Wednesday, 25 November 2015


The Pakistani military strategists rely on its nuclear arsenal as a main counter-measure against the possible Indian aggression. On October 19, Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Aizaz Chaudhry officially confirmed that Islamabad has plans to use low-yield nuclear weapons to impede advancing Indian troops in case of a military conflict. The Pakistan’s attitude is a response to a new Indian military doctrine, named “Cold Start”. New Delhi denies the existence of Cold Start as a concept, attributing the terminology to off-the-cuff remarks by Indian officers. Nonetheless, India has been implementing a strategy that has greatly alarmed Pakistan, driving Islamabad to invest in tactical nuclear weapons and alter its own nuclear posture.
Indeed, it’s nothing new in a new Indian military doctrine. New Delhi started to develop it after the conflict between countries in 2011. After the December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament building in New Delhi by suspected Kashmiri militants, India launched Operation Parakram which failed. It took India’s strike corps nearly three weeks to reach the Pakistani border, by which time Pakistan had effectively mobilized its own defenses. The very same time, international pressure on India became acute and India was pushed to abandon the plans of intervention.
Subsequently, the Indian military has adopted a far more proactive strategy relying on immediate offensive operations against Pakistan. The offensive will be spearheaded by eight cohesive operational maneuver groups with significant artillery and immediately air support. They are deployed close to the Pakistani border at a higher level of readiness and able to launch operations within 96 hours. The strategy aims to achieve shallow territorial penetrations in Pakistan — not exceeding 80 kilometers. If this occurs, Islamabad will be in a complicated situation to use nuclear weapons at own territory amid the knowledge that Indian battle groups would not aim to advance deeper into Pakistan.
Islamabad is aware of the widening gap in conventional military capabilities between itself and India and has taken an asymmetric approach to the new threat, building up and relying on an arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons, lower yield nuclear weapons designed for direct use on the battlefield against enemy forces. Pakistan is calculating that tactical nuclear weapons would essentially counter India’s conventional military superiority. Although it is a nuclear power, India does not operate or plan to develop tactical nuclear weapons. So, Pakistan will have an advance. In turn, this situation is conducting additional risks of a wider escalation into a strategic nuclear exchange that might include non-military targets such as cities.
Thus, India has adopted a quick-launch posture which will be hardly de-escalated by international diplomacy’s measures. It won’t be enough time for this. In turn, the Pakistani defense and deterrence capabilities are grounded on a usage of the tactical nuclear weapons. This is raising the possibility of a full-scale nuclear war on the South Asia in case of a potential conflict between Pakistan and India.
Furthermore, India’s rapid response doctrine can be triggered by a terrorist attack as, for instance, the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s 2008 Mumbai attacks. Considering the fact that India and Pakistan actively use militant groups against each other, any terror attack could conduct a full-scale conflict.
Separately, Saudi Arabia is financing a major part of the Pakistani nuclear program. The Saudi authorities likely consider the Pakistani asymmetric strategy as a useful approach for themselves. Considering a low combat potential of the Saudi military forces, tactical nuclear weapons could become the only security guarantee for the current regime in Riyadh. At a later stage, the nuclear cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan will probably lead to the Riyadh’s attempt to become a nuclear state without any additional exploration in the sphere.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Why has the US invaded occupied or bombed 14 Muslim countries in 30 years? By Jeff Faux

Why has the US invaded occupied or bombed 14 Muslim countries in 30 years? 
TO PLACATE their pique at his effort to get a non-proliferation agreement with Iran, Barack Obama met last Thursday at Camp David with Saudi royals and leaders of the other five feudal dictatorships of the Persian Gulf.
He reaffirmed the United States “ironclad” commitment to their security and promised even more military aid and cooperation. After the personal dust-up between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu settles, we can expect the Administration and Congress to add even more steel to our commitment to protect and subsidize Israel by adding more to its already vast store of sophisticated weapons.
Thus, we take another step deeper into the tragedy of US intervention in the Middle East that has become a noxious farce.
Consider just one of the head-spinning subplots: We are allied with our declared enemy, Iran, against the bloody Islamic State, which was spawned from the chaos created by our own earlier decisions to invade Iraq and to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, which has us fighting side-by-side with jihadist crazies financed by Saudi Arabia, whom we are supporting against the Houthis in Yemen, the bitter rivals of Al Qaeda — the perpetrators of 9/11!
Since 1980, we have invaded, occupied and/or bombed at least 14 different Muslim countries. After the sacrifice of thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars, the region is now a cauldron of death and destruction. Yet, we persist, with no end in sight. As a former Air Force General Charles F. Wald remarked told the Washington Post, “We’re not going to see an end to this in our lifetime.”
Democrats and Republicans snipe over tactics, but neither wants to discuss the question of whether we should be there in the first place. Even liberals counseling caution, like the New York Times editorial board, hasten to agrees that the US must play a “leading role” in solving the Middle East’s many problems. In other worlds, stay the course.
The ordinary citizen trying to make sense of all this might reasonably ask: why? The president’s answer is that the war is in our “national interest.” Congress says, Amen. The phrase causes politicians and pundits on talk shows to synchronize the nodding of their heads, signaling that the national interest should not have to be explained — and certainly not debated.
When pressed for more specifics, our governing class offers four rationales for this endless war:
1.    Fighting terrorism
2.    Containing Iran
3.    Securing oil
4.    Defending Israel.
But when the citizen in whose vital interest the war is supposedly being fought takes a close look, he/she will find that none of these arguments — or all of them together — justifies the terrible cost, or even makes much sense.
The claim is that we will prevent another 9/11 by killing terrorists and keeping them offshore. But by now it is obvious that our interventions are counter-productive, i.e., they have vastly enlarged the pool of American-hating fanatics, willing to kill themselves in order to hurt us.
Americans are appalled when shown ISIS’s public beheadings on TV. What they are not shown is the beheadings routinely performed by the Saudi Arabian government and our “moderate” allies. Nor are they told that militias allied to the US-backed government in Iraq have killed prisoners by boring holes in their skulls with electric drills.
This is the way bad people behave in that part of the world. ISIS is a symptom, not a cause, of Middle East fanaticism — a problem rooted in corruption, tyranny and ignorance, which the United States cannot solve. Meanwhile, Arab governments themselves have enough firepower to defeat ISIS if they can put aside their own differences to do it. If they can’t, it is not our job to save them from their own folly.
The rationale here is embarrassingly circular — we must remain in the Middle East to protect against terrorists who hate America because we are in the Middle East. George W Bush’s often echoed claim that “They hate us for our freedoms” is nonsense. They hate us because we are foreign invaders. The longer we stay, the most likely it is that we will see another 9/11. And as the Boston Marathon bombing demonstrates, the people who carry out the next attack are more likely to live here, than there.
Iran is not a threat to US security and will not be as far as one can see into the future. Its hostility to the US is a product of over 50 years of our active interference in its politics, beginning in 1953 when the CIA overthrew the democratically elected prime minister and replaced him with a king.
Barack Obama is right that stopping the spread of nuclear weapons should be one of our highest international priorities. But taking sides in the Middle East’s political and religious civil wars has undercut our credibility, making it look like we are more interested in checking Iran’s influence than nuclear proliferation. Why, the inquiring American citizen might ask, is it OK for Israel and Pakistan to refuse to sign international treaties and allow inspection of their nuclear facilities, but not Iran?
In any event, the leverage that brought Iran to the negotiating table was not the US military’s presence or saber rattling in Washington. It was the economic sanctions.
Oil is an international commodity. When it comes out of the ground it is sold on world markets. Producing countries need consumers. US consumers buy oil at world prices, and it is available to them as it is to everyone else who can pay for it. They get no special discount for having military bases in the area.
The economic motivation for the invasion of Iraq was not to assure that we Americans would have gas for our cars and oil for our furnaces, but to assure that American-based oil companies would be the ones to bring it here.
