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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Pakistan’s Waseem Reaches Boxing Finals

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Mohammad Waseem, right, hits Haroon Khan.

Pakistan’s star boxer Mohammad Waseem fought his way into the finals of the Second Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Boxing tournament at the Liaquat Gymnasium in Islamabad earlier this week. Waseem defeated India’s Madan Lal in the semifinals of the 52 kg division.

Waseem emerged as the only boxer from the host Pakistani contingent to fight for gold as seven other Pakistani fighters had to settle for bronze medals after they were beaten in the semifinals of their respective categories. Mohammad Nisar, Jamal Nasir, Nisar Khan, Ghulam Mustafa, Niamatullah, Nadir Khan and Yasir Javed all fell in the semifinals as part of a disappointing overall performance by Pakistan, who fielded a whopping total of 34 boxers in the event.

Waseem, who crushed Senevira from Sri Lanka in the quarter-final on Monday, faced even less adversity against Madan Lal in the semifinal and edged the Indian 19-12. “Thanks God, I qualified for the final,” Waseem told The News after his fight. “I did not face much difficulty and am confident to lift gold for Pakistan,” he said. Waseem is scheduled to face Benson Gicharu from Kenya in the final. Benson got a walkover against Latipovr Jasurbe from Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

By beating Madan Lal, who had outgunned England-born Haroon Khan in the quarter-final on Monday, Waseem proved that he is better than Amir Khan’s brother in the 52kg weight category. The superb show from Waseem must have convinced the authorities that they were wrong when they were compelling the Quetta-born lad to reduce his weight and play in the 49kg in the World Championship held in Baku back in the fall of this year.

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Houstonian Corner (V13-I52)

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistani-American Community Peace Rally in Downtown Houston

Office bearers and members of four Pakistani-American organizations did a Peace Rally in downtown Houston in front of the George Thomas “Mickey” Leland Federal Building this past Friday. This rally was called by Pakistani American Council of Texas (PACT), Pakistani American Society of Texas (PAST), Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), and Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA).

“As everyone knows,, the NATO attacks of November 26th, 2011 on the Pakistani soil, resulting in senseless loss of 24 brave Pakistani soldiers, is not only a tragedy for the families of the dead soldiers, but a violation of sovereignty of an independent country Pakistan; and a harsh setback to the close friendly relationships between the United States and Pakistan. Several days have passed since November 26th, and no appropriate steps and measures have been taken by NATO / USA, to restore this relationship of USA with Pakistan. It is in the national interest of USA that this relationship between USA & Pakistan must be salvaged, so that peace and stability may come to the strategic region of South Asia, which is tied with the tranquility & prosperity of our world. For this purpose, this “Peace Rally” has been called by the Pakistani-American Community in Houston, where we have invited members of the community and all other communities & people of conscience, to come out for the sake of peace in the world”, said one of the press statement of the Peace Rally.

A resolution was passed; read on the occasion by Sajjad Burki (PACT) & Taslim Siddiqui (PAGH); and then given to the representatives of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, so that they can take this message of the Pakistani-American Community to the Congress.

Sajjad Burki (PACT), Taslim Siddiqui (PAGH), Saeed Gaddi (PAST), Pervez Khan Swati (PCC-USA), and Khalid Khan (People’s Party) lead the rally in saying the various slogans. Each participant was holding message cards and banners with appropriate messages; like

“Strong US-Pakistan Friendship is in the National Interest of USA”;
“We Strongly Condemn the Senseless Killing of Pakistani Soldiers By NATO Forces – Peace Rally Organized by the Pakistani-American Community”;
“Let’s Be Friends – Not Masters”;
“Pakistan Needs Friends – Not Masters”;
“World Needs Peace – No Wars”;
“No Wars Mean The Prosperity of USA”;
“Senseless Killings of Friends – Not in Our Interest”;
“Pakistan: The Best Ally of USA”;
“Cost of War against Terrorism – Pakistan Has Lost 36,000+ Lives, including 3,000+ Soldiers”;
“Cost of War against Terrorism:
Pakistan Has Lost $80-Billion+”
“Brown University August 2011: US will have spent a total $3.7 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, & Pakistan, costing 225,000 lives & creating 7.8 million refugees, by the time the conflicts end…”;
“Drones are Killing Many Innocent”;
“Lets’ make Friends & Not Foes – Stop the Mindless Killings”;
“President Obama: Lets’ Be Champions of Peace – Yes: We Can !!!”;
“Pakistan: The True Friend of USA – Treat Her Like One…”;
“Another American for Peace – Another Patriot for Peace”;
“Have the Right to Remain Silent – But Not on Senseless Killings”;
“Make Soup & Tea – Not War”;
“War Is Expensive – Peace Is Priceless”.

Resolution Presented at Peace Rally:

Strong Condemnation of the Senseless Killing of Pakistani Soldiers by NATO Forces

We, the people, gathered here this day, Friday, December 16th, 2011, in front of the Federal Building at 1919 Smith Street in downtown Houston, do hereby RESOLVE,

* That November 26th, 2011, was one of the darkest days in the war on terror, when NATO forces attacked the soil of Pakistan, resulting in a senseless loss of 24 brave Pakistani soldiers;
* That this is an attack on the sovereignty of Pakistan; a harsh setback to the relationship between these two important allies; and a tragedy for the families of these soldiers;
* That the United States and NATO must offer an immediate and explicit apology to Pakistan for the loss of life and injuries that have been inflicted;
* That the United States and NATO must demonstrate that they are taking concrete and transparent steps to ensure, such an incident will never occur again;
* That appropriate reparations must be made to the families of the dead and wounded;

The events of November 26th, 2011, in a matter of moments, obliterated months of careful and promising work towards improving U.S.-Pakistan relations.

Yet, we the Citizens of USA, are confident that if swift actions (as resolved and mentioned above) are taken, we can indeed rebuild a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.

Tasleem Siddiqui, President, Pakistani American Association of Greater Houston
Sajjad Burki, President, Pakistani American Council of Texas
Saeed Bashir Gaddi, President, Pakistani American Society of Texas
P. J. Khan Swati, President, Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, USA

This resolution hand delivered in Houston on Fri, Dec 16th, 2011to State Department and Congressional Office of Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee; and copies be mailed to Congresspersons of Texas & some other States – Contact for this Resolution: Sajjad Burki 281-236-9492 / Tasleem Siddiqui 281-236-7597 / Saeed Bashir Gaddi 832-277-6699 / P. J. Khan Swati 832-754-1464.

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Pakistan: Calligraphic Exhibition to Mark Islamic New Year

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sana Jamal, Pakistan Observer

cal-large15
Title:  “Qui Sharif” by Abdul Rehman

Islamabad—To mark the arrival of the Islamic year 1433, an exuberant exhibition of Islamic calligraphy was arranged in Islamabad by Gallery Louvre.

The exhibition that opened is a group show showcasing different styles of calligraphic works by young and veteran artists of Pakistan. The calligraphy display features the masterworks of Ahmed Khan, Javaid Qamar, Rashid Ali, Bushra Zeeshan, M.A.Bukhari, Arif Khan, Shahid, Waqar, and Bashir.

Calligraphy, the art of turning plain writings into beautiful script by adding twists around words and the alphabets, has gained recognition in Pakistan lately. The splendid form of art inspired many in Pakistan during 70’s when the country produced some world renowned artists in this field namely, Sadequain and Gulgee.

“Islamic calligraphy is considered an essential part of a Muslim society where most of the houses have a wall adorned with Islamic calligraphies, that’s why we have arranged a calligraphic exhibition presenting the works of new artists as well as the masters like Ahmed Khan” stated Alina Saeed, the curator of the Gallery.

The inclusion of the artworks of Ahmed Khan, one of the eminent calligraphists of Pakistan, has added a special attraction for the art lovers. Ahmed Khan, also an educationist, is celebrated for the luminous paintings, in which a traditional interpretation of line and form are reassessed as calligraphic design. His work comprises of overlaid calligraphic designs based on silver foil pressed on canvas which with a sprinkle of chemicals turns them into vibrant colours.

Vibrant yet elegant artworks of the up-and-coming artist Bushra Zeeshan, are a beautiful addition to the art show, which show that there is an increased interest among youth for the art of calligraphy. Bushra’s work is a combination of square and angular lines as well as compact bold circular forms, presented in uniform script styled calligraphies, and the borders contain details with delicate patterns which provide a perfect balance to the strong fonts. She has explored the original type of Arabic script in her artworks called kufic.

M.A.Bukhari, using acrylic on canvas, has illustrated ninety nine names of Allah in different collages of colours in different sizes. The multi-coloured calligraphic work is a beautiful combination of modern art with cultural and religious values. The artists, known for his large canvases, broad strokes and vibrant lively colours, has applied the colours in thick layers which makes the art piece eye-catching and bewildering at the same time.

