Friday, December 26, 2014

Modi Cannot Fix India

December 26, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

The euphoria that erupted following the victory of BJP in the recent Indian general elections and the appointment of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India seems to be abating. The defeat of BJP in the Kashmir Valley elections is a potent indicator that BJP could suffer similar setbacks in the time to come.

The monumental backlash that has been witnessed from the Muslims and moderate Hindus alike on the move of forcibly converting the Muslims and the Christians to Hinduism is yet another devastating stunner that can whip up a gigantic upheaval to debase Modi and his party.

Narendra Modi is a Hindu Nationalist and a member of the Rashtriya Swayyamsevak Sangh (RSS). Since his election, the right wing hard-line groups Sangh Parivar (an umbrella of organizations), are aggressively championing the concept of Hindutva.
The Sangh Parivar comprises organizations such as the Rashtriya   Swayyamsevak Sangh      (RSS), Bharatiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and others. These right wing extremist groups have become overly active and are openly calling for the transformation of India into a Hindu nation state or Hindutva through conversions by force or enticements.
Modi remained the chief minister of Gujarat from October 2001 to May 2014. He should be given credit for various far reaching reforms that greatly streamlined the governance and markedly improved quality of life in that state. However the Gujarat riots of 2002 has blemished Modi and his party BJP for mass killings of the Muslims.
Despite India’s democratic and secular credentials, patently, she has the image of a Hindu state. Lately, a junior minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti told a public rally in New Delhi that those who do not follow the Hindu god Ram were "bastards”. Ever since the ascension of BJG to power, several conversions have taken place forcing the Christians and the Muslims to Hinduism.
 In the southern Indian state of Kerala, 30 Christians were converted to Hinduism. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, around 100 Muslims converted to Hinduism. This forcible conversion of minority population continues by the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Dal and the members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council.
India suffers from a host of endemic problems that cannot be fixed so soon not even by Prime Minister Modi attributed to be an economic maverick. The most outstanding of these problems are colossally galloping population, high rate of corruption, poor and woefully inadequate and ramshackle socio-civic infrastructure. The other bottlenecks hampering rapid or sustained advancement of India are religious, racial and caste based deep and unbridgeable prejudices and discords.
There are other grave issue that by any measure cannot be fruitfully and expeditiously addressed by Modi in his term if office. Some of these are inadequate education facilities, environmental degradation, grinding poverty, woeful health conditions and the burgeoning crimes like rape, dowry deaths, and flurry of suicides, sexism and domestic violence.
The main reason behind the rampant poverty is the mushrooming population that of late stands at 1.27 billion. The pace of social and economic development remains far behind and out of sync with the scale at which the population is growing. Some 456 million people live below the international poverty line. Around 236 million make less than a paltry amount of Rs. 20 per day.
According to available statistics, the sanitation and public health are even worse in India than many of the African countries. It is reported that barring 31% of population utilizing reasonable sanitation facilities, the rest of the population, more-often-than-not, defecates in public or in rivers. It has been further estimated that every ten deaths in India is linked to the poor sanitation.
One of the odious curses in India is the debt bondage mostly practiced in the agricultural areas. The farmers take small loans from the rich cartels and individuals and keep paying interest on the loans that even exceeds 100% of the loan per year.
The economy of India cannot be adjudged as healthy or robust because India has one of the largest budget deficits in the developing world. Excluding subsidies it amounts to nearly 8% of its GDP.
India deems China as the real contender or a matching rival or model for economic development. China is now emerging as number one economy for its miraculous economic achievements even beating United States. But India, by any stretch of imagination, cannot reach even half way the economic miracle of China for very cogent reasons.
In China it is the one party system and the decisions made cannot be challenged by rival political parties. The decisions are implemented within the stipulated time. Moreover, China doesn't have the level of corruption that one can see in developing nations like India and Pakistan. The projects and plans are completed in the given time frame under strict conditions of quality and durability.
India is possessed by a deep seated culture of corruption, poor infrastructure, paucity of funds; abominable caste culture, bureaucratic tangles and political bickering cannot attain the dizzying heights scaled by the Peoples’ Republic of China in economic, military social, health, education and other domains of human and social development.
In India another most daunting problem that keeps wrecking the atmosphere of internal social peace for a rapid and sustained multi-dimensional progress and rapid uplift, are scores of domestic insurgencies either for separation from the federation or attainment of autonomy. There are roughly 30 to 40 insurgencies that pose a constant threat to the unity of the federation of India. These cause human casualties on both sides and there seems to be no let up in their anti India activities.
The mighty Indian army remains busy in combating these insurgencies posing dire challenges to the territorial integrity of India at a huge cost of money and the hassle of deployments. Let us take stock of the three main insurgencies and how these are operating
 For one, the Naxalite Maoist insurgency apace now for decades has entrenched itself into the rural terrain of Central Asia. In 2006 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the Naxalite insurgency as the "single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country" There is no respite in the casualties between the Indian army and the Naxalite rebels. The Naxalite operate in 60 districts in India with epicenter in Chhattisgarh. It claims to be supported by the poorest of the rural population.
“The Naxalite–Maoist insurgency gained international media attention after the 2013 Naxal attack in Darbha Valley resulted in the deaths of around 24 Indian National Congress    leaders including the former state minister  Mahendra Karma  and the Chhattisgarh Congress chief     Nand Kumar Patel ”(Wikipedia)
In the part of Jammu and Kashmir valley under her control, India has kept a large chunk of army for decades now. The Indian controlled Kashmir erupts in periodic agitations and protests marches for liberation and against the grave human right violations perpetrated by the Indian security forces to suppress Kashmiris. 
Reportedly, since 1989 in Indian occupied Kashmir more than 68,000 Kashmiris have been killed, maimed and disappeared. The Indian army also gets its portion of casualties at the hand of the rebels. A non-binding United Nations Security Council 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, calls for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Kashmir that India has been thwarting.
Similarly Sikhs may not forget the 1984 massacre in Golden Temple and then another one after the murder of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi the same year. The Sikh separation movements such as Akali Dal may have gone dormant after the huge crackdown that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Nevertheless, the demand for Khalistan, a separate home land, for Sikhs is still alive.
Besides the internal insurgencies India has territorial disputes with all its neighbors i.e., China, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These border disputes remain to be settled between India and all her neighbors. Over the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, there have been three wars between India and Pakistan. Apart from Kashmir, both India and Pakistan have contentious claims over Sir Creek, Siachen Glacier and Kargil.
 With China India fought a brief war in 1962. “The cause of the war was a dispute over the sovereignty of the widely separated Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions. In February this year, Modi warned China to drop its “territorial mindset” and said his “country’s weakness had encouraged China’s army to enter Indian Territory last year”.
The fundamental question is, that in the face of these colossal internal and external issues threats, would it be possible for Prime Minister Modi to move a magic wand and take India out of quagmire of poverty, hunger, civic mess, poor quality of life and usher her into the fold of developed nations.”  It seems improbable during his five years term in the office. He may not even return to power in the next elections.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Heart Wrenching Tragedy That Struck Peshawar

December 17, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

On December 16, a group of seven insane human beasts stormed the Army Public School in the Peshawar city of Pakistan and murdered 141 students and instructors. It is so ghastly and colossal a tragedy that defies description in words. The students sitting in class rooms were easy prey for these terrorists. These monsters are patently defiling the name of Islam that they want to impose by force and don’t even shirk from spilling blood of the people.

The families of the innocent victims, the whole nation and even the world at large are in a state of indescribable agony, anguish and mourning.  The torrents of tears would continue flowing down the eyes of the parents no one know how long. Hundreds of families have been devastated and there is no way that their pain can be subsided. This appalling massacre of flowers of nation in such large number is perhaps the first of its kind in the recent history.

While the nations and the world mourns this gruesome carnage, the paramount question begs the answer: how to definitively and conclusively forestall and prevent such terrorism and nab and exterminate the heartless predators. If such mayhems continue to happen and give rude shocks to this nation then mark my words we neither have an ensured future nor an honorable and peaceful existence.

Have we not to cleanse the territory of Pakistan from the murderers and assassins killing the people at will and making the society hostage to their convoluted and weird interpretation of religion? Have we not to expunge the cancer of mushrooming violence and terrorism spawned by these blood hounds in the name of making Pakistan an Islamic state? These mindless and misguided jihadists are waging a religious crusade against their own people.

The gun-toting Taliban and their merciless cohorts shedding human blood for nasty designs and bleak objectives, have to be physically eliminated once and for all. Their supporters and henchmen in Pakistan and across the border in Afghanistan too have to be wiped off for the sake of peace that has remained elusive for several decades.

The state of Pakistan appeared on the map of the world in 1947 and ever since has been under siege of the relentless sway of the religious extremists who want to convert it into an orthodox country of distant past/.   How long we shall we witness these horrific mayhems and our people being ambushed and rampaged by these callous thugs and spiteful gangsters?

Let us resolve and resolve resolutely that from onwards the land of Pakistan would be made immune from the Frankenstein of fanaticism. Let us resolve to hunt them down and finish them wherever they might be: hidden in mosques, religious seminaries, in houses, in caves or under the protection of the mightiest.

The National Plan of Action announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the all parties’ conference is the first major step toward a long drawn comprehensive blitz against the terrorists, enemies of public peace and the religious fascists.  

But more needs to be done. The religious seminaries are the breeding centers for producing indoctrinated suicide bombers and Taliban fighters who bob and kill in order to be the dwellers of the paradise. All religious schools and institutions should be either closed or taken over by the government. These institutions should be integrated with the national education system with strict watch on their activities and system of teaching. The religious education can be made part of the prevalent education system and individuals or a group of bearded zealots should not be allowed to run those institutions.

The Imams of the major mosques in Pakistan should be appointed by the government like other cadres and paid like government employees. Even if this is not possible then a strict accountability and monitoring of their daily activities and education and the syllabi should be enforced. The mosques should be opened during the prayer timings and closed for the rest of the day.

The religious militant organizations spreading sectarian hatred and resorting to the target killings should be banned and their top notch leaders arrested and sentenced if they don’t desist from their ruinous pursuits. Any agitation or revolt or civil disobedience, or underground subversive activities, in the name of enforcing their respective myopic and narrow agendas, should be forcibly suppressed. Let religious freedom be ensured to the people across the board.

These recommendations are aimed at liberating the state and the society from fanatic religious marauders that have hijacked the society through fear, intimidation and heinous crimes such as   bank robberies, extortion of money, forceful recruitment of youth for suicide bombings and sectarian vendettas and blowing up girls’ schools. The mission like cleansing of Swat Valley by the army in 2007-2009 can be reenacted in the entire country.  

The Taliban and their ferocious ilk pose constant danger to the very state of Pakistan. Any attempts to change their inflexible attitude and diabolic activities are not going to fructify. Let the State deal with them with full might and sniff them out of the society. That is the only course to restore peace, establish the writ of law in Pakistan and to ensure a tolerant, egalitarian and stable society.









Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jury System is Irrelevant to Real Justice

By Saeed Qureshi
Casey Anthony in the murder charge of her young daughter Caylee Marie was acquitted by the jury in July 2011. Police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michel Brown an 18 year old black man in Ferguson Missouri last August got a no guilty verdict from the jury.  The police officer Pantaleo causing death by choke holding of  a  black male Eric Garner on July 17, 2014, in the Tompkinsville of Staten Island New York  was set free by a panel of jury. Close on the heels on November 22 again a white police officer, shot and killed a 12 year old black boy,Tamir Rice in Cleveland Ohio.                                          

In these and several similar cases, the police officer used unnecessary and excessive force and killed the suspects in full public view. These recent acquittals by the jury bring into sharp focus how fragile and irrelevant the jury system in the USA has turned out to be. The latest acquittals of police offers Darren Wilson and Pantaleo bear the impression of a racial tinge making one ponder as to how such blatant acts in full public view could be judged in favor of these two police officers.

The constitution of the United States of America deserves the highest tribute as a beacon of guidance and a magnificent model for all the democracies in the world. It would continue to serve as an invaluable embodiment of all such hallmarks that constitute civil societies. However, the American justice system is yet to reach a stage for veritable dispensation of justice to both victims and the perpetrators.

The Sixth Amendment stipulates that, “ In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of the counsel for his defense.”

An observation that I read in the New York Times so succinctly illustrates the way the American Justice is aborted. It says, “The judge’s whim is all that mattered in that courtroom. The law was basically irrelevant." (Marsha Levick, the legal director of the Juvenile Law Center, on two Pennsylvania judges who sent thousands of juveniles to detention centers for $2.6 million in kickbacks).

If any branch of the civil society is enormously independent and truly powerful in the United States, it is indeed the judiciary. Now I would not endorse the kickbacks blemish but certainly there are dark shadows that come in the way of handing out absolutely unalloyed and sparkling justice.

There is a laudable culture and tradition of strict accountability running into the body politic of the United States. Yet rarely a member of judiciary is held accountable for the miscarriage of justice willfully or otherwise. The Judges in the courts are like sovereigns and their every movement of hands and eyebrows, wrinkles of the face, the remarks uttered by way of rebuke or appreciation have to be swallowed by those attending the courts. The federal judges occasionally look like Hercules unchained.

Now the jury system is a legacy of the past when community involvement was deemed necessary to arrive at a decision. The jury consists of the people invited from various walks of life who would not have enough inkling or even rudimentary knowledge of the legal intricacies of a civil or criminal case. The jury is drawn from students, businessmen, employees or individuals from other walks of life. By law these people have to act as jury members. 

For a variety of compulsions some of them seem to be in a hurry to leave by joining others in a yes or no vote without going into the merit of the case. Some remain detached from the proceedings for not being well versed with the background of the case and accept the opinion of others.
The Jury members consult among themselves in a closed room and are later briefed for a limited time by both the prosecution and defense attorneys to formulate a unanimous verdict on which depends the future of the accused person.

Notwithstanding the debate, the arguments, the evidence, the merits of the cases, the jury members cannot comprehend the essence of the case in a few hours or a day. They may declare the person guilty despite being innocent, or innocent despite being guilty. The combined Yes or No vote renders the years of debate and discussions by the contending counsels as futile and wastage of time. In comparison to the prolonged court indulgence and counsels’ hard work, the jury verdict arrived at in a short time makes the whole difference.
Now race or ethnic background might be a very potent factor influencing the verdict of a case either by the judge or the jury. The immigrant communities usually involved in violation of traffic rules, overstaying, small felonies like a dispute between the wife and husband or a theft that can be summarily disposed off, are trapped in adjudication between the prosecution and the defense attorneys for years together.

A predominately black or white jury might be swayed by the racial or ethnic considerations thus tainting the legal process that should be absolutely fair because upon that depends the life and honor of a human being or the member of society. The prosecution and defense counsels pull every trick in their kitty to influence the verdict of the jury in their favor. Even if the jury is divided, a consensus is necessary to declare someone guilty or not guilty. This is all a matter of persuasion by the counsels, good luck or bad luck of the accused as to what kind of opinion he gets from the jury.

The jury system is indeed like a spanner in the smooth sailing of the justice system because it is superimposed and nullifies all the work done by the attorneys for a long time, on both the sides. It also makes the judge irrelevant because he is simply a dumb listener as at the end, it is jury’s one word verdict that would be final.
Prior to the jury verdict, most of the case remains stuck up in the court for final decision. The court proceedings tend to be time consuming and costly that the poor litigant can seldom afford. The overriding spirit and general attitude of the adjudicating authorities is punitive and not forgiving even in minor cases where a simple warning would be enough.

In a surfeit of cases a plea bargain is the ultimate outcome. It means, “don’t care or press for the merit of the case, get rid of the agony and accept less punishment, in order to avoid more excruciating hassle and waste of time and money”. If in many cases a plea bargain is the final outcome thanks to the quid pro quo between the contesting lawyers. 

The question is that if the final outcome is the plea bargain then why a case is kept in limbo for years. In case of choosing the option of fine to avoid the sentence, another torturous process of rehabilitation starts, leaving a person in a mentally or physically mauled state.

The professional ethics among the attorneys, lawyers and interpreters of law, occasionally, seems to fall short of the required benchmarks and norms. As one can look from a distance, there would be an effort by the defense lawyers to prolong the cases as long as they can because thus they keep the inflow of the fees and other charges intact. These are the aberrations of the justice system that do not reflect any dereliction on the part of the law makers but are at play during its practical implementation.

But one exceptionally distinctive feature of this system is the right to appeal to the upper courts that give an option and a way-out for the aggrieved persons to keep exploring and seeking the justice till the final appeal is rejected or accepted. But appealing itself is a costly undertaking and might entail heavy bills and more wastage of time of the appellants.

Now how to expunge such aberrations or lacunae? As a lay man I would recommend doing away with the jury system. I plead this because with raw knowledge in legal matters, with diverse racial and ethnic proclivities and with very little time to understand the intricacies of the case, the jury may not come up with the right decision.

This custom can be replaced with a panel of judges who as legal experts would be in a strong position to hand out a wholesome and objective decision in much shorter time. If there is more than one judge, the whims and predilection of one single judge can be effectively checked.

It should also be worthwhile if in every criminal case, the DNA evidence is made obligatory because that is the incontrovertible way to determine one’s involvement or otherwise in the crime that one is accused of committing. Now the DNA, a unique and amazing innovation of the modern age has proven that many convicts of such heinous crime as rape and murder, who were put to death, were actually innocents. 

Unambiguously, it goes to establish that there have been some very serious flaws in the U. S. justice system. 
The judges come to the bar through elections and by votes of the community. This system speaks for the grassroots democratic culture and is praiseworthy. But the qualifications of the judges and legal arbiters some time are not up to the mark to entitle them to hold these immensely crucial and delicate public offices and also to perform in a highly professional manner.

In my view, the election of the judges should be replaced by a panel of experts who should thoroughly scrutinize the professional credentials of the candidates and recommend the most qualified or eligible among them. This is how a fully competent person can be chosen who would not take sides in favor of certain community members that were instrumental in his election victory.

Or else in case of judges being appointed through voting process, a pre-screening exercise should be undertaken to approve their suitability to contest for the post of a judge. This would ensure his professional competence to rightly interpret law and dispense justice.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It was the Mistake of Imam Hussain

December 4, 2014                           
By Saeed Qureshi

The massacre of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Hazrat Muhammad, and some of his family members and companions at Karbala is one of the most grievous and heart wrenching incidents in the Islamic history spanning over 15 centuries of the Muslim calendar. 

Imam Hussain was killed with indescribable and utmost savagery during the caliphate of Yazid bin Muawiyya of Ommyad dynasty. His martyrdom along with his associates in the desert of Karbala created an unbridgeable cleavage between the Sunnis and the Shias that continues to this day.

The Shia entity started shaping up after the choice of Hazrat Abu Bakr as the first successor caliph of the prophet. Hazrat Ali the cousin brother of the prophet could not be chosen during the nomination or election of the first three caliphs. The assassination of the third caliph Hazrat Usman led to two devastating battles. 

The first battle was between Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Aisha the youngest wife of the prophet.  The Second was between Hazrat Ali and the governor of Syria Muawiyya son of Abu Sufyan. Those battles were in fact between two hostile tribes over the arrest of the murderers of Hazrat Usman. Later the claim of caliphate between Hazrat Ali and Muawiyya led to more devastating hostilities.
These battles remained inconclusive in favor of either contender despite loss of the tens of thousands of Muslims on both sides. Therefore, the choice of the caliph was decided through a ruse of arbitration that Muawiyya won and thus technically he was proclaimed as the sole caliph of Islam.  Hazrat Ali and his followers did not accept the arbitration and the rivalry continued unabated with two caliphs ruling at the same time.

Hazrat Ali died in 661 AD at the hands of an assassin in Kufa mosque. That event reinforced the position of Muawiyya and he could now crush any opposition to his position of a caliph and that is what happened. After Hazrat Ali’s death, the mantle of caliphate fell upon the shoulders of his elder son Imam Hassan. Hazrat Hassan was elected by a unanimous vote in Kufa.

But in a battle to be fought against Syrian army commanded by Muawiyya, the Iraqis true to their treacherous character abandoned the Imam and rather turned against him. Instead of fighting against Muawiyya, the Iraqis broke into Imam’s camp and plundered his belongings. They even wanted to hand Imam over to Muawiyya. 

That seditious treatment of Iraqis had dejected the Imam to such an extent that he agreed to enter into a covenant with Muawiyya. Through that covenant Imam Hassan had agreed that Muawiyya can retain the caliphate but after his death the mantle of caliphate would be passed on to Imam’s younger brother Hazrat Imam Hussain. Imam Hassan thereafter, retired with his family to Medina with a pension from Muawiyya. He died soon after through poisoning at the prime age of 41.

Instead of abiding by the covenant, Muawiyya, towards the fag end of his life, started maneuvering to get the nomination of his son Yazid as his successor. In direct breach of his pledge with Imam Hassan, Muawiyya nominated his son Yazid as his successor. In order to pursue this goal Muawiyya used intimidation, coercing, cajoling and bribing to get oath of fealty for Yazid. After the death of Muawiyya in 60 AH (680 AD), Yazid ascended to the throne. The Omayyad dynasty ruled for 82 years.

Now this is all history. Let us analyze that decision of Imam Hussain to proceed to Kufa with a mission to overthrow the well entrenched dynasty of Ommyad, who were traditional rivals of the tribe of Banu Hashim.

In the light of the treaty signed between Imam Hassan and Muawiyya, Imam Hussain was to become the next caliph. With the appointment of Yazid, Imam Hussain moved to challenge the caliphate of Yazid which he thought was usurpation of his right and violation of the covenant between Imam and Amir Muawiyya.  He was prompted by a load of requests and countless communications from the Iraqis to come to Iraq and to remove Yazid with their support.

The sagacious and experienced elders in Medina counseled Imam Hussain to not be beguiled or influenced by the galore of invitations from the Iraqis on the grounds that previously they had betrayed both his elder brother and father. They reminded him that as a result of their betrayal, Hazrat Ali lost the nearly won battle of Sufyan. 

Thereafter, he was martyred in Kufa mosque by a Kharji presumably planted by the Omayyad caliph. They also reminded him about the treason of the Iraqis demonstrated with Imam Hassan again when when he declared his caliphate and Muawiyya marched to invade Iraq.

Imam Hussain disregarded all such sane advice and traversed to Kufa. By disregarding the advice of the prudent, sagacious and sincere individuals some of whom were the companions of the prophet, Imam Hussain embarked upon a course of defeat and destruction. It was only after reaching Karbala that Hussain perceived the treachery of the Iraqis as there was neither the promised army nor the common people to welcome him.

As a result the tragedy of Karbala took place in which Imam Hussain and the male members of his family and followers perished. From the males only Imam Hussain’s one sick son Zainul Abideen survived. Undoubtedly, the massacre of Karbala was the result of the betrayal of Iraqis and Imam Hassan’s blind faith in the promises of the Iraq.

One should acknowledge that Imam Hussain’s challenge to Yazid was not to revive Islam but to get his right of caliphate which he thought was legitimate in consonance with Imam Hassan’s covenant and because of the usurpation of the right of the close members of prophet’s family as the real successors for being from his bloodline.

 Imam Hussain should have been convinced that if his elder brother and even illustrious father couldn't stand before the might of the Ommyad, how he could defeat them with a small force of the Kufans even if they had rallied behind him to fight.

It is equally debatable how Islam was revived or took a new lease of life with the tragedy of Karbala. Primarily it was a conflict for caliphate or precisely for power. The dynasties of both Banu Ommyad and Abbasid remained in power for another 600 years (661-1258 AD). Both these hereditary dynasties were essentially Islamic. 

These dynasties expanded the sway of Islam around the world and during these dynasties not only that Islam flourished but enormous input was fed into the advancement of Islamic culture and way of life.

Nevertheless, with the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the Shia sect was firmly established with its religious and spiritual center in Iran. Thus the division of Islam into two rival sects was solidified. We can witness that the Sunnis and Shias can never reconcile on their interpretation of Islam that in fact had fractured the unity of Islam.

Even if Imam Hussain had come to power he could not rule in peace. The peace would have remained jeopardized because of the opposition from other contenders. The supporters of the first three caliphs whom Shias oppose would have opposed the Shias regimes as the Shias have been opposing the Sunni regimes.

We should not ignore the fact that under siege of the Syrian army and absence of the Kufans support, Imam Hussain in sheer desperation offered three conditions to call off his march to Kufa.  These conditions were tantamount to virtual surrender or subjugation and these were aimed at averting the eventual dreadful end.

Yet the Syrian army commanders were aware of the zero bargaining position of Imam Hussain. They wanted to take them to Ubaidullah bin Ziad who was a heartless butcher of Kufa and a sworn enemy of Banu Hashim. Before the arrival of Imam Hussain, 

He brutally killed Imam Hussain’s cousin, Muslim bin Aqeel and his little sons. Imam Hussain preferred to die in the battlefield than tortured and killed by Ibne Ziad. Thus one of the noblest and righteous members of Prophet Muhammad’s family perished in utter helplessness.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Is there a Method in Imran Khan’s Obduracy?

November 16, 2014
By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan, the Chairman of PTI has vowed to remain in the fray (Dharna) even if he is left alone. He disdainfully castigates the other political leaders and accuses them of being enemies of the people and the whole lot being corrupt thugs. Of late, he has lambasted one of the prominent jurists and human rights activists Asma Jahangir ridiculing her and bracketing her with Maulana Fazalur-Rehman.

 Lately an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad has issued arrest warrants of Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri the chief of the PAT, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Dr. Raeeq abbasi, Sheikh Rashid and many other leaders of both these parties for raiding the Parliament House and building of the state-run television channel besides manhandling the police personnel. Imran Khan has not even spared the courts and mocked their orders.

Imran Khan has developed a habit of pouncing upon everyone who offers him a piece of advice or challenges his outlandish outbursts in never ending sit-inns staged by his beguiled followers. He has imbibed a propensity of disparaging en-bloc his opponents and hurling bizarre and frivolous accusations on them.

 Like the Spanish ludicrous hero Don Quixote, tilts at the windmills that come his way mistaking those as giants, Imran Khan too seems to be turning paranoid by believing all political leaders were his enemies. Imran Khan has proven himself to be an incorrigible hardliner who is averse or unconcerned about others who may be even his well-wishers. 

From the prime minister to the superior courts’ judges he suspects everyone to be a barrier and hurdle in his reckless and mindless style of politicking. Of late He is left only in the company of street hooligans like sheikh Rashid and renegades of other parties like Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

His mindless insistence on continuing with sit-inns is now turning into a kind of theatrical shows losing their luster and charm for the common people of Pakistan. If he is under the erroneous illusion that he can turn the tide against the incumbent regime of PMLN then he should be squarely mistaken. The worst of Tsunami’s lashing and destructive fury has passed away. 

There is no way that his political storm can shake the government from its foundations or motivate the people coming out from their houses and stage a countrywide  upheaval forcing the government to resign, the courts to close and all social and commercial life coming to a naught.

There was a ripe time for him and his comrades to display a semblance of diplomacy and extract as much mileage from the hard pressed and rather a cornered government. Those were the days in the near past when the roaring orator Tahirul Qadri was one with him and standing at the same stage for a united voice to challenge the ruling cabal. 

Imran hopped from one demand to another hoping that the pressure so built up would bring the government dashing to the ground. Had he accepted the government’s offer for a dialogue to look into the re-elections on certain disputed seats that could have been the first phenomenal step towards tabling further demands in a give and take manner?

To demand outright resignation of the prime minister and dissolution of the assembly was too heavy, naive and unrealistic a demand to be hurled in those tumultuous times. No government worth the name would kneel down before the obduracy of a challenger who was simply bent upon creating a law and order situation in the federal capital of Pakistan and hampering the movement of the people and the traffic. 

The attack and occupation of the government buildings by the PTI activists was yet another daring yet foolish adventure that has now come back to them in the summons of courts against the arch leaders of the PTI and PTA.

The jargon and language of Imran and his coteries of foul mouthing colleagues has been overly derogatory and at times amounts to character assassination of his targets.  It would be doubtful if Imran Khan can reinvigorate and mobilize his supporters and fans once again with the same force and tempo that was seen in them couple of months ago.

One of the pernicious fallout of the constant sit-ins was the cancellation of the milestone Chinese’s premier’s visit to Pakistan for a gigantic cooperation and an all embracing collaboration in many domains particularly the economic mainly benefiting Pakistan. Those protocols were now solemnized with the prime minister of Pakistan’s state visit to China. 

With the huge Chinese investment of 45 billion dollars in Pakistan, various watershed projects like the generation of energy, a network of highways would be completed in a given frame of time. Pakistan’s economy and social life can take giant leaps towards betterment.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat.This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Dr. Tahirul Qadri’s Presence in Dallas

By Saeed Qureshi
Last evening Dr. Tahirul-Qadri was the guest speaker at a reception hosted in his honor at Double Tree Hotel by the local chapters of PAT (Pakistan Awami Tehrik) and his religious seminary Minhajul Quran. Iqbal Ahsan was the moderator. 

It was a unique occasion as a few days ago Dr. Qadri was in Islamabad leading a prolonged Dharna (sit-in) against the incumbent government of PMLN and to press for the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. His counterpart Imran Khan spearheading the similar mission is still doggedly entrenched in Islamabad occasionally addressing the public meetings in other cities of Pakistan.
Dr. Qadri, all of a sudden, called off the sit-ins. No one can figure out any motives behind that least expected decision. Earlier he has been persistently and vigorously pledging to remain in the political battleground in the federal capital of Pakistan till the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif the chief minister of Punjab, the largest province Pakistan.

For several decades, Dr. Qadri has been devotedly engaged in the preaching and dissemination of Islam under the aegis of the Minhajul Quran based in Lahore. Later he founded PAT primarily a political party aimed at ushering Pakistan into a revolution based upon Misaq-i-Madina (the Medina Pact. 

Misaq-i-Medina was a kind of deal that Prophet Muhammad entered into with non Muslims for peaceful coexistence and also for delineation of their rights. Misaq-i-Madina is an epitome for Allama Qadri for the establishment of an Islamic regime in Pakistan.

Dr. Qadri’s sermon last evening was a replay and replica of what he has been disseminating all these years. It was a scholarly yet dreary speech that was befitting for the highly qualified and educated people particularly having expertise in legal and constitutional matters.

Dr. Qadri mainly and mostly delved on emphasizing the relevant clauses of Pakistan’s constitution related to democracy, fundamental rights and the obligations and responsibilities of the state towards the people. The common folks and ordinary people in the audience might not have grasped the essence of Dr. Qadri off- repeated explanation and elucidation of the constitution of Pakistan.

The audience would rather want to know why he suddenly called off the sit-in campaign and dashed to the foreign lands. He did not unfold his future plans. He chose not to criticize his principal victim Mian Nawaz Nawaz against whom he has been yelling and prompting his followers to raise slogan of “Go Nawaz Go”. When some sentimentally charged PAT members raised this slogan in the hall, Dr. Qadri visibly seemed embarrassed and waved them to hold their sloganeering.

Dr. Qadri also skipped to mention about his long association of nearly 70 days of sit-in with Imran Khan the rabble-rouser chief of the PTI (Pakistan Tehrik-i- Insaf), in Islamabad. It appeared as if he was deliberately trying to avoid any mention of Imran Khan’s continued presence for so long in the federal capital of Pakistan. 

He casually mentioned the police attack on his house causing loss of several precious lives. His reference to that barbaric killing spree by the Punjab police lacked vigor and emphasis that he has been incessantly demonstrating in Pakistan.

In his speech, Dr. Qadri proposed a kind of American Union of Pakistanis to act collectively for their rights here in America and in Pakistan. It was a vague idea and Dr. Qadri did not elaborate it further. 

Perhaps Dr. Qadri is not aware of the deep seated disunity and mutual discords between the Pakistanis all over in America. If a small society like PSNT in Dallas is controversial then how it would be possible to create an all encompassing umbrella body representing the entire Pakistani community in America.

He supported the rights of expatriate Pakistanis to vote and contest elections in Pakistan. But that was merely a show of endorsing some suggestions coming from various local speakers welcoming the chief guest.
Dr. Qadri did not unfold his future plans whether he would continue his rallies and protest marches in Pakistan or henceforth he would like to pursue a peaceful campaign and dialogue for a revolution in Pakistan that he talks vaguely and repeatedly.

Dr. Qadri did not mention about the rumors and circulating gossip about his backdoor compromise or settlement with the PMLN government. But it can be speculated that now when he has called off his anti- government tirade and campaign, it might become pretty difficult for him to relaunch that with the previous vigor and tempo. He may not even resume it at all.

So that begs a question that what could be the political future of Dr. Tahirul Qadri in Pakistan. My answer is none or feeble.  On the contrary Imran Khan who is still holding out the ground might stay in the battlefield for some time. 

It looks that with the time passage his agitation too is losing the steam. For him to spur or sustain indefinitely a countrywide agitation or earthshaking movement for the removal the government or force midterm elections seems to be remote possibility.

The best and more pragmatic escape route for him is to wait for the next elections and then pull his strings and mobilize the countrymen and his party workers to win elections, assume power and accomplish what he aims to do for Pakistan and its people. As for Dr. Qadri, there is no possibility as he has abandoned his citadel, dispersed his crowds and thus dissipated his momentum for no plausible reasons or motives.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Mid-Terms Elections:A Huge Setback for Democratic Party

By Saeed Qureshi
The midterm elections in the United States conducted on June 4, have placed the Republicans as the majority party in the Senate. The Republicans also were leading in the House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm elections. This is a monumental debacle for president Obama who is left only with the option of using of executive orders in case the Congress overturns such reforms as Obamacare and cannot move along on the stalled immigration issue.

The main stumbling hurdle in the defeat of Democratic party in the midterm elections was the immigration Reform Bill that was left in lurch due to lack of bipartisan support in the Congress. Due to this the Latino population that provided huge vote bank to the Democrats and particularly in presidential elections were dismayed and divided in the November 4 elections. The Democrats lag behind by seven seats but it is the majority in the Senate that matters.

The elections saw formidable victories for the Republican Party in the Senate, House, and in various categories of elections, including state and local. For the first time since 2006 the Republicans have gained control of the Senate with 52 seats out of a total 100 seats. The Democrats lag behind with 43 seats.  The Republicans who already command majority in the House have further added 12 seats making the total 243 seats. The Republicans won three more seats of governors, now having their governors in 36 states out of 50 states.
 In his press conference president Obama did not exhibit any signs of panic or frustration but looked dismayed.  He vowed to work with the Republicans in both houses of the Congress to pave way for the passage of certain crucial bills that could not be accomplished due to divided control of Republicans in the House and the Democrats in the Senate. 

President Obama expressed the hope that now the Republicans had an upper hand in both Senate and House and they should not hinder the legislation on such important issues as the immigration bill.

The Democratic Party suffered in the 2014 mid terms elections because of foot-dragging on certain reforms most notably the immigration issue and a firm stand with regard to the Middle East crisis and a Luke warm response as well on the Ukraine crisis. Nonetheless, the slow progress in legislation on the sticking issues could be due to the traditional discord and non-cooperation between the two parties if their respective interests are not served.

The political fight between the Republicans and democrats in the Congress would be focused on Obamacare which is an anathema to the Republicans and they would do everything possible to undo this health reform.  

The Republicans are also averse to the inflow of the foreign immigrants mostly from the neighboring Mexico and on the whole from the South American impoverished countries. So one may foresee an resolvable conflict between the two parties both in the House and the Senate till the next general elections to be held in 2016.

When the Democratic party lost the House in the 2010 midterm elections, president Obama termed that blow as “humbling and shellacking”. The results of the November 4 mid term elections are of the same magnitude and considerably weaken the legislative prowess of the Democratic Party.

It is interesting that when Obama won the presidential elections in 2008, the American people were not happy with President George Bush’s policies and for that the Republican Party had to pay a heavy price. Then the economy was in dire straits, the public moral was down and the country was sulking because of misguided indoor internal and external policies.

In President Obama the American people saw a new young and energetic leadership especially the youth of this country who were the vanguard for the Democrats to win the elections. Undoubtedly despite many hurdles and irritants president Obama buoyed up the sinking economy and recharged the dispirited and dismayed nation. 

He should be credited for accomplishments in jobs creation, reinvigorating the sagging economy, providing monetary relief to the debt ridden students and lessening the military involvement of America in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

His administration finally found the arch enemy Osama Bin Laden and killed him. He embarked on a path of reconciliation with the Islamic world that had remained under a heavy pressure during the senior and junior Bush eras. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, President Obama signed 23 executive orders and outlined a series of sweeping proposals regarding gun control.

The United States has reduced its oil import because of a boost of the indigenous energy resources. The American exports are increasing. The country is safe because of the implementation of a tight security system. Obama’s stand on environment and clean energy has been robust. Overall his attitude in the politics has been conciliatory despite patently hostile response from the Republican Party.

But all his brilliant achievements both internally and externally have not weighed heavily with the voters in the current year’s midterm elections. The American people look from the angle of setbacks and not accomplishments of a president and that is the main reason for the debacle of Obama and his party in the midterm elections. The president was earnest about the immigration bill but was handicapped due to the lack of support in the House.

In his post election press conference, the president enumerated his attainments. He stated that the economy during his six years in office came out of dire straits and was now was robust. The import of oil has reduced and America was less dependent on oil imports. He termed Obamacare as one the noteworthy hallmarks of his administration.

While president Obama pledged to work in a bipartisan spirit with the Republicans, the House speaker John Boehner in his post election press conference. He looked defiant and tough and warned president Obama of not poising the well by which he meant not to run the administration by issuing executive orders. 

It is forgone that over the issues of immigration and Obamacare there is not going to be any quid pro quo and accord between the two parties. President Obama has ruled out scrapping or reforming the Obamacare while John Boehner has termed it as “hurting the economy”.

One may witness a hardening of stances between the two political rivals in the Congress. Since Republican Party is now in majority in both organs of the Congress, it could get any bill of its choice go through while rejecting those tabled by the Democrats. 

However, president Obama has categorically pointed out that he will not scrap or change the Obamacare as the Republicans want and would veto any bill that negates his health reforms. Should we infer that henceforth there is going to be a lame-duck administration till the 2016 elections?


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pakistan’s Main Problem is too much Religion

By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan’s most overriding problem is the over-brimming religion fervor and the emergence of the Islamic militant groups fomenting internal chaos aimed at making Pakistan an Islamic state as the ISIS wants to establish in the Middle East.  Islam is prevalent in Pakistan as an intolerant, fanatical, rigid, ignorant and sectarian religion. Pakistan was renamed as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1973. That was the first roll coaster step to divest Pakistan of its secular credentials and smear its image of a modern state.
Ironically a secular and liberal Prime Minister Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made amendments in the constitution that pushed Pakistan into the lap of irreversible fundamentalism.  Regressive yet superficial measures were announced  inter- alia to ban race horse, drinking, gambling and declaring Friday as the weekly holiday. Although these were cosmetic measures but these certainly strengthened the hands of orthodox religious parties to firm up their hold and spread their myopic tentacles in the society. Mr. Bhutto undertook such measures in contrast to his cosmopolitan vision for Pakistan.
The military regime of Ziaul-Haq was patently an ultra rightist regime that enormously furthered the process of Islamization initiated by Bhutto, although both were mutually sworn enemies politically and religiously. General Zia created Sharia faculty and Sharia courts, enforced Hadood Ordinance and payment of Zakat and Ushr, and abolished interest. Thus Pakistan’s complexion underwent a radical change from a relatively liberal to a conservative and orthodox state.
But the pernicious fallout of these regressive measures opened floodgate for the Islamic fundamental parties to have a field-day in Pakistan. These groups proliferated ubiquitously to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Thanks to American and western patronage they had unhindered access to all kind of weapons to use wherever they wanted. The Taliban and their splinter groups sprang in those tumultuous times when Pakistan was receding into the fold of theocracy and Islamic radicalism.
Not only that but the country dotted, in a short span of time, with mosques and religious seminaries everywhere, in each town and city and even neighborhoods. These mosques and seminaries also represented various sects and became breeding grounds for sectarian animus. The ear-splitting loudspeakers are depriving the population of their hearing power.
Since the Sunnis are in majority they used that unique chance to not only fight the heathen soviets but at home turned against the other minorities most notably the Shias and Ahmadis. The Sunni denominations like Lashkar e Jhangvi, Lashkar-Tayyaba, Jaish Muhammad and others religio-militant outfits had a free hand to torment and brutalize not only Shias but the other minorities. Vice-versa the Shias also retaliated. The switch of Pakistan from a culturally and socially liberal state over to a religiously suppressed state further led to terrorism and violence increasing with the time passage. That ruinous sectarian militarism and brutal terrorism continues to this day.
There have been calls from time to time to declare Shias as non-Muslims as was done in case of Ahmadis during the time of Bhutto. Supposedly even if all the Shias or Ahmadis are expelled from Pakistan or physically eliminated, the myriad Sunnis sects would start fighting each other. The Wahabis cults are deadly opposed to Chishtia, Qadria or Naqshbandia branches of Islam.
When the Wahabis somehow expel all these rival religious groups then the stage would be set for the sects within the Wahabis to sort out each other. So there is no end to this madness, perpetrated in the name of pristine Islam. This sectarian division has been there in the Islamic countries for 14 hundred years and cannot come to an end in the distant or near future.
Before partition of united India, the Sunnis and Shias seldom collided on the sectarian turf as they have been doing after the birth of Pakistan. Islam goads tolerance and peace. Ye its followers practice such golden precepts more in breach than observance.
In comparison despite being a Hindu majority country, barring the Gujarat riots and massacre of Muslims, India maintains the religious harmony, squarely lacking in Pakistan and most of the Islamic states. In India we have not seen the Shias and Sunnis attacking and killing other. If they can cohabitate peacefully in a Hindu majority population state, why can’t they do so in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?
The practical solution of this mayhem and distortion of Islam is to divide all the Muslim countries into two parts: one for the Shias and other other for the Sunnis. We can see that in Saudi Arabia there are no Shias and it is religiously a peaceful country. We can also witness that most of the Iranian population professes Shia faith and there have never been any encounters or tension between Shias and Sunnis. But this recipe cannot be applied to other Islamic states because a geographical division on the basis of faith is impossible to be brought about.
Unfortunately besides Pakistan, the Islamic states of Bahrain, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are also bedeviled with the sectarian strife between the Shias and Sunnis. But those Islamic states that are secular and profess tolerance are relatively peaceful. In this category we can mention Turkey, Jordan, Tunis, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirate.
The fundamental question staring in our face is that why is Pakistan being interpreted to have been created in the name of Islam. And if it is supposed to pedal and practice Islam then why has it become a hell for the Muslims professing divergent beliefs. Islam is said to be a religion of peace but in Pakistan it has turned out to be a battleground for incessant religious feuds. Pakistan is one country besides Iran and Mauritania in the entire Islamic world except that has adopted a prefix of Islamic Republic. One fails to understand what does this phrase Islamic Republic mean?
Instead of unsuccessfully trying to protect Islam for 67 years why don’t we focus on protecting the land and its people? Pakistan should be considered as a political entity with Muslim majority population. After all Shias or other religious minorities were not born with the birth of Pakistan on 14 August 1947. These were already there. They were there during the British rule in India. They were free and safe to follow their religious obligations without any fear or oppression. They are equal citizens of Pakistan as they were before the birth of Pakistan. Then why should they be divested of their rights and liberties after the partition. Pakistan should not be the monopoly of any religious group or sect.
Islam has always been surviving for a thousand years in India and would survive for all time to come. Is the survival of Islam entirely dependent on Pakistan? Is it not a convoluted logic? There are more Muslims in India than Pakistan. Then why Pakistan should be tagged as a protector of Islam? Islam has its own resilience to survive. Should we keep submitting to the dictates and edicts of ignorant Mullas and keep the society stagnant and its people backward? Ironically some of the religious parties did not want Pakistan to come into being labeling it as an Unislamic state.
The successive political leaders in Pakistan had fallen prey to the street agitations from such parties as Jamaat-i-Islami with a view to sticking to power. That led to the tarnishing the image and face of Pakistan with religious brush, later degenerating into unrelenting sectarian feuds.
The religious laws enacted by Bhutto and later Ziaul Haq and even by the previous regimes drastically curtained the civil and religious liberties of the people of Pakistan. Incidentally the majority religious groups such as Jamaat-i-Islami, Majlis-e-Ahrar, and Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Hind (previously JUI was part of this group) opposed the creation of Pakistan and when it came into being, JI jumped into the fray to monopolize it. Such is the hypocritical character of these religious outfits now crying hoarse to make Pakistan a medieval Islamic caliphate.
It would be rather justified if these groups that did not support Pakistan movement should be banned or exiled for their seditious and antagonistic role at a crucial juncture of the creation of Pakistan. But if they stay then they should not be allowed to fan sectarian hatred and religious bigotry, caving into the foundations of Pakistan.
The separation of East Pakistan was, beside other factors, due to Jamaat-i-Islami’s support for the military action and their religious brigands launching a religious crusade against the people of East Pakistan whose leadership had the constitutional right to form the government.
Now the paramount question is: can there be a reconciliation and compromise between the Islamic clergy and democracy? In a country, which since its inception, has remained in the throes of extremism, bigotry, sectarian and communalism, the most pressing need is to bring about a truce and concord between the warring sects. The paramount urgency is to evolve a consensual code of Islamic faith between Sunnis and Shias to save the state and the society from doctrinal rivalry and bloodshed.
As such the only rational way-out is to adopt the twin panacea of secularism and democracy that would allow every sect and denomination, to practice their own faith without trading the accusations of heresy and killing each other. Secularism doesn't necessarily mean negation or elimination of religion. It simply means tolerance and coexistence between races and sects.
It is foregone that Pakistan as a theocracy or a country with a religious label cannot move forward and would always be trapped in a self-destructive ideological conflict. The devastation of Baghdad by Mongol hordes in 13th century is a testifying tragedy to the Shia-Sunni animosity.
While acknowledging the distasteful fact that the ideological gulf between two main Islamic sects cannot be bridged, these must be legally bound to coexist and tolerate each other. As far political power is concerned, Pakistan has to decide once and for all that the war of conflicting beliefs should not be allowed to enter the political corridors.
The state and religion should be free to operate in their respective zones. The relationship between state and religion has been ideally described by Quaid-i-Azam in his address in the first session of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947, “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State”.
The religion should be confined to the personal and at best group contours. That is the only viable, practical and rational solution to the religious bad blood that is incessantly breeding violence and hindering smooth functioning of state and society.  The religious extremism and fanaticism also need to be forcefully curbed.
The State and society have got to be secular and truly democratic for prosperity, advancement and solidarity of Pakistan and enabling it to enter the fold of modern states. At the same time Pakistan, like Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, retain their Islamic identity. In a nutshell, Islam, secularism, and democracy should go hand in hand in Pakistan.