New Age Islam
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The War Within Islam ( 18 Sept 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why The Sahiwal Stabbings Are An Attack On All Pakistani Women: New Age Islam’s Selection From Pakistan Press, 19 September 2015

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

19 September 2015

Why the Sahiwal Stabbings Are An Attack On All Pakistani Women

By Aisha Sarwar

Reforming Madressahs

By Dr Ashraf Ali

Pakistan’s Donald Trump

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

An Insidious Agenda

By Abbas Nasir

Syrians: Victims of Ethics And Conscience

By Samson Simon Sharaf

Terrorism, Corrupiton: Civil-Military Relations

By Inayatullah

A Tale Of Two Sharifs

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

 

 

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Why the Sahiwal stabbings are an attack on all Pakistani women

By Aisha Sarwar

September 20th, 2015

Somewhere in Sahiwal, if a woman now decides to jog at the Ladies and Children Park in Farid Town, it would be an act nothing short of gallantry and revolt; a woman versus patriarchy affair; versus subjugation; versus the culture of associating women claiming public space with disgust.

I say that because in the past few months, several women frequenting this park independently have been stabbed by unidentified men using a sharp metal weapon. The region is cast over by champions of a certain morality that can only be compared to the medieval era when girl-children were buried alive.

It isn’t just the lack of utilitarianism of the public space that is worrying, it is the fact that women never really had much freedom to begin with. Getting groceries, visiting a neighbour or taking a stroll does not need to be a political act for a woman.

Somewhere in the past, when this region was sold over to men unilaterally, it was assumed that public space would only become a passage for women – not a place they could legitimately claim as their own.

This is perhaps why a woman in black pants and a white-collared shirt, smoking a cigarette at a busy chowk in Sahiwal would sound like someone drew a target on a boar. It is not hers for the claiming, now and, for what looks like many eons to come.

As long as men in Pakistani society refuse to consider women as full partners, men will only identify them with the private sphere. Anything otherwise will be war.

In such a scenario, war on women takes many forms, and sexual harassment and stabbing is just its extreme and logical conclusion.

Owing to the legal and administrative vacuums in Pakistan, this crime thrives and ultimately achieves its end – to instill fear, loathing and self-hate in women, communicating to them that their bodies are subjects only of control, vitriol or violence.

Girls and women start to grow feelings of deletion and depersonalisation. They not only end up hiding their femininity and sensuality, but also eventually rejecting it.

This violence to the collective psychology of women is jarring. It is easier to couch next to the hearth to bake bread and nurse bruises.

All such attacks on women publicly tell them; scream to them, rather, that this is where their real place is – cloaked and invisible.

Women belong in the public space, as much as any man in shops behind counters, study desks at schools, work desks at businesses, at vegetable stalls haggling or behind the wheel shifting gears. However, this is dangerous (for men) because it means power will need to be shared and the smarter and more capable ones will win.

The continuous effort to dominate women by destabilising them reeks of a deeper conspiracy – one where it serves everyone to not identify attackers and keep them from being tried.

Thank you, Punjab Police, for not finding any suspects or perpetrators.

The vulnerability of women supports the construct where men call the shots. All of them. Fair competition in the open obviously hurts those with power.

The only time women step out of the house is with a man, so she walks around like an apostrophe that ties her to an object that owns her, so no one can go leak on this hydrant. As one can imagine, no one can truly make any revolutionary progress in such a smothering environment – not only are the women handicapped, it’s also the men that lose their crutch.

The country’s law enforcement agencies need to be equipped with the right priorities first of all, ones that don’t actually work to help the stabber.

There have to be serious deterrents for attackers, swifter action, not just a fake inquiry and some dusty reports.

Heads need to roll so that the people responsible for allowing these serial stabbings can actually be replaced by more competent police staff.

To cut this at the roots, we need less male psyche and more human male psyche, and it looks like now, they are completely and totally mutually exclusive.

Aisha Sarwari is an Islamabad-based writer.

dawn.com/news/1207546/why-the-sahiwal-stabbings-are-an-attack-on-all-pakistani-women

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Reforming madressahs

By Dr Ashraf Ali

September 19, 2015

Reforming madressahsAs part of its National Action Plan, the government’s decision to launch a decisive crackdown against sectarian hate-mongers and all those madressahs that refuse to register under the new registration policy has created a stir amongst religio-political circles.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar declared that the government was all set to wage a war against all madressahs aiding, abetting or facilitating extremists and militants. The remarks followed a rare meeting of the top civil and military leadership with the Tanzeem-e-Ittehadul Madris (TIM), a conglomerate of five boards of madressahs. The meeting apparently made it clear that no madressah would be spared if found involved in any kind of extremism or terrorism-related activities.