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Biggest Allies of Pakistan Are the Pakistani-Americans: Congresswoman Lee

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hon Green, Lee, & AL Hoang at the Alliance Benevolent 40-Feet Container Sending-Off Ceremony

picture1

“According to the latest reports from Pakistan of this past Thursday, three millions out of the original six million brothers & sisters in humanity are still suffering from the after affects of the floods of late August & early September, including hundreds & thousands of children. It is clear that several thousands will continue to struggle in months and years to come,” informed Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of the Houston Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, a collaborative of 42 organizations and media outlets.

Mr. Sheikh was doing the welcome speech at the Pakistan Center of Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), on the occasion of preparation and sending-off ceremony of 40-feet container termed the Benevolent Container from the Houstonians Community for the brethren in humanity in Sindh Pakistan, who are suffering from the aftermath of the floods of 2011.

Honorable Congresspersons AL Green and Sheila Jackson Lee; Councilman AL Hoang of City of Houston, and Honorable Consul Generals of Pakistan & Turkey Aqil Nadeem and Cemalettin (pronounced Jemalettin) Aydin were the special guests of honor at this ceremony, together with President of PAGH Taslim Siddiqui, Sindhi Association of North America (SANA)’s Jamil Daudi, Sam’s Club’s Khaled Khan, Hashoo Foundation’s Cristal Montanez, and many others. Emcee of the event was Noorunisa Ghanghro, who included several inspiring quotes of Madam Teresa in her talk.

Special Congressional and Mayoral Proclamations of Excellent Service by the Alliance were given by the three elected officials.

Hon AL Hoang; Hon Aqil Nadeem; Hon Cemalettin; President of the Texas-Turkish Chamber of Commerce Celil Yaka; and Taslim Siddiqui spoke on the occasion, appreciating the work of the Alliance under the leadership of Muhammad Saeed Sheikh; in doing the unified efforts, and said Alliance has shown how when several hands join together have such positive impact.

Coordinator of In-Kind Donation Mian Nazir of PAGH thanked his team of volunteers lead by Zeeshan Qavi, and more than 15 volunteers of Red Cross from Dulles High School Sugar Land; plus several volunteers of SANA.

Honorable Congressman AL Green said that the motto of Alliance is Blessings in Unity and the excellent results of the efforts of Alliance truly reflect that. He applauded the efforts of Pakistani community in helping people in need everywhere including at the time of Katrina and Ike, when the Pakistani community got together in helping the fellow Americans. He appreciated PAGH for always offering Pakistan Center, when humanity has the need.

Honorable Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said she is totally impressed to see more than $81,000 raised in cash by the Alliance and more than $100,000 wholesale value of in-kind donated items raised by the Alliance of 42 entities to benefit the flood victims of Pakistan. She said when the nutritious meal will reach the mouth of those needing it the most and hygiene items reaching to cleanse them, they will indeed remember this nice gift sent by Pakistani-Americans, who are the biggest allies of Pakistan.

Honorable Lee went on to say she is extremely sorrowful on the recent loss of army soldiers as well as several of the Pakistani army personnel and civilians losing their lives in this war on terrorism. These are trying days in the USA-Pakistan relations, where their friendship goes back to decades. We need to continue informing leaders of USA and Pakistan that this friendship should be strengthened rather than made weaker; and although many tragic incidents may have happened, but that should not affect the otherwise cordial relationship between the two nations and countries.

In his presentation Coordinator of the Alliance Muhammad Saeed Sheikh said in the end that last year at an emergency meeting called by Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee at her office, she mentioned about sending a Mercy Plane to Pakistan. Although it is not a Mercy Plane, but we want to report to Honorable Congresswoman that it is a much larger 40-feet Mercy Container holding more than $100,000 retail worth of in-kind donations of the most needed food and hygiene items plus blankets for the flood victims of Pakistan.

For more information about the Alliance, one can call Muhammad Saeed Sheikh at 1-281-948-1840.

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Zardari Suffers Heart Attack, May Quit

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

PAKISTAN-PRESIDENT/

Pakistan’s President Zardari in file photo taken August 2, 2010. Zardari had a minor heart attack and is undergoing treatment in a Dubai hospital, a source said Wednesday.          

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Washington: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, who abruptly left the Pakistan capital for Dubai, has suffered a minor heart attack and some in the US government believe he may even resign on account of ‘ill-health’, a media report said.

Zardari Tuesday evening left for Dubai to visit his children and also to undergo some medical tests, Pakistan’s official news agency Associated Press of Pakistan had reported.

Though the president’s personal physician Col Salman said the proposed medical tests are of routine nature and are linked to a previously diagnosed cardiovascular condition, the Foreign Policy magazine quoted a former US official as saying that parts of the US government were informed that Zardari had a ‘minor heart attack’ Monday night. He had flown to Dubai via an air ambulance.

Zardari may have to undergo an angioplasty procedure Wednesday and may also resign on account of ‘ill health’, the media report said.

The former US government official told the website that Zardari was ‘incoherent’ when President Barack Obama spoke with him regarding Nov 26 NATO’s killing of two dozen Pakistani soldiers.

Zardari had planned to address a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament on a controversy over a memo to Washington that claimed he feared a military coup after the May 2 commando operation to kill Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Zardari has been under tremendous pressure since the memo came to light.

‘The noose was getting tighter — it was only a matter of time,’ the former official was quoted as saying.

The ex-official noted the growing expectation inside the US government that Zardari may be on the way out, reported Foreign Policy.

In September, Zardari underwent an angiography at a hospital in Britain where doctors gave him a clean bill of health.

Two surgeons from the US too were involved in the medical check-ups along with the British doctors.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, in a Tuesday interview said a plan would see Zardari step aside.

Nawaz said: ‘Unfortunately, it means that the military may have had to use its muscle to effect change yet again.’

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Veena Malik and the Realities of Pakistani Womanhood

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nadia B. Ahmad

Veena-Malik-File-640x480
Veena Malik

When Zahida Malik was born in Rawalpindi, her parents never imagined their daughter would bare all on the cover of an Indian magazine FHM. But the model and actress now known as Veena Malik has sent shock waves roaring through her homeland. She denies the photos and claims they were morphed and has already filed suit against the magazine stating that she was “materially misrepresented,” “deceived” and “induced to take a photo shoot.”

I had not heard of Veena Malik until last Friday, but understanding her and what she espouses is instructive for a constructive dialogue on the status of women in Pakistan. She is a phenomenon, a trend, a diva, and a role model for an increasing number of young Pakistani girls seeking to defy a male-dominated society. She is seen with contempt and scorn by diasporic Pakistanis because of her raunchy comedy and clueless persona.

Muslim clerics claiming some sort of moral authority have attempted to engage in debates with Veena Malik in the past to clean up her act and much to no avail. Meanwhile, she argues that she is an entertainer and what she does is her art. From the outset, Malik won the debates before anyone opened their mouths because she understood the media. Her tantrums, tears, and sobs were a throw-back to anyone who dared to confront her. Malik turned herself into a victim when all she wanted was a tad bit of attention, fame, and the ability to represent her people. 

Pakistan, like its neighbor India, takes its entertainers too seriously. As if one person can represent the entire country. (As if the one person who did represent the entire country did not recently resign. A throat clearing tribute to Hussain Haqqani who made way for a woman, Sherry Rahman, to replace him as the Pakistani Ambassador to the United States.)

Yet out of the Veena Malik controversy, an alarming issue is how women’s bodies are more and more becoming the platforms for geo-politics in South Asia. The display of excess skin is tasteless, yes, but by drawing attention to something that is reserved for private spaces makes the Pakistani ulema lose credibility.

The more pressing problem is that women in Pakistan have little or no opportunity to attend daily prayers in mosques. While women can roam freely in the markets and use the power of the purse, they are denied access to houses of worship all over Pakistan.  Even though women are not required to attend the Friday prayers and have no responsibilities in Islam outside of the house, the reality is women and girls would go to the mosque given the opportunity.

But by having this culture of shooing away girls from the masjid, deal with the aftermath.  Cope with reality. It bites.

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U.S. Prepares to Vacate Pakistan Air Base

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball

2011-11-30T141847Z_1272910458_GM1E7BU1Q8B01_RTRMADP_3_PAKISTAN-NATO

Men on motorbike, with Pakistan’s national flag in hand, lead an anti-American rally of thousands through Karachi’s Lyari town on November 30, 2011. A senior Pakistani army official has said a NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 soldiers was a deliberate, blatant act of aggression, hardening Pakistan’s stance on an incident that could hurt efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

(Reuters) – The United States is preparing to accede to Pakistani demands that it vacate a remote air base in Pakistan used for drone flights, but the move is not expected to have a significant impact on operations against militants, U.S. government sources say.

