‘sectarian’, ‘traitors’, etc, ensures that non-hardcore militants or mere ideological supporters are completely alienated or cut off from society, become firmly incorporated within militancy and as a consequence, become hardcore militants.

Right reforms: Any debate about reforming the ATCs must debunk three false preconceptions. Firstly, the ‘arrogant presumption’ of the militarised terrorism policy of the Pakistani state which is that if we (ie police or military establishment) say that someone is guilty then he should be convicted by the courts regardless of the lack of evidence and without the need for a fair trial. Secondly, the ‘denial presumption’ of the legal community which is that there is nothing seriously wrong with the functioning of the ATCs and that the entire blame lies with the investigation and prosecution arm of the state. Thirdly, the ‘Super State presumption’ of the executive and judiciary which is that reforming the ATCs is not difficult. This presumption doesn’t face up to the reality that the Pakistani criminal justice system has collapsed and a collapsing Pakistani state has only a limited capacity to reform itself.

We must recognise that a key obstacle in reforming the ATCs is an intellectual poverty maintained by vested interests and a love affair with our unjustifiable precious presumptions.

Faisal Siddiqi is a lawyer.


The Fateful Split of the Jamiat Ulema Islam

By Nadeem F. Paracha

09 August 2015

The recent killing of Malik Ishaq one of the most controversial figureheads of the banned sectarian militant outfit, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LeJ) saw a number of commentaries on the organisation appear in the electronic and print media.

Though most of these analyses correctly focused on the fact that the LeJ was an off-shoot of another sectarian group, the Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), many commentators failed to point out that the SSP too was an off-shoot.

Formed in 1985 (in Jhang, Punjab), the SSP emerged as a militant anti-Shia outfit that claimed to be working towards stemming the tide of ‘Shia influence’ in Pakistan especially after the formation of a revolutionary ‘Islamic regime’ in the Shia-majority country of Iran (in 1979).

Though it is correct to assume that the reactionary dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq somewhat facilitated the formation of the SSP, the organisation was not entirely the construct of the said regime.

There is substantial political history behind the mushrooming of militant sectarian outfits

In his book, The Militant, author M. Amir Rana traces the emergence of SSP as an outfit that was formed by a splinter group from the mainstream religious party, the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI).

The JUI was formed in the late 1940s by a group of Islamic scholars and clerics belonging to one of India’s main Deobandi Sunni Muslim parties, the Jamiat Ulema Hind (JUH).

The JUH, though a staunch religious outfit, had sided with the Indian Congress party that was opposing the All India Muslim League’s bid to create a separate Muslim homeland in the region.

After Jinnah’s Muslim League succeeded in creating the Muslim-majority country of Pakistan in 1947, these men completely split from JUH and formed the JUI that became one of the largest Deobandi religious parties in Pakistan.

In the late 1960s when leftist sentiments and parties were in the ascendency in Pakistan, JUI became the only right-wing religious party to overtly support the agendas of populist progressive outfits such as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the National Awami Party (NAP).

JUI refused to support an attempt by other religious parties to denounce the socialist groups as being ‘un-Islamic’. What’s more, the party also launched an aggressive polemical onslaught against Abul Ala Maududi, the founder of the conservative Jamaat-i-Islami.

Professor Philip E. Jones in his detailed study of the historic 1970 election in Pakistan, mentions that at one point the JUI had even exhibited interest in contesting the said election as an ally of the then overtly socialist PPP.

Most religious and conservative parties were routed by the PPP and NAP (in the former West Pakistan) and by the Bengali nationalist party, the Awami League (in former East Pakistan) in the election.

The only religious party to do well in that election was the JUI that then went on to form a coalition government with the left-wing NAP in the NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). The JUI was being headed by Mufti Mehmood.

The JUI finally had a falling out with the PPP when the latter’s government in the centre dismissed the NAP regime in Balochistan and consequently the NAP-JUI coalition in NWFP resigned in protest.

In 1974 the student-wing of JUI took an active part in the JI-led agitation against the Ahmadiyya community, and in late 1976 the party became a senior partner in the large anti-PPP grouping, the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA).

JUI also directly participated in PNA’s 1977 movement against the PPP regime. The movement uncannily helped General Ziaul Haq to use the resultant turmoil as a pretext to launch a military coup.

Though JI and some Muslim League factions welcomed the coup, JUI immediately denounced it and (in 1981) joined the PPP-led anti-Zia alliance, the Movement For The Restoration of Democracy (MRD).

In an era when (with the logistical help of the Zia regime and US and Saudi funding), seminaries had rapidly begun to crop up (to indoctrinate fighters against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan), the JUI too was given a free hand to establish madressahs, especially in NWFP and Balochistan.

JUI happily took this opportunity to increase its network of seminaries, but at the same time it continued being an integral part of the anti-Zia MRD!

A senior leader of the party, Maulana Samiul Haq, who wanted the party to join the Zia regime, broke away from party leader, Maulana Fazalul Rehman, and formed his own (pro-Zia) faction of the JUI, the JUI-Sami.

Meanwhile, during the same period, some cadres who were part of JUI’s youth wing in the 1970s formed the SSP. One of them was Haq Nawaz Jhangvi who had been radicalised by 1974’s anti-Ahmadiyya movement and then graduated to become an important member of the JUI in the 1980s.

SSP soon became the most militant expression of anti-Shia politics in Pakistan. It was mainly backed and funded by the Sunni trader classes in the city of Jhang who saw the organisation as a radical anti-feudal outfit because most landowners in Jhang had belonged to the Shia sect.

But according to Amir Mir’s book, ‘From 9/11 to 26/11’, the pro-SSP trader classes were not entirely comfortable with its overtly militant ways. They wanted it to counter the so-called Shia political and economic influence (in Jhang) through the mosque and, more so, from the national and provincial assemblies.

From 1988 onwards, SSP men began to regularly contest polls from Jhang. In 1990, Jhangvi was assassinated (allegedly by Shia gunmen in retaliation for the killing of a prominent religious leader of a Shia group).

Thus began a vicious cycle of killings and retaliatory assassinations between Sunni and Shia militants. In 1996 a group walked out of the SSP and formed the LeJ, after accusing the SSP leadership of deviating from Jhangvi’s philosophy.

In 2002, both SSP and LeJ were banned by the Musharraf regime along with the main Shia sectarian organisation, the Tehreek-i-Jafiria.

SSP remoulded itself and returned as Millat-i-Islamia but was banned again. However it remerged, this time as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), whereas LeJ went entirely rogue and has often been accused of undertaking numerous bombings and assassinations.

Though ASWJ has retained SSP’s firebrand sectarian character, however, it now claims that it pursues its goals through political and legal means.

Last week when Malik Ishaq was killed in a police encounter, with him also went two other top tier leaders of the LeJ. The fourth one is in jail.


Pakistan-India Peace Need Is Urgent

By Babar Ayaz

August 11, 2015

Misperceptions about the other on both sides of the Pakistan and India border can be found galore. We are so close and yet so far. The more I meet particularly the Indian middle classes the more I feel there is a need to understand each other first to build a bridge to peace. On both sides, deliberately or because of their ignorance, our rulers and their embedded media breed misperceptions about the other country. For the last 60 years we have looked at each other’s political, economic and social interests as being static and inorganic. On the contrary, in this period, Pakistan and India have gone through a sea change in every aspect of life. Though not at a desired pace, the economic base of both countries has changed from heavily agricultural to industrial, and the service industry has grown to contribute 50 percent of the GDP. Globalised communications technology is sweeping away the old thinking. Notwithstanding opposition to globalisation by many in our respective countries, the transition to the information and knowledge age is happening. In this post-partition period, the middle classes have grown many times and the demographic profile has changed dramatically with over 60 percent under the age of 30. Unfortunately, all these developments are not factored in by our respective analysts and policymakers who are buried under the heavy burden of distorted history