Today, we get less than 10 percent of our oil from the Persian Gulf. The US is now projected to pass both Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer in the next two years. By 2020 North America, and likely the US alone, will be self-sufficient in oil and gas.
The claim that Americans need to be in the Middle East for the oil has gone from dubious to implausible.
The United States does not need Israel to protect its security. Nor does Israel need the US
Israel has by far the most powerful sophisticated military in the entire region. Its arsenal includes nuclear and chemical weapons that, because Israel has refused to ratify international nonproliferation treaties banning, it can continue to develop with no outside interference. The surrounding Arab states are dysfunctional, disorganized and caught in the brutal quasi-religious war between Sunnis led by Saudi Arabia and Shiites led by Iran that is likely to drag on for decades. Hezbollah, which arose in Lebanon as a result of Israel’s 1982 invasion, can harass, but is certainly no threat to Israel’s existence.
Even if Iran eventually builds a bomb, Israel would still have the capacity to blow that country back to the Stone Age, and there is no evidence that Iran’s political establishment is suicidal.
The security problem for Israel comes from within the territory it controls: the status of the conquered, embittered Palestinians, who in 1948 and 1967 were driven out of their homes and herded into the ghettos of the West Bank and Gaza in order make room for the Jewish state.
The Palestinians are militarily powerless. They can throw stones and occasionally talk some lost soul into becoming a suicide bomber. From Gaza they can lob wobbly mortars over the Israel border. But always at the cost of harsh retaliation. Two thousand Gazans were killed in the Israeli punitive attacks of August 2014. It will take them ten years to rebuild their homes and infrastructure.
Yet the Palestinians will not give up their own dream of an independent homeland — at least on the territory occupied by the Israel army since 1967. So for almost a half century, our governments have pushed both sides to negotiate a permanent solution, pouring billions in aid to Israel, and lesser, but substantial amounts to placate the Palestinians and to bribe Egypt and Jordan into recognizing Israel. We have paid a huge political price; our role as collaborator in the Palestinian oppression is a major source of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world.
The US effort has failed. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis — both driven by anger, mutual distrust and historical grievances — have behaved well. But, Israel is the one in control of the West Bank. So any credible solution requires that it end the apartheid system they have imposed, either by giving Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians (One-State) or by permitting the establishment of an independent Palestine (Two-States).
The Israelis will never accept a one state solution with the Palestinians. Among other reasons is a widely shared fear of the faster Palestinian birthrate. The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu in March after he promised Israeli voters he would never accept two states, has buried that idea as well. The real Israel solution is already in motion on the ground — pushing Jewish settlements further and further into the Palestinians’ territory until there is no space left for a Palestinian state.
There are now about 600,000 people in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and their number is growing. No Israeli government in the foreseeable future will be capable of evicting a substantial share of them in order to give the Palestinians room to form an independent country. The only pressure on Israel is the fear that it might become an international pariah state — as South Africa did before it ended its apartheid. But so long as Israel is under the political protection of the US, it can, and will, ignore world opinion.
Our choice therefore is either to remain as enabler of Israel’s “settler” solution, or, as part of a general withdrawal from the region, to let the Israelis and Palestinians deal with the consequences of their own behavior. Indeed, US disengagement might be the political jolt needed to force a change.
Thus, the real answer to the question of why our country is stuck in the Middle East will not be found in the phrase, “national interest.” Rather it will be found among a much narrower group of special interests — military contractors, oil sheikdoms, the Israel lobby, and a media that hypnotizes the electorate into equating patriotism and war.
These interests are formidable. Their fallback argument is that we are in too far even to contemplate pulling out. Much too complicated. And America’s “credibility” is at stake.
Maybe. But our credibility as a democracy is also at stake. To maintain it, responsible citizens should at least demand clarity about why we are slogging deeper and deeper into this quagmire, putting lives at risk, wasting enormous resources and diverting the attention of the US government from the deterioration of our national economy — the fundamental source of national security.
America’s bi-partisan governing class has no intention of opening up their Middle East misadventure to such scrutiny. So it’s up to the citizenry.
The 2016 president election campaign will force candidates into forums, town meetings and question-and-answer sessions. It may be the last chance for citizens to pierce the veils of glib rhetoric that hide the reasons our rulers have pushed us into a part of the world where we have no real business and where our presence has only made things worse.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Stop the War Coalition

Watch live TV debate: Situation of Human Rights in Indian held Kashmir Guests: Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri and Junaid Qureshi

Watch live TV debate: Situation of Human Rights in Indian held Kashmir
Guests: Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri and Junaid Qureshi
Part 2/

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Paris the day after By Ayesha Siddiqa

Published: November 19, 2015

It’s certainly not nice for a Muslim to wake up in Europe, or for that matter, in any part of the non-Muslim world, the day after the Paris attacks. Notwithstanding the fact that violence has no religion, Islamophobes have had a field day finding a Muslim Syrian connection to the attacks. The list of terror attacks involving Muslims is mounting. This still does not make the argument that this is an issue involving Islam per se. Muslims are not the only ones who kill. The violence in Myanmar and Sri Lanka by Buddhists; the brutality of the Hindu Shiv Sena and the RSS against Christians, Muslims and Dalits; or the oppression of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis are just few of the numerous examples of non-Muslims indulging in violence. While there can be no comparisons between acts of violence, perhaps terror acts involving Muslims get noticed more due to their global impact and outreach.

What probably adds to the finger-pointing towards Muslims is that many Islamic countries continue to show weak resolve to fight terror in their own countries, leave alone the terror perpetrated in the rest of the world. Let’s take our own example in Pakistan, where the brutal killing of hundreds of innocent children has not convinced the rulers (civilian and military) to wash their hands completely of violent non-state actors. We continue to provide space to many with a history of involvement in terrorism in the flawed hope that they can be brought into the mainstream. I am not advocating the killing of all such individuals, but an accountability of their past is in order.

Furthermore, instead of looking at acts of terror mainly as some foreign conspiracy, there is a need to resolve ideological-political issues that contribute tremendously to the present state of affairs. Surely, the Islamic State (IS) is a by-product of poor policies of world powers, of Western involvement in Iraq and of the meltdown of some Middle Eastern states. However, it is also the result of the increased legitimacy attached to a particular ideology, the power ambition of some Muslim states, and the larger and more critical issue of the illegitimacy of regimes in Muslims states, measured against certain ideological perimeters.

The IS is a third-generation militant movement, which started with al Nusra and al Qaeda in the Middle East. While the latter engaged in the process of creating shock and awe, the IS has moved into the next phase of making territorial gains. Nevertheless, all are focused on establishing a powerful Muslim caliphate that is a military and political expression of their ideology’s dominance over other religions and civilisations. While the identity crisis faced by disempowered Muslim youth, or forces of post-colonialism may work as triggers, the belief system that aims for the supremacy of one ideology over everything else is a critical driver. The use of force in the early days of Islam is cited as the logic for the current illogic of violence. The other dimension of this mindset involves the defining and enforcing of what is perceived as the ‘right’ Islam, which results in internal chaos that we label as sectarianism or sectarian violence.
The entire concept of individual responsibility to wage jihad, which has been deemed necessary by some schools of thought for Islam’s ascendency versus other civilisations, emanates from the issue of legitimacy of the state. Many scholars have invoked individual responsibility towards faith because the states were not seen as performing their duty of enhancing power and it was perceived that the ruling elite had failed to ensure that citizens led their lives on the basis of sharia. The entire concept of offensive and defensive wars or conflict in general, in Islamic history revolves around the issue of legitimacy of the regime and the state.

In this context, the IS is a real threat that has latched on to this ideology and hopes to turn the present conflict and its own terrorism into a holy war — a crusade between the Judeo-Christian civilisations and Islam. Interestingly, the IS is not alone in holding this understanding. Some of the works produced by prominent militants in Pakistan also make similar arguments. While we may think of many of these as catering primarily to the Kashmir cause, their literature argues primarily against other Semitic religions and orders war against followers of these religions since they are viewed as ‘depopulating mosques’.

In the aftermath of every terror attack around the world, be it in Paris or Bangkok, many Muslim clerics issue fatwas condemning violence or such acts of brutality. Some clerics have even engaged in issuing opinions dove-tailed to meet Western needs to curb violence. The reason I draw this distinction is that such opinions, some of which you will find in Pakistan, condemn terrorism but not violence carried out internally in the name of punishing those who have allegedly disobeyed what are seen as religious edicts. In any case, there is an urgent need to develop a new narrative in the Muslim world focused on interpreting and understanding holy texts.

First and foremost, Muslims and Muslim societies must demonstrate responsibility towards themselves. The days ahead are going to be tough. The French and others may not take the risk of putting boots on the ground in the Middle East, but the anger will result in greater instances of individual targeting of Muslims in these societies. There will be more voices raised for the eviction of Muslims, which will certainly amount to racism. No one is arguing for turning the other cheek in the face of such behaviour, but a strategic vision and thinking is in order. This is a time when individual fatwas will not matter. An internal and extensive dialogue to develop a narrative regarding the Muslim community’s view of history and religious texts is needed.

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with some post-graduate students in Islamabad right before the American invasion of Iraq. They were of the view that the US would not intervene in Iraq as that would upset the Muslim world. They were confused to hear that the world may not care about the Muslim world, and that besides economic, political and military power, the Muslim world lacks intellectual prowess and capacity. We should also not forget that it was Europe and not the Muslim world that opened doors for the Syrians after seeing Aylan Kurdi’s picture. The IS cannot be allowed to draw a wedge between peoples and civilisations. This is not just about ensuring peace in Europe, but of the very survival of the Muslim people.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2015.

In a first, Islamic State Lashkar e Taiba trade barbs over Kashmir

In a first, Islamic State Lashkar e Taiba trade barbs over Kashmir
The global terror outfit, Islamic State, has dubbed the Pakistani Army as “apostate” and mocked the al-Qaeda’s support to militancy in Kashmir which it said was controlled by the military establishment in the neighbouring country.

The IS’ scathing attack came just days after it staged a bloody carnage in Paris which underlined the outfit’s capability to strike deep at the heart of Europe.

“In India, they (al-Qaeda) are the allies of the nationalist Kashmir factions whose advances and withdrawals are only by the order of the apostate Pakistani army,” an article in the IS mouthpiece Dabiq said in one of the harshest criticism of the al-Qaeda’s role in Khorasan, a region that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and parts of northwestern and western India.

Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba issued a statement on Saturday denouncing the Islamic State as “a product of anti-Islamic Western countries” and said it had no role and space in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Kashmiris don’t want aid and support from an external group. They are capable enough to fight against the Indian aggression themselves,” LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi told a Srinagar-based news agency.

Though the IS has had limited presence in India till now, security agencies estimate that around two dozen people from the country have joined the outfit in Syria and Iraq.
The IS’ black flag has also appeared during anti-India demonstrations in Kashmir in recent times.

Ajai Sahni, an expert on terrorism, said the IS statement was significant.

“IS is trying to expose both the al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Army. It is sending a message to its potential recruits in the subcontinent that only (the) IS follows the true path of jihad, the others are mere opportunists. So it is also a move to garner more members and support,” Sahni said.

He added that since the IS itself is a breakaway group of the al-Qaeda, once led by slain terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, it has much information about the latter’s links in Kashmir.

A top Indian counter-terror official said on condition of anonymity that the IS comment was “an open admission of what has been suspected all along.”

The IS mouthpiece—a glossy magazine into its twelfth edition now—draws its name from the name of a place in Syria which is prophesised to be the setting for one of the final battles leading to an apocalypse.

The latest issue displays pictures from the Paris carnage as well as a photograph of an IED-fitted into a can of Schweppes Gold pineapple juice—that apparently brought down a Russian Metrojet airliner over the Sinai peninsula in Egypt on October 31, killing all 224 people on board.

At one place, the IS boasts of how “eight knights brought Paris down on its knees”.
27-year-old Belgian citizen Abdelhamid Abaaoud—the man alleged to be the mastermind of the November 2 attacks in Paris—had appeared in a three-page interview in the seventh edition of the magazine in February.

In January, IS spokesperson Abu Mohammad al-Adnani had announced the setting up of the Khorasan province under the leadership of a former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader.

And Now ISIS Takes on China

And Now ISIS Takes on China
ISIS kills a Chinese hostage somewhere in Syria or Iraq, and Beijing tries to rally support for its campaign against the restive Uighur population in Xinjiang.

The slick, cynical online magazine of the so-called Islamic State ran a one-page ad in its September edition announcing that a Norwegian and a Chinese hostage were up “for sale.” In its latest edition, with the Paris attacks on its cover, the magazine ran another ad with photographs of the two men, each of them apparently shot in the head. “Executed,” it proclaimed, “after being abandoned by the kafir nations and organizations.”
China’s President Xi Jinping reacted swiftly to the killing of a citizen identified as 50-year-old Fan Jinghui. On Thursday, Xi “strongly condemned” the murder, the first by that group of a Chinese national.
“China firmly opposes terrorism of all forms and will resolutely crack down on any terrorist crime that challenges the bottom line of human civilization,” Xi said in a written statement.
Prior to Fan’s murder, Beijing had been carrying out what looked like a carefully crafted diplomatic offensive to obtain help from the international community to put down a growing insurgency  in what it calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Many of the local inhabitants, Turkic Muslims known as the Uighurs, demand independence from Beijing. They call their homeland in northwest China the East Turkestan Republic.
After the atrocity in Paris on Friday, November 13, Beijing wasted no time enlisting allies. “China is also a victim of terrorism,” said the dapper Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. “Double standards shouldn’t be allowed.”
His argument was that many Uighurs who have nothing to do with the so-called Islamic State are nonetheless Muslims and have become terrorists by opposing the central government in China, so other countries should join Beijing in opposing them.
The murder of Fan, a self-described itinerant who somehow drifted into the hands of ISIS, and now the taking of Chinese hostages in Mali shows that China is indeed a victim of terrorism. And the international community should help find Fan’s murderers and free the Mali hostages, but it should draw the line in assisting Beijing in Xinjiang.
Wang and Mr. Xi, while working the G-20 on the issue last weekend, bothadmonished other nations to look at the “root causes” of terrorism. That would be good advice for them as well.
Beijing says the Uighurs are “Chinese.” There is much debate over what that term encompasses, but in fact the dominant ethnic group in the People’s Republic—labeled the “Han”— share no common religion, traditions, language, culture or racial background with the Uighurs. 
Prior to Fan’s murder, Beijing had been carrying out what looked like a carefully crafted diplomatic offensive to obtain help from the international community to put down a growing insurgency  in what it calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Many of the local inhabitants, Turkic Muslims known as the Uighurs, demand independence from Beijing. They call their homeland in northwest China the East Turkestan Republic.
After the atrocity in Paris on Friday, November 13, Beijing wasted no time enlisting allies. “China is also a victim of terrorism,” said the dapper Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday at the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey. “Double standards shouldn’t be allowed.”
His argument was that many Uighurs who have nothing to do with the so-called Islamic State are nonetheless Muslims and have become terrorists by opposing the central government in China, so other countries should join Beijing in opposing them.
The murder of Fan, a self-described itinerant who somehow drifted into the hands of ISIS, and now the taking of Chinese hostages in Mali shows that China is indeed a victim of terrorism. And the international community should help find Fan’s murderers and free the Mali hostages, but it should draw the line in assisting Beijing in Xinjiang.
Wang and Mr. Xi, while working the G-20 on the issue last weekend, bothadmonished other nations to look at the “root causes” of terrorism. That would be good advice for them as well.
Beijing says the Uighurs are “Chinese.” There is much debate over what that term encompasses, but in fact the dominant ethnic group in the People’s Republic—labeled the “Han”— share no common religion, traditions, language, culture or racial background with the Uighurs. 

The Chinese solution is to assimilate Uighurs by eliminating what makes them immediately identifiably different, primarily their Muslim faith, which means Beijing has been engaged in a multi-decade struggle against Islam. The ugly campaign starts with the young.
Children in Xinjiang are not allowed religious instruction in mosques or other institutions. In school, they are enticed to break religious rituals learned at home. In the holy month of Ramadan, for instance, when the faithful are supposed to fast, teachers hand out sweets and food. Imams have been forced to tell children prayer is harmful, and they must take an oath not to teach religion to the young.
Adults are allowed to worship together, but Beijing tears down mosques and, in those it leaves standing, it controls religion tightly. In a hideous display, imams have been forced to dance in public.
Symbols of religion, like the star and crescent, are banned. So are other manifestations of piety. There is legislation against the wearing of burqas, veils that cover a woman’s face, in public in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. Prohibitions against veils and long beards are common throughout the region. In the city of Karamay, women in hijabs, or hair coverings, may not board buses.
Uighurs working for the government are prohibited from “worshipping openly” and participating in most forms of religious activity. The restrictions against religion, for both the young and old, have been continually tightened this decade.
Xinjiang—East Turkestan—is effectively under martial law, the region locked down and often off limits to foreigners. In what was once their land, the Uighurs, due to government-directed migration of the Han, are becoming a minority. The Uighurs constituted about three-quarters of the population before the Communist Party came to power there through invasion in 1949. At the turn of the 21stcentury, Uighurs still constituted the largest ethnic group—a few percentage points higher than the Han—but today Han settlers probably have surpassed them.

War is total destruction - give peace a chance, presentation made by Dr Shabir Choudhry

War is total destruction - give peace a chance, presentation made by Dr Shabir Choudhry
The title of seminar is ‘War is total destruction - give peace a chance’; and is arranged by United Kashmir Peoples National Party in Leeds, England on Sunday 15 November 2015.

Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues aslamo alaikam and very good afternoon.

Before I make my presentation on the topic of the seminar, I want to say a few words on the terrorist attacks in Paris. Whether you belong to Daaesh, Taliban, Al Qaaeda, Lashkar e Taiba or any other terrorist group, I, as a practising Muslim, strongly condemn what you have done in Paris. Please don’t these evil acts in my name. I am a Muslim and I promote peace, tolerance and love.

It is true wars kill people and destroy villages, towns, cities and nations. Furthermore, wars do not solve problems; they only exacerbate problems and create new problems. Also wars add to human sufferings and misery.

But it is also true that rivalry, wars, fights, competition, hate, intolerance, greed, and many other evils are part of human societies. First human being was killed as a result of hatred, competition and intolerance; one brother Cain killed the other brother - Abel. After that throughout history of human beings people have fought each other for economic, religious, cultural and personal glory; and have mercilessly killed each other.

No matter how much we despise war, we will continue to face more wars, more deaths, more human suffering, more widows, more orphans and more destruction. However, it does not mean that we should not oppose wars. To stop wars, we have to look at the causes of wars; and try to resolve those issues that lead people to wars.

There are many causes of wars. Economic and strategic gains, profits, greed for more power and influence are among the main causes. Whereas wars kill people and cause misery and suffering; wars also suit interests of some people, and they need more wars that their business can flourish. To promote wars or create a war like situations, manufacturers of arms and dealers promote extremism, religious intolerance, hatred, regionalism, xenophobia that states, regions and tribes continue to compete with each other and fright each other.

With time the strategy has changed. Now, many countries don’t engage themselves in wars, but they create proxies who do the actual fighting and promote and protect interests of the country which set up these proxies and finance them. Role of these proxies or non state actors have become very important over the past decades. These proxies claim to be working for some ideology or a noble cause; and that helps them to recruit people to advance their agenda.

You must have noticed that all those who deal in arms or manufacture arms; and those who promote extremism and religious intolerance are financially very well off, and they are protected by people with vested interests. What that means is that they have a common agenda of creating rifts to divide people and start civil wars and wars between the various states.

Mr Chairman
Title of the seminar is ‘War is total destruction - give peace a chance’, and which is rather open ended; but I am sure the organisers of the seminar want to focus on the situation in South Asia.

So let me give you an example by explaining the situation in South Asia. We all know that Pakistan is a God Father of Taliban. Mr Mushaid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist was promoted as a Federal Minister; and now he is a Senator. He is generally perceived as a ‘spokesman’ of some sections of the Pakistani establishment. At present, he serves as a Head of Pakistan’s Senate Defence Committee. In a statement on Friday 13 November 2015, he said:  ‘Afghan Taliban is not considered as an enemy, and that Afghan Taliban is not a threat to Islamabad.’

At one time all Talibans were friends and disciples of Pakistani establishment and were regarded as important strategic assets. However, later on some sections of the Taliban challenged writ of the Pakistani State, and they were castigated as bad Talibans. Now despite Pakistani war against terrorism, still some militant groups are not perceived as terrorists and they are still important assets that could be used to advance the Pakistani agenda.

This hypocrisy is the root cause in the fight against terrorism; and that is why many American terrorism experts regarded Pakistan a part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

Let me give you an example how hypocrisy works in our society.  I was invited to attend an annual gathering to commemorate death of my old friend. We all recited Holy Qur’an and before we could make dua, Maulana sahib who appears on one Islamic channel and knows me well asked me a question about political situation in Pakistan. Because it was not appropriate to discuss politics on this occasion, while we were waiting for food that he can make a dua, I politely replied that there was nothing special. He said, Dr Sahib you are well informed person, tell us what will happen. Again, I politely said Maulana Sahib, situation is same as before.

He smiled and insisted, Dr Sahib I know you are well connected, so please tell us something new.  At that point I said, now listen to me, and I don’t like to be interrupted. I bluntly said both me and you are hypocrites. He did not expect this frontal and uncalled personal attack. He tried to interrupt me, I told him to remain quiet and listen to me because you asked for it.

I said there was an old Masjid with name of Babari Masjid which was burnt by extremists in India. It was sad and condemnable. However, fact remain at the time of this the Babari Masjid was closed. There were no prayers held, no reciting of Quran, no Jumma prayer, no teaching of Quran or teaching of Hadees. Still the act of Hindu extremists was totally wrong and against the Indian law.

This incident was so much propagated by Pakistani government and secret agencies of Pakistan that riots broke out in various parts of India which resulted in deaths of hundreds of people and destruction of property worth millions of pounds. There were public meetings and demonstrations in various parts of the world to condemn this evil act. You and I also joined demonstrations against this in London.

The above evil act was done by Hindu extremists; and not by India troops or the government of India. Now look at what happened in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Before the Red Masjid and Jamia Hafsa were invaded and destroyed by Pakistani troops in Islamabad, five Masajid were destroyed by Pakistan government under the rule of General Musharaf on the Muree Road. In all these Masaajid prayers were held, every day Quran and Hadees were taught, Jumma prayers were held, Eid prayers were held; and still these Masjids were destroyed on the orders of the government because they were situated on the Muree Road and they were perceived as security threat to their visiting Americans and General Musharaf who frequently travelled on the Muree Road to reach Islamabad.

You and I, and other Muslims in England remained quiet. There were no public meetings and there were no demonstrations. You know why, because we are hypocrites. The act of Babari Masjid was done by Hindus extremists and we all rose up against that; the second act was done by Muslims and we chose to remain quiet.
Maulana Sahib had no reply to this and quickly he raised his hands and started reciting Quran; and I also joined the other with the dua for the deceased.
Mr Chairman
I would like to give another example where hypocrisy of people of Jammu and Kashmir is at its best. We claim that Jammu And Kashmir State is occupied by three countries, namely Pakistan, India and China.

One Kashmiri leader said we are holding a protest against Modi. I asked him why he said India occupy Kashmir. I said Pakistan also occupies Parts of Kashmir and Pakistani Prime Minister visited England some weeks ago, you and no one else held any demonstration. Also Pakistani Army Chief who is running the show in Pakistan visited England a few weeks ago; again no one held any demonstration.

Apart from that China also occupies parts of Jammu and Kashmir and President of China visited England about four weeks ago, no one arranged any demonstration or even issued a statement against him. He interrupted me said, that is a different matter, and you know Modi has killed Muslims in India and targeting other ethnic minorities.

I said, if demonstrations should be held because a country has killed Muslims then there should be demonstrations held against many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

You may not like it, but fact is that Pakistan has killed more Muslims than any other country in the world. Since 1947 they have attacked Balochistan 5 times with jet fighters, tanks and heavy weapons, and let me tell you that Pakistani bombs also kill people and destroy buildings. They have also attacked various parts of Pakistan where the main target were Muslims.

They attacked Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947, which resulted in death of tens of thousands of innocent citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. They killed Muslims in East Pakistan, and according to some reports, 3 million people were killed; and tens of thousands of women raped.

Pakistani involvement in affairs of Afghanistan is also well known. More than 3 million people have been killed in Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia and its allies have waged a war against Yemen and have killed tens of thousands of Muslims. Also they, with help of other countries, started a civil war in Syria, in which more than 3 lakh people have been killed.

I said if you only have demonstrations against Modi the message you are giving to the international community is that people of Jammu and Kashmir are not against other two occupiers, but they are against only one occupier – Hindu India. This impression is detrimental to our struggle. This also shows that once again we are playing in hands of Pakistani policy makers.

The gentleman lost his patience and said, ‘It means you are supporting Modi’. I asked him when did I say this.  He had no reply or any logical reply to any of the points I raised; but he said his approach was correct and that we should all fight against India.
The question is how to counter this mind set and decades old propaganda which has made our struggle communal in nature.

At the beginning of my speech I said we need to identify causes of conflicts and try to eradicate them. One such cause is promotion of extremism. A Pakistani writer Farheen Rizvi asserted that, ‘The concept that terrorists are only products of religious seminaries and come from mountainous areas is not always true. Pakistan's universities are the new breeding ground for terrorists...The student wing of the Jamat-e-Islami has been serving as an incubator for militancy in the country.’

Mr Chairman, to conclude, whether we accept it or not unofficial third world war began some months ago; and big players are using their proxies at this stage; and are jockeying for positions and concluding alliances. Despite that I want to assert that we have to be honest with our struggle and approach and fight back forces of extremism, violence and terrorism which lead to wars and massive human rights abuses.

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.