Washington is treading lightly not to aggravate an already fragile relationship that was bruised further by a NATO attack on a Pakistani military outpost last weekend that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border.

Pakistan demanded that the United States leave the Shamsi Air Base within 15 days and blocked ground supply routes through Pakistan to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Three sources, who declined to be identified because of the issue’s sensitivity, said U.S. planning is under way to leave the base, a remote facility in Baluchistan that has been a point of contention.

The cross-border incident escalated tensions between the two countries and the U.S. military is conducting an investigation to find out exactly what happened on the ground.

The moves by the Pakistanis to block ground supply routes and the air base were not expected to significantly hinder U.S. operations.

One U.S. government source said the United States has spent months preparing for a possible eviction from the Pakistan base by building up other drone launching and staging capability.

Earlier this year, after the U.S. raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, some Pakistani officials demanded that Washington vacate the Shamsi facility.

At the time, however, U.S. officials said that American personnel would remain at the base and would continue to conduct drone flights in pursuit of militants.

But in one concession, the United States stopped conducting lethal drone operations from that base and limited operations to surveillance flights.

U.S. officials believe that this time Pakistan appears much more resolute about carrying out the eviction threat. Vacating the air base was seen more as an inconvenience rather than a critical blow to drone operations which the United States also conducts from Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.

The unmanned aerial vehicles may have a longer flight from Afghanistan but they are capable of hovering overhead for hours as they seek to spot suspicious activity and follow militants.

U.S. officials are reluctant to openly talk about drone operations because they are considered a covert CIA activity.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, in London this week addressed the Shamsi issue without acknowledging the use of drones at the base.

“There are other options for stationing aircraft and other resources around the region,” Dempsey told Britain’s ITV News.

“It’s a serious blow in the sense that the Pakistani government felt that they needed to deny us the use of a base that we’ve been using for many years,” he said. “And so it’s serious in that regard. It’s not debilitating militarily.”

BLOCKED SUPPLY ROUTE

The United States also has to deal with the blocking of the ground supply route through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said that route accounts for less than half the supplies for international forces in Afghanistan and the military has contingency plans.

“We have a large distribution network to make sure that coalition forces are well-stocked,” he told Reuters. “It’s not going to affect our ability to follow through and execute our mission.”

Yet alternate supply routes such as the northern distribution network are not a perfect substitute and there are concerns that the cost of keeping soldiers fed, armed and fueled without use of Pakistani roads would be excessive.

Ruppersberger, who visited Pakistan to meet with officials after U.S. forces killed bin Laden, said the relationship was poor at that point.

“We were starting to improve in the last month or so and then all of a sudden this unfortunate incident occurred, and now we’re right back to where we were again,” he said.

“It is to the advantage of both countries to work together,” Ruppersberger said. “In the end that will come. It’s about relationships, it’s about trust, and unfortunately that hasn’t been there for a while.”

Ruppersberger would not comment on the Shamsi departure.

STILL INVESTIGATING

U.S. officials said there is still considerable confusion about details of the latest border incident.

Wary of further damaging an already delicate situation, U.S. officials were reluctant to speculate about what happened before getting the results of military investigations.

“The focus of the administration at this point is on trying to find ways to show Pakistan that we’re serious about investigating the incident and forging a cooperative relationship in the future,” a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

“No one at this point has the complete narrative on what happened,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. “I think it’s premature to articulate the facts of this incident.”

A U.S. government source familiar with counter-terrorism operations along the Afghan-Pakistan border said the latest incident apparently grew out of an Afghan-U.S. special forces commando patrol operation.

Some early information from the region suggests that at some point the Afghan-U.S. patrol team came under fire from what they believed were militants. They then called in an airstrike, which hit a Pakistani military outpost.

Investigations into the incident now are trying to determine if the militants deliberately took up positions near the Pakistani outpost to confuse American and Afghan forces or whether Pakistani forces at the border outpost were somehow complicit in initially firing on the Afghan-U.S. patrol.

A U.S. military official, without commenting on details of the current incident, said the Taliban had previously tried to provoke cross-border fighting between Pakistani soldiers and NATO forces but problems were headed off by cross-border communication.

“It is something we’ve seen previously, yes. I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that happened,” the official said, without confirming anything about the recent incident.

Another key question is what happened to cross-border communication systems set up to avoid this kind of confusion.

The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is badly marked, and disputed in many stretches. The terrain of steep mountains, dense forest and sparse population provides hideouts for militants who can move freely along the frontier.

The Pakistani and Afghan militaries and NATO-led alliance have tried to limit deadly mistakes by establishing communication links including a hotline to check on potential targets or warn of possible friendly fire.

The Pakistani military says it has given maps with permanent outposts clearly marked to NATO and the Afghan army. It also said there is a hotline between the two sides, but declined to say if it was used the evening of the attack.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said he was not aware of a hotline.

(Additional reporting by Missy Ryan, Phil Stewart, Emma Graham-Harrison; Writing by Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Editing by Deborah Charles and Cynthia Osterman)

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COPAA Statement on the Killing of Pakistani Soldiers

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

COPAA Press Release

The Council of Pakistan American Affairs strongly condemns the NATO cross-border air attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. COPAA also extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the Pakistan Armed Forces who lost their lives in a air strike by NATO forces.

COPAA has sent a letter to President Obama expressing deep concerns over the NATO attack and of the worrisome oscillations in the crucial relationship between the two allies. COPAA also asked the White House for a full and fair investigation. Moreover, COPAA  has also sent letters of concern at this tragedy to Congresswoman Judy Chu, who is in the Pakistan Caucus of the House among other lawmakers.

On the night of November 27th, NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two Pakistan military outposts, killing 24 and injuring 13 soldiers in what Pakistan said was an unprovoked assault. An army source told COPAA that the attack came between 1:00 and 2:00 A.M. The first outpost attacked was  identified as Volcano and then Boulder outpost came under attack in the Baezai area of Mohmand Agency. The official confirmed that 24 soldiers among them two officers, a major and captain, were killed in the attack. The officers were identified as Major Mujahid and Captain Usman. Pakistan buried the troops killed in the attack Sunday. In a prayer ceremony at the headquarters of the regional command in Peshawar, attended by army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar spoke with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by telephone early Sunday to convey “the deep sense of rage felt across Pakistan” and warned that the incident could undermine efforts to improve relations, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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Imran Khan: Unplugged

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Love him or hate him, you can no longer ignore him. Following the Lahore rally, Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have emerged as a force on the field of Pakistani politics.
But to many he is still a mystery: is he a superstar, a philanthropist, a politician, or all three? Who is he really, and what does he stand for?

Imran Khan

Q: Some call you Taliban Khan, and some call you Inqilab Khan. So the first question I want to ask is: will the real Imran Khan please stand up?
Imran Khan (IK): (laughs) … You missed out one thing… I’m also part of the Jewish lobby.

Q: And of course you’re a slave of the US and Europe, according to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

IK: And according to PML-N, there is also a Jewish conspiracy going on.

Q: So we need the real Imran to tell us who he is. First, let’s talk about Shah Mahmood Qureshi. After his resignation, he can either go for the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) or the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and now you’re going to tell us which one it is.

IK: I’m hoping he joins PTI because he fits the profile of what I expect a PTI office bearer to be. He’s honest, a clean politician who is educated and is a bit of an anomaly in this system. He has a vote bank and has a lot of political experience which our party lacks because we’ve got new people. Here is someone who started from the union council level and has been contesting elections for years and so he brings in a lot of experience.

Q: On the point of new people joining the party, one of the statements you made recently is that PTI will not award tickets to corrupt people and opportunists…but can those corrupt people and opportunists still join your party?

IK: If someone is a known crook then they can’t join the party, but there are a lot of shades of grey. This is a society where it is difficult to be honest, and even if you try to be honest, society forces you to be dishonest. For example, I was trying to transfer land from my ex-wife’s name to mine and it took me one year just to have a simple transfer done. I kept asking my lawyer why it’s taking so long and, without telling me, he eventually bribed the patwari because otherwise it would have gone on forever! So to say that we will find angels here is not possible. But we will try and sift through relatively better politicians. For instance, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mian Azhar are clear-cut choices.

Q: Why is Mian Azhar a clear-cut option? A lot of people are criticising that decision because Mian Azhar was the head of the PML-Q under Pervez Musharraf and he lost the elections in 2002 so why him?

