Firing of Pakistan’s Defense Sec Raises Army Tension

January 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

By Salman Masood

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani fired his defense secretary, a retired general and confidant of Pakistan’s army chief, on Wednesday as the civilian government drew closer to a head-on collision with the country’s powerful military leadership.

Mr. Gilani accused the secretary of defense, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a former corps commander, of “gross misconduct and illegal action” and of “creating misunderstanding between the state institutions.” He replaced the former general with a civilian aide, Nargis Sethi.

Military officials warned on Wednesday evening that the army would be likely to refuse to work with the newly appointed defense secretary, signaling the possibility of a serious rupture between the army and the civilian government. “The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary defense,” said a military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation.

Tensions had intensified between the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and the army leadership after the publication of a controversial memo, purportedly drafted by the government shortly after an American raid last year killed Osama bin Laden, that solicited help in stopping a possible coup by the humiliated Pakistani military.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, called an emergency meeting of his top commanders on Thursday.

The defense secretary is ordinarily appointed with the consent of the army chief and acts as a bridge between the civilian government and military. The role is more powerful than that of defense minister, a position that is filled by a politician from the governing party.

The firing came as the military warned the prime minister that his recent statements against General Kayani would have “serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”
Mr. Gilani had accused General Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, of acting as “state within a state” and reminded them they were accountable to the Parliament.

Those statements were seen as suggesting that they could be removed from power.

The defense secretary’s signature is needed for the appointment — or termination — of the members of the military leadership. By installing a secretary defense of its own choice, the civilian government appeared to be seeking greater leverage in dealing with the military.

Speculation about the government’s intentions to dismiss the two commanders were fueled by news reports in the stridently anti-American press in Pakistan, where many people view the United States as an arrogant adversary instead of an ally. That view has increased in the months since the Bin Laden raid last May and the deaths of 26 Pakistani soldiers in an American airstrike near the border with Afghanistan late last year.

Pakistani analysts said the firing of Mr. Lodhi could be a potentially ominous sign that the festering conflict between the army and the civilian government had reached a critical stage.

“It is a desperate measure,” said Ikram Sehgal, a defense analyst and former army officer. “They want the army to react and to make a coup.”

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military and political analyst, said the firing would only exacerbate the situation for the civilian government. “If the prime minister now tries to fire the army chief, it will have very dangerous consequences,” Mr. Rizvi said.

General Lodhi, who was only recently appointed defense secretary, became embroiled in a controversy last month after he submitted a statement in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Defense Ministry stating that the civilian government had no operational control over the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s powerful spy agency. Mr. Gilani accused Mr. Lodhi of overstepping and objected to his blunt statement, a public acknowledgment that, while the intelligence services are technically under the control of the prime minister, they are widely perceived to act independently of the civilian government.

A military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said that the relationship between the two men broke down after the prime minister’s staff sought to pressure General Lodhi into contradicting statements by the army and spy chiefs about the controversial memo. The military commanders had told Supreme Court last month that the memo, written by a former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was authentic and pointed to a conspiracy against the military. The government and Mr. Haqqani have said they had nothing to do with the memo, which came to light in October.

“The government had prepared a draft that stated that the Ministry of Defense does not agree with General Kayani and Genera Pasha’s opinions about the veracity of the memo,” said the military official, who was present during the discussions. “General Lodhi refused to sign the document, saying those were not his words.”

J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

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Analysis: 2012 Could Prove Even Wilder Ride than 2011

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) – The ancient Mayans attached special significance to 2012, possibly the end of time. That has spawned a rush of apocalyptic literature for the holiday season.

But you don’t have to believe the world is about to end to realize that next year contains perhaps the widest range of political risks to the global economy in recent history.

With elections and leadership changes in the most powerful countries, Europe in crisis, ferment in the Middle East and worsening economic hardship driving unrest and discontent everywhere, 2012 could be just as volatile as 2011 if not worse.

The current year may yet carry a sting in its tail, with worries over the euro and jitters over a possible Israeli strike on Iran likely to keep financial markets and policymakers on tenterhooks all the way to the New Year.

More than three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers prompted the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, economic turmoil looks to be driving political upheaval in what could become a particularly disruptive feedback loop.

Economic stresses — from rising food prices to worsening economic hardship in the developed world — were at the heart of many of 2011’s political stories. As they intensify, political volatility, gridlock, confrontation and conflict — whether domestic or international — look set to worsen.

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at London-based risk consultancy Control Risks. “If you look at what’s been driving events this year, none of the factors has gone away and many of the economic drivers are still growing.”

Presidential elections in the United States, France and Russia and the dual transition of power at the top of China’s Communist Party will add to the uncertainty. They may make it harder for political leaders to find compromises or push through tough policy choices.

GROWING GRIDLOCK?

That, many analysts warn, brings with it a mounting risk of political gridlock coming just as the world needs leadership most. The failure of the U.S. Congressional “super committee” to agree on how to reduce the budget deficit may be a sign of things to come domestically in many countries.

President Barack Obama faces a tough re-election bid, whomever the Republicans choose to challenge him, because of a sluggish economy, 8.6 percent unemployment and a squeeze on the middle classes due to fallen home and stock prices.

A fragile global consensus forged at a 2009 summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies may be gone for good, replaced by what Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, calls a rudderless “G-zero” world.

Top of the list of 2012 risks for many analysts is the unresolved sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone.

If the 17-nation European single currency is to survive in its current form, its members will have to confront harsh economic adjustments and seismic political reform. Last week’s Brussels summit, the 16th since the start of the two-year-old crisis, was billed by some as the last chance to save the euro.

While euro zone leaders and some non-euro states agreed to forge a closer fiscal union with stricter budget discipline, the outcome fell short of guaranteeing the euro’s ultimate survival.

At worst, 2012 could still see a disorderly breakup bringing with it a chain of defaults, bank runs and civil unrest, not to mention a savage global economic shock worse than that of 2008.

Ultimately, however, many believe the euro will endure — although not without colossal strains as it tries to reconcile very different economies such as Germany and Greece.

“The greatest single risk is obviously the euro zone but it might also be the risk that is sorted out the quickest,” says Alastair Newton, a former British government official who is chief political analyst at Japanese bank Nomura.

“But even if that happens then you’re still going to have very low growth and a rise in social unrest in the southern euro zone in particular and across Europe in general. Even in the best case scenario, 2012 looks pretty rough.”

For others, the Middle East remains the most important area to watch for potential disruption to the global economy.

Almost a year after the beginning of the “Arab Spring” democracy movement, the region remains in political flux with untested Islamist parties winning power across north Africa and Syria’s uprising slowly turning towards outright civil war.

CONFLICT, UNREST

After the fall of several veteran Western-backed Arab rulers, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq is seen as the latest sign of the diminishing influence of Western powers in a region they dominated for some 200 years.

In the resulting vacuum, regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and an isolated and perhaps more erratic Iran appear in increasingly open confrontation.

Western intelligence estimates that Iran is moving closer to a viable nuclear weapon have a shorter timeline, and some analysts say 2012 could be the year when Tehran’s enemies decide to go beyond covert sabotage with a military strike that could spark retaliation against oil supplies in the Gulf.

“The bigger wild card out there is an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and elements of regime control,” says Thomas Barnett, chief strategist of political risk consultancy Wikistrat, saying neither the Israeli nor the Iranian leadership looks inclined to back down. “The setting here is scary… something has got to give in this strategic equation.”

Even if the world avoids a devastating shock such as a Middle East war or a European breakdown, many analysts fear the business of politics and policy-making could become increasingly difficult around the world.

With economic growth slowing and unemployment creeping up, most analysts believe the risks of social unrest will continue to rise across much of the developed and developing world.

“We have all the problems you’d expect from economic hardship. At some stage we will have rising food prices which are always destabilizing and we have a question over whether China will overheat,” says Elizabeth Stephens, head of credit and political risk at London insurance brokers Jardine Lloyd Thompson.

“Even a fall of one or two percentage points of GDP (in China) could be enough to really question social stability if they can’t keep job creation going… We (also) have probable ongoing unrest in Europe and the ongoing transition in the Middle East and North Africa could be quite unstable.”

In the dying days of the year, other long held assumptions of stability have be thrown into question — not least by the rising tide of protest against Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The one certainty for 2012, many believe, is more of the unexpected.

“2011 was a nightmarish year to be a policy maker or an investment portfolio manager but it was a great one to be a political analyst,” says Newton. “I’d certainly expect the same for next year.”

(Reporting By Peter Apps)

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Iqra Foundation Annual Dinner

November 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Staff Reporter

Iqrapic2
Mary Ali gives her acceptance address for the IQRA Education Leadership Award
Iqrapic1
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf receives for him and his wife Daisy Khan an award from Ali Yurtsever & Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

IQRA, the leaders in Islamic Education hosted their Annual Dinner on October 29th. IQRA’s community of advocates, educators and private Ansar (sponsors) gathered to celebrate the 28 years of the Foundation’s accomplishments.

The room was filled with more than 550 up beat supporters. The keynote speaker, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chief architect of the Cordoba Initiative discussed the importance of Muslim Americans taking an active role in society. Appreciating the pioneering work and leadership role that Drs. Abidullah and Tasneema Ghazi have played, American Muslims were urged to invest in organizations like IQRA to help realize the implementation of critical and pivotal work in promoting innovative Islamic education in USA and worldwide. Dinner guests were also honored to hear the inspirational speech of Sister Mary Ali, the recipient of the IQRA Education Leadership Award that the organization has instituted to honor the memory of Dr. MAW Fakhri, its founding chairman.

Dr. Shahid Siddiqi, a member of the board and chairman of reception committee, lauded the leadership of IQRA team and its innovative futuristic approach. Dr. Ghazi in his presidential address narrated IQRA’s past achievements and laid down its future vision which covered revision of the program, use of electronic media for publication, standardization of Islamic education, establishment of distance education on internet and producing new genre of literature appropriate for our age and the global village.

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AFMI on Women Empowerment

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah-Chicago

Oct 3rd 2011

The American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin (AFMI) successfully held its 21st annual national convention in Chicago under the leadership of Dr. Tajuddin Ahmed, the incoming AFMI president, and the chairperson Dr. Siraj Ahmed, Co-chair Hassan Kaleemuddin and various heads of other committees. Over 350 people attended the banquet session.

The theme of the convention was “Women Empowerment Through Education”.

Distinguished and knowledgeable speakers from across the nation who participated during the whole day sessions discussed various issues like “Current Status of Indian Muslim Women”, “Tools and Models for Empowering Women Through Education” followed by the session for “Strategic planning and Moving Forward in to Action”.

Mrs. Priya Dutt, Member of the Parliament, address the banquet session of the convention. She is also in charge of women section of the Indian National Congress and Congress party’s general Secretary. The other Chief Guest was the former Illinois senator, Mosley Braun. The theme of the convention being women empowerment, both the main speakers focused on their educational and economic empowerment through creating opportunities at all levels. Priya Dutt is the daughter of Late Sunil Dutt, a Bollywood icon and a former minister of youth affairs. She is involved in running a number of women empowerment centers in the slums of Bombay.

The AFMI convention enables people from Indian origin to find ways of cooperation on issues of concerns for Muslims of India. AFMI organizes an international convention in India in December to distribute medals to students who out excel others in education. Besides, AFMI also runs and supports a number of educational institutions in different parts of India. Relief and political education are two other areas that form the focus of AFMI activities in India. The organization was established in 1989 to provide a platform to Muslims of Indian origin living in the US.to contribute their human and material resources for the Muslims of India. This year’s convention saw the emergence of a youth leadership in the organization as they made significant presentation on educational and economic issues. Some of the presenters presented the conclusion of their research in the city of Hyderabad and other places where women are making significant efforts in bringing about changes in their sociopolitical conditions.  The emergence of a women leadership in India’s Muslim dominated areas is a fact that is being recognized by the community as was suggested by one of the speakers.

Mr. Ashfaq Qureshi, the current President of the organization said that the organization was focused on education and has adopted a motivational approach to help Muslims achieve the goal of 100 per cent literacy.

Dr. Abdul Raheman Nakadar, the founder of the organization presented an overview of the organization’s projects in different part of the country that includes schools, hospitals, clinics, and relief centers besides the distribution of medals to the achievers of highest academic honors. Dr. Nakadar presented the graph of progress in the field of education asserting that the encouragement and recognition of highest achievers create an environment of healthy competition and inspires students to become high achievers.

Among those attended the convention were Dr. Khurshid Malik, a prominent Chicago physician involved in several developmental projects in India. Manzoor Ghori, of the Indian Muslim Relief Committee, Rashid Khan of American Indian Muslim Council, Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, prominent Muslim educationist, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Media professor at Western Illinois University, Macomb, Dr. Azhar Quader, a community activists and former President of the Chicago Area Council of Muslim organizations, and recipient of AFMI’s award of Excellence. Dr. A. Razzaque Ahmed, recipient of AFMI’s “Excellence” award and an internationally known dermatologist. The youths who made a mark and were keen to participate in AFMI activities were: Dr. Fareen Parvez (Boston), Dr. Tasneem Osmani (Chicago), Dr. Sana Uddin (South Bend-Indiana), Dr. Saad Mahmood (Boston) and many others.

This year’s AFMI international convention will take place in Ranchi on December 24 and 25, zonal conventions in UP is slated for Faizabad and Lucknow. MP zonal convention will take place in Burhanpur.

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Yalla Change Event

October 6, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

AAI and NNAAC coordinate leadership conference in Dearborn

By Adil James, TMO

PA010135Dearborn–October 1–The aftermath of 9/11 has been a trial for Arabs and for Muslims, but Arabs and Muslims have responded by stepping vigorously into the public arena and a reflection of that trend is this weekend’s “Yalla Change” leadership conference in Dearborn.

The event was co-sponsored by the Arab American Institute and the National Network for Arab American Communities and was attended by about 200 guests and speakers.  The event was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn.  Those in attendance appeared to be mostly professionals who had experience working as leaders in the Muslim and especially Arab communities, and it seemed as though the focus of the leadership conference was in building the capacity of the Arab community for involvement in the arena of public service.

Discussions that contributed to this capacity were a discussion by the “Center for Arab American Philanthropy,” “Maximizing Earned-Income Endeavors,” “Tapping Employee and Volunteer Motivation to Minimize Burnout,” “Telling Your Financial Story to Funders,” and “Innovative Practices for Nonprofits,” among others.  Each of these sessions was a full multi-hour discussion designed to increase the effectiveness of Arab organizations–the majority of the seminars at the event focused on this area.

A few of the sessions focused on broader issues, namely the red herring issue of anti-Shariah legislation and a presentation by Wajahat Ali on the coterie of anti-Islam zealots such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who appeared recently on the national scene but who have garnered disproportionate influence in the wake of September 11th and have, amazingly, by the strength of only a few shrill voices, polarized the American climate in relation to Islam to attempt to deny Muslims even the peaceful enjoyment of good relations with their neighbors.

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Muslim Groups: FBI Response to Islamophobia Scandal Not Good Enough

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The bureau has reached out to Muslim organizations in the wake of embarrassing revelations about its counterterrorism training materials. Critics say that’s not enough.

By Adam Serwer

After reports emerged last week that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterterrorism training included materials that depicted Muslims as inherently radical and violent, the bureau moved quickly to reach out to a number American Muslim groups in an effort to smooth over relations. FBI officials promised to take the problem seriously and vowed to conduct an internal review of the materials, which included assertions that mainstream American Muslims were sympathetic to terrorism and that the more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he is to be violent.

“There was acknowledgement that what happened is wrong and what happens needs to be addressed immediately,” says Abed Ayoub, the legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). “It was a good first step in rectifying this.”

But Ayoub and other Arab and Muslim leaders add that more still needs to be done to repair the damage caused by the FBI’s offensive training materials.

The problem, Muslim and Arab groups argue, is that this isn’t the first time they’ve complained about the FBI’s counterterrorism training. In August 2010, several organizations sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller after Islamophobic writer Robert Spencer, who believes “that there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists,” was invited to give two seminars to Virginia’s Tidewater Joint Terrorism Task Force in July. Spencer was also invited to give a presentation to the US Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, which is cohosted by the FBI in Norfolk.

The FBI didn’t take the outside groups’ complaints particularly seriously. In its response to the letter, the bureau defended Spencer’s appearance on the grounds that he was a “best-selling author.” A little over a year later, the FBI would try a similar tactic, dismissing the controversial elective training offered by FBI official William Gawthrop as an innocuous one-off. But Wired’s Spencer Ackerman soon revealed that recent FBI training materials depicted Muslims—not terrorists or extremists, but Muslims generally—as collectively bent on world domination.

The FBI’s previous efforts to dismiss the issue of anti-Muslim training materials, says Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, are one reason the FBI’s promised “internal review” won’t be enough. “We’re pleased that this very serious issue is finally receiving the attention of the FBI leadership, but we still believe that an internal FBI review is insufficient at this stage,” Khera says.

On a conference call with several Muslim and Arab organizations, the FBI took pains to note that several agents had registered complaints about Gawthrop’s training materials, and others had walked out of a session in disgust. But the FBI’s excuses left many on the conference call with more questions: If FBI officials had raised concerns about Gawthrop’s work, why was the issue not addressed immediately? A report  from an independent inspector general “is the only way to ensure that the FBI is [addressing the issue],” Khera adds.

The FBI missed opportunities by not taking the potential for cooperation with Muslim groups more seriously, other critics say. If FBI officials had asked for the Muslim American community’s input, they could have stopped the scandal before it happened. “Why did they not ask for the community’s advice on the [training material]? Why didn’t they use the resources at their disposal?” asks the ADC’s Ayoub. “There was no outreach done. That’s disappointing.”

The revelations about the training materials also damaged existing relationships, argues Mohamed Elibiary of the Freedom and Justice Foundation. “You really need very substantive community relationships and partnerships if you want to get to the point where you have community-based interventions and lessening of violent extremism and radicalization,” Elibiary says. “They need to be able to feel like they can call the FBI when there’s a problem with their kids.”

In the future, Elibiary warns, FBI headquarters has to follow the example of its best field offices and do more to reach out to Muslim communities beyond the DC area. “There’s a difference between engaging with the leadership in DC and the leadership across the country,” he says. “You need to engage with both. For what you say in DC to have an impact in Des Moines, you need to be talking to someone there.”

Adam Serwer is a reporter at the Washington, DC bureau of Mother Jones.

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Mohammad Qayoumi, New President of San Jose State University

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

SAN JOSE,CA–Mohammad H. Qayoumi was appointed last month as president of San José State University, the oldest and one of the largest universities in the 23-campus CSU system. Previously, Qayoumi served as president of California State University, East Bay, where under his leadership, the university adopted long-range academic and strategic plans that significantly strengthened its regional position and profile.

In addition to his more than 30 years of experience in the service of higher education and industry, Qayoumi is a licensed professional engineer and a certified management accountant. He has published eight books, more than 85 articles, and several chapters in various books. Additionally, he has presented at numerous national and international conferences on topics ranging from quality and energy to systems theory. Qayoumi is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and has served as a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award examiner and senior examiner.

Qayoumi has served his native country in various capacities, including as a senior advisor to the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan and member of the board of directors for the Central Bank of Afghanistan. Locally, Qayoumi is a member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and serves on several boards including the Bay Area Council, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance and the Contra Costa Business Council.

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Shehryar Khan in ‘40 Under 40 list’

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

shehryarSEATTLE,WA–Shehryar Khan, CEO of leading mobile and emergent technologies agency Übermind (www.ubermind.com), was named as one of the “40 Under 40” by the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ), an honor that the publication hails as one of its most prestigious annual awards.    

Khan was selected from a pool of 201 qualified applicants — one of the most competitive years yet for the award — for his leadership and contributions not just to his company, but also his industry and community.

While Khan’s been at the helm, Übermind has seen year-over-year growth of more than 70 percent, one hundred percent staff growth from 2010 to 2011, and the addition of powerhouse clients like Apple, Target, REI, and Alaska Airlines. The company also provides the local community with time and financial resources for nonprofits, as well as employee-matched charitable donations and pro bono projects.

“I put my heart into my work,” says Khan, “and I’m delighted to be recognized by the PSBJ and share the recognition with the immensely talented team of employees that comprise Übermind. I’m grateful to be part of such a dynamic team and to live in such a culturally and professionally progressive city like Seattle. I feel truly blessed, and sincerely thank the Puget Sound Business Journal for the honor.”

To be selected, says PSBJ assistant managing editor Becky Monk, applicants first had to be nominated by one of their peers and then articulate their business and community leadership accomplishments in an essay-form application. Submissions were read, scored, and deliberated on by eight judges — men and women from all walks of the business community — for more than half a day to ensure that the most deserving candidates were selected.

The 2011 honorees will be feted at a special VIP reception on September 14 at Showbox SoDo. Übermind employees are thrilled for Khan’s recognition and highlight his ability to not only develop sound, long-term strategies that drive the business forward but also to inspire all levels of employees with his motivational and “team first” management style. As Khan says, the function of a good CEO is to “inspire people around you to do their best work, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and create an environment in which they can excel.”

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Najee Ali Emerges: Possible Successor to Imam W.D. Muhammad

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Najee AliLOS ANGELES, CA–Najee Ali, civil rights activist and leader of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, is emerging as a possible successor to his father-in-law the late Imam W.D.Muhammad. The Electronic Urban Report says that Ali will take a leadership role by tackling several issues affecting the black community.

“We still don’t have an organization that speaks to our issues,” said Ali. “Project Islamic Hope has decided to step up to the plate and fill the void.”

“Everything that I have experienced in my life has led me to this moment. I feel I’m well prepared to carry on the burden and obligation that is before me in attempting to keep the indigenous Islamic movement alive,” Ali added.

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It’s A War On Pakistan?

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Shireen M. Mazari

For Pakistan, the writing on the wall is clear. We are in a two-front war: One directly with the US and the other an unconventional war where nonstate actors are being trained by powerful external powers to undermine the military and intelligence organizations from within for the final external assault. But our civil and military leadership seems oblivious to these increasingly overt signals.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—That Pakistan is facing a two-front war since 9/11 should have been apparent to at least the intelligence and military leadership. After all, the evidence was there from the moment General Musharraf surrendered the country to the Unites States.

There was the publication of the article by a retired US military intelligence officer Ralph Peters in the US Armed Forces Journal titled Blood Borders which envisaged the partitioning of Pakistan and Iran. There was the commencement of US demands to ‘do more’ on the Pakistani state, especially its military, and there was the ‘invasion’ of hordes of American private security contractors and special operatives–most without going through the proper visa clearance process, especially after the coming to power of the Zardari-Gilani combine courtesy the NRO brokered by the US and Pakistan’s military leadership.

Unfortunately, the Pakistani state, especially its military and intelligence leadership miscalculated gravely when they fell in the US trap of a military-centric approach to dealing with terrorism and extremism. The results have been disastrous for the Pakistani state and nation. The US effectively, under international law, declared war on Pakistan’s people with the drone attacks, and the military and intelligence set up neglected to calculate the costs of the US short-term lures of tactical weapons and a few downgraded F-16s. Apart from other fallouts, Pakistan suddenly found itself the victim of suicide bombings, internally displaced people and the Pakistani Taliban whose increasing funding and sophisticated arms should have raised alarm bells.

Additionally the economic costs have now also run into billions and we are today facing a war ravaged nation deeply polarized and totally unable to feel secure in their own territory despite a huge military and intelligence network.

The attack on Mehran Base in Karachi has made it clear that the policy of destroying Pakistan’s military and intelligence set up is being operationalised but the question for us Pakistanis is why our intelligence and military leadership is going along with this scheme of things – or at least why it is unable to develop a viable counter response to this policy.

Some of us had been pointing to the dangers of having US forces embedded within the Pakistan military far before the WikiLeaks made this public. That the May 2nd incident was a major security and intelligence lapse cannot be denied although the cover up has come in the form of the ‘stealth technology’ pretext. But how can one explain the complete CIA covert set up in Abbottabad?

The incident certainly created a disconnect between the military leadership and the younger officers and soldiers and the lack of accountability of the former has done little to restore this equilibrium. As if to ensure that such an eventuality does not come to pass the attack on the Mehran base has taken place. To suggest that it was not a security and intelligence failure is to hide one’s head in the sand. Yes, as usual our soldiers fought bravely and many were martyred but why should they have been exposed to this danger in the first place? It is time some responsibility was accepted and the leadership made accountable.

How long will we continue to place our soldiers and young officers in these lethal situations created by leadership lapses?

What is equally disturbing is to discover that four to six terrorists held the whole base hostage for over sixteen hours and at the end of the operation it was given out that two terrorists may have escaped while four were killed. In comparison eleven of our soldiers were martyred, including our commandos. The terrorists were trained and carrying sophisticated weapons including RPGs. Who has been training these people and where are the money and arms coming from? If they are the Pakistani Taliban, who is behind them? Why did the government not make public the weapons’ makes and origins?

A larger question is how the details of the base and the location of the targets reached the attackers? These terrorists were not targeting the base in a random fashion. They knew where to go to get to their target: the P-3C Orion surveillance planes especially suited for anti-submarine warfare.

Linked to this is the question of why target these planes? Who would benefit from their destruction? The non-state terrorist actors are supposed to be located within Pakistan and Afghanistan; but it is the US and India which could target Pakistan by sea – and both have been threatening to attack Pakistan post-May 2. The US has its bases in Oman and Bahrain while India has a vast blue water navy.
The question that arises then is whether this was a probe attack to check out our defenses?

Just as the May 2 incident exposed our faulty intelligence and military preparedness, this incident has done the same on yet another front. That a few well-trained terrorists can hold up a whole naval base despite inputs from the Rangers and the Army does not bode well for Pakistan’s military preparedness.

The writing on the wall is clear for Pakistan. It is in a two-front war: One directly with the US and the other an unconventional war where nonstate actors are being trained by powerful external powers to undermine the military and intelligence organizations from within for the final external assault. But our civil and military leadership seems oblivious to these increasingly overt signals. Or are they totally mesmerized by US lures?

Our nuclear assets are not under threat militarily for reasons I have already explained at length in an earlier write up. But a security and military environment is being created where a diplomatic and political campaign to take control of the nuclear assets can reach fruition. This is a well thought out strategy that the US has been operationalizing since 9/11 when it gained military and intelligence access into Pakistan and saw how easy it was to seduce the Pakistani military and subsequently the civilian leadership.

While not denying the extremist militancy and terrorism within Pakistan, we need to realize that the targeting of military installations and intelligence vulnerabilities is the handiwork of trained and well-armed operatives who of necessity have strong external backers. Of course we need to counter the extremist threat but to let this bogey blind us to the two-front war being waged against our very existence as a nation and state post-9/11would be to play right into the hands of our very real, very skilled and very powerful external enemies.

Unfortunately, that is what our civil and military leadership is falling prey to so far. In the process the critical cohesiveness and morale of our military and intelligence institutions, the strongest institutions in the country, is being threatened. It is time to arrest this leadership decay through accountability of those responsible. We have already lost over 35 000 Pakistani lives. How many more martyrs can we afford as a result of fatal leadership lapses?

Dr. Mazari is an adviser on defense policy to a political party and the former director of Islamabad Institute For Strategic Studies. She wrote this comment forPakNationalists.com Reach her at callstr[at]hotmail.com

www.paknationalists.com

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Community News (V13-I17)

April 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Islamic Center of Augusta breaks ground for new facility

AUGUSTA, GA–The Islamic Center of Augusta is building a new facility to accomadate the growing needs of the congregation. Last month, crews broke ground on an eight acre sight for the construction which is scheduled for completion by next March.

The $3.5 million project will feature prayer area, soccer fields and indoor basketball courts.

A spokesman for the center told the WJBF TV:  “There’s a growth in the Muslim community in Augusta and in surrounding areas. We felt that we need a youth center and youth activitIes that are more open to the community.”

Madina Ali wins leadership award

MORGAN TOWN, WV–Women’s basketball star Madina Ali of West Virginia University has been named by the university for this year’s Leland Byrd Basketball Leadership Award. The award is given to student athletes who outstanding team leadership on and off the court.

Ali, a Williamsport, Pa., native, earns the leadership honor for the second consecutive season. As co-captain of the women’s basketball team for two straight seasons, Ali earned second team all-BIG EAST honors and was a four-time BIG EAST honor roll recipient.

As a senior leader, Ali was one of only 10 total BIG EAST players to record 30 points in a game and led the team’s rebounding efforts, averaging 7.1 rebounds a game to rank 10th in the BIG EAST. At forward, Ali totaled 241 boards, including a team-leading 98 offensive rebounds. As an offensive threat, she recorded a 53.4 field goal percentage on 159-of-298 shooting, which ranked as the seventh highest in the league. Ali also held the teams’ second-highest scoring average of 12.4 points per game, recorded the second-most points for the season with 421 and led the team with nine double-doubles.

Madina Ali is the daughter of Abdul-Rahim and Atiya Ali.

Studies submitted for New Castle mosque

NEW CASTLE,NY–Plans to build a mosque and Islamic center in the west end of New Castle are moving forward with the submission by the Upper Westchester Muslim Society of an updated series of environmental impact studies, lohud.com news portal reported.

The Muslim Society now holds services and classes in a rented space in Thornwood but has outgrown it. The group wants to build a masjid, or mosque, and community center on Pines Bridge Road in a residential area. It needs a permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build the 24,690-square-foot structure on 8 acres.

With the second version of the draft environmental study, the Muslim Society submitted more information on traffic and the timing and scope of the activities at the center. If the zoning board decides the document is complete, it will move on to public hearings. The board is expected to discuss the issue at its April 27 meeting.

Muslim conference held at University of Missouri

COLUMBIA,MO–The Muslim Students Organization at University of Missouri organized an Islamic conference recently on the theme “Pursuits of this World — Beyond Material Gains.” I mam Siraj Wahaj and Ustadha Tahera Ahmad (chaplain from Northwestern University) were the keynote speakers at the weekend conference.

MSO spokesman Mahir Khan in an interview to the student newspaper provided a summary of the speeches. “His topic was just to give back, not just to the Muslim community but to the community at large,” Khan said. “He kind of expanded on that in Friday’s sermon about Muslim’s footprint in America and it got me thinking, ‘What have I done to give back, not only to the Muslim community but to the entire country?’”

Ustadha Ahmad talked about achieving balance in one’s life. MSO President Arwa Mohammad said Ahmad’s experience as a university chaplain made her interaction with the students lively and entertaining.

“She threw tennis balls and basketballs and made us do complex tasks with them to show that if you’re trying to do too much, or if you’re trying to juggle too many things at once, you’re not necessarily going to be successful at those tasks,” Mohammad said.

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ACCESS Executive Director to Give Leadership Lesson at Wayne State

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber will present a special lecture March 30, 2010 to a group of students at Wayne State University.  The lecture will be about building relationships between residents and organizations in Detroit and how to engage with local communities. Jaber also will discuss his success and experiences as Executive Director at ACCESS. Jaber received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Wayne State’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1987 and a master’s degree in public administration from WSU in 1993.