During the course of the process a number of madressahs were closed down. Besides the geo-tagging of thousands of madressahs, some high-profile arrests have also been made against those found indulging in hate speech across the country.

Madressahs – considered by many as breeding grounds for terrorists and extremists – have been under fire since the war against terror started in late 2001 after the fall of the Afghan Taliban government in the wake of the US-led coalition forces attacks.

The mushrooming growth of madressahs can be traced back to the early 1990s when leaders of the Pakistan-based Afghan jihadi factions started establishing a chain of madressahs along the Pak-Afghan border to get a lion’s share ofthe funds flooding into Pakistan from the Gulf and the west. Every jihadi faction had to secure its share according to its following.

Since then the number of madressahs grew manifold. According to thePeace and Education Foundation (PEF), an Islamabad-based research organisation, there are 25,200 religious seminaries across the country. However, official estimates put the figure at 27,075 with over five million students enrolled. A good number of these madressahs are yet to be registered.

These much-desired madressah reforms have been on the cards since long but the idea could not be materialised due to the trust deficit between the government and the madressah administrations.

The madressah administrations view even the current initiative as an attempt aimed at countering terrorism rather than reforming the madressah system, modifying its curricula and bringing it at par with the contemporary educational institutions. And this probably makes religious circles suspicious about the initiative.

One major criticism against this syatem is about the old and outdated syllabi taught at madressahs, which produces only a conservative mindset with a pre-scientific outlook. Such vision is hardly consumed in sectors other than the mosque and madressah. The fact is that the problem doesn’t lie in the curricula. Before embarking on the reforms process we need to understand the areas that need primary interventions.

A comparative content analysis of the various texts and syllabi taught at state-controlled and prestigious educational institutions contains even more hate material than the curricula taught at madressahs. Secondly, the periodicals, journals and magazines associated with various madressahs that carry hate material need to be monitored on a regular basis.

On the other front, exchange visits between madressah cadres and the civil society and academia from universities and colleges should be encouraged to bridge the gap, create a working relationship and initiate search for common ground.

Third, according to renowned religious scholars, part of the problem lies with the Darul Ifta – the section that issues verdicts. The decisions made and verdict issued here are mostly based on emotions rather than logical reasoning. A fresh graduate – at the age of 18-20 – after adding a degree of a mufti to his credit is authorised to issue a decree. These emotion-based rather than reason-based decrees are issued on the spot without allocating a proper time for research and investigation. This allows the beneficiary to misuse the decree. A mufti authorised to issue a decree must have some prerequisites, characteristics, required knowledge, maturity, and fulfil further criteria set by the relevant body of the said madressah.

The fourth, but most important, issue relates to the social seclusion of madressahs. At this end the problem lies with us – the civil society – for isolating this important section of our society. Why have we drawn a line between madressah and school (formal education) and madressah and the rest of the society? We have confined the role of a mullah to fateha khwani, nikah, funerals, prayers and on a broader note to the mosque and madressah only.

The government should have the moral courage to confess its lack of capacity in providing infrastructure and enough amount of funds to accommodate the over five million students from poor backgrounds enrolled in over 27,000 madressahs across the country at the moment. Besides education, these madressahs offer free-of-cost accommodation – lodging, boarding and food to those who can’t afford the high tuition fee of formal education. Even well off families can be seen these days on the roads in Lahore and Karachi to protest the rise in the already high fees of private schools.

There is no doubt that madressahs have produced great brains that are contributing to Islamic banking system, Shariah courts and other financial, judicial and political institutions.

The government should better introduce reforms, but with the right intentions. The already drawn vertical and horizontal lines between formal (secular) and religious education, state-owned and private institutions (again divided into various standards) should be revisited in favour of a uniform system of education.

A school or madressah – whatever you name it – should produce an imam, a religious scholar, a doctor, an engineer as well as a balanced military and political leadership. This system will give a sense of ownership to all the children of the soil alike and nobody would feel alienated.

The writer heads the FATA Research Centre (FRC) in Islamabad.

thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-341178-Reforming-madressahs

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Pakistan’s Donald Trump

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

September 20th, 2015

Even his fellow Republicans have labelled him insane. But, defying the predictions of all soothsayers and political pundits, Donald Trump’s still surging popularity with Republican voters suggests that he could become America’s next president. The first step, now within reach, will be winning the Republican Party’s nomination.

Articulating the ‘mad as hell’ anger felt by many Americans towards Washington’s putatively liberal policies, Trump knows it pays to be outrageous and wickedly racist. He follows the black-hating governor of Alabama in the 1960’s, George Wallace, who would famously shout “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” at rallies. Some of Trump’s claims are breathtaking: Mexican immigrants are mostly criminals and rapists, and President Obama is a foreign-born Muslim.

