Monday, 2 March 2015

Demise of the liberal left in Pakistan, by Shahzad Raza

Demise of the liberal left in Pakistan, by Shahzad Raza 
Published by Friday Time      25 Feb 2015
 The space for ideological freedom is shrinking in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s liberal elite may fool itself by claiming that it is left leaning or liberal, but it actually represents a highly conservative capitalist society with a fake veneer of liberalism. Known leftist Abid Hassan Minto describes it as the “burgerization” of the society.

 The demise of progressive ideology was a gradual phenomenon in Pakistan with successive military governments. The final nails in the coffin were the fall of Soviet Union and shift in China’s economic policy to rule the world. The dark years of Gen Zia’s Martial Law and rise of reactionary forces after 9/11 left no room for ideological freedom.

New narratives have been written which promoted a sheer sense of conservatism and intolerance.
Generally, in Pakistan, the communists are considered non-Muslims or atheists. Socialists are normally ignored. People with secular mindset are labeled as agents of the West. Liberals are those who are violating the sanctity of the “true Islamic norms.” The religious right is the new currency that has made deep inroads in the society. The political parties that claim to be liberal are rely heavily on these new narratives.

It is much easier to claim that secular India is becoming saffron India under Narendra Modi than having a dispassionate analysis of the fall of the liberal left in Pakistan.

Who is Mian Iftikharuddin of modern day politics? Can someone be really called a true scion of Sadat Hassan Manto or Syed Sajjad Zaheer? And gone are the days of Sibte Hassan and Mazhar Ali Khan in Pakistani journalism.

It was none other than our non-elected Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan who adopted the conservative philosophy. On March 12, 1949, just five months after the demise of Quaid-e-Azam, the rest of ‘founding fathers’ defied the principles that Muhammad Ali Jinnah had advocated in his lifetime.

In 1950, more than 11 million of total 76 million Pakistanis were non-Muslims. Now when the population has crossed the mark of 180 million, less than seven million non-Muslims live in Pakistan. For its movers, which included Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, the Objectives Resolution was a great success.

“You can’t mix religion with politics if you want to have a progressive society,” said Abid Minto, who heads the Awami Workers Party.

The ‘founding fathers’ had got the Objectives Resolution passed from the Constituent Assembly. In 1985, Gen Zia made it an operative part of the Constitution deleting word “freely” from the clause that originally read: “Minorities can freely profess and practice their religion.”

During a heated debate in March 1949, several members of the first Constituent Assembly rightly feared that religious conservatism and extremism would rise in Pakistan in the years to come.
“My fear is real, as these concepts will everywhere be interpreted by much less enlightened men,” said opposition member Bhupendra Kumar Datta.

Another member Prof Raj Kumar Chakraverty said: “It has one of my principles of life that religion is a matter personal to everybody. If we drag in religion or some other force or power in our everyday life, it may lead to endless complications and difficulties.”

Begum Shaista Ikramullah said: “Is it such a tremendous achievement to have declared that the sovereignty of this universe belongs to God alone… I do not think mere declaration of it is such a great achievement justifies and orgy of praise we have been giving to ourselves.”
A comparative analysis would demonstrate the founding fathers of the United States had correctly realized the danger of mixing religion with politics. “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries,” wrote the 4th US President James Madison.

The first main progressive party was undoubtedly established by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1967. However, over the years the People’s Party has strayed far from the ideology its founder perceived 47 years ago.

“Mr Bhutto raised the slogan of socialism, but he himself deviated from the path he claimed to have chosen for himself and his followers. Look what sort of people with feudalistic mentality had surrounded him,” said Mr Minto.

The ghost of Gen Zia still haunts us. The religious parties, whose mentors or ancestors opposed the creation of Pakistan, always claimed to be the genuine representatives of the people. In 2002, an alliance of religious parties formed its government in NWFP. They contested the election with “Book” as their election symbol asking people to vote for the Holy Quran.

