Monday, October 29, 2007
The definition of temptation is to take small steps in the wrong direction. The power of temptation is to suck you in once you take that small step and make you think that you have the power to take out your toe if you have only dipped it in the quicksand. Small steps become giant steps, before you know it and giant steps mean that you will eventually embrace temptation as a way of life.
God promises forgiveness and redemption but only if you have not reached a point of no return. After that, God promises that He will not help you. Turn around NOW, while you may still have the power and don’t look back.
If there was no heaven or hell, no life after death, what would be the meaning of life?
Life would lose its higher purpose and people would be driven out of pure self interest which would start in self preservation but end up in greed.
Greed and self indulgence are obsessions which are difficult if not impossible to give up and the first thing they do is to dull the senses and people stop listening. They become arrogant and oblivious to reality and start living in a world created by themselves and pride themselves on the fact that it (their world) is Godless.
Gen. Asad Durrani: The only silver lining that I can show you is that the majority of military men in Pakistan today have no interest in getting involved with politics. I know many don't believe what I say, but that's the reality. "
It is good to have an insight of what some people are saying to American visitors. They seem to be saying the way it is and not what they think the Americans want to hear. It is even conceivable that Gen. Musharraf in private converations is equally frank. The Americans on the other hand come with an agenda. They undersand that their policies are making people anti American but they must be rationalising this by saying that these people don't know any better. What place can there be for such people in a free Democracy?
This is not limited to Pakistan. Seventy percent of Britons were against the attack on Iraq, a higher pecentage od Italians were against the attack but both the US and these Govts joined forces to attack Iraq. A majority of Americans might be against attacking Iran but that may not deter the US govt from attacking Iran.
A better question of Daschle would have been, " you don't really care what we say to you, do you.?"
Tuesday, October 23, 2007Anjum NiazThe writer is a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reportingTom Daschle was in Islamabad. He is the former US Senate majority leader. His mission was to take back to Washington snapshots of the coming elections in Pakistan. He's a power engine in the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Capitol Hill. His delegation's arrival coincided with Benazir Bhutto's caravan of democracy getting botched up by suicide bombings. More than the elections, Daschle appeared preoccupied with violence when he opened up a dialogue with members of PILDAT (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency) . Shahid Hamid, once a Farooq Leghari loyalist and former governor Punjab gave an opening statement on PILDAT's behalf, saying the electoral process was at a "sensitive stage." Among his team were Lt-Gen. (retd) Asad Durrani, former director-general Inter-Services Intelligence and military intelligence; Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani, chairman Gallup, Pakistan; Tasneem Noorani, former interior secretary; Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, executive director PILDAT and Aasiya Riaz, joint director PILDAT.
Tom Daschle: How concerned are you about violence and what happened to Ms Bhutto yesterday?
Shahid Hamid: Benazir Bhutto targeted herself.Tom Daschle (pursing his lips): That's a very provocative statement?
Shahid Hamid: The impression here is that she will hand over A.Q Khan and allow America to fight its war on Pakistani soil when she becomes the prime minister. Naturally she's made enemies.
Tom Daschle: The lesson then is not to express yourself?
Tasneem Noorani: She anticipated an attack. She had already allied herself with an unpopular military government which was receiving active support from the US and the UK.
Asad Durrani: Senator, your interest appears focused on Benazir Bhutto? What was the need for her to make such provocative statements?
Tom Daschle: It means that there can be no open dialogue then? Intimidation appears to quell a dialogue? Perhaps demilitarizing the political process is the first step towards fair and free elections. I am curious to know why the ISI plays such a significant role. It is antithetical to free and fair elections.
Asad Durrani: The US prescription for fair and free elections means to engage with the General. The ISI is an instrument of the state and if you want the ISI out of politics then the military must get out first. Civil society has not been allowed a voice in the last few years. Benazir Bhutto has been saying things which have not gone down well with Pakistanis. People are now looking at a political scenario where battle lines have been drawn between pro-Musharraf (Benazir Bhutto and America) forces and rest of the political parties and civil society. An ideological divide has set in. Benazir Bhutto said that she expected an assassination attack at the airport tarmac on her arrival.
Ijaz Gilani: Yesterday's attack has been the bloodiest in our political history killing 150 people and maiming 500. It never happened before? Why did it happen now? The answer is that the mainstream in Pakistan is heavily tilted against Musharraf as seen in the recent International Republican Institute (IRI) poll. The General and Benazir Bhutto are unacceptable to 70 per cent of the population. Therefore when a violent action, like Thursdays bombing takes place, it finds acceptability among the general masses. This is an unfortunate twist of circumstances but Musharraf has encouraged violence. I am deeply surprised that in a country which is deeply polarized, political parties have not played their due role in the last 40 years. The streets are quiet. Politics instead, is being conducted in courts and in the mass media! General Musharraf has thrown a gauntlet to the people: 'if you show up on the streets to challenge me then I'll concede to you, otherwise winning an argument in the courts is not worth it. I don't care.' The point to mull over for us all is: Why hasn't politics appeared on the streets? I am troubled that people from different backgrounds and the general public want to play politics by taking their case to the courts where the establishment twists the law.
Tom Daschle: Who's the alternative to Musharraf and Bhutto? Nawaz Sharif unlike Benazir Bhutto has no street power as recently seen on his arrival? After 9/11, intelligence gathering has reached dangerous levels around the world. It's been extremely harmful. It means that the ISI and Musharraf will use more military intelligence in the name of security to advance his political goals?
Shahid Hamid: When there was a constitutional impasse between Nawaz Sharif and president Leghari in 1997, the army chief Gen Jehangir Karamat, who was abroad, received frantic calls from both the gentlemen. They wanted him to intervene. But Karamat stayed away. You will notice that at every cabinet meeting of Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf was seen seated next to the prime minister. He was elevated as the most important man by Sharif. What does that tell us? In America, the defence budget gets debated by the lawmakers. In Pakistan, we have one-line entry!
Tasneem Noorani: The role of the ISI will expand in the years to come.
Shahid Hamid: How much more can it expand?
Bilal Mehboob: A number of US institutions like the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute are doing a good job in Pakistan, but when the US administration expresses a tilt towards the military government here, the entire work of such institutions gets diluted. We want you to carry back this message that while we respect and value the fine job being done by NDI and IRI, the Bush administration must be neutral and not take sides that openly.
Asad Durrani: The only silver lining that I can show you is that the majority of military men in Pakistan today have no interest in getting involved with politics. I know many don't believe what I say, but that's the reality.
Aasia Riaz: I agree with Gen. Durrani. The only way forward is for the army to step back and allow democracy to move on. While Benazir Bhutto agreed to play ball with the establishment and was allowed to stage a return, Nawaz Sharif sat back. But he's a force that must not be dismissed lightly.
Ijaz Gilani: Street power does not signify success at the polls as we saw in the 1970 elections. The religious parties came across as a dominant force showing their numbers on the streets, yet out of 300 seats, they only bagged eight in the national assembly. Similarly in 1997 elections, Benazir Bhutto was badly routed in Punjab, Frontier, while she only won 16 seats from rural Sindh. So while the PPP may be seen as the mainstream party today, all that is needed is a five percent tilt in Punjab to keep her from becoming the next prime minister! She may not win because she has aligned herself with the anti-people group comprising US and Musharraf. America has become a stakeholder in our political affairs just as the army is a stakeholder.
Sheila Fruman, country director NDI Pakistan: How can the role of the ISI be curbed?
Shahid Hamid: We don't have a law that regulates the ISI like you have in the US regarding the intelligence agencies. In the 2002 elections the ISI played a major role in prevailing upon the local leaders and offering them its support if they voted for the PML –Q. One is hoping that the ISI will not repeat its performance in 2008 elections. The actual rigging does not happen on the polling day but starts much in advance.
Tom Daschle: What happened in the 2002 elections?
Shahid Hamid: Crucial people in police and local administration sympathetic to the military government were posted in strategic places. Entire villages surrendered under their pressure and voted for the candidates put up by the ISI.
Ijaz Gilani: It's public knowledge that the DG ISI selects his juniors that go down to the polling stations to ensure that votes get cast for their candidates.
Tom Daschle: Is there no law prohibiting such a practice?
Asad Durrani: It's permitted by law!
Tasneem Noorani: Senator, you appear to be excessively bothered with the role of the ISI. Elections have already been pre-rigged by the US and UK's open support of Musharraf's re-election as president. When have international forces ever sided with the interests of the people? Never. So why are we talking about fair and free elections?
