Sunday, July 27, 2014

Al-Baghdadi is the New Caliph of Islam

July 27, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

The ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) an army of the Sunni Muslim Jihadists comprising some 4000 warriors has overwhelmed the militarily powerful Shia regimes in Iraq and Syria in a relatively short span of time. Correspondingly they pose a dire threat to Iran that professes Shia brand of Islam and supports both Iraqi and Syrian incumbent regimes.

With the establishment of the caliphate under a ferocious, fanatic Sunni Jihadist Al Baghdadi, the large scale carnage in subsequent times in two states of Iraq and Syria cannot be ruled out. Already one can see the spine-chilling and barbarous style of summary killing and beheading of the soldiers caught in combats.
The Christians in these beleaguered and strife torn regions have been ordered by ISIS to leave or to embrace Islam. One cannot believe that this religious extremism laced with limitless savagery to the human beings can resurface in a modern world resplendent with galore of human rights and liberties.
But if dispassionately analyzed in the hindsight of history, one would find out that these lands have always remained battlefields between Sunnis and Shias alternating the mutual bouts of ethnic cleaning and annihilation. With the unbridgeable sectarian divide only a ruthless tyrant like Saddam Hussain of Iraq or Hafez- al-Asad and his son Bashar-Al- Asad could hold the people in check.
Starting for Omayyad dynasty to Ottoman Empire and to later dynasties we find it was always brutal repression that kept these areas, inhabited by volatile people with colliding faiths and idiosyncrasies, under a semblance of order and control. The last of such ruthless tyrant was Saddam Hussain in Iraq who was hard on Shias and with extreme repression he maintained the geographical and people’s unity for over two decades.
His fall at the hands of allied forces led by United States has unleashed another spell of democratic chauvinism of the Shia regime under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of “Shiite United Iraqi Alliance since May 2006, directed at their majority Sunni population, In Syria first the heartless butcher Hafiz al-Asad and later his equally merciless son Bashar al Asad professing Shia Alawite faith have been dealing their Sunni subjects with hideous ferocity since March 1971. They follow the Alawite Islam a branch of the Twelver school of Shia Islam.
The sudden spurt of ISIS (also known as ISIL) is a frightening dimension in the chaotic terrain of the Middle East. These Sunni Jihadists can be equated with Taliban of Pakistan and Afghanistan who pose constant threat to these two countries with their incessant suicide bombing and terrorist’s attacks for over a decade. The Taliban also want to revive the defunct caliphate with Sunni faith.
They can also be equated with Kharjis who surrounded Medina and killed the third Muslim caliph Osman in 661. The assassins (Nizari Shia Persians) are another group in the early Islamic history that terrorized and killed the Persian, Abbasid, Seljuk, and Christian Crusader members of the government for political and religious reasons.
They ISIS has proclaimed caliphate on 29 June 2014, installing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph in Levant region. The Levant territories are Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, and a part of southern Turkey. 
It is said that ISIS has the Saudi backing. If Saudi Arabia is under the impression that she would be immune from the onslaughts of these latter-day crusaders and enforcer of Khilafat then it is a terrible misconception. If the autocratic regimes in Iraq and Syria are being brought under the canopy of caliphate then this principle is equally valid in case of Saudi Arabia which is royal family dynasty and therefore in liable to be converted into caliphate.
How the West is going to deal with emergence of ISIS would be unfolded in the coming days. If the ISIS has taken center stage in Iraq and Syria with the aid and abetment of the western powers most notably the United States then no questions asked. The concern that could accrue to Western countries is that Christians have been ordered by ISIS to leave or pay the Islamic tax to stay.
This ISIS’ declaration of orthodox Islamic caliphate and expulsion of Christians from the occupied territories  could invoke the crusading passion of Christians and thus strings could also be pulled to debilitate ISIS in the longer run and replace it with secular regimes sympathetic towards the west and serve as protégé like Egypt. Would that trigger the clash of civilizations as extensively being talked for quite some time about in the Western societies? Professor Huntington is one of the prominent proponents of this doctrine.
The underlying objective of the West could be to demolish the Shia regimes in Iraq and Syria first and then deal with ISIS with military might annihilating them as they did with the al-Qaida. The   end of Shia regimes in Iraq and Syria could also dilute or end the massive influence of Iran in Syria and Iraq.
If ISIS does not touch or challenge the Sunni dynasties in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar then mot of Arab peninsula would come under the sway of Sunni Islam. Turkey a relatively secular and detached country from this scheme of things would be pacified with the advent of the Sunnis in the Middle East.
So the Middle East at the moment is in a boiling pot and would remain so for quite some time entailing more gruesome confrontations between the rival sects and races. Yet there is another glaring possibility that Syria and Iraq dismember into various units. For instance Iraq is being projected to be bifurcated into three independent portions, one for Shias, the second for the Kurds and the third for the Sunnis. This possibility if translated into practicality can be a lasting solution for the centuries old sectarian and ethnic feuds.
But what is the guarantee that these three independent blocs would remain at peace with each other and this division would prove to be a lasting solution of a perennially bizarre situation and persistent chaos that has kept on fire the stability and peace in this part of the world for several centuries.
Nevertheless let us watch how the developments unfold and how the stakeholders and the actual combatants move ahead. Let us also watch if ISIS would finally prevail and the caliphate would stay on or checked and challenged by the contenders: both Shias and Christians.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Plea to Messrs Tahir-ul-Qadri and Imran Khan