An American political commentator, John Dean (of Watergate fame), describes Trump as “a near perfect authoritarian leader” with a personality type that is “intimidating and bullying, faintly hedonistic, vengeful, pitiless, exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, cheat to win, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, militant, nationalistic, tell others what they want to hear, take advantage of ‘suckers’, specialise in creating false images to sell self, may or may not be religious.”

Made of the same stuff but packaged differently, the Trump-Khan duo has thrilled extremists.

Take away the “faintly” and this neatly fits Trump’s Pakistani counterpart, cricketer Imran Khan, who burst upon Pakistan’s political scene with his mammoth Lahore jalsa of 2011. With a lavish lifestyle and his playboy past neatly tucked away in some closet the reformed Khan promised the moon as he cavorted on the stage, loudly praying towards Makkah for success.

Khan’s support base is diverse: college-educated “burger bachas”, brigades of bejewelled begums, hysterical semi-educated youth, and wild-eyed TTP supporters. Delighting them all, he unleashes from time to time a steady stream of abuse upon his political rivals who threaten to sue him but are ultimately deterred by Pakistan’s labyrinthine court system.

Made of the same stuff but packaged differently, the Trump-Khan duo has thrilled racial and religious extremists. The former leader of the Klu Klux Klan, David Duke, declared that of all presidential candidates, Trump is “the best of the lot”. Khan received still greater appreciation. He was nominated by the TTP as their representative to last year’s (cancelled) peace talks, the reward for leading massive “peace” marches protesting American drones. Resolutely refusing to condemn any Taliban atrocity, Khan would seek to shift the blame on the US.

Worshipful followers love aggressive leaders. Trump, said to be the most abrasive politician in American history, uses barbs and insults while Khan menacingly swings his cricket bat. Use of indecent language invites no penalties. Last month, Trump crudely remarked that Fox anchor Megyn Kelly, who had aggressively confronted him in a CNN interview, had “Blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” Khan went yet further. From the top of his dharna container, he screamed that a panicking Nawaz Sharif had wetted his shalwar.

Why do such leaders attract followers? First, each can confidently claim that he is his own man, a top-of-his-game type. He can convincingly label political rivals as midgets, corrupt, or incompetent (Khan’s job is easier than Trump’s). The self-made Trump earned a fortune through real-estate business and now owns acres of expensive Manhattan land. His personal worth, though modest on the scale of today’s billionaires, is around $4 billion.

Khan too is self-made. He ranks as one of the world’s best cricket professionals who could bat, bowl, and captain. His cancer hospital is a model of professional management and an important public service, even if his contribution pales before that of Abdus Sattar Edhi.

A second reason: both men are unabashed narcissists. But shouldn’t this turn people off rather than on? In normal life narcissism is considered a personality disorder, but not so in politics. Exceptionally vain and self-absorbed men, who see themselves as deserving attention and power, are often the winners in political contests. Explaining this anomaly is a challenge for those who study group psychology.

A recent issue of Harvard Business Review carries an article intriguingly titled, ‘Why we love narcissists’. The author, Prof Tomas Premuzic of University College London, summarises recent research in psychology that explains how narcissists get ahead in all domains of life. Premuzic distinguishes between “productive narcissists” like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who actually created great new industries, with “charismatic narcissists” who use charm to push personal agendas.

Charismatic narcissists, says Premuzic, are masterful impression managers. They dress to impress, disguise arrogance as confidence, and are superb social networkers. Convinced they are never wrong, they take credit whenever things go well. But when things go awry, they blame colleagues and subordinates. Pre­muzic notes that “It is always easier to fool others when you have already fooled yourself; it is always harder to feel guilty when you think you are innocent.”

Even with wild schemes, the charismatic narcissist can whip up enormous enthusiasm. Trump has vowed to build a wall along the US southern border with Mexico, likening it to the Great Wall of China and has even dubbed it “The Great Wall of Trump”. What he doesn’t know — and doesn’t want to know — is that even the Ming Dynasty’s 13,000-mile wall failed to keep out the Manchurians.

Khan’s ideas make even Trump’s hare-brained schemes look tame. Once I’m in power, Khan declared, I will end corruption in 19 days and terrorism in 90 days. The 19 was subsequently changed to 90; the need for an additional 71 days remained unexplained. But let’s put that aside. It’s now 887 days since Khan’s PTI took over the reins of the KP province. The end of corruption and terrorism should be nigh, right? But don’t hold your breath.

To conclude: charismatic narcissists are much hot air but very little substance. Unfortunately, they can be very dangerous. If running a country they can take it to war, waste resources, and increase internal violence. On the other hand, real leadership requires building high performance teams, emphasising altruism over egotism, and competence over confidence. Until the public understands this, it will continue inviting narcissists to the top while overlooking more reasonable alternatives.

Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

dawn.com/news/1207891/pakistans-donald-trump

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An insidious agenda

ABBAS NASIR

September 20th, 2015

There can be little doubt Gen Raheel Sharif hasn’t put a foot wrong in the popular perception since being elevated to the position of the chief of army staff and continues to accelerate ahead in approval ratings. What could derail him?

Rather than belonging to the camp of so-called thinking generals who came to represent inertia or ‘paralysis by analysis’ (a term I heard from within the army itself), the general is seen as a ‘doer’ and thus brought welcome relief when brakes were applied to the seemingly unending slide towards anarchy, fanatical, mass-murdering religious extremism and urban terrorism/lawlessness.

Nobody expected the fight to be easy or quickly finished. Neither did one want a tragedy such as the Army Public School, Peshawar massacre to be the spur the authorities needed to finally launch a concerted campaign to counter and subdue a monster that had been left alone for far too long to grow and consolidate.

History is replete with instances where sycophants can do the sort of debilitating damage to a leader that his or her worst enemy can’t.

Although the military’s impressive PR machine headed by the proactive Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa did not publicise it, I am told by reliable sources that those found responsible for the failure to protect our young APS students were punished, and the court-martialled included a brigadier.

This is impressive for an institution which has had held all kinds of civilians including political leaders liable to accountability, but isn’t known to assign official opprobrium for its own shortcomings, even catastrophic disasters. One could mention a long list.

But the current COAS seems to be changing all that. What he is attempting may be tantamount to trying to turn around one of the supertankers at sea where from the time you turn the wheel to when the very large crude carrier (VLCC) actually starts to change direction seems like a lifetime.

It is, therefore, incumbent on each element of the state to strengthen his hands, wish him well and hope and pray his institution’s professionals ensure ironclad protection for their leader as he is in the middle of directing a war for the country which is existential in nature.

History is replete with instances where sycophants can do the sort of debilitating damage to a leader that his or her worst enemy can’t. The well-trained and reputedly professional close protection team of the army chief will no doubt find itself at a loss to protect him from the insidious and well-calibrated campaign that’s been initiated by some ‘fans’.

The COAS is halfway into his three-year tenure and self-serving quarters are already starting to raise issues that should shift his focus from the national interest to the personal one albeit the sycophants are cleverly rolling these two into one.

The challenges remain. One instance was the arrest in Karachi towards the end of this week of a former PAF official who was said to have been the financier and motivator of the Safoora Goth Ismailis’ mass murderers that included university graduates. He was said to have given dars at a DHA mosque and was a successful businessman.

Around the last federal apex committee meeting, at a session where some members of the clergy were also present, the COAS reportedly asked some sharp questions about the funding of seminaries. This later prompted a senior Deobandi figure Mufti Naeem to lash out at the ‘state’ for putting guns in ‘our’ hands.

The state may have put the guns in many non-state actors’ hands but now, it appears, when it wants at least some of them to hand them back there is resistance. This is troublesome when some of tougher varieties of these non-state actors have not even been asked yet. Who knows how organisations such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba will react if such a move was ever extended to them?

Then of course there is a daily trickle of news from the Fata region of ambushes on military check posts, vehicles. Our soldiers on this battlefront write a daily chapter of valour and sacrifice with their blood. The capacity of terrorists to operate freely in their former bastion may have been severely degraded but they retain some capability.

Friday morning’s attack on a Pakistan Air Force camp in Peshawar’s Badaber suburb and the resultant death toll indicated how the country cannot afford a moment’s let-up in the fight against brainwashed zealots who have been lured into this madness by titillating talk/imagery of virgins in heaven.

This is but a sketchy backdrop and not a complete picture. Even against this, anything that distracts the army chief or his key commanders is nothing less than criminal. Some in the media started this talk of the army chief deserving an extension. Now a former army chief has joined in the chorus.

Gen Musharraf, who gave himself not one three-year extension but nearly double that in duration has now called for a decision for the incumbent chief and painted a dire scenario if that did not happen. How the slide into anarchy continued at his ‘extended’ watch is now well recorded.

It isn’t a secret how unhappy Musharraf was with Gen Kayani because, in his view, the latter didn’t help him on his return from exile and when the treason case was initiated against him. It was only when the incumbent came to office that the former military ruler got respite. So, one can’t be sure if he is suggesting what he is as he could also be equating his own interest with the national interest.

For the first time, even if critics such as I still find it selective and not across the board as we’d like, some attempt is being made to corral runaway extremism. Suggestions such as the ones being made now, a full 18 months before COAS is scheduled to retire, can only undermine morale in the senior ranks and could also be a distraction for him.

What then is the purpose of those who are pushing this agenda?

