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Current Affairs ( 26 Nov 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The West must learn from failed attempts: New Age Islam’s Selection From Pak Press, 27 November 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

November 27, 2015

The West must learn from failed attempts

By Muhammad Ali Ehsan

Why do people hate Altaf Hussain?

By Syed Kamran Hashmi

Being labelled anti-Pakistan

By Zeeba T Hashmi

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The West must learn from failed attempts

By Muhammad Ali Ehsan

November 26, 2015

The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army and is currently pursuing PhD in civil-military relations from the University of Karachi

‘Restraint’ is the only word that keeps coming to my mind as I witness the quick unfolding of the events post the Paris attacks. Hearing the French president address both houses of parliament, proclaiming that “France is at war” reminded me of George W Bush’s speech after 9/11 in which he told the American people that “terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundations of America”. Francois Hollande expressed similar feelings to defend his country and its way of life as he vowed to fight the Islamic State (IS) externally, by announcing the movement and deployment of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier for use in Syria, while internally proposing a law extending the country’s state of emergency to three months.

The Americans set high goals in the aftermath of 9/11 to ensure no one could touch the foundations of their country. Securing those foundations, however, came at a cost — largely paid by Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan and scores of others whose very foundations were shaken by American military power. Simultaneously, as the French president was addressing both houses of parliament, the US president was addressing the G20 Summit in Turkey and the striking contrast between the contents of the two speeches was very hard to miss. The ‘seen it and done it all president’ sounded more restrained and controlled as opposed to the ‘victim president’ who was promising to bring the enemy to justice. Can what failed to work out for America, work for France? During his second term, the US president has done everything in his power to wind up the two distant wars that his country chose to fight. Today he is being credited for pulling out the American ground forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, but not before offering battle space to the IS, thus enabling it to advance up to Syria and capture many strategic locations, including the cities of Palmyra and Raqqa. If there had been no ill-fought war in Iraq, there would have been no IS and obviously no terror attack in Paris.

Yet again, military power is readily being applied in seeking revenge. France is doing exactly what Americans did post-9/11. On October 7, 2011, the latter fired 75 Tomahawk Cruise missiles at Afghanistan. Fourteen years and $1 trillion later, the Taliban, al Qaeda, the IS and many other terrorist organisations still exist in Afghanistan and continue to pose a threat internally, to the Afghan government and externally to the whole world using client terrorist cadres similar to the ones deployed and used in Paris. The IS will not be eliminated and destroyed through air strikes alone. President Obama admitted this in his speech. The French will learn this after they overcome their initial national fury, anger and rage. To finish the job, they will have to lead the deployment of yet another coalition force to fight yet another war that will cost trillions of dollars. One can only hope that this does not happen.

Hollande, during his speech, also announced the activation of French reserve forces. Traditionally, reserve forces are mobilised when national survival is under threat. French operational reserves constitute a total of 20,000 persons. Hardly a potent force for a population of 66 million, but France’s militarised police force — or gendarmerie — has a 40,000-strong reserve of its own. The fact that Pakistan, too, has a national guard of over 30,000 persons reminds me of our lack of attention to utilise them in a similar role. Held in reserve to be utilised in case of war or emergency, they have not been activated even when we face a shortage of security forces in our cities. Well-trained, retired armed forces personnel can also be called upon to assist the civilian government and the Rangers in maintenance of law and order in security-starved urban cities like Karachi.

Having heard the French president’s speech, my immediate thoughts reach out to the 3.5 million Muslims living in France. I can only hope that the French understand that it is not any religion that is violent, but a small minority of people who are and that a vast majority of Muslims subscribe to non-violence. The speech also reminds me of our vulnerability as a nation. Let there be no doubt that if the IS was to execute such an attack in a city like Karachi, it will not be due to its superior strategy or skills, but due to lack of our preparedness to meet such a challenge. A government too busy in building elegant modern cities might just be doing that at the cost of bankrupting the state and people’s security.

tribune.com.pk/story/999064/the-west-must-learn-from-failed-attempts/

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Why do people hate Altaf Hussain?

