Thursday, August 27, 2009

Obama’s Health Care Reform Plan

By Saeed Qureshi

Let us begin this crucial topic with the startling information that the number of US inhabitants without health insurance is around 45.7 million or 15.3% of the total population. It means that the prevailing healthcare systems have flaws and lacunas that need to be addressed. Hence the landmark healthcare plan called “Universal health care” unfurled by Obama administration as one of its top priory issues besides the security and economic crunch. The plan deserved to be lauded as ground breaking, stipulates the creation of a National Health Insurance Exchange consisting of both the private insurance plans and government funded health care programs such as Medicare or Medicaid. According to the proposed plan, it would be entirely up to the patients to choose one of these keeping in view their best interest.

In United States with a rigid two party system, there seems to be a tug of war going on between the Democrats and the Republicans for and against the features of the projected health plan. While democrats have no vested interest in implementing a health plan which they believe is in the best interests of the people, the Republicans seem to be hell bent to prove it as worst as encouraging “death panels.” The political debate on health care has become overly demeaned, degraded and acrimonious. The people are being scared with concoctions and falsehood as if heaven would fall if the Obama’s sponsored health care reforms see the light of the day. President Obama has very rightly pointed out that, “that the debate has been infected by falsehoods.” It is being made by Republicans to look diabolic, sinister and anti-people.

For instance, it is being sounded by Republicans with Sara Palin in the lead that the democrats’ health plan would hasten, the critically ill patients, to death. The parallelism is perhaps sought in killing the Jews by the Nazis in concentration camps. Nothing can be far from truth and one wonders that political stalwarts can stoop so low merely to defeat a plan floated by the rival party. It leads one to doubt the sanity or modesty of those who attribute horrendous motives to it and are trying to, throw into the dust bin a health plan of far reaching import for the less privileged people of United States.

A similar landmark health care reform plan was also mooted by Hillary Clinton, the incumbent Secretary of State and formerly the first lady, when her husband Bill Clinton was the president (1993-2001) of the United States. As chairwoman of the “Task Force on National Health Care Reform”, the thus named “Clinton Health Care Plan”, contained far reaching proposals that would have required the employers to provide health coverage to their employees through individual health maintenance organizations. The plan was bitterly opposed by its opponents, to the extent that she became the target of ridicule and invectives. The plan was defeated in both the House and the Senate, and was abandoned in September 1994.

Such is the irresistible clout and powerful influence of the interest groups in the pharmaceutical empire in USA that any fresh reform that would diminish their profits and benefit the people in a big way can be easily neutralized by highly questionable tactics and vicious and scandalous propaganda and by building up negative public opinion against such hugely beneficial schemes.

Interestingly, a similar government guaranteed universal health plan was launched by the Australian government during 1970-1980. Like Obama administration, the then Australian government had to face stiff opposition from the opponents of the scheme. But ultimately the government prevailed and the plan was adopted. Now in the hind-sight, the health plan that was then being projected as lethal and harmful has proved to be very successful and is in place for the last thirty years.

As one would discern, the opposition to the envisaged health plan is not because of its merits or demerits but due to the unpalatable fact that the neo cons from the GOP cannot stomach the success of an efficient plan conceived and advanced by a democratic administration headed by a popular president. That attitude sidetracks and obviates the supreme national interest and the welfare of the public resulting from the implementation of such a remarkable plan.

The supporters of the new plan plead that a streamlined, non-profit, universal system would make the money spending mechanism more efficient and transparent. Due to the existing faulty system of management and disbursement of funds in various disciplines of heath care, “America despite spending a far higher percentage of GDP on health care than any other country has worse ratings on such criteria as quality of care, efficiency of care, access to care, safe care, equity, and wait times.”
These proponents also argue that “shifting the US to a single-payer health care system would provide universal coverage, give patients free choice of providers and hospitals, and guarantee comprehensive coverage and equal access for all medically necessary procedures, without increasing overall spending. Shifting to a single-payer system would also eliminate oversight by managed care reviewers, restoring the traditional doctor-patient relationship.”

The opponents argue that the publicly-funded medication and treatment leads to greater inefficiencies, administrative red tape and inequalities. The critics have opposed Obama’s publicly-funded health systems also on ideological grounds, castigating the administration for socializing the health care domain like socialist countries and thus extending the state control at the cost of the individual freedom of choice.

In all fairness and with dispassionate understanding of the new health plan, one may infer that the proposed reforms would extend the health care to the entire population irrespective of the financial status or social position of the beneficiaries in the society. If it is socialism then let it so because it brings the maximum good to the maximum people in the country. The old, archaic and holes- ridden plan has been posing heavy and on occasions insurmountable odds to the financially handicapped sections of the society and to those who cannot pay for heavy bills for treatment of serious ailments. It has been reported that precious lives are lost due to the inability of the patients to pay their hefty medical bills. The Americans suffering from chronic diseases involving long time care are forced to discontinue the treatment because either the insurance companies refuse to pay more than a limited amount or else they run out of their personal savings. Many cases of bankruptcy have been cited in such desperate situations.

The new plan would treat every patient on equal footing with regard to the best treatment and without financial burden. As such a senator and a small vender of a farmers’ market would receive the equal attention and the same quality of medical care. Such people who are being denied treatment for financial reasons or who go bankrupt because of a complicated illness, will immensely benefit from the new plan. Thus precious lives could be saved at the government expense which is not the practice under the prevailing insurance schemes.

Besides raising the quality and guaranteed access to the treatment, the plan would be instrumental in saving 286 billion dollars currently being wasted in bureaucratic tangles, and on the avoidable overhead expenses and paper work. In a nutshell the basic philosophy behind the debated reform is to ensure that everybody has access to health care regardless of their means.

Unfortunately filibuster, gerrymandering, falsification and exploitation of the people in the name of phantom enemies, patriotism, security, nationalism, Americanism, fabricated dangers and phobias is becoming a norm to browbeat the political contenders, and their reforms, no matter how uplifting these might be. As is known now, the invasion of Iraq, that in its wake brought enormous economic miseries and infamy to this great country, was fed and executed on lies and concocted grounds.

It is deemed as a sin and undesirable to appreciate even the good work of the political rivals in the largest democracy called the United States of America. Party lines should be steadfastly adhered to, albeit during the elections. But the momentous matters such as launching a people- friendly universal health program, generally believed to be fulfilling and revolutionary, ought to be treated above the party interests and deserve plaudits from both sides of the political divide.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


By Saeed Qureshi

In his August 21, Ramadan message to the Muslims, President Obama’s tone was highly conciliatory and appeasing. He eulogized and highlighted the broader features of Islam as a great religion as well as the specific blissful hallmarks of Ramadan: the month long fasting period for the Muslims of all shades and denominations. He extolled the virtues of Islam. He spoke of an abiding and more durable understanding and relationship with the Islamic world. His words and expressions sprang from his heart and carried an aura of honesty and modesty as reflected from his tone, tenor and body language. There was no tinge of hypocrisy or deceit or the customary touch of a traditional ritual that the non Muslim heads of state demonstrate on such otherwise solemn occasions.

The Muslims around the world must have been elated and inspired by this address, better be called, a sermon from the president of a nation that not in the distant past was talking of re-launching the crusades: the religious wars between the Muslims and Christians to possess Jerusalem, the sacred city for both Muslims and Christians. Since his advent in the American presidency, president Obama has been embarking on a path of overreaching to the Islamic bloc with a view to mending the fences of hostility and clearing the thorns of bitterness that were strewn by some of his predecessors, most conspicuously George W Bush. Gradually it is dawning on the American nation as well as broad spectrum of Muslims that the United States and West on one side and the Muslims on the other can coexist as friends than foes.

After all it was the Muslims’ fighting might and copious sacrifices that drove the Russians army out of Afghanistan and brought in the lap of the free West and especially the United States an historic victory that buried the communism, annihilated the former Soviet Union militarily and drained it financially. It was a stunning and unparalleled victory by America after the stalemated and inclusive wars in the Far Eastern countries of Vietnam and Korea. The consequent withdrawal of American forces from Korean peninsula and Vietnam were more in the nature of defeat than the desirable outcomes.

And yet after the clean sweep in Afghanistan against the arch rival Soviet Union, America turned its guns on the Muslim liberators and thus the unremitting mayhem ensued that we witness now almost for two decades. In the aftermath of Afghanistan war, the policy of the United States, in tandem with its western counterparts, have been to chase the Muslims branding them as terrorists and enemies of the modern civilization. The defeat of Taliban was also made possible not by the American and allied forces alone. It was the result of the Afghanis fighting the Afghanis i.e., the Islamic radical militants versus the Northern Alliance branded as liberal and pro-Soviet. This victory was brought about by not Western forces alone; it was the Muslim blood on both the sides again that paved way for occupation of Afghanistan by NATO military conglomeration. The military hardware hardly matters if no one is ready to die.

The invasion of Iraq was a brazen second concomitant occupation by USA under President Bush to undermine and brush aside the epic sacrifice that the Muslims had rendered in Afghanistan. Here too under various pretexts, America and her allies went head-on against Iraq with full military fury and occupied that land. But it was again not a conclusive victory. It was a nightmare for both the occupation forces and the Iraqis that hangs on to this day. The cost of this Muslim bashing is countless casualties and 2 trillion dollars of American tax payers. The invasion of Iraq was in the style of crusading blitz than necessitated by human or security considerations.

So president Obama is putting balm on the wounds of Muslim nations. He is performing a Herculean task of clearing the Augean stables of hate and misunderstanding between the two formidable contenders that can serve the humanity better as friends for peace and progress. One such promising and redeeming result is unfolding itself in Pakistan where the Pakistan armed forces have vanquished the radical Taliban militants in the inaccessible northern valleys famous for their awesome serene natural beauty. American can capitalize on Pakistan’s fighting prowess in more than one ways as a friendly ally and not as a bully or oppressive dictating power.

The logic behind this assertion is that no matter how long America keeps the Muslims engaged in military conflicts, they cannot be washed off the surface of the earth. So if both were friends in the past they could be so in the future as well. The complete rout of hitherto stubborn Taliban in Swat and other valleys has been duly lauded by the Obama administration. The task force led by Richard Holbrooke, the United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that was in Pakistan last week has seriously explored the ways and venues in which America can help Pakistan. That is a propitious beginning and it would help restore a semblance of goodwill that America lost in the preceding years. This should in fact herald a breakthrough between the two nations that so far treated each other in a frame of hate and love relationship.

While Obama administration is steadfast on recalling the American forces from Iraq, it is beefing up its military presence in Afghanistan. But if Iraq’s withdrawal is any indicator, at the end of the day the NATO allied military network will have to leave Afghanistan also. America should realize the fundamental fact that the era for “white man’s burden” and neo-colonialism is over. Even if America scores a military victory, it would be utterly difficult for her to maintain the continued presence in Afghanistan. The cost both materially and human life would be unremittingly enormous. Iraq’s situation is again instructive.

It is time to withdraw from Afghanistan also. America can adopt a policy of remote control that would be more productive and constructive and safer than plunging the forces in the target lands. Giving humanitarian and financial aid to the needy nations, would endear America more to the world at large than brandishing its weaponry and flexing its military muscle. Let American be a world leader by peaceful and humanitarian means than by fear mongering and witch hunting. The choice of carrot and dove over stick and hawk would be, decidedly, rewarding.

Musharraf Pardoned by Prime Minister Gilani

By Saeed Qureshi

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that he has pardoned former president Pervez Mushrraf. It is, however, not clear if he has pardoned Musharraf charged with treason on his own behalf or on behalf of the nation that the former president had ruled for almost a decade. It is also debatable if the prime minister was eligible to give such a pardon to a person who violated the constitution of Pakistan twice and daringly admitted that his November 3, 2007 declaration of emergency was an unconstitutional act. But Prime minister’s magnanimous gesture which itself negates the spirit of the constitution and makes a mockery of the law is some kind of a quid pro quo, in that Pervez Musharraf pardoned a group of outlaws via NRO including the incumbent president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.

The Prime Minister is obviously returning that ignominious compliment. But aren’t such pardoning extravaganzas loathsome as they exhibit complete disregard for the direly needed system of justice and accountability in Pakistan. Such daredevil and shameful ventures override the express need for establishing the rule of law and upholding the supremacy of the sacred document titled constitution.

How dare an elected prime minister and representative of the people of Pakistan debase the whole nation by unabashedly issuing personal amnesties to the felons and perpetrators of odious crimes against their own people? The people of Pakistan, by electing these leaders through a democratic process, expected of them to conduct the State affairs according to the constitution and in a transparent, fair and constitutional manner. Any one, no matter how exalted, who traumatized this nation either by impostion of dictatorial rule or by corruption and swindling of national wealth via misuse of power, vested in them by the masses, should be held accountable for his misdeeds and misconduct.

The weird logic of pardoning gets more freakish, when in the same breath the prime minister makes such an action against Musharraf conditional to a unanimously passed resolution by the parliament. This demand is as ridiculous as it is unachievable. The PPP that represents the people of Pakistan and is championing the cause of democracy shields a person whose conduct as the president of pakistan was condemnable and who was resigned per force, as a result of the countrywide wave of public outcry against him.

Now even if the political forces are divided on the issue of bringing the former dictator to justice, the preferable option should be to accept the demand of those political parties and civil society groups that call for trial of Pervez Mushrraf. That choice would serve the imperatives of justice. To tag the trial demand with the unanimous resolution of the parliament is a tall order and is unattainable because of Musharraf’s supporters in both the houses of the parliament. That proverbially is, an attempt to put this most pressing issue on the back burner. The MQM and Quaid-e- Azam Muslim league have openly and categorically opposed any legal proceedings against the former president for obvious reasons.

The Legal experts opine that the act or resolution of the parliament was not at all necessary for legal action against Pervez Musharraf. This situation is reminiscent of the deadlock created by the present government in that they preconditioned the restoration of the sacked judges through the approval of the parliament. But later under the burgeoning pressure and surging agitation that seemed to threaten the power citadels in Islamabad, the deposed judiciary was reinstated by a simple executive order. The government’s lame duck and hypocritical attitude on Musharraf’s trial would be another blow to its fast plummeting popularity graph. The government should not demonstrate its brazen propensity for protecting the violators of the law.

The MQM’s argument that if Musharraf is tried then all those who committed similar elephantine crimes and abused their powerful positions should also be tried, deserves attention and credit. There must be no ifs and buts in this regard. If the government honors this demand then it would earn the abiding gratitude of a hapless nation deceived and betrayed by the leaders since its birth. This gigantic yet the most wanted initiative would close the loop holes through which the dictators have been sneaking into the power corridors and amending or abrogating the constitution to keep their draconian hold on power.

Let us now take up the second issue of Benazir Bhutto’s murder. It should have been in fact the top priority undertaking for the PPP government because BB was not only the chairperson of the party, but an acclaimed political figure and the inheritor of the Bhutto legacy. Her untimely death at the hands of suicide assassins had in fact swerved the public opinion in favor of the PPP during the general elections held in February 2008. It was due to her backdoor deft political parleys that the exiled PPP leaders were able to return to the country. The PPP is so ungrateful to its chairperson that it doesn’t accord any reverence to her blood that was shed for the sublime cause of democracy and people’s rule.

The recipe of cover up that the PPP leaders are parroting is that since democracy has ushered in Pakistan as per wish of the late PPP leader, there was no need to hunt down and punish her assassins. This is the second bizarre attempt and unworthy attitude that the PPP is putting up to shield the assassins of a distinguished daughter of the nation and the illustrious leader of the ruling party. The question is if the democratic order had not returned to Pakistan, would the PPP still not press for catching her murderers? With the party at the helm it is more incumbent upon it to unmask her killers.

But democracy or no democracy, a Pakistani citizen if not a popular leader, has been brutally killed in broad day light. If democracy is so much precious for them that they are ready to forego the murder of their leader, then why they shy away from trying a dictator who disfigured one of the central pillars of the democracy which is the constitution by injecting into it such draconian and self perpetuating clauses as 17th amendment with a sub clause of 58-2/B. The PPP government’s stand on both these crucial issues is hardly credible. It is patently flimsy and frivolous. On one hand they shield the basher of democracy and on the hand glorify democracy to such an extent that the assassination of Benazir is swept under the carpet of democracy. The intriguing question is: who are they trying to protect and why are they adamantly pleading this abominable cover up of all times? Is the blood of Benazir so cheap?

Religiosity and Fundamentalism

By Saeed Qureshi

There is quite an intensive debate raging on the prestigious forum of the ‘Family of Heart” on a striking topic “Religiosity and Fundamentalism”. The debate picked up momentum, following the assertion of Dr. Abrar Hasan that like the traditional religions, all other “isms” were also basically fundamentalist. The proponents of secularism, humanism, socialism, communism, capitalism and atheism, inter alia, have vigorously argued that primarily it was in the nature of religion alone, that it tends to be fundamentalist and backward looking. The debate is still apace and it is catapulting a very productive reservoir of intellectual output that can streamline, to a great extent, the dilemmas that have caught the imagination of the Islamic scholars and philosophers immediately after the expansion of Islamic empire beyond the Arab peninsula.

The Islamic scholastic luminaries such as Al ashari, Kindi, Arabia, Al Gazali, Ibne-Rushd and Ibne-Arabi, among others, have provided their respective outlooks on various vexatious issues that needed re-interpretation in the light of Quranic teachings. For instance Al Gazali reconciled mysticism and orthodoxy, Ibne-Bajja separated religious truth from intellectual truth. Likewise, Ibne-Arabi brought about a fusion between mysticism and philosophy. Ibne-Rush relied more on reason than theological truths. These contradictions, devolved on such unresolved questions as a perfect God and an imperfect world, an indivisbale God and a universe of multiplicity, free will and predestination and divine goodness and rampant evil.

Despite their philosophical and intellectual scrutiny of the Islamic ethos, these illustrious scholars seldom departed from the basic injunctions and precepts of Islam. The orthodoxy came under severe stress from the mystical extravaganza that maintained that for establishing a rapport and personal contact with God, religious precepts could be ignored. The orthodoxy was also threatened by the rational explanations of the thinkers and philosophers who in a way deviated from the purely clerical expositions of the fundamental teachings of Islam.

The Islamic orthodoxy or religiosity came under mystical and philosophical enquiries because it failed to satisfy the urge of the inquisitive minds with regard to justifying the viability of the fundamental beliefs in the subsequent times and in relation to the non Arab societies. The scientific discoveries have categorically nullified most of the religious beliefs that were purely based on blind faith as obligated by the religious framework. The religious interpretations are at variance with the scientific explanations of such phenomena as creation, earth, heavens, lightening, the mysterious diseases, the changes in weather cycles etc.

Despite an unending explosion of verifiable knowledge and irrefutable discoveries, the religious fundamentalists still fail to recognize them as the factual truths in comparison to the roundabout religious beliefs. There are ignorant among the humans who refuse to accept that the man has landed on the moon. The belief of “Shabe Meraj” (the night of ascension) or the night when Prophet Muhammad travelled to the heavens to meet God, has complete denial from the science. Same is the case with the commonly held belief that Prophet Muhammad performed the miracle of cutting the moon into two parts. The credulous religious followers staunchly believe that the prophet of Islam physically travelled on the back of a white horse to see God. According to the traditional dogma, the whole episode of traveling to and fro and meeting with God happened in a jiffy because the chain of the door lock was still moving and the bed was still warm when he came back from his heavenly odyssey. The fundamentalists among the religious believers would never abandon their obscurantist and irrational beliefs no matter how big the evidence, to the contrary, is produced before them.

Fundamentalism means irreconcilably believing in the religious edicts, creed and doctrines, traditions, customs and rituals that are believed to be prevalent at the inception of a certain religion and were unfolded by the founders of religions on behalf of God. While reverting to the past, these fundamentalist votaries and believers of particular faith fail to comprehend or acknowledge the huge, grandiose and radical changes that continue to happen in the human society with the time passage. However, they firmly hold that their creed was unchangeable and was valid for all times. Therefore, barring subjective beliefs residing in the minds, there is always a running dichotomy and contradiction in the practical implementation of the religious laws and edicts relating to socio-economic, state affairs or to jurisprudence.

For instance the punishments in the Islamic justice system seem to be barbaric and redundant. These being of tribal nature, enshrine summary trials and on the spot executions. The punishments like slaughtering the felons, beheading or chopping of limbs even for small felonies, would be too barbaric to be accepted in the modern refined societies. The cardinal point to capture is that the punishments should not be awarded as revenge but only as deterrence against crimes. Irrespective of religious edicts, a society or community can evolve its own laws to combat crimes or dispense justice.

The laws and decrees of religion that, on the face, look absurd, irrational, inhuman or impracticable or collide with the laws of the land need to be amended or discarded. That is why for reinterpreting Islamic legal system, various schools founded by Muslim jurists and theologians have been coming to the fore in the past several centuries. The four among these: Hanifites, Malikites, Shafiites and Hanbalites, are outstandingly famous. There is a provision in Islam for Ijtehad (re-interpretation) of Islamic teachings, if need be, to make them acceptable and compatible with the changing situations and times.

It is here that the fundamentalists refuse or resist any change, whatsoever, even brought about within the framework of Islam and without departing from its pristine theme or spirit. For instance Islam calls for justice but to insist that the head of the government should be called a caliphate and that he should roam in the streets of a city and award punishments on the spot is out of sync with the paradigms of modern complex and heavily populated societies. This is the true picture for dispensation of Islamic justice that the fundamentalists harbor in their minds. The fundamentalism, therefore, spurs controversy. The controversy comes up because of the confusing and complicated and hard to practice religious precepts.

In my view, apart from having verbal or subjective beliefs in the fundamental teachings of the religions, like the five basic beliefs and observance of five obligations in Islam, the other laws and injunctions with regard to the governance, state, economy politics and similar subjects should be allowed to be reinterpreted by the society and state. The Muslim family laws particularly about rape is a non starter and totally discriminatory against females. The polygamy too is not looked at with approval by most of the people. There are countless such decrees and religious orders that are either redundant or militate against such reformed laws framed and synthesized by the human beings in keeping with the changing conditions. Religious laws cannot be altered. So religious fundamentalism is bound to lag behind and practically remain a failure if kept intact. Also, the sects and denominations offer their respective interpretations which further render the fundamentalism unfit as a unified code to be followed by the community as one consensual body of beliefs.

Talking about other isms, the fact is that unlike religious tenets, these doctrines were not founded by individuals or apostles, nor were these established or imposed in the name of an almighty divine power. The nature of these isms is not static or rigid and is subject to change. After the First World War, the orthodox form of communism was practiced in several communist countries but was gradually either abandoned or amended. We cannot empathically claim that the existing models of communism in vogue in China, Russian, Cuba or Venezuela are cut and dried systems devised by Carl Marx or other thinkers. Let us correct ourselves that Carl Marx’s “Das Capitol” is neither a scripture nor the starting point for communism or socialism. There is a trail of thinkers and social scientists even before him who had been writing on these new doctrines. These are purely systems and not religious creed that cannot change. As such these philosophies were of progressive nature and not of rigidly fundamental import.

The argument that since all these new philosophical movements and intellectual or socio-economic theories embody certain basic themes and ideas, these also carry the color of fundamentalism, is patently spurious. The capitalism too has been undergoing changes and of late we can see that even in the western capitalist countries there was a mix of the best of both capitalism and socialism. In China too, fundamentally a communist country, has markedly departed from the strait jackets of communism. There is unimaginable investment from the capitalist entrepreneurs in China. The barriers between different economic and social systems are gradually vanishing as the world is moving towards becoming a global village.

The intellectual output of Greek philosophers namely, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, among others, though being from the bygone times is still progressive in contents because these form a basis on which the option of heaping more knowledge and refinement is always open.

There has been a mammoth intellectual debate going on for centuries on their applicability in the changing times. There have been modifications and there have been consensus on these. But the difference between this kind of fundamentalism and that of religious is that while intellectual knowledge is always subject to modifications, the religious discourses brook no inquiry, questioning or rebuttals.

Secularism may not be treated as fundamental as religion is. Rather it is placed on the other side of the fence. Secularism has no starting point nor does it have a founder or scriptural background or divine authority. It was there when the era of religions has not yet started. It resides in human mind and is therefore of permanent nature. It assumes the role of a contender of religion when religion subjects the freedom of thought and daily life to fixed rules. Secularism aims at liberating the human mind, social life, politics and state from the influence or control of religion. A man can be both secular and religious provided he is not a bigot or who doesn’t blindly follow the religious edicts. Despite having a religion he keeps his options open for respecting all religions or sidetracking all of them.

The secularism cannot have the touch of fundamentalism because like religion it does not restrict or forbid someone in the name of divine authority or a spiritual code to remain within its ambit or else face the fearful consequences. There is no heresy or apostasy in secularism to be punished with death. The outstanding Muslim philosopher Ibne Rushd postulated separation of religion and philosophy which clears indicates his secular mind. Ibne Bajja (Avempace) advocated the separation of religious truths from the intellectual truths because of the incompatibility between them. Although these thinkers were Muslims by faith, yet by virtue of their philosophy, they were seculars as well. Again the essential difference between a fundamental religionist and a secularist is that while the former is bound to remain rigid the latter can alter or abandon his religious convictions.

Except the British writer George Holyoake who used the term secular for the first time in 1851, there is no other historical evidence that suggest that it was started by a certain individual or group as a movement like a religion. That certainly obviates it from being categorized under fundamentalism. The definition of secularism as given in Wikipedia is so apt. It says, “In its most prominent form, secularism is critical of religious orthodoxy and asserts that religion impedes human progress because of its focus on superstition and dogma rather than on reason and the scientific method”

Finally, let us now move our attention to atheism, which certainly is the antithesis of religion. Religions are mostly anchored on the belief in an all powerful divine authority or a universal soul. Atheism while negates the existence of God or such divine super power, it does not wholly discard the religion in its secular or social dimensions. It may look odd to so many but the atheist cannot make themselves ideally aloof from the religious rituals that encompass human chores and daily life. Atheism does not have a history or a founder.

Like secularism it is born and lives in the human minds that reflect on such aspects as universe, God, creation and existence. The theory of evolution laid the first corner stone for man to ponder over the creation of this magnificent universe without a creator. Such queries come to the mind because of the unsatisfactory, irrational and flimsy explanations dished out by the religions regarding these issues. While the three Abrahamic religions believe in an omnipotent power as the creator, the other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Shinto etc, offer complex and incredible mythological fables for the creation of world, the life after death and salvation etc. So naturally God’s real nature and identity becomes hazy and it is here that the belief in God starts faltering. Otherwise, God has never, directly and without the help of apostles, clarified his own being or certified if religions were from him or not.

Pakistan Government VS Supreme Court

By Saeed Qureshi

A paradigm of stalemate is shaping up between the Supreme Court and the government of Pakistan on the question of trying former president Pervez Mushrraf for treason under caveat 6 of the constitution. The government seems to be sidetracking the follow-up action on Supreme Court’s historic verdict of July 31 2009 that declared the proclamation of the emergency and suspension of the constitution, on November 3, 2007 by Musharraf, as unconstitutional or for that matter a treasonable act.

Suspecting that the court would give a decision against his re-election as the army head, Musharraf, as Chief of the Army Staff, declared a state of emergency on November 3, 2007. Besides, he issued PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order) to replace the constitution. The impostion of emergency by Mushrraf in 2007 has been decsibed as the second martial which accentuates the seriousness of the charges against him.

The government seems to be reluctant to undertake the follow-up action in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision one of which is to try the former president for treason and for violation of the constitution of Pakistan patently done to stay in power. The latest intention of government’s feet dragging is evidenced in Prime Minister Gilani’s statement which pre-conditions the treason trial against Mushrraf to the total unanimity in the parliament on this issue. This gives inkling about the strategy of the government aimed at placing this issue in the cold storage indefinitely. At the same time it shows government’s tacit resolve to protect the former president for the reasons best known to the big bosses in the government.

It’s highly improbable that the government would like to muster such a unanimous parliamentary support and therefore despite court’s ruling the issue would remain as dead as ever. The unanimity or complete consensus in the parliament is an uphill and unachievable order because the Muslim League (Q) and the MQM would not agree to the trial of Mushrraf for treason or for any other reason. Mushrraf has been the mentor and chief patron of these two parties. Prime Minister Gilani’s statement is primarily to assure these two pro- Mushrraf parties who are also government’s coalition partners that there was no chance of any foreseeable action against Mushrraf.

The Pakistan People’s Party generally and President Zardari specially are beholden to Mushrraf for giving them an unusual pardon under NRO( National Reconciliation Ordinance) to come out of oblivion and long exile and jump into the bandwagon of power. President Zardari who succeeded his late wife as party’s chief, later turned his back on Musharraf. He cleverly manipulated and exploited the combined clout of his own party, the PML(N), some other political parties as well as the earth shaking movement of the civil society components most notably the lawyers, managed to elbow Mushrraf out of presidency. All of sudden and in a matter of a few months, he became the president of Pakistan himself.

It should be remembered that once in power, the PPP, despite earlier solemn pledges refused to reinstated the judges deposed by Pervez Mushrraf. It was after much upheaval resulting from the lawyers’ movement and civil society that it finally succumbed and reinstated the deposed judges through an executive order on March 16 2009. Even at that time the government offered many excuses one of which was to reinstate the judges through the parliament. It is adopting the same tactics even now. In all probability it would suffer the same humiliation and backtracking as it faced in case of the judges’ reinstatement. The government has lost surfeit of its credibility already. It would shed more trust of the people if it doesn’t move fast on the trial of Pervez Mushrraf.

After obtaining Musharraf’s resignation, as a quid pro quo for NRO, the PPP would not proceed further against him. Hence the unconscionable dithering by the ruling party on the most pressing question of trial of Mushrraf! The fear of the government is that If it goes ahead with Musharraf’s trial without consensus of the parliament, the pro Mushrraf parties may leave the government exposing it to an imminent fall. Once the government is dismantled, there is no chance that it can regain power even in the distant future. So their strategy aims at stalling the trial of former president as long as they can manage it.

But the statement of PML (N) leader, Mian Nawaz Sharif is ominous and loaded with a kind of threat or ultimatum in that he has categorically rejected the unanimity proposal. It’s a replay of the same situation when Mushrraf chose to have a head on collision with the former chief justice and sacked him and three scores of other senior judges whipping a storm that ultimately cast him away. Hence strange turn of fortunes: the exiled Zardari is the president and the powerful president is now in exile. Power game is certainly very ruthless.

There is a lesson for the incumbent PPP government to learn from the happenings since the fateful day of sacking of senior judges. If a collision with Supreme Court of Pakistan could not help Mushrraf who was also a military general, how could it stand in good stead for Zardari with a tainted past and under the burden of serious criminal cases swept under the carpet of NRO. Zardari as the president enjoys immunity under the constitution not to be prosecuted. But can he stop the public uproar in case his party dilly dallies on bringing the former president to explain his side of story before the court.

The Supreme Court’s decision of July 31 is being nationally hailed as landmark and a spectacular breakthrough against the authoritarianism in all forms. It is being hailed also because for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the judiciary as a civil society organ has triumphed over the military dictatorship. Also the ascendency of democratic forces over the autocracy has been upheld.

But it appears that the present government is missing the inherent dangers in the policy of neutralising the Supreme Court’s ruling and milestone decision. It should seriously weigh that is it profitable for it to support Mushrraf and its coalition partners in the government for a short gain or earn the plaudits of the people of Pakistan for taking a principled stand by respecting the superior judiciary’s verdict with absolute sincerity and honesty. Deception and delay is going to be counter-productive. The consequent loss of power as a result of public outcry, with the PML taking the lead, would be irredeemably disastrous. It’s time to demonstrate statesmanship and not chicanery and acrobatic feats.

What has gone wrong with Pakistani lawyers?

By Saeed Qureshi

The lawyers of Pakistan are running amok. They are up in arms against the other organs of the civil society especially the media. They rough-up the reporters and cameramen covering the functions. They resort to physical assaults on police officials sent by their superiors for law enforcement and maintenance of peace. Of late, the much appreciated judicial activism seems to be replaced with judicial rowdyism. These lawyers who have demonstrated themselves to be rough necks and goons, are deliberately side stepping the decency and rule of law they are supposed to cherish and safeguard.

It is such a distasteful phenomenon that of all the, the lawyers should take the law in their hands and violate the code of conduct they have sworn and obliged to serve with dignity and composure. It is again beyond comprehension that lawyers can enter into physical brawls with government functionaries or members of media. The footages that were displayed on the Television network, the advocates and custodians of law are throwing punches on cornered policeman: an eye sore spectacle, enough the sully the conduct and name of these practioners of one of the most venerated professions in the human society.

In a society already groaning under the inexorable violence and lawlessness and even terrorism, the legal community should have, with girded loins, protect and plead for weak and vulnerable sections and members of the society. But on the contrary, they seem to have joined hands with the tormenters of the society. The black coat that was looked upon as a shield and protective armor against the vile and wicked elements of the society has turned out to be a garment worn by desperadoes. The virtues of tolerance, forbearance, patience and good cheer have taken leave of our saviors of justice system in that they have starting settling their scores by violent means and physical fights. The legal profession stands debased and dishonored by these few individuals who are up to this raucous behavior either by design or by a dangerous metamorphosis in their personalities.

All said and done, it is doubtful that a legal graduate can stoop so low as to pounce upon the chosen targets like bird or beast of prey. Can it be reckoned that a fistful among the lawyers community want to over-turn the good name that the legal fraternity earned during the past two years as the vanguard in the historic movement for revival of democracy and independence and prestige of judiciary. The senior cadres of the lawyers are in a state of shock and quandary as to what was happening to some of their counterparts.

Now the catch is that if any legal action is taken by the superior or junior courts against these raucous lawyers for disorderly demeanor, they and their cohorts will raise hell and heaven against the judges. They would with mala-fide intentions, attempt to malign and slander the restored judges and all those who were in the forefront against the unconstitutional measures of the former president Mushrraf. Should we conjure that by behaving in such a crazy manner, these judges are trying to divide thus-far monolithic and cohesive brotherhood of the lawyers. Whether they are backed by the Musharraf lobby or have blessing of the incumbent government, the sordid fact has already been indelibly recorded in the legal annals of Pakistan, that a most civilized community can turn vicious for pedaling the narrow interests. This is a kind mutiny that would remain tagged with these lawyers for all time to come. Unless they recant and atone for their gross misconduct, they would be exposed as opportunist rabble rousers and fifth columnist among their peers and within the legal community.

Ironically there has not been much debate or resentment shown by the senior lawyers on this extremely bizarre behavior of their fellow payers. The muted and negligible protest has only stemmed from Aitzaz Ahsan, who in sheer frustration and perhaps in a state of helpless has suspended his membership of the Lahore Bar Association. Otherwise, it is all quiet on the front of Supreme Court Bar Association or the bars at provincial or district levels.

For a common man this eerie silence on the part of collective judicial community is disquieting and hard to be plausible or justified. Is it possible that the superior judiciary can move to rein in the felonious activities of these riotous lawyers? At the same the respective bar councils must disavow and denounce the questionable conduct of these violent and roguish lawyers. A tussle between the media and the jurists would sound a death knell for the civil society in Pakistan. In all fairness, the media, in this entire fracas, stands absolved of any wrong doing. The onus is on the inexplicable, aggressive behavior of a few unruly members of the bar.

Communal Crusade against Christians

By Saeed Qureshi

Imagine how well entrenched is the religious bigotry in Pakistan that it has claimed 10 lives of poor and downtrodden Christians. They were burnt alive in their shanty dwellings in Gojra town of Punjab province. A frenzied crowd of Muslims took it upon themselves to act as latter day crusaders to put the Christians to death for an unsubstantiated charge of sacrilege of Quran. Even if the defilement of Quran had been committed what authority these sham upholders of Islam have had to commit the genocide of harmless and innocent citizens of Pakistan.

It makes a mockery of the law of the land. In a country beset with such monstrous problems as poverty, hunger, ignorance, precarious law and order, civic mayhem and poor governance, corruption ad squalid, there is a segment of society that can afford the beastly luxury of besieging and massacring the helpless minority underdogs by torching their houses.

There is nothing wrong with the religion Islam; these are its believers who paint their religion with the color of human blood. Desecration of Quran or the prophet has been a handy tool for the religious mischief mongers and heartless bigots to brutalize and kill the non-Muslims. The law and civil society is aghast at such gross misconception and misapplication of a religion that means peace and that teaches tolerance to the ultimate limit. The sectarianism coupled with communalism has hollowed the very foundations of Pakistan and indeed jeopardized its viability as a state.

One wonders if this is the Pakistan that was conceived and fought for by its founders and freedom fighters. In such a land, they envisaged, not only that the Muslim faithful would be free to practice Islam but the minorities too would be at liberty to observe their faith without let and hindrance, as the equal citizens of Pakistan.

In the face of a nerve shattering chaos, the civil war, the breakdown of civic infrastructure, the corrupt, licentious, ingenious cabal at the helm in Pakistan, the people at large tend to kill for non issues such as the purposely drummed up charges of sacrilege of holy books and holy men. What a mind boggling evasion and digression from the blazing priorities! Such incidents place a pal of gloom and misery over a society that is already on the way to intellectual degeneration and social and moral bankruptcy.

With the latest burning of the defenseless Christians in a remote village of Punjab followed by horrendous slaying of three more individuals in Sheikhupura for the same phony reason, one is at wits’ end, how easy was it to ignite a communal melee in Pakistan and to rob the people of their common sense and civility. The affected families whose dear ones have been killed, would not settle mentally for a long time to come or perhaps never. The monetary compensation given by the Punjab government to the bereaved families cannot wash away the grief of an orphan or the pain of a mother or father.

These gruesome killing in the name of religion by the fanatic members of the majority religion, are a grim reminder of the age of barbarous inquisitions. The inquisitions were tribunals set up in Europe by the orthodox Roman Catholic Church to suppress apostasy. According to an account,” the inquisition started an era of religious persecution that resulted in abuses, false and anonymous denunciations, murder, robbery, torture and slow death of thousands who dared to believe differently from the church. Freedom of religious expression was stifled.”

The Roman Catholic Church has been brutally suppressing the dissenting sects for about a thousand years (500 A.C.-1550 A. C.) Under the orders of the Pope a crusade was mounted against the Albigenses, a 12th century breakaway Christian movement in France. Around 20000 members of this sect, including children women and men were butchered by the Catholic fanatics.

Pakistan is no different from the medieval Europe that was teetering under the iron hand of Roman Catholic Pope. The only difference is that while the Roman Church was a state by itself, in Pakistan the religious fundamentalism comprising various Islamic sects has assumed that role. The occupation of Swat and Dir by Taliban was an attempt to establish a kind of papal state a la Roman Orthodox Church. Earlier they succeeded in establishing their sway on Afghanistan, where in the light of the Taliban’s enforced typical Shariah, the inquisition style persecutions and summary punishments were awarded to the “apostates” and “heretics”.

The religious frenzy and extremism has been patronized in Pakistan by rulers to use them as a bulwark and as an effective counterpoise against the forces of freedom and liberalism. Ziaul Haq was one such dictator who very cunningly used the religious outfits and their powerful influence to browbeat his political opponents. Invariably, other rulers too had fallen prey to the intimidating clout of the religious mafia. They cajoled and appeased them in order to stay in power and to remain immune from the religious rowdyism.

Even an enlightened Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, whose slogan was a mix of socialism, democracy and Islam, had to succumb to the pressure and power of the religious parties and sects. He surrendered before the whims of the religious gangs to such an extent that instead of making Pakistan a democratic and liberal state, he in turn converted into a kind of theocracy. That was a complete somersault against his declared agenda and slogan. That self serving compromise with the forces of retrogression and primitivism became one of the causes for his downfall.

So the present government in Pakistan should remain on the high alert against this sectarian bloodshed which can proliferate and divert the attention from tribal offensive against religious militants to the internal turmoil. The government should brook no lethargy or complacency in coming down with a heavy hand on these ferocious orthodox militants. Pakistan needs to be cleared of these trouble makers who are being more ruinous as Muslims than the non-Muslims. Sectarianism and communalism has to be suppressed at any cost. Pakistan has got to be a liberal, democratic, modern enlightened state with a civil society. This is the best time to do so.

Miracles do Happen!

By Saeed Qureshi

Miracles do happen. Here in Dallas Shaikh Hafiz Ameer Ahmad Khan is blessed with astounding powers in his Dua (prayer) to heal visibly incurable maladies. His prayers bring jobs to the jobless, prosperity to the impoverished and hope to the despairing. His Dua is a medium that brings happiness to the distressed and solace to the melancholy. These are not just inane assertions or mere gossip. There are here in Dallas quite a few living beneficiaries who would vouch for his spectacular healing power, amazing grace, and God gifted Messianic faculty.

Here is Safdar Iqbal a Pakistani national, who was declared “legally dead” in Parkland hospital. He was admitted in the hospital in a state of coma on May, 1 2009 and walked out of the hospital cured on May 18, 2009. That was the outcome of Hafiz’s Sahib’s 30 minute prayer beside his bed on the first day. His dazzled doctor is on the way to embracing Islam.

There is a letter in the dossier of Hafiz Ameer Khan written by a couple. It reveals how the conceiving of a child by the couple was impossible for a variety of factors but Shaikh’s Dua made it possible. How an inevitable C section for the birth of the same child was converted into a normal delivery again thanks to the prayer of Hafiz Ameer. The couple expressed their deep gratitude to their spiritual healer and is beholden to him forever.

The story of a baby born to a barren women, to the recovery of several women with cancer, the healing of skin cancer, to the incredible vanishing of brain tumor are all incidents written by the affected people themselves. Yet this is not an exhaustive list. I have seen at least 20 such statements addressed to Hafiz Ameer Khan about his Dua and its miraculous results. I shall specifically mention here the case of Sami Qureshi’s son. I happen to know Mr. Qureshi personally for the reason that he particularly mentioned to me the astonishing impact of Hazart Ameer Khan’s prayer on the extremely infirm health condition of his infant child born with a hole in his tender heart.

Mohammad Hassan Qureshi, later named as “Miracle Baby”, was born premature and therefore, needed a surgery to repair his heart. While the preparations were underway for the surgery, the child on more than one occasions, developed multiple serious complications, one of which was the kidney’s going dysfunctional. Finally the open heart surgery was performed that was successful. During this traumatic period lasting for about 12 months, the medical treatments and the prayers of Hafiz Ameer were, complementing each other. The heart surgery that appeared to be a risky affair in the beginning turned out to be decidedly smooth and successful. The doctors too were simply dumbfounded to find how a tiny child with multiple precarious complications would so positively respond to the various levels of treatment. The child is now a playful boy with normal health.

With all humility and humbleness at his command, Shaikh Ameer is proud to call himself as the slave and servant of God. After his Isha prayers he retreats to his prayer room and throws him into a communication bond with the creator of the universe. He remains in a state of complete meditation, devotion and unison with Allah till the morning or the Fajar prayer. Such is the devoutness and association of Hafiz Ameer with the Lord. At an age of 82 he remains in a trance of complete submission, like a dutiful servant to his master and the sustainer of the world. And he is following this sublime undertaking of being one with God for countless years. There is a term “Fana” (Passing away of one’s self) used by the mystics. This doctrine of Fana was first developed by the famous mystic Bayazid Bustami of Persia. Another doctrine of “union with the divine” was enunciated by Junaid Baghdadi, whose pupil Mansur Hallaj (922 AD) went to the extent of making the famous statement that “I am God”.

Mansur Hallaj in fact transgressed the limits set by Islamic Shariah. But to the limit that “there is nothing but God” or God manifests himself in everything was acceptable as these proclamations fall within the orbit of Islam. In case of Shaikh Ameer, he unquestionably remains in communion with God through his heart and mind. He is a practicing Muslim who dutifully observes all the tenets of Shariah and pristine obligations ordained by Islam. In fact his relationship with God is three fold: he is his humble servant, he is a staunch Muslim and he is immersed in him as a Sufi believing in the mystical dimension of Fana, or “Fana-fiz-Zat.”

That is why his prayers are answered by almighty God. With his complete dedication and attendance before the invisible, yet omnipresent and omniscient God, Shaikh Ameer invokes the mercy, compassion and blessings of God. God listens to one of his most devoted subjects and acknowledges his imploring. As Shaikh told me, it is seldom that what he prayed was not fulfilled. Hafiz prays for the people who are needy, helpless forlorn, grief stricken, infirm or with severe health problems. And it is all “Fee Sabilillah” or in simple words without any charge or monetary return and contributions as is customary in case of holy men, issuing amulets to the credulous.

One of the unforgettable incidents that Shaikh narrated to me is about Abdullah Yusuf Ali, the legendary translator of the holy Quran. When Shaikh Ameer was a student in London, Abdullah Yusuf Ai also lived in that English metropolis. They met each other frequently. Abdullah was extremely dejected and heartbroken due to the infidelity of his English wife. He was a lonely figure living in a state of complete agony and isolation. One day he died on the street and was placed in a mortuary. Hafiz Ameer Khan traced him. He earned the divine blessings for giving him the Islamic ceremonial bath and leading his Namaz-e- Janaza or funeral prayer. Abdullah’s name would remain immortal for his unique work of rendition of Quran in English. No one can snatch from him this matchless distinction and singular honor.

Shaikh Hafiz hails from an ancestry of Hafiz-e Quran (the learners of Quran by heart). His mother, father, grandfather and the great grandfather besides being Hafiz-Quran, were well versed in the Islamic Fiqa or jurisprudence. So the piety, rectitude and love with Islam and unflinching belief in God lie in his veins. So it is a family of saints and devout Muslims to which Hafiz Ameer belongs. They, also like Shaikh Ameer, had their mystical candor and all of them drank deeply at the fountain of mysticism and spiritualism. Hafiz Ameer is the embodiment of a synthesis between mysticism and Islamic teachings. He has traversed the entire arduous course in Tassawwuf (mysticism) in the lineage of Naqshbandi, Qadiria and Chishitia: the three famous schools and fraternities of Sainthood.

An anecdote of his yester years that he told me sends the chills down the spine of a listener. It is instructive as well as amazing in that the curse of a saint in a peculiar moment of the majesty of his ire can spell doom for the offender. A Jewish judge had uttered some very profane and vitriolic words about the last prophet of God. These highly sacrilegious words could be offensive even to a non Muslim with an iota of humanity and civility.

Hafiz Ameer asked him four times to withdraw his words. When he did not do so, Sheikh warned him “you will soon have consequences for your utterance”. After a few hours when the judge was going from his court room to the car porch he collapsed and died. Hafiz Ameer was charged for putting black magic on the judge, but thanks to the diplomatic immunity that he enjoyed for being a diplomat in the British Foreign service, he remained unhurt.

Shaikh Ameer has many devotees all over in USA and elsewhere. He keeps showering his benedictions and blessings upon those who seek his spiritual succor. He is selfless and cannot be ranked among the traditional peers (holy men) who are materialistic and thrive on donations and charities. He is accessible to all.

The Racial Discord in American Society

By Saeed Qureshi

The altercation between the black Harvard scholar Henry Gates and Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley brings into sharp focus the simmering racial disharmony in the American society. The issue became so much vexatious that the president of the United States had to acknowledge the flawed calibration of his words “acted stupidly” nonchalantly uttered to portray the handcuffing of Gates by a white police sergeant. In the heat of the issue being blown out of proportions by his antagonists, the president found himself in a tightened situation to debunk his earlier remarks. That was tantamount to a tacit apology.

The president himself a bi-racial offspring, came under a burgeoning burden to speedily stem the surging crescendo of racial profiling charge against him. The Cambridge police joined hands with Sergeant Crowley in chiding the president for whipping up a racial comment, which they blamed was ostensibly in favor of the black community and against the white race.

The Caucasian sergeant was appeased by the presidential explanation but subjected it to the condition of having beer with the president. Such a beer session was held and visibly the two contenders seemed to be pacified. The message was loud and clear that a white offended sergeant could be pacified by no less a person than the black president of the United States. Later, a trio of Massachusetts police unions lauded the president’s “willingness to reconsider his remarks about the Cambridge Police Department.” On this occasion, the president looked overly somber and sad. But indeed with his hasty retreat and recalibration of his previous statement, he successfully managed to contain a crisis pregnant with serious consequences.

Notwithstanding the moot point as to who was right and who was wrong, the fact that stares right in the face is that the racial tension was lying at the bottom of this ocean of societal tranquility called the United States of America. The racism invariably creeps in between the American ethnic groups in their dealings with each other. The ethnic and racial aversion has remained a constant denominator between various communities since the colonial era.

It is still present on moderate levels between the majority and minority races on one hand and between the minority factions on the other. The animus between the ethnic communities towards each other flares up in gang wars on the streets of America. It usually occurs between the white and black communities, between Latinos and Blacks and between the Viet-namese immigrants and others. The drugs, manpower trafficking, prostitution and racial discriminations are some of the major causes for such wars.

The American society can be broadly, divided into five categories. These are the Caucasian or the white settlers, the black community brought as salves in America during the colonial periods, the Mexicans usually known as Hispanics or Latinos, the native Indians and finally the rest of immigrant races put together.. All the three major races viz. black, white and Hispanic have their street gangs. By 1999, Hispanics accounted for 47% of all the gang members, Blacks 34%, Whites 13%, and Asians (mostly Viet-Namese) 7%. The Black community that was brought to USA as slaves centuries ago is nomenclatured as African Americans.

The racial profiling is a serious offense according to the constitution of the United States of America, yet human nature cannot be completely curbed by laws. While race prejudices do exist at social levels, the American constitution treats them all as equals. The racial slurs or slanders can be challenged in the courts. But such cases are seldom subjected to litigation and are mostly settled out of courts.

Customarily in the high profile jobs such as judges, the police officers, the executives of the big companies, the senior positions in the educational institutions and elsewhere, the ratio of the white community is higher. It could be due to their being a majority race. In political sphere although whites are predominant, yet by the very nature of party politics, the members of other races are also elected for various offices within the party or in the government.

The African-American community and Mexican population, each is in the vicinity of 14-16 % of the entire population of 300 million. The non Hispanic whites or Caucasians are about 66 per cent and the Afro/Asian Americans are around 5 per cent. The Hispanic immigrants and the Asian communities are relatively docile and keep low profiles. The African Americans tend to be distinctly aggressive and assertive, understandably as a reaction to their historic enslavement, discrimination and segregation in the past

The life pattern of all these major races, although is colored by the American culture, yet in varying degrees they still endeavor to look distinct. Of course the color of their skin visibly makes them different. But also by way of their talk, living in their homes, their prayers, rituals, food habits, the costumes they wear, the slangs they use in their speech and by a variety of other social behaviors, they appear to be different.

The strong semblance of cohesion that we witness in America is due to a constitutional and social sense of equality that everyone enjoys. At least there is a self satisfying hope that the system is anchored in strict accountability. The inhabitants have access to the legal recourse and a variety of other remedies, available to protect the citizens against injustice, crimes, denial or abuse of their fundamental rights. The access to social benefits and justice does not discriminate between the citizens on any count. The common jobs are open to all irrespective of their color, religion or gender. Whosoever qualifies on the basis of a check list and needed skills would get the job. The jobs are offered even on internet without going into the race, complexion or color of the applicant.

Yet the racial schism remains hidden which once given an outlet, such as the one created by the encounter between the black professor Gates and white sergeant Crowley, makes headlines. The sentiments ignite and mutual bickering and squabbles through speech and in the press start appearing. It is basically between the white and black communities that the racism has always remained an issue. The other ethnic communities seldom air their dissention or voice against the discrimination, disrespect or intemperance experienced by them.

Barring the black community, the other immigrants were subsequently assimilated into the American society by naturalization or through other means. However, the African Americans were with the white communities from the early civil war periods and the formative days of the federation. So they can claim to be as founding generations as the white settlers were. They have a stronger claim to have pioneering role in making America as compared to the other citizens who came to America as immigrants in the later times. But the color has always been a dominant and dormant factor for divisions between the white and the black races. And the other cause for a slumbering aversion towards each other is the slave and master relationship that lurks in the minds of the black races.

The immigrants of all shades and ethnic backgrounds have been, singularly undergoing agonizing tribulations after the 9/11 catastrophe. Correspondingly, with the steep fall in the in-flow of foreigners ranging from investors to the odd workers, students and visitors, the U.S. economy is also suffering setbacks no matter how marginal these might be. The inflow of the legal immigrants too has considerably declined due to enhanced procedural bottlenecks such as the background verifications that take years. The American citizens find themselves under an invisible and incessant surveillance umbrella that makes most of the aliens insecure and paranoid. It would be a miracle if someone labeled as a terror suspect gets a free and speedy clearance chit from the American courts. Such are the aberrations of a nation that remains under the perpetual trauma and specter of 9/11 terrorism blitzkrieg.