Raza Habib Raja has authored this exclusive post for PTH. We welcome his original thoughts and courage to express them. Raza Rumi
I have often been much more amazed not at the religious fanaticism of the few, but at passivity of the moderate majority. And although skeptics will cast their doubt but the fact is that Pakistan on the whole has a moderate population, particularly when compared to countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia etc, where large sections of population are thoroughly radicalized. In Pakistan comparable fervour is dominant only in pockets. Yes this is a country which has Taliban but it is also a country where people have largely voted for PPP and PML (N) (which is a moderate conservative political party). This is a country which despite being conservative has never voted clergy into power. It has a relatively independent media and entertainment avenues are more eclectic compared to aforementioned Islamic countries.
And yet this is the also the same country which through legislation declared Ahmadis Non Muslims and that too during the tenor of ZAB, arguably the most intelligent and liberal Prime Minister. And mind you PPP did not originally have any such agenda item in its manifesto. Moreover, Hadood and blasphemy laws are solidly entrenched despite the fact that these were not enacted through a proper legislative procedure. Today parties are reluctant to even debate these controversial legislation[s] despite the obvious fact that these are in contravention of the modern day ideals of human rights. Due to these black laws, the religious extremism and discrimination have been institutionalized and Pakistan has become extremely controversial in the international arena. Despite the enormous negative publicity and being in the watch list of various human rights organizations, there is hardly any concrete debate in Pakistan on the mainstream media and legislative forums to repeal these laws. No political party wants to be the political casualty even if it can muster the two third majority. And this is happening in a country where clergy are regularly outvoted by huge margins. Continue reading
From Saudi Arabia to Iran to Afghanistan to Malaysian and Indonesian provinces, we can be sure of one extremely important social measure that an Islamic religious government takes when it comes to power; enforce women modesty. An Islamist may not have much of a social or economic agenda. But he will make sure that a woman is covered first and foremost. For our readers more in tune with the current Iranian social and political situation, your comments on this thread would be most appreciated. (PTH)
Published at Bloomberg.com
By Ali Sheikholeslami in London
June 1 (Bloomberg) — Iran has barred private schools from teaching music, saying it clashes with the establishment’s Islamic values, following a push to enforce moral standards that may lead to a national dress code for university students.
“The use of musical instruments is against the principles of our value system,” Ali Bagherzadeh, head of the private- schools office in the Education Ministry, said in a phone interview from Tehran today. Iran’s 16,000 private schools have 1.1 million students, the Islamic Republic News Agency said.
The Stunning Investigative Story on the Birth of Balochistan Liberation Army
By Tariq Saeedi in Ashgabat, Sergi Pyatakov in Moscow, Ali Nasimzadeh in Zahidan, Qasim Jan in Kandahar and SM Kasi in Quetta
MARCH 1: Deception and treachery. Live and let die. The ultimate zero sum game. Repetition of bloody history: Call it what you may, something is happening in the Pakistani province of Balochistan that defies comprehension on any conventional scale.
Four correspondents and dozens of associates who collectively logged more than 5000 kilometers during the past seven weeks in pursuit of a single question – What is happening in Balochistan? – have only been able to uncover small parts of the entire picture.
However, if the parts have any proportional resemblance to the whole, it is a frightening and mind-boggling picture. Every story must start somewhere. This story should conveniently have started on the night of 7 January 2005 when gas installations at Sui were rocketed and much of Pakistan came to almost grinding halt for about a week. Or, we should have taken the night of 2 January 2005 as the starting point when an unfortunate female doctor was reportedly gang-raped in Sui. However, the appropriate point to peg this story is January 2002 and we shall return to it in a minute.
Actually, the elements for the start of insurgency in Balochistan had been put in place already and the planners were waiting for a convenient catalyst to set things in motion. The gang-rape of 2 Jan, around which this sticky situation has been built, was just the missing ingredient the planners needed.
Two former KGB officers explained that the whole phenomenon has been assembled on skilful manipulation of circumstances. We shall keep returning to their comments throughout this report. Continue reading
Filed under baluchistan, Islamabad, Pakistan, Pakistan-India Peace Process, quetta, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, war, Zardari
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
My secular comrades and friends will probably disagree with me or maybe not, and it is nothing less than sacrilege for a self proclaimed secularist like myself to say so, but the core values of any civilization are drawn from the dominant religio-cultural system. There are contributory factors from other minority strains but ultimately the way society is organized is around the religio-cultural system the majority of its adherents follow. So for example, the Western civilization- as we know it today- has for evolved out of a Judaeo-Christian cultural norms and as it is secularized, it is enriched by other cultural strains but it remains manifestly a product of Judaeo-Christian evolution. It certainly has strong heritage in Hellenistic past but that itself is expressed through established Christian traditions (for example Christmas which is an adopted Hellenistic holiday), much like Islam adopted a lot of pre-Islamic Arabian heritage as its own. Continue reading
Filed under Islam, Islamism
January 25, 2010 will be remembered as the day when much of the planet buzzed about diplomatic talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban movement. The chatter comes in the context of a number of conferences that will be held over the course of the next week that focus on dealing with Afghanistan’s jihadist insurgency. The countries being represented at the meetings — including the United States, the Central Asian states, Europe, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India and China — have a stake in what happens in Afghanistan.
Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, Great game, India, Iran, Islam, Islamabad, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, quetta, Religion, strategy, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, War On Terror
By Yasser Latif Hamdani
There are some fundamental truths that both Pakistanis and Americans need to understand about our mutual relationship especially in Afghanistan :
1. Pakistan and US are natural allies. I know the fashionable in India and the US like to talk of a “natural alliance” between their two countries but both India and the US must realize that theirs can be at best a mercantile relationship. Natural alliances are not necessarily based on hollow idealism and grandiose but ridiculous propositions like the “arcs of democracy”. If this was true, Pakistan and Russia would be natural allies but they are not. Natural alliances are based on convergence of geo-strategic objectives and in the case of Pakistan the long term interests of Pakistan and US will always coincide in this region. Continue reading
(A Brace for Bloody Winters)
By Samson Simon Sharaf
The long awaited Obama Speech is over. It is to wait and see the impact of the third surge in a highly destabilized, charged and violent region. The endgame if one dares, is not what Secretary Clinton wants us to believe.
I would describe the new strategy as a tight balloon in hot air that may rapture even before it reaches close to its objectives. The speech makes all the right noises of an establishment given up on the doctrine of ‘Shock and Awe’ that promoted absolutism in distant lands. It recognizes Pakistan’s integrity, sovereignty and welfare of the people. Following intense lobbying between State Department and Pentagon, there appears a lead role for the Pentagon working in tandem with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) previously headed by General Stanley McChrystal from the Vice President’s Office and the CIA. Continue reading