Abbas Nasir is a former editor of Dawn.

dawn.com/news/1207890/an-insidious-agenda

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Syrians: Victims of Ethics and conscience

By Samson Simon Sharaf

September 19, 2015

Whenever violence is used as an instrument of statecraft, refugees are the consequence. Warfare, more so through proxies neither has neither ethics nor a conscience. The worst disasters are outside the battle field.

Once Syria at the heels of Arab Springs was provoked, countries controlling proxies in eagerness to draw new frontiers in Middle East had no realisation of the deconstruction it would cause. The magnitude of human suffering is colossal and expanding. The people of the world and Syria need an explanation for conflicts generated through proxies by big powers and corporates.

Syrians are targets of intolerant Salafi factions and ISIS within the civil war provoked against Bashar al-Assad. Millions have taken to long treks to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordon, Turkey, Central Asia and Europe. Unlike refugees often seen in conflicts, these are well dressed, educated and Europeanised people carrying smart phones, identity papers and educational degrees. Some amongst them are ironically returning to their origins. It is painful to see such a tolerant culture being systematically disintegrated, because its dictatorship was more tolerant than the Arab Kings, where diversity was strength and whose entrepreneurs were contributing to national growth. Rather than engage and build on this role model in the Islamic world, a convergence of short term interests have led to the deconstruction of a religious and ethnic homogeneity and an evolved society in the contemporary Arab world? 

Syria was a tolerant Muslim country. Muslim, Christians and Jews went freely to places of common worship. It is a bastion of Abrahamic heritage and a fusion of diverse cultures with minor religions such as Bah’ha’, Druz, Yazidi, Mandean, Gnostics, Yarsanist, Shabakist and Zoroastrians. Besides Arabs and Bedouin it accommodated Arameans, Assyrian, Chechens, Druze, Greeks, Persians, Kurds, Lebanese, Palestinians, Turkman and Gypsies of South Asia. Now, this diversity is on the run.

Syria is a left leaning dictatorship clinging to the socialist tag. The country is a long time Russian ally, friendly to Iran, supports Hamas and Hezbollah and threatens Israel in multiple ways. Arab monarchies led by Saudi Arabia remain in awe of an Alawite regime with a soft corner for Shia Muslims and religious diversity. Syria’s way of living challenges religious restrictions imposed by the house of Saud. Turkey is suspicious of the Kurds and does not hesitate to support proxies when it wills.

Following the re-engineering in Iraq, Libya and Egypt, the West considered Syria the major hurdle to Israel becoming the policeman of the region. Doing so, it ignored the lessons learnt in Iraq, Libya and most recently Aden where regime changes have led to anarchy, rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Within this game plan, the Arab monarchies see an opportunity to retain their control through autocratic rule by fueling the crisis. Turkey eager to keep hardline Islamists at length, keeps them busy in Syria and Iraq. Kurdish nationalism provides them an opportunity to strike Syria and yet maintain a notion of friendship. 

Within the Devil’s Triangle of Crimea, Afghanistan and Syria the fabled diversity switched poles. Syria is now the indisputable focal point of international rivalries, strategic posturing, schisms within different schools of Islamic thought, traditional Bedouin politics, Persian influence, Ottoman past and Byzantine intrigues. Crises reflect rivalries that existed between the various caliphates of Islam. It is now a melting pot of rivalries, fratricidal wars, non-state actors and a reality that Arab Muslims as underlings continue to compete and fight for their versions of identity. Yet the world ignores the unprecedented surge of human migration and the effects it will have on Syrians transplanting to Europe.

President Bashar al-Assad blamed Western nations for fueling the refugee crises. In an interview with Russian news organization he said “If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists. Europe is responsible because it supported terrorism. You can you feel sad for a child’s death in the sea and not for thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria and also for men, women, and the elderly? These European double standards are no longer acceptable. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees”. He went on to accuse the U.S. government of “willful blindness” on the matter. Assad has logic in his statement.

As a retort Western Nations and USA blame Assad for presiding over the disintegration of his country and destruction of its historical heritage at the hands of Al Qaeda and ISIS. But then European, American and Arab efforts to arm and support a rebellion have directly benefitted the terrorist organisations. Robert Frisk was right when he wrote in Independent that, ‘If Barack Obama decides to attack the Syrian regime (directly or indirectly), he has ensured – for the very first time in history – that the United States will be on the same side as al-Qaeda… All for one and one for all should be the battle cry if the West goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime’. The fact is that this war in form of proxies already exists and the priority of the Western world and USA to depose Assad and not destroy Al Qaeda or ISIS aggravates misery.

According to International Business Times, “53 percent of the 380,412 people who have arrived in Europe since January are from Syria. They are different from other refugees in that they are far more likely to come from professional backgrounds than refugees originating in African countries like Eritrea. Over 220,000 people have died since 2011 in Syria, and 11 million have been displaced”. Quoting United Nations, it reports, “Children represent more than half of all Syrian refugees. Majority is under 12 years old, and as young as one-month-old. At least 15 percent of the refugees that have arrived in Europe this year have been children, and 13 percent have been women. Doctors, bankers and Syrians from other high-paying professions have been among the arrivals”.

