By Yasser Latif Hamdani
(In wake of the national debate on ideology and textbooks, Mr. Raza Rumi, the founder and editor of Pakteahouse, recently asked me to revisit the issue of Jinnah’s secularism through a comprehensive blog-post. This blog post is written for PTH exclusively and may be reproduced by giving PTH credit.)
Many people (though not all) on all sides of the ideology divide in Pakistan take umbrage with the description of Mahomed Ali Jinnah – the anglicized founder of Pakistan- as a secular leader or a secularist. Islamists in Pakistan say that he wanted an Islamic state. Islamic modernists say he wanted a modern Islamic democratic state (whatever that means), some people from the left say he was a communalist who was not secular because he championed Muslim separatism (albeit only in the last 11 years of his life). All of these groups agree that if Jinnah had been secular, it would not have been necessary to make a separate state. All of them – unconvincingly and inaccurately- claim that those who lay claim to a secular Jinnah are basing it on a solitary speech of Jinnah made on 11 August 1947. A slightly different claim is made by the Wali Khan group- which is ideologically consistent if historically errant- which claims that Jinnah wanted a secular state and that his push for Pakistan was the result of British manipulation and divide and rule which made him utilize Islamist rhetoric for the creation of Pakistan. While respecting all these points of view, I disagree with all of them and through this article I will explain why. Continue reading
Dr. Irfan Zafar
Am I really dead? No, still trying to breathe but the lights seem to be fading away as I hear voices, not the familiar one’s, strangers walking in and leaving behind nothing but painful reminders of what my past used to be. Broken tea cups, sticky tables, cracking chairs, flies and dust all around is all what is left; staring at me crying for help but as I lay dying, my mind continue to go back bringing in visions of the past ferociously.
I remember the Sikh brothers looking at me for the last time with vacant eyes as they walked away in tears leaving behind the “India Tea House”; my original name which was changed to Pak Tea House by the new owner Siraj-Ud-Din Ahmad to avoid any retribution from the blood thirsty souls roaming around in the streets as a result of the 1947 bloodbath which took place as a result of the great divide which left many lives shattered and many more totally eliminated from the face of this earth. Continue reading
They say in Africa that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. To this Julius Nyerere had once added that when elephants make love, the grass still suffers. Nyerere had made this witty remark at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1970’s. The organisation had been formed to extricate as much of the world from suffering the same fate as the grass in this African proverb, during the Cold War. Yet, it failed Afghanistan as most of NAM’s members were anything but non-aligned. Unfortunately, this included its leading lights.
The US decided to give the USSR a bloody nose in Afghanistan. It seemed no one cared for the poor country caught in the crossfire. Washington found Gen Zia ul Haq’s Pakistan to be a more than willing partner. For the Pakistani dictator, this was an unbelievably lucky opportunity to gain international ‘legitimacy’, even recognition. But for Afghanistan and her people this superpower showdown meant the worst misfortune, misery, death and destruction in the country’s history. The misery continues even two decades after one of the superpowers is no more.
The following article is a short trip down memory lane by an Afghan expat, Muhammad Qayoumi, for Foreign Policy (May 27, 2010). It is one glimpse, through a particular little window, of how three decades of war can push a country six centuries back in time. It is not claimed that Afghanistan did not have large areas which were, as it were, centuries behind parts of Kabul, Herat and Mazar e Sharif, even 30 years ago. But what is most saddening about this little window on the past is the realisation of the damage that has been done to the psyche of the Afghan people, regardless of who they were, where they lived and in which ‘century’. To regain self-confidence, and to let go of anxieties of more than one sort, would perhaps be the most difficult task faced by the Afghans in their efforts to try and rebuild their country. They will have to relearn to be Afghans, rediscover their own history and not only find hope and security, but once again get used to feeling hopeful and secure. They will have to learn to smile again. (bciv)
Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…
Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts — when Kabul had rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets
On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it “a broken 13th-century country.” The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He’s hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by “barbarians” with “a 1200 A.D. mentality.” Many assume that’s all Afghanistan has ever been — an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages. Continue reading
We are grateful to Raza Habib Raja to have authored this post for PTH. Today’s horrific events demonstrate that the threat of terrorism and Talibanisation is real and not imagined. Raza Rumi
The Attack on Ahmedis Today
As I write these sentences, the details of the most shameful attack on the religious sites of Ahmedis in Lahore are unfolding. However, this is not new as Pakistan has been the victim of this brazen behavior repeatedly. The thirty years of state sponsored “true” Islam is showing its colors. In Pakistan all the minorities are constantly harassed and state’s protection has often proved completely ineffective when a serious attack occurs. Although the counterargument can also be made that state is not also able to protect even when Muslims are attacked.
