Setting The Right Conditions

Source: brecorder.com

Source: brecorder.com

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is on a very successful tour to the United States. Earlier, the Army Chief has also met the US National Security Advisor. The United States is selling more F-16 jets to Pakistan, is looking to discuss a civilian nuclear deal, while also asking Pakistan to put the brakes on its growing nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, alongside the Prime Minister’s daughter, the American First Lady has also announced a program for education for girls. All these are very good signs for Pakistan’s future, not only economically, but in terms of defense as well.

As much as we criticize foreign aid, it’s a foreign relations tool that is not going to vanish any time soon enough. Probably countries such as Pakistan cannot do without it, but the United States must ensure that it serves its purpose of strengthening the alliance, and of promoting its interests.

The Jacobabad procession bombing is just a demonstration of how menacing the problem of domestic sectarian terrorism is, even when a massive operation has been conducted against anti-state Islamist terrorists. The Islamist terrorists who are not anti-state must be met with the same ruthlessness and vigor.

As a citizen of Pakistan, I would like to see the United States acknowledge Pakistan’s commitment and actions to fight against Islamist terrorism. But at the same time, as a concerned citizen of the world who would see the progress of secular values, I would also like to see the United States press Pakistan harder for taking actions against domestic terrorism. Not because the US government cares about human rights or dying minority sect citizens, but because such a country would be a threat to the national security of the United States and democratic values.

Lashkar-e-Jhangavi has again taken responsibility for the Jacobabad bombing and all we can do is to wait for the next Muharram for another one of these incidents. What is worse, these sectarian terrorists do not need an occasion or reason to attack the Shia, Ismaili, Hazara and Ahmadi population, as we have witnessed a plenty of times in the recent past.

All of us must commend the federal and provincial governments for all the hard work for protecting citizens and religious processions during the Ashura. However, it would be even better if they concentrate their efforts on proactively taking action against the roots of these sectarian groups, which are surely operating within the country. As much as it is a good thing that we are on the lookout for RAW agents, it would be helpful to pay attention to these immediate internal threats.

Fortunately, the armed forces also seem to be in the mood for taking on the challenge of extremism as well. The army chief has vowed that the military would do all in its power to protect Pakistan from the threat of ISIS.

It is important to recognize the growing religious intolerance in the society, especially when similar sentiment is prevalent in neighboring India, which is only going to make matters worse. But what the democratic and civilized world has in common is the commitment to fight religious extremism, which is a threat to freedom and democracy everywhere.

Just like the civil and military leadership has considered it vital to take action against miscreants in Karachi, it is probably even more important to protect the nation from the threat of sectarian terrorism. Not only are sectarian terrorists a threat to national unity, but they are a threat to freedom of religion and speech in this country.

I have complete faith in the civilian leadership and the commitment of the armed forces to fight terrorism. However, I wish that they would not require a nudge from a more authoritative entity to launch their pursuit.

Considering the relative inaction against sectarian terrorists, that surely seems to be the case.

But we know that wheels get moving when it comes to the bottom line.

So the US administration should set the right, strict conditions of action against religious extremism at home for military and civilian aid.

Not even that, they should make sure that the job is done properly.

A version of this post was published in The Nation blogs.
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ISIS: Islamist Terrorists Only Sound Threatening Next Door

Source: The Telegraph

Considering the Gaza crisis, which is undoubtedly a humanitarian disaster on both sides, you can’t help but ask yourself a question. A question that seems even too simple to ask.

Why do Islamist terrorists sound threatening only when they are operating next door?

It is actually because the threat is greatly underestimated.

But I don’t want to get too carried away over here. I have been of the opinion that the Islamist militant threat is greatly blown out of the proportion by liberals at home (Pakistan) and conservatives abroad (West).

Source: scaleplasticandrail.com

Source: scaleplasticandrail.com

And for the sake of an academic argument, I still subscribe to that theory, when compared them to a number of secular powers that could start a World War on their own. But they do become a menace when they get too strong and when they are not offered any real resistance. Or when they go out of control, as the Taliban did after the realpolitik Americans were done with them.

So if the Islamists are used as pawns for the Free World, why take them so seriously?

Because they actually believe in their ideology and are really not warriors for the cause of Western Democracy and Liberty. Concepts which are actually not only alien to them, but greatly sacrilegious in nature.

This is why you cannot trust someone subscribing to the Islamist school of politics.

