Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Speech on Economy

June 21, 2016

By Saeed Qureshi

In her land mark speech in Columbus Ohio today, the presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Madam Hillary Clinton compared and contrasted her economic agenda as the president of the United states with that of the Republican presumptive candidate Donald Trump. Her speech carried undertones of mocking, satire and tinge of taunts for her Republican contestant for the presidency of the United States.

What was most distinctive and striking during her delivery of monumental speech was her composed demeanor, sobriety and vigor. She disclosed that in preparation of the speech she had to spend extra time and efforts including conferring and consulting her advisors and close associates.

She laid out the inconsistencies and futile economic plans of her rival as to what he did in the past in creating a phony and farcical economic empire fraught with countless bankruptcies, non- payments to his employees and scores of cases pending against him on this count.

Her baggage of arguments about the bogus and failed economic attainment of Donald trump was based upon the following arguments.

-Donald Trump is too dangerous to run the US economy.

-He would send America into a recession."

-All his books written about business ended at Chapter 11 as evidenced by several bankruptcies filed by him in 90s.

-She bitterly opposed Trump’s support for a lower minimum wage, his tax plan and his suggestions about paid family leave.

Referring to Trumps’ plan of negotiating a way-out for full repayment of government bonds, she castigated him by a taunting remark that "The full faith and credit of the United States is not something to gamble away”. She warned that that such a course could lead to an economic catastrophe for the United States.

She augmented her argument by pointing out that even by selling all American aircraft carriers as well as the Statue of Liberty, and letting some billionaire to make Yosemite into a private country club, this repayment was impossible to materialize.

In her address she put a point blank question to Mr. Trump as to why he was not releasing his tax returns. Then she herself gave the reason for that. She claimed that his accounts both income and payments were being audited by Internal Revenue System(IRS). Ms. Clinton aired her doubts that Donald trump may not be as wealthy as he claims or else his claim of doling out charities was not as much as claimed in his Tax returns. Or else he might be having undisclosed and undeclared wealth on which he evaded paying taxes.

One would indeed imagine how come Hillary was aware of this aspect of Donald’s personal money matters. Nevertheless, it is quite a significant information which might carry the implications that if discrepancies are found in Trump’s payment of taxes then he could be prosecuted and thus may have to abandon his campaigning.

Hillary also raised the question of immigration of foreign workers. While supporting the inflow of foreign manpower that she claims was strengthening the American economy, she questioned how such a huge force could be repatriated to their respective countries which itself was a costly gigantic challenge to the American economy.

She also ridiculed Trumps’ resolve to erect a high wall or fence between Mexico and United States. In this regard she opined that it was not only undoable but distasteful to create such a barrier between two neighboring countries.  

While Hillary Clinton is done away with her blistering onset against her Republican rival, let us wait and see what was there in trump’s kitty to make a rebuttal against Madam Hillary.

But honestly such kind of debates are the essence of American democratic culture. Both the candidates present and argue their suitability for the highest office of the country. It depends upon the people and the electorate whom to choose. This political culture speaks for the empowerment of the people and that is the beauty and strength of American politics. It means one should come clean if one aspires for the highest decision making portfolio of USA.

Islam and the Fire Worshippers

 June 20, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi

The Zoroastrians who worshipped fire came much after the Sabians. Zoroaster who is believed to be also a prophet by his followers founded the Zoroastrian religion around 600 BC. He was an extremely intelligent person who conceived the concept of an enemy of God.

It was Satan who according to him was responsible for the evil deeds in this world. Since both good and evil are prevalent in human society, he espoused that while God was a force of goodness, Satan was the perpetrator and force of evil. Thus the concept of duality came into being.
 The belief in God as the source of all good things has been in vogue from the known religious’ history of mankind as Satan was there when Adam was being crafted by God according to the scriptures. Satan tried to induce Abraham on a rebellious course against God. It was again Satan that misled Cain the son of Adam to kill his brother Able. And also in case of Noah he instigated his son not to align himself with his pious father.
So Satan was all the time there in the religious mythology. We cannot find the activities of Satan when Moses was fighting either against the Egyptian powerful kings or in case of Jesus who was braced against the Jewish religious zealots. But there were the vicious human beings who were opposing these pious people for their opposition to the established faiths and because Satan prompted them.

