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Pakistan Press ( 2 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Politicising Terrorism, Islamic Republic Of Pakistan And Punjabi Nationalism: New Age Islam's Selection, 2 November 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

2 November 2020

• Politicising Terrorism

By Muhammad Amir Rana

• Nothing Good To Report From This The Islamic Republic Of Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

• And Now The Punjabi Nationalism

By M Alam Brohi

• Second US Presidential Debate And Beyond

By Sabria Chowdhury Balland


 Politicising Terrorism

By Muhammad Amir Rana

01 Nov 2020

COUNTERING the threat of terrorism requires accurate assessment, political resolve, a long-term strategy, and, resilient and in-sync security and law-enforcement structures. Terrorist movements strike back when given a moment to breathe. A decline in terrorist violence has several reasons, but it is too early to declare victory unless terrorist networks are completely dismantled.

The terrorists apply both operational and political strategies to unnerve security apparatuses. For instance, Baloch insurgent groups perpetrate small-scale terrorist attacks and sabotage activities frequently and conduct major, high-impact attacks sporadically. They may even ‘disappear’ for some time and then carry out surprise attacks. In September, Baloch groups did not perpetrate a single attack in the province, which created an impression of stabilisation, but in October they struck back with lethal attacks.

Usually, religiously inspired terrorist groups in Pakistan have enough human resources, and intervals in their attacks could have other causes. However, when there are breaks in terrorist violence, the government, political parties, and security institutions seem relaxed or are confused about the threat. This gives the terrorists some breathing space to plan and carry out more attacks. They know when to manoeuvre political situations and add to the crisis.

A significant upsurge during the last couple of weeks saw several incidents of terrorism being reported from different parts of the country. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Baloch insurgents, and violent sectarian groups were reportedly involved in these attacks. The TTP targeted a military convoy with a remote-controlled blast in the Razmak area of North Waziristan in which six army soldiers including a captain were martyred. In Balochistan, BRAS, an alliance of Baloch insurgent groups, targeted a convoy of security forces escorting OGDCL employees from Gwadar to Karachi. Seven FC soldiers and as many private security guards were martyred.

Terrorist Groups Thrive In Times Of Political Crises.

In another incident, terrorists opened fire on a patrolling party of security forces southeast of Turbat. However, two other attacks created the impression that terrorism had returned. While one of these attacks took place in a Peshawar madressah, causing several casualties and fear, the other targeted civilians in Hazarganji, Quetta, at a time when an opposition rally was underway a few kilometres away.

Unfortunately, the treasury and opposition exploit such attacks for political purposes. Some believe the government uses ‘security alerts’ as a tool to create fear among the political workers of the opposition parties. Many in the Pakistan Democratic Movement built conspiracy theories around these attacks. At the same time, once again, the externalisation factor, or involvement of a foreign hand, in these attacks was exploited out of proportion.

The militant landscape of the country is complex. For one, the TTP’s operational strength has increa­sed manifold after its former splinter groups and several other small militant groups and commanders recently merged with it. It is evident that the militants have been increasing their presence and activities in the tribal districts for several months now. While our counterterrorism focus was waning, militants wasted no time in exploiting this mistake. In recent times, TTP militants taking shelter in Afghanistan have regularly carried out attacks in the Waziristan districts, either by crossing the border or through their operatives present in parts of the tribal districts.

Similarly, the terrorist threat from Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State (IS) group still looms large in the region. Communal and sectarian violence is on the rise and of late, sectarian tensions have also flared. The recent incidents of sectarian violence, however, have more than a local context. The country has been in the throes of sectarian tension since the month of Muharram when Shia and Sunni clerics indulged in sectarian-related hate speech.

In this backdrop, underrating the terrorism threat is nothing short of daydreaming. An examination of the blast in Peshawar’s Zubairiya madrasa is enough to understand the gravity and complexity of the terrorist threat. The principal Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani is an Afghan national. A graduate of the leading Deobandi, Hanafi madrasa Jamia Haqqania, Akora Khattak, he has a history of sectarian confrontation with those subscribing to the Salafi sect. This has led him to oppose IS. Some unconfirmed reports indicate his close association with the Afghan Taliban, which, if true, make his animosity with IS understandable.

IS is suspected to be behind the attack, though it has not accepted responsibility; the group has also not found to have been involved in any terrorist activity for the last four years in the city. If IS were involved in the attack, it would mean that a new threat has emerged in KP’s capital city. The TTP has condemned the attack for obvious reasons of sectarian affinity with the madressah, but in recent months it has been using IEDs effectively in its terrorist operations. It is not an exclusive tactic or weapon of choice for the TTP, and there are many other criminal and sectarian groups, and hostile foreign agencies that use it; such devices are even used in tribal and family feuds.

If IS or TTP were not involved in the attack, it would have been an isolated one. But the increasing operational capabilities of the TTP cannot be ignored. Interestingly, the TTP has refuted the security alerts issued by the National Counter Terrorism Authority about the possible targeting of the opposition parties’ leadership and their rallies. This could be seen as a political gimmick played by the TTP to exacerbate the ongoing political crisis in the country. Terrorist groups thrive in times of political crises, when their narrative becomes more attractive to frustrated and marginalised segments of society. A unified TTP would not only concentrate on the revival of its operational capabilities but also try and regain the political legitimacy of its narrative.

The political overplay with regard to security-related issues both by the government and opposition will only benefit the terrorists. Politicising threats will affect the morale and capacity of police and the counterterrorism departments, and lead them to avoid investigation of terrorism incidents blaming the external forces for them.


Muhammad Amir Rana is a security analyst.


Nothing Good To Report From This The Islamic Republic Of Pakistan

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

November 2, 2020

As usual there is nothing positive to report from this the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Week after week it is the same story. We find a way to stoop lower in terms of just common decency. The Arzoo case is most tragic. The 13 year old Christian girl was first abducted from her house and forcefully converted. Then she was forcibly married off to her abductor. It must be remembered that the Sindh law states that a girl has to be 18 years or more to marry and below 16 years any intercourse is statutory rape. While a fake birth certificate was produced which showed her to be 18 years of age, the NADRA record shows her to be 13 years of age. A cursory look at Arzoo’s picture shows use that girl does not even look 16 let alone 18 years of age.

The matter eventually landed into the Sindh High Court at Karachi through a writ petition filed by Arzoo against the police action against her and her “husband”. The High Court ruled: “”The petitioner initially belonged to the Christian religion. However, after the passage of time, the petitioner understood and realized that Islam is a universal religion and she asked her parents and other family members to embrace Islam but they flatly refused. Subsequently she accepted the religion of Islam before the religious person of MadressahJamiaIslamia. After embracing Islam, her new name is ArzooFaatima; per learned counsel petitioner contracted her marriage to Azhar of her own free will and accord without duress and fear.” The court also instructed the police to stop harassing the newly wed bride. It seems that the court has disregarded the NADRA record altogether.

Thankfully there is no apostasy law in Pakistan yet but it exists de facto if not de jure. Religious freedom is not a one-way street just as freedom of speech cuts both ways

This judgment violates the Child Marriages Restraint Act 1929. It must be remembered that one of the active supporters of the Act was none other than Mr Jinnah, standing up against trenchant opposition from his own community. It was here that Jinnah famously stated that if his constituency was unable to support his measure, the clearest duty on his part was to ask them to elect someone else. For Jinnah the issue hit home because he had married18-year-oldRuttie when he was 42 years of age and the marriage ended 10 years in a great tragedy given the age gap between two. He loved his wife dearly but years after her untimely demise Jinnah regretfully mourned that Ruttie had been just a child compared to him and that he should have never married her, calling it his mistake. There was of course a second mistake he made and realised at the very end of his life but there is no point getting into that.

Obviously if a person can vote at 18 years of age and enter into contracts, they should be allowed to marry. Such marriages however should be actively discouraged. Similarly conversion to another religion should not be allowed till one is 18 years of age. Layered upon this is the sheer hypocrisy that while conversions into Islam are justified as religious freedom but conversion out of Islam no matter what their age is almost untenable in this the Islamic Republic. Thankfully there is no apostasy law in Pakistan yet but it exists de facto if not de jure. Religious freedom is not a one-way street just as freedom of speech cuts both ways.

Speaking of freedom of speech and religion, aBar Association in this land of ours has invited a famous “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” to speak to it on the occasion of a Milad function a few days from now. We all know how that is going to turn out. This particular “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” is going to ask for the nuking of France and abuse people in general including minorities and call Christians “Chooras”. Of course as a freedom of speech absolutist one does not begrudge the right of “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” to spew as much as abusive hatred against everyone, so long as Bar Association also opens up the floor for cross examination of the “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama”. If one were to ask him pointed questions, one would be lynched not just by his army of bigots but one’s own brethren in the legal fraternity. Therefore as such the foul-mouthed cleric who has abused the judiciary and the military in the past will be given the stage to resort to his rhetoric. Imagine if Nawaz Sharif or Bilawal Bhutto were to abuse the judiciary and the military. Their parties would be banned immediately. Not the case with Mullahs like “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama”. During a candid exchange, the president of the said body told me that “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” will stick to the topic i.e. “Namoos-e-Rasalat”. Almost anything can be considered within the bounds of that topic. Such is the de facto restraint on freedom of speech; I am scared of naming the “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” or the Bar Association in question in this article let alone attending the function and asking “Shaikh-ul-Hadith Allama” questions.

So here is a round up of another week in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. I hope, dear reader, you have more hope for this country than I have.


Yasser Latif Hamdani is an Advocate of the High Courts of Pakistan


And Now The Punjabi Nationalism

By M Alam Brohi

November 2, 2020

The regional nationalism has been the most prominent feature of political evolution in Pakistan, though in some parts of the country particularly in Bengal, Sindh and KPK, the nationalism was quite assertive even before the inception of the country. A good part of Balochistan remained quasi-independent as a Khanate during the British Raj. The Bengali nationalism gained momentum as a backlash to the partition of Bengal in 1905. The Sindhi nationalism became more assertive after the annexation of Sindh with the Bombay Presidency. The Pakhtuns have always been a ferociously independent people as reflected by the Afghan-British wars.

The new country was territorially so constituted that only a federal structure of governance with sufficient political and administrative autonomy to the federating units as in all the modern Federations could have worked well in building a nation united in diversity and for shared political and economic aspirations. Barring the father of the nation, all the leaders who migrated from different parts of India to take over power in the country were not so familiar with the political aspirations, cultural and civilizational ethos of the national entities that constituted the new federation of Pakistan. The local leadership lost influence in the early days of the independent Pakistan, and was gradually elbowed out of the governing lot.

The central leadership got bogged down – particularly after the passing away of Mr. Jinnah and the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan – in political tussles, intrigues and jockeying to the peril of nation building. The last straw on the camel’s back came in the form of the concept of strong center or the unnatural and inconceivable concept of coercive unity of peoples of heterogeneous cultures and languages, and the disastrous imposition of One-Unit Scheme. This gave an impetus to the latent sentiments of nationalism particularly in Bengal and the three provinces of West Pakistan – Sindh, KPK and Balochistan.

Since Punjab was having dominance in the security and bureaucratic establishment and was more populated than the other constituents of West Pakistan but was devoid of natural resources and Seaports, the Sindhi, Baloch and Pakhtun nationalists had all the reasons to hold it responsible for their political and economic woes. Even the Bengali nationalism was directed against it as the division of economic and financial resources was carried out on the basis of the territory – and not the population. Punjab undoubtedly took the bigger share of the economic and financial resources and federal jobs and powerful bureaucratic and military positions in Bengal and West Pakistan.