IK: Because he is honest and nobody has accused him of corruption. If we exclude everyone who has changed parties or is of a slightly different ideology then it will be impossible to get anyone. So we have decided that it is financial corruption we’ll concentrate on, which is the biggest reason why we are in the state we are today. If we can fight corruption in Pakistan then the country becomes viable.

Q: But don’t you see a contradiction there when you have somebody like Mian Azhar who represents the old status quo politics and you say you are representing ‘new’ politics?

IK: It’s not a contradiction and I’ll tell you why. It’s because revolutions are not brought about by political workers. It’s the leadership that comes up with a certain ideology. I remember Fidel Castro saying that he started the Cuban Revolution with 16 people who formed his ideological core. The most invaluable part of the PTI are the core workers and office bearers who have survived 15 years in the wilderness. I mean, we have passed through the most difficult test where everyone wrote us off. So those people who stuck it out were the ideological workers and office bearers. Everyone can join and there are a lot of people joining but the ideology of PTI will be protected by this old guard.

Q: Is the real Imran Khan a risk taker?

IK: Imran Khan was always a risk taker. Everyone said “Minar-e-Pakistan! Oh you’re doomed now” and of course Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif had their own rally in quite a small venue, despite full administrative support, so everyone said you’re taking a huge risk with Minar-e-Pakistan. But anyone who has achieved anything in life has always been a risk taker.

Q: So what happened that day on October 30th when you arrived at the venue and saw all those people? What was your instant reaction?

IK: You know I had four interviews before the 30th and in each interview I said that there will be over a hundred thousand people at the rally. When I said that we will sweep the elections, people laughed! And I actually made a bet with Talat Hussain on Kashif Abbasi’s programme saying that we will sweep the elections. He was very cynical about it and then on another programme I gave him in writing that the PTI will sweep the elections. The reason was…and I’ve never said this before…the reason was in the past year I’ve seen the people change. That’s because I’m probably the only politician who was going around holding public rallies because others were too scared. I could see that the youth had suddenly woken up and decided that there was only one party that stood for the change they wanted. So each rally was larger than the last. So when it came to the Lahore rally, I felt it would be a big success and I was very relaxed. My party workers were worried but I was relaxed about it.

Q: When I first interviewed you in Lahore in 1997, the PTI was quite new. It was your first time in politics and I remember quite clearly at that time you had said corruption is the most serious problem affecting this country and that all corrupt people should be hanged. There was a certain naivety that you had at that time. The Imran Khan sitting in front of me here today…how has he changed?

IK: This is a country where thousands of children die from waterborne diseases, where over 1,600 people have committed suicide because they can’t feed their families and here are these criminals siphoning off billions of dollars. My instinct is against capital punishment, but these people are taking lives and I do believe that to stop the plunder of this country, for a while there should be capital punishment above a certain level of corruption. I was in China recently and they had a huge problem with corruption but then 150 state ministers were imprisoned and some were even executed and the problem has been largely controlled.

As for the other question, yes I was completely naive! I’d approach politicians with all sincerity and say ‘you should join me because we want to change this country’ and now when I look back I realise they must have thought what an idiot I was! Because I was being sincere and thought they’d all join me just because of that. But now of course, they’re all joining but they don’t join simply because you are sincere.

Q: Then why do they join?

IK: They join because they have invested a lot in their constituencies. Some of them will join because they are total opportunists and think you are going to win. Others (I think) want to join you but feel you’re not viable. They feel they’ve done a lot of work and built a vote bank and don’t want to join someone who is sincere but unviable.

Q: You say corruption causes billions of dollars in losses and that you want to bring back the money and assets that are in the Swiss banks. How are you going to do this? What is your game plan?

IK: Firstly it is important to know that only a government that is clean can bring that money back. I don’t know if you saw Rehman Malik’s comment after Shahbaz Sharif’s rally on the 28th where Shahbaz said “We’ll bring back the Swiss money,” so Rehman Malik the next day said, “the Sharifs better be careful because we know where all their foreign assets are and we know all the corruption cases against them so they better not cross this line.” In other words they are saying, “let’s keep sparring but let’s not cross a certain point” because they know that once an accountability process starts, both of them will be affected. So you need a clean government to do this. Secondly, the world has changed. Once you start corruption proceedings against anyone with foreign assets, as with (former Tunisian president) Zine Abedin Ben Ali, (former Egyptian president) Hosni Mubarak and Qaddafi, all their foreign assets are immediately frozen. We are no longer in the old days where you could hide your money in Swiss banks. Now there is a money trail, so if a government has the will and there are people who cannot explain their assets, it can get this done. That’s why our main campaign is to have politicians declare their assets.

Q: But all these politicians declare their assets before the Election Commission. You don’t consider that viable?

IK: It is so obvious that they have concealed their real assets. That is why someone as rich as Nawaz Sharif will only pay Rs5,000 in tax. Then there’s me, a politician who was a professional cricketer for 18 years and I earned most of my money abroad. And all my money is in Pakistan and declared in my name. So how is it that these people, who only earned or plundered money from Pakistan, have assets abroad? They even sent the money abroad through hawala and other channels and laundered it. That’s why we insist that politicians must declare their assets.

Q: Do you seriously think they will?

IK: We have now set up a cell to bring out the real assets. So we will see what they have concealed even if they want to hide it.

Q: Leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan of the PML-N says if you have proof you should go to the courts.

IK: We might do that, but the problem is that it is the duty of the state to stop corrupt people. Instead here is a state which protects criminals. Here the judgments of the Supreme Court are ignored by all. When the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) was annulled, why did the PML-N not do anything in the assemblies? Why did they sit around? If they are a genuine opposition, they should have stood up. But the problem is that the PML-N leadership has a number of corruption cases against it so it’s a “you scratch my back I scratch yours” situation. It became the friendliest opposition which is why now you’re seeing them panicking and going for a “Go Zardari Go” campaign because they have suddenly realised that the PTI has now taken over as the main opposition and they are trying to reoccupy that space which they have lost.

Q: Why is the PTI opening up multiple fronts simultaneously? With the PML-N, the PPP and the MQM. The only people you haven’t attacked yet are the ANP and I suspect that is not too far in the list at this point.

IK: We are not attacking parties, but the status quo as represented by the PML-N and the PPP. In sports we learn that you have to know your enemy and then go for them. Who is destroying this country? It’s the two main parties and their interests are the same. They have been in this coalition for almost all the time since 2008 and now they are trying to pretend they are actually in opposition with each other because they are threatened by us. Threatened by the tsunami that is coming. When they attack each other, it’s like watching a fixed match!

Q: You have always strongly opposed drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. You have declared the war on terror an American war and vowed to hang all those responsible for the deaths of the over 35,000 people killed in terror attacks as well as drone strikes. This will probably confuse a lot of people. Who exactly do you hold responsible?

IK: First, let me make it clear that I never used the word hang. I said we would bring them to justice. The reason is this country has had 35,000 to 40,000 people dead and more are dying every day. Zardari says the country has lost $70 billion, which means the people have lost this money. The government has got $20 billion, but we don’t know where it went because the people are getting poorer and there are three and a half million people who have been displaced and the entire tribal belt has been devastated. People have been devastated; you cannot imagine the way they are living because no one is allowed to go in there and see. Life is hell for them. So, why did we get into this? We were not involved in 9/11, no Pakistani was involved. Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan and in any case the Taliban were not terrorists, but fundamentalists. We went in for dollars. Our ruling elite have always sold us for dollars. Some 20 years ago we were in this for dollars again, acting as a frontline state. We were creating jihadis for dollars then and now we are taking dollars to kill the same people. After 9/11 we should have helped the US, just as we should help any country suffering from terrorism, but not like this. We have created terrorists at home.

Q: What kind of help would you have offered?

IK: If there was any information about the plot, about the plotters, then we should have provided it to them.  But help doesn’t mean that we should have handed over our civilians for bounty and have them end up in Guantanamo. We did a U-turn, we turned people who were our allies into our enemies. The Afghan Taliban government, as far as I am concerned, was a pro-Pakistan government.

Q: The Taliban government in Afghanistan was a pro-Pakistan government?

IK: They were not giving us any problems and Pakistan had recognised them. Now if the US had an issue with them, we should have stayed neutral. Why did we have to get into this mess? The reason we are in these top ten failed states lists is because the ruling elite has sold us for dollars.

Q: Let’s get specific. You say that there are one million armed people in the tribal areas who, if the drone attacks stopped, would happily remove terrorists living in their areas. Isn’t that a little unrealistic? We know that these people have been taking money [from militants], we know that they have been supporting militancy in many ways. The general perception is that withdrawing the Pakistani army from the tribal areas would allow militants to regroup.

