Wednesday, January 31, 2018

One can be Moral without being Religious

January 28,2018
By Saeed Qureshi
While I contend that man can be moral and righteous without being religious, I am in no way suggesting, that one should abandon practicing religion. Morality, essentially, is a virtue that is personal and the human beings follow it out of social or personal obligations or volition.
 Let us put it like this, that even in heathen and secular societies, the people, at the same time, tell lies and speak truth. Truth is a component of virtue that one believes not because of religious compulsions or motivation but because it is a positive social value that is appreciated while its antonym is disliked.
When we are speaking truthfully, we seldom think we are doing so because the religion ordained so, but because this was right and commendable to do so. Same mindset applies to other countless virtues and ethical values that we practice in our daily lives.
To be law abiding, to care for others, to be compassionate and considerate, to be kind and humane, to treat aged and children with kindness, not to steal, murder, or rape and so on, are invariably considered as virtues that are cherished and commended equally in the irreligious and the rigidly religious societies.
The religious commandments or injunctions if vigorously and earnestly applied during our social dealings, then of course, we may not err or indulge in immoral and unethical pursuits either by word of mouth or by our actions and deeds. Yet in our daily life and in social interactions, we make a mess of the moral codes ordained by our religions.
Irrespective whether we believe in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam or any other religion, countless times we lie, swindle, weigh less, adulterate the foods, and charge more. We do not keep our promises. We molest, kidnap, speak rough even use abusive jargon, enter into fratricidal disputes, tamper with out utility services meters, evade or do not pay our tax in full.
We solicit jobs through bribery or influential contacts; prefer our relations and friends for jobs or contracts via nude and unabashed nepotism and so on. We seldom think that all these vices and foul activities and are forbidden by religions and despised by the society.
Therefore, whether we are religious or not, we demonstrate outward social behavior without keeping in mind all the time that these are do’s or don’ts contained in the religious codes. If we still persist in good behavior as well as bad behavior then certainly we are simultaneously complying and breaching the tenets of the religion.
 The claim or argument that religion fosters absolute morality would look convincing if we can divide the human race into two clear sections, one being wholly moral because of being religious and the other being entirely immoral because of being irreligious. We know we cannot draw out such clear-cut distinctions.
If morality were entirely exclusive to religions then the human generations existing before the advent of religious eras would have been immoral. In the prehistoric ages when there was no ownership of land or property, the communities would be knit into bonds of fraternity, work together, equitably divide their food and resources, and share each other pains and pleasures. Those generations might be believing in spirits, demons and souls but certainly, they were not the adherents of traditional religions that sprang later.
Even the wicked Pharaoh admonishes Prophet Abraham for falsifying his real relationship with Sara, who was his wife but he faked her as his sister. In this episode, the conduct of the heathen Pharaoh looks more moral as compared to the religious apostle Abraham. If we accept the plea or ruse of Abraham as the need of the hour, then we are tainting or bending the inviolable religious canons with regard to the virtue of truth.
The core aim and underlying purpose of any religion is absolute morality and piety. In addition, it connects the creation that is human being with the creator that is almighty God. In religion, there cannot be any compromise or modifications on the belief in a super human power or God. Nevertheless, when the faith pertains to the affairs of the societies or mutual interactions, the laws and traditions of the religion mingle with the mundane laws of the society and thus the people follow both of these.
The Christian Orthodox Church is succumbing to the pressures and imperatives of the modern societies to the extent that it now permits marriages for nuns and priest. Of late, it has conceded to the use of condoms and even gay and same sex marriages. Beyond the cardinal belief in God, the religions flourish and remain vibrant on the strength of their customs and rituals, which are vigorously practiced. The faithful relish, cherish, and draw bliss and spiritual elevation by observing these countless religious chores that become an integral part of our social milieu.
They feel that their bond of obedience with God is strengthened and the reverence for the messengers is reinforced. The examples are Hindus converging on the river Ganges every year and celebrating various festivals like Holli and Krishna Jana Ashtami. Muslims celebrate religious days, pray, fast and perform pilgrimage. The Jews go to Jerusalem and Roman Catholics go to Rome.
Every religion has a pantheon of deities, an array of rituals and an assortment of customs and innumerable taboos and shibboleths. In Christianity, there is a vast plethora of symbols that are dutifully performed during the service. Some of these are use of candles and rosaries, images of saints, chants, incantations prayer books, incense, holy water, long robes, everlasting light before the alters, serving of bread, the special architecture of the church buildings and so on. As stated above, In Hinduism, there are countless deities as symbols of various powers, the river Ganges as purifier of sins, the temples, and the sacred books: Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads and Purana.