There is the parallel belief in Abrahamic religions that since God alone was the master of the universe, nothing moved and happened without his will and order. This would also mean that the evil acts of humans were also directed by God.

 But at the same time God was all good so how come that evil existed and if it existed then should we hold God responsible for that. So to absolve God from the evil acts of man, Zoroaster espoused the concept of God and with the creation of a rival and a matching foe. Zoroaster justified the existence of Satan as the force of darkness and negativity.

Banu Israel (children of Israel) were defeated by a Babylonian king Banu Kid Nazar and brought to Babul (Iraq) where they lived as slaves for 80 years. They were liberated in 539 BC by an Iranian king (Koresh Kabir). During their captivity in Babul they imbibed many beliefs of both the Sabians and the Zoroastrians such as the existence of Satan as a negative counterpoise of God, the story of Adam and Eve, paradise and Hell and Noah’s deluge., et el.
Interestingly the cardinal body of Zoroastrian beliefs bears very close resemblance to those of early Sabians and later of Muslims. Some of the common beliefs are given below.

  • Like Muslims they pray five times a day according to the position of the sun.
  • Like Muslims and Christians, they believe that before the end time a mighty hero named as Shah Behram (a prototype of Jesus Christ) would come and establish the rule of the fire worshippers on earth.
  • Like Muslims they believe that the dead men’s souls would sojourn in limbo or purgatory till the final Day of Judgment when reward and punishment would be handed out by God. This is exactly what the Islamic belief is: that the human soul would be kept in waiting in “Barzakh” till the day of resurrection.

  • Like Muslims, they believe in the bridge (Pul-e-Sarat) to be crossed before entering paradise or hell.
  •  They believe in beautiful women (Houris for Muslim) in paradise to serve the faithful.
  •  They believe in seven grades of paradise while the Muslims believe in eight.
  • Ablution and cleanliness of body and garments and format of prayers are almost similar between the Judism, Islam and Zoroastrian religions.

The main difference between the Zoroastrian and Muslims is with regard to the divinity of fire. Muslims don’t believe fire as a symbol of God or the Sun God as the Zoroastrian believe The Zoroastrians don’t worship fire but treat it as the symbol of God’s pure and radiant light which in Islamic terminology is called Nur or holy or divine light. Muslims too believe in divine light called Nur but that has nothing to do with the fire or heat of the Sun.

However, the elements of offering sacrifices, saying main prayers once in a week, circumcision, Nikah (relgious ritual of wedlock); divorce, abstention from prayers during ceremonial impurity, not eating pork and taking alcohol are common elements of belief between Jews and Muslims.

There is also a sharing of beliefs between the Fire worshippers and the Christians. Mithra was a cult that was practiced both by fire worshippers and Saibeens. It was a religion that remained in vogue for 600 years in Iran and later moved to Roman Empire in 70 AD.

Following their conquest of Iran, the Romans practiced Mithra faith for about 300 years but was put on back burner after Constantine adopted Christianity as the empire’s relgions in 313 C.E. But despite that Mithra had become a part of Christian faith in matters of rituals and forms.

For instance, In Mithra December 25 is celebrated as the birthday of Sun God. This was adopted by Roman Catholic Pope Laibris as the birthday of Jesus Christ to please Mithra’s followers although the actual birthday of Jesus Christ is January 6.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Downturn in Pakistan-USA Relations