IK: The general perception is there because of total ignorance, people have absolutely no idea about the tribal areas. The politicians don’t know about it, and no one knows the history of the tribal areas. When the great Quaid-e-Azam withdrew the Pakistani army from the tribal areas in 1948, the politicians said, “Don’t withdraw the Pakistani army, we will have problems.” What happened? We never had one problem in the tribal areas ever since we withdrew the army although we deprived [the tribals], we never helped them, never spent any money on them. We kept them backwards but still there was never any problem for Pakistan. If anything, they helped us and were always ready to help Pakistan. The number one question is: why was the whole tribal belt not on fire before? Do you know that we started military operations in early 2004 and it took three years of collateral damage to produce what are called the Pakistan Taliban. This was a reaction to the military operations.

Q: So what is your counter-narrative?

IK:  There is only one way to understand, we have to get people on board who know the area. There are generals and diplomats, like Rustam Shah Mohmand, people who know the tribal area. Ask them what the answer is. The politicians have completely sublet the whole war to the army, and which civilian government allows the army to run a war? If I was prime minister, would I allow the army to make all the decisions? No. I am a politician and politicians look for political solutions, not military solutions. Especially if those solutions have failed for seven years. What have we achieved in seven years? What has the US achieved in 10 years in Afghanistan? Nothing. If anything, radicalisation in Pakistan has grown. So we have actually made the situation much worse. So if you speak to anyone who has any understanding of the tribal areas, there is only one solution: win the people of the tribal areas to your side, start truth and reconciliation, say that we are no longer a part of this American war on terror. They consider the Pakistan army to be fighting on behalf of the Americans as a mercenary army.

Q: I want to throw one word into the equation: Swat.

IK: Please understand that Swat has nothing to do with the tribal areas. Swat was a mess we created and it could have been solved in a month. Swat is a totally different thing and unfortunately people did not understand the difference between Swat and the tribal areas and they confused the solutions of the two. The solution to the tribal areas is to get out of the US war, pull out the Pakistani army and tell the people of the tribal area, after truth and reconciliation, that it is your job to finish terrorism.

Q: Let me present an argument here.

IK: Let me give the solution here. If you empower the people of the tribal areas, get the Pakistan army out and no longer be considered a hired gun of the US, I promise you we will win this war. Otherwise, this is a never-ending war. For eighty years, the British never had peace in the tribal areas. They were a superpower. We are a country which is bankrupt. For 62 years, the Mughal Empire, which was a global superpower, fought against the tribals and eventually there was a political settlement. There is only a political settlement, and the PPP, the most incompetent and corrupt government in our history, is not going to be able to do anything. We are committing suicide. In the All Party Conference on Sept 29th, there were 50 parties and they all finally came down to what our stance has consistently been, that there is no military solution. All of them accepted that there was only one solution and that was to give peace a chance.

Q: What would you say to American policymakers who are convinced that the Haqqani network operates out of safe havens in the tribal areas? In the regional endgame when it comes to Afghanistan, what is your solution?

IK: I would tell the American policymakers: for God’s sake don’t listen to your generals. You need a political settlement, you don’t need more troops, you don’t need a surge. The surge has failed in Afghanistan. And I would ask the American politicians , is it plausible that five or six thousand Haqqani men, these fighters, these Rambos, are the reason one hundred and forty thousand soldiers of the greatest military machine in history are facing defeat? The Americans are fighting an entire population and they’ll never win the war because they don’t understand Afghan history. Read the Russian accounts; they killed a million Afghans out of a population of 60 million. They said that eventually they were fighting women, and children. The whole population was fighting.

Q: So here we come back to the same question, is Imran Khan a conservative, a fundamentalist or a liberal?

IK: You know, people pigeonhole people a lot. The only reason I wrote my book was because I was sick of the question: Are you a liberal? A fundamentalist? A radical?  What are you? I wrote this book for the young people of Pakistan because there is so much confusion here. What is Islam? What is religion? What is secularism? So to try and answer all these questions, I thought I better put all of this down in a book and try to make people understand what religion is and what spirituality is. In fact, my conclusion is that the threat to the world is not from religion because all the great religions of the world talk about humanity, justice, and the noble values of human beings. It is naked materialism we should be scared of because it’s going to destroy the globe. It’s this lust for more and more and this unfettered greed. It is this extreme form of capitalism that’s the danger.

Q: But the underpinning of modern civilisation is capitalism.

IK: But if we keep consuming at the rate we are, we are doomed. Imagine if China starts consuming, per capita, at the same rate as the US. It’ll all be over! The real issue is consumption and greed — attacking countries because you want to capture their resources, as has been done throughout history, that’s the real issue. Religion is not the issue. A true religion should make us all humane.

Q: Among many circles, the biggest fear is that Imran Khan will come to power and his coalition partner is going to be the Jamaat-e-Islami.

IK: I don’t know about the Jamaat-e-Islami, you should ask them about their agenda. But my agenda is clear, it is the agenda of Jinnah, and that of my ideological role model Iqbal. As for religion, it is a way of life, a way of being. It is religion which brings out the best in a human being. The only reason I am a politician is because my religion tells me that I have a responsibility to my society. Otherwise, I have everything I want in my life.  I don’t need anything. But it’s religion which tells you that the more God gives you, the more responsibility you have towards less privileged human beings.  And this is really why it is important to promote religious values and spiritual values as opposed to the materialistic culture which is unfortunately imbibed by our upper classes. This culture of “me” and “I” can only be countered by spirituality.

Q: One of the statements you recently made was that the ISI should be under civilian control. Are you advocating that the country’s military intelligence agencies should be brought under a civilian ministry?

IK: What I am saying is that the military should stay within its constitutional role. In a democratic government, it’s the civilian government that takes responsibility and has authority. No management structure can work if you divide it up so that someone else has the authority and someone else the responsibility. It doesn’t work. In the case of Prime Minister Gilani, he has the responsibility but President Zardari has the authority. It doesn’t work.

Q: Now another crucial question. In your rally you said you want to eradicate thana culture, the police structure in this country, and the patwaris. But here is the critical point: politics in Pakistan is very strongly based on biradaris and dharras, clans and community structures that are centuries old. How can you be okay with biradaris and say that that is part of the political process and at the same time be uprooting institutions that are also a part of the same structure?

IK: Well. First of all, if you want to bring about a change in Pakistan, the fundamental change you have to make is to empower your people. You empower your people by having a strong local government system. Western societies give freedom to their people not through a centralised system but through a devolved structure of empowering the people at the grass roots level. Now, before the British came here, under the Mughals and even before that, the village was actually empowered. The village was a self -contained unit. In fact, if you go to the tribal areas today, you will find that the village has its own jury system, it has its own parliament. It’s actually autonomous.

Q: A lot of us believe that it is a parallel judicial structure and you can’t have jirgas meting out their own brand of justice.

IK: In the tribal areas, this is not a parallel structure, it is the only structure. There is only one structure, where every village has its own jury system and it has worked very well for them, which is why they don’t want to become part of Pakistan. In Swat, one of the reasons why they started the Nifaz-e-Shariat movement is because the imposed system did not work. When Swat became part of Pakistan in 1974, Pakistani laws came in and their whole devolved structure of free justice at the village level disappeared. Suddenly they had to hire lawyers and pay fees and still had no guarantee of justice. So the poorer classes all joined this movement to bring their system back. You have to empower people at the grassroots level, in other words at the village level.

Q: But that is the level where these biradaris, powerful clans and feudals continue to dominate the lives of the people.

IK: These braderies existed before the British came but at the village level, people were empowered. Remember that it’s impossible to have a false witness at the village level. In fact, Mirza Ghalib wrote in 1860 that the first time the British introduced sessions courts was the first time [the people] started hearing of false witnesses. Sixty per cent of the issues that clog the rural courts are land issues and they should be resolved at the village level. The schools should be under the village committee, and the same goes for the local health services.

Q: Do you support biradari politics?

IK: How are you going to destroy it?

Q: How are you going to destroy thana culture?

IK: They are not linked. Thana culture is feudal and perpetuates the feudal system. The first thing a politician does when he comes into office is he gets his own thanedar and patwari in place. This is because he wants to control the thana, he wants to control the patwari and therefore he enslaves the people. What I am talking about is empowering the people through local government. One of the greatest Pakistanis was Akhtar Hameed Khan and in the Orangi Pilot Project, he proved to people that the moment you empower the people, the people can lift their own standard of living. They can look after themselves.

Q: And the problem that many people feel that the PTI is going to be mired in the politics of clans and of all of these old structures that exist. Do you think that the PTI can break free of these feudal structures as well as these biradaris?