At a recent seminar in Kolkata on ‘India-Pakistan relations: challenges and the way forward’, organised by the quarterly New Approach’s editor, Shekar Basu Roy, one thing all the nine speakers agreed about was that uninterrupted and irreversible dialogue is needed to beat the agenda of terrorism. The emphasis was on the fact that we need to understand each other better. Highlights of the speakers’ observations of this well-attended seminar would be in order here. Imminent journalist Bharat Bhushun, who moderated the seminar, succinctly described Prime Minister (PM) Modi’s Pakistan policy as a “flip-flop policy”. Modi invested in Pakistan relations at Ufa, keeping in view the forthcoming South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad in 2016.

Former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri says that a solution to all issues with India is possible. His optimism resides in his experience of dealing with India as General Musharraf’s foreign minister. “Pakistan and India have natural common interests and so the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should be seen by India as a bridge to Central Asia,” he suggested. Giving teasers from his upcoming book, he says “We had made significant progress in back door talks with India on a number of issues and could have signed a settlement on Sir Creek and Siachen had PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Pakistan materialised.” Kasuri was right to stress that in talks between the two countries nobody should claim victory to keep the peace process going.

A section of the media, which is embedded with the beneficiaries of the war economy, has led to the ‘mediaistation’ of Pakistan India relations, to borrow Javed Jabbar’s phrase. Their role has been anti-peace and, hence, anti-people. Former Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid criticised PM Modi for not taking the opposition into confidence and for the “policeman point of view”, which is a major problem.

To my surprise, the editor of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) magazine, Seshardri Chari, was very positive about the India-Pakistan peace process and said that “in spite of terrorism, we want to talk”. But his reservation was that Pakistan’s army and non-state actors were against giving peace a chance. He rightly concluded that the political class has the capability to overcome any hurdles on the peace track. Senator Taj Haider was of the view that building on the secular and socialist tradition of Subash Chander Bose’s peace process should be taken forward, which is resisted by the arms industry of imperialism and religious lobbies.

It was poet writer Javed Akhtar who touched the basic issue: “The fault line of Kashmir and the terrorism issue is in the basic concept of the Two Nation Theory. If we accept it in the case of Kashmir, what would be the future of Indian Muslims in India as they would be legally turned into B class citizens?” I have also heard this view from Muslim intellectuals in Delhi. Even the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind implicitly supports this view by declaring that they stand for a secular India. However, Javed Jabbar claimed his right of reply to Akhtar and defended the weak Two Nation Theory quite forcefully, maintaining that a nation can be made on the basis of religion.

Peace activist and former Indian minister Mani Shankar Ayer cleared the air and appealed for folk to move forward: “We should not try to prove who is clever instead of engaging each other to understand what Pakistan means to Pakistanis and what India means to Indians.” Speaking from firsthand experience Mani told the Kolkata audience that “in Pakistan, the people’s position has more nuances than in India”.

My contention was that instead of talking about the way forward to peace from stated official line only, we should talk from the people’s perspective of the subcontinent. While talking about two countries we are talking about every third person in India and every fourth person in Pakistan living in poverty, we are talking about every third child less than five years of age who is malnourished; we are talking about people who are killed on the border. In the last two years, 800 cease-fire violations were reported; in this July alone, 11 firing incidents were reported with one killed and 16 injured on the Indian side and 10 killed on the Pakistani side.

Peace is the most urgent imperative as far as the people are concerned while the cold impersonal governments and analysts in Islamabad and Delhi pontificate on who called who first and the silly optics of the Ufa meeting. Pakistan’s narrative about India is not monolithic in spite of the state’s propaganda machines. That needs to be emphasised at every forum to remove misperceptions and create better understanding of each other.

India is beyond Modi and Pakistan is beyond the likes of Hafiz Saeed as fundamentalists have never been able to get more than 10 percent votes. We are a moderate democracy-loving people, who love the soft power of Bollywood as the Indians love watching Pakistani plays on private Indian cable channels. Thus, anti-Indian sentiment has not been an election issue in Pakistan from the 1977 elections onward.