By Syed Kamran Hashmi

November 27, 2015

Everyone hates Altaf Hussain in Punjab. And by everyone, I mean anybody from age seven to age 87 irrespective of gender! The feeling runs so strong that if asked who is more dangerous, Osama bin Laden or the MQM leader, I am afraid they would pick the latter. That is why I do not pose this question as I do not know what I am going to do with the response. Would I call all of them terrorists or the supporters, abettors and financiers of al Qaeda? Of course not. But I do ask myself: what has damaged the reputation of the MQM to this extent? Is it its (alleged) association with crime? Or is it an ethnicity problem? The people of Punjab have voted for Benazir and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for a long time, which makes me think it is not an ethnic issue but I still do not rule it out completely. Sure, violence can also a play a role in building a bad reputation but, remember, al Qaeda is also violent, much more so than the Karachi-based organisation. Then, what is it? I think, more than anything else, it is the on-again, off-again relationship of the party with the establishment. Nothing else.

Remember what happened on May 12, 2007? In order to support the dictatorial regime of General Pervez Musharraf against the deposed Chief Justice (CJ), Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the MQM set the city ablaze with mob violence, which resulted in the deaths of at least 50 political workers, sending a message to all the political parties: the MQM does not betray its mentor; it will stand by its side no matter what. After Pervez Musharraf, the relationship of the MQM with the establishment cooled off though. This was not good news but the MQM managed to survive by forging an alliance with the PPP, which required its support in the National Assembly (NA) and would in return protect its junior partner from the onslaught of the establishment, if there was any.

Keeping in mind their complicated history, many of us thought the relationship between the PPP and MQM would not survive. However, quite unexpectedly, it turned out to be perfect, almost ideal. In their five-year-long escapade, each one of them worked very hard to make Karachi a living hell for ordinary people: the number of target killings soared, roadside robberies escalated and kidnappings for ransom shot through the roof. No one paid attention to the plunging economy of the city or the growing insecurity of the common folks who thought their lives meant nothing more than short-lived breaking news on television or a ticker at the bottom of the screen.

Things got so out of hand by 2013 that when Nawaz Sharif took over, he had no choice except to launch another operation in the city if he wanted Pakistan’s economy to be revived. After a series of meetings with all the political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and MQM, the operation kicked off gently choosing its locations with care. However, as the new Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was swore-in, it grew more pointed, its target no other than Altaf bhai himself. Its colour also turned from a Chaudhary Nisar-led action to a core commander-led military venture. General Raheel Sharif, in this manner, broke off all ties with the political allies of General Musharraf setting new rules for the game. For the MQM, this meant the violence it exercised to help the previous chief would now be used against it to justify the ongoing military campaign. Do you see the irony?

Maybe Altaf Hussain did not understand the gravity of the situation and thought his cozy relationship with the establishment would continue even if he lambasted the military. I am sure he must have gotten a pretty good idea now after the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to implement a ban on the speeches and images of the leader of the MQM both in the print and the electronic media. The cases initiated by advocate Aftab Virk and Abdullah Malik argued that the “anti-army” remarks of Altaf Hussain should be considered as an act of treason against the state, and the exiled leader as such should be tried as a traitor. I guess it is because of this new realisation that the MQM has not retaliated much.

The bottom line is that when the MQM wielded guns against the people in 2007 to support a dictator, it forgot the dictator would go home one day, the new chief would settle in and the people’s power would return. On that day, the agencies that helped provide the political party weapons would change their preferences and use the same guns as evidence against it. And it is because of that the MQM stands all alone today with no political support. Had there been one popular political party on its side, be it the PTI or PML-N, things would have been very different for Altaf Hussain. It can still try to align itself with either one of them and by doing so it may soften the hearts of the people of Punjab. In future, the party should remember to choose its friends only among the politicians; it should know that it cannot count on its association with the umpire for long-term success.

