Monday, December 4, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
Following his appointment as the Crown Prince by his father king Salman on 21 June 2017, Mohammad Bin Salman(MBS) has moved fast to address two issues. One is to order arrest of scores of the members of the royal family on charges of corruption. The most important royal members among them are Muhammad Bin Nayef, prince Mutib bin Abdullah and the richest prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
These celebrities have been removed from their prestigious positions and placed under arrest. The incarcerated royal family members are barred from traveling aboard. According to reports 11 royal princes, four ministers and ten former ministers have been arrested. With the time passage the number of the arrested people might increase.
The other issue was to liberalize the Saudi society by lifting some of the harshest rules and restrictions relating to the day to day lives of the people. Muhammad has decided to restore civil liberties and openness as were prevalent prior to 1979. Of these numerous prohibitive religious laws and regulations, some were focused on the women. Under those laws, the women couldn’t drive, couldn’t go out without a male family attendant and had to wrap their whole body.
He has decided to revive the cultural centers and cinemas for the people to get together for social gatherings and even dance parties as these were in vogue prior to 1979 when these sanctions were imposed by the powerful clergy. In his interview given to New York Times’ senior journalist, Thomas L. Friedman, the crown prince Muhammad told the interviewer that “in the 1950s women were without heads covered, wearing skirts and walking with men in public, as well as concerts and cinemas.”
In this regard scores of religious leaders and Islamic scholars have also been arrested to forestall any reaction or opposition from them to the restoration of civil liberties particularly relating to the cultural dimensions.
Friedman reported that during his stay in Saudi Arabia he saw that the people on the whole welcomed these measures. Particularly the youth and women were exuberant and supported prince Muhammad in his bid of releasing the society from many unnecessary shackles placed on the people after the takeover of the Salafi brand of Islam. Thereafter, the people came under a strait jacket of strict restrictions as if the Saudi Society had been rolled back in the past.
Muhammad also holds the portfolios of the First Deputy Prime Minister and the minister of defense. He is just 32 years but from his measures and decisions which he took after his advent as the crown prince make him look like a visionary and a forward-looking person who wants to erase the impression that Saudi society was closed, fundamentally puritanical and socially orthodox.
From his public statements and interviews, it surmises that he possesses immense urge and determination to transform Saudi Arabia from a rigid orthodox and radical Islamic track to a more enlightened and forward-looking paradigm.
His removal and imprisoning of some 11 princes from the Royal family along with scores of other highly influential business figures and top-notches is stunning and rather a courageous step towards curbing the widespread culture of monetary corruption through devious means.
As already mentioned, Crown prince Muhammad’ drive is two pronged. One is to eliminate the rampant corruption particularly in the royal family and big corporate sector. The second is to restore a normal civil life and lift stringent conditions, rules and restrictions imposed by religious clerics.
His sacking and imprisoning 57 highly influential individuals is being interpreted as an action to remove any bottlenecks and challengers to his office by the members of the royal family. One such person is prince Naif who has been the predecessor crown prince. King Salman removed him and replaced his son Muhammad with additional powers to be able to make decision that can liberalize the society to a certain extent and open up and ease the day to day and socio-cultural life of the Saudi citizens.
One giant step is to abolish the so call religious police (shurtas) which had been exercising excessive clout and no holds barred powers to catch anybody from anywhere, lash them in public and shove them in the most horrifying makeshift prisons. The women folks were not immune from their savage onslaughts and ruthless implementation of law that curbed the independence and civil liberties of the women with impunity.
Mentioning about the level of corruption Muhammad claimed that “Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today to such an extent that 10 percent of all government spending was siphoned-off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom.”
Under order from the incumbent King Salman bin Abdulaziz-Al-Saud in 2015, a team prepared a list of 200 persons responsible for enormous financial malpractices. These are the individuals who made money through kickbacks, overcharging and through such projects which either were never accomplished or later turned to be white elephants. It is evident that more arrests would be made in due course of time. As to what punishment would be awarded to those found guilty might be known after the verdicts are announced.
It can be presaged that the switch over from a rigid Islamic system to the one compatible with the rest of the world with civil liberties would not be easy. If the orthodox Islamic groups resist this gubernatorial change there could be bloodshed or acts of sabotage and frequent demonstrations against both king Salman and his visionary son crown prince Muhammad Bin Salman.
We have also to watch and see what could be the reaction from other Islamic nations which are also under a rigid puritanical version of Islam and where Salafi Sharia(jurisprudence) is in vogue. One of such countries is Pakistan where Salafi /Sunni code of Islam is vibrant and where the reaction from these hardliners could be perpetual and strong.
Monday, November 27, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
In his landmark speech of August 11 1947 delivered before the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan proclaimed:
"We should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
He announced that despite Pakistan being a Muslim majority state, all minority religious denominations would be treated as equals in observance of their religious obligations. This speech outlined the freedom of all non-Islamic religions as well as denominations within Pakistan.
But later the guidelines set out by the father of the nation were set aside in the Objective Resolution adopted by the same Constituent Assembly on 12 March 1949. The Objective Resolution proclaimed that “the future constitution of Pakistan would be modeled on the ideology and democratic faith of Islam.
The resolution, in its entirety, has been made part of the Constitution of Pakistan under Article 2(A). Subsequent to the passage of the Objectives Resolution, all of Pakistan’s constitutions contained religious provisions. The name of the country was changed from the Republic of Pakistan to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
There are contradictions in the Objective Resolution. In Article 25 it is written that all citizens are equal before law. However, Article 2 says that Islam shall be the state religion. Also, the denial of the right to non-Muslims citizens to become the head of state or government also negates Article 25, which requires equality before law.
By virtue of being in majority, the Muslims in Pakistan naturally have the benefit and upper hand to elect the Muslim members of the parliament which is in accord with the basic ingredient of the democracy. Yet it blocks the possibility of any non-Muslims to become the prime minister or the head of state which in fact is the denial of the basic principle of the democracy. In India We have seen that head of the government were Muslims despite that country being a Hindu majority State. Moreover, in India the majority being those of Hindus, the name of the country was not changed to Hindu Republic of India.
But in Pakistan over a period of time not only that the religion Islam has been politicized but made part of the constitution which obviates religious freedom for other sects and religious denomination. It is essential in Pakistan to be a Muslim for being the president or the prime minister.
Various Islamic religious parties and sects opposed the creation of Pakistan one of which is the Jamaat-e-Islami. Yet despite their opposition in the creation of Pakistan they succeeded in changing the nomenclature of Pakistan to Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It should have been the Democratic Republic of Pakistan or simply the Republic of Pakistan.
Although Pakistan, by any definition, is an Islamic state yet the urge, efforts and activities of the religious demagogues and parties have turned Pakistan in an intolerant bigotry ridden and non-democratic state. With branding Pakistan an Islamic state, the question arises which sects or denomination’s Islam? India under the colonial rule of the British was more peaceful as there was sectarian and religious harmony than one cannot witness now.
There is such an unbridgeable rift between the sects within Islam that their coexistence in an Islamic state has always been at risk after the demise of prophet Muhammad(pbuh). The minority sects such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Bahais, Sikhs, Parsis or Zoroastrianism, Ismaili and others look like culprits and remain the target of the onslaughts from the main Sunni sects including Qadria, Chishtia, Wahabi, Naqshbandi and generally Brelvis.
The main religious groups have the street power to threaten the governments, harass their religious opponents and force the people to adopt a rigid mold and style of Islam which should be in accordance with their perception of Islam.
Now in Pakistan we have Brelvis and Wahabi fighting each other and branding each other as infidels and out of the pale of Islam. Pakistan has always been a fertile ground for clashes between Sunnis and Shias which are the main sects opposing each other from the day the first caliph of Islam Hazrat Abu Bakr succeeded the final prophet of Islam.
That irreconcilable tussle has been running through islamic history causing horrendous slaughter, wars, massacres and genocides of the people and populations on both the sides. The faith-based and clannish animosity between Banu Hashim on one side and Umayyads on the other and later between Ommyads and Abbasids is dripped in Muslims’ blood. Presently this rivalry continues between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Coming back to the camping at the Faizabad vantage interchange or crossroads, one can imagine the power and resourcefulness of the religious parties to stage such a prolonged protest hampering the normal life of the citizens and crippling the government and state functioning.
Now the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad is not a big issue because all Muslims profess that belief. But under that pretext, paralyzing the entire country, entailing huge loss to the economy and disturbance of normal life is frightening.
Let us compare that situation in India which is patently a Hindu State. It is majority Hindu state, yet it is secular and nowhere in the Indian constitution it is written that it is a Hindu state. Why don’t the Wahabi and Deobandi and Brelvis sects fight each other there. In India, Shias and Sunnis perform and observe their religious undertakings with peace and without any fear or confrontations.
It means a secular state ensures the religious peace and coexistence without labeling each other Kafirs (non-believers and enemies). If in a Hindu state and in Islamic Bangladesh state there is religious harmony why it can’t be brought about in Pakistan.
The Demagogues and vested interests of professional clergies, spiritual figures and so called self-styled saints, witch doctors, Shamans and mediums claim to pray to God directly. These people have been exploiting the common folks by being closer to God than the common man. This a not a real Islam but a travesty of Islam.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam. Yet in Saudi Arabia, no one can claim to be more pious and nearer to God than the common man. There are no peers, no saints no religious or spiritual healers and no worshiping of the graves and mausoleums. Then why is this religious pattern in Pakistan? This question must be answered by those why are religious scholars and who can guide the faithful to unite upon a common Islam and live with each other and with minority faiths.
We can see that culture in Europe where the Catholics and protestants live together and don’t indulge in religious or sectarian battles. They used to do so in the past but the papacy has been confined to the premises of the church and catholic Pope to a small portion of Rome.
Finally, the state of Pakistan has got to be serving the people including the minority religious or social communities generally. The religious harmony is the dire need in Pakistan. otherwise the country would remain hostage to the religious goons and ruffians. Common believers are used by the religious fanatics, preachers and custodians of their branch of faith to keep the cauldron of sectarianism boiling so that they can maintain hegemony and inflow of the perks and privileges unhindered.
The State must be out of the religious confrontations and deal with the trouble makers with ion hands for the sake of the sovereignty and stability of Pakistan as well as for peace and safety of the people.
I shall mention only some measures which can improve such appalling state of affairs. Religious madrasas (institutions) should be integrated with regular educational system. The opening and closing of the mosques’ hours should be strictly maintained. The prayer leading imams should be selected like other services.
All the self- appointed or family oriented saints sitting on graves or self-styled peers (spiritual solicitors or healers) should be ousted and these places should be brought under the control of the government and state institutions. The hate or sectarianism-tinged speeches and sermons should be banned and severely punished. The rest can follow.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
The sit-in assemblage (Dharna) by the Muslims and upholders of the Khatam-e-Nabuwat (the belief in the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad) is still continuing at the Faizabad interchange located between cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. This colossal protest congregation was initiated by the indignant Muslim protesters and religious and spiritual leaders on November 6 and is still continuing. The TLP leaders and activists have been picketing at the interchange since November 6, disrupting the routine life in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
This huge protest was sparked because some individuals in the government recently changed the oath related to Khatam-e-Nabuwat into a simple declaration and repealed Clauses 7B and 7C from the Election Order 2002 that made it obligatory for the government servants and all people serving on coveted positions and jobs to declare the finality of Prophet Muhammad for all times to come.
Apparently, it is a matter of faith and the Muslims particularly, the clerical classes and religious circles cannot accept the removal of those clauses from the oath that are related to the faith that prophet Muhammad is the final prophet of God. As such the colossal reaction to the removal of those controversial clauses recently were resented and hugely protested on the countrywide scale.
Tanzeem Islami (TI) Ameer Hafiz Akif Saeed has demanded “unmasking, punishing, and expelling the ministers and government officials responsible for repealing the clauses of Khatam-e-Nabuwat oath”. He pleaded that “those responsible for the misadventure of altering the Khatam-i-Nabuwat Declaration had committed a crime against entire Muslim Ummah and deserved punishment.”
The situation has become very precarious and problematic for the movement of vehicles of all kinds between these two cities. As we all know huge number of employees, businessmen and students travel between these two cities every day. As such with the Dharna and blockade caused by the demonstrators has caused inexplicable hardships for the employees and bread earners of the families and other commuters.
The students cannot reach their educational institutions easily. The patients cannot be moved from one place to another due to the persistent and stubborn protests and obstruction by the “do and die” protesters who stop the travelling of all kind by raising slogans and physically reprimanding and turning back the ordinary citizens. This is an alarming situation which has immensely disrupted the normal life of the citizenry in these most important cities of Pakistan.
In the meantime, and in response to the extremely delicate law and order situation and disruption of normal life, the government as a remedial measure, has removed the controversial “change of the oath related to Khatam-e-Nabuwat into a simple declaration and repealed Clauses 7B and 7C from the Election Order 2002”
The Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has claimed that “not only that those clauses have been restored but “The Khatam-e-Nabuwat law” has been strengthened more than ever before. So much so that Sections 7B and 7C which were made part of the Constitution during the Musharraf government in 2002 for 10 days only and were recently repealed, have been reinstated and made permanent part of the Constitution”.
Nevertheless, the leaders of this unrelenting religious protest must realize that the government will have to take stern action to clear the roads and disperse the crowd of protesters by using force including the deployment of the Frontier Constabulary as ordered by the High Court. That might entail casualties for which the entire responsibility will be leveled on the religious scholars and leaders who refuse to disperse and doggedly continue their protest and hampering the normal life of the citizens including the employees, the students and the general commuters.
In that situation, the prominent religious heads leading the protests will be held responsible for that mayhem, loss of life, damage to the property and vehicles etc. It is therefore, imperative that the religious leaders spearheading Khatam-e- Nabuwat should sit with the government functionaries on the negotiating table and sort out the whole issue in a peaceful manner. That is the best, viable and wiser course than having head-on collision with the government. If the purpose behind this protest is the removal of the incumbent government then it is a different scenario.
In the meantime, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the government to explain as to why it had failed to clear the Faizabad Interchange of Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protesters.
"This is a very serious situation that despite a request to the leadership of the sit-in and directions given to the district administration, no material progress has been shown except negotiations, negotiations and negotiations," said Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who heads the one-member bench.
The court served show-cause notices on Secretary Interior, IGP Islamabad, chief commissioner and deputy commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) seeking explanation as to why the protesters had not been removed from the interchange despite the November 17 directions.
The protesters are demanding resignation of certain ministers somehow related with that decision that patently hurt the religious sensibilities of the believes of Khatam e Nabuwat or the finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad.
It appears that the protests and their powerful religious guides and leaders have some other motives beyond the restoration of the concerned clauses. If it’s merely a question of resignation by some ministers let the government take that decision as well.
But per say had Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) been alive, he would have certainly advised and commanded the Muslims protesters to call off their strike for the sake of the people. He would have counseled them restraint and patience and not to be rowdy.
It is certainly advisable for the protesters to call off their protest when the basic conditions and demand of the protesters have been accepted and the necessary legal action taken by restoring the original clauses related to finality of the prophet-hood of Hazrat Muhammad (Sallalah-o-Alai - Wassallum) have been reinstated. It is all the more necessary to restore normal life of the citizens.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
Going through the Bible (old testament) one comes across such descriptions and narrations that defy the perception that the holy books revealed by God to its chosen representatives on earth can contain highly immoral, lecherous and sleazy material. In Bible the sex and lewd incidents has been abundantly mentioned in graphic details. The female human body has been portrayed with rich and florid diction. The sex stuff that one finds in the Bible is mostly attributed to the prophets who were against the vices of their own times.
Now with the seductive or enticing narration of body parts of women, the Bible cannot be treated as the word of God or the inspired word of the divine power. God cannot reveal on the prophets unchaste and dirty material that instead of reforming the morals of the people would further push them towards moral morbidity and licentious behavior.
To say that God makes people fall into adultery (Amos 7; 16, Isaiah) is a statement that cannot come from God. It must be the figment of some one’s mind to attribute such insinuation to God who encourages goodness and piety instead of debauchery and obscenity. Several other observations and remarks that were uttered by the prophets are so morally questionable that their very reading makes a nauseating feeling.
The descriptions of women’s breasts, the songs of Solomon and psalms of the David, the story of two prostitutes, eating dung and drinking piss, the commands to Ezekiel and a surfeit of descriptions about sexual activities are utterances or writings of such persons who would not treat unbridled sex as a sin or violation of social and divine law.
The passion for sex and mindless and blind indulgence in sexual activities were traits of a pagan society such as the Romans whose vulgar and unabashed sexual bouts were part of that society. But since religion is attributed to God and the holy men are supposed to be the custodian of the moral code sent by God such obscene stuff makes a mockery of those pious teachings that are at the core of all the religions. Somewhere in the history, some people made it a part of religious literature. Now David or Solomon are the prophets of God.
Yet in the Bible, their poetry and general conduct is laden with sex and lustful enjoyment. The brash sexual manifestations were practically available in the form of large fleet of wives and concubines they kept in their palaces. It means that besides being the believers in one God and acceptance of morality as virtue they would deviate and breach it as much as they could or else the parameters and perceptions of morality as far as sex was concerned was very permissive.
But interestingly if a common man of present times, when society is so liberal and sex is abundantly free in several societies, makes such lustful and pornographic statements in writings, he would at once be labeled as immoral and of unworthy conduct. But on the contrary the prophets who should have been symbols of self-denials and far away from the mundane pleasures were steeped into such lecherous activities up to the neck. On top of it these activities and pronouncements are sacrosanct and part of the holy writings and scriptures. What if the people start following in the footsteps of these profligate prophets and make a mess of the moral fiber of a society?
Why not judge a holy book whether Quran, Bible or other religious books on the basis of their contents? We practice and follow a section or selected portion of these holy books and leave the rest as if it didn’t exist. A holy book should be all clean and embodiment of stuff of piety for men and women alike. Even if the prophets that we believe have strayed from the recognized moral path and maintained some sort of equilibrium between their good and bad acts then we should not go only for their good act but take exception of their wrong doing. If a prophet of God who is guided by God shows by his conduct propensities for sex and womanizing and adultery then we should not blame the ordinary people for such indecent pursuits and drives. Then the line that divides the pagan rulers from the religious messengers is eliminated as both seem to be sailing in the same boat.
While Islam believes in polygamy up to four wives, the sex is a part of the Hindu religion. Those women who are infertile go to the temples to pray before the symbols of human sex organs for cure or removal of their infertility. But to have concubines means no holds barred situation, to satisfy one’s wild desires sexual urge. In Islam in the early stages Bandis (maid servants) a euphemism for concubines and chattels was in vogue. The Muslim stalwarts depending on their social status would keep scores of such maid slaves with whom they would have extra marital or marital relations but they were treated equal to the regular wives. It was in fact a way to bypass the condition of four wives. Those women who were brought from the conquered territories would be taken or possessed as Bandis and it was perfectly in order to do so from moral, social and religious point of view.
In the Shia sect of Islam, a temporary wedding called Muta is allowed that legitimizes intercourse with any woman who agrees to be a temporary wife. This injunction of temporary marriage was the result of the sex needs and fulfillment of sexual desires of the warring soldiers who were away from their families and wives. But while it would satisfy the lust and sexual desires of the victorious soldiers, for the women folk of the vanquished nations, it would spell disaster, as they would be treated as the mere objects of providing sexual pleasure.
Can prophets be immoral as mentioned in the scriptures? However, in the scriptures, the apostles and prophets have been described as being involved in vulgar sex pursuits. Those who have read the scriptures would bear this contention out that the description of some of the aspects of ancient prophets painted them as morally bankrupt and lascivious. Going by the character sketches of the prophets and kings who were from the line of Abraham and who believed in one God, it surmises that they were very lustful and indulged excessively in sexual pursuits to the extent of being totally being unchaste and indecent. Take for instance the example of King Solomon who built the magnificent temple at
He is mentioned to have 700 wives and 300 concubines. Notwithstanding his
mythical wisdom and belief in one God, with such a huge crowd of women folk he
would be deemed as someone completely immersed in pleasure making and
excessively indulging in sex. It is also written in the Old Testament that
Prophet Solomon worshipped false God s in his old age (1 Kings 1:9-10). It is
also stated that his wives too believed in other gods (1 King 11-3).
About prophet David, it is written in the Bible that he committed adultery with the wife of his neighbor and before that he got him killed her husband by sending him to a battle. Thereafter he married her (2 Samuel 11:3-5). David according to these scriptures danced naked before the people (2 Samuel 6:20). David’s son committed incest with his father’s concubines. David’s son Amnon committed rape and incest with his half-sister Tamar (Genesis 19:32-36). Prophet Judah, the father of Jewish race committed incest with Tamar who was his daughter in law (Genesis 38:15-18). About Prophet Noah it is written that he was a drunk and was seen naked by his son Ham in the tent (Genesis 9:21)
It is written in the old testament(Bible) that the two daughters of Prophet Lot the nephew of Prophet Abraham committed incest with their own father who was very old. They carried child from their own father (genesis 19:32-36)
Samson the legendry hero of Jews is mentioned to have slept with a prostitute (Judge-1). Besides he killed 30 men (Judge 14-19)
One of the sons of Prophet Jacob Rueben lay with one of his father’s concubine (genesis 35-22).
Talmud’s Filthy Contents
· The holy book of Jews Talmud contains such stuff as “all gentile children are animals”
· “Adam had sexual intercourse with all the animals in the garden of the
Eden” (Yebamoth 63 a)
· “A woman who had intercourse with a beast is eligible to marry a Jewish priest. (Yebamoth 59b)
· “Gentiles prefer sex with cows”
· “Jews may use lies to mislead a gentile”
· “Jesus was strangled after being lowered into the dung” (Sanh 56a, 106b)
· “Jesus limped on one foot, was blind in one eye, practiced enhancement by way of member, committed bestiality with an ass and was a fool who did not know his bestiality”
Now these are only a few quotes from the Jewish holy book. No person with an iota of sensitivity and decency can accept this absolutely filthy and obscene stuff as gospels or inspired words of God or utterances and acts of apostles. These have been written or added by the people who were filled with hatred against their religious rivals. This also shows that the writers couldn’t understand that God cannot utter or command such dirty diction.
With such derogatory and rather putrid material no book or literature can be termed as the word from God of at least from the civilized human beings, let alone by the prophets. There is so much of hatred and venom in these holy books against the followers of the other religions that the stinking invectives and vituperation is used to degrade the opponents.
Now those who read such stiff don’t understand or realize that God or for that matter any prophet cannot use such filthy language or indulge in hideous sexual pursuits. Such remarks are written by the biased and extremely prejudiced fanatics of the religions. But in the heat of writing such vilifying material they give a very negative and wrong picture of God besides of their own faith as well as apostles. Such nauseating substance cannot make one to believe that God can stoop so low as to abuse the believers of a religion other than the Judaism.
The use of Indecent and intemperate language in the holy books of Jewish faith emits an impression that crazy zealots were the authors of such abhorrent stuff. Such teachings would not generate sympathy for these religions. On the contrary they would lead to aversion, repulsion and repugnance for such a religion.
By Saeed Qureshi
The Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Asif is concluding his three days’ official visit (Oct 4-6) to United States today. During his stay in the US capital Mr. Asif met with three most important members of the Trump Administration. One is the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the other is US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The third important person he met is the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. These crucial meetings came after the newly elected president of United States, Donald Trump accused Pakistan for "being a safe haven for terrorist organizations".
It surmises from the statement of the Rex Tillerson given after the parleys that a lot of misunderstanding between Pakistan and USA has been cleared. Mr. Tillerson in his comments paid tributes to Pakistan for playing a historic role in curbing the militancy in Afghanistan as an ally of the United States.
After his meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Secretary Tillerson said, he believed the United States has a reliable partner in Pakistan. He said Pakistan’s role is critical for the long-term stability of South Asia. In his brief remarks to the media, Secretary Tillerson expressed concern about the future of Pakistan’s government, stressing that Washington wanted a stable government in Islamabad. He stated “Pakistan’s relations with the US are extraordinarily important”.
Khawaja Asif also met with the US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who said that the United States would try "one more time" to work with Pakistan in Afghanistan. "We intend to work with Pakistan in order to take the terrorists down. I think that's what a responsible nation does," Mattis said at a media briefing. Khawaja Asif held another meeting with US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
In his meetings with the US National Security Adviser McMaster and Tillerson, he emphasized that Pakistan has a "diminishing" influence on the Taliban, who were its one-time ally.
Refuting the allegations that Pakistan maintains close connections with Taliban he said that “You want us to sniff them out, we will do that. You want us to take action against them, whatever action you propose, we will do that (but) these hollow allegations are not acceptable," Khawaja Asif told the journalists.
It seems that after their meetings with Pakistan’s foreign Minister, the new American administration had revised its hasty opinion about Pakistan and branding Pakistan as a scapegoat for her failures in Afghanistan. It also surmises that the visit of Mr. Khawaja has been effective in reversing or tone-downing the adverse American opinion about Pakistan.
What was most admirable is his eloquence in English and courage that he displayed for strongly refuting president Trump’s misrepresentation of the historic role that Pakistan played as an ally of USA for ten years in Afghanistan. Khawaja exuded enormous confidence, knowledge and fluency in clearing the fog of mistrust that has been developing after the advent of a Republican president with a peculiar mindset in the White House.
Later in a session with the media, Mr. Khawaja answered a host of questions that encompassed US-Pakistan relations, the erroneous perception of America about the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan and in dealing with the Taliban and other militants, the Pak-American bilateral relations, the Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, the Religious educational institutions(Madrasas) and their role in Pakistan. In that press conference that continued for 20 minutes, Mr. Khawaja was not evasive but gave detailed answers to all questions that needed clarifications.
Answering a question about Afghan Refugees in Pakistan and the allegation of their being involved in terrorism, Mr. Khawaja said that they are not involved in terrorism and were our brothers and sisters. However, he called upon the United States to resettled these uprooted people because it was due to American war in Afghanistan that such a huge refugee influx in Pakistan took place.
About Taliban and their present role, Mr. Khawaja stated that now the leading factions of Taliban including the Haqqani faction were in Afghanistan and both Afghan government and Taliban are trying to hammer out a constitution which he indicated was a positive development.
He alluded to the visit of Pakistan COAS General Bajwa to Afghanistan and hoped that the process peace in that country would move forward. He said that a road-map to restore peace in Afghanistan was underway as all the underwriters were aiming at that coveted goal.
Answering a question about the presence of religious Madrasas in Pakistan and their role in fomenting unrest and terrorism, Mr. Khawaja answered that their role was patently positive like NGOs. They were educating millions of students, providing them food and shelter and other amenities.
About peace in the region, he emphasized that it was not incumbent upon Pakistan alone to engender peace but for all the regional states to undertake that mission. He patently meant India, China Afghanistan and Russia and Iran as well.
He said that there have been low and high stages in bilateral relations between America and Pakistan. He emphasized that during the cold war periods of 50s, 60s,70s, Pakistan and USA were close allies. There have been alliances and pacts between the two countries.
About the continuance of democratic order in Pakistan, the foreign minister opined that leaving the past behind we can now vouch that Pakistan is on the road to a stable democratic path. He cited the period of the past ten years and argued that there have been elected representatives and democratic governments in Pakistan.
He said that in Pakistan now we have independent judiciary, parliament and assertive media which were playing their roles strengthening a democratic culture. He pointed out that there have been four military interventions in Pakistan patently abetted by the United State. He maintained that now democracy was premised on firm footing and Pakistan actually entered into a civilian threshold in 2013.
To follow up the process of normalizing relations between America and Pakistan, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would be visiting Pakistan later this month.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
I am not an Islamic scholar but I can quote three Suras from Quran that explicitly emphasize Muslims all over the world as one united and monolithic fraternity. In one Sura it is stated that “all the Muslim believers are brothers”
In another Ayah it is ordained to “hold fast to the rope of Allah and not to fall into divisions or sects”. Yet in another Ayah it is decreed that to kill a human being is to kill the entire humanity. There should be another one that stipulates that a Muslim cannot kill a fellow Muslim believer.
The above quoted Suras and their contents look frivolous and useless when we delve into the history of Muslims and also look around us in the present times. Ever since the demise of the holy prophet Muhammad (SAWS) some 1475 years ago, the Muslims have been killing fellow Muslims on racial, regional and sectarian grounds. Banu Hashim the clans of Prophet Muhammad were sidelined by the shrewder Umayyads who took the reins of the caliphate barely after 30 years or so. Three caliphs died at the hand of the assassins.
Two wars were fought between the son-in-law of the prophet and the third caliph Hazrat Ali on one side and prophet’s youngest wife Hazrat Aisha (RA) on the other. Another civil war (6 years) between Hazrat Ali and the Umayyad governor of Syria Amir Muawiyya entailed a huge number of causalities. The Omayyad under Amir Muawiyya snatched power from Banu Hashim Clan through a ruse of arbitration. Later Abbasid through an uprising snatched the caliphate from the Ummayd in 750 AD. The Ommyads dynasty was established in Spain in 756 A.D. by Abdul Al Rehman who absconded following the onset of the Abbasids’’ rule in Baghdad.
In between the tragic massacre of Imam Hussain, the grandson of prophet and his companions happened at Karbala. The Omayyad dynasty in Spain and that of Abbasid in Iraq and Syria were bitter and irreconcilable enemies although both professed the same faith. Scores of governors appointed by Abbasid in the Berber areas were killed by the Umayyad rulers of Spain and their heads returned.
The successive Islamic dynasties were not even remotely models of the state or society as Islam ordains. From Omayyad to Ottomans in the Middle East and Central Asia, Africa, Maghreb and India the more ruthless powerful Muslim invaders occupied the land and territories already being ruled by Muslim rulers.
The Tulunids, Fatimid, Ayubi, Mamluk, Seljuk and Ottoman dynasties were all Islamic yet they seized the power from their Muslim predecessors by sword and bloodshed. In India the Muslim invaders from the north deposed the already established Islamic states by use of force and intrigues.
Did you ever ponder that the Muslims are the most rigid in observance of their religious rituals yet they are the most backward and downgraded? Presently the Muslims are the most miserable people on earth. All over in Islamic world, there is an unrelenting turmoil with raging civil wars prompted by race, region and divergent faiths.
Is this the way of God or observance of the injunctions given in Muslims guiding book holy Quran? The argument by the religious zealots that the Muslims will have good life in paradise is least convincing. Why can’t Muslims have a happy life here in this world? I am also not ready to buy the argument that God is annoyed with Muslims for their sins and negligence toward observance of religious obligations and thus the Muslims are suffering.
If we Muslims believe that our God is beneficent and merciful and we are his preferred people in comparison to non-Muslims then God with infinite compassion and mercy can shower his blessings on the Muslims and they should be the most prosperous and dignified nations. But the tormenting fact is that the Muslims are primitive and poor while the bounties of God descend preferably on non-Muslims.
As stated above it is a convoluted logic that since we are sinful therefore, God is not kind to us and that the devout Muslims would be rewarded in the hereafter and not in this material world. According to our faith man with innumerable drawbacks and infirmities is like a lamb for the Satan to prey upon. According to scriptures has infinite powers to misguide us every moment while God simply watches from the heavens and does not stop him to save the poor humans especially Muslims from his wicked machinations.
If Satan can defy and argue with God at the time of the creation of Adam, is he not in a position to hoodwink and misguide the weak humans? Even if the humans ward off the Satan’s evil intrigues with constant praying, fasting and fulfilling other religious obligations, no one is still certain if we would still earn the reward on the Day of Judgment unless the watchful angels sitting on out two shoulders as well as our limbs would not favorably testify for our righteousness.
Would a God who runs the atoms at a terrific speed of 196000 miles per second and keeps the earth rotating in its track around the Sun at 66000 miles per hour and not to move a fraction of a centimeter from its orbit would need physical witnesses to reward or punish a faithful who would already be roasted in the sweltering heat of the dooms day. On that horrific day each person would be handed over judgment by God himself. Isn’t like the court of a king although the courts of the worldly kings have always been cozy, comfortable and cool. There should be billions of recipients till the judgment day arrives.
Yet God would administer his indictment or reward while sitting on a couch in an open ground while the sun would be above only by the length of a pole. Scientifically, if the sun comes down by a fraction of a millimeter the earth and all the heavenly bodies revolving around it would burn.
A lord of the universe administering the universe on immaculate scientific principles could have devised a system by which the good or bad deeds would be automatically recorded and a person after the death immediately goes to heavens or the hell. The humans have devised computers that store the limitless information and data in seconds.
The fact is that the religions were evolved at times in the human history when societies were very primitive and lacking in rational or scientific explanations for this huge phenomenon that is mind boggling and is an eloquent testimony to the power and intelligence of its creator or the system.
Yet our religious demagogues want us to believe God in the image of a human being who is extremely sensitive and gets annoyed or pleased every moment by our each and every action or movement and maintains a record of that through two angels sitting on our shoulders.
The stark fact is that Islam as an enlightened religion has always been a captive in the hands of biased and ignorant religious guides and preachers. They keep emphasizing the fear and enticement dimensions of religion and binding the ordinary Muslims in more suffocating rituals and obligations.
It all depends on the nature of the interpretations of Islamic injunctions according to one’s liking to inculcate fear or allurement as personified by hell and heaven. And that has led to the divisions of Islam into countless sects hampering and undermining its doctrinal unity. One such glaring division is between Sunnis and Shias.
The Shia- Sunni conflict has cost the Muslims grievous harm, incurable instability and persistent chaos down the centuries and which unfortunately is still wrecking the Muslims societies. This conflict can be resolved if all the Shias die or all the Sunnis become non- existent which either way is not possible. As such the coexistence between them is the only way-out.
The western societies have separated the role of religion from the state and society. Religion in those societies is now a personal obligation of an individual which a citizen may fulfill or not. The Muslims societies should follow the way the western societies brought about a rapprochement and reconciliation between the irreconcilable Catholics and Protestants. The Church with countless denominations is independent in religious domain but remains out of the state affairs.
Let us take a look at the Muslim Spain (756-1492) where there has been laudable peaceful coexistence not only among the Muslims sects but between Muslims, Christians, Jews and other minorities. They all contributed towards shaping Spain into one of the most progressive and civilized Islamic state in those times.
Instead of fighting for a radical Islamic system in Islamic lands and also throwing challenges to the non-Muslim societies through a kind of crusade as ISIS and Al-Qaeda are waging, the Muslims should give utmost priority to excel and delve in scientific and technological fields.
They should follow the advanced societies in matters of good governance, galore of civic and social amenities, establishment of democratic order, flowering of a secular culture, freedom and openness for building up modern and progressive states with tolerant Islam as its religion.
By sticking to the past and reviving it in the primitive and orthodox form cannot work or succeed in an enlightened world of today that is drastically different from those of the past. Islam allows modifications and changes as needed by the changing times.
The American constitution drafted in 1776 is a beacon of guidance for countries like Pakistan towards ensuring human rights, personal liberties and human dignity. It incorporates a solid system of checks and balance, accountability and separation of powers.
It is time for a giant leap for Pakistan and other Muslim polities to emerge as nation states so that our coming generations can stand side by side with the people of modern, prosperous and intellectually advanced societies. We have a lot of human talent that needs to be unfurled. I wonder if this miracle can happen. For that the initial breakthrough would be tolerance, secular outlook, equality and eliminating the religious fanaticism and factionalism, which is a recipe for disaster and backwardness for any country worth the name. Muslims have to reinterpret the Islamic injunctions in the light and in accordance with the needs and imperatives of the current times and conditions. They should make Islam compatible with the needs and contours of the modern enlightened societies. If the Muslims excel in scientific domain, allow religious freedom for all sects, remove poverty and illiteracy, they would prevail.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
September 28, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
The political parties in Pakistan are like family fiefdoms that keep ruling and delving in the arena of politics and power as long as they can hold on. There are scores of political parties in Pakistan and it is seldom that they are headed or presided over by someone who was not from the founders’ clan.
In Pakistan, the tradition of electing the head of a political party has been invariably nonexistent. Even if the elections within the parties are held, a person from the family of the founders’ wins. There could be exceptions as in case of Jamaat-e-Islami or the Awami National Party.
Presently there are five main political parties in Pakistan. Besides there are 31 regional or minor parties. These five main political parties are PML (Nawaz Sharif), PTI (Imran Khan), PPP (Bilawal Bhutto), Awami National Party (Asfandyar Wali Khan) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (Muhammad Tahirul Qadri). All these are being run by the founders or the family of the founders. It shows that these parties don’t hold party elections to elect a more senior or deserving person if not related to the founder or his clan.
Let us specifically focus on PPP being run by Bilawal Bhutto as it Chairman. There has been no tradition of choosing or electing the head of the PPP from among the outsiders of the Bhutto family. It is patently a dynastic paradigm that negates and cuts across the underlying objective of political parties to promote democratic traditions and culture in Pakistan.
After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, first his wife Nusrat Bhutto followed by his daughter Benazir Bhutto became successors to run the party. When Benazir Bhutto died in a terrorist attack on December 30, 2007, only one page of her will was revealed. In that will she is stated to have appointed her spouse Asif Ali Zardari as her successor in the event of any tragedy to her by way of her incarceration or demise. The tragedy struck sooner than later.
On the basis of that dubious will Asif Ali Zardari assumed the position of the co-chairman or president of PPP continuing since December 30, 2007 to the present. Bilawal Bhutto was appointed as the Chairman of the PPP on the same date and his name was changed from Bilawal Bhutto to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He was then merely 17 years old. Understandably, Mr. Zardari was the de-facto Chairman making all the decisions.
Now let us have a look at the merits of Bilawal Bhutto in spearheading a party that has been a formidable political force until Benazir Bhutto as its Chairperson. We all have seen that Bilawal is not well versed with the political and social culture of Pakistan. Patently he is inexperienced and indeed a novice in countering the other parties and addressing public meetings as seasoned politicians or for that matter his grandfather and illustrious mother had been doing.
Not to speak of restructuring his declining party and unleashing a visionary manifesto for the uplift of Pakistan, he seems to be totally oblivious of the ground realities and lacks even basic awareness of the national issues. His demeanor is docile. His public utterances are incoherent and interspersed with odd and occasional uncalled-for outbursts. In short, he doesn’t have the basic ingredients of a seasoned political leader.
He spent his early life as a student in England. He doesn’t know much of Urdu. As such his tone and speech are tainted with British accent and pronunciation. He has to speak from a written text with great difficulty which in fact is a drawback for a politician who has to move and infuse the audience.
He is still living under the wings of his father like the old dynastic periods when a juvenile king was ensconced by his advisers. Even if he comes of political ripe age, his tone and worldview may not change as he has been aloof with the local life and grassroots culture and living paradigms of Pakistan. But he has been patently kept in the saddle of PPP as the Chairman for being the scion of the Bhutto family and to remain under the wings of his father Mr. Zardari: a political maverick in his own right.
The way Bilawal roars unnecessarily in Public meetings and sometime missing the words and phrases make the whole political campaigning funny and rather bizarre. By virtue of his inexperience and youthful exuberance he makes statements and utterances that would not be objective and realistic and are detached from the common jargon. One such statement that he recently made was to liberate Kashmir perceptibly with Jihad.
While purposely abdicating the party leadership, Zardari donned it on the head of a young boy who lacked maturity and experience which comes over a period of time and by going through the grueling political process. By keeping Bilawal on the front, Zardari has been the factual leader from behind the curtain. We all know that this prestigious portfolio has been conferred on him by his father who is calling shots and making decisions from behind.
The bare fact is that Bilawal Bhutto doesn’t have the grit, the making, style or the demeanor to serve as a political leader. We have seen that he spent the period of his adolescence for pretty long time in London and Dubai (April 1999-December-2011) with short visits to Pakistan in between)) studying and having a glamorous and flamboyant life at the same time. The startling details of his fun-laden lifestyle abroad are available on social media. Bilawal looks more like the type of a young darling lad of his party and precious scion of Bhutto clan. Yet it would be erroneous to claim that he can provide a dynamic, revolutionary, rejuvenating and sterling leadership to PPP.
If Pakistan People’s Party is the party of masses then it should discard the tradition of having dynastic Chairman or the president from the Bhutto family. After all it is the party of the people and it would be befitting if a common worker or senior member is appointed and elected as its president. That situation would heighten the prestige of the party and make it look more people and merit-oriented.
This party has seasoned and dedicated members who are decidedly in better position and possess more merit and experience to lead the party. It would have been in order if a committed long-time member and veteran leader from PPP cadres should have been offered or elected to lead the party. That would have given it an indelible credibility and resurgence to PPP which has the guts to assail the political landscape of Pakistan once again.
Why not seasoned people like Khurshid Shah, Mian Raza Rabbani and similar other senior party leaders are given the reins of this powerful political party of yester years.
These guys have gone through the political mill, have been colleagues of ZA Bhutto, spent their entire lives in serving the party and have suffered enormously on that count.
Their loyalty to the party is unswerving and uncompromising. They might go ahead in improving partially or wholly the sullied image of PPP and bring it back to its pristine glory and revolutionary track, infuse a new spirit in order to serve the people with a renewed dynamism and dedication.
I would include in my list such stalwarts and dedicated members whose loyalty and commitment to PPP all along has been unflinching. Some of the names of such loyal and seasoned persons that I have in my mind include Farooq Naek, Faryal Talpur, Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Fahmida Mirza, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Aitzaz Ahsan, Yousaf Raza Gillani and Saifullah Paracha.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
September 23, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
First of all, prime minister Shahid Khanq Abbasi was dressed up in typical Pakistani national costumes. There was no ostentation, no show off and even without a necktie he looked graceful. I wonder if our leaders too, once a while, represent Pakistani culture by way of wearing the national dress and look as a typical Pakistan as we see around in Pakistan.
Let us talk on the vital issues which the interim Prime minister picked up in New York and the way he robustly presented Pakistan’s’ outlook and policies on those issues. He was not apprehensive that by resolutely presenting Pakistan’s stance, there would be negative reaction from hostile countries. He was straightforward and point blank on regional and international issues that somehow concern Pakistan by way of nationalism, religion or sovereignty of our country.
The principal difference between the erstwhile PM of Pakistan Mian Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is that the former was not vocal or outspoken, was shy and lacked confidence in dishing out his thoughts and perceptions to his interlocutors. He lacked the art of articulation in English. That deficiency was apparent in Sharif’s meeting with the former president of United State Barack Obama. In that meeting, he didn’t seem to be speaking a single sentence and was holding a piece of paper to be read out in front of president Obama. That display was rather shameful and nauseating.
The issues that prime minister Abbasi raised and highlighted in his address at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, are of vital importance to Pakistan. It was utterly necessary to clearly lay-out Pakistan’s perceptions and outlook on those interstate or regional issues.
For instance, in regard to the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan he “urged the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to Kashmir, as the struggle of the people in the region is being "brutally suppressed" by India. Prime Minister Abbasi accused India of indulging in terror activities against Pakistan and warned of a "matching response" in case India ventures across the LoC (Line of Control)" or acts upon its doctrine of “limited war” against Pakistan.
Mian Nawaz Sharif was reticent on expressing the national outlook of Pakistan and raising the finger at India. He had a policy of pacification towards India which emboldened that neighboring country to perpetrate diabolic atrocities in the Indian part of Kashmir where an unremitting anti-India outrage is going on. India has been presently silencing and suppressing the Kashmiris to be allowed to express their opinion via a plebiscite either to remain with India or with Pakistan.
Abbasi conveyed to the world community that while Pakistan has hugely suffered in all manners, because of its involvement in Afghanistan war on the side of United States in fighting against the dissidents both Islamic and otherwise, it is unjustifiably being blamed by the new American president Trump for the continuing chaos and renewal of anti-Afghans rebel fighters including Taliban and Al-Qaida etc. He dubbed president Trump for his uncalled allegation that Pakistan was harboring the militants to fight in Afghanistan against the government there and the American troops.
In this regard, he presented figures detailing that since the war on terror beginning from September 11, 2001 onwards, 27000 Pakistani soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Abbasi argued that further military efforts and fighting to end the Afghanistan’s persistent crisis would be futile. He suggested that the best way-out of this quagmire was a political solution and not a military onslaught.
While rejecting president Trump denunciation of Pakistan as a state harboring terrorist, Abbasi categorically decried this insinuation.at the same time Abbasi announced not to fight for others anymore all the more when Pakistan was being tipped as a “scapegoat” for failure of American and her allies’ over two decades long military adventure in Afghanistan: first against the Soviet Union (1979-1989) and later against Al-Qaeda other religious warier bands (2001-2016).
He emphasized that despite Pakistan’s historic role in Afghanistan to help American and coalition forces, Pakistan was being blamed for a stalemate in Afghanistan and a kind of scapegoat. It was not only a travesty of the truth but passing on a false blame on a trusted ally. As such Pakistan was not going to be involved in that fruitless fratricidal military campaign anymore or to fight wars for others.
Pakistan’s prime minister took a very hard and factual stand about India. He particularly mentioned the Indian brutalities in the occupied Kashmir as well as persistent human right violations there. Besides he pointed out the military violations by India on the line of control between India and Pakistan. Referring to India’s “limited military option” against Pakistan, he said that Pakistan was ready to give a befitting response to such a military adventure.
Emphasizing the right of self-determination to be exercised by Kashmiris in the light of the United Nations’ Resolution, prime minister Abbasi called upon the world community for its implementation. Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to the charter of the United Nations he assured the world body that Pakistan stood for international peace, strengthening democratic culture and fighting such issues as environmental degradation etc.
He took up the case of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohinghia Muslims by the Burmese government and called upon the international community to join hand for end to the spate of brutality against a defenseless and peaceful community.
All these statements demonstrated Pakistan’s new role as a country not be cowed down by the world powers such as United States under president Trump who put blame on Pakistan for American debacle in Afghanistan.
Prime minister Abbasi was outspoken, candid and versatile in his meetings on the sidelines or where he was invited as the chief guest. At the session arranged by Council on Foreign Relations a prestigious American think tank, Abbasi answered the questions in a scholarly and
confident manner. It was for the first time in such a prestigious and high profile intellectual atmosphere that he eloquently spoke on behalf of Pakistan and spelt-out national perceptions on the questions asked by the participants.
Though a symbolic public relation exercise, his meeting with Mike Pence the vice president of United States went quite well and had been positive in regards to harmonizing relations between the two longtime allies both in war and peace.
Since prime minister Abbasi was educated in the United States, he did not feel any difficulty or inhibition in socially harmonizing himself in United States. He holds a Master's degree from George Washington University USA, and a bachelor degree in the same discipline from University of California. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has a 29-year experience of mainstream politics and is a foreign-qualified Electrical Engineer.
There seems to be a redeeming feature of the change of the prime ministers in Pakistan. Mian
Nawaz Sharif wouldn’t have the necessary clout, knowledge, confidence and aptitude of candid
expression in English to achieve what Khaqan Abbasi has been able to convey and excel. On the whole, it could be adjudged that this visit of the substitute prime minister on the whole was successful.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com