In case of Ahmedis it is a well known fact that they have been victims of state induced discrimination also apart from being openly hated by the public. In fact even today as this most in human barbarity was unfolding I had the opportunity to actually hear people in my office saying that though terrorism is bad Ahmedis deserved it. Muslims are an extremely intolerant group and yet extremely sensitive when it comes to their own religious sensitivities. And when such minorities are under attack the state protection has often been particularly inadequate and public condemnation virtually absent. After all we all remember Gojra where the government was completely unable to provide protection to the Christians when attackers attacked their houses and literally burnt people alive. In that incidence, there was no “sudden’ attack but mob actually first assembled after being provoked by the religious clergy and then systematically executed the attack. But even much more horrific was the aftermath where instead of widespread condemnation, the public response was apologetic. That incidence was not a political failure alone. It was national shame and depicted weakness at every level of our society’s moral fabric. Continue reading
Hit and run
By Shakir Husain The News, May 17, 2010
Whenever people ask me about the funniest Asif Zardari joke I’ve ever heard, my response is always, “That he is the most successful president in the 63 year history of Pakistan.” I can picture readers cringing, noses wrinkling, and people asking to be passed the sick bag. What makes this nauseating sensation worse for most is that if you can get past the silly grin, the last name, the face – whatever your pet Asif Zardari peeve is, you will realise it’s true. Before you abandon this piece here to go and fire off a nasty email to me and the Editor, think about this rationally by removing the last name from the presidency, and just objectively look at what the man has achieved in the two years he has been in office.
Asif Zardari has spent more years in jail than any other politician in this country, has had millions of dollars spent on investing several dozen graft cases which have amounted to nothing concrete against him. Today, he controls the largest national political party in the country – the PPP. The man has dodged more silver bullets in the last two years than any other politician could even imagine. Asif Zardari has overseen the signing of the NFC Award, a feat unto itself. He has signed the18th Amendment to the Constitution defanging himself and any future president who feels like dismissing parliament. Asif Zardari has given provinces more of a share of the revenue they contribute to the federal government, which has always been a sticking point, and he has given the provinces the right to raise additional taxes and retain them. All sore points during Pakistan’s history. Continue reading
By Kashan Wali, exclusive to the PTH
Today is May 08, 2010. As I write these line it occurs to me that this weekend is one of the most critical weekends as the seven month long crisis that started with initial doubts about Greece’s ability to pay off the massive debt that Greece had accumulated. The world nervously watches the European debt crisis morph into a contagious financial nightmare. Investors are worried that indebted nations like Greece, Portugal, Spain and even UK have accumulated too much debt too soon.
Coming on heels of the subprime crisis in 2007 and 2008, the world economies and the financial system are still in the recuperation phase from the wounds inflicted from the subprime crisis and the subsequent Great Recession afterwards. Below, we examine the European debt crisis in more detail. We will also look at the lessons for Pakistan and other emerging countries. There are a lot more similarities between the Greek tragedy and the Pakistani fiscal conditions. For those who do not learn from others mistakes end up being others down the road.
But first let’s take a step back to the subprime crisis that had the fiscal implications for the United States and Europe. Even before the subprime crisis, let’s examine the roaring 1990s that were a direct result of the massive globalization unleashed with the arrival of the internet. This was an important decade as two most populous countries properly entered the global economic arena for the very first time. They were China and India. For the next two decades, we see an explosive growth in the world economic output, globalization of trade, fall in industrialized world inflation, falling yields and the rise of phenomenon called the “leverage”. A few decades from today, we may exclaim what a shame that such prosperity became a victim to excessive leverage and regulatory failure. Yet we have countless examples of this reckless behaviour throughout the human history.
By Adnan Syed
It has been 30 years since Pakistan took the fateful steps of sponsoring the Jihad on a state level. The fight against the Russian aggression in Afghanistan was probably justified. It was a blatant attack on a sovereign nation by a teetering super power. However when Pakistan went on to label the fight as a state sponsored Jihad, flock of die hard Islamists started congregating in Pakistan to fight the godless communists. This was precisely the turning point in Pakistani history when all the internal confusion of Pakistan’s relationship with Islam translated into a thoughtless action by the state that still haunts us to this day.
We can blame General Zia-ul-Haq or Jamaat-e-Islami, or our dreaded indescribable “establishment” for pointing out the path of state sponsored armed Jihad. General Zia and his protégés have already begun feeling the stiff verdict that history has begun recording in its annals. Yet, the conflict was the physical manifestation of Pakistan’s unresolved relationship with Islam. This confusion was fully exploited by Al-Qaeda, Afghan-Jihad oriented splinter groups, and their affiliates in Pakistan. As an internally bankrupt USSR retreated from Afghanistan, the Jihad slowly turned towards the West, the infidels and the vague alliance of Yahood-o-Hunood (Jews and the Hindus).
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, Benazir Bhutto, Constitution, Democracy, FATA, Islamabad, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Justice, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan, psychology, Religion, secular Pakistan, state, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism