Ahmad Rashid rose to prominence after the Marxist-leninist insurgency in Baluchistan. He was part of the marxist nucleus which was fighting in Baluchistan. Another young man in this group was Najam Sethi who along with Tariq Ali are considered first of the “New Left” in Pakistan. Those who introduced Trotsky’s writings for the first time in Pakistani Left wing (which was hard core Stalinist and Maoist in those days). Both Rashid and Sethi soon quit being revolutionaries and emerged as seasoned political commentators and analysts operating in the “Post-marxist” paradigm. Amongst them Rashid is more academic, his work on Taliban and United States policy towards Afghanistan and central Asia is considered authoritative. He is perhaps the most objective analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the following article he puts Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti’s murders in perspective . While its fundamental to criticize the role of military establishment the abject surrender by Zardari regime should never be underestimated. Its the vacum being left by the weaker “political establishment” which is being filled in by the proto-fascist elements.  This sense of proportion is lacking in most progressive analysis coming from Pakistan but Ahmad Rashid’s highly analytical mind superbly achieves this balance. This is without any question one of best writing on recent crisis of Islamic Republic.

Shaheryar Ali

 

Ahmad Rashid : New York Review of Books Blog (With Thanks)

The assassination on Wednesday of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Minorities, killed in broad daylight in Islamabad by four gunmen, is one of the most shameful acts of political violence committed by Pakistani extremists. That it comes just two months after the murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab and one of the country’s leading liberal voices makes it all the more chilling. Yet the government and state’s reaction to the two killings has been even more shameful—raising the disturbing possibility that extremism is still being used by the security services in its efforts to oppose Western policies in the region.

The 40-year-old Bhatti was a Roman Catholic and the only Christian member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Yousf Reza Gailani. It was a death foretold. Taseer had been assassinated for his courageous struggle to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which has been used to persecute minorities—a struggle to which Bhatti had also dedicated himself. Bhatti made a videotape some months ago that he wanted released to the BBC if he was killed. In it he said he would carry on the campaign to amend the blasphemy law.

“I will prefer to die for the cause [of defending] the rights of my community rather than to compromise on my principles,” Bhatti said in the tape. “The forces of violence, militants, banned organizations, Taliban and al-Qaeda, want to impose their radical philosophy in Pakistan and whosoever stands against it, they threaten him.”

Bhatti knew his life was in danger; he had been threatened repeatedly in recent weeks and had asked the government to provide him with security and a bulletproof vehicle. But even after Taseer’s murder, the government did nothing. Like Taseer, he ended up riddled with machine gun fire—though it is unclear whether a security detail might have helped, since Taseer was shot dead by his own bodyguard, a highly trained police officer. In both cases, the killers have come from a culture that has grown increasingly intolerant in recent years, abounds in conspiracy theories, and wrongly interprets Islam solely in terms of jihad and violence.

As leaders worldwide—from the Pope to Hillary Clinton to Nicolas Sarkozy—strongly condemn Bhatti’s murder, the reaction of the Pakistani government has been vapid. No action has been taken or promises made to curb the freedom of violent extremist groups, who have hailed both murders and who have meanwhile been staging daily street demonstrations in Lahore to demand the death sentence for Raymond Davis, the American CIA agent who is now in Pakistani custody after killing two Pakistani men believed to be agents for the army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). (Davis was part of a secret team working in the country; the exposure of his activities puts further strain on the uneasy alliance between the US and Pakistan.)

For its part, the army has so far failed to express regret about either Bhatti’s murder or Taseer’s. The army chief General Ashfaq Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army’s unity.

Behind this silence lies something more sinister. For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own. Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue protégés—despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself, and at least 2,000 military personnel have died at their hands in the past five years. This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear weapons (according to US media estimates) and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees.

If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago. Prime Minister Gailani and President Asif Ali Zardari head the Pakistan People’s Party, the largest national party in the country—some would say the only national party left. Zardari, as the husband of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, is no stranger to extremism himself, and his populist base has traditionally voted for the party’s anti-mullah, anti-army and pro-people policies. Unfortunately those principles were abandoned by a series of corrupt and ineffectual leaders, and the PPP today is not even a shadow of what it once was.

Zardari has backtracked on foreign policy goals such as improving relations with India and Afghanistan, as well as on domestic efforts to curb the power of the extremists and impose new taxes—on almost everything that may have helped Pakistan move towards becoming a modern state. There is no doubt that the army has tried to thwart the civilian leaders at almost every turn—but rather than resist or resign, the politicians have just been brow beaten into compliance and abject submission.

As a result, there is a vicious double game playing out in the streets, fueling the tensions that resulted in Bhatti’s death. The security agencies have unleashed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT)—the largest and most feared extremist group in Pakistan, which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks—on to the streets of Lahore. The group has been banned by the US, Britain and the United Nations and supposedly by Pakistan too. LT stalwarts have been demonstrating daily outside the US consulate to ensure that Raymond Davis—who was apparently charged with monitoring their activities—hangs. By giving free reign to such banned groups the security agencies may have inadvertently signaled to all extremist groups, including the sectarian groups who hate Christians, that they are free to take the law into their own hands. What is behind this complex and mind-boggling strategy? It is all part of a wider cat and mouse escalation between the US and the Pakistani military. The army wants to control any future peace talks that the US may have with the Taliban, so that the army’s aims for a future pro-Pakistan Afghan government in Kabul are met. Its leaders also want to make doubly sure that any long-term American arrangements do not leave Pakistan’s rival India in a stronger position in Afghanistan.

So far the US seems unmoved; and it has already circumvented the ISI to start indirect peace talks with some Taliban. One consequence is that the military are allowing extremist groups considered anathema to the US on the streets. This is also why Davis is not being freed, and why US-Pakistan relations are at their worst in many years. In the meantime, the army and the government continue to receive about $3 billion a year in US military and economic aid.

On March 3, Senator Bob Corker, who recently visited Islamabad, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he found Pakistan “the most disheartening place in the world to be, where you are talking the type of relationship that we have.” He added, “I think that in many ways we get played like a piece of music” by the Pakistanis.

The ISI may well be playing the Americans, but it does so at the cost of steadily ceding ground to the extremists. Right now Pakistan is becoming a place where there is an army without a country.

 

Source: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/mar/04/army-without-country/

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Shaheryar Ali

It was a pleasant evening and I was conversing with a progressive intellectual of Pakistan who was a Marxist revolutionary during the revolutionary times and now is a billionaire who runs an empire of NGOs through out Pakistan.  After the collapse of Soviet Union it was quite easy for these “revolutionary” intellectuals who literarily had no roof over their heads to sell their skill and talent to the international donors, a slight twist of language which converted “bourgeoisie” into elites did the trick and now most of them are richer than fellows of traditional propertied classes who were once their main declared enemy.

My dear friend was deeply distressed over the latest developments in Pakistan. The epic drama of entrenching and hostage taking in the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army in the Garrison town of Rawalpindi had pushed him beyond the limit. Playing with his glass of red wine which he had brought from France where he went to attend a conference on “Poverty alleviation”, he said to me, “Your country will become Afghanistan, this conflict will continue for at least 20 more years”. “They entered the GHQ. Killed a brigadier and took men hostage remained there for 24 hours” he continued. “It’s the damn headquarter, the heart of our defense establishment, can any one imagine such an incompetence? Where were the mighty ISI and MI” he kept lamenting. “The state of our state has been exposed in front of the whole world, our guardian cannot guard themselves” he sipped his wine, which perhaps didn’t soothed him at all. “Did you hear that press conference by Nawaz Sharif?” he asked me.

Whats there to listen? I said “Lier Lier bloody lier , he is a damn bloody lier” he threw away the glass. His sculptured face though showed the shadow of age but held its old mystique. His cheeks were now the colour of wine he was drinking. I wanted to remind him of his empire’s support of Judicial movement and his praises of “progressive Shahbaz

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Black Coats/Black Shirts

Sharif” and his great administrative skills. These skills are clearly evident from Aata to Sugar crisis and attacks on Police Training center, which has become a ritual of the sort by the terrorists. I wanted to remind him about his praises of Sharif’s principle stand on “judiciary”. “Did you by any chance manage to read the decision of Lahore high court on the petition challenging the arrangement of leasing thousands of acres of land in Seriki southern Punjab to Saudi Arabia?” I asked him. “Yar is that the issue?” Southern Punjab is being talibanized , you know its become the den, I have just seen the mighty complex they are building in Bahawalpur.” He informed me. Yes I know, from Taank and DI khan, they enter Bakher and from there spread to whole Seriki wasiab, there are sleeper cells in Kabirwala , Mianchannu , Multan, they have been  piling up explosives for more than a year now. One depot of theirs exploded accidentally in Mianchannu demolishing the entitle village, I know whats going on in Bahawalpur, I also know why in certain mosques in this entire region study circles of university students are being conducted these days., I also know once again slogans of “Kaffir Kaffir Shia Khaffir” are being visible on the walls of this region” I said.

“And you still want to bash the judiciary instead of highlighting the real issue” he asked me. I thought about the state of distress my elder friend was in, the dream this generation saw of equality and change which shattered in front of them; they changed the course, compromising with western powers they took up the agenda of democracy, reformism and secularism, which too was failing in front of them. Taliban appeared as a ghost from their past to haunt them. “I am highlighting the real issue, though you may not acknowledge it” I commented. “You were also carried away by your dear friend Aitzaz Ahsan’s poetry—- Adel bina jamhoor na ga” I said sarcastically. “I am bashing judiciary but what Ali Ahmad Kurd is doing?” now the “azad manish judges are pharaohs eh? I took a sip from my glass and continued , “problem is my friend, you don’t have to attend namaz-e-janaza of murdered Bloch leaders, every second day in Quetta and face the angry eyes of Baloch nationalists who supported the judicial movement believing Ali Ahmad Kurd and Aitzaz Ahsan that it will result in rule of law” I said . “You don’t have to go through that ordeal every second day but Ali Ahmad Kurd

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

Honourable Chief Justice LHC

has too, he has to answer those in Quetta for those the murderous character of this state was not transformed into a Matriarchal one as Aitzaz Ahsan promised”. I went on. “and as for the dreams of Jinnah’s Pakistan and secular revolution you guys were bringing in imamat of Aitzaz Ahsan, General Hamid Gul and Qazi Hussein Ahmad, I just want to ask you why every sectarian monster incarcerated in Punjab has been released  in the past few months, the same monsters who are now entrenching in southern Punjab”. I asked him.

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

Judicial Revolution in Jinnah's Pakistan

“One can’t accept an institution of a state to transcend the ideological boundaries of the state, they have a limited operative space Sherry” his face became redder. “ahan than what was the fuss all about my friend? What was the nonsense about revolutions and long marches, what was all that, last time I checked its called de-contextualization, you guys misled the public opinion exhausted the energy of the people to bring change and pushed them into disillusionment”. My voice raised a little and he winced. I helped myself to bar and put some orange juice in the glass and splashed a liberal amount of Vodka in it. I gave the glass to my friend; this will be soothing I told him. “The link between Punjabi sectarian organizations and Al Qaida has long been established. They were the first to join Al Qaida in Pakistan; they are the most advance tendency of extremism in Pakistan. They have demonstrated their ability by attacking Mumbai, GHQ and ISI instillations, why than they were being released by judiciary?”  I asked him. “You know Lahore High Court has made United Nation and Government of Pakistan ban on LeT practically ineffective. Now they have ordered the government to withdraw all cases against Hafiz Muhammed Saeed. Before that they released many people of other sectarian organizations , Supreme court of  Pakistan released Molana Aziz the monster of Lal Masid and he toured the whole southern Punjab with police escort instigating jihad. Only in Taunsa 300 burqa clad girls with strips of “Sharia or death” around their heads got their names registered with Aziz, this happened with the chants of “Jan Jan Taliban” now I was angry. “I hope Junaid Jumshaid and Aitzaz Ahsan will release a joint album of “Jaan Jaan Taliban and Riyasat ho gi maa ke jesi—adal bina jumhoor na ho ga” I taunted him.

“The judiciary in NWFP is giving similar concessions to Sufi Muhammed, his sons who were combatants in Swat were released what non sense is this? You people want more bloodshed in Swat? “Half a dozen or more poor human beings were burned alive in Gojra, the city PML-N chief, the police and these sectarian thugs burned people alive, our restored judiciary which was supported by NGOs and Human Rights brigade instead of acting on behalf of victims supported Blasphemy laws, the most honorable chief justice pledged to protect the Blasphemy law and to protect Pakistan from “conspiracies of Hindus and Jews” that according to the news paper reports” I told him. “Do you people have any decency left? Now you are crying over talibanization? You want me to curse Fazal-ul-reham and Zardari and mullahs, my dear friend you people are equally responsible. You brought back right wing partisans in judiciary and they have purged every liberal one” I continued.

Vodka had done the trick, my friend was now calm. “Ghulam Rasool!” he called his servant and clapped. “Yes Sir” he said. “Start the stereo”  “Janab what will you like to hear” he asked. My friend closed his eyes for few minutes and than said “Ub ke hum bichre tu shahid kabhi khabo mein millen— Sherry baba likes Ahmad Fraz” he told him and smiled. Servant knew well enough and soon the room was echoing with the voice of Hussain Hazervi.

“Wazirstan mein operation shuru ho gaya “the servant informed us. “Very good” he said. I had already read the International Crisis Group’s report on the expected failure of the operation and Army’s pact with two Taliban groups so was rather worried! “You havnt learned anything” I said. I took a big gulp from my glass and started listening to the wonderful ghazal

Nasha bherta he sharabe’n jub sharbo’n mein mile’n. But my nasha was already gone——-

Well done Aitzaz Ahsan , Tahirah Abdullah Civil Society and Jinnah worshiping  secular clowns who marched with Jamate Islami and PML-N. Those who became hysteric on Governor Taseer’s take over. Crying for “good governance” of Shahbaz Sharif. One clown i encountered on blogosphere was declaring Shahbaz Sharif “greatest administrator” of Punjab since Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Yet another wrote a “qaseeda” of Sharif trying to prove his secular-progressive credentials. Ironies of History, these elitists thugs who gave life to dying Pakistani right wing consider “One man populist-authoritarian” model of governance as “good governance”. They also consider “bureaucratization” and “centralization” key to “good governance”. In the age of de-centralization and de-regulation , distribution of responsibility and power this man restored the British Colonial model of administration and yet he is being hailed as model of

Shahbaz Sharif. The Punjabi SS

Shahbaz Sharif. The Punjabi SS

“good governance”. Irony is that most of these clowns hold degrees from United States and UK. More conscientious has been Ayiaz A Mir , the MP from Shaif’s party who has written consistently against Shahbaz Sharif’s mode of governance. The lawyer’s movement and Civil society’s delusions have resulted in return of Right. Southern Punjab has become hub of Islamic fascism thanks to Shahbaz Sharif’s “good governance”. Taliban have thrown leaflets in Multan. Shahbaz Shaif action was to “ban dance” in Lahore. Than he oversaw DVD burning in Lahore. When Lahore shook due to a series of blasts targeting a cultural festival , our secular-progressive and according to HH General Hameed Gul “socialist” CM ordered his chief secretary “to check the spread of Obscenity in name of culture”. Some days back our restored Punjab government darling of Civil society and secular bloggers sponsored the Jihadi “Khatam e Nabuat Conference”, targeting the minority Ahemdi community. The Shirif Loyalist “free judiciary” first released the Monster of Lal Masjid Molana Abdul Aziz

Islam with"Red"Socks

Islam with

and than banned two folk singers on charges of obscenity. Now this report by Asian Human Rights Commission, tell every thing. Irony when lawyers movement supported these thugs in name of “rule of law”. I will say shame on opportunists like Aitzaz Ahsan and Tahira Abdulla

Where is Justice? Where is Justice Iftikhar and his “soumoto”? But our glorious Judge cant see Ahmedies or Balochs.

[Honourable Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary , reciever of Harvard Medal of Freedom has never took notice of any extra-judicial murder or torture of an Ahmedi or any murders [some of them conducted in police/state/judicial custody] of those accused of Blasphemy]

We hope and plead that Chief Justice of Pakistan will act to save lives of these kids. I hope that i am proven wrong on Judiciary and indeed its proven that it has become free! i hope

Qatal e Tifl’an ki manadi ho rahi he shaher mein

Mugh ku bhi maa’n manid e Moosa baha de Neher mein

[The children are being murdered on state decree o my mother throw me in Neil as Mosses mother did [to save his life]

Shaheryar Ali

PAKISTAN: Government of Punjab kept four teenagers and a man in illegal detention on Blasphemy charge

PAKISTAN: Government of Punjab kept four teenagers and a man in illegal detention on Blasphemy charge

ISSUES: Illegal detention; medical treatment; threats; false charges
———————————————————————

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that four children were illegally arrested under the blasphemy laws on January 28, 2009. They are in dangerous health conditions in the jail and their parents are not allowed to visit them according to jail policy. One, Mohammad Irfan son of Mukhtar Ahmed, 15 years of age came down with typhoid fever due to the jail’s inhuman, unsanitary conditions. His health is in a precarious state with the jail authorities not allowing him to see a doctor. The detention of the four children has been proved illegal. The senior police officer has submitted a report to the government of Punjab province that the children are innocent and charges of blasphemy as arrested, accused persons are baseless. It is reported that the government of Punjab did not want to annoy Muslim fundamentalists, who are allies of the provincal government, as they will create problems for the government.

CASE DETAILS:

Four students from grades nine and ten of the Superior Academy and Mr. Mubashar Ahmed had been arrested on January 28, 2009. Charges were made that they wrote the name of the last prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, on the walls of a toilet in a mosque. (See further: AHRC-STM-022-2009) The students are kotsultan_bnrMuhammad Irfan (14), son of Muhammad Mukhtar, Tahir Imran (16), son of Abdul Ghaffar, Tahir Mehmood (14), son of Muhammad Aslam and Naseer Ahmed (14), son of Nasrullah. All five are from the Ahmedi community, a minority sect of Islam. It was declared infidel for making amendments in the constitution. The five are victims of the Punjab provincial government working against the Ahmediah sect by holding a conference against the community. On April 11, 2009, the provincial government arranged a conference on the finalization of prophethood and a resolution was passed to purge all officials from the provincial government who are from the Ahmediah sect.

The whole process of the arrest of four students and one aged person was illegal because an investigation, mandated by law prior to the registration of a blasphemy case, was not held. According to an amendment made by parliament in 2004 in section 295-C of the constitution, police officials, not less than senior superintendent of police, are obligated to thoroughly investigate accusations of blasphemy before presenting criminal charges. But police, under the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists’ groups, have not followed the due process of law and arrested five persons. The provincial police, under threats of strike and agitation, made no investigation for almost one and half months just to please the fundamentalists’ groups. The Layyah district police also have not made any investigation, in spite of the fact, that the case was registered in the same district. This was again due to violent reaction from the Muslim

Kids in Chains , Islam and Justice

Kids in Chains , Islam and Justice

groups. The senior superintendent of police (SSP) of another district, the Rajan Pur, Mr. Pervez Rathore was assigned to conduct the investigation and prepare a report in which the police will submit a challan (case diary) in the court against the accused persons. The SSP, after thorough investigation, declared that the case of Blasphemy against the accused students and a man, was false. It had no base and the accused persons were to be released as no bad intentions were involved. The report was sent to the ministry of the interior, government of Punjab, at the end of March 2009 for the withdrawal of the cases against the five accused persons on blasphemy charges.

The report from the senior police officer is still waiting for action from the government of Punjab since January 28. In addition, another illegal process has surfaced because according to the law, police have to produce challan (case diary) immediately after the investigation is completed. The government has stopped producing students before the magistrate’s court and parents are still not allowed to visit their children in jail. One student, Mohammad Irfan, contracted typhoid fever and the others are suffering from several other diseases. On the instruction of the first class magistrate, Layyah, the provincial police have to submit the challan on April 28. However, it was again deferred to May 12. The local police say that they could not submit challan as they are waiting for instructions from the government of Punjab. The Layyah district police fears that if they release all the students then Muslim fundamentalist groups will resort to violence and kill the accused persons.

Victim’s pictures Credit: The Persecution of Ahmadiyyah Muslim Community Blog