IK: Look Quatrina, I won the election in one of the most difficult rural areas. I understand about biradari systems. The moment you destroy the oppression in the thana, you will liberate the people. How does a feudal operate? The way the feudal operates is by controlling the thana. If you liberate the people from the thana, you give them justice at the village level, which is the most important thing. That is how you will liberate the people. I went to China and understood how the Chinese got four hundred million people out of poverty in twenty years. There were some interesting ideas that came out, and one of them was how to help the small farmer. If you want to help the small farmer, you must liberate him from the thana and the patwari system.

Q: How?

IK: We have to have e-government. We have a plan through which we can implement a whole system in 90 days and bring in e-government which can not only eliminate corruption but also help people.

Q: That’s for when and if you get into government, what’s your political plan right now?

IK: We are going to have a rally in Karachi on the 25th of December. The whole objective of the rally is reconciliation. We want to bring everyone together, especially the Urdu-speaking community and the Pashtuns. We are probably the only party that can get these two ethnic groups together and not engage in the divisive politics which certain people and parties exploit. They make people fight each other and get votes and power through discord and bloodshed. Our idea is to bring about a grand reconciliation.

Q: Nawaz Sharif has now officially gone on the warpath against the government. Will you ally yourself with Nawaz Sharif for your mutual goal of removing the current administration?

IK: I think after 30 years of seeing power, it is time for Nawaz Sharif to think of retirement. Thirty years is a long time.

This interview has been adapted from the televised interview of Imran Khan by Quatrina Hosain on Witness with Quatrina, which aired on 14th November 2011

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, November 24th, 2011.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, redistributed or derived from.
Unless otherwise stated, all content is copyrighted © 2011 The Express Tribune News Network.
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The Express Tribune

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Pakistan: Islamic Social State

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi (Abdul.Kundi@GMail.Com)

In the West and most of the Muslim world there is a wrong perception that the struggle to establish Caliphate is mandated by the Quran. The reality is far from that. There are many verses in Quran which points to formation of local governments while there are none that mandate a Caliphate. Ummah itself is not a political concept but rather a social one where people from diverse cultures share a set of common spiritual and social values. That is the reason we find common cultural traits in food, clothing, family rituals and celebrations of Muslim countries around the world. Many of Pakistan’s political party’s manifesto include establishment of an Islamic social state. If this is the objective then it is very important to understand what it entails and what the society will look like if we achieved it. We have already covered the Islamic economic model in last article (published on November 2, 2011), this article will focus more on the social aspect of it.

The first order of business to establish an Islamic Social state will be to change the current Westminster form of parliamentary system to an American style Presidential system which is quite close to an Islamic concept. Islam emphasizes election of individuals who then have executive authority to run the state in consultation with a shura comprising of professionals with knowledge of government, administration and law. In Pakistan, we don’t have to write a new constitution rather amendments to existing one will achieve the objective. In Turkey the ruling AKP party in the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it part of their election manifesto that a presidential form of government will be introduced through constitutional amendment. In Pakistan many leading politicians have already expressed their preference for a Presidential system.

Majority of Muslims go to great lengths to tell the world that Islam is the religion of peace. But in reality the essence of Islam is justice. Peace and harmony are the outcome of a just society. Promotion of justice is an active persuasion while peace is more passive approach to society. In an Islamic state introduction of an affordable and efficient system of justice is one of the top priorities of the state. The procedures for the discharge of cases should be such that decisions does not cost so much that people can’t afford it or take so long that it is a hindrance for people to seek justice. Independence of the judiciary is important. State has to ensure that life and property of judges are protected as well as their verdicts are executed without delay.

In an Islamic state the security policy will be oriented towards defensive rather than aggressive posture. This should become corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy position to initiate negotiation to sign non-aggression and non-interference bilateral agreements with its neighbors and focus more inward than outward.

Prophet Muhammad (s) in his last hajj sermon to Ummah clearly stated that in an Islamic state there will be no preference given to anyone based on their ethnic identity. Quran makes it clear that God, the ultimate sovereign, does not differentiate based on ethnicity among its creation to bestow its blessings on them. Quran does not mention that punishment of Shirk or Kufar is awarded in this world rather that it is a sin judged on the Day of Judgment which in a way is an opportunity for an individual to find the truth. Quran mentions that people were divided in tribes and nations to be identified rather than discriminated or preferred. In an Islamic social state everyone will be allowed to practice their cultural heritage without any discrimination or hindrance from the state. At the federal level decisions will be taken only considering the well being of the people. In this scenario provinces will be created not on ethnic lines but administrative basis as Islam gives preference to the well being of individual citizens. In the same vane the quota system has to be abolished and only merit should be the basis of all appointments in state and private enterprises. Similarly, Islam recognizes that non-Muslims are full citizens of the state and have the right to practice their faith without recrimination from the State which has to ensure safety of their prayer places.

The very first verse of Quran Iqra was to encourage acquisition of knowledge of life, universe and the spirituality. Islam looks down upon ignorance and mandates that everyone should seek knowledge which means that the state should ensure that adequate educational institutions are available throughout the country. In an Islamic state the religious seminaries will be required to provide education in science and technology. As centers of learning and prayers mosques will be required to hire religious scholars that can provide spiritual enlightenment to the people. These religious scholars should be educated not only in science, social sciences and anthropology but also aware of the spiritual difference between Islam and other religions.

Quran does not differentiate between men and women in terms of their participation in the society. Islam encourages that all members of the society regardless of their gender should participate to establish a just and equitable society. Islam acknowledges that women have much higher responsibility than men because of their critical role in development of a nation as mothers. But this domestic role does not preclude them from pursuing a career to express their talent and exercise their capabilities. In an Islamic state the role of women has to be recognized as full participant. This was evidenced from the lives of Khadija (RA) and Aisha (RA) who took active roles in business and politics respectively.

Many Muslim countries are now realizing the true meaning of a social state and embarking on reformation. Turkey, Malaysia, and Indonesia are good examples from which other countries can learn. Pakistan seems to be waking up to its true potential as freedom of speech is encouraging debates to create greater understanding of our religion, history and social values at the same time destroying dogmas.

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My Education Key Fundraiser at Tawheed Center in Farmington

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

PB190152Sohail Khan of MyEducationKey.com, with many prominent supporters, described his website and performed a fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.  About 200 people attended the fundraiser.  Sohail Khan described the MyEducationKey project, emphasizing its themes of being useful to people everywhere, empowering people world-wide with high quality education–for everyone, everywhere.  The website provides all levels of education through video-taped lectures.  Interactive education is available from kindergarten through graduate school, including ACT/SAT prep, and professional development.  Instruction is provided by excellent professors. 

Some of the universities that have already contributed lecture series are MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and more.

In the future, Mr. Khan explained to TMO, there may be degree programs available and possibly accounting, but for now students pursue their educations on the site on an ad hoc basis.

The site is perfect as a supplement for a separate educational system–high school students (including non-Muslims) through testimonials on the site have explained that they use Myeducationkey to cover holes in their understanding of what they have learned in their full time school.

Several of the evening’s speakers spoke of their deep happiness at being able to, in a sense, attend MIT for the purposes of learning a subject.  People in their sixties expressed the hope that in fact the site provided a way for them to continue to learn.

The site already has very impressive statistics.  13,500 video lessons have been uploaded to the site.  47,000 lectures have been watched.  The site has received 800,000 hits.  Students, (university and primary/secondary), in the US, Pakistan, India, and China, have sought knowledge through the site.

Future plans for the site include global outreach, courses of professional development, teachers being able to create their own courses, mobile apps, multiple languages, virtual classrooms, and much much more.

This is a project helpful to all of humanity that was started by Muslim insights and contributions, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Several educators including Dr. Mohammed Syed, Dr. Nasser Ahmed, and Mr. Saleem Khalid spoke of their admiration for the project.

If you are interested in donating, please visit myeducationkey.com.

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Pakistan at War with Itself

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Berkeley–As your reporter beings his narrative, Europe and America are raging, and Cairo has once again erupted in violence.   In your author’s area of the world (Northern California), the focus has gone from the urban streets to the college campuses.  On those streets, one man was killed in Oakland and another (a student at the University of California) was gunned down under questionable circumstances here on the Berkeley campus while on his way to classes.   At U.C. Davis near Sacramento, there was a horrible incident of peaceful protestors being pepper sprayed with ensuing calls for the chancellor to resign. 

Both labor unions and military veterans have come into the picture.  Two of the protestors, who were badly injured by the Oakland police, belonged to the Iraq Veterans against the War.  Not all American soldiers were anti-Muslim, but were sicken by George W. Bush’s two Wars.  They should be accepted by all of us as true allies.  Nonetheless, there has been some talk of a 1932-type situation arising when the U.S.A.’s World War I veterans marched to Washington to demand bonuses promised them for their service only to be most violently ousted by General MacArthur with General Patten of World War II fame during Herbert Hoover’s Presidency.