In Jewish faith, there are countless symbols such as tabernacle, Star of David, the holy books Torah and Talmud, Sabbath, festivals and circumcision and so on. In Islam, the mosque, the minarets, the curved sword, the green color, the holy house of God in Mecca, the sacrifice, the two sacred festivities: one after the fasting and another on the eve of pilgrimage. The list is long. I shall leave other smaller religions that are immersed in a sea of customs and rituals.
Arguably, while these customs and traditions are fervently and zealously followed by all the religions, yet this does not stop them from killing each other and occupying each other’s lands and enslaving them. In history and even in present times, there have been horrendous ethnic cleansing of the adherents of one religion by the followers of the other religion such as between Jews and Christianity and Christianity and Islam, Hindus and Muslims, Jews and Muslims etc.
Simultaneously, the religious and secular, or irreligious societies profess principles, precepts, and laws that are intrinsically moralistic. However, at the same time morality could be variously interpreted and is relative in case of each society. In permissive yet religious societies as in the West and the Far East, such pastimes as nightlife, clubs, drinking and dancing are integral part of the social life. In dogmatic Islamic countries, these social features are sins to be liable for harsh punishments.
Yet in these glamorous and socially open societies, people respect each other, give charities to the poor and downtrodden, take maximum care of the toddlers and young children, and maintain nursing homes for the old people. They behave politely and respectfully to each other. Any discrimination based on color, ethnicity religion or gender is unlawful. Although, these and similar other values are preached by religions, yet these are manifestly practiced in religiously liberal societies. It means it is the culture or the law that enforces these good traits. That eliminates the difference between being religious and non-religious in order to be socially moral.
The citizens of these religiously tolerant countries obey the civic rules, seldom taint the food, or tamper with their meters. Their agitations and protests rallies are orderly and peaceful. They maintain environmental cleanliness and respect the rights of their neighbors. They are by and large peaceful and allow religious freedom for all believers. Such societies are havens of civic comforts and facilities.
These are moral and human manifestations of such societies, which accord scant or customary regard to religion. Nevertheless, they believe and practice the well-established principles of morality, ethics, and good conduct. These serve their people well and manifest good governance for the welfare of their people.
Temperamentally humans when born, possess inbuilt good or bad traits with varying degrees. These traits are not influenced by external factors and remain as the unalterable part of one’s personality till the last breath. These may be suppressed under peculiar conditions or circumstances but can never be eroded or rooted out from the body. As such socially and temperamentally, some people tend to be highly moral, less moral or conversely highly immoral or less immoral. A miser and greedy man can never be generous, a brave person cannot turn coward and a cruel person would be devoid of compassion, a timid would not be outspoken and an introvert not to become an extrovert, et al.  
Humans tend to be hypocritical in posing as moral and religious by exhorting others to be good while they would be wicked themselves. The religious clerics, clergy and preachers though preach moral values, do not offer practical examples by their own conduct. They ask others to be frugal and simple, while they themselves gloat in wealth and lead lavish lives. They crusade against the moral evils and goad reverence for God. Yet they exploit their adherents by using wrath and pleasure of God. Many of them work as touts of the respective government. They are known for hoarding money and eve caught in heinous rape of minors.
Such a sermonized morality looks to be sham and mere humbug. As morality is ingrained and very personal to an individual, my accent is on social and individual moralities and not political. In politics, morality is nonexistent as the interests of state supersede the moral contours set by religious movements and gospels as well as the traditional social or individual morality. For this reason, an absolute religious government is hard to work for a longer period of time. Secondly the religious doctrines and tenets are meant for a specific period of human societies and become outdated and collide with the emerging conditions in subsequent times.

In simple words, the societies are dynamic and evolutionary while the religions are static. Thirdly morality is a universal virtue and is not subservient exclusively to the religion. Fourth, we have seen that the religious societies get infested with divisions, factionalism, power struggle and disharmony because of irreconcilable sectarianism. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Urdu Hay Jis Ka Naam

January 24, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi

Muslims in the sub-continent look at Urdu as their language and an identity symbol for them. From literary point of view, it is at par with the Persian language. Factually most of the diction and vocabulary of which Urdu is composed of come from Persian and Arabic. Urdu’s total life so far is about seven hundred years. It has been advancing from one phase of refinement to another during all these centuries.
That is why the many words and grammatical formation of early times are different from the latest script that is now prevalent. Urdu like its mother tongues namely Arabic, Persian and to some extent Punjabi is written from right to left. All Latin languages and Indian subcontinent languages are written from left to right.
But we have to mention another prominent language of the Sub-continent that is so sacred for Hindus. It is Hindi language. It is interesting to note that Urdu and Hindi are almost same as far as speaking and vocabulary are concerned. But when it comes to the style of writing Hindi, it is written from left to write and in Sanskrit script. In its outwardly form it is akin to all other languages that are written and spoken from Far East to the borders between India and Pakistan. Hindi’s fund of words and phrases are derived from the scared language Sanskrit.
