- Aug 26, 2010
- Posted By: Gulam Asgar Mitha
- 523 comments
- Tags: none
On 20 November 1970, the Bhola cyclone, the worse in human history struck and devastated East Pakistan. The total deaths reported were about 300,000 and effected 3.5 million East Pakistanis with an estimated cost of damages valued at US$ 100 million ($500 million in 2010 dollars). The aftermath of the cyclone drew a lot of criticism from the Awami League party led by Sheikh Mujibur Rehman as well as from international quarters that the central government of president Agha Yahya was very slow in providing relief to the stricken people. To be fair to Yahya, he was caught between the politics of Z.A. Bhutto and Mujibur Rehman. And again to be fair to Mujib, he’d won the elections fairly but the feudal Bhutto refused to accept defeat. Unrest between AL and central government precipitated the Bangladesh Liberation Movement (BLM). After the military crackdown of civilians in E. Pakistan, Mujibur Rehman declared independence from Pakistan on 25 March 1971. What followed was the 13 day liberation war ending 16 December 1971 and the formation of Bangladesh. The current feudal President’s father-in-law, feudal landlord Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became the president of Pakistan on 20 December 1971. No doubt, Z.A. Bhutto and Pakistan’s military were responsible for the first break-up of Pakistan. President Zia finally got his way of treating Bhutto as a traitor and hanged him. Kasuri case was an excuse.
What is Pakistan’s future following the devastating floods? Pakistan’s PPP government of Zardari and Gilani are being accused of mismanagement and corruption. Also there is a lot of political bickering and cracks starting to show between all the four major political parties, MQM, PPP, ANP and PML(N) while the military is involved in fighting USA’s war on terror. All the four parties are infiltrated with non-nationalists. Why terrorize our people by blessing drone attacks? Amid the bickering, mismanagement of the country, corruption, disunity and low confidence, Karachi is in the throes of senseless killings. And the economy is shattering under a foreign debt load of $60 billion with another $15-20 billion needed for flood reconstruction. The symptoms today are no different than they were in 1970-71. Maybe the malaise is worse.
PPP, who are US allies, have been blaming militants for exploiting the people effected by the floods. Mr. Shamsul Hassan has alleged that the militants (some call it terrorists, others extremists) are exploiting the people to overthrow the state. It is easier to blame militants than the corrupt regime and the military. Mr. Hassan’s justification is unwarranted.
Is history going to be repeated? Certainly the seeds for the second balkanization are being sowed. Will it be Sindh or Baluchistan? And God forbid it happens, the feudal landlords and the military must be held responsible.
As with the first balkanization which happened with direct involvement of India and USA’s assistance, the second too might involve these two countries and Israel with the objective of Pakistan’s destabilization that might lead to denuclearisation. Maybe the floods are a wrath from God or maybe a short term blessing for Pakistan’s enemies—not USA or India but the feudal landlords, the real traitors and the blood-suckers of the poor masses of the country. Maybe the floods are not a wrath but a wake-up call. Can the nation wake up to the alarm? Whatever the answers, I sincerely believe there is a destiny for Pakistan, a destiny that will benefit all Muslims. The Divine force too is working against injustice and terrorism which is never allowed to prevail.
A person I knew very intimately who is now deceased had told me when Z.A. Bhutto was hanged “The dynasty should be wiped off because if not Pakistan will suffer if even one 6 month old Bhutto baby is allowed to live”. What prophetic words.
During the course of sharing several opinions, I asked my colleague who’d been actively involved in Pakistan’s civilian intelligence about Mr. Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan. Not surprisingly, Ahmed (nom de geurre) told me that Jinnah only wanted a Pakistan for Muslims as he considered that Muslims and Hindus could not live together in India. Reflecting back some three decades, I recollected that I’d posed a similar question to the my father’s first cousin late Mr. Habib I. Rahimtoola who’d been a close associate of Jinnah in Mumbai and having immigrated to Pakistan, Mr. Rahimtoola was active in politics as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to UK, Ambassador to France, Governor of Punjab and Federal Commerce Minister until the early 60’s. Mr. Rahimtoola had told me that Jinnah’s vision was very obscured and that he simply wanted a Pakistan for Muslims of India.
Jinnah was a lawyer in Mumbai. In 1916—at the age of 40-- Jinnah led the All-India Muslim League and remained the leader until his death in 1948. Reading through several biographies, Jinnah was a foppish elitist and had even married a fashionable Parsi lady by the name of Rattanbai Petit. Our family too had roots in Mumbai and my late grandfather personally knew Jinnah. His views about Jinnah were coincidental with Ahmed’s and Mr. Rahimtoola’s. They’d both expressed the same opinion that Jinnah just wanted to be a leader but more so with an obscure political vision about Pakistan.
Jinnah wanted a Muslim majority country, distinctly separate from a Hindu majority India. He got it in the shape of Pakistan. He envisaged a nation of citizens adopting Islamic values and culture but certainly did not support a theocratic nation. In other words Jinnah would never have empowered clergy. At times Jinnah also favoured secularism. It is ironical that in its current state, Pakistan’s basic political principles have no semblance of Islamic values, embodies religious theocracy which has nourished extremism and that both secularism and religion exist in opposition. How can outdated British legal system exist together with shariah or Islamic laws that are nowhere close to Islam? The shariah laws were the brainchild of Zia-ul-Haq, not Islamic. To further complicate things, Pakistan’s military has juxtapositioned an ideology that further complicates an iron-fisted rule with feudal democracy. Pakistan’s framework of governance remains as obscured today, in principle, as Jinnah’s foggy vision of yesterday.
After Jinnah, Pakistan’s successive rulers, military or civilian, have sent conflicting signals about their directions for Pakistan. Every successive leader has not only not defined a clear vision for Pakistan but more tragically used the Constitution to amend it at times for personal or party gains and at other times for military gains.
No matter what, Mr. Jinnah would not have allowed feudal democracy or military rule to prevail. That was definitely not his vision for Pakistan. Would Mr. Jinnah have resisted, his fate at the hands of the feudalists would've have been quite similiar to Zulfiqar Bhutto's at the hands of a military leader.
I had read a very interesting document titled "Securing Pakistan's Tribal Belt". The document had been issued by The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in August 2008, the author being Daniel Markey. What was most interesting was the foreword by Richard Haas, the President of CFR regarding Pakistan, the American agenda in subtle terms and the vital geographical importance. The document has been posted on my website under Pakistan Issues. What was most interesting are the wordings "coercive sanctions to induce Pakistan to act or unilateral action against security threats". The emphasis is unilateral action.
Afghanistan, a land-locked country has two gates. These are the northern and the southern gates. The northern gate leading to the Central Asian countries remains shut but not locked whereas the southern gate leading into Pakistan, remains locked. The key to success in Afghanistan then is to secure the southern gate, its strategic ports and the land route for unhindered western military movement. Presently, the US and its NATO allies have to secure permission to move military hardware and to pay overland customs duties to move non-military goods and commodities. Hence the southern gate cannot be secured unless Pakistan is denuclearized first.
Upon examining western strategies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, all predominantly Muslim countries, three very prominent patterns emerge. These patterns are now being applied in Pakistan. The patterns are, collectively, termed “softening”. The first and most important is the economic softening. Tons of military and economic aid under the guise of fighting terrorism was provided to Pakistan under Musharraf and the result was prosperity. Another side of economic aid was to make Pakistani government, military and businesses dependent on aid for prosperity. The aid also led to widespread corruption among the general population and the military and which eventually rehabilitated itself into western coffers. So what aid was given was conveniently recovered.
The second softening is the transformation of military governance into civilian governance. This has served two purposes for the west. The first and more important one is to expend the military hardware provided as aid and to stir up the Taliban to move from Afghanistan into Pakistan. The Pakistani military intrusions in FATA at the behest of the US have caused considerable damage within Pakistan. This will be discussed in the third softening pattern. A repressive civilian government with Zardari at the helm is beneficial for the US in more than many ways. Zardari is famous for his corruption and likewise the ruling People’s Party. He can be blackmailed quite easily by the west and cajoled into serving western interests of which the predominant one is to de-nuke Pakistan and as mentioned its something which can be only be guessed and that too with substantial difficulty.
It took several years to soften Iraq and the other Muslim countries. As much as 10 years is not out of line for the softening process. Pakistan’s softening started in 2003, soon after the US and its western allies were well entrenched in Afghanistan. Pakistan was bribed into becoming a partner for the war against terrorism under the Bush regime and it is only now that the dividends are beginning to pay off under the Obama administration. Administrations change in Washington but the foreign policies do not change. The war against terrorism has now shifted into Pakistan with India as the key player. One of the strongest indications that India is a key partner is the hosting of the first State dinner of the Obama administration on November 24 for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Fareed Zakaria, a well respected foreign affairs analyst of Indian origin and host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, has summed up the Indian visit in very enlightening terms on the website (http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/25/zakaria.india.state.visit/index.html).
The final aspect of the softening process is one based on fear, the actual bombing. Abundant paradigms have been forwarded as to who are the real suicide bombers that have been striking Peshawar but here the objective is not to discuss any of these or propose a new one. The US has directly or even indirectly used bombing in Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Afghanistan but unable to do so without just cause, the US cannot apply the tactic in Pakistan for fear of provoking Pakistan into starting a nuclear war. Whoever or whether the Taliban or the US or India or Israel are behind the rash of suicide bombings is irrelevant. The relevance here is that the suicide bombings in one major center is wreaking havoc and giving an international exposure to Pakistan as a terrorist haven and of shattering the economy. It is just a matter of time that the suicide bombings could start in Lahore and Karachi. When and if that happens, the nation could be devastated. The military has served the western interests by letting loose the bees out of their hives through an irrational adventure in northern Pakistan. The blame can only be attributed to Pakistan’s civilian government and the military establishment for not foreseeing the game plan.
The general opinion is that the US and its allies have been bogged down in Afghanistan. This is a red herring, a deceptive perception and an intent to mislead from the agenda. The truth is that the US is not bogged down in Afghanistan. This same opinion had been extended for US position in Iraq but no longer so. The limelight has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan over the past 2 years. The US, after securing Iraq, has started a drawdown and troop surge from Iraq into Afghanistan and the question that begs the answer is “for what purpose?” There have been reported incidents of US agents operating in Pakistan along with the news that the US is constructing a fortress embassy in Islamabad that could house 3000 personnel. Again, the question is “for what purpose?” It is possible that if the “terrorists” consisting of Al-Qaeda and Taliban penetrate into central and southern Pakistan, this would be the excuse for the US to move troops from Afghanistan into Pakistan at Zardari’s request while Pakistan’s military could become engaged in the north or on the eastern front with India. Hence the US troops surge.
Whether and when the plan for Pakistan to be denuclearized will be successful cannot be predicted but for the present the game is being played out and Pakistan has no viable options for opting out of the game.
- Jan 26, 2009
- Posted By: Gulam Asgar Mitha
- Tags: none
The moral recession in democracies
Dr. Muqtedar Khan
I have, for years, been a strong advocate of the democracy, primarily inspired by my experience with American freedoms. As a Muslim who speaks his mind and asks critical questions, I am routinely threatened and maligned by those, who unable to cope with my reason and critique, seek to silence me. American democracy gave me the protection and the opportunity to live life as God intended humans to – as thinking, reflecting and expressive beings.
I helped form an organization to promote democracy in the Muslim World and wrote a book making the argument that democracy was essential for good Islamic governance. However in the past few years, democracy has repeatedly let advocates like me down. Let me give you a few examples.
Tony Blair, George Bush and Dick Cheney invaded a country and caused the death and destruction in the face of opposition by millions of their own citizens. The invasion of
Iraq was a grotesque war crime the democracy could not prevent. Over a million Iraqis died as a direct consequence of the War.
Today many thousands of children would be alive, many thousands of families would be intact, and we would not have a quarter million homeless refugees strewn over three continents, if the U.S. and UK – both democracies – had not invaded Iraq. Iraqis have suffered in many ways.
Today thanks to our "democracy promotion" there are hundreds of Iraqi women forced into prostitution to just feed their children. They surely have been liberated. Now they meet "new people" on a daily basis for $8 a day!
Laws have been passed in Britain and the U.S. which make a mockery of the idea of freedom. Discourses have been advanced that have distorted the very idea of morality. Leaders who have repeatedly lied to their own people have been repeatedly elected to office. Killing civilians by the hundreds, torturing people, kidnapping, bribing have become the standard operating procedures of democracies. Democracies are operating as mafias and behaving just as brutally.
Today citizens of democracies cannot even distinguish between a war criminal, a thug, a mass murderer and a statesman. In India, Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, orchestrated genocide of minorities in 2002. The state machinery worked with thugs to kill over 2000 people, destroyed thousands of businesses and rendered over a hundred thousand homeless. He was condemned worldwide by human rights organizations but in the world's biggest democracy -- he was reelected to power. In fact an Indian-American, Sonal Shah, who was closely associated with him and his group, is on President-elect Obama's transition team.
Apparently, democracies today have no problem with leaders with bloody hands. This moral decline of democracies is the direct consequence of the war on terror. Citizens have been told that the enemy is so evil that any evil means used to battle the enemy is justified. The egregious acts of terror that continue, accompanied by the global media which magnify and dramatize them, have blunted the moral sensibilities of citizens to the point that they not only accept whatever their governments do but also applaud them for it.
This week the Holy land saw one of the most deadly of days in its history as Israel massacred over 200 Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians have not experienced anything like this since 1948 when two Jewish terrorist gangs, Irgun and Lehi, massacred 254 Palestinians in a village called Der Yassin.
For a week before Israeli retaliatory strikes, Hamas fired over 100 rockets into Israel without killing anyone but providing the necessary justification for Israel whose rockets and missiles have now killed over 400 and injured over 2000.
As I listen to the statements from the Bush administration, who blames Hamas alone for all the violence, and the Messiah himself holidaying in Hawaii, I am amazed at the complete lack of humanity in their response. There is absolutely no iota of sympathy, or regret or grief for those who died. It is as if their hearts are made of stone.
Whether in the U.S. or even in Israel terrorism is not just threatening lives but is slowly destroying the humanity of these nations.
Hamas shot a few rockets into Israel; but that is who they are and that is what they do – they are a terrorist organization.
Israel and the U.S. however are supposed to be democracies that care about human rights. But when they massacre hundreds of people and their citizen's watch in silence, no protests, no shock, then there is something fundamentally wrong.
I still believe in democracy. I think it is a great system of governance. But I also fear that today democracies are not only experiencing economic recession but also a moral recession.
We are gradually accepting things which until recently were taboo. In combating terrorist organizations we have steadily lowered the moral bar with which we have traditionally judged the worth of democracies. Torture, kidnapping, assassinations and now massacres have become justifiable; what next?
Unless we wake up and change course very soon, there may be no difference left between democracy and terrorism and that will be the ultimate victory for terrorism.
-- Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (Ijtihad.org).
- Dec 7, 2008
- Posted By: Gulam Asgar Mitha
- Tags: economics
The western capitalist system has the ability to create money out of nothing. What then does not exist, therefore, cannot be destroyed. Armed with this concept US has led the western world in creating a banking system that economically terrorises the rest of the world.
First, the west had to capture global energy. Here they found a very willing accomplise--the Arab world, OPEC--weak and corrupt to the hilt. They were willing to sell oil for dollars only in exchange for protection. Little did they understood that in exchange for mountains of dollars, they were selling their oil to the US for free. This concept is called Petrodollar Recycling.
Next comes Fractional Reserve Banking aimed at making money from nothing. Rather than explain this concept, I read an interesting article on the topic in Counter Currents (countercurrents.org) titled 700 BILLION TIMES 10. This is attached. Please read it to understand how money and profits can be created from nominal reserves held by banks. Those are people`s reserves---their hard earned money which the western banks have stolen.
The global economic crisis is a form of economic terrorism and integrated with political terrorism, the world is now being held hostage by the west.