The Unions have joined in on the fray — both the powerful Longshoremen’s Union on the Oakland Docks and the Union representing Professors and Lecturers on the California State Universities (C.S.U.’s).  Both at Hayward in the Bay Area (North California) and Dominguez Hills in Greater Los Angeles (Southern California) were chosen for a one-day strike over a promised wage increase a fortnight ago.  Muslims have been involved in many of these various protests.

Meanwhile, over the “pond” in Roman Catholic Italy, where Islam now is the second largest religion,  Rome herself is about to default, too, and, if she does, the Euro-zone will collapse along with her, and that Southern European republic ‘s economy is too big for Brussels to bail out like the EU (European Union) did with Greece.   It is as though we are entering a “Revolutionary” period?

Two months ago (September 20th) to the day of this writing, in calmer times, a foreign affairs editor and writer for the Washington Post with an expertise in  the Af-Pak region came to the Berkeley campus here with her new book  Playing with  Fire: Pakistan at War with Itself which is getting a bit of attention on the “circuit.” 

She started that the reaction within Pakistan itself at the assassination of Osama bin Laden at Abattobad by American Special Forces on their very soil, and the “ignorance” of high-ranking Pakistani military officers of his presence so close to Islamabad, the national capital, itself, and, also, with a military garrison nearby the event, the United States has deeply offended and embarrassed Pakistan’s Government and proud military. 

The two things with which that Government is obsessed are India and internal public opinion.   The U.S.-Pakistan relationship as allies is a long one, but 9/11 changed much of the inherent trust between the two traditional partners.  The average citizen there “Feels that the West is out to ‘get’ Islam.”  There is a sense of nationalism along with the raise in a belief of the centrality of Islam itself. 

The recent slaying of the Minorities Minister in the Punjab was committed due to his religion (Christianity).  The current Government is a liberal one by Pakistan’s standards, and Shahbaz Bhatti, the aforementioned Minister, represented that liberality.  Those Taliban south of the Durand Line claimed responsibility.  Further, the Government’s position is lax on the enforcement of the Blasphemy (especially perceived against the Prophet [PBUH]) Law which puts it at odds with the religious right – especially those in the Northwest Provinces where the rebellion against the Center emanates.  Unfortunately, for the Body Politick, there has been an outpouring of support for this dastardly murder (Bhatti was never accused of committing blasphemy, incidentally.)  Alarmingly, the argument that has been created by the religious conservatives was that homicide was enjoined by the Koran!  The Military did not make a statement, but followed the civilian Prime  Minster (P.M’s) order to arrest sundry supporters of the Blasphemy ordinance in response to the slaying.

That reporter claims that those on the fringes do not wish to come to power, but, at the same time, the State finds itself only a heartbeat away from the awakening in the Middle East.  Also, within twenty to thirty years the Pakistani nation will be the most populous Muslim one on earth!

At the same, times the people there do not trust the system they are under.  There is a sense that the appeal of the marginal political actors (i.e., the Taliban) is justified.  The historical result of the War against the Soviets is now “a plague upon the land.”  There is a different type of militant presently:  Homegrown! 

After the foray upon Osama’s compound upon Punjabi soil, terrorism within the country increased.  The West and other outsiders were blamed for all their domestic problems – especially for the terrorist attacks against the residents — within that Islamic Republic.  The relationship with the District of Columbia (D.C.’s) traditional ally has deteriorated drastically with the drone attacks above the Northwest Provinces.  These have churned up the residents’ resentment against Washington. 

Your author first found his love for Islam studying the traditional South Asian Muslim Sufic mysticism as a graduate student here thirty years ago.  Today the Taliban is waging a pogrom against that very domination within Islam and their sacred shrines.  This represents more of a Middle Eastern perception of by the fundamentalist Ulema followed by the Taliban and fellow-travelers than the traditional South Asian expression of the religion.  

The perception of Pakistan in the West is perceived (questionably) as a “weak” entity, yet it has the Bomb to defend itself against India.  The father of that Bomb, A.Q. Khan, though vilified by much of the world for spreading their nuclear technology to other Third World countries – mainly Muslim — is still a national hero in his homeland.  Ms. Constable felt that Islamic land “celebrated the wrong heroes in the name of freedom [independence].” 

“What we are doing is wrong,” also, for South Asian Islam has equated our (U.S.) democracy with alcoholism and irreligion.  We have to find a better relationship with Pakistan once again.  We must keep in mind that “Pakistan sees everything in relation to India.”  While the U.S.A. keeps lying about the drone assaults, civil society, the press and the judiciary are a very positive force there.   In fact, Pamela in her work as a journalist has “…met many unsung heroes!”

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Ambassador Haqqani Quits

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Pakistan’s envoy to U.S. quits in coup memo controversy

By Chris Allbritton

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Husain Haqqani

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States resigned on Tuesday, days after a Pakistani-American businessman said the envoy was behind a controversial memo that accused the Pakistani military of plotting a coup in May.

Envoy Husain Haqqani said in a Twitter message that he had sent his resignation to the prime minister. State television said his resignation had been accepted.

“I have much to contribute to building a new Pakistan free of bigotry & intolerance,” Haqqani said on Twitter. “Will focus energies on that.”

Haqqani became entangled in controversy after the appearance of a column in the Financial Times on Oct 10.

In the column, businessman Mansoor Ijaz said a senior Pakistani diplomat had asked that a memo be delivered to the Pentagon with a plea for U.S. help to stave off a military coup in the days after the May 2 U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Ijaz later identified the diplomat as Haqqani.

No evidence has emerged that the military was plotting a coup and Haqqani denies involvement in the memo.

“I still maintain that I did not conceive, write or distribute the memo,” Haqqani told Reuters shortly after he resigned. “This is not about the memo,” he continued. “This is about bigger things.”

He declined to comment further.

Haqqani’s resignation follows a meeting with Pakistan President Asif Zardari, the nation’s powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and its intelligence head Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha.
A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said Haqqani was asked to resign and there would be an investigation into the memo.

Haqqani is close to Zardari but estranged from Pakistan’s military.

Tensions between Pakistan’s civilian government and military have bedeviled the nuclear-armed South Asian country for almost its entire existence, with the military ruling the country for more than half of its 64-year history in a series of coups.

Haqqani’s resignation was seen by many analysts as further weakening the civilian government, which is already beset by allegations of corruption and incompetence.

“They (the military) may expect much more from the government, much more beyond the resignation of Husain Haqqani, because they see that everybody perceived to be involved in this affair will be seen as anti-military and by implication anti-state,” said Imtiaz Gul, a security analyst in Islamabad.

Haqqani’s successor might include a diplomat with a less complicated relationship with the military, perhaps Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir or Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Hussain Haroon.

“Whether Pakistan’s people or its military will be represented in DC will become evident when Husain Haqqani’s replacement is announced,” Ali Dayan Hasan, representative for Human Rights Watch in Pakistan, said on Twitter.

It is unclear how far beyond Haqqani “memogate,” as it is called in the Pakistani press, goes.

Ijaz initially said that Haqqani was acting under the authority of Zardari, which has opened up the president to public criticism in Pakistan that he was plotting against his own military.
But Ijaz retreated from that claim and later said he wasn’t sure how involved Zardari was in the memo controversy.

“I don’t know if Haqqani had a blanket power of attorney with Zardari, whether he ever discussed this with Zardari or whether he was acting on his own,” Ijaz told Reuters on Nov 18.
Mark Siegel, a lobbyist who represents the Pakistani government in Washington, said Zardari called him when the Financial Times story appeared, asking his law firm to initiate libel proceedings against the paper and against Ijaz.

Siegel advised Zardari against filing a case because he judged it difficult for a public figure to win a libel case in a U.S. court.

“He was irate and said the memo was a total fabrication,” Siegel said. Siegel, who has known Zardari for 25 years, said he was absolutely certain that Zardari had known nothing about the memo.

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Qasim Nauman and Augustine Anthony in Islamabad and Missy Ryan in Washington; Editing by Peter Graff)

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Pakistan Hit by Floods in Sindh

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

PWAM Thanks Supporters

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

PWAM Hosts Annual Eid Chaand Raat Mela With Large Community Presence.

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The Pakistan Women Association of Michigan thanks the entire community for attending the Annual Eid Chaand Raat Mela in Novi, MI. The Mela was a huge success with over 2,500 attendees. Families from the entire Metro Detroit area attended the Mela to shop for clothing, Eid gifts, Eid Cards, delicious food, and just to say “Eid Mubarak” to each other.