June 11, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
One can compare the visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the United States (October 2015) with that of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (June 6-8).  That visit was viewed as embarrassment for Pakistan. It appears that Pakistan is drifting away from US and India is getting closer to the United States.
The ovation and welcome that Indian prime minister received is rather overwhelming and is reflective of the cordiality and importance that India has attained in United States. As prime minister this is Modi’s fourth visit to the United States.
The United States lifted its three-decade-long ban on the sale of nuclear materials to India in 2005. While America has announced its support for India to become member of the prestigious Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Pakistan has been left out.
 NSC is a coalition of 48 nuclear-supplying nations that ‘advocates nonproliferation by controlling nuclear exports’. The Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) will meet on June 20 to consider Indian and Pakistani requests for becoming its members. The United States has already announced its support for India while China and several other countries are opposing. China and many other members of NSG support Pakistan’s position. In the meantime while China has opposed Indian joining the nuclear club, she has also called upon the international community to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In the wake of growing tension between Pakistan and America resulting from the May 21 American drone strike killing Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, two top-level American officials are coming to Pakistan today. The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson is one of them. They will hold talks with the civil and military leadership on a range of topics including Pak-USA relations and regional issues. With the American visitors Pakistan should emphatically present the case of discrimination by the American leadership in supporting Indian membership for NSG while denying the same right for Pakistan.
The relations between India and USA have all along been robust in trade, sharing of technology and mutual goodwill in other spheres. Several agreements have been signed between India and United States during Prime Minister Modi's current visit to USA 
Indian prime minister has been given the honor of addressing the joint session of the American Congress on June 8. In his 45 minutes long rhetorical address with persistent clapping by the audience, he has outlined that India and Untied States were natural military partners and can work together in all domains including fight against terrorism. His address exuded an element of praise and rather sycophancy for “America’s long-standing relationship with India”.
He indirectly accused Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism and particularly named Lashkar-e-Tayyaba as a Pakistani terrorist group. There are some fundamental problems or bottlenecks that have created this bizarre twist of circumstances heightening Indo- American affinity and downgrading that of Pakistan between and USA ostensibly the traditional allies thus far.
There are several factors for the change of American heart in favor of India and aloofness towards Pakistan. One biggest factor is the growing friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and China exemplified by the creation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) linking China with the Persian Gulf directly.
Also it is the inept and incompetent leadership of Pakistan that cannot express forcefully and convincingly Pakistan’s stances in international parleys and meetings. Our prime minister doesn’t have the making of a politician or a diplomat. He lacks the skill of communication and articulation. He lacks the talent to articulate, emphasize and engage in fruitful long parleys and interaction in the best interests of Pakistan.
He cannot speak without a chit of points in hand. That is what we witnessed in his meeting with president Obama. It was rather shameful for the whole Pakistani nation. That note must have been written by one of his aids. His caretakers of the foreign affairs too lack the popular support for not being elected or having outstanding caliber.
Would Nawaz Sharif have the capability and courage to address the American Congress in English as Modi did and other eminent leaders from many courtiers have been doing? Even if he is given that offer he would shun it. At best Nawaz Sharif is excellent as a good behind the door manipulator and businessman. 
He is a past master in buying the henchmen to do the errands. As far to debate and discuss the world affairs and interstate relations eloquently and with knowledge he is simply nincompoop. But in that situation he should appoint an intelligent and versatile expert of international relations as a full time Foreign Minister.
 Nawaz Sharif has the basic flaw of a fear-stricken and apprehensive mindset to keep an enlightened Foreign Minister, an independent defense minister, an unbiased chief of justice and a vigorous chief of the army staff. While the case of Raheel Sharif is different as he doesn’t like to delve in behind the curtain politicking, the fact is that in the past Nawaz Sharif has been in conflict with all office holders of these portfolios.
That is why instead of appointing a full time Foreign Minister; he has kept two foot soldiers to look after the most prestigious and important of all the ministries. These two guys namely Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatimi have no business to be handling the foreign affairs. Their counterparts are aware that they don’t represent the people nor have come to that position through the popular ballot.
With due respect and without any malice towards these guys one may say that they are non entities. They are spent forces and they should not be handling the sensitive domain of foreign affairs. Yet they have been posted there purposely by the prime minister because they are his docile mouthpieces and have neither interest nor involvement in promoting the cause of the Pakistan.
With a failing health and enormous pressure Nawaz Sharif should be much weaker by will and health to carry on the burden of state. Instead of keeping at his door tried horses and spent forces, he should bring forth dynamic and eminent persons with a reservoir of knowledge about the international affairs. They should have the inimitable skill, inborn ability and persuasive talent to converse with foreign interlocutors and leaders to promote good will and national interests with vigor and emphasis and candor.
As such Pakistan’s foreign policy and dealing with interstate relations has gone dormant and sluggish. There are horrendous and elephantine issues inter-alia the solidarity, economy, defense and Pakistan’s robust participation and engagement with the rest of the world. With the dummy guys these supreme goals can neither be promoted nor projected in a desirable manner.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Are You Afraid of Death?

June 1, 2016
By Saeed Qureshi

Are you afraid of death?  Whether you are or not, death will come any way. One usually starts thinking about death towards the fag end of one’s life. The concept of death is scary and dreadful because it’s the irreversible transformation from existence to extinction. Death is described to be “the termination of the biological functions that define a living organism It refers both to a particular event and to the condition those results thereby”.

The fear or paranoid of dying is common to all human beings. The animals too have the fear of death but perhaps it is explained more in their defense against the danger to their survival. In a fight between the beasts when one is killed, the other leaves the fighting ostensibly perceiving that the enemy has passed to another stage where it cannot fight back.

We have seen lions, killing their preys and waiting for their death and by pressing the jugular vein of the victims. It means that besides humans that conceive death by virtue of their intelligence and consciousness, the animal too instinctively know the difference between the state of life and death.

I have seen certain individuals in life who had no fear or phobia of death. Rather they were happy and exuded satisfaction that they were passing away with no remorse or regrets that could have weighed heavily on their minds. 

The deeply religious people were content at the time or before death because they unflinchingly believed that in the hereafter or so called next world, they would ever live in the paradise: an everlasting abode of complete happiness, pleasure and leisure.

 The short and limited life span in this world has always posed an intriguing question and perplexing enigma to the human beings. It is an existence that ends with decline and death. Every religion has wrestled with this paramount question and has tried to answer it with its own kind of explanation.
The three Abrahamic religions namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, talk of a paradise that can be only achieved if certain conditions are fulfilled. These conditions differ between these three main religions. 

The Jews, of late, are moving away from the dogma of paradise after death and maintain that such a paradise would be created by the man himself on the planet earth. The Christians identify the path to paradise in the belief of Jesus Christ as the son of God.

The pre-requisite for Muslims’ to earn the blissful paradise is to follow the path of God revealed and illustrated in the holy Quran through Prophet Muhammad and marginally in the previous scriptures. But for all these religions the picture of paradise is similar: a place of perfect joy, limitless entertainment and endless both spiritually and in worldly pleasures.

 As German author Gerhard Herm stated in his book “The Celts-The People Who Came from Out of the Darkness: “Religion is among other things a way of reconciling people to the fact that some day they must die, whether by the promise of a better life beyond the grave, rebirth, or both”. All the religions invariably believe that the human soul is immortal and that after death “it journeys to an afterlife or that it transmigrates to another creature”.

In comparison to heaven or the paradise, the hell is a dreadful place with all kinds of torments and pains that one can think of in this world. That abhorrent place is for those who are sinners in religious terms. 

A sinner is that who defies, violates or breaks the canon teachings sent to the humans through the God’s emissaries called prophets. For non Abrahamic religions, it is only the soul that survives and gets into the cycles of rebirths and finally joins the soul of God. For Buddhists it dissipates after purification of sins.

 Islam presents a graphic and well laid out sketch from man’s final wisp of breath to the first step into the paradise. It’s a long journey. For Christians the concept of limbo, purgatory or a temporary sojourn for the souls of dead is mentioned but they also believe that the dead lie in the grave both with flesh and soul. Muslims believe that while man’s body is in the grave, his soul waits in the limbo (Barzakh) to return, on the Resurrection Day, to rejoin the body for judgment.