The sentiments of nationalism have been largely pacified in the other three provinces after the quantum of provincial autonomy guaranteed by the 18th Amendment

This situation did not change even after the secession of Bengal. The new rulers switched to the division of economic and financial resources on the basis of the population. The quantum of provincial autonomy in the 1973 Constitution was nominal allowing Punjab greater dominance in the state affairs. So, in popular term, Punjab continued to be the big brother – satisfied with its well established position in the political and military-bureaucratic establishment and the lion’s share of the economic and financial resources. The other three provinces felt as merely cogs in the wheel of the state affairs.

Though Bhutto always tried to woo the Punjabi political elite, the majority of the Punjabi establishment resented his economic and administrative reforms. Even then, his mass popularity in Punjab remained unaffected. Benazir Bhutto inherited this popularity standing bravely to the repression of dictator Zia ul Haq. After Zia, for the first time in the history of the country, the Punjabi establishment felt threatened from the soaring popularity of Benazir Bhutto in Punjab in the run up to the general elections of 1988 and the likely retributive justice she was suspected to institute to avenge her father’s judicial murder.

At the behest of his promoters in the establishment, the young Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Nawaz Sharif raised the slogan of Punjabism – ‘Jag Punjabi Jag, Lage na Teri pag noon dagh’ which echoed throughout his election campaign. His language against the Bhuttos was unusually foul, derogatory and abusive calling the senior Bhutto as traitor and the Bhutto ladies as stooges of foreign powers. The election was marginally won by the PPP. However, Benazir Bhutto publicly claimed that her party was deprived of a block of 25 National Assembly seats to prevent her from winning absolute majority. This was later confirmed by the confessional statement of General Asad Durrani for distribution of funds among the anti PPP politicians including Mian Nawaz Sharif at the behest of General Aslam Beg.

Though Mian Nawaz failed in his bid to capture the premiership of the country, he saved his throne in Lahore due mainly to the help of the establishment which connived with him in the Chhanga Manga operation. The Provincial Assembly members including the independents were bussed to the nearby resort, lavishly hosted there and brought back to Lahore on the day when the Leader of House was elected. However, he had sowed the seed of nationalism in Punjab. The outlook of Punjabi voter could not remain unaffected by this new nationalist approach in politics of Punjab which greatly eroded the roots of Sindh-based PPP.

Years after, the Punjabi nationalism once again raised its ugly head when a senior PML (N) leader identified the arrest of Shahbaz Sharif by the NAB as an attack on the honour of Punjab and Punjabis. The PPP has been facing arrests since 1977 but has never identified them with the honour of Sindh or Sindhis. The senior Bhutto suffered immeasurably at the hands of a tyrant. Throughout his ordeal, he behaved as a national leader and even died as a national leader. It is, therefore, unbecoming of the PML (N) leaders to identify their leaders with Punjab which represents the security and bureaucratic establishment and enjoys institutional dominance in the country.

The sentiments of nationalism have been largely pacified in the other three provinces after the quantum of provincial autonomy guaranteed by the 18thAmendment. Therefore, it looks ridiculous to stoke Punjabi nationalism when this dispute has been settled constitutionally.


M Alam Brohi was a member of the Foreign Service of Pakistan and he has authored two books


Second US Presidential Debate And Beyond

By Sabria Chowdhury Balland

November 2, 2020

The second US presidential debate now being over, the only step left in knowing the results in one of the most consequential elections in our lifetime will be on November 3. Fifty million Americans have already voted early. The last debate was thus a last chance for the candidates to make their cases to undecided voters.

The more time that passes, the more the United States becomes divided, polarized and bipartisan. We bear the identity of the political party we support, for good or bad, like wearing a badge of honor or bearing a cross. We are identified by our political views and values. Declaring being a Democrat automatically conjures up preconceived notions in others’ minds, as does declaring being a Republican. Most Americans are oblivious to the fact that in some respect Democrats and Republicans are more similar than they are different but watching the last presidential debate on October 22, a viewer would not have noticed that.

A large section of the electorate, even some Republicans, want a change from the tumultuous four years we have experienced. It has been one rollercoaster ride after the other, continuous changes within the administration with people being fired and imprisoned. We have become accustomed to learning about the latest White House decisions from the president’s Twitter feed and this has taken a significant toll on Americans.

Former President Obama recently said, “But the thing is, this is not a reality show, this is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him (President Trump) proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.” This sums it up.

The last debate was much more of substance and poised than the first one (mostly because of the muted mics for the person whose turn it was not to speak) and we were able to view the contrasts between the two presidential candidates even more clearly.

From what we can gather from President Trump’s outlook for a possible second term, there will be nothing really new. We know that he plans on unrolling “a beautiful healthcare plan” which we have been hearing since his first campaign in 2016. We have yet to see it.

The president, in all his self-praise, told us that not since Abraham Lincoln (who freed the slaves after the Civil War) has there been a president who has done more for the African American community. We have yet to learn what that is.

We were given absolutely no responses as to how he could sign an executive order which became the Muslim ban or how his administration could lock up children in cages at the US-Mexico border. The authorities are now unable to locate the parents of over 500 of these children but we were given no viable explanations or assurances. We were given no explanations about the plans that will replace (or not) the Paris Climate Agreement, what our role in Nato will be, how the exponential rise in Covid-19 will be tackled, why the president has not exercised more authority to urge Congress to quickly pass the pandemic relief stimulus bill that millions of vulnerable Americans are waiting for, the list goes on.

What we heard is a president who refused to take ownership for his mistakes, continually complimented himself and provided absolutely no roadmap to what Americans can expect, looking forward to the next four years. That is certainly because the next four years under a Trump presidency will be much of the same uncertainty and chaos. We will have to continue with our eyes glued to our president’s Twitter feed to learn about what he plans to do next.

Some people suggest that Trump is a better candidate because he is the only president in recent years who has not been a war-monger. That is certainly a huge feather in his cap but subjugation can be carried out without the use of weapons and boots on the ground or drone attacks.

Trump’s policies in the Middle East are discreet forms of Machiavellian manoeuvres where the US brokers ‘peace deals’ between majority Muslim countries and Israel. All this does is undermine the grave human rights abuses on the Palestinians and crushes their hopes of a two-state solution. The ‘peace deals’ also ensure that the countries recognize Israel as a legitimate state, despite Palestine’s issues. These deals do not qualify as ‘wars’ but they certainly do not qualify as ‘peace deals’, either.

What was observed by many Americans in both debates is that Joe Biden has been able to hold his ground a great deal more than was originally expected. Anyone debating against Donald Trump must be ready, willing and able to take the constant punches, often drifting away from the real issues to personal insults. He remained poised and presidential, even when attacked regarding his son’s alleged corruption.

Joe Biden, in contrast to his debate opponent, gave us a clear picture of what his plans are for taxation, pandemic management, the environment, wages, healthcare, immigration, and all the other issues which a prospective head of state is supposed to be outlining to the electorate.

What many outside the United States may not realize is that the Progressive Democratic movement, supporters of socialist, left-leaning Bernie Sanders, are not fans of the “corporate, establishment Democrats”, of which Biden is very much part of. These are the more right-leaning members of the party, who are heavily financed by the corporate sector and thus are inclined to vote on bills in Congress with keeping their corporate donors satisfied. Joe Biden’s healthcare policies, for example, are heavily influenced by the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which is one of the principle points of contention between the Progressives and the establishment Democrats.

There were many Progressives who, when Bernie Sanders withdrew from the campaign, were extremely disappointed, undecided, unwilling to vote or had decided to vote for the Green Party. Many have since shifted back to show support for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket for three principal reasons: a Biden administration means the end of a Trump administration, his choice of his running mate, his continuity and stability.

In the last few weeks, Joe Biden has managed to make Democrats – establishment and Progressives – and many Republicans feel reassured. He and Kamala Harris give hope to the soundness of a possible Biden administration.

Those who said that a Biden presidency would be “boring” should appreciate the fact that after the mayhem the United Sates (and frankly, the world) has experienced in the last four years, ‘boring’ will be a very welcome change. If sustainability and regaining our respect globally is ‘boring’, then so be it.


Sabria Chowdhury Balland is a teacher, writer, political columnist and member of the US Democratic Party.



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