Monday, September 18, 2017

Would Kashmir Dispute Never be Resolved!

September 14, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
India and Pakistan have been dueling with each other since 1947 for accession or occupation of disputed territories in Kashmir Valley. Ever-since both are stuck up along the Line of Control and may remain so in the future as well. The Kashmiri nation is ethnically and religiously different from India. Kashmiris cannot freely travel across the Indian border as they can do along the Pakistani borders.
India makes a legal clam for her occupation of the disputed territories in Kashmir by citing the agreement reached with the Dogra Monarch Hari Singh ruling Kashmir at the time of partition. Pakistan’s claim on Kashmir is based upon the partition formula stipulating that the majority of the religious population would be basic criterion for a state to join either India or Pakistan. 
In simple terms, it means Muslims majority areas to join Pakistan and the Hindus majority areas with India. Because of the unrelenting insurgency and continuous internal unrest in the Indian occupied part of Kashmir, India started deploying security forces through 1990s under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that continue to remain camped on the Indian side of Kashmir ever since. Lately their number has reached 700,000. This is the highest number of armed forces deployment by any country in the post-world war in the disputed territories.
The stationing of such massive military presence is a counterpoise to the Pakistan much smaller military deployment in Pakistan’s controlled Kashmir. The deployment of Indian military and para military forces is aimed at suppressing any riots and internal liberation movements launched by the freedom fighters from time to time. The Indian army has been accused of gross human right violation and perpetration of civilian casualties.
The population of Kashmir in both parts under India and Pakistan is around 16 million. Out of this 12.5 million live in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 3 million in the Azad Kashmir part of Pakistan. With the phased addition of 700,000 Indian security forces the population in the Indian part of Kashmir has soared to over 13 million thus changing the demographics.
Such a colossal presence of army means that India does not trust the local Kashmiri Muslim population. It means that for every 20 citizens there was one Indian soldier. There are no confirmed reports that the army officials are entering into matrimonial relations with the local girls. But with the army camps all over, the contacts between the local population and the army rank and file cannot be ruled out.
 The Indian army is free to arrest, kill or incarcerate any person or group suspicious of being anti India militant or covertly to overtly involve against India in a liberation struggle. There have been unmarked graves that are alleged to be the insurgents killed by the Indian army and buried there. But on the positive side Indian army has engaged itself in education projects and provision of social services to win the sympathies of Kashmiris and to mitigate the anti-Indian sentiment.
Pakistan and India have fought four wars over Kashmir but none has been conclusive in favor of either by way of total invasion or conquest of Kashmir. These wars were fought in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999(Kargil). The Kashmir territory is occupied by three regional countries. India possesses 39000 sq. miles, Pakistan 33000 sq. miles and China occupies 14500 sq. miles.
Pakistan controls the North-West region that includes northern areas and Azad Kashmir. India occupies the central and southern portion of Jammu, Kashmir valley and Laddakh. The areas under Chinese sway are the northeastern tracts, Trans Karakorum and Aksai Chin. In addition, major portion of Siachen glacier including Saltoro ridge passes are held by India. The lower portions of Saltoro Ridge are under the control of Pakistan.
Following the initial skirmishes between India and Pakistan, during 1947-1948, a ceasefire was agreed upon between the two belligerents under the UN auspices (resolution 47). The resolution called for holding a plebiscite for eliciting the opinion of the Kashmiris whether they would opt to join Pakistan or India. However, such a plebiscite has never been conducted.
The final, yet abortive military incursion was attempted by president Musharraf to get hold of the Kargil heights. Due to a drastic divergent of stands between the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and president Musharraf, as well logistic bottlenecks, the mission resulted in a terrible fiasco for Pakistan. Although in the initial stages Pakistani forces occupied strategic locations but then had to vacate those under massive Indian response as well as under the intentional pressure.
The stalemate over the final resolution of this most lingering dispute between the two inveterate neighbors is likely to continue indefinitely until both agree to earnestly find its mutually acceptable solution. But such a solution can remain elusive as the Kashmiri nation itself is divided on a consensus formula that could bring an end to this tricky impasse entailing appalling loss of human lives besides prolonged bondage of a nation through use of force.
One faction of Kashmiris wants to align with Pakistan, the second want to join India and the third asserts for an independent Kashmir. India tacitly prefers to convert the existing line of control as a permanent border. Perhaps Some Pakistani rulers such as Nawaz Sharif were also in favor of such a solution. But even this more pragmatic way-out would still not be adequate to quell the anti-India-sentiments and uprising in its entirety in the Indian held Kashmir.
The ongoing times are not conducive or fruitful for a conventional war in which one would subdue the other by sword or through better fighting skills. Nor is it a time for the lion hearted to prevail because even a meek or faint-hearted can shoot others from a hidden location. 
As such neither country can attain a military victory unless one of these has superior weaponry and larger force. In this case it is India that enjoys both these upper edges. Traditionally Pakistan has seldom proven to be a matching fighting force, though its military have fought well in 1965.
In the initial stages after the partition there was reportedly an offer from India to swap Hyderabad Deccan with Kashmir Valley. But this offer was spurned by the then Pakistani leadership. India thereafter annexed the princely state of Hyderabad by a military operation. Thus, an invaluable option for resolving the Kashmir dispute was wasted by Pakistan. 
India’s use of force for annexation of Hyderabad carried the argument that since it was a state with majority Hindu population, India had a right to forcibly annex it. But paradoxically this formula was set aside in the case of Kashmir where Muslims are in majority.
Even if by some miracle Pakistan wins the Kashmir case in the international court, India would never relinquish her hold over that enchanting and strategically crucial valley. Nor would India care to ever hold a plebiscite in Kashmir fully mindful that such step would go in favor of Pakistan. 
Israel is one example in such a scenario which occupies the Palestinian territories by brazen violation of rule set out by the UNO charter. Yet Israel cannot be forcibly pushed out by the rebellious Palestinians or by dint of international opinion. Pakistan as such should treat Kashmir issue as a closed or lost case.
Following the death of a popular Militant leader Burhan Wani in July 2016, the anti-Indian protests, processions and demonstrations in the Indian occupied Kashmir have grown more fierce and frequent.
Frequent curfews have been imposed in all 10 districts of Indian part of Kashmir. Several civilians have died and over 2000 injured in the clashes with the Indian police. Besides more than 600 have pellet injuries some of whom may lose their eyesight. Thousands of Kashmiris have been reported to be killed by Indian security forces in custody, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and these human right violations are said to be carried out by Indian security forces. Women and children have been killed in "reprisal" attacks by Indian security forces.
The State government have blocked cellphone and internet services. Besides newspapers have also been restricted in many parts of the state. An attack by four militants on an Indian Army base in September last year, suspected to be carried out by militants resulted in the death of 19 soldiers as well as the militants.
The United Nations has expressed serious concerns over large number of killings by Indian security forces. International NGO's as well as the US State Department have documented human rights abuses including disappearances, torture and arbitrary executions carried out during India's counter-terrorism operations.






Friday, September 8, 2017

Grave Threat to the Survival of the Burmese Muslims

 September 8, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

According to the International news agencies including the United Nations refugee agency that fleeing from the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, more than a quarter of a million (270000) Rohingya Muslim refugees have flooded into Bangladesh in just two weeks. In the wake of this colossal humanitarian upheaval around l,000 people had been killed in the violence over the past two weeks.
Dozens of Rohingya women and children fleeing the violence have drowned while attempting to escape to Bangladesh by boats. As refugees continue to pour across the border, discontent is growing inside Bangladesh at the ongoing violence in their neighboring Rakhine State. Out of the 50 million estimate Burmese population Muslims are about 4 per cent while the Buddhist population forms 87 percent of the total population.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote to his fellow Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, urging her to stop the violence. Kyi who herself suffered at the hands of various military regimes and have been incarcerated for a prolonged period of time is now holding a very prestigious position of State Counselor which is second to the incumbent president Htin Kyaw.
The misfortune rooted in history is that these Rohingya refugees Muslims either from Bangladesh or Myanmar have been all along on the wrong side of history. While in Myanmar they are treated as non-Burmese citizens, the Bangladesh government labels them as those who sided with then Pakistan and supported the military action against then then East Pakistan.
After the emergence of a new state of Bangladesh they were branded as unpatriotic and therefore were expelled periodically from Bangladesh by the respective regimes which have been pro- India and a replica of the Awami league or the Awami league itself.
These Muslims were hunted out and majority of them pushed towards the sea and the cities were vacated from them. Without any sustained help from the international agencies these rootless people started living along the sea. They constructed makeshift huts and dwellings and had also put up schooling and health systems. Visibly they didn’t have any jobs and permanent sources of income.
While living along the sea coast and or on water boats, they started moving towards Burma thinking that it would be safe havens for them, although the Rohingya Muslims were also being persecuted. Already there were sizeable Muslims living there for ages because India and the Burma were under the British colonial rule.
But with exodus of the bulk Bangladeshi Muslims to Myanmar hampered the jobs and social life of the non-Muslim and non-Bengali Burmese. the majority Buddhist population was alarmed on account a parallel religious entity emerging before their eyes. Many new mosques were built and jobs was also being taken over by the newly arrived Muslims population from the native citizens.
The creation of Bangladesh happened in December 1971. In these 35 years there has been consistent efforts on the part of displaced Bengali population to settle in Burma. The Burmese or Myanmar government under pressure from their Buddhist population perceived the newly arriving Bangladeshi population as a threat to their religion as well as to the social, cultural and economic life. The people of Bangladesh are very hard working so they gradually started having firm foothold in the Burmese society. In addition to their arrival from Bangladesh there were millions of Rohingya Muslims already living in Myanmar for decades.
When the Burmese government which has been mostly by the military realized that change of demography and particularly Muslim refuge community, they started expelling them out of Myanmar. This campaign is continuing and might continue until the UNO and UNHCR take firm decisions and come to the rescue of these displaced people who are homeless and have been neither here and there.
When the ethnic cleansing as well their expulsion and severe persecution began in Burma these people started living in boats along the banks of the ocean. Correspondingly, the displaced people in Bangladesh also used the coastal areas and even boats to survive. As such they got a new nomenclature the “Boat people”. These people starting living along the ocean banks as the people on no man land. But since their contacts with the people living on land both in Bangladesh and Myanmar continued they were not spared and instead were attacked, persecuted and killed on the land, boats and ferries they were lodged.
The latest upsurge against them is a willful resumption of the expulsion campaign by the present Burmese government to make the Myanmar free from these hapless people and one of the most persecuted peoples in the history of mankind.
There is a dire need for the joint efforts by the United Nations, the leading Islamic countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other international humanitarian agencies to save these people from further agony, persecutions, deaths and disintegration. It is really heart-wrenching to see their young generations, boys and girls becoming victims of a horrendous tragedy that is not their fault and of their making. Tis option ought to be applied both the displaced people of Bangladesh and Rohingya Muslims of Burma.
The Rohingya are considered to be among the world's most persecuted people. The predominantly Buddhist Myanmar considers them Bangladeshi but Bangladesh says they're Burmese.
The Rohingya population are denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law.
They have faced military crackdowns in 1978, 1991–1992 20122015 and 2016–2017. The United Nations officials have described Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing.


Islamic Tradition of Sacrifice and Brutality to the Animals

September 4, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi
I have been immensely appalled every year by the gleeful cruelty and sadism exhibited by the Muslims faithful in slaughtering the animals in order to fulfill one of the cardinal religious obligations. With bloodshot eyes and with the definitive resolve, they kill the animal by inflicting on it the maximum possible torture. The poor, helpless, dumb animal is surrounded by a few sturdy strong muscled individuals. According to a press report, this year 8.1 million animal have been sacrificed alone in Pakistan
They knock the animal down by twisting and pulling its tail, while the others tie up the legs. Yet the others hold the animal fast by horns and the rest give the it a push to fall down on the ground. The animal is tied down to the earth by several people while one of them slits its throat and jugular vein with a saber like knife. No one has the faintest idea how much pain the animals must be undergoing.
The gory scene gives an impression as if they are dealing with a bloodthirsty enemy and to avenge on him for the heinous crime that he had committed or else for defiling the females of the avenging persons. Watching the blood flowing out of the body of the animal is also considered as part of the ritual and this it gives a kind of satisfaction to the person offering sacrifice in the name of God. The animals neither can speak nor have a lawyer to protest or plead against this cruelty.
In the modern societies where animal flesh is voraciously consumed and is an integral part of the food, the animals are not subjected to the agony and callousness that is shown in the Muslim societies.
In Europe and elsewhere the companies dealing with the bulk supply of meat stun the animal with a gun or some instrument and then the body is dissected which is not at all painful to the animals for being unconscious.
This system or procedure can be practiced in Islamic countries also that otherwise make a mess of this very fundamental religious obligation. In every lane and street, park, public place and road the sacrificial animals are tethered for days on end. There is massive disruption of traffic and horrendous pollution of air with all kind of fodder, animal droppings, refuse, and smell. This unhygienic environment phenomenally aggravates and rather assumes unbearable fifthly proportions when after the slaughtering the heaps of offal, intestines, dried blood pools, entrails and other wasted portions of the slaughtered animals are seen scattered everywhere for days together.
The nauseating stench fills the air that does not go soon. These repugnant spectacles present a sheer contrast with unislamic societies where the pristine Islamic ritual is carried out scientifically, so hygienically and in such an organized manner. 
In every lane and street, park, public place and road the sacrificial animals are tethered for days on end. There is massive disruption of traffic and horrendous pollution of air with all kind of fodder, animal droppings, refuse, and smell. This unhygienic environment phenomenally aggravates and rather assumes unbearable fifthly proportions when after the slaughtering the heaps of offal, intestines, dried blood pools, entrails and other wasted portions of the slaughtered animals are seen scattered everywhere for days together.
The nauseating stench fills the air that does not go soon. These repugnant spectacles present a sheer contrast with unislamic societies where the pristine Islamic ritual is carried out scientifically, so hygienically and in such an organized manner.
If we refuse to learn salutary and positive lessons and useful models from the advanced and civically vigilant societies in other spheres such as good governance, then we should at least follow the systems by which they manage their municipal affairs and keep the environment clean and pollution-free.
In America, the people are so much conscious of clean environment that they do not smoke within their houses even at midnight. I am a witness and a part of this commendable behavior as I live here. They go out of the house and offices for smoking. This also shows the citizens’ respect for the law, which ordains to smoke outside in the open.
If we refuse to learn salutary and positive lessons and useful models from the advanced and civically vigilant societies in other spheres such as good governance, then we should at least follow the systems by which they manage their municipal affairs and keep the environment clean and pollution-free.
In America, the people are so much conscious of clean environment that they do not smoke within their houses even at midnight. I am a witness and a part of this commendable behavior as I live here. They go out of the house and offices for smoking. This also shows the citizens’ respect for the law, which ordains to smoke outside in the open.
Here in America the Muslims do offer sacrifice of the animals mostly cows, goats and lambs. But the slaughtering is assigned to the professional meat sellers or certified butchers who buy the animals themselves against the uniformly fixed prices. These professionals slaughter the animals far away from the city in closely watched slaughterhouses or abattoirs. The meat in properly cut into pieces, put in the polythene bags and given to the faithful. All this process is done in a very neat, clean, and organized manner.
When we dig out the history of sacrifice, we know that invariably, the humans have been offering sacrifice of either animals or the humans. In Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Hindu civilizations, the human sacrifice to the deities and their idols has been in vogue from time immemorial. The Aztecs used to pluck the throbbing heart of their victims and hold it up to the Sun God.
However, the ritual or the religious obligation of sacrifice was first started by Hazrat Ibrahim(PBUH), (in English it is Abraham) the father of the so known Semitic or Ibrahimic religions. Prophet Ibrahim made a covenant with God that he would slay his son after he received the divine commandment to do so.
Ibrahim had two wives. The first wife’s name was Sara and the second’s name was Hajira (called bondwoman in (Bible).
It is amazing that when Sara doesn’t conceive, she allows Ibrahim to go into Hajira (in English it is Hagar) their Egyptian maid servant. From Hajira the son Ismael was born. But after a few years in her old age, Sara by a miracle, also gives birth to a male child who was named Ishaq. Ismael and Ishaq are both treated as Prophets in Islam. At that time, the age of Ismael was 14 years.
It is also stated in Bible that Sara became envious and asked Ibrahim to send the slave woman Hajira and his son Ismael away because Ismael scoffed on her and her son Ishaq.  In compliance with the command of Sara, Prophet Ibrahim gives them some food and a skin of water and sends them away. It means that it was not command of God but the desire of Sara for their expulsion from house.