Babar Ayaz is a freelance journalist and author of What’s Wrong with Pakistan


Empowered Women of Sindh, Pakistan

By Naween A. Mangi

August 11th, 2015

IT was past 1am in a village in upper Sindh and an entire neighbourhood in a darkened alley was booming with the thumping sound of music on loudspeakers, enthusiastic clapping and cheering. Once you made your way through a narrow street, past a whirring generator, colourful laser lights were dancing on a brick wall and muddy ground — someone’s courtyard had been cleared for the night’s festivities.

At the front, three charpoys had been covered and converted into a stage above which hung a string of light saver bulbs. On one side, two men hired to run the music for the night sat before a sound system. The entire courtyard was crowded with women young and old and scores of children; there was an open invitation to all the women in the village to attend. The occasion: a naming ceremony for a baby boy born to a woman in the village who had lost three children before bearing this one.

Women wore their best dresses – embroidered, flowing clothes, glittering jewellery and their hair loose, decorated with flowers and colourful accessories. In pairs, they clambered on stage, without a trace of self-consciousness, ordered a song of their choice and began to dance. They appeared no less than professionals; focused, practised and brimming with self-assurance.

Even when it comes to income generation and savings, women in upper Sindh are in control.

Many cast off sandals and tossed Dupattas to girls waiting by the stage. Others crowded around the stage, awaiting their turn or touching up their make-up. Men were not visible anywhere. A few teenage boys from the family joined in the dancing. Other men in the family kept away; they lay sleeping, sat minding small children or sought refuge at the village tea shop, waiting for the event to end. It didn’t end till after 5am. When the hired music men began to wind down, women were still high with excitement, chattering, giggling and singing.

While village women are known to occasionally gather at weddings and sit in a circle playing the dhol and singing traditional songs, a full-on dance party is unexpected. It raises the question of whether rural women are really locked up at home and denied both the ability to take decisions and enjoy any form of fun.

Women across villages in upper Sindh share the same stories. Weddings and birth ceremonies are most enjoyable events and they ensure they don’t miss a single one even if it means preparing the evening meal early. It is understood that then they’ll dress up and go out after 9pm, and won’t be home before dawn. Women also visit the shrines of Sufi saints, heading out in a group and enjoying the outing and spiritual experience. They’re also the ones who decide on what level of relations to maintain in the extended family and schedule visits and invitations at their own convenience.

Then, women plan and relish shopping trips in the city, carefully selecting which trunk or bedding they want to buy. While out in the city, they relish a glass of sugarcane juice or a favourite snack. For occasions like Eid, they enjoy choosing new clothes and shoes for everyone at home. Women also control the television, scheduling cooking and feeding around the timing of their favourite drama serials. And they all have mobile phones, keeping in touch with relatives elsewhere and sharing ideas and experiences.

Even when it comes to income generation and savings, women are the controlling authority. They decide whether embroidering traditional caps or making bedcovers and pillows is more profitable; from their own earnings and those handed to them by the men in the family, they participate in savings committees and choose how to use the proceeds. When a child falls sick, women take the decision of where to take them for treatment. Even when it comes to children’s education, women often save up or stand in line to ensure their child gets into school.

Men, many of these women say, are just facilitators. They are financial providers. They take decisions when it comes to house repairs or construction. They do the running around when tasks are pending at government offices. They conduct deals such as the sale of livestock, even though women will usually decide which animal to sell. Of course they still hold authority over women’s more extended movements such as those outside the village and decisions relating to whether young women will receive an education, work outside the home or marry out of choice. Plus they arrange the festivals women enjoy.

Times have changed. No longer is the village woman in upper Sindh restricted entirely to the home and relegated to the tasks of running the household. While she also does that, she clearly has plenty of power over vital decisions affecting the family and has found several avenues to have a lot of fun too.

Naween A. Mangi is a journalist and founder of Ali Hasan Mangi Memorial Trust.