Here is the difference between Urdu and Hindi. But happily, those who speak only Urdu and those who speak Hindi understand each other. We may say that a common language was in the making in that even Urdu lovers now speak some of the words that exclusively belong to either Hindi and Sanskrit’s the cleavage and gulf that exist because of the different vocabulary is being bridged gradually.
The early shape of Urdu as has been stated above is certainly different from what Urdu is now. Same can be said about the integration of Urdu and Hindi. A time might come when a blend of both these languages come up, eliminating the difference that we see now. The literature and its forms of expression seldom remain static. We know that wherever the two different cultures met, they started influencing each other and in due course of time a third culture emerged. This is also true in case of Hindus and Muslims.
By living a thousand years together we now see that the Muslim have adopted many Hindu customs which we can call as the Indian culture. The rituals and customs that Muslims observe in case of marriage and several other social customs are what the Hindus occasionally practice. So here is a common point that despite the different religions and beliefs brings the Muslims and Hindus together. Same can happen in case of Urdu and Hindi languages as far as speaking are concerned although the style of script would remain the same.
But when we look at the formative history of Urdu we find that while Muslim writers and poets and literary figures extensively wrote in Urdu, the Hindu writers gained prominence in this language too. The litany of such writers and poets is long. On the contrary very few Muslims wrote in Hindi in the past. But now we can see that in India even Muslim are now writing and speaking in Hindi and several books and literary works by Muslims have appeared in Hindi. Muslims in several parts of India have learnt Hindi language besides Urdu. Hindi being the official language in India has a dominant sway and therefore the citizens whether Muslims or Hindus have to learn. But the conservative Muslims still like to prefer using Urdu as the medium of expression.
But it is expected that the ice would start melting with the time passage and both the communities would take equal interest in both the languages. In politics there might be frictions and conflicts but on the social, cultural and literary fronts, such dividing barriers would give way to integration and an atmosphere of homogeneity. That would be a glorious day for the people of India and Pakistan whether Muslims or Hindus.
There is a need for someone to pick up the cudgel of collecting and composing literary achievements both in poetry and prose of both the languages. The Urdu literature can be written in Hindi script and vice versa Hindi can be written in Urdu script. It should be in fact called a literary exchange between the two leading languages of the sub-continent. That effort which would be first of its own kind would go a long way in generating enormous and abiding good will between the two nations at the same time. That might ultimately soften the attitude of those hard liners who always remain on the lookout of throwing spanners into attempts of normalizing relations between the two neighbors.
In this regard the Mushaira being held in Dallas on May 25, 2008 will be a move towards this welcome direction. The Mushaira is being attended by both Urdu and Hindi of eminence and good standing from India and Pakistan. That show of cordiality by literary community of both the countries would be unique and will be always remembered. It might work as the first giant step towards bringing India and Pakistan in other fields.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Trump’s One Year as President of United States

January 22, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi

Donald Trump´s first anniversary (January 20,2018) as US president was overshadowed by colossal turmoil across the length and breadth of United States. Massive demonstrations erupted in many cities across the country. Huge processions took to the streets in major US cities to protest against president Trump and his policies. There prevailed a gubernatorial disorder and display of public outrage. The public-sector employees were not to be paid unpaid as a result of that murky situation.  The fear of government shutdown was imminent.  
Mercifully, The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed a short-term measure bill on Monday to fund the federal government through Feb. 8 which ended a three-day government shutdown.
One has to look with microscope the positive and productive achievements and laudable   accomplishments during Trump’s first year of holding the presidency. It may surmise that there are myriad setbacks. One may not single out one distinctive and laudable achievement that can be attributed to the 47th president of the most powerful country of the world. The economy has benefitted but for the corporate sector.
His foreign policy is no policy at all and can be termed as a disaster: a word profusely used by president Trump himself. The virtue of courtesy or soft speaking has been rare or non-existent in his speeches, comments and statements. He has been lashing out ruthlessly and unabashedly at the opposition. His own retina of friends and even certain honorable members of both the House and the senate were targeted by the president. His announcement on December 6 about the recognition of Jerusalem as the capitol of the state of Israel has utterly turned the Muslims around the world against him. It was a dormant and non-issue. He has made such myopic decisions.
The lurid part of this kind of politicking is that he seldom admits that he was occasionally on the wrong side of the political spectrum. He believes that the whole world is at war against him and he was a lone crusader to annihilate all of them. Several of his close associates who were initially his cabinet members were sacked by him or left on their own on the spur of the moment.
In the foreign policy domain Africa has been insulated and is distancing itself from United States for the period as long as president Trump would be in the White House. The African Union has issued a strong condemnatory statement in response to his comment of labeling African countries as “shit-holes”. This can be termed as a huge setback and dent for American goodwill in the largest and unexplored continent. Most of the African countries are the recipients of the American largest and financial aid. But once unleashed from the apron string of the United States politically and financially, they would try to be self-sufficient and self-sustaining in financial domain. That would impel them to establish industries, streamline their political and financial systems and bring order and good governance somehow. It could result to a great degree in curbing the civil wars going on in many African countries.
His personal and deriding verbal bouts with North Korean president Kim Jong-Un and with other world leaders speak for a shallow and childish mindset. He has been lambasting his critics and opponents also at home turf using the same derogatory and personal jargon that is neither decent nor plausible.
The part of United States’ influence across the globe has been diminishing. With the advent of Trump, USA is getting more isolated. This can be termed as the change of the century especially in the post second world war era. This change is at the cost of American influence and hegemony across the globe. The tussle between communism and capitalism although has gone dormant. Yet patently with the withdrawal of the United States the lands that had been under its wings politically and financially would be slipping out. Various countries including Turkey have dissociated from having moving along America with as partner after its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resurgence of Russia as a more moderate and less communistic state and expanding her influence seems to be one reaction of Trump’s lashing out at the international community including America’s friends. For several decades the most visible development has been China’s big and historical leap as a leading economic power and donor.
Paradoxically, China has, somehow, replaced the United States in giving aid to other states. While the United States’ influence may dwindle, that of Chinese and Russian would expand.  But the difference between Chinese aid and that of the United States is that while with Chinese aid there are no hard or binding conditions or compulsions attached as was in the case of American collaboration and friendship with her allies.
Secondly while American aid to the recipient countries had been largely in cash that of the Chinese is in kind which means building the infrastructure and institutions to enable the recipient countries to stand on their own feet and become independent in their internal and external policies and plans, Moreover, behind the American foreign policy, there has been the principle of appointing and imposing surrogate heads of states and pliant governments for a favorable vote at the UNO and supporting American policies around the world. Its other planks had been to fight its war against the enemy countries or groups such as Houthis, ISIS, Taliban and Haqqani religious bands. It has also been aimed at debilitating the countries opposing the western hegemony and the cutthroat financial domination.
United States needs to lessen its overbearing role imposed since WWII through military means and financial grafts. On the contrary, it should compete with Russia and China and other international donors by demonstrating more humane, benign and sincere policy postures. It should aim at enhancing the international good-will rather creating the faithful robots, apron strings or blind stooges.
Majority of the American population and the world at large seems to be feeling that president Trump was a president who is not delivering as a president ought to do.  His domestic agenda starts from Wall between Mexico and USA and expulsion or barring the immigrants from coming into the United States. He has been seen to be at war with everyone including judiciary, public figures, press and senators and all those institutions or individuals who oppose or criticize him for his wrong and myopic policies and decisions. The element of diplomacy, softness or accommodation that are the hallmarks of the politicians all the more of the president of the mightiest country in the world seem to be squarely deficient in the person and psyche of the incumbent president of USA.
If possible, he even might be prepared to fight physical duels with his opponents. His views and observations and even relationship with the womenfolk in the past are distasteful and hurl many question about the moral fiber of the president. The tales of his sexual exploits are now well known in the USA. But this has not made any dent in his postures, nor does he admit that these were morally wrong and at least he should have apologized for those episodes of misconduct.
America and the American society has remained in a state of limbo and cultural and ethnic tension and political collision for the last one year. There are judicial inquires going on against president Trump and some of his former associates for their role of soliciting internet support for manipulation of vote counting in his favor against his rival Madam Hillary Clinton.
One may expect and pray that instead of being labeled as a supremacist, President Trump demonstrates a kind of personality that endears him domestically as well abroad. If that is a miracle then let it happen.

Monday, January 8, 2018

President Trump’s Statement about Pakistan is Unrealistic and Unwise

January 5, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
The first tweet posted in 2018 by President Trump from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida was against Pakistan. In that tweet he wrote that, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools, they give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”.
Close on the heels of that tweet The American administration has withheld the overdue instalment of 255 million dollars to Pakistan. An announcement to that effect was also made by The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley who accused Pakistan of playing "a double game for years". White House says to announce actions on Pakistan within days.
Interestingly his tweet of October 13, 2017 was in total contrast of his latest anti-Pakistan outburst. In that tweet he said thatStarting to develop a much better relationship with Pakistan and its leaders. I want to thank them for their cooperation on many fronts”.
 After condemning and rather antagonizing the whole world, President Trump has released his ire on Pakistan which has been a long-time ally of the US in her war in Afghanistan. Its rather astonishing that President Trump is finding scapegoats for debacles in Afghanistan after almost two decades.
The war in Afghanistan (was sparked by America in retaliation to the Russian influence which began in 1979 and continued until 2001. after defeating the Russians with the help of Pakistan, Taliban, Usman Bin Laden and other similar groups USA entered into a new phase of fighting against the same Islamic militants who were allies of USA in her war against the Soviets. That war began in 2001 and still continues.  During this phase Usama bin Laden was also killed.
Thus, Afghanistan went through two-phases of warfare: one to ward off Russian hegemony over Afghanistan and the other to flush out Taliban from Afghanistan.
That war is still continuing against Haqqani group and similar other factions. It is in this period that USA is accusing Pakistan of supporting the islamic militants. The withdrawal of financial support to Pakistan is a punitive step by the Trump administration. Not only the accusations of USA are false but it is a sheer betrayal towards an ally which has help America to end the soviet influence in Afghanistan and later of Usman bin Laden faction and Usama’s death also. This is how America treats her friends and allies and abandons them later.
Although militants have been considerably weakened yet their present activities are being heaped on Pakistan as their collaborator. This accusation is absolutely wrong and baseless as Pakistan herself is the target of those activities by these ragtag militants.
For the first time, the Pakistan government and both the houses of the parliament (Senate and National Assembly) and the opposition parties, have taken a united, right and courageous stand in response to Trump’s denunciation of Pakistan, withholding and refusal to pay the outstanding funds for Afghanistan war and terrorism. They have rejected the insinuation of President Trump and pledged not to be browbeaten by the American President’s false alarm bells.
The Pakistani government retaliated to Trumps tweeting by arguing that the recent comments from President Trump were completely incomprehensible and could damage the trust between the two allies.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday chaired the meeting of National Security Committee to deliberate upon the way forward in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recent anti-Pakistani remarks.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif argued that the US President’s quoted figure of $33billion given to Pakistan over last 15yrs are false. In this regard he suggested that Trump can hire a US based Audit firm on our expense to verify this figure and let the world know who is lying and deceiving.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif very rightly stated that “He(Trump) is again and again displacing his frustrations on Pakistan over failures in Afghanistan as they are trapped in dead-end street in Afghanistan. “Asif also pointed out that Pakistan did not need U.S. financial aid.
Responding to Trump’s tweet and withholding of $ 255, Dr Miftah Ismail, Adviser to PM on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Miftah said in a statement that “President Trump often says things which turn out to be false. He pointed out that Pakistan emerged as the frontline state against terrorism to ensure global peace and faced a colossal damage of over $100 billion to its economy other than the loss of over 50,000 precious lives of troops, policemen and officials of other security agencies and civilians. About the impact of US threat, Miftah said Pakistan’s economic health was safe and bright on account of CPEC related activities. He said Islamabad no more sought the US financial assistance and there was no truth in President Trump’s claim of giving Pakistan $33 billion dollars.
If the relations between USA and Pakistan take a downturn, then this time it would be America which will be more at disadvantage than Pakistan.  It should be understood that President Trumps’ threat to Pakistan and denunciation for harboring terrorism is not only unrealistic but a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. In that situation Pakistan would be free to form a regional alliance with Russia, China, Iran and other friendly countries in the region which would be much more useful than what it has been maintaining with the USA all these years.
China and Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and several other countries have negated Trump’s characterization of Pakistan harboring terrorist. They have eulogized Pakistan and acknowledged that Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in Afghanistan were colossal. Any effort to sideline Pakistan and bring it under pressure and branding it as a state sponsoring terrorism is negation of facts and history. Such an attitude towards Pakistan would boomerang against USA and might result in further chaos in Afghanistan.  As already stated this time isolating Pakistan internationally and reigniting war in Afghanistan would not be favorable to the United States.
Pakistan is one state which helped America in fighting Taliban and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan for 15 years (2001-2016). If America reignites the same war now against the ISIS and some Taliban factions including the Haqqani Faction, then it will have to fight that war alone. It will have to use the territory of the Central Asian states for transportation of army and military hardware which Russia is not going to allow.
Is President Trump oblivious of the resounding fact that but for Pakistan’s support USA, could have been squarely defeated and indeed humiliated in Afghanistan. Is he aware that since the inception of the first civil war (1979-1989) in Afghanistan against Soviet Union, Pakistan is hosting four million refugees whose children have now also grown up and well settled in Pakistan? As a result, Pakistan immensely suffered economically and regionally due to the
military alliance with USA. Of late, it was with the help of Pakistan that the Navy Seals were able to reach Osama bin Laden and kill him. 
It should be understood that the American sponsored war in Afghanistan (2001-2017) is different from the Mujahedeen’s war against the Soviet Union which lasted from December 1979 to February 1989. In the first war the Insurgent groups known as the Mujahideen fought against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. In that bloody war around 562,000 to 2,000,000 civilians were killed and millions of Afghans fled the country as refugees mostly to Pakistan and Iran. Ever since Pakistan is hosting millions of Afghan refugees. The children of those Afghan refugees are now settled in Pakistan.
President Trump should understand that now is not the time which was there three decades ago when Pakistan was coerced to join the American military onslaught in Afghanistan to annihilate Taliban as well as root out Russian influence in that country. Later Russia again intervened in that war in 2007.
The uncalled-for anti-Pakistan statement and threat by President Trump perhaps has two motives. One is to detract the American people from his domestic failures and his diminishing image.  He is reviving the Bush era adventurism and thus trying to win the support of the pro-war Americans. It is a sordid attempt of finding scape-goats by raising war cries and using tough language against an all-time friendly country Pakistan.
It is also possible that anti- Pakistan rhetoric of Trump is aimed at bolstering and pleasing India which is the irreconcilable foe of Pakistan. It is a known fact that President Trump has Indian business partners and they remain in contact with him. Trump has showered praise and plaudits on India which ostensibly is to belittle Pakistan.
Yet India cannot help USA to wage another war in Afghanistan and prevail. The driving reason is that India doesn’t have direct territorial contacts or routes with Afghanistan like Pakistan or Iran have. As such any alliance or understanding between India and America for war efforts against Taliban, ISIS or ISIL is not going to materialize.
USA wants to enter Afghanistan again and fight which the American President and defense secretary claim to win and prevail.  It seems that now USA wants to have direct links with the incumbent Afghanistan administration and replace India with Pakistan for furthering anti- Taliban war. Befriending Afhnistan has another object of present American administration and that is exploit and utilize the precious minerals such as uranium which is plentiful in Afghnistan.
However, all those objectives cannot be attained. On the contrary the with absence of Pakistan from the anti-Taliban war coalition American ad her new allies may never be able to achieve their goals and remain stuck in the quagmire.  Understandably America cannot succeed in driving Taliban, ISIS and other religious warriors out of Afghanistan without logistic and other support from Pakistan.  Losing Pakistan’s friendship would be more counterproductive for USA as she would lose a trusted ally and friend which brought victory to America in Afghanistan. In that situation, Pakistan will not allow a hostile America to use her territory in order to enter Afghanistan. This would unfetter Pakistan from US over- lordship and move further closer to Russian and Chins which would more natural alignment that being maintained with USA.
Iran also, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t place her routes and land at the disposal of the American army to enter Afghanistan and restart a war against their perceived enemy. Besides America will have to open its financial coffers once again which might cause an adverse economic backlash in USA.
Let us remember that such threats have been issued by President Trump earlier against North Korea by using the slang of “Fire and Fury” which means bombing North Korean and destroying her missile installations.  The retort from North Korean President Kim Jong Un was more sarcastic and defying in which he ignored President Trump’s ultimatum and utterances by describing those as a ‘load of nonsense’. Even thereafter, North Korea tested missiles, one of which has the capacity to reach American mainland. Guam Island being used as a military base by USA is just within the reach of North Korean range of missiles. Ludicrously, now Trump has announced to befriend Kim to bring about friendship between the two parts of Korea. 
All said and done, this statement about Pakistan being a sponsor of terrorism and host to militants could be another stray outpouring of President Trump. He is in the habit of issuing tough and thoughtless ultimatums and statements but later leaves those in lurch. His announcement to exit from the G-20, erecting a wall between America and Mexico and showering fire and fury on North Korea are meaningless and counterproductive in fostering the American goodwill abroad.
President Trump has been at loggerheads with many countries. Domestically he is fighting a war through tweet against his domestic political opponents, be it the American press, the immigrants, the minority communities and all those who somehow oppose him politically from the Republican or the Democratic Party. It should be instructive for Trump to be sober, less reactive and instead be diplomatic than being ready to throw punches at friend and foes. Lately he has fallen out with his former White House Chief Strategist  Steve Bannon and unabashedly heaped innuendoes on him.
Keeping in view his mercurial temperament, knee jerk reactions, unguarded statements and unpredictable behavior, the Senate majority leader Mitch MacDonnell in a private conversation, had said that he was doubtful if President Trump could retain his presidency.

Shabby Facets of Pakistan

January 1, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
Pakistan like most of the third world countries is civically tarnished and dirty. The People generally live almost in the same civically abysmal conditions that Pakistan inherited after attaining independent in 1947.
While there is a civic mess there is also an unremitting political chaos with parties fighting for power. The leaders enter the corridors of power by hook and crook and by making loud pledges and tall commitment.
Thereafter, they forget the pitiable plight of the people and try to hold on to their power grid by devious manners. As such the political environment and as well as the living conditions of the people are messy, chaotic and filthy. I wish a Messiah descends from the Heavens and sets the living conditions right for at least believers in Islam and for those who are truthful Muslims.
The religious zealots contend that Pakistan is a citadel of Islam, although most of the religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan. Pseudo nationalists gloat that it is a nuclear power. It would be utterly impossible for Pakistan to use the atomic bomb under any circumstances as it would receive the same in return.
Which Pakistan are we speaking and proud of? The one with barricades and barriers all over the land as if the whole country is a jail or a concentration camp. Religious denominations and cults take pride and self-entertaining divine blessing for massacring each other. The more this nation is getting into the religious mindset the more barbaric, backward looking and intellectually marooned it is becoming.
In every locality or street, there are loudspeakers blurring sermons and Azan (summoning for prayer) five times a day causing a lethal sound pollution. People defecate in the open or in manual latrines by taking turns. The meagerly paid sweepers from scheduled caste carry away the heaps of human excretion on a weekly basis and dump it in an open filth depot or dumpster (I am not talking of Islamabad) where it rots for days till the rain washes it away. The municipality trucks come once in a blue moon.
In a sanitation and sewerage deficient country, if you find human refuse running into open drains outside the houses, don’t take it seriously. If swarms of mosquitoes and flees surround you all the way to your destination be it market, mosque and work place, take it as indifferently as part of a decadent civic order. Don’t panic if the worms and bacteria cause deadly epidemics and ailments.
Don’t mind, mind-boggling traffic jams on the narrow roads as we are destined to endure those and that by our faith we are goaded to thank God in every affliction.
The puzzling and ear-splitting sound of smoke-emitting rickshaws and run-down buses are not eye sores because that is how Pakistan is supposed to be. If the whole landscape, roads, footpaths, market places are littered with garbage and encroachments; such gory spectacles should not incense you as we have been living under these abominable conditions since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. And Islam ordains that cleanliness is half faith (Iman)
A culture of dishonesty and deliberate delinquency pervades and sprouts in every office, from presidency to make shift kiosks (khokhas). In offices burdened with red tape and inefficiency and nepotism, the five times praying Muslims prey upon the visitors and customers with full vengeance to pay for what they were doing for them as public servants. It is called bribe or graft is simple terminology.
The permits and licenses are for sale. If you need a connection for electricity or water or gas or phone, don’t go straight to the concerned department with only an application. Along the official fee also take a service fee exclusively for the official doing the needful. But still your name will be placed in the waiting list. A letter from a political heavyweight or powerful bureaucrat would be rather helpful. Be aware nothing is done on merit.
After 70 years, it takes 60-90 minutes to cover a distance of 10 miles to and from Islamabad and Rawalpindi: the so-called sister cities in the Potohar plateau. Lately there has been some improvement in that terrific paradigm. The police pickets, the road barriers, the para-military contingents stop you to find if you are a suicide bomber, carrier of narcotics or a bottle of hard drink. The social life in the most protected cities has come to such a dreadful pass. As a student I remember, it would take maximum 45 minutes to reach Rawalpindi from Wah cantonment by bus. Now this time is much longer and one has to pay toll tax at many places.
Go to the Bara or Landi Kotal (tribal enclave) to buy a 12-bore pistol for a pittance. Come back to your city, get into a house and rob the inmates and get rich overnight. The police would not know and would not like to probe who committed such a crime because this has become a commonplace daily occurrence. But if you want to indulge or watch a combined spree of robbing, killing, raping and extortion, go to Karachi. And take care you could also be hit.  
Pakistan is the most ideal place to witness murders and massacres for reasons ranging from ethnic, sectarian, tribal, clannish and honor to land grabbing or just for show off in streets. The raped young poor girls have to produce four eyewitnesses to prove that they were raped. Is it possible? Law and order has become razor-thin and no one cares who is killing and who is being killed.
It is a tall order to explore who is raping whom, who is kidnapped and who kidnaps. These are the signs of doomsday but the prophesied doomsday has already descended on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Ironically Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace as it commands that killing one person is killing the whole humanity. Just imagine how many humanities have been killed and are being killed in Pakistan.
The new generations of Pakistan boys, girls, toddlers and adolescents, are living in an atmosphere of persistent fear, insecurity, bomb blasts, rape, arson, loot and plunder, in dark and dingy streets and in a nauseating environment of sound and filth pollution. They come out of the homes with a lurking fear of being blasted or kidnapped and targeted for unspeakable heinous crimes. Those from the rich families or who can afford get an IPad in order to diver their attentions to morbid sex scenes and activities. 
The food is costly and generally adulterated. The drugs and medicines are spurious. The water is contaminated. The meat could be of a dog, a pig or mad cow. Who cares and scrutinizes for such infringements. How many young children both male and female are forced to work with sex maniacs at auto workshops, restaurants, hotels or in private homes as servants? How alarming the level of molestation of the underage males and females is: no one bothers nor wants to know.