For Muslim believers the Day of Judgment is very rigorous followed by crossing over a hair thin bridge to reach paradise or fall into the hell down below. So the elements of fear and enticements are central to the explanations of respective religions about the life after death.

The fear of death stems from the inevitable yet harrowing compulsion that despite one’s will and wish, no one can escape this unavoidable end. It is perturbing to leave one’s joys, wealth, kith, families and the phenomenon of life full of sound and fury for an unknown destination from where no one has ever returned. The myth of separation of soul from body leaves no possibility, how infinitesimal it might be, for a man to relive again. The body and his physical shell decays and cannot be revived.

As for returning from the next world back to the previous one, there is no evidence that such a world, as man perceives, exists. To return from the unknown world, it is first necessary that the soul and body must unite together. A dead man or his remains have no consciousness to recall the soul and be resurrected again. Therefore, this realization of permanent departure from a world of so much fun is at the root of man’s horrific view about death.

The second reason that causes man to be terror-stricken about death is the horrifying stages through which one has to pass through after his demise from this world. If there were no such graphic depiction of gruesome events and horrendous phases a person has to go through after dying, he would not worry a bit, 

what he presently shudders to think of? If one knows that no torment is going to follow after his death and he would dissipate like other things, he would not be afraid to die as he is with these horrific eventualities.

For instance in Islamic belief, after he is laid in the grave, a faithful Muslim will face two fearsome angels who would question him about certain elements of his faith. They would bludgeon him repeatedly if answers are not right. It is not known how long they would thrash him and finally leave him in that mauled situation. 

A pragmatic and scientific mind would not believe how in a small dark grave that kind of interrogation can take place. If there is going to be a “Dooms Day” for final award of hell and heaven, then why this preliminary questioning was necessary.

Then it is the torment of sinners’ soul in the purgatory, to continue till the Day of Judgment. And finally comes the mayhem of the “Judgment Day” with description of unbearably hot environment and God himself dispensing justice to the resurrected people according to the nature of their good or bad deeds. 

But this scary episode doesn’t end here. He has to cross over a bridge thinner and sharper than a razor’s edge. This is an ordeal that is most daunting as still there is a chance of misstep and one can plunge into the deep stinking ditches of hell with leaping fires.

In hell he will be roasted and would be fed on boiling water and cyst and constantly flogged. There is a long list of spine chilling punishments. For Muslims and Jews and to some extent for the Christians, life after death is not a smooth sailing. It is replete with sufferings, distress, agonies, torture and trial of most brutal nature. As for non Abrahamic religions, it is not the body but the soul that undergoes unmitigating torment till salvation.

In nature everything is bound by an abiding and fixed cycle of birth and death. Everything that exists whether living (humans, animal’s birds etc) or non living (stones, trees, soil etc) is subject to an inescapable and inexorable principle of creation and extinction. 

Human race too is captive of that immutable law.  But because human have intelligence, they also possess investigative and curious impulse to find out what happens after the man dies. Hence all explanations!

Nevertheless, the one that is conclusive or bears logical evidence is yet to come. But in a nutshell, like a fallen tree that remains on the bank of river for hundred of years without any movement or a rock silhouetting for millenniums till it wears down, man too is born and withers away. The dead body is immune from any feelings or vagaries of nature.

The concept of grave primarily devolves on those humans who are buried. It doesn’t apply to those who are blown into pieces in war, buried in desert, drowned in the sea, draped by rocks or swallowed by volcanoes.
In the universe, things undergo a constant process of transformation from one form to another. The soil turns into rocks after billions of years and vice-versa. All existence from an atom to space is in a state of flux. There is the simultaneous process of births, extinction and rebirths taking place.

The death of one thing is the birth of another like a flower blossoms when the bud wilts. Humans think self- delusively that they would be treated differently after death. But the nature cannot apply its principles selectively. Once a man is gone, he is gone forever. 

The human progeny, however, continues in different human formations. Rebirth after death with punitive or gratifying connotations is therefore all speculation, irrelevant and figment of mind.