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
It was this tradition of colonial genocide that prepared the ground for the greatest western crime of all the industrial extermination of 6m Jews whom the Nazis looked upon as an inferior, nonwestern and semitic intrusion in the Aryan West. " - Dalrymple
I used to think that the American Civilization is resting on a three legged stool. After reading Dalrymple, the penny has dropped that it is actually a four legged stool. The legs of this stool are the four pillars of this civlizations and they are as follows:
The arrogance reflects itself in the racism that is still on display with the treatment of the blacks. It could be argued that arrogance is a by product of power, which it is, but it is also a by product of secularism. Perhaps it would be better, after all to call this a three legged stool. How ever Secularism is also a by product of Capitalism.
Taken individually we have much to learn from Democracy and Capitalism. Put all four in the mix and you may be asking for trouble. If America was a vehicle, Capitalism would be the wheel that it turned on. All the other wheels followed where ever Capitalism took it.
The problem is when the vehicle is going downhill, capitalism will take it down faster if there was no balancing by Democracy. Democracy would be unable to apply the breaks if arrogance had already eaten away its lining.
The situation we have today is what I call run away Capitalism, what Naomi Klien calls dDsaster Capitalism and what Robert Reich calls Super Capitalism. Reich asks the obvious question, "Why has capitalism become so triumphant and democracy so enfeebled? Are these two trends connected? What, if anything, can be done to strengthen democracy?"
"Supercapitalism" is his term for heightened competition, innovation and global integration. He pays tribute to its awesome productivity, calling it a triumph for consumers and investors. But as "citizens seeking the common good", he argues, Americans have fared less well. Dominant firms have retreated; unions have withered; regulators have been emasculated; economic insecurity reigns. Worse, money and market forces have spilled into politics, corrupting it. "Thus did supercapitalism replace democratic capitalism."
Naomi Klien in her book Disaster Capitalism says "the central myth of our time that democracy and capitalism go hand in hand is known to be a lie by the very people who are advancing it, and they will admit it on the record."
Runaway Capitalism has become the tail that wags the dog. It has proved that greed is a powerful motivator when it comes to hard work and productivity. It has also shown that greed has no scruples. In fact a person or Corporation with scruples is not greedy enough. To the Capitalist greed is a virtue to aspire to.
The quality of greed is that it is all consuming. The true Capitalist like an alchoholic becomes the slave of Capitalism. Eventually Capitalism and not the Capitalist dictates how to live your life. Capitalism becomes a religion, as it has in America and influences all aspects of life. The role of Democracy and Secularism is then to serve the interests of Capitalism. Money dictates who will be elected President or represent the people. The rich sit in Congress and serve the interests of Corporations and Lobbiests and of course Capitalism. War becomes a business and quality of life the highest American ideal.
With the demise of Communism, America should have become the leader of the world but it did not. Capitalism did not train it to be a leader. Capitalism is best at exploiting and that is what the worlds sole super power did. As a Seculat state, it looked out for it's own interest rather than those of Humanity. It refused to sign any treaty which would have asked it to help out with Global Warming. It refused to be bound by International law. It ignored the UN when ever it could and formed a minority Coalition of the Willing. It lost an opportunity when the world looked up to it, which may never be given to any other nation.
While pursuing riches, the Capitalist blames poverty on the poor and refuses to help people who to them are poor because they are lazy. Every good system has down sides, so why beat up on Capitalism. In any case what is the alternative?
The alternative is to do what is right then to do what is expedient. Amazingly in the US there are examples of such people. All is not lost for America if such people can succeed in this environment. The idea is to take Democracy back to where it belongs, with the people. The idea is to take money out of politics and bring back Community into politics. Just taking two examples from the internet will give you an idea of the concept. Wikepedia and Craigslist are two companies on the internet whose motive is not to make money. Craigs List, which is run by 25 people gets 8.6 billion page runs a month. It has been around for only 12 years. Wikepedia which has been around fot 3 years is amongst the top ten most popular sites in the world. It can be accessed in 150 languages. It is a not for profit.
If these companies wished to make money, their owners could become billionaires. The magic is that the purpose of these companies is to serve communities ( for free). Thet are not gimmicks, where you build up a volume and then start charging membership. They are do it yourself companies out to make the world a better place all around.
A new world is around the corner where countries could be run like this.
For a review of Robert Reich's Book visit the link below.
The Times (UK) : A lesson in humility for the smug West
By William Dalrymple
A lesson in humility for the smug WestMany of the western values we think of as superior came from the East and our blind arrogance hurts our standing in the world10.14.2007 The Times (UK) By William DalrympleAbout 100 miles south of Delhi, where I live, lie the ruins of the Mughal capital, Fateh-pur Sikri. This was built by the Emperor Akbar at the end of the 16th century. Here Akbar would listen carefully as philosophers, mystics and holy men of different faiths debated the merits of their different beliefs in what is the earliest known experiment in formal inter-religious dialogue. Representatives of Muslims (Sunni and Shi'ite as well as Sufi), Hindus (followers of Shiva and Vishnu as well as Hindu atheists), Christians, Jains, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians came together to discuss where they differed and how they could live together. Muslim rulers are not usually thought of in the West as standard-bearers of freedom of thought; but Akbar was obsessed with exploring the issues of religious truth, and with as open a mind as possible, declaring: "No man should be interfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to any religion that pleases him." He also argued for what he called "the pursuit of reason" rather than "reliance on the marshy land of tradition".
All this took place when in London, Jesuits were being hung, drawn and quartered outside Tyburn, in Spain and Portu-gal the Inquisition was torturing anyone who defied the dogmas of the Catholic church, and in Rome Giordano Bruno was being burnt at the stake in Campo de'Fiori. It is worth emphasising Akbar, for he â€“ the greatest ruler of the most populous of all Muslim states â€“ represented in one man so many of the values that we in the West are often apt to claim for ourselves. I am thinking here especially of Douglas Murray, a young neocon pup, who wrote in The Spectator last week that he "was not afraid to say the West's values are better", and in which he accused anyone who said to the contrary of moral confusion: "Decades of intense cultural rela-tivism and designer tribalism have made us terrified of passing judgment," he wrote. The article was a curtain-opener for an Intelligence Squared debate in which he and I faced each other, along with David Aaronovitch, Charlie Glass, Ibn Warraq and Tariq Ramadan, over the motion: "We should not be reluctant to assert the superiority of western values". (The motion was eventually carried, I regret to say.) Murray named western values as follows: the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equality, and freedom of expression and conscience. He also argued that the Judeo-Christian tradition is the ethical source of these values. Yet where do these ideas actually come from?
Both Judaism and Christianity were not born in Washington or London, however much the Victorians liked to think of God as an Englishman. Instead they were born in Pales-tine, while Christianity received its intellectual superstructure in cities such as Antioch, Constanti-nople and Alexandria. At the Council of Nicea, where the words of the Creed were thrashed out in 325, there were more bishops from Persia and India than from western Europe. Judaism and Christianity are every bit as much eastern religions as Islam or Buddhism. So much that we today value â€“ universities, paper, the book, printing â€“ were transmitted from East to West via the Islamic world, in most cases entering western Europe in the Middle Ages via Islamic Spain.
And where was the first law code drawn up? In Athens or London? Actually, no â€“ it was the invention of Hammurabi, in ancient Iraq. Who was the first ruler to emphasise the importance of the equality of his subjects? The Buddhist Indian Emperor Ashoka in the third century BC, set down in stone basic freedoms for all his people, and did not exclude women and slaves, as Aristotle had done. In the real world, East and West do not have separate and compartmentalised sets of values. Does a Midwestern Baptist have the same values as an urbane Richard Dawkins-read-ing atheist? Do Aung San Suu Kyi and the Dalai Lama belong to the same ethical tradition as Osama Bin Laden? In the East as in the West there is a huge variety of ethical systems, but surprisingly similar ideals, and ideas of good and evil. To cherry-pick your favourite universal humanistic ideals, and call them western, then to imply that their opposites are somehow eastern values is simply bigoted and silly, as well as unhistorical.
The great historian of the Crusades, Sir Steven Runciman, knew better. As he wrote at the end of his three-volume history: "Our civilisation has grown . . . out of the long sequence of interaction and fusion between Orient and Occident." He is right. The best in both eastern and western civilisation come not from asserting your own superiority, but instead from having the humility to learn from what is good in others, as well as to recognise your own past mistakes. Ramming your ideas down the throats of others is rarely a productive tactic. There are lessons here from our own past.
European history is full of monarchies, dictatorships and tyrannies, some of which â€“ such as those of Salazar, Tito and Franco â€“ survived into the 1970s and 1980s. The relatively recent triumph of democracy across Europe has less to do with some biologically inherent western love of freedom, than with an ability to learn humbly from the mistakes of the past â€“ notably the millions of deaths that took place due to western ideologies such as Marxism, fas-cism and Nazism. These movements were not freak departures from form, so much as terrible expressions of the darker side of western civilisation, including our long traditions of antisemitism at home.
Alongside this we also have history of exporting genocide abroad in the worst excesses of western colonialism â€“ which, like the Holocaust, comes from treating the nonwestern other as untermenschen, as savage and somehow subhuman. For though we like to ignore it, and like to think of ourselves as paragons of peace and freedom, the West has a strong militaristic tradition of attacking and invading the countries of those we think of as savages, and of wiping out the less-developed peoples of four continents as part of our civilising mission.
The list of western genocides that preceded and set the scene for the Holocaust is a terrible one. The Tasmanian Aborigines were wiped out by British hunting parties who were given licences to exterminate this "inferior race" whom the colonial authorities said should be "hunted down like wild beasts and destroyed". Many were caught in traps, before being tortured or burnt alive. The same fate saw us exterminate the Caribs of the Caribbean, the Guanches of the Canary Islands, as well as tribe after tribe of Native Americans. The European slave trade forcibly abducted 15m Africans and killed as many more. It was this tradition of colonial genocide that prepared the ground for the greatest western crime of all â€“ the industrial extermination of 6m Jews whom the Nazis looked upon as an inferior, nonwestern and semitic intrusion in the Aryan West.
For all our achievements in and emancipating women and slaves, in giving social freedoms and human rights to the individual; for all that is remarkable and beautiful in our art, literature and science, our continuing tradition of arrogantly asserting this perceived superiority has led to all that is most shameful and self-de-feating in western history. The complaints change â€“ a hundred years ago our Victorian ancestors accused the Islamic world of being sensuous and decadent, with an overdeveloped penchant for sodomy; now Martin Amis attacks it for what he believes is its mass sexual frustration and homophobia. Only the sense of superiority remains the same.
If the East does not share our particular sensibility at any given moment of history it is invariably told that it is wrong and we are right. Tragically, this western tradition of failing to respect other cultures and treating the other as untermenschen has not completely died. We might now recognise that genocide is wrong, yet 30 years after the debacle of Vietnam and Cambodia and My Lai, the cadaver of western colonialism has yet again emerged shuddering from its shallow grave. One only has to think of the massacres of Iraqi civilians in in Falluja or the disgusting treatment meted out to the prisoners of Abu Ghraib to see how the cultural assertiveness of the neocons has brought these traditions of treating Arabs as subhuman back from the dead. Yet the briefest look at the foreign policy of the Bush administration surely gives a textbook example of the futility of trying to impose your values and ideas â€“ even one so noble as democracy â€“ on another people down the barrel of a gun, rather than through example and dialogue.
In Iraq itself, we have succeeded in destroying a formerly prosperous and secular country, and creating the largest refugee problem in the modern Middle East: 4m Iraqis have now been forced abroad. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the US attempt to push democracy in the region has succeeded in turning Muslim opinion against its old client proxies â€“ by and large corrupt, decadent monarchies and decaying nationalist parties. But rather than turning to liberal secular parties, as the neocons assumed they would, Muslims have everywhere lined up behind those parties that have most clearly been seen to stand up against aggressive US intervention in the region, namely the religious parties of political Islam.
Last week, the Islamic world showed us the sort of gesture that is needed at this time. In a letter addressed to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders, 138 prominent Muslim scholars from every sect of Islam urged Christian leaders "to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions." It will be interesting to see if any western leaders now reciprocate.We have much to be proud of in the West; but it is in the arrogant and forceful assertion of the superiority of western values that we have consistently undermined not only all that is most precious in our civilisation, but also our own foreign policies and standing in the world. Another value, much admired in both East and West, might be a simple solution here: a little old-fashioned humility.
William Dalrymple's new book, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857, published by Bloomsbury, has just been awarded the Duff Cooper Prize for history
"The turmoil in Turkey and Pakistan damages U.S. relations with two allies that are key to shoring up the countries under American occupation."
The speed at which the Bush’s foreign policy is unraveling is surprising even to me. At one time any country could be bought or beaten into submission. Countries are now beginning to see that the amount of money they receive for siding with America may not be worth the problems that it creates for them. They are beginning to see that the Americans have no plans, no strategy and no idea about any political solutions. The supposed war on terror is a sham and is creating more terrorism than reducing it.
Huge amounts of money are being poured into Iraq , Afghanistan , Pakistan without any favorable results. The loss of focus on other issues has meant that US has no idea of what is going on in then rest of the world and is no longer in control of any thing. Russia, China, South America, Africa have to take a back seat when the White House is obsessing about Iran.
The falling dollar, the growing budget deficit, the inability to spend as freely for domestic problems are all connected to a disastrous Foreign Policy. As International business gains in importance, American companies are moving their operations overseas because of unfriendly visa policies at home. Foreign Direct Investment is reducing as people are finding alternate markets which are more welcoming and more profitable. As the world begins to de link itself from America, America becomes the isolated island that it always wanted to be. Even Americans are venturing out less outside it's shores. The USA is becoming a Green Zone where the familiar images of McDonald's and the Stars and Stripes are reassuring of the fantasy that America does not need the world.
From Turkey to Iraq to Pakistan, the mounting chaos proves the White House is just winging it.
By Juan Cole ( Salon.com)
Pages 1 2
Oct. 24, 2007 The Bush administration once imagined that its presence in Afghanistan and Iraq would be anchored by friendly neighbors, Turkey to the west and Pakistan to the east. Last week, as the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan continued to deteriorate, the anchors themselves also came loose.
On Sunday, just days after the Turkish Parliament authorized an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish guerrillas ambushed and killed 17 Turkish soldiers inside Turkey. In Karachi, Pakistan, a massive bomb nearly killed U.S.-backed Benazir Bhutto, who was supposed to help stabilize the country. The Bush administration' s entire Middle East policy is coming undone -- if it even has a policy left, other than just sticking its fingers in the multiple, and multiplying, holes in the dike.
In Iraq, the Kurds of the north are the United States' most reliable allies. In addition to the 5.5 million Kurds in Iraq, however, persons speaking dialects of Kurdish constitute around 11 million of neighboring Turkey's 70 million citizens. There are another 4 million Kurds next door in Iran, and up to 2 million in Syria. All three of Iraq's northern neighbors fear that Kurdish nationalism, which has been fostered by the U.S. occupation of Iraq, could tear them apart. Opposition to that nationalism could provide a platform for an alliance of Syria, Turkey and Iran -- a nightmare for the Bush administration. Washington had hoped to isolate Syria, an ally of both Iran and of Hezbollah in Lebanon. That's not how it is turning out.
Even after Turkey declined to sign on to the Iraq war, then U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz praised it in April 2003 as a dependable ally and secularizing model for the Muslim world. Since then, however, Washington's relationship with Ankara has turned increasingly sour over U.S. favoritism toward the Kurds.
The Turkish Parliament late last week passed a resolution permitting the military to make incursions into Iraq in order to chase down guerrillas operating on both sides of the border. Syria's Bashar al-Assad piled on, appearing to support the Turkish move, though under pressure from Baghdad he denied he had urged an invasion. Iran also fears Kurdish terrorism and has shelled Kurdish villages in Iraq in reprisal for guerrilla attacks in Iranian Kurdistan. Perhaps as a quid pro quo for Syrian support against the Kurds, Turkey offered this weekend to broker an agreement between Syria and Lebanon. Bush's partiality to the Kurds has provided Damascus an opening for newly warm relations with Ankara.
On Sunday, guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) ambushed a Turkish military convoy, killing 17 soldiers. The Turkish military counterattacked, killing 32 persons it said were guerrillas. In Istanbul on Sunday, a thousand demonstrators came out to denounce the PKK. In the two weeks prior to Sunday, the PKK had killed 28 Turkish soldiers. The mustachioed president of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, a member of the Islamist-leaning AK Party, vowed that his country would "pay any price" to protect itself. The new tensions have roiled the world petroleum markets, hurt the Turkish economy, and further destabilized an already violent Iraq.
The Iraqi leadership, already presiding over a failed state, agonized at being caught in the crossfire. The Iraqi president, the avuncular Kurd Jalal Talabani, hypocritically condemned al-Assad for urging a foreign military invasion of an Arab country, even though he himself had supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Massoud Barzani, the pudgy turbaned leader of the Kurdistan Regional Authority, warned that his government would defend its citizens and not sit idly by if Turkish troops rolled through Kurdish cities in Iraq. On Sunday, the Iraqi Parliament, having been unable to agree on virtually any internal issue or enact any benchmark legislation, promptly passed a resolution condemning the Turkish Parliament.