Source: dawn.com

Source: dawn.com

But we repeat the same mistakes, don’t we? Another area, where I have found that my opinion was terribly wrong and have changed my mind.

We are all for empowering Islamists in our democratic process, when everything they stand for is contrary to the democratic values.

But don’t we do this out of fear? So that they resort to dreaming about the numbers in elections and do not take up arms. Well, their dream is not too far away. Look at Egypt. Look at Hamas. Why go far? Look at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

But as in the case of Lal Masjid, as in the case of Swat, as in the case of Gaza Strip, as in the case of Kabul, even. You don’t get to realize the threat until the time it manages to sneak into your neighborhood. That’s when brutal action becomes indispensable.

The same is true for Syria, Libya and Iraq. Iraq, especially, because the country was “liberated” just a decade ago.

Especially because the ISIS is a nightmare.

Source: The Telegraph

Source: The Telegraph

But today, despite warnings from the likes of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and yes, the devil-incarnate Dick Cheney, the matter is being trivialized. Now there are two sides to the picture, even though I think left and libertarians, who I would otherwise agree with, have it wrong.

1. Iraqis are in trouble thanks to the Islamists. Their lives and liberty are in jeopardy. All chances of democracy dying. Let’s take action against the ISIS through military intervention.

2. It’s a centuries long sectarian conflict and nothing that concerns America. No need to involve our boys needlessly into this unsolvable issue. Or maybe just fuck Iraqis.

But there is also this third viewpoint that not many talk about and that many on the left, libertarian and anti-establishment spectrum could possibly appreciate. Alright, it has its share of logical problems, but worth considering.

3. You, Republican or Democrat, fucked Iraq and pretty much handed it over to the Islamists. Clean up the mess you made.

The funny part is that all three of them seem morally right in their own way. Even though the opponents would still see great moral wrongs in them. But I am kind of surprised by the mainstream resistance to the idea of intervention, more owing to the popular American sentiment.

However, the Democratic opposition to the suggestion by Republican conservatives seem more partisan than moral. I hope you know why I am saying this.

Source: AP/Washington Times

Source: AP/Washington Times

At the same time, the indifference of President Obama and his administration over the situation in Iraq is hard to ignore.

You know anti-American and anti-Israeli conspiracy theorists are suggesting that ISIS might be funded by the United States (partially true thanks to the Syrian Civil War) and Israel (OK?). While the latter completely sounds like bullcrap, the way the United States is letting the ISIS run loose is enough to raise doubts.

I never thought I would be advocating military action, ever. It’s for a very different reason though. But are you left with a choice with people who are actually threatening the peace of people’s lives?

The safety and security of Iraqis are at stake here. And it does not matter really because it is apparently a distant, unimportant threat. But really, some action would become necessary if they get within 50 miles of the borders of Israel.

This is where we need to assess the gravity of the situation of Iraq.

Source: The New York Times

Source: The New York Times

One thing is for certain that the United States directly or indirectly contributed to the present mess in Iraq and allowed an opportunity for the ISIS by dismantling a secular dictator in Saddam Hussein. Especially due to allegedly arming Al-Qaeda rebels for the Syrian Civil War.

Though the argument from the conservative side is that it is actually the Obama administration which is to blame for the disastrous situation in Iraq.

And you know what, that actually makes more sense. Why advocate Saddam as the lesser evil?

This question is rightly asked whether controlling the situation in Iraq would mean constant occupation. It’s a valid question and that is why the invasion was such a terrible idea in the first place.

At least, Iraq was stable under Saddam Hussein.

In any case. When you claim to be the liberators of a people, the upholders of the value of Liberty and Democracy, you gotta live up to the name. Or as Congressman Paul says stop being the policeman of the world, and perhaps let the EU intervene, which they hardly ever do.

Especially when you ruin the lives of millions of Iraqis who had absolutely done nothing wrong and not to mention thousands of allied soldiers who did not have to die for that needless campaign.

Yes, let me call that campaign absolutely needless.

Because under the ISIS, Iraq will never be free.

If I Were an Indian National…

Every Pakistani, whether they admit or not, is bonded with India, a mass of land we also refer coldly to as the sub-continent. Making that point clear, I would like to say that it is not difficult for me to understand a veiwpoint loyal to the Unity of India, to which I have no problems at all.

Because after all, I am an Indian too, despite the fact that I was born in Pakistan and am a Pakistani national. But despite all that, most of all I am a human being before and more than anything else. But this is really not what I am writing about here.

What I write about now concerns humanity more than country or politics, which are the least of my concerns. I want to write a few words on the violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Although I have been refraining to make any comment on the subject at all, but my conscience had the better of me, which was an indication that at least some part of it was indeed alive.

I have had a few Kashmiri friends so I have some idea about the problems faced by Kashmiris and what they really want. In fact, if any one of you makes the effort, which is not hard to do, you can easily put yourself in a Kashmiri’s shoes in order to learn how they feel and what they have been going through.

I understand the presence of Indian Armed Forces in Kashmir, and I also understand the difficulty of India’s position as far as the troubled State is concerned. But despite all that, I have to say that encouraging and approving of the violence and atrocities going on there out of patriotism for India is simply inhuman to me.

While some people may object to this piece due to the fact that why a Pakistani is speaking out against the violence in Kashmir, I would simply like to say that I would have done the same and would have felt the same way If I were an Indian National.

I would simply say that humanity should be held supreme to politics and patriotism, read armies brutally murdering defenseless citizens.

But thankfully, at least the Indian media is covering the matter relatively sensibly this time around, although not to the Indian ultra-right, since some people in the media are acknowledging India’s mistakes and asking questions of how the government is handling the matters there. The educated in India are certainly offering me, if not the Kashmiris, a ray of hope towards the resolution of the problem.

Amid all the nonsense and the insensitivity of brutal rightist patriots, I cannot help but admire the honesty, the daring and the outspokenness of people like Arundhati Roy, who indeed has a soul of an artist. But really while I tried hard to approve of all that violence, I figured out that I would have to cease to be a human being first in order to do so.

At least she has the guts to say that Indians are not doing something right in Kashmir. I cannot help but feel sorry for the insensitivity of the patriot scholars who call her a traitor. I do not consider them educated. A loyalist to humanity is greater than a patriot to a nation. But it is nothing new. People who speak the truth have often been labeled as traitors , such as Asma Jehangir on the other side of the border.

As for the Indian patriots complaining why Kashmiris want “Azadi” or “Freedom”, ask the question to Kashmiris. Had they been living in peace, would they have  ever demanded it, even if the idea was injected by foreign infiltrators from Pakistan? Would have they not rejected it because thinking that way would be treason?

To my mind, the Kashmiris do not care about what will happen to them as long as they can be free, even if global and neighboring regional powers make the land their battlefield, since it will be up for grabs for them. Things can hardly get any worse for them than whatever has been going on for more than two decades now.

While I acknowledge and condemn the exodus of the majority of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley at the hands of the extremists there, I cannot help but notice the oppression of the majority of Kashmiri Muslims at the hands of the Indian Security Forces there as well, trying to be as impartial to both these groups as possible.

Had all this been happening in Pakistan, I would have condemned it still. Had I been an Indian, my opinion would not have been any different. I condemn all such acts, whether carried out by the Indian or the Pakistani army, by the Indian or the Pakistani police or by any other authority-abusing-citizen-terrorizing-so-called-law-enforcement-authorities anywhere around the world.

I condemn violence and I condemn injustice.

Courtesy: The Hindu

But it is not hard for me to imagine at all, that if my family were killed by the Indian forces, and if my mother, or my sister, or wife, or daughter, or any other female friend were raped by the Indian Forces, then surely my patriotism for Indian would fade away there and then.

There is just no other way to it.

It is a well-known fact that among all conflict zones occupied by armed forces around the world, Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has the highest count of sexual assaults made on women. I am not really a supporter of the Kashmiri Freedom movement, but if that is what the Kashmiris of both sides want to live in peace, let it be, even if that hurts the Indian and Pakistani egos.

But for those who want to do so, to my mind the best way to help Kashmiris right now is to leave them on their own, so that they can find their way to freedom themselves. Freedom is never granted, but it must always be earned.

I don’t want to sound audacious but Kashmiris in the Pakistani Occupied Kashmir are living much more affluently, comfortably and in peace. At least even if no real economic relief is being offered to them, they are generally living in peace, without which how can you ever have peace of mind and pursue any further socioeconomic advances? I know that because I know them and they freely live among Pakistanis as equals, not as rebels.

Still they ask Kashmiris why they want freedom. Pretty much like asking a dying patient why he needs a doctor.