The above profile tells a story gone bitter. Syria was never a rag-tag country like Sudan, Afghanistan or Eritrea. It had a state sponsored educational system that worked. In 2011, it had a fairly evenly spread literacy rate of 80% and per capita income of over US$ 5,000. Over 90% population is below retirement age. Estimated 100,000 Syrian have been killed in the fighting. Over 11 million people are displaced.

So why does the international community sanction or condone such unilateral interventions? Certainly, the ethics, conscience and laws of war need revision.

n The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist.

Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. He can be contacted at samson.sharaf@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter

nation.com.pk/columns/19-Sep-2015/syrians-victims-of-ethics-and-conscience

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Terrorism, corrupiton: Civil-military relations

By Inayatullah

September 19, 2015

Come to think of it, all provinces have overtime, become problem areas in Pakistan. Much has been said about the breakdown of law and order and for the rise of separatism and subversion in Balochistan. Every now and then new initiatives are announced to manage the crisis there. Little, however, changes. The present provincial government appears to have made some headway although chances of success are uncertain.

Take Sindh and especially Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city Karachi where all kinds of ills and evils keep making the lives of the people, especially the poor masses, miserable. There have been earlier operations in Karachi, the last apparently successful having happened way back in 1992.It didn’t take long afterwards to see the old conditions returning with vengeance. Just one example of the aftermath of police section taken earlier was the identification and killing of about one hundred police officials who had actively participated in the operation. Karachites have suffered enormously, over the years, in terms of killings, extortions, dacoities and loss of property. The root cause of these tragic happenings has been attributed by our superior courts to mafias and militant wings of the political parties in the province. The recent most operation undertaken by Rangers along with the police appears to be doing a thorough job of apprehending the miscreants hired killers and mischief makers. The operation is not only aimed at counter-terrorism activities but also rooting for sources and means of corruption. Action on the part of Rangers which started their onerous task in Karachi and Sindh at the bidding of Sindh government is running into difficulties because of sharp reactions of MQM and PPP.

Behind this operation stands the steadfast resolve of General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Pakistan Army to exterminate terrorism and terrorism-sponsoring finances. Voices havebeen raised by both Altaf Hussain and Asif Ali Zardari. Altaf having been embroiled in cases pertaining to murder and illegally received money has of late, made highly objectionable speeches focusing on the very existence of the country and the Pakistan Army.A High Court has banned the telecasting of his addresses aimed at audiences in Pakistan. The party has since resigned en mass from membership of the National Assembly. And otherwise too, has been threatening to launch a movement against the government. PPP’s reaction too has been strident and provocative. They earlier were attacking the army only. Now they haveturned their guns on the PLM-N government. They are practically withdrawn their cooperation with the government and are out along with some other political groupsto pull it down.

Much need not be said about KPK where in the FATA a full-blast military operation has been going on for two years, against the Pakistani Taliban and their associates.A lot has been achieved at considerable cost.At the same time there has been series of blow-back suicide bombings all over the country. Almost everyday there is news of a few military personnel killed by militants and a dozen or so Taliban terrorists eliminated. A heavy cost of the operation has been in the shape of hundreds of thousands internally displaced persons from Waziristan and other agencies. There have yet to be settled back in their homes or other places. Billions of rupees will be required to rebuild their homes and business places. While certainly the Zarb-e-Azb operation has its rationale and justification, it is time to undertake a thorough review of the plus and minus of this grand initiative. If the blowback is going to continue at various places, it is imperative that simultaneously ways and means be found to engage the vast majority of the residents of Fata. Ultimately it is the making an agreement based on talks that will finally settle the issues. As Ayaz Wazir, an enlightened tribal luminary keeps reminding us, a durable settlement can only take place when the people of the area are involved and given their right to manage their affairs.

Much is being said to start an operation in the Punjab against the extremist groups and the corrupt elements. Recently Zardari and Bilawal have been accusing the PML-N government of its failure to take up or follow up corruption cases against the PML-N members and friends. Both Nawaz and Shahbaz should take the point made by the opposition and ensure at due justice is done to guilty PML-N office holders and member of the party.

All right thinking Pakistanis would like the present civil and military drive to finally defeat terrorism and dismantle its infrastructure in all parts of the country.

As for corruption, the responsibility lies with the civilian government and the courts. If Nawaz Sharif is totally sincere in his declared resolve, he should lose no time to go the whole-hog in grappling with the challenge. It will be an uphill task. He may at times need the help of the military to ensure success.

Overarching the issues of terrorism and corruption is the dogged problem of civil military relations in Pakistan. Ideally in democracy which rests on the power of the people, the top civilian institutions including the Parliament must remain supreme as against unelected and appointed agencies.Court has the definite right of interpretation of the Constitutional provisions, the supremacy of the Parliament has to remain unquestioned.

The reality in Pakistan, however, presents a different picture. The army having had a direct control of the country’s affairs for more or less half of the history of Pakistan,what has added to the vulnerability of the civilian governments has been their consistently failing to perform their duties efficiently and honestly. This poor performance has lowered their political legitimacy and provided space and opportunity to ambitious generals to take over the reins of the country. It is therefore sheer wishful thinking that the military would suddenly detach itself from power and influence it enjoys in certain areas of its concerns and interests. The only way to speedup army’s return to its purely constitutional obligations is a marked and consistent improvement in good governance yielding visible wholesome results with particular reference to the plight of the poor and credible management of the economy.

n The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.

Come to think of it, all provinces have overtime, become problem areas in Pakistan. Much has been said about the breakdown of law and order and for the rise of separatism and subversion in Balochistan. Every now and then new initiatives are announced to manage the crisis there. Little, however, changes. The present provincial government appears to have made some headway although chances of success are uncertain.

Take Sindh and especially Pakistan’s largest metropolitan city Karachi where all kinds of ills and evils keep making the lives of the people, especially the poor masses, miserable. There have been earlier operations in Karachi, the last apparently successful having happened way back in 1992.It didn’t take long afterwards to see the old conditions returning with vengeance. Just one example of the aftermath of police section taken earlier was the identification and killing of about one hundred police officials who had actively participated in the operation. Karachites have suffered enormously, over the years, in terms of killings, extortions, dacoities and loss of property. The root cause of these tragic happenings has been attributed by our superior courts to mafias and militant wings of the political parties in the province. The recent most operation undertaken by Rangers along with the police appears to be doing a thorough job of apprehending the miscreants hired killers and mischief makers. The operation is not only aimed at counter-terrorism activities but also rooting for sources and means of corruption. Action on the part of Rangers which started their onerous task in Karachi and Sindh at the bidding of Sindh government is running into difficulties because of sharp reactions of MQM and PPP.

Behind this operation stands the steadfast resolve of General Raheel Sharif, Chief of the Pakistan Army to exterminate terrorism and terrorism-sponsoring finances. Voices havebeen raised by both Altaf Hussain and Asif Ali Zardari. Altaf having been embroiled in cases pertaining to murder and illegally received money has of late, made highly objectionable speeches focusing on the very existence of the country and the Pakistan Army.A High Court has banned the telecasting of his addresses aimed at audiences in Pakistan. The party has since resigned en mass from membership of the National Assembly. And otherwise too, has been threatening to launch a movement against the government. PPP’s reaction too has been strident and provocative. They earlier were attacking the army only. Now they haveturned their guns on the PLM-N government. They are practically withdrawn their cooperation with the government and are out along with some other political groupsto pull it down.

Much need not be said about KPK where in the FATA a full-blast military operation has been going on for two years, against the Pakistani Taliban and their associates.A lot has been achieved at considerable cost.At the same time there has been series of blow-back suicide bombings all over the country. Almost everyday there is news of a few military personnel killed by militants and a dozen or so Taliban terrorists eliminated. A heavy cost of the operation has been in the shape of hundreds of thousands internally displaced persons from Waziristan and other agencies. There have yet to be settled back in their homes or other places. Billions of rupees will be required to rebuild their homes and business places. While certainly the Zarb-e-Azb operation has its rationale and justification, it is time to undertake a thorough review of the plus and minus of this grand initiative. If the blowback is going to continue at various places, it is imperative that simultaneously ways and means be found to engage the vast majority of the residents of Fata. Ultimately it is the making an agreement based on talks that will finally settle the issues. As Ayaz Wazir, an enlightened tribal luminary keeps reminding us, a durable settlement can only take place when the people of the area are involved and given their right to manage their affairs.

Much is being said to start an operation in the Punjab against the extremist groups and the corrupt elements. Recently Zardari and Bilawal have been accusing the PML-N government of its failure to take up or follow up corruption cases against the PML-N members and friends. Both Nawaz and Shahbaz should take the point made by the opposition and ensure at due justice is done to guilty PML-N office holders and member of the party.

All right thinking Pakistanis would like the present civil and military drive to finally defeat terrorism and dismantle its infrastructure in all parts of the country.

As for corruption, the responsibility lies with the civilian government and the courts. If Nawaz Sharif is totally sincere in his declared resolve, he should lose no time to go the whole-hog in grappling with the challenge. It will be an uphill task. He may at times need the help of the military to ensure success.

Overarching the issues of terrorism and corruption is the dogged problem of civil military relations in Pakistan. Ideally in democracy which rests on the power of the people, the top civilian institutions including the Parliament must remain supreme as against unelected and appointed agencies.Court has the definite right of interpretation of the Constitutional provisions, the supremacy of the Parliament has to remain unquestioned.

The reality in Pakistan, however, presents a different picture. The army having had a direct control of the country’s affairs for more or less half of the history of Pakistan,what has added to the vulnerability of the civilian governments has been their consistently failing to perform their duties efficiently and honestly. This poor performance has lowered their political legitimacy and provided space and opportunity to ambitious generals to take over the reins of the country. It is therefore sheer wishful thinking that the military would suddenly detach itself from power and influence it enjoys in certain areas of its concerns and interests. The only way to speedup army’s return to its purely constitutional obligations is a marked and consistent improvement in good governance yielding visible wholesome results with particular reference to the plight of the poor and credible management of the economy.

Inayatullah is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and a freelance political and international relations analyst.

nation.com.pk/columns/19-Sep-2015/terrorism-corrupiton-civil-military-relations

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A tale of two Sharifs

By Farrukh Khan Pitafi

September 18, 2015

This is the story of two Sharifs. One in khaki, one in mufti. And the narrator of this tale is no Charles Dickens. Both men live in two different cities, very close and yet distinctly apart. The one in mufti knows his town well. He has been here twice before. Last time he was displaced by someone else in khaki and sent into exile. During his exile he spent many years in serious introspection. What went wrong? What bad choices could have been avoided? Consequently, he is wiser today and committed not to make same mistakes again. Only trouble is no one truly understands this.

The Sharif in khaki knows his town even better. It is his first stint here, but the astute observer as he is, he learns from others’ mistakes. He comes from a long line of national heroes and knows what exactly is at stake. He has shown courage and a battle commander’s wisdom. But when you praise him, people think it is plain old sycophancy. Yet the truth is he is the best thing that has happened in many years to his country and his institution. But no one truly understands this either.

So do you see the pattern? Not yet? Okay. Notice this. Before his rise to the top position, the country was reeling under the unrelenting blows of terrorism. He worked for political ownership, launched an operation, pushed for a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism. Sceptics were as usual, sceptical. But his country is infinitely safer today. So much for the scepticism. As a consequence, he is popular. Very popular. And the sceptics are cynical again.

Only a year ago, an attempt was made to ambush the Sharif in mufti along with his team. The siege continued for four months. Everyone thought that the Sharif in khaki was responsible. But he instead came to the rescue. Someone else would have easily taken the bait. But he did not. As a thorough professional should, he refused to be politicised. Look at the long list of national heroes in my family, he argued. Don’t ask me to do anything that might bring a bad name to them, he reasoned. Professionalism of this sort should be lauded. But who cares about that in a country where celebrating mediocrity is the new pastime. If he is popular, he must be ambitious, cried out the sceptics. And this theatre of the absurd continues to this day.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the divide, everyone was initially wary of the Sharif in mufti. Their institution had removed him from power and he is a man of vendetta, they said. He will get back at you. He is the one who removes Karamats and empowers Musharrafs. Be a Musharraf and not a Karamat. Get him before he gets back at you, they shouted. But to everyone’s surprise, the Sharif in mufti did no such thing. He found a way to work with the institution. Incredulous, his critics refused to see how much he had changed. But the Sharif in khaki did. While they might live in different cities, their country is the same, he knew.

The cooperation between the two is transforming the country’s landscape today. Terrorists are on the run, their attacks getting feebler by the day. The country’s security apparatus that was once badly demoralised now takes special pride in the achievements made and the sacrifices rendered. The world takes their country more seriously now. Economic revival, too, stands a chance.

But still there are those who are buying none of this. There are intellectuals who cannot process a simple equation and must see coups where there are none. Then there are troublemakers and job seekers. The kind of fellas that sit on your television screens and fear that if their mouths stop talking their minds may start functioning. Finally, there are those who consider themselves the aggrieved party. An exiled leader, who doesn’t want to be exiled from his party. A former president, who doesn’t want to be the former head of his party. An affluent thekedar, who is wary of an anti-corruption theka against his excesses. A former chief, who wants to sound presidential. Some men of faith, who think terrorists too are men of faith. A powerful neighbour that fears loss of power. Together, they and their fans are out to confuse you.

But all of this doesn’t deter the two Sharifs. They know that together they can leave an enviable legacy behind. So they work together and will continue to do so this year and the next, and the one that comes after that.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/959309/a-tale-of-two-sharifs/

URL: http://newageislam.com/the-war-within-islam/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/why-the-sahiwal-stabbings-are-an-attack-on-all-pakistani-women--new-age-islam%E2%80%99s-selection-from-pakistan-press,-19-september-2015/d/104634

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