Lessons in Leadership is an alumni speaker series co-sponsored by the WSU Alumni Association that explores the topic of leadership.  Students have an opportunity to listen to former students and community leaders share their own leadership experiences and hear about what works and what doesn’t, as well as discuss the role leadership plays in their work day after day.  Wayne State students can register for the lecture by clicking here.

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Raphael B. Johnson, Candidate for Detroit City Council

September 24, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Adil James, MMNS

raphael b johnson Farmington–September 23–This upcoming Detroit city election is historic because of the candidacies of four Muslim candidates, including Imam El-Amin, Raphael B. Johson, Mohamed Okdie, and Reggie Reg Davis.

Despite the loss of Imam El-Amin in the primary, three of those candidates have soldiered on into the general election, and I had the chance to interview one of them, Raphael B. Johnson.

“I believe there is no god but Allah,” began Mr. Johnson.  “Our odds are high–I believe faith without work is like a ship without water–we are putting in the necessary work to make sure victory is ours.  We are knocking on doors, visiting churches, reacing out into all the neighborhoods not likely to vote.  We are doing everything.”

Asked if he has run for any office before, he shows his quick wit–joking, “I’ve only run for my life.”

Mr. Johnson worships at Muhammad’s Mosque Number 1, a Nation of Islam mosque, in Detroit.

Asked why he is running, Mr. Johnson explains, “because I owe the city of Detroit, because as a young person I took an innocent life… in Detroit.  Our leadership has failed us time and time again.  Our leadership should be the example of the change to see in the people.  If the leadership did not change in themselves, they can’t change the city.

“I have nothing to hide–Islam is what changed me.  Islam comes when all else has failed.”

For Detroit, “nothing has worked, we have tried everything”  — except Islam.

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The Imam, Leadership, and Respect

April 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment 

Imam, Leadership, & Respect
By Imam Abdullah El-Amin
“O ye who believe! Put not yourselves forward before ALLAH and His Messenger; but fear ALLAH: for ALLAH is He who hears and knows all things. 2. O ye who believe! Raise not your voices above the voice of the Prophet, nor speak aloud to him in talk, as ye may speak aloud to one another, lest your deeds become vain and ye perceive not. 3. Those that lower their voice in the presence of ALLAHíS Messenger—their hearts has ALLAH tested for piety. For them is forgiveness and a great reward. 4. Those who shout out to thee from without the Inner Apartments—most of them lack understanding. 5. If only they had patience until thou couldst come out to them, it would be best for them: but ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
Hujurat: 1-5
On July 4, 1976, Imam Wallace D. Mohammed, leader of the Muslim American Society, delivered a stirring talk entitled “The Need For Leadership.” In the talk were references to how leadership is subtly and overtly disrespected. This is done in many ways such as constantly finding fault with the leader, putting obstacles in his path or refusing to remove obstacles from his path, or treating him like “one of the boys.” When the Prophet (s) was among us physically, ALLAH had to remind the believers to treat him with respect. Looking at where the people came from (Jahylia—ignorance) it is no wonder they had to be reminded. Can you imagine having the Messenger of ALLAH (s) in your midst and shouting into his house like he was your street running buddy?
We may wonder why ALLAH put these ayahs in the Qur`an. The Prophet (s) is no longer physically with us so He couldn’t be talking to us about shouting into the Prophet’s (s) dwelling. That is not physically possible. But since we believe that every word of the Qur`an is meant for our guidance, then, without doubt, ALLAH intends this as a sign for human beings in our dealing with each other.
Does this mean that we are to treat our leaders as kings and princes? No, not at all. But it does mean that we are to be intelligent and respectful to those ALLAH allows to be in charge. You may notice when the President of the U.S. enters the halls of Congress, everybody jumps to their feet to give him a standing ovation until he reaches the front. Then when the Speaker of the House formally announces him, the applause starts all over again. It is a respect for the office—not necessarily the man.
ALLAH reminds us of this because the community cannot prosper with such behavior. Yusef Ali says in his commentary that to behave in such a manner can destroy the good intentions of any service you may have wished to perform. You might be looked upon with disfavor without you even realizing your action was disliked. ALLAH says “most of them lack understanding,” but nevertheless the damage is done.
In order for us to be successful, we must take on the spirit of the Qur`an. We must drop cultural and ethnic hang-ups and adopt the plain and simple, but strong language of the Qur`an. It’s the only way to be Muslim and be successful.
As Salaam Alaikum
(Al Hajj) Abdullah Bey El-Amin