The evening began with an Iftari donated by PWAM; followed by delicious food from popular vendors that everyone enjoyed.

The PWAM holds all their events for public service or charity; and in this spirit, PWAM raised money for its funeral fund by selling raffle tickets. Many individuals also donated for this noble cause. Visitors kept on coming to the venue until 1AM to enjoy the festivities and shopping of Chaand Raat.

Children had a great time with SpongeBob and Elmo characters. Ladies bought bangles, jewelry, clothes and decorated their hands with beautiful Mehndi. The attending crowd congratulated and thanked PWAM board members for holding such a beautiful event which brought friends and families together. After the success of this event, PWAM plans to continue this event annually.

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Musharraf wants to enter into Pakistani Politics with a Big Bang

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

I will surely be in Pakistan before the next General Elections for one last contest: Musharraf in Houston

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         “You have mentioned in your English and Urdu newspapers that return of Musharraf is imminent. Now I will have to prove this statement,” said former President of Pakistan General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf, while talking to Pakistan Chronicle & Pakistan Journal Newspapers Publisher Tariq Nehal Khan and Marketing & Distribution Manager Mohammad Jameel Siddiqui, at luncheon held in his and his wife Mrs. Sehba Musharraf’s honor at the residence of famous Houston Attorney Nauman (Noami) Hussain. One day before this luncheon meeting, General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and his wife had reached Houston and had meetings with members of a reputable think tank.

Large number of Pakistani Community and American personalities were present on the luncheon occasion, including Stephen Prentiss Payne, a most famous American lobbyist from Houston, Texas, who has been Mr. Musharraf’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C.; Counsel General of Pakistan in Houston Aqil Nadeem and his wife; Former City Councilman Masrur Javed Khan; Former Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Dr. Naseem Ashraf and many more. Sumptuous luncheon of Mezban Restaurant and Demasis Mediterranean Restaurant was served.

Naomi Hussain introduced Pervez Musharraf as the person, who after President Bush said either you are with us or with the terrorists; stood besides USA. Musharraf started his ten minutes presentation by thanking Naomi Hussain & his wife and everyone in the large gathering and said whatever he did after 9/11 was first in the interest of Pakistan, then of the world and of course USA.

Talking about his political future, he said disinformation is being implanted into various Pakistani media that when I recently visited Washington, D.C., not a single important person met me. If it is not for privacy issues, he said he would have mentioned the names of top officials, with whom he had concrete talks; and that would have meant restless days and sleepless nights for these persons, who are merely doing false propaganda.

Former President Pervez Musarraf said that ground realty is recently I started my face-book and got the most clicks by any person in a day in the whole world, resulting in an interview with Becky Anderson of CNN in London England. I do a Q-&-A session every 14th day on my face-book and 85% of the people want me to return to Pakistan and play a positive role in the political arena of Pakistan. Several seasoned and credible politicians of Pakistan recently met him in Middle East and everyone wants his return. Nature is with him in that he is the only alive notable personality of Pakistan, who has the chance to take politicians, bureaucracy and arm-forces of Pakistan together and that present & future of Pakistan needs a personality, who especially has these credentials.

He said at present with no real responsibilities and traveling to various places for speaking tours, he is living very peacefully and in serenity. But when calls to return for the betterment of Pakistan reach him, they make him to think hard and he is at presently considering to remain living comfortably or returning to Pakistan and work hard to make the country the best in the world. He said he is strongly inclined to return as Pakistan comes first; for sure before the next national elections and final word will be coming from his camp within the next two months.

“I just do not want to return and be a mediocre player in Pakistani politics. I want to return with a big bang and give Pakistani people a real third choice in politics, where present government has failed miserably in resolving issues and problems have compounded, while on the other hand, we have Nawaz Sharif & PML (N). Mr. Sharif has some kink in his brain, as he is always confronting with some; previously with 4 Generals and presently making agreements with the government but then at time becoming angry and at other times remains quiet. I have called Mr. Sharif a Closet Taleban, who as in Urdu we say have beard in the tummy; he is most dangerous for Pakistan and for everybody. I am sure I will able to provide the most viable Third National Choice in the next elections. Pakistan deserves better leadership and if I do not try, that will not be good. I am not scared of failure. I will give it the best try,” said Musharraf amidst applause.

General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf said there is figure of Pakistan, who is more than 25 years veteran politician, but now-a-days dormant (he said he does not want to give his name). When recently he called him to get suggestions about future and referenced the scene from a famous cowboy movie, where only one bullet is left and person is contemplating to go back for one last fight or not. Musharraf was told by this politician that it is better to go back for one last fight and he may very well find this dormant politician besides him.

Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf said the way so many people have here to Naomi’s home, similarly people in other cities, like recently Chicago have met him. But all this effort is scattered. He said if you see him to work hard for Pakistan and Pakistanis, it is necessary that those who are in favor of my thumping return to Pakistan, collect their resources and efforts.

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Qaradawi Warns of Niqab Ban Discrimination

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Anwar ElShamy, Gulf Times

FILES-ALGERIA-EGYPT-POLITICS-RELIGION-QARADAWI Qatar-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi urged those European countries which are considering outlawing the full veil (niqab) to review their plans, saying that a wider ban on niqab might prompt clerics to campaign for imposing a “modest dress code” on foreigners living in Muslim countries.

In his Friday sermon, Sheikh Qaradawi said the recent outlawing of the face-covering veil in public by Belgium along with a French draft law to make it illegal would be a violation of both religious and personal freedoms.

“I hope that France, Belgium and all of Europe will show respect to Islamic values and creed. Banning a Muslim woman from wearing the niqab would only place her in a dilemma about whether to comply with the law or obey what she believes is a religious order,” Sheikh Qaradawi told a congregation at the Omar bin Al-Khattab mosque at Khalifa South town.

However, the scholar, who is the chairman of the Dublin-based International Muslim Scholars Union, said the face-covering veil was not obligatory in Islam and that a woman should cover the head and neck but leave the face open.

“Although I think that wearing niqab is not obligatory and that women should only wear the hijab (covering the head and neck, but leaving the face visible), I am totally against banning a Muslim from wearing niqab if she is convinced of it as a religious obligation,” he explained.

“I do not represent all Muslim scholars. There are scholars in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries who consider niqab as obligatory and there are millions of women who wear it by their own free choice. If I asked them to stop wearing it, I would be violating their personal and religious freedom,” he maintained.

Quoting from a letter he had sent to former French president Jacques Chirac, the scholar said the ban imposed on hijab in schools would be a betrayal of the principles of the French Revolution, namely liberty, fraternity and equality.

“I told (president Chirac) that prohibiting women from wearing the hijab would be discrimination against them and make them hate France which is known to be a leading country for freedom,” he added.

In his letter, he had also dismissed the notion that hijab was a religious symbol for Muslims as “untrue”, saying that if it was a symbol, why they were allowed to take it off when they were in the presence of other women or male relatives.

“Wearing hijab for Muslims could not be dealt with as wearing a necklace with a cross pendant for Christians,” he said.

He indicated that the sentiments against niqab or hijab were a reflection of a desire by European countries to impose their culture on others.

“I have received a recent visit by French ambassador Gilles Bonnaud and I explained these things to him. I told him that Muslims believed in the unity of humanity but also believed that each nation should stick to its traits,” he added.

“When Muslims ruled India, they did not close down temples or impose a ban on cremation. It is the duty of each nation to respect the values of the other, but with the European case, we can make it difficult for French and Belgian women who stay in Muslim countries by asking them to stick to a modest dress,” he quoted from the conversation he had with the French ambassador to Qatar. 

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3 Muslim Women Elected in UK Polls

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

LONDON: Two Pakistani-British women were among the three women who became the first Muslim females to be elected to the British parliament following their success in the Thursday’s UK national polls.

Yasmin Qureshi, a 47-year-old practising barrister, held on to the Labour seat from Bolton south east constituency (north west England), by taking 18,782 votes against her Conservative party rival Andy Morgan, who polled 15,827 votes.

Qureshi was contesting the election in place of Dr Brian Iddon who has retired from politics.

The other successful woman was Oxford-educated Barrister Shabana Mahmood, a Labour candidate who won with 19,950 votes.

She defeated her nearest Liberal-Democrat rival Ayoub Khan who bagged 9,845 votes.

Another Muslim candidate Nusrat Ghani who fought the election on Conservative Party ticket secured 4,277 votes. Mahmood defended the seat that was previously held by former International Development Secretary Clare Short who stepped down from Birmingham Ladywood constituency.

The third successful Muslim woman to have secured her passage to the Westminster was Rushanara Ali of the Bangladeshi-descent, who won East London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow