ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Concerned about Pakistan’s international isolation and faltering economy, the country’s powerful military has quietly reached out to its archrival India about resuming peace talks, but the response was tepid, according to Western diplomats and a senior Pakistani official.
The outreach, initiated by the army’s top commander, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, began months before Pakistan’s national elections. Pakistan offered to resume on-and-off talks with India over their border dispute in the Kashmir region, which stalled in 2015 as violence flared up there.
A key objective for Pakistan in reaching out to India is to open barriers to trade between the countries, which would give Pakistan more access to regional markets. Any eventual peace talks over Kashmir are likely to involve an increase in bilateral trade as a confidence-building measure.
Book Review – Directorate S: The CIA and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll.
Steve Coll’s new book is an excellent account of events of the last two decades in Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Steve has all the credentials to embark on this project. He is one of the best and well-informed journalist and his previous book Ghost Wars is the most authentic work of the history of Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA’s) war in Afghanistan in 1980s. For his new book, he has used important American sources from different departments of US government engaged with Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also used some Afghan and few Pakistani sources, but it is mainly an American perspective of the events. There is need for work on Pakistani and Afghan perspective which is a far more difficult task. Continue reading “Review: Directorate S: The CIA and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan”
Shahid Aziz retired from the Pakistan army after a long and successful career, reaching the rank of Lieutenant General (3 star general) and serving as DG analysis wing of the ISI, DGMO (director general military operations), CGS (chief of general staff) and corps commander (commanding 4 corps in Lahore). After retirement, he served as chairman of the powerful National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the main anti-corruption watchdog in Pakistan. In spite of having been one of General Musharraf’s closest associates (and related to him by marriage; the daughter of one of Shahid Aziz’s cousins is married to Musharraf’s son) he became increasingly critical of Musharraf after retirement and in 2013 he wrote a book that was highly critical of Musharraf and of Pakistan’s supposedly pro-US policies at that time.
In May 2018 there were several news reports claiming that General Shahid Aziz had left his home last year (or even earlier) to join the Jihad against the West and had been killed, either in Syria or in Afghanistan (General Musharraf was the one who claimed he was killed in Syria, most other reports said Afghanistan). While his family has denied these reports, they have not been able to produce any explanation about where he is if he has not actually died on Jihad. So I decided to read the book. Having read it, I think the combination of naive idealism and PMA-level Islamism found in his book makes it very likely that these reports are true. My review follows (please also read this review by Abdul Majeed Abid as a complementary piece) Continue reading “Review: General Shahid Aziz’s Memoir Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tak”
Please watch this short excerpt from a conversation between my main man in the house Veedu Vidz and Shaykh Shabbir Ally.
Veedu Vidz is one of Hindustan’s brightest sons, hottest heart throbs, most talented thesbians, funniest comedians, most enlightened leaders, wisest Islamic theologians and Brown Pundit favorites. He now lives in the UK with his beautiful wife and youtube sensation Mimzy Vidz. Shaykh Shabbir Ally is also one of Hindustan’s greatest lights. He is one of the world’s leading Murdhids or Islamic scholars.
This post is aimed at not so bright nonmuslims who back Islamist extremists against reasonable muslims (such as Shaykh Shabbir Ally) and muslimish leaders (such as Veedu Vidz and the ever elegant Mimzy Vidz). Let me summarize the wise Shaykh Shabbir Ally for you:
Blasphemy and apostasy laws (such as those that require the recitation of pbuh after the name of the holy prophet, or don’t allow visual depictions of the holy prophet pbuh) are unislamic and should be ended.
The holy Koran is consistent with freedom of religion, art, thought and speech.
Mohammed pbuh use to follow Jewish law in absence of specific divine guidance since Mohammed pbuh considered Jewish law to be divinely ordained and better than nothing. Many of the Hadiths show Mohammed pbuh following Jewish law and can be discarded.
Mohammed pbuh probably stopped stoning adulterers when the Koran revealed that the punishment for adulterers should be different [and in AnAn’s opinion lighter].
Many Islamist interpretations of the Islamic Shariah jurisprudence are not based on the holy Koran and can be discarded.
I 100% agree with the wise Shaykh about all of this. All global hate speech laws, demonetization of videos, or removal of videos regarding Islam should be ended immediately. All discussion of Islam and criticism of Islam should be allowed. The nonsensical phrase “Islamaphobia” needs to be retired. Muslims are mature enough not to be offended and engage in respectful dialogue. Muslims don’t need to be condescendingly pretentiously patronizingly infantalized or “protected”.
Every muslim in the world is entitled to freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. Once this happens Muslims and spiritual nonmuslims will automatically engage in dialogue with Islamist jihadi extremists and melt their hearts with the sweetness of love. The fourteen century Islamic civil war will end and the world will sing with joy.
Nonmuslims; first understand . . . then adjust. Please be slightly curious about Islam and learn the slightest bit about Islam before trying to “help” muslims. Please try to transform and improve yourself so that you have the ability to help others. Now you might ask, how can I learn about Islam and muslims? Good question. Right question. Please watch this discussion between six of the world’s leading Islamic theologians (I would rather our very own Brown Pundit resident Murshid Razib Khan was included too but it was not to be):
Canada’s parliament passed Motion 103 by a vote of 201–91 on March 23, 2017. The vote is nonbinding and some might allege that Tarek Fatah [an important leader of the global minority and liberal muslim movement] is over-concerned with it. This bill was pushed by the nonmuslim post modernist global intelligentsia in collaboration with the Arabist Lobby and soft Islamists as a way to support soft Islamists against moderate and minority muslims. Many of the Canadians duped into supporting Motion 103 are well intentioned useful idiots.
Tarek argues that Motion 103–which he believes is on the pathway to bringing blasphemy and apostasy laws to Canada–is precisely what most of Canada’s muslim immigrants came to Canada to run away from. I would add that this brings chills of fear down the spines of Canadian muslims and muslims who want to move to Canada. If Motion 103 ever became binding, it could be used to severely limit the freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling of Sufis, twelvers, sixers, other minority muslims, moderate Sunnis, atheist muslims, ex-muslims; on the grounds that their practices, songs and sayings are Islamophobic and offensive to “muslims.”
Tarek Fatah said:
“it is almost as if you say Hindu or white man is an abuse now a days.”
when the muslims [Umayyad dynasty] tried to kill all remaining blood descendants of Mohammed’s pbuh family, the only country that protected the prophet’s pbuh family was Hindustan. For which Hindustan was attacked.
the holy Koran is not currently sequenced in the order Allah and Gabriel revealed it to the holy prophet.
Usman [and Fatimah] assembled the holy Koran in its current order twenty years after the holy prophet pbuh passed away.
Usman burnt three hundred copies of the holy Koran that didn’t exactly match his preferred written Koran.
muslims murdered the first four rightly guided muslim Caliphs.
the guys we are expected to follow got murdered by the very guys telling us we should follow them
my Hindu, Christian and Jewish friends make jokes . . . but when I do I can be killed
Hindus laugh all the time because Hindus have 50 million Gods so Hindus can pick a God and make fun of Him (the God they picked) because the other guy doesn’t even know that is a God.
[Hindus] have 50,000 books. No one can read them all. So no one knows how to get offended.
Just by holding the Koran [in a public talk] someone can get offended
Our greatest [muslim] saints . . . are celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus, not by muslims
Hindus are too busy getting MBAs or becoming CEOs to notice
Nizammuddin Auliya said I have two doors in my house, when the mullah and the king enter from the front door I leave because evil comes from the front door with the ruler and the mullah come together [I would strongly recommend that everyone visit his Dargah in Delhi during their next trip. It is a life altering visit.]
There is a fatwa against the same microphone which is used to broadcast the morning prayer across the world.
Holy Land Foundation trial revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood or Ikhwan internally said in 1991 that “these are our organizations that we run under different names”:
Islamic Society of North America or ISNA
Muslim Student Association or MSA that has a presence in every urban high school in Canada and the United States
The Muslim Association of Scientists
We are waging a civilization jihad against western civilization by infiltrating and destroying from within
Not a single Indian muslim volunteered to fight on behalf of the Mukti Bahini [this is unfair . . . they were asked not to volunteer by Indira so that the Bangladeshi freedom struggle was not discredited. The mistake is Indira’s if there is a mistake.]
War between Mullah’s Islam and Allah’s Islam
There was no “Mullah’s Islam” during the life of the prophet pbuh.
The middle east was the only part of the world to not side against the Nazis in WWII.
many Nazis went to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 1945
Soviet muslims defeated Hitler in WWII
Islam owes a lot to the Eastern Orthodox Church, to the Zorastrians and to the Hindus
Islam is Judaism planted on pagan Arab culture
We will eliminate Jihad in India before we do it anywhere else.
India is the only country where a muslim can speak the truth and survive [I would add the United States]
Despite a bounty on Tarek Fatah’s head with an Imam saying I will slit your throat was conquered by a million Indian muslims protecting Tarek Fatah.
I am not adding anything extra with this short news item, I think the news speaks eloquently and voluminously by itself. I just want to add that I feel utterly humble when I consider how much courage and determination people like Jibran Nasir possess to do what he is doing day after day in a place like Pakistan.
Rare secular candidate in Pakistan hounded by angry mob
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – It began with a audience members asking Pakistani parliamentary candidate Jibran Nasir to declare his religion at a public forum, a request he politely refused on the grounds it is irrelevant.
Later, the mobs started showed up. In the past week, three of Nasir’s public meetings in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, have been disrupted by religious hardliners – shouting out and shoving his supporters.
Nasir, a human rights lawyer, is a rare breed in Pakistan: an avowedly secular, progressive candidate in the overwhelmingly Muslim country of 208 million, where most parties appeal to an Islamic vote bank.
His independent candidacy is in stark contrast to the prevailing mood of Pakistan’s campaign, which has seen the rise of new ultra-right Islamist parties campaigning on protecting draconian blasphemy laws and denouncing the persecuted Ahmadi sect.
Liberal and secular-minded Pakistanis say the sheer number of religious party candidates, combined with their ultra-conservative rhetoric, has already shifted the agenda in their direction.
Nasir aims to challenge the prevalent extremist discourse.
“Our campaign is bigger than just my win… What it is symbolizing for the people is a change in narrative,” he told Reuters.
“That challenging extremists is possible … not using religion to get votes is possible.”
Since launching his campaign, a number of clerics in Karachi have branded Nasir a blasphemer from the pulpit, a dangerous accusation in Pakistan that can lead to the death penalty, and labeled him an Ahmadi, a sect they consider heretics.
On Saturday, a mob of people chanting slogans associated with the new ultra-Islamist Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party, which campaigns under the “death to blasphemers” rallying cry, descended on his public meeting, crowding around Nasir and intimidating his supporters.
“I believe it’s being done in a very organized manner,” Nasir said. “Our politics should be free from compromise, fear, and discrimination.”
Labaik spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi said his party “did not send anyone to do this”, adding that people running in elections should declare their faith.
Nasir gained nationwide prominence in 2014 after staging protests against the Red Mosque, the Islamabad center of a militant network with links to Pakistani Taliban strongholds in the northwest and in neighboring Afghanistan.
The mosque was the site of a military standoff in 2007, but within two years its chief cleric was freed from detention and was once again calling for strict Islamic rule across Pakistan.
The mosque campaign earned Nasir a phone call and death threats from a high-ranking Taliban commander.
“We are doing it for the millions of Pakistanis … who right now are forced to choose amongst the lesser of evils, who are willing to embrace different political leaders with all their biases and religious bigotry,” he said.
“Every day I am carrying on with my mission, they are making a fool of themselves.”
Controversy about judiciary is seen as a novel phenomenon in Pakistan. Found this piece from the vault written in 2007. It is long but provides context of current status. There is a coming ‘food fight’ among senior judges. A sitting senior judge has leveled the accusation that court benches are formed at the advice of intelligence agencies and that phones of judges are being taped. This is the first salvo and more fireworks in store. When politics is militarized and judiciary and army brass politicized, then system will always be wobbly. Read it if you have some spare time but I’ll advise to take some aspirin before reading it.
“The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of our adversities”. Sophocles
Defence Journal, June 2007
Judicial Jitters in Pakistan – A Historical Overview
‘Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please’. Mark Twain
Pakistan is in the throes of a judicial crisis since March 2007. On March 09, 2007, general Pervez Mussharraf summoned chief justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudry to army house. He was asked some tough questions and then asked to resign. Chief justice held his ground and refused. He was kept at army house for several hours so that an acting chief justice could be sworn in. Justice Javed Iqbal was sworn in as the senior most judge justice Rana Baghwan Das was out of country. Chaudry was given the title of ‘suspended’ chief justice and his case referred to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for action. This started a crisis where majority of the people denounced the cavalier manner in which general Mussharraf dealt with the chief justice. Legal community fully supported chief justice by boycotting courts and bringing out processions on the streets. Now every one is waiting for the final scene of the drama which may take a while. Current crisis has brought judiciary in the lime light. This article will give a historical overview of the role of judiciary in Pakistan and its interaction with both civilian and military rulers.
In every country, there is a continuous struggle for accumulating more power between different state institutions. Executive tries to get a free hand and does not like legal restraints. Judiciary tries to put some breaks on unchecked powers of the executive. This struggle keeps some semblance of balance of power. However, a politicized judiciary is as dangerous as an uncontrolled power hungry executive. Continue reading “Judicial Jitters in Pakistan. A look back..”
While browsing through some old material, found an old piece written in 2003 when General Pervez Mussharraf had just completed the political engineering project. It is lengthy and indulges in some theories but gives some context to what is happening now. While pondering over it, I found words of Amjad Islam Amjad as best description;
dairoon mein chalte hein
dairoon mein chalnen se
daire to barhtey hein
fasley nahin ghatey
aarzoen chalti hein
jis taraf ko jate hein
manzilein tammana ki
saath saath chalti hein
gard urhti rehti hey
dard barhta rehta hey
rastey nahin ghatey
subhe dam sitaroon ki
tez jhilmilahat ko
roshni ki amad ka
pesh baab kehtey hein
ik kiran jo milti hey
aftab kehte hein
daira badalne ko
inqilab kehtey hein
Enjoy if you have some extra time on hand.
Forbidden Fruit – Military & Politics
Politics and profession of soldiering has nothing in common. They are totally different but essential elements of any society. Politicians and soldiers have an interesting relationship in all societies. In societies where civilians are in control, military officers act in accepted boundaries though ready to defend their turf against civilian encroachment. In societies where political institutions are weak and there is lack of consensus on legitimate course of succession, soldiers gradually expand their area of influence. They gradually restrict the role of civilians in various areas and sometimes directly take over the state replacing the civilians. This generally accepted model does not mean that military as an institution has no relevance to the important policy decisions. Even in countries where the tradition of civilian supremacy is well established, military has a political role relating to national security, albeit a different one. One commentator has correctly pointed that “the military’s political role is a question not of whether but of how much and what kind”. 
This article will evaluate soldier’s attitude towards political activity and how it develops. This will be followed by the details of Pakistani experience of politicization of officer’s corps and how repeated and prolonged military rules have militarized the politics. In the end, the complex relationship between soldiers and politicians will be summarized. Continue reading “Forbidden Fruit: Military and Politics in Pakistan (and beyond)”
Following piece is mainly the result of questions form non-Pakistanis to explain the context. It may not be very interesting for Pakistanis as they are already well informed and it seems lengthy and a bit boring. The noise is at a very high pitch making reasonable discourse very hard. Reminds me tenth century Arab poet Mutanabbi’s words, “With so much noise, you need ten fingers to plug your ears”.
Summary could be single sentence quotes;
Political Leaders: Reminds me Liddelhart’s words “The prophets must be stoned; That is their lot, and the test of their fulfillment. But a leader who is stoned may merely prove that he has failed in his function through a deficiency of wisdom, or through confusing his function with that of a prophet”.
Generals: The Times, April 6, 1961 issue statement that “it is difficult to envisage some thirty or forty generals and a smaller number of admirals and air force commanders appointed solely by Providence to be the sole judges of what the nation needs”.
Judiciary: Jorge Ubico of Guatemala’s words that “My justice is God’s”.
Political Engineering – Modus Operandi
“The establishments in the US, Pakistan and India are usually working for their own good rather than for the good of their public. Shaking them might not be a bad idea”. Former Director General of Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General (R) Asad Durrani quoted in Spy Chronicles
Pakistanis will be voting for general elections on 25 July 2018. Events of the last one year have raised many questions about the process. The gulf between important institutions is widening by the day. Attitudes have hardened and everyone is rallying behind their respective wagons. Pakistan’s power stool is three-legged and at one time known as ‘troika’. In the past, President, Prime Minister and Chief of Army of Staff were the three legs of this stool. Change of President to a ceremonial role by taking most of his powers removed this leg. In due course, this leg was replaced by Judiciary. The three legs are uneven with executive as shortest, followed in size by Judiciary and then army. There is an inherent element of instability in this arrangement. Continue reading “Political Engineering in Pakistan Part II”