Syed Kamran Hashmi is a US-based freelance columnist.

dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Nov-2015/why-do-people-hate-altaf-hussain

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Being labelled anti-Pakistan

By Zeeba T Hashmi

November 27, 2015

The rightist and nationalist ideologies have been entrenched so effectively in public discourse that any voice countering or opposing them, no matter how rational the dialogue may seem, gets easily intimidated by threats and humiliation. It is, in fact, easier to be termed a traitor than be considered one having common sense and empathy. In the face of intolerance and actual violence meted out for speaking one’s mind, freedom of expression has become a far cry for many here. And this is a sad predicament for those who get conveniently labelled as anti-Pakistan just for expressing their criticism of certain acts of the state that have caused great harm to the people here in the name of national interest.

So, who are these people who are homogenising the national mindset by condemning free minds? One must recall how Malala was targeted on social media and the whole episode of her getting shot played as a ‘CIA drama’. No matter how ridiculous this idea is, it holds sway with the irrational reasoning of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the like. They criticise her and consider her to be an agent of the CIA, who got herself shot by the CIA and went abroad to malign Pakistan and the army. They became insecure because the Malala episode had in fact exposed the fissures in our country whereby schoolchildren are targeted, directly or indirectly, by the militants and the state remains unable to give protection to schools and the children within them.

The question that needs to be asked is: why is ridiculous logic being allowed to be presented by fundamentalists in the mainstream? And, most importantly, who is encouraging them and using them to steer public opinion in their favour? Liberalism has become a taboo word in Pakistan, and secularism has become almost criminal. However, the good news is that, in logical terms, the right-wing narrative, with endorsements of fabricated national history, seems to be losing ground. Because of Nawaz Sharif’s speech in which he indicated that he would steer his country on a liberal and democratic path, he was severely criticised by the right-wing parties and their media affiliates. Nawaz Sharif had a previous beef with the military establishment about which he is now quiet since coming to power has also subjected him to much ridicule, media trials and, perhaps, a threat to his political ambitions.

Nawaz Sharif may feel pressurised to aid Saudi Arabia in its aggression towards Yemen. He can feel the flickering of right-wing operatives under the umbrella of the Pakistan Defence Council (PDC) to protest parliament’s decision to refrain from sending troops into Saudi Arabia’s war, unless the country faces a direct threat to its sovereignty. The plausible reason behind this was the apprehension that this act that represented the will of the people could affect military contracts and relations with Saudi Arabia. A profitable venture that the establishment feared losing, it attempted to create a public discourse in this regard. Thankfully, this did not work as people are becoming more aware of what their national interests should actually be versus the national interests that are working against them. It is indeed only through the democratic principle that the voice of the will of the people is respected.

What we suffer at the hands of fundamentalists is the paranoia of the state, which has a tendency to disown the people’s resentment towards certain policies. There is a vicious cycle of how the nexus of the state with right-wing parties, fundamentalists and even with militants at times results in emboldening religious parties to pressurise the government into meeting their political demands. This politicisation of religious groups is a living example of creating ideological chaos in the country. They come out in full force to dictate societal trends through their unchecked propaganda machine, which is the reason why we see intolerance and violence against minorities. The present government is finally realising the dangers of such radical inculcation in society. We should be worried about the fundamentalists taking over political and public space because they form their opinions on a limited knowledge of Islam and vigilantly persecute those who challenge their unwritten dictates.

The hardened blasphemy, anti-Ahmedi and Hudood laws, for instance, were issued by a military dictator, General Ziaul Haq, to appease the clergy who held the reins of society and its institutions. It was done during an Islamisation process, a fallout of the Cold War that propelled Pakistan to side with the US, which financed the jihadist organisations to fight off Soviet forces based in Afghanistan. It was more than a token of thanks to the fundamentalists for fighting the 'infidels' in another country.

The institutions in Pakistan are weak and they usually fail to deliver to the people. There are more pressing issues that need to be addressed by the state than investing in religious institutions that have damaged our collective ability to tolerate and appreciate diversity. It is time to do away with nationalist and religious indoctrinations, and adopt policies that are pro-people’s development in every democratic and liberal term. Being critical does not mean one is anti-Pakistan or anti-Islam; in fact, it should have more to do with keeping in view the best interests and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/27-Nov-2015/being-labelled-anti-pakistan

URL: http://newageislam.com/current-affairs/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/the-west-must-learn-from-failed-attempts--new-age-islam%E2%80%99s-selection-from-pak-press,-27-november-2015/d/105434

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