The so-called ‘enlightened moderation’ by Gen Musharraf, a concept reportedly borrowed from Hennery Kissinger, failed to leave any significant impact on the society because of its hollowness and lack of ownership by genuine public representatives. Gen Musharraf relied on the political leaders who were deeply conservative and loved the status quo.

The People’s Party, the MQM and the ANP are three mainstream political parties that align themselves with the liberal left. The factions of Pakistan Muslim League are conservatives. And Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, the so-called third force, is somewhere in between.

The PTI’s assertion of being a revolutionary party can be dismissed on classic as well as apparent grounds. The recent decision of the PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to delete chapters about liberal philosophers and non-Muslim rulers of the subcontinent from textbooks was seen with a sense of shock and awe.

“Liberals are not leftists at all. The left wing parties are the progressive parties. Our party is the only one in Pakistan which falls in that category,” Mr Minto asserted.

A majority of political leaders are not well versed with the essence of their political ideology. The meaning of liberalism, secularism, idealism, conservatism, etc are often misunderstood and taken out of context.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Terrorism - its cause and cure, by Curtis F Jones

Terrorism - its cause and cure, by Curtis F Jones
American Diplomacy, Special report, September 2001
The author presents a decidedly provocative viewpoint on a subject that he knows well as a result of years of experience in dealing with the phenomenon as a career diplomat. His take, we think, will prove to be controversial, but we will defend to the bitter end the right to make available the pages of this journal to just that kind of expression of opinion. Read it with an open mind—and then let us, and the author, have .—Ed.
"In an imperfect world, terrorism, like war, is a necessary evil."
 On July 20, 1944,
a massive conspiracy against Adolf Hitler culminated in the explosion of a bomb at his headquarters in Rastenburg. Hitler escaped with superficial injuries. The man who placed the bomb, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, was soon executed. Of the several thousand others killed for complicity in the act, Protestant churchman Dietrich Bonhoeffer stood out. An anti-Nazi activist since 1933, he rejected an opportunity to take refuge in the United States, was jailed in 1943, and was executed in early 1945 after the German authorities discovered documents connecting him with the conspiracy.
Bonhoeffer goes down in history in the admirable company of persons like Erskine Childers (executed by the British for membership in the IRA) and Steve Biko (beaten to death by South African police for membership in the ANC), along with countless other protagonists of causes now generally applauded as liberation movements. Many Germans defended their participation in Nazi atrocities on the grounds that they were simply following orders, taking the position that if any agency was guilty of crimes against humanity, it was the German state. The Nuremberg tribunal rejected this defense. In so doing, the tribunal implicitly concluded that the ultimate arbiter of the legitimacy of a violent act must be the conscience of the activist himself. Whether he is later hailed as a freedom fighter or vilified as a terrorist should be irrelevant to his purpose.
The German law that condemned Bonhoeffer was invalidated by international action in two arenas. First, Germany lost the war. If the story ended there, it could be dismissed with the cynical axiom that history is written by the winners. However, the Allies went on to convene the Nuremberg trials, which held Naziism up against a broader ethical standard and condemned it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, long acclaimed as a patriot by the world at large, was belatedly vindicated by his own country, which exonerated him in 1996.
 Individual conscience 
The primary importance of individual conscience, as enunciated at Nuremberg, imposes on the government specific obligations:
  • First, government must recognized the right of every individual to challenge its authority;
  • second, it must assess, as objectively as possible, the legitimacy of any such challenge;
  • third, it must provide its institutions and its citizens the best possible security against irrational violence (a prime example of which is the Japanese doomsday sect that in 1995 carried out a lethal gas attack in Tokyo);
Fourth, and most difficult, it must meet legitimate challenge with flexibility and understanding.
Terrorism has a simple, comprehensive definition: It is illegal political violence. But no practical or ethical purpose is served by characterizing all of its practitioners as terrorists. Each case is unique. Each terrorist action occupies only one point on the spectrum of political violence. History teaches us that violence is the ultimate determinant; society depends on law, and law depends on the apparatus to enforce it. Thus, government necessarily exercises violence—controlled, legal violence.
Legality is the imponderable element in the equation. Over the millennia, mankind has evolved an ethical consensus based on equal treatment for all. The major religions of the world are grounded in this maxim. When national law violates this consensus, its victims very often have no pacific recourse. In recent centuries nations have built up an extensive body of international law, but the means of enforcement remain to be established.
The world of today is awash in persons and entities whose actions meet this definition of terrorism. Most governments have had to deal with violent challenges to their authority. Many have responded in kind. Human rights organizations catalog those that routinely torture and assassinate dissidents at home and abroad, in clear violation of international convention and often their own national law. The governments of Iran and Libya allegedly have been particularly zealous in the pursuit of dissidents, "blasphemers" (such as Salman Rushdie), and targets as incongruous as the wife of the captain of the U.S.S. Vincennes, a warship that mistakenly shot down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf.
 Policy Goal: Reducing Violence 
In an imperfect world, terrorism, like war, is a necessary evil, but it should not be beyond human ingenuity to reduce its incidence. The objective in this analysis is not to become mired in the endless debate over the legitimacy of any specific act of violence, but to concentrate on the identification of those policies best calculated to promote a reduction.
Determining such policies has special interest for Americans, who have become the prime target of terrorist activity. From 1979 to 1995, there were 360 documented attacks on American diplomatic and consular posts, ranging from sniping incidents to hostage taking to assassination to truck bombing. Since 1970, U.S. airliners have been hijacked, attacked on the ground, and blown up in midair. U.S. military facilities have been bombed with heavy loss of life, notably at a Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, an office in Saudi Arabia in 1995, and an apartment building in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Terrorism has also appeared in the United States, as in the bombing of New York's World Trade Center in 1993 and the Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Thus far, foreign terrorists have not taken full advantage of America's open society. The Islamist group headed by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted in 1996 of conspiring to blow up various prominent sites in New York City, was apprehended before they carried out any of their plans. The leader of the Palestinian group convicted of setting the destructive charges at the World Trade Center at the World Trade Center, Ahmad Ramzi Yousef, proved to be amateurish in keeping a cover story and was soon identified.
Perhaps there are grounds for hope that the United States derives some measure of protection at home by virtue of that very openness. A multicultural society provides foreign political movements with invaluable opportunities for organizing, recruiting, propaganda, weapons training, and importantly, the collection of funds from American sympathizers. The freedom that foreign activists enjoy in the United States, then, may paradoxically act as an insurance policy that will head off most terrorism on U.S. soil.
Abroad it is another story. The United States is seized with the immediate problem of preventing the murder of its citizens overseas and with the long-range objective of directing dissident energies into less destructive channels. Accurate intelligence is not enough. The brilliance of the police work, for example, that led to the presumed destroyers of a Pan Am airliner over Scotland came too late to save the lives of its passengers.
 Strategy: Reducing Grievances That Fuel Violence 
The fundamental strategy for reducing the global level of violence must be reduction of the sense of grievance that fuels it. The principle was incorporated in the Magna Carta in 1225: "To no one shall we deny justice." Seven centuries later, the UN Charter committed its signatories to justice as defined in international law, and to the renunciation of armed force, "save in the common interest." The Nazi practice of taking and killing civilian hostages led to the adoption in 1949 of the four Geneva Conventions dealing with war crimes. The Protocols of 1977 extended those Conventions to apply to civil wars and wars of national liberation.
The decision, however, of the Reagan Administration not to ratify the Protocols, on the grounds that they could be cited to legitimate terrorism, suggests that a rise to the status of superpower has converted the United States from a revolutionary nation in 1776 to a status quo state two centuries later.
America's mainstream media have failed to make clear that the United States itself figures prominently in the ranks of international lawbreakers—this in aid of maintaining the status quo. Going back at least to 1637, when English colonists massacred several hundred Pequot Indians in Connecticut, American leaders have committed American lives and resources to questionable military actions, clandestine operations against foreign governments, attempts to assassinate foreign heads of state, and in at least once instance (Operation Phoenix in Vietnam) conduct of an enterprise that can only be characterized as a death squad.
Further, the United States has incurred indirect culpability by lending financial, logistical, and political support to the repressive actions of various right wing factions and regimes around the world. In this way, Washington seems to have shared responsibility for such operations as the 1985 attempt by Saudi operatives to kill Shiite dignitary Fadlallah in Beirut with an attendant death toll of eighty persons and the 1981 massacre of some 600 peasants by U.S.-trained Salvadoran soldiers at El Mozote. Additionally, one can cite the extralegal operations of Israel's counter terrorist agencies, including the systematic torture of Palestinian suspects (as alleged by Amnesty International) and assassinations by undercover units operating in the Occupied Territories (as proclaimed by the Likud Party in the 1992 elections).
Perhaps some—or even all—of these U.S.-supported actions were ethically or strategically defensible, but their justification is not the issue here. The point is that the United States must come to recognize that most anti-American terrorism is a direct consequence of American foreign policy. Operating unilaterally or, when convenient, through complaisant allies and a toothless UN, since World War II the United States has intervened in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The purpose of such policy initiatives has been to promote actively political conditions said to be vital to the national interest or conducive to world peace.
 Anti-American Backlash 
This assertive policy has provoked a costly backlash. Examples follow:

In 1953, the CIA financed a coup that ousted Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh, restored the Shah to the throne, and sowed the seeds of anti-Americanism. In 1979, the monarchy was replaced by a theocratic regime that adopted policies hostile to America and its Middle East allies, and that held the Tehran Embassy staff hostage for over a year.

In 1983, over the protests of the Marine colonel on the scene, Washington ordered units of the Sixth Fleet to shell Lebanese forces in the hills above Beirut. Hundreds of civilians died in the American gunfire. The most grisly consequence was the truck bombing of a barracks in October of that year, resulting in the deaths of 241.

In 1986, a bomb in a Berlin discotheque caused many American casualties; acting on intelligence that ascribed the bombing to Libya, President Reagan ordered an air raid on Tripoli in April. Also that year, in a tragic case of mistaken identity, the U.S.S.Vincennes downed an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf. According to one account, U.S. intelligence has concluded that Iran subsequently contracted with a Palestinian organization, the PFLP/General Command, to blow up an American airliner in retaliation for the action by the Vincennes. General Command operatives in Germany undertook the assignment, but finding their organization under close German surveillance, subcontracted the task to Libyan intelligence. The result, according to this report, was the midair explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland at the end of the year and a death toll of 270 people.

In 1995, seven people—five of them Americans—died in the bombing of an office used by an American military training unit at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Some months later, the Saudi government beheaded four Saudis convicted of complicity in the attack. In June 1996, in presumed retaliation or continuation of the anti-American campaign, unknown persons bombed a Dhahran apartment building, killing nineteen resident personnel of the U.S. Air Force.

It is no coincidence that most costly incidents of anti-American terrorism in recent years took place in the Middle East. Perhaps the most extreme example of post-World War II American paternalism is U.S. determination to deny hegemony over that oil-rich area to any rival power. This commitment to a precarious status quo puts the United States in opposition to the perceived interests of the regimes in Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and to the currents of Islamism and Arab nationalism throughout the region.
While professing to act as the impartial protagonist of peace and justice in the Middle East, Washington has aligned itself with only two of the several competitors in a chaotic regional power struggle. Its first and foremost ally is Israel; its secondary ally is the faltering clique of reactionary rulers in the Arabian Peninsula.
The United States treats the opponents of these two sets of allies as automatically constituting opponents of America itself, to the extent that every American intervention in the region, however evenhanded in concept, ends up as an American engagement on the side of its chosen allies. When President Clinton sent cruise missiles against Baghdad in June 1993 as punishment for a putative Iraqi assassination attempt in Kuwait on former President Bush, Arab commentators contrasted America's readiness to bomb Muslims in Iraq with its reluctance to bomb Christians in Bosnia, even though the nation had denounced the latter for practicing ethnic cleansing.
A number of Third World countries continue their long and convulsive passage from colonialism to full independence. Part of the cost in making this change evidently must be paid in blood, mainly by the people of the Third World nations directly concerned, but also as an adjunct to the process by the nationals of any country that seeks to intervene. Here the United States's actions in the Middle East illustrate the point. And this being the case, the question arises as to what policy options are best calculated, above all, to reduce the toll in human lives.
 US Strategy Choice: Retaliate or Negotiate? 
It seems fair to assume that the United States is determined to continue its activist foreign policies in the post-Cold War world. Washington, if faced with the threat or actuality of terrorism, nonetheless has a strategic choice between retaliation and negotiation.
Under isolated circumstances, reprisal can be morally justifiable and tactically effective. During the Civil War, President Lincoln halted the Confederate practice of killing black Union troops and their white officers by threatening retaliatory executions of Confederate prisoners of war. In that situation, justice was on the side of the Union. But today in the Third World, violence is most often the inevitable expression of legitimate grievances against local oppression or foreign interference. The violence can be attenuated only by political and economic reform, not by counter violence.
President Reagan enunciated the doctrine of counter violence when he ordered the raid on Tripoli: "There should be no place on earth where terrorists… can practice their deadly skills." This sentiment has a ring to it, but it usually ends badly. America's so-called surgical strikes always manage to kill more innocent civilians than terrorists. And they complicate relations with American allies. Worst of all, such strikes raise the level of anti-Americanism around the world.
If the United States steps back from military reprisal in response to terrorist action, it still has the option of economic sanctions. These measures seem to have contributed to resolution of the racial conflict in South Africa, although only when combined with a monumental change of heart by the white establishment. U.S.-sponsored sanctions against Iraq and Iran have had no identifiable effect on the policies of their government, while inflicting illness and death on thousands of Iraqi children and opening the door to the charge (by Christopher Hitchens) that the American definition of a terrorist is a "swarthy opponent of U.S. foreign policy."
 US Policy Tests: Morality & Consensus 
Taking whatever action is feasible, the United States has an obligation to lead the campaign to reduce international violence. That effort will succeed only insofar as it meets the tests of morality and consensus .
is all too often subordinated to the politics of the double standard. An egregious example is a statement in 1991 attributed to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir: "Jewish terrorism is acceptable because Jews are stateless and persecuted. Palestinian terrorism is not because Palestine belongs to Israel."
The United States has not only supported Israel in its application of the double standard to its Arab adversaries, but it has committed the same mistake on its own account. In late 1985, the United States supported a Security Council resolution outlawing the abduction of a country's citizens by another country. Yet in November 1989, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Barr told a Congressional committee that the national interest sometimes requires the United States to ignore international law. He gave as an example the need to authorize the FBI to pursue non American fugitives abroad. American authorities have, indeed, abducted Palestinian hijackers from Cyprus and from Malta.
A strong argument can be made in some cases for extralegal abductions. The case of Adolf Eichmann comes to mind. It seems unlikely, however, that the United States would ever be understanding of foreign action against its own legal residents, particularly if they were IRA activists.
is best expressed through international organization, starting with the UN. That truism is often ridiculed by American politicians and government officials. If the Security Council endorses an American initiative, the United States is likely to operate under the UN aegis, as in the military action against Iraq in 1991. If not, the United States may go ahead on its own, as in the establishment of "no-fly zones" in Iraq. When Nicaragua appealed to the International Court of Justice against the CIA's mining of Nicaraguan waters, the United States rejected the court's jurisdiction in the matter.
No nation, however powerful, is qualified or entitled to be the policeman of the world. Fortunately, if U.S. policy is not always democratic, the American political system is and it enjoys the system's capacity to learn from experience. In the context of terrorism, when South Africa's Nelson Mandela was honored at a Washington dinner in 1990, his hosts included three U.S. Senators who had voted five years previously to condemn his African National Congress as a terrorist organization.
 There are grounds for hope,
therefore, that the United States will learn to accord the UN more than lip service. It will learn to balance the national interest against the broader dictates of morality and consensus. And the nation, one hopes, will learn to recognize that the answer to violence often is to be found in the area of political and economic reforms, not necessarily through military means. However compelling some segments of society find violence as a means to express their sense of injustice, it should not be beyond our capabilities to reduce drastically the incidence of bloodshed by addressing basic human needs—not by answering bombs with bombs.

Is poverty really a root cause of terrorism?

Is poverty really a root cause of terrorism?
The story of Mohammed Emwazi says no  By ADAM TAYLOR
February 27, 2015   The Washington Post
Earlier this month, Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, told MSNBC's Chris Matthews that the United States couldn't win the fight against the Islamic State by simply killing all the militants. Instead, she suggested, other factors had to be considered, including "a lack of opportunity for jobs."
Harf's comment was widely mocked (it prompted a hashtag, #Jobs For ISIS) but really Harf wasn't saying anything that the Obama administration, or, in fact, the Bush administration, had not said before: Poverty can lead people to join radical Islamist groups.
Now, revelations about the upbringing of the man dubbed Jihadi John have prompted people to return to Harf's comments. Mohammed Emwazi is a Kuwaiti-born British man who became notorious for his masked appearances in Islamic State beheading videos. And, as The Washington Post revealed on Thursday, his upbringing was not marked by poverty, but instead was pretty well-to-do.
As someone who grew up not too far from Emwazi, let me give my own subjective opinion here: The idea that he was raised in affluent or even wealthy circumstances is a bit of a red herring. The house Emwazi was raised in seems fairly modest, and the neighborhood of Queens Park is socioeconomically mixed, with a large number of immigrants in the area. The Telegraph reports that his father had worked as a minicab driver -- a stable career that is not known for its high salary (London's "black cab" drivers are far better paid).
In addition, the idea that Emwazi was highly educated strikes me as a little dubious.
He attended a local state school, Quintin Kynaston Community Academy, which has a fairly good reputation. Then he studied computer science at the University of Westminster, ranked 95th in the country by the Guardian. Westminster is a fine university, but it's not Oxbridge, nor a rival to any of the other Russell Group universities known for attracting Britain's upper and middle classes. His degree is in a particularly employable field but was no automatic ticket to a life of luxury.
This sort of background is nowhere near poverty, of course, but the Emwazi family may have been numerically closer to it than they were to bin Laden family-style wealth.
Emwazi's background seems, for lack of a better word, normal. Walk down any street in London and you'll pass people from both poorer and richer backgrounds. The Emwazi family's middle-class background is unexceptional, similar to millions of other families in London.
So what made Emwazi choose a different path? It's possible that despite his economic reality, he felt a poverty of opportunity. Another idea, put forward by friends of Emwazi who spoke to The Washington Post and the rights group CAGE, is that Emwazi was radicalized only after coming under pressure from the British security services.
"We now have evidence that there are several young Britons whose lives were not only ruined by security agencies, but who became disenfranchised and turned to violence because of British counter-terrorism policies coupled with longstanding grievances over Western foreign policy," Asim Qureshi, research director of CAGE, said in a statement.
That rationalization may strike some as glib, but, at the least, repeated arrests by the British intelligence services did little to deter Emwazi from a path to radicalism and do seem to have cost him employment back in Kuwait.
If anything, it's too early to tell. As Emwazi's background is investigated over the next few days, it's likely more information will come out that could point to his motivation: Things he might have said about Islam or international politics, details of his family background, or moments of violence in his life. Most likely, however, no smoking gun will be found. His decision to go from Mohammed Emwazi to "Jihadi John" was likely based on a complex tapestry of factors, only a fraction of which we'll ever really understand.
Do Emwazi's circumstances prove Harf and the U.S. government wrong? On their own, no.
Emwazi is an individual and one who has already proven himself exceptional within the Islamic State's ranks. The Islamic State is now a vast number of people, each with their own background, experiences and beliefs that shaped their decision. It's the aggregate, rather than the experiences of one young man from Queens Park, that counts -- and no single factor will ever explain everything.
Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.