The country is in the grip of Thana and Patwari culture, the despicable symbols of corruption. These obsolete and moribund institutions were started by Mughal emperor Akbar the great, or the British colonialist long time ago. Caring a fig for what the law or the religion obligates, invariably everyone from the president to a police constable seems to be obsessed with making money through fair and fouls alike. The whole nation has fallen into a morass of moral sleaze.
The contracts are given in wrong and delinquents hands. The newly laid out roads are washed away after a few showers of rain. The bridges dash to the ground not long after being commissioned. If rental power generation units are purchased from foreign sellers, it brings hefty commissions to buyers (Raja rental scandal) and crooks are elevated to the higher positions. Pitiably such leased power units do not produce a watt and are paid in advance to the tune of billions of rupees.
When poverty grinds and inflation ruins the household, the crimes and prostitution sprout and rob the people of modesty, honor and religious penchant. That is what is happening in Pakistan and that country created in the name of Islam is turning into another Thailand in due course. In such debilitating financial situation more, foreign loans are solicited putting more burden on the national economy and raising the cost of living
The army was there at the helm for half of Pakistan’s existence. A drunkard and lewd military president in collusion with a power-hungry politician held the first free elections and then equaled this good deed by truncating Pakistan. Cessation of East Pakistan and surrender of a Muslim army are those calumnies that cannot be washed ever unless Ganges turns flowing in the opposite direction and the sun starts rising from the west. And during those crippling moments (surrender) several generals, politicians and bureaucrats reported were drinking in five-star hotels with their concubines. This is the story of a nation that claims that it ruled the sub content for a thousand years.
Our army had been braced against its own people in roughest and the most dangerous terrain of the world. At the behest of the foreign powers led by the USA, they had been fighting and dying in a war that was purposeless for Pakistan. So, Pakistan an economically feeble and socially torn apart country has to put up two-pronged war: one with the enemy across the eastern border, the other against Islamic militants rampaging the length and breadth of Pakistan.
 If there was no obscurantism until 1980 notwithstanding Bhutto turning Pakistan into another Saudi Arabia under pressure from PNA was primarily aimed at saving his his office of the prime minister of the left over West Pakistan. Why in 70 years, the sermons and preaching of Muslim pontiffs failed to turn Pakistan into a true Islamic state and its citizens good Muslims? Yet the dreary and ineffectual sermons continue to foster sectarian hatred, reinforcing warnings of hellfire. Alongside, the construction of new mosques remains apace uninhibited. If there could not be one single model Islamic dispensation in 1400 years, how one would hope for that in the present times when old taboos and gospels are losing their relevance. ………..
Which war is for Islam and which one to safeguard the territorial integrity of Pakistan and its people? Pakistan is doomed as the menace of Taliban abetted by external abettors would not die nor the perpetrators would surrender so soon. There is a noose of Islamic militancy around the neck of Pakistan that is tightening by way of proliferation of bomb blasts and violence.
Can one dream for the day when a true and patriotic leadership would take up the reins of Pakistan? Will that day dawn when the citizens would travel with a relief that their lives were safe and they won’t be molested, kidnapped or killed on the way? Can we visualize a society when law and order would prevail and dispensation of unhampered justice would be possible by nabbing the highest culprits in government, in aristocracy and from the elite classes? Would our judges be upright and strong to uphold the law and not selling the justice?
Can our institutions, government departments and bureaucracy function even by a fraction of other civil societies? Can Pakistan generate enough electricity that the word “load shedding” becomes obsolete? Can everyone have access to schooling, medical facilities’ drinking water and job? Can we integrate the Islamic teachings into the established curricula and syllabi and close the ghost schools imparting hatred and spurious Islam to the students who come to Islamic nurseries due to poverty or ignorance?
Can we limit the number of religious institutions and affiliate them with the national educational system from the primary to the university level? Can we bring about a national reconciliation? Can we eliminate the thugs, the crooks, the public enemies, briber takers, the goons, and all those who have turned Pakistan into one of the most dangerous and debased places to live?
Can our roads be widened, railways modernized, bridges built, hidden natural resources tapped and stalled projects such Kalabagh be undertaken? Can the whole country be washed of the glut of dirt and debris and trash? Can the cities be embraced with centralized sewerage system? Can we check the burgeoning population so that the resources can be better utilized?
Can we elect a leadership that is visionary, selfless, imbued with nationalistic spirit, progressive and dedicated to promote a democratic culture and liberalizing the society? Can a stable, democratic, economically prosperous, socially liberal, and civically a modern Pakistan be rebuilt? The list of challenges is endless.  Primarily it depends upon the quality of the leadership that we choose.