In contrast, the prevailing belief in Islam is that he went with them all the way to a place in desert and left them there. Hajira wandered in the desert of Beersheba (presumably Mecca). When water finished Hajira in sheer desperation and anguish closed her eyes not to see the child dying because of thirst. But at that moment the angel or God called her and asked her to open her eyes.
When she opened her eyes, she saw a water well. Ismael lived in there and grew up. However historically it surmises that the Zam Zam well in Mecca had been there even in earlier times i.e. (before 1900 BC). The caravans used to pass by and stay there on their journey to rest and proceed after refreshing themselves.
As far emergence of water in desert is concerned both Biblical and Islamic versions are the same. But in matter of sacrifice the Biblical version is different with that of the prevalent Islamic faith. In Islam, it was Ismael, the elder son chosen for sacrifice. In Bible, it was Ishaq the son of Sara taken away for the sacrifice in compliance with the command of God.
Bible vividly describes as to how Ibrahim took his son Ishaq to a far-off place called “Land of Moria” for the sacrifice (in Bible it has been termed as burnt offer). He also took two servants and a donkey with him. After reaching the land of Moria, Ibrahim left behind his servants and asks them to wait for his return Then he moves ahead with Ishaq. He also carried in his hands a load of wood, a knife and burning fire. When they were walking towards the alter (place of sacrifice) on the way Ishaq asks his father that he can see the fire and the pile of wood but where was the ram. Ibrahim replied that God would provide that. This question is also asked by Ismael in the Islamic version. At the appointed place Ibrahim made an altar, put the wood on that and tied Ishaq. He took out the knife to slay Ishaq when the angel called him and forbade him not to proceed with his act of slaying.
Ibrahim raised his eyes and saw a ram caught up in thicket. He caught the ram and sacrificed it. The angel or God conversed with Ibrahim for the second time and told him that his sacrifice was accepted and his progeny would spread and prosper. The islamic version exactly corresponds with that of the Bible but replacing the name of Ishaq with Ismael.
One can wonder that How Prophet Muhammad could have decided that the story of sacrifice relating to Ishaq was not true and that the one concerning Ismael was true. Till the time of Prophet Muhammad and his proclamation of Ismael as the one who was chosen for the sacrifice, it was Ishaq who was believed through the Bible or socially to be the one chosen for sacrifice as a fulfillment of divine commandment to Prophet Ibrahim. And that variance in version leads to the division of faith on this count between Islam on one side and the Judaism and Christianity on the other. 
The Islamic version doesn’t speak about Ishaq being sacrificed but only of Ismael. In Islamic version, the boy rubs his ankles on the ground and his mother runs 7 times between two hillocks (Safa and Marwa) to find water.  However, besides this episode it is also narrated in Quran that just close to where the water or the well appeared, Ismael was taken for sacrifice. That is why Muslim pilgrims also go and stone the Satan who dissociated Ibrahim not to obey the command of God.
It means that the appearance of Zamzam (the water well or fountain) and sacrifice event happened at the same place. As per Islamic version if Ismael was rubbing his feet on the ground because of thirst then he could be an infant. Or else he was an adult and still rubbing his feet as a grown-up boy because of thirst.
 Since this legend is narrated to have happened in the vicinity of Mecca, the Arabs even before the advent of Islam might have been observing the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim by sacrificing the animals.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), proclaimed the sacrifice of animals as one of the five pillars of the edifice of Islam. These five pillars are: one Shahada (proclamation of Ismael) second prayer, third fasting, fourth Zakat (giving charity) and fifth Pilgrimage to Mecca. Saying prayers five times a day and fasting for full lunar month (Ramadan) are mandatory.
I am curious to know if God’s covenant or condition conveyed to Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice the animals as a tradition or Sunnat, was exclusive to him only or was later ordained and decreed for everyone. Did the successive generations perform this ritual of Ibrahimic legacy one of which is to sacrifice animals to please God? As far, we know that the vivid tradition of sacrifice had not been clearly laid out until the proclamation of Islam as the religion by Prophet Muhammad.
Historically, during these millenniums (1900 BC to 650 CE), only Jewish and Christian faiths were practiced. While the land of Moria where Ishaq was taken for sacrificing has been forgotten. In contrast Mecca had become the center of religious, economic and traveling activities. It could have been due to Black Stone fixed in Khana Kaaba since the time of prophet Adam who traditionally brought it to the earth from the Heaven.