July 24, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

My question is that why both of you, the eminent personages want to derail the democratic system in Pakistan? Supposedly if Imran Khan comes into power by a weird turns of events, what change is he going to bring about that he claims? 
Let us suppose also if Mr. Tahir-ul-Qadri, (lately as Canadian citizen) succeeds in capturing the government would he also as per his loud declaration usher Pakistan in a revolution similar to that of Imran Khan or a different one? Or is it possible that in case of an electoral victory by one of these stalwarts, the other will put his eggs in the same basket and go along?
These are mere conjectures that come to mind after listening to the bombastic rhetoric and tall claims of these two guys who seem to be entirely divorced from the ground realities in Pakistan. These trumpeters of a new “Kingdom of God on Earth” are themselves living in a self-created utopia. Or else they are mere spoilers of an adult franchise based political system in place in Pakistan for over six years now. 
Imran Khan is an outright novice who should demonstrate some semblance of patience or maturity to wait for the next elections and then come to power through the popular vote. That is the only decent, logical and justified posture for the political parties to adopt.
We have seen the shortcuts in Pakistan for capturing powers without popular mandate. For most of the Pakistan’s existence it has been bedeviled by political anarchy and intrigue ridden backdoor politicking. At the outset for pretty almost ten year the country was run by bureaucrats turned politicians. When the bureaucracy backed dispensations flopped, the army took over the reins and thus military bureaucracy remained at the helm of power for over three decades.
Such vile and roguish anti-democratic scenario is likely to re-emerge if the prevailing set- up is demolished through street agitations. The paramount question is that where on earth an absolutely meticulous and ideal system of governance, even through popular mandate, has ever existed. 
But despite its drawbacks the democratic political culture is decidedly better and plausible than a dictatorship or oligarchy or plutocracy. There is no harm if plutocrats assail power corridors through an acknowledged and adult franchised based electoral system.
In the United States and in Europe most of the governments are formed by plutocrats but not through questionable shortcuts or with the connivance of the army. They take part in elections which are fair and free and accountable with negligible election manipulations. In Pakistan if the incumbent government is of plutocrats then they have earned the mandate of the masses and are rightful representatives of their constituencies.
If they perform poorly and in defiance of the popular aspirations then they would not be reelected in the next elections. If Mr. Qadri and Imran Khan believe that the elections were massively rigged, they can approach the courts for a verdict and if the courts uphold their claim, the fresh and midterm elections would become imperative and constitutionally justified. 
They can also initiate a dialogue with the government to bring about the needed reforms in the electoral system but do not knock down the entire democratic edifice by demanding fresh elections. Pakistan can ill afford this pernicious rigmarole.
Pakistan has a nascent democratic order that needs to be consolidated by repeated general elections based upon one man one vote and through a process of electoral accountability. If the prevalent democratic order is cut short by street agitations, virulent threats and spiteful rebukes and loud calls for revolutions then be assured that the army would enter the corridors of power once again. 
Can Tahir-ul- Qadri and Imran Khan block the army from taking over? Will they continue their missions of revolutions even against the military set up because army rule is as anti- democratic as they believe the ongoing government is?
In that situation these sentimental guys would look like accomplices in an unworthy bid of dismantling a democratic government and replacing that with the military authoritarianism. The country would be back to square one and reverted to bad old days with individual and collective liberties forfeited.  In the event of the breakdown of a political system, it is always the army that possesses the network to restore order and calm.
Let us also suppose that the fresh or midterm elections are conducted and PTI of Imran Khan or PAT of Qadri Sahib win the elections and form the government. Would they not expect the PMLN and other opposition parties to return the compliment to them by whipping the issue of bogus elections with a demand of holding fresh elections? 
Would they be right in calling for a revolution by mobilizing the people in the street? What goes around also comes around”.  On what grounds would their government refute that claim? If they would resist by arguing that the elections were free and fair, would the political opponents be pacified with that argument?
No one is politics is supposed to be or expected to be an angel or sinless. The shortcomings on individual and collective levels are bound to be there. The cardinal principle therefore, should be to tolerate a democratic government no matter how poor its performance is or even the elections were less transparent. 
But with the time passage, in the coming generations, this system would crystallize and it would be washed off its lacunae. Give democracy a chance to prosper, take roots and come into full bloom with all its attending beauty and hallmarks.
Let us refer to the Indian democratic culture which has remained intact and in place since the partition of India in 1947. The Indian electoral framework is now immaculate as was proven in the latest elections routing Congress and hoisting BJP with a prime minister who was controversial but whom the people chose to lead the nation. No complaint or allegation of rigging was posted anywhere. That is how the Indian democratic bandwagon started and is now on firm tracks.
Can we at least follow India in that laudable tradition and pledge to embark upon the democratic path through popular mandate and votes of the people and accept the results? The system in due course would refine itself and thus Pakistan would emerge also as a state where agitations and rallies would become a legacy of the past. 