The ratcheting up of tensions between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Authority threatens to throw the last relatively quiet and prosperous corner of Iraq into turmoil. The turmoil is likely only beginning. The Iraqi Kurds are seeking to incorporate the oil-rich province of Kirkuk into their confederacy, and there is strong popular support for seceding from Iraq altogether. Turkish officials have repeatedly said that either move would set off a Turkish invasion.
As usual, the Bush administration has reacted to these predictable problems in a purely ad hoc manner. There is no evidence that anyone in the administration has crafted a policy for dealing with tensions between Ankara and America's Kurdish allies. The U.S. State Department has designated the PKK a terrorist group, but the PKK is given safe harbor by the Kurdistan Regional Authority of northern Iraq. What will Bush do about having wound up as the de facto protector of a radical peasant guerrilla group that is attacking the troops of a NATO ally? If the United States acts against the PKK, it risks alienating the Iraqi Kurds, whose pro-American peshmerga fighters perform security duties and enlist as troops in the new Iraqi army. If Bush does not restrain the PKK, then he is playing Mullah Omar to its al-Qaida and "harboring" terrorists, which he trumpeted six years ago as grounds for war.
Meanwhile, to the east, another supposed bulwark against terror is wobbling. The Bush administration had lovingly brokered the deal whereby Bhutto was allowed to return to Pakistan by military dictator Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf lacks grassroots support and has been shaken by powerful challenges from the country's supreme court, by his brutal crackdown on Muslim militants at the Red Mosque last summer, and by his continued inability to subdue the tribal forces and al-Qaida remnants in Waziristan and other rugged provinces along the Afghan border.
Washington therefore became convinced that Bhutto, who heads the popular Pakistan People's Party, might be able to come back as prime minister and cohabit with Musharraf, who was recently elected president by the Parliament and who has pledged to take off his uniform and rule as a civilian. Bhutto was elected prime minister twice, serving from 1988 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996, but both stints ended amid charges of corruption. She had lived in exile since 1999, when a military coup brought Musharraf to power. There are open cases against her in both Pakistan and Switzerland, and Interpol put her on an international wanted list in 2006 at the Musharraf regime's prompting. Washington persuaded Islamabad to drop the charges against her so that she could return.
The huge explosion that greeted Bhutto in her home turf of Karachi, however, suggests that her arrival is hardly the remedy for Pakistan's instability. Bush administration officials were dismayed when some in Bhutto's circle, such as still-exiled husband Asif Ali Zardari, initially accused the Musharraf government of being implicated in the bombing. The prospect of peace between the Bhutto camp and Musharraf's authoritarian military has been put into question.
Bhutto herself was quick to fix the blame on al-Qaida and militants in the tribal areas of the north. More dispassionate observers, such as Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin, have also suggested that the Karachi bombing may well have been planned by militants in northern Pakistan, where the remnants of al-Qaida are thought to be hiding out. Those areas are ethnically and politically linked to southern Afghanistan, which has seen a resurgence of guerrilla violence.
And in Afghanistan itself, the situation is in a similar downward spiral. More than 5,000 Afghans have been killed in political violence so far this year, 600 of them members of the police. The United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan allege that a revived Taliban has taken the city of Musa Qala in Helmand province. This weekend, major gun battles in that vicinity left 50 guerrillas dead. Farther to the east in Kunar province, Afghan and NATO troops engaged Pushtun guerrillas, killing 20, with one civilian dead and six wounded. Just last Thursday, a Taliban ambush near Kandahar wounded 6 NATO soldiers.
The U.S. and NATO military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeill, has said that between 40 and 60 percent of the Pushtun guerrilla movement is funded by opium poppies, the source of most of Western Europe's heroin. The dilemma for the Americans and NATO is that eradicating the lucrative poppy crops in southern Pushtun provinces such as Helmand appears to be driving more villagers into the ranks of the revived Taliban. Afghanistan has only some 30,000 poorly trained troops, less than half the 70,000 that NATO had planned on by this point, and the government of Hamid Karzai shows little prospect of being able to stand against insurgents for years to come.
Along with the failed state in Iraq, which has neglected to use any decrease in violence temporarily provided by the recent U.S. troop escalation to effect political reconciliation, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan raises the specter of a collapse of both of Bush's major state-building projects. The turmoil in Turkey and Pakistan damages U.S. relations with two allies that are key to shoring up the countries under American occupation.
After Sept. 11, when the Bush administration launched its global "war on terror," the United States enjoyed some clear assets in fighting the al-Qaida terrorist network. In the Middle East, the United States had the support of secular Turkey, a NATO member. The long relationship of the powerful Pakistani military with that of the United States enabled Bush to turn the military dictator Musharraf against the Taliban, which Pakistan had earlier sponsored. Shiite Iran announced that it would provide help to the United States in its war on the hyper-Sunni Taliban regime. Baathist Syria and Iraq, secular Arab nationalist regimes, were potential bulwarks against Sunni radicalism in the Levant.
Like a drunken millionaire gambling away a fortune at a Las Vegas casino, the Bush administration squandered all the assets it began with by invading Iraq and unleashing chaos in the Gulf. The secular Baath Party in Iraq was replaced by Shiite fundamentalists, Sunni Salafi fundamentalists and Kurdish separatists. The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet. Iraqi Kurdistan's willingness to give safe haven to the PKK alienated Turkey from both the new Iraqi government and its American patrons. Search-and-destroy missions in Afghanistan have predictably turned increasing numbers of Pushtun villagers against the United States, NATO and Karzai. The thunder of the bomb in Karachi and the Turkish shells in Iraqi Kurdistan may well be the sound of Bush losing his "war on terror."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Equally important in our religious duties is how we conduct ourselves towards our fellow human beings. Our relationships with our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends, our neighbors our adversaries and foes are equally a part of our experience of God.
At the same time people frustrated with the judgmental nature of religious practice have been advocating a separation of religion from the affairs of men. Without meaning to they are trying unsuccessfully to create a Godless society.
"Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world."
It has been clear for some time that Iran does not pose a threat to the US but it may to Israel. The fact that the US is prepared to go to World War III to appease Israeli paranoia, is an indication of how much of a stranglehold Israel has over the US.
Iraq never posed a threat to the US but may have to Israel and this paranoia has put the US in the mess that they are today, in Iraq. The fact that these policies are not in the interest of either Israel or America is lost on people who are fixed in a world view that they have created.
No contrarian view is accepted and people are labeled Anti Semitic left and right. This is no conspiracy theory, both the US and Israel acknowledge the bias. The US acknowledges that it cannot follow an even handed policy towards Israel. It cannot be an honest broker in resolving the Israeli dispute with the Palestinians.
While there is no justification for attacking Iran preemptively and while it is clear that it will put the US in a bigger mess than it already is in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wild rhetoric against Iran keeps getting wilder. Republicans and Democrats alike are united in this thinking. It does not really matter any more whether good sense will prevail. We know that it will not.
The Urdu saying that applies here is that, "Chewnti ki jub moth aati hae to oos kae per nikal aatae haen." ( when an ant has a death wish, it sprouts wings.)
Unwittingly Israel is on the verge of helping to create a new world order. Ironically it is one that will give no credit to Israel for this. The Bush-Cheyne extremist view was born in th elast Century. It has no relevance in this century. The chaos and destruction that we are seeing will get worse and world wide power will flow into the hands of extremists and away from moderates. We are already seeing this and the US has lost control of the situation. In the proposed attack on Iran the US is about to reach a point of no return, if it has not already done so.
Subject: Fwd. Fareed Zakaria (newsweek) on Iran [Newsweek] To: Kirfani@aol.com
<<...Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?
When the relatively moderate Mohammed Khatami was elected president in Iran, American conservatives pointed out that he was just a figurehead. Real power, they said (correctly), especially control of the military and police, was wielded by the unelected "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Now that Ahmadinejad is president, they claim his finger is on the button. (Oh wait, Iran doesn't have a nuclear button yet and won't for at least three to eight years, according to the CIA, by which point Ahmadinejad may not be president anymore. But these are just facts.)
In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can't be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a "residual rationality," he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Maoâ€”who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed themâ€”were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history's greatest mass murderers.
If I had to choose whom to describe as a madman, North Korea's Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad, I do not think there is really any contest. A decade ago Kim Jong Il allowed a famine to kill 2 million of his own people, forcing the others to survive by eating grass, while he imported gallons of expensive French wine. He has sold nuclear technology to other rogue states and threatened his neighbors with test-firings of rockets and missiles. Yet the United States will be participating in international relief efforts to Pyongyang worth billions of dollars.
We're on a path to irreversible confrontation with a country we know almost nothing about. The United States government has had no diplomats in Iran for almost 30 years. American officials have barely met with any senior Iranian politicians or officials. We have no contact with the country's vibrant civil society. Iran is a black hole to usâ€”just as Iraq had become in 2003.
The one time we seriously negotiated with Tehran was in the closing days of the war in Afghanistan, in order to create a new political order in the country. Bush's representative to the Bonn conference, James Dobbins, says that "the Iranians were very professional, straightforward, reliable and helpful. They were also critical to our success. They persuaded the Northern Alliance to make the final concessions that we asked for."
Dobbins says the Iranians made overtures to have better relations with the United States through him and others in 2001 and later, but got no reply. Even after the Axis of Evil speech, he recalls, they offered to cooperate in Afghanistan. Dobbins took the proposal to a principals meeting in Washington only to have it met with dead silence. The then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he says, "looked down and rustled his papers." No reply was ever sent back to the Iranians. Why bother? They're mad.
Last year, the Princeton scholar, Bernard Lewis, a close adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal predicting that on Aug. 22, 2006, President Ahmadinejad was going to end the world. The date, he explained, "is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the Prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to 'the farthest mosque,' usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back. This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world" (my emphasis). This would all be funny if it weren't so dangerous.
Prosecutors said the committees were controlled by Hamas and contributed to terrorism by helping Hamas spread its ideology and recruit supporters. The government relied on Israeli intelligence agents, using pseudonyms, to testify in support of this theory. "
The role of Israel in the conduct of US Domestic issues continues to get exposed. The fact that huge amounts of American funds ( from private individuals) are sent to Israel to fund illegal Settlements on Palestinian lands seems to bother no one.
Muslim Charities in The US are running scared lest fingures are pointed at them( for no good reason other than they are run by Muslims) and a lot of Humanitarian work in Muslim countries is being impacted adversely to the detriment of poor and suffering people around the world. This will only add to the growing resentment amongst Muslim people rich and poor alike against both Israel and America, worldwide.
Complete news story go to:
Monday, October 22, 2007
Frequently the process of self -knowledge is hampered by denial because of who you think you may want to be. As an example, the wish that you would much rather be white and born in a rich family can only lead to denial and frustration if in fact you were black and born to a poor family. As another example if you were born blind, you could spend a life feeling handicapped and resentful or you could accept your lack of sight and proceed with leading a full life using the disability as an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
It is not for us to decide to be born or not or what abilities, fortunes, capabilities we are born with. We can only decide what to do with what we have. Self- knowledge provides us with a direction towards our destiny.
Self knowledge makes us more acutely aware of the choices we do not have.
Make no mistake, Benazir may look the part, but she's as ruthless and conniving as they come--
Tragic as it is for Pakistan, it is somewhat facinating to see Musharraf, who is too clever for his boots match wits with Benazir, who is too clever for her boots at the behest of America whose foreign policy is plain stupid. This triangle of jokers think nothing of playing around with the lives of 160 million people. One can only hope that the Supreme Court is holding the Ace of Spades up it's sleeve.
Return of Benazir Bhutto
The Kleptocrat in an Hermes Headscarf
By JEMIMA KHAN*
She's back. Hurrah! She's a woman. She's brave. She's a moderate. She speaks good English. She's Oxford-educated, no less. And she's not bad looking either.
I admit I'm biased. I don't like Benazir Bhutto. She called me names during her election campaign in 1996 and it left a bitter taste. Petty personal grievances aside, I still find jubilant reports of her return to Pakistan depressing. Let's be clear about this before she's turned into a martyr.
This is no Aung San Suu Kyi, despite her repeated insistence that she's "fighting for democracy", or even more incredibly, "fighting for Pakistan's poor".
This is the woman who was twice dismissed on corruption charges. She went into self-imposed exile while investigations continued into millions she had allegedly stashed away into Swiss bank accounts ($1.5 billion by the reckoning of Musharraf's own "National Accountability Bureau").
She has only been able to return because Musharraf, that megalomaniac, knows that his future depends on the grassroots diehard supporters inherited from her father's party, the PPP.
As a result, Musharraf, who in his first months in power declared it his express intention to wipe out corruption, has dropped all charges against her and granted her immunity from prosecution. Forever.
Notably, he did not do the same for his other political rival, Nawaz Sharif, who was recently deported after attempting his own spectacular return to Pakistan.
But the difference is that Benazir is a pro at playing to the West. And that's what counts. She talks about women and extremism and the West applauds. And then conspires.
The Americans and the British are acutely aware that their strategy in the region is failing and that Musharraf's hold on power is ever more tenuous. They have pressed hard for Benazir and the General to cut a deal that would allow them to share power for the next five years in a "liberal forces government".
It's all totally bogus. Benazir may speak the language of liberalism and look good on Larry King's sofa, but both her terms in office were marked by incompetence, extra-judicial killings and brazen looting of the treasury, with the help of her husband--famously known in Pakistan as Mr 10 Per Cent.
In a country that tops the international corruption league, she was its most self-enriching leader.
Benazir has always cynically used her gender to manipulate: I loved her answer to David Frost when he asked her how many millions she had in her Swiss bank accounts. "David, I think that's a very sexist question."
A non sequitur (does loot have a gender?) but one that brought the uncomfortable line of questioning to a swift end.
Of all Pakistan's elected leaders she conspicuously did the least to help the cause of women. She never, for example, repealed the Hudood Ordinances, Pakistan's controversial laws that made no distinction between rape and adultery.
She preferred instead to kowtow to the mullahs in order to cling to power, forming an expedient alliance with Pakistan's Religious Coalition Party and leaving Pakistan's women as powerless as she found them.
The problem is that the West never seems to learn; playing favourites in a complicated nation's politics always backfires. Imposing Benazir on Pakistan is the opposite of democratic and doubtless will cause more chaos in an already unstable country.
Make no mistake, Benazir may look the part, but she's as ruthless and conniving as they come--a kleptocrat in a Hermes headscarf.
Jemima Khan is an ambassador to Unicef.
*Background and Personality
Born out of wedlock in London, Jemima Marcelle Goldsmith is the eldest child of aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart, and the Anglo-French billionaire financier Sir James Goldsmith. Lady Annabel, daughter of the 8th Marquis of Londonderry, was businessman Mark Birley's wife and Goldsmith's mistress when her daughter was born. Sir James, in turn, known for maintaining polyamorous relationships throughout his life, was married to his second wife, Ginette Lery, at the time. Birley and Lady Annabel divorced in 1975 after the birth of Jemima's brother Zac. As her parents sought to legitimize their children, Sir James divorced his wife and married Lady Annabel in 1978, when Jemima was four. Ben Because she "want[s] to have the same name as [her] children," who have inherited their father Imran Khan's last name, she currently goes by Jemima Marcelle Khan.
After attending The Old Vicarage preparatory School and Francis Holland School in Clarence Gate, Khan enrolled to study English at the University of Bristol in 1993. Two years later, her marriage and subsequent move to Pakistan halted her work at the university. She finally submitted her dissertation in March 2002 and earned a 2:1 Bachelor's degree from Bristol. Upon her return to London in 2003, she successfully worked towards a Master's degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS) of the University of London.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The capability that comes from training, education, hard work has limitations while emotional involvement gives release to those limits and enables you to operate at the best of your capacity.
Often the possibilities can then be limitless.
Emotions are driven by fear and love. The fear of losing something or the love of acquiring something.
Beyond the emotion and it’s origin is the Goal. If reaching God is the Goal the possibilities are limitless.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
There comes a time when for many of us this map becomes carved in stone. In other words while life goes on, the journey towards truth comes to a halt. For most others, there comes a time when the distance covered in this journey decreases by the day.
How fast you travel and how focused you remain depends on whether you lose direction or how many distractions you allow on the way. The chances of losing direction are good if the map you follow is flawed.
If this was a race, people who lose direction are a little less handicapped then people who have a good map but allow themselves to be distracted along the way. The fable of the tortoise and the hare comes to mind although the tortoise never lost his way.
Each one of us should examine:
The quality of our maps.
Whether we are living life only ( passing time) or are embarked on a journey.
How distracted we allow ourselves to become.
The quality of our maps is determined by the clarity we are able to achieve about things.
Clarity is achieved only through getting out of our comfort zones. Undergoing rigor and hardship are not to be avoided but embraced because this is part of the process of the discipline of achieving clarity.
The best way to lose clarity is to serve the ego. Every year of serving the ego will muddy the waters, clog up the drains, block the filters more and more until a time is reached when all light is blocked out and our condition becomes one of an addict who cannot be cured.
When I talk about clarity, I am talking about
Clarity of Purpose
Clarity of Thought
Clarity of Vision
Clarity of Purpose « Clarity of Thought « Clarity of Vision.« Actions
Clarity of thought
Clarity of Vision
Does Clarity of purpose precede clarity of thought ? not necessarily because purpose and thought by themselves are inanimate. It is only through acts that purpose and vision are refined and clarified.
Friday, October 19, 2007
"Continued, open-ended military presence in Afghanistan increases Western dependence on Pakistan, which, in essence, increases the role of the Pakistani military. Incrementally, the army has developed a vested interest in the Western military presence in the region. "
The Musharraf-Benazir partnership is a match made in Hell by the Devil himself. Musharraf would love to get hold of the Bhutto name as long as Benazir did not come with it. Benazir would love to take off Musharraf's uniform and then kick his nuts in.
If you go to Ebay, "Sovereign Countries for sale" section, you will find Pakistan on the block with the US as the highest bidder and standing ready to up the price. Unfortunately the sellers are not yet in a position to deliver. Benazir's terms of sale appear to be unconditional whereas Musharraf hopes to cheat the Americans out of an outright sale.
The fact that Pakistan is not theirs ( Musharraf/Benazir) to sell or for America to buy, seems to bother none of the parties. The fact that the rules of how the game will be played have dramatically changed is not understood by these three. America more than any one else is besides themselves as to how distracting all this is from the main agenda of beating up the Iraqis and then go on with beating up the Iranians.
Benazir has succeeded in degrading herself as being several nothches below the The Taliban and Al Qaeda and if you thought no one could get any lower then you do not know her husband. The good news is that the public is begining to understand all this although their votes are still for sale. Ofcourse Pakistan would not be worth the paper this article is written on but for one fact, that it is a Nuclear power. Benazir promises to hand over the man who was technically responsible for this( AQ Khan) to the Americans. The other man who took the decision to test the bomb is also under house arrest. ( Nawaz Sharif).
Oddly the triangle is made up of people who have lost all sense of reality. They are trading a country which they do not own, they are exercising powers that they do not possess and going into partnerships in which no one trusts the other. If Benazir and Musharraf can be forgiven as third world types who don't know any better who is to hold America to the test,when they should know better?
The people of Pakistan specially those paying with their lives every time have gone into a state of resignation. Stoicly going through daily hartals, Suicide bombings, power cuts and phone disorders knowing that things are not going to get better. Meanwhile across the border India chugs on powered by a sense of nationhood. The poor are still poor and not getting any richer but somehow there is a sense that things will get better.
Benazir's second homecoming By M K Bhadrakumar
By any reckoning, a very unusual moment comes when a politician is called upon to pass the test of public support under intense glare of the world community. For the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, Thursday posed one such dramatic test - crucial even by the extraordinary yardstick of her tumultuous life. She passed the test, as the bemused world stood by and curiously watched.
She still possesses traces of that rare magic when a politician connects with the people, when a politician comes alive and ignites public imagination. The eight years of absence and the numerous scandals surrounding her track record in power, including charges of personal corruption, do not seem to have dented her ability to inspire. The Pakistani province of Sindh, Bhutto's political base, went into raptures on her homecoming. At the same time, she provokes strong feelings of hostility among powerful sections of opinion within Pakistan as the twin bomb blasts on her convoy in Karachi testify. It is even possible that her attackers include "rogue" elements within the Pakistani establishment. Agent provocateurs are surely actively putting roadblocks in her campaign to mobilize support. Obviously, her political opponents take her seriously despite their saying that her charisma is much diminished.
Now comes another test. As she travels to the province of Punjab in the coming days, what will be her reception? Will it match another homecoming - no less fortuitous, no less breathtaking - two decades ago? Punjab's reaction will be keenly watched. Without Punjab's support, or its acquiescence at the very least, it will be difficult for her to be the monarch of all she surveys as a national leader. No Pakistani politician can hope to make a serious bid for power without mobilizing support in Punjab. But the powerful Choudhury clans in feudal Punjab, which ruled the roost there under the Pervez Musharraf regime, cannot be expected to surrender political space easily to Bhutto. They're surely spoiling for a fight. A scuffle may ensue which could be rough and, in turn, it will significantly determine the calculus of political power in Islamabad in the coming few years.
For the present, it is just about possible to say that democracy might have gained a degree of traction in Pakistan on Thursday afternoon. But there have been numerous similar false starts in that unhappy country. Much remains in the womb of time. The element of uncertainty still remains whether the "powers that be" - the establishment, which includes the armed forces - will be prepared to accommodate Bhutto. Her return to Pakistan has been almost completely choreographed by Britain and the United States. The Musharraf regime needed to be dragged by the collar to the promised land of political cohabitation with Bhutto. Top officials of the George W Bush administration, laden with rich experience in making brutal despots in Latin America behave, repeatedly intervened with the Musharraf regime to play ball - at times cajoling, at times threatening, at times blackmailing. But beyond a point, Washington cannot act as Bhutto's mentor. From now onward, she must perform mostly on her own.
In the past, Pakistani armed forces viewed her leadership with distaste. She may be somewhat better off now, as the new incumbent Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, who is expected to succeed Musharraf as military chief, is known to her previously as her military secretary in her first government in 1988.Equally, the Kiani clan wields great influence in the northern Jhelum province of Punjab, and traditionally provided a large chunk of soldiers to the Pakistani Army. Kiani, when he succeeds Musharraf, will also have the unique stature as the only boss of Pakistan's ubiquitous Inter-Services Intelligence, known as the ISI, to have ever risen to head of the Pakistani Army. The general will also be a dependable hand in any tricky dealings by a Bhutto government with India. He played a crucial role in the winter of 2001-2002 as Pakistan's Director General of Military Operations in keeping tensions with India under check when the two countries got embroiled in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation over the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament. But that will be taking a tardy premature peep into the misty future of Pakistan-India relations that Washington may want to promote under a government in Islamabad spearheaded by the Musharraf-Bhutto-Kiani troika.
For the present, though, Washington's focus will be on two other fronts. First and foremost, Washington would expect the new dispensation in Islamabad to ensure that popular fury within Pakistan doesn't engulf that country, leave alone assume the nature of an uprising, in the event of a US military attack on Iran in the coming months. Equally, the Bush administration will expect the incoming military-cum-civilian regime to forcefully crack down on the extremist forces getting entrenched in Pakistan's lawless tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan. The Pakistani Army would have no more excuses to avoid undertaking such an operation. Washington will expect the civilian components of the new regime - the Pakistan Muslim League faction led by the Choudhury clan, Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman and the Awami Nationalist Party (ANP) - to hold the fort of public opinion whilst the army cracks down on the militants in the tribal border tracts. In this risky adventure that is about to commence, Bhutto has a vital role to play. Her presence is expected to help consolidate the inchoate majority opinion in Pakistan, which militates against radicalism and views the rising tide of militant Islam with extreme disquiet bordering on abhorrence.
Even if they do not share Bhutto's brand of secularism, and are devout Muslims, she can galvanize Pakistan's silent majority and thereby help isolate the forces of extremism, which despite their loud clamor and muscle are still a marginal phenomenon in Pakistan's polity. But this would make her enemy number one for the terrorist squads, diffuse and aplenty in today's Pakistan. Similarly, the JUI can provide a useful bridge to the Taliban camp. Though the JUIforms a part of the Deobandi Muslim movement and may pose as ideologically rigid, Rahman himself is in practice a man of many parts. He got along comfortably with Bhutto during her second prime ministership in 1993-96, even heading the Pakistan Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. His inclusion in the new regime will throw the Islamic platform in Pakistani party politics into great disarray and almost certainly reduce them to noisy rubble with no real capacity to bite. Rahman is no stranger to the US security establishment, either - having been a significant protagonist in the Taliban saga. The ANP is expected to have a go at channeling Pashtun nationalism away from the Islamist path. It enjoys the confidence of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, and can play a limited but useful role in the current process of negotiations with the Taliban. Unfortunately, the ANP is a pale shadow of its past strength (and caliber) in the era prior to the Afghan jihad of the 1980s when Islamism got superimposed on the traditional modes of Pashtun life built around tribal chieftains or maliks. But in the present day circumstances, ANP still provides a much-needed representation for the Pashtun segments that remain defiant of the Islamic leadership dictating the rhythm of their political and social life, though its real clout and gusto remains indeterminate.
The house that the Bush administration has built in Islamabad, therefore, is not bereft of logic altogether. It looks imposing. It has interesting possibilities. But the main uncertainty lies in its durability. Pakistani politicians are extremely quarrelsome. Coalition politics is a very sophisticated form of governance that requires tact and accommodation. The requisite spirit of give-and-take may be lacking. Also, the corporate interests of the army are bound to cross paths with the vaulting ambitions of politicians, especially if the politicians unduly insist on civilian supremacy, as they will at some point. The pervasive anti-Americanism in Pakistani public opinion may seem a problem. But then, the US has not been traditionally upset over its popularity ratings in similar circumstances when the end justified the means. In the entire Middle East and the Persian Gulf, Washington impassively enforced US dominance decade after decade. A key ally like South Korea seethed with anti-Americanism in the 1970s and into the 1980s until democracy gained foothold and began tempering the public mood.
Meanwhile, there are three main directions in which the US can help Pakistan. First, by remaining focused on the central point that it is a long haul to bring Pakistan back from its present slide into an increasingly ungovernable country. That requires commitment in intrinsic terms, both in resources and in political capital. Nor can it be a piecemeal approach. It must also take place in a conducive regional environment. But the US has no proven record in nation building. Washington's attention span is usually limited.
Second, the "war on terror" in Afghanistan needs to be redefined. The Afghan insurgency is not a marginal phenomenon that can be eliminated by force. It is well rooted within Afghanistan and in parts of Pakistan. (Arguably, it is relatively stronger within Pakistan). The Taliban should not be confused with al-Qaeda. A negotiated solution to the insurgency is possible. But, on the other hand, the US (and Britain) should not be cynical by loading the Afghan settlement with a geopolitical agenda. Any attempt to finesse the irredentist Islamist elements in the region as an instrument of geopolitics aimed at perpetuating the Western military presence in the region or for encircling Iran or for advancing the US's so-called "Great Central Asia" strategy will be resented and eventually opposed by other regional powers. At the moment, though, the Anglo-American intentions are far from clear - to say the least. The first step in transparency should have been by widening the gyre of regional involvement in a genuine intra-Afghan dialogue. But the tendency to monopolize an Afghan settlement is what is on continued display. The present selective involvement of the United Nations is not a substitute.
Third, Pakistan must be provided with a guarantee of peace and tranquillity in its Pashtun borderlands. Only by legitimising the Durand Line as a proper, duly accepted international border can this be achieved. Again, Pakistani hegemony over Afghanistan is inconceivable, but Islamabad should nonetheless be given the confidence that Pakistan's legitimate influence in Afghanistan will not come under challenge.
Finally, any enduring peace in Afghanistan will remain predicated on that country's neutrality in the geopolitics of the region. The bottom line is the vacation of the Western military presence. But, unfortunately, Afghanistan has come to be the playpen where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's gumption to assume a global security role is being put to the test. Reducing the NATO forces' casualty figures for assuaging European public opinion should not turn out to be the core objective of engaging the Taliban in negotiations.
Continued, open-ended military presence in Afghanistan increases Western dependence on Pakistan, which, in essence, increases the role of the Pakistani military. Incrementally, the army has developed a vested interest in the Western military presence in the region. But that only contributes to the assertiveness of the army in Pakistan's political arena, and, paradoxically, it serves to undermine the foundations of the very same comely architecture that the Bush administration has erected in Islamabad in the recent days and weeks. The bomb blasts in Karachi on Thursday night do have an ominous ring about them. Admittedly, nerves are on edge in Pakistan. It is a sign of the times that in an early impromptu comment, Asif Ali Zardari, husband of Bhutto, blamed the Pakistani intelligence agencies for the bomb blasts. Bhutto herself demanded the sacking of the intelligence chief. The government promptly assured that there is no move to postpone the elections due in Pakistan in January, but suggested all the same that Bhutto eschew public contacts for the sake of her own security.
(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Those who expect that life should be easy going and relaxed will be very frustrated unless they are reconciled to not achieving much in it.
Those who expect life to be tough and challenging will have fewer disappointments but can still find the pace of progress frustrating.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I had said yesterday that we have to keep our fingers crossed about the bombers. Well, they have struck and many innocent people have lost their lives. My immediate reactions:
1. Condolences to the poor victims who travelled miles to take part in a caravan of democracy. They have been let down dozens of times by everyone including Benazir herself, but they have not lost hope. Benazir and her cohorts are not the best leaders in the country, but the poor followers of the Bhutto name are the best followers in our unfortunate country and they did not deserve this.
2. Musharraf and his army have brought pakistan to this point. 6 years (and billions in aid) later, this is the state of security in the largest city of the country.
3. Who is responsible? It could be the taliban and their nihilistic suicidal maniacs, but it could still be other forces as well. In all probability, we will never know for sure.
4. The immense welcome accorded to Benazir has shown (once again) that the biggest and most popular politician in Pakistan continues to be Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto...and he holds that position because 28 years later, no other political force has articulated the wishes of the great mass of the people. Instead, we have an endless parade of sycophants, incompetents, dead-end fanatics and tinpot napoleons. And now even that great hope of peaceful progressive politics (always more hope than reality, but how many millions are mobilized in that name every time they get half a chance?) is flickering and dying. Next, the bombers and their creators-turned-enemies will fight it out over the bodies of innocents killed while dancing in the streets. very very sad indeed...
Omar AliModerator, Asiapeace
I agree with Dr Omar Ali, that the people responsible for the bombing could be anybody. Security was so lax that any one wanting to kill Benazir could have easily done it. At one mile an hour, she was a sitting duck. This was the work of some one who did not want Benazir dead. We can only speculate on what their motives might be.
For centuries the Red Indians sat on the most valuable Real Estate in the world and did nothing with it. It took a bunch of adventurers , outcasts from society, religious exiles form their own countries to annihilate the Indians and start exploiting the riches of what has now come to be known as the United States of America.
Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia are sitting on a wealth of oil and doing nothing better than investing their oil Revenues in US Treasuries for the benefit of the ruling elite of these countries. Unlike the Indians they( the Muslims) cannot be liquidated quietly, away from the eyes of the world. In the age of globalization, the liquidation will be seen by all on their TV screens and Internet screens and newspapers. The best way to liquidate them is to have them kill one another and keep arming which ever side starts losing.
The Palestinians (who have no oil) have already been herded into reservations after their lands were confiscated and are ready to slaughter one another. The Iraqis are slaughtering one another. The Afghanis are slaughtering one another. The Pakistanis are about to slaughter one another. The Bangladeshis will disappear as a result of global warming under mountains of sea water. The Saudis and the Gulf Countries are very few in numbers and can be dealt with later. The Saudis are ready to slaughter the Iranians in any case so let them do that first (with a lot of help). Liquidating 1.2 billion people is beginning to look viable. Hitler tried to do this with the Jews but he made the mistake of trying to do it with his own bare hands. The Muslim Holocaust has begun.
There is just one problem. The Muslims have an impressive History and they have a Book.
How many Muslims have to die before the Muslims realize that they are their own worst enemy? Between the Iran/Iraq war and the war on terrorism over 2 million Muslims have died mostly at the hands of one another. I don’t believe the message has gotten through. Maybe after another two million, the penny may begin to drop. If non Muslims were killing Muslims that might unite the Muslims temporarily because once the threat is removed they would turn on one another. This became evident when the Russians were repelled in Afghanistan. Now with Muslims killing Muslims there is a greater finality. Unite or perish.
How many Muslims need to get killed before the Muslim Ummah starts asking some obvious questions. Let us assume that after another three million are slaughtered, the remaining billion will begin to get worried. What are they likely to do? They can let the slaughter continue to see who comes out on top, if any one or they can overthrow and slaughter all the Muslim elite, who are basically agents of Foreign interests. In either event another five million Muslims will get killed before any one realizes that these were not the problem. My conservative estimate is that at least another eight million Muslims need to get killed and I mean slaughtered before people start realizing that there must be something wrong with Islam the way it is being practiced. Unfortunately there is no other choice.
From 1618 to 1648, the Europeans fought a thirty year war amongst themselves and happily killed one another ostensibly for religious reasons. The seeds originated with a man called Martin Luther.
“Martin Luther (1483-1546) stands in history as one of those unique forces, an individual who by force of will and by his ideas changed the world fundamentally. There are several ironies incumbent on Luther's pivotal role in history: 1) he doesn't really represent a break with the past, but rather a flash point where ideas and trends which had been smoldering in Europe for several centuries suddenly blazed aflame; 2) Luther initially saw himself as a great reformer of the Catholic church, a simple monk who thought the force of his ideas would single-handedly redirect the Leviathan of the church; in the end, however, he divided Christianity into two separate churches and that second division, Protestantism, would divide over the next four centuries into a near infinity of separate churches; 3) finally, Luther (and all the other reformers) saw themselves as returning Christianity to its roots, they believed that they were setting the clock back; in reality, their ideas irreparably changed the world and pushed it kicking and screaming, not into some ideal past, but into the modern era.” **
The difference with Islam is that there is no church to reform. The difference with Islam is that there is no movement from within Islam which wants to challenge its practices or malpractices. The difference is that Muslims are becoming aware of their vulnerabilities through others taking over their lands, their resources, their freedoms. The similarity is that the Muslims do want to look at their past for inspiration. They do want to go back to basics before they can move forward. The difference is that Muslims have been asleep and therefore colonized ever since the Industrial Revolution. So deep is their slumber that there is no way to reawaken them without killing ten million of them. ( by there own hands). If they do wake up, the battle would have just begun.
**Richard Hooker (Washington State University).
"When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son."
The role of Pakistan in apprehending these innocent men is amongst the most despicable by an agent state. America is already paying for their role in keeping them there. It is yet another blot to their reputation and their claim to leadership of the world suffers another blow.
Inmates' words: The poems of Guantanamo
The publicationb of an anthology of works, composed on paper cups by detainees, provides a harrowing insight into the torments and fading hopes of prisoners. Leonard Doyle reports
Published: 21 June 2007
The words of the celebrated Pakistani poet were scratched on the sides of a Styrofoam cup with a pebble. Then, under the eyes of Guantanamo Bay's prison guards, they were secretly passed from cell to cell. When the guards discovered what was going on, they smashed the containers and threw them away, fearing that it was a way of passing coded messages.
Fragments of these "cup poems" survived, however, and are included in an 84-page anthology entitled Poems from Guantanamo: the Detainees Speak, to be published later this year by the University of Iowa Press.
The verses provide a harrowing insight into the torments and fading hopes of the prisoners. Only two Guantanamo inmates have been charged with a crime.
They were brought to light by Marc Falkoff, a US professor of law with a doctorate in American literature. He represents 17 Yemeni inmates and has made 10 visits to Guantanamo. He dedicates the book to "my friends inside the wire".
In the summer of 2005 Professor Falkoff was sent two poems from his clients. Written in Arabic, they were included in letters they could legally send. Because all communication with the detainees is deemed a potential threat to national security, everything - letters, interview notes, legal documents - must be sealed and sent to a US intelligence facility for review. The two poems were deemed a potential risk and remain classified to this day.
Professor Falkoff contacted other lawyers and discovered that several had received poems from their clients. Other detainees, like the two released Britons, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga, wrote poetry while in prison and brought them with them on their release.
Censorship remains absolute at the camp however. As far as the US military is concerned: "poetry ... presents a special risk, and DoD [Department of Defence] standards are not to approve the release of any poetry in its original form or language". The fear, officers say, is that allegorical imagery in poetry may be used to convey coded messages to militants outside.
That is scoffed at by Professor Falkoff. "These are the same military censors who in 2004 tried to stop me receiving allegations of abusive treatment of my clients who were being subjected to intense heat and cold and forced to remain standing." He added: "If the inmates were writing words like 'the Eagle flies at dawn,' the censors might have a case, but they are not. I fully accept their right to stop any coded messages to militants outside. But what the military fears is not so much the possibility of secret messages being communicated, but the power of words to make people outside realise that these are human beings who have not had their day in court."
The thoughts of the inmates are considered so potentially dangerous by the US military that they are not even trusted with pen and paper. The only exception is an occasional 10-minute period when they are allowed to write to their families via the International Red Cross. Even then the words they write are heavily censored.
The 380 or so inmates of Guantanamo include some avowed Islamic militants and al-Qa'ida fighters. But the majority are there because they were swept up by the police and intelligence services of other countries working on behalf of the US. In their despair many of these detainees have turned to verse to express their innermost feelings.
Others have attempted or committed suicide. One of the poets is a Bahraini man who has been held in solitary confinement since the end of 2003. He has tried to kill himself 12 times while in the prison. On one occasion, he was found by his lawyer, hanging by his neck and bleeding from a gash to his arm.
There are other tragic tales behind the verses. The "cup poems" of Guantanamo speak of the strange absence of flowers in spring, the bangles worn by young women and handcuffs on the militants.
Fragments survived in the memory of the poet Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost after his eventual release, but thousands of lines of poetry he wrote in prison have disappeared.
Dost, a respected religious scholar, poet, and journalist - and author of nearly 20 books - until his arrest in 2001, spent nearly three years in Guantanamo with his brother. Sent home two years ago, the brothers were picked up by Pakistani intelligence and they too disappeared. Nothing has been heard of them since.
Aami al Haj, a Sudanese national, was a journalist covering the war in Afghanistan for al-Jazeera television, when, in 2001, he was arrested stripped of his passport and press card and handed over to US forces. He was tortured at both Bagram air base and Kandahar before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. The US military says he was a financial courier for Chechen rebels and that he assisted al-Qa'ida but has offered no evidence to support the claims.
"When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees, Hot tears covered my face," he wrote from his prison cell. "They have monuments to liberty And freedom of opinion, which is well and good. But I explained to them, that Architecture is not justice."
Humiliated In The Shackles
By Sami al Hajj
When I heard pigeons cooing in the trees,
Hot tears covered my face.
When the lark chirped, my thoughts composed
A message for my son.
Mohammad, I am afflicted.
In my despair, I have no one but Allah for comfort.
The oppressors are playing with me,
As they move freely around the world.
They ask me to spy on my countrymen,
Claiming it would be a good deed.
They offer me money and land,
And freedom to go where I please.
Their temptations seize
My attention like lightning in the sky.
But their gift is an empty snake,
Carrying hypocrisy in its mouth like venom,
They have monuments to liberty
And freedom of opinion, which is well and good.
But I explained to them that
Architecture is not justice.
America, you ride on the backs of orphans,
And terrorize them daily.
The world recognizes an arrogant liar.
To Allah I direct my grievance and my tears.
I am homesick and oppressed.
Mohammad, do not forget me.
Support the cause of your father, a God-fearing man.
I was humiliated in the shackles.
How can I now compose verses? How can I now write?
After the shackles and the nights and the suffering and the tears,
How can I write poetry?
My soul is like a roiling sea, stirred by anguish,
Violent with passion.
I am a captive, but the crimes are my captors'.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.
Lord, grant success to the righteous.
An Al-Jazeera cameraman, Sami al Hajj, a Sudanese, was visiting his brother in Damascus after the 11 September attacks when he got a call asking him to go to Pakistan to cover the impending war in Afghanistan. Instead, he ended up in Guantanamo where he claims he has been severely and regularly beaten, scarring his face.
By Jumah al Dossari
Take my blood.
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world,
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace".
Arrested in Pakistan and held in solitary confinement since 2003, Jumah al Dossari's mental wellbeing is worrying his lawyers. The 33-year old Bahraini national has tried to kill himself 12 times since his incarceration in Guantanamo. On one visit, his lawyer found him hanging in a bedsheet noose, with a deep gash in one wrist. In a letter Mr Dossari wrote in 2005, he said: "The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people and I have been destroyed."
Is It True?
By Osama Abu Kadir
Is it true that the grass grows again after rain?
Is it true that the flowers will rise up again in the Spring?
Is it true that birds will migrate home again?
Is it true that the salmon swim back up their streams?
It is true. This is true. These are all miracles.
But is it true that one day we'll leave Guantanamo Bay?
Is it true that one day we'll go back to our homes?
I sail in my dreams. I am dreaming of home.
To be with my children, each one part of me;
To be with my wife and the ones that I love;
To be with my parents, my world's tenderest hearts.
I dream to be home, to be free from this cage.
But do you hear me, oh Judge, do you hear me at all?
We are innocent, here, we've committed no crime.
Set me free, set us free, if anywhere still
Justice and compassion remain in this world!
Shortly after 11 September, Osama Abu Kadir travelled to Pakistan to perform charity work in Afghanistan with the Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamat. The US claims Tablighi was providing fighters for jihad in Afghanistan and arrested Mr Kadir near Jalalabad in November 2001. In his native Jordan, he was known as a dedicated family man who worked as a truck driver. In Guantanamo, he is known as prisoner number 651.