Then the transfer of power would take place to the representative of the people duly elected through a free, fair and transparent electoral system. The democratic journey though thorny and rickety should continue.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Another Genocide of Palestinians

July 21, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

For how long and how many, the Israeli inexorable war machine, would kill the defenseless Palestinians. The tally of dead by indiscriminate bombing till today is over 500, besides thousands injured and maimed. This is horrendous and the world conscience and even United Nations seems to be sapped of a resolute will and initiative to stop this carnage.

Pathetically the Arab countries mostly family dynasties or military dictators tend to be oblivious of this genocide of a nation that has remained in a state of perpetual intimidation and bondage at the hands of a powerful bully aided by the more powerful stakeholders and allies around the world.

The Middle East itself is engulfed by a hurricane of relentless civil wars either between the divergent sects of Shias and Sunnis or the secular versus the fundamental Islamic outfits. There cannot be a more opportune time for Israel than the present one, for inflicting more miseries on the beleaguered Palestinians.  Shockingly not a scant expression of protest or even sympathy by way of lip service has emanated from such elite countries as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the sheikhdoms dotting the Arab lands.

The Saudi regime deems the Palestinians as liberals, secular and revolutionaries. They would go along with the Jews rather than a nation that is fighting for its existence since 1948 when the United Nations adopted Resolution 181 for the creation of an Arab state along with the state of Israel. While the state of Israel is there ever since, the emergence of the Palestinian state still seems to be a far cry in a global and regional environment when no one dares to support and help the traumatized Palestinians.

During the past two years president Obama tried to resolve this intractable issue but was handicapped due to stiff opposition from the right wing politicians or mute or meek domestic response. In fact in retaliation to President Obama’s earnest  and well- intentioned  initiative  to attend to the Israel- Palestinian perennial conflict, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu retaliated by showed egregious arrogance, scathing insolence and brazen defiance to the American president.

Of late, President Obama too, has taken a cozy and evasive recourse of reiterating the Israeli stance that Israeli has a right to safeguard her security. If Israeli feels insecure from the uprooted Palestinians despite having a limitless stockpile of the deadliest weapons, a well trained huge army and an impregnable defense system, then we are devoid of even an iota of rationality and sense of justice to accept such a weird logic. The fundamental question is why Israel does not allow the creation of a Palestinian state when the United Nations approved it.

Thus far as a result of this orgy of blood let loose by Israel the civilian toll is 550 dead and numerous wounded. The children and the women who have no political or militant role in this war have died in huge number. This killing spree seems to be not stopping any time soon and we can witness more civilian population perishing in this ghastly conflict. In the hindsight one can also remember the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 when Ariel Sharon was the prime minister of Israel.

If Israel argues that the civilians are being used by Hamas as human shield then should it still be imperative for the Israeli army to kill them. Why should the civilian pay a colossal price for what Israeli perceives Hamas as the culprit?  All the more the Israeli should stop bombing the civilian population if it was being purposely used by Hamas. But where should the civilian population should go and where to hide?

It is incumbent upon the world community to intervene and disengage the two disproportionately unequal belligerents for stopping further bloodshed of the Palestinians. The mysterious and unresolved murder of three Israeli youths should not be made the basis for such a colossal military offensive by Israel. It could have been resolved by mutual consultations and in association with the neutral investigators to find the truth.

The use of military might being used by Israel on such scale as to be used in a traditional war is hugely outrageous and would entail more annihilation of the civil population including the innocent children and women. It could be hoped that the world conscious awakens from a studied and indifferent slumber and someone intervenes to stop this diabolic mayhem.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Blissful Iftar Dinner

July 15, 2014
Reported by Saeed Qureshi
Dr Basheer Ahmed an acclaimed Human Right activist and the president of IQRA (Institute of Quranic knowledge and intra-faith Religious Acceptance) hosted an Iftar dinner at the Dera Grill restaurant to highlight and reinforce the sectarian unity and togetherness particularly between Sunni and Shia sects within the fold of Islam. Dr. Basheer and his illustrious wife are engaged in the service of the immigrant community from the subcontinent for three decades now.

An embodiment of selflessness, humility and courtesy, Dr. Basheer assembled a group of conscientious individuals representing their respective sects specifically the Shias and Sunnis. In fact the dinner was self explanatory by its portrayal as “Shia Sunni unity Iftar dinner”.

In his invitation letter sent to a select number of invitees, Dr. Basheer defined the underlying objective of the dinner. In the backdrop of the unrelenting sectarian violence in the Islamic countries he wrote:
“it is incumbent upon us as Muslim leaders to do what we can locally while thinking globally to ensure that at least within our own circles we unite to counter this violence, making it a model for other communities and countries to follow suit.”
 In short the aim of this important evening was,” unity and harmonious relationship between Shia and Sunni sects and to achieve the goal of developing a harmonious relationship”
Various speakers in their short discourses emphasized the dire need of sectarian peace and fraternity here in the United State generally and in DFW particularly.  Ever since its establishment last year, IQRA has taken an impressive lead towards fostering goodwill, amity and a sense of mutual respectability and tolerance among the divergent sects. Its stout and sterling evidence was the tone and tenor of the observations expressed diligently by the followers of Shia, Sunni and even Ahmadi faith.
The independents, the secular and the liberal persons from among the guests also articulated their point of view and converged on the dire imperative of religious and sectarian harmony.  There were male and female speakers who proffered valuable and far- reaching propositions and excellent ideas towards inculcating an atmosphere free of religious aversion and bigotry. 
The Shia- Sunni unity Iftar dinner has brought home and underscored the fundamental passion that the common Muslims on various sides of sectarian divide earnestly aspire for the unity among the Muslims. The hallmark of the animated debate and discussion was a consensus on the most pressing need of togetherness and coexistence between various sects irrespective of their ideological discords. That feeling and outcome in fact has adequately served and fulfilled the underlying purpose of this evening’s Iftar dinner.
Dr. Basheer is doing a monumental service to the community in an altruistic and noble manner for which the immigrant communities from the subcontinent should be grateful to him. As such he needs the earnest support and unstinting cooperation of every sincere Muslim in this pioneering initiative for eventual attainment of the sublime and splendid target of sectarian peace, harmony and unity.

Three other important aspects of this wonderful and instructive evening were the organized manner in which it was conducted, the evening prayer and a sumptuous dinner with a variety of delicious dishes. The cook also deserves a pat on the back.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Does Hamid Mir have a future in Pakistan?

July 7, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi
Hamid Mir, the well known anchor and host with GEO TV channel is in London for treatment of wounds that he sustained during an attempt on his life by unknown assailants in Karachi on April 19 this year. Miraculously he escaped from that seemingly pre- planned attack although six bullets penetrated into his body while he was traveling in the car.

For over two months the doctors in Pakistan did their best to treat and heal him yet two bullets are still lodged in his thigh while his bladder is ruptured that inhibits his whole physical system with intermittent acute pain. 
Only the British medical experts at the two renowned hospitals in England namely Cromwell Hospital in London and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham could determine if the two remaining bullets could be extracted and that his urinal bladder would heal up enabling him to restart his normal activities of life including hosting of the TV programs.
Although he is physically mauled up and cannot even stand or walk properly, he has expressed his unshakable resolve to return to Pakistan once he regains his health. He seems determined to resume his journalistic activities, besides endeavoring for the independence of press and the issue of the disappeared persons. As such he is poised to keep fighting against ISI.
In response to the widespread rumours that he has gone to England for a permanent sojourn, Mr Mir ridiculed such news as kite flying by his detractors. He vehemently denied that he had fled Pakistan to stay permanently in England. 
He firmly maintained that “I have come here just for a few days only for medical reasons. Inshaullah, I shall be back in Pakistan soon as soon as my medical treatment is over. I need prayers of my people for the fast recovery”.
He buffeted his claim of returning to Pakistan after treatment by arguing the he has come to England on the six months’ medical visa: which means that if he wanted to stay on indefinitely, it could be a visitors or some kind of other visa for seeking asylum like Altaf Hussain.
Notwithstanding his claim whether he would stage a comeback after his recovery or not, the foremost question is that would he be physically revived to an extent as to kick around and resume his normal chores of life? The vitality and energy level that he was possessed with prior to that fatal attack, cannot be rehabilitated by any means nor by any medical wizard.
It would also be debatable if the British surgeons deem it harmless to pull out two stuck- up bullets in his thigh, or they would uphold the opinion of their Pakistani counterparts. It is also to be seen if his bladder wound would completely heal up as to make his movements normal and without any ting of pain or obstruction.
His physical fitness or disability apart, would he be allowed by his political contenders, ISI, other intelligence agencies and even some anti-India religious outfits to move freely and preach his ideas and ideals?
If he was attacked for the first or the second time, he could be assailed for the third time as well and even further. In case he returns to Pakistan, the freewheeling that he had been boldly exercising all these years, despite severe constraints and dangers to his life, may not become handy anymore. Henceforth the terrain of Pakistan would be strewn for him with thorns and not with flowers.
Despite his bubbling humanitarian passion, exuberance and even crusade for the disappeared person, he has become a controversial person for good or bad reasons. The prevailing suspicion about him is that he was more inclined to credit India and discredit Pakistan whose one obvious indication was to oppose ISI that India  and her spy agency RAW deem as their  sworn enemy. The case of missing persons was handy ploy to beat its accused perpetrators which understandably are the ISI or broadly the Pakistan army. 
From the mission AMAN KI ASHA” to upholding the cause of missing persons to debunking and apportioning blame  to ISI for missing persons, Hamid Mir was inadvertently or knowingly supporting the Indian stance against ISI. His unguarded and indiscreet boldness crossed the perceived limits when he started zeroing point blank on ISI for several anti- human happenings in Pakistan.
Even in case of the recent attack on him Karachi, his brother Amir Mir also a journalist said that Hamid Mir believed that the ISI and its chief boss Lt. Gen. Zaheerul Islam had planned to assassinate him. By accusing ISI would be highly imprudent as it would also mean the Pakistan army. 
While supporting the cause of the missing persons through the media and press was valid, his physical participation in the sit-in rallies and raising slogans against the perpetrators of this heinous job would be a temptation fit for a politician but not for a working journalist.
By such irrational and brazen overtures and pitting himself against a highly organized organization that safeguards the country, did Mir believe he would prevail and army would bow down? Blaming Pakistan army even for valid causes without convincing evidence would be an attempt to portraying oneself as overly daring or unpatriotic with some studied motives.
Z.A. Bhutto did that and what happened to him is known to all of us. Mian Nawaz Sharif, otherwise a true nationalist had fallen out with the army and as a consequence suffered prolonged exile.
Because of a visibly daring clash and undue persistence on it, the mighty GEO has been on the receiving end of an unrelenting backlash from the government. Presently GEO is closed and no one would know when it would be allowed to start its programs again. One can imagine the colossal loss in term of finances and image. Mir Shakeel the owner of this huge and popular network is the principal loser.
So the paramount question is that on his return to Pakistan, would Hamid Mir be able to resume unhindered and with complete peace of mind his tasks and chores as he was doing in the past? Even if he is back in GEO, there would always be a lurking danger to his life and to the safety of his family. Would the GEO bosses accept him ignoring the grievous losses of image and revenue that it has suffered on account of Hamid Mir’s flexing his muscles against a powerful contender.
As the adage goes, “there should be a method in madness” yet in case of Hamid Mir there is neither method nor commonsense nor caution. H is unbending, unrepentant and aims at embarking on the same path that is spiky and dangerous. But there is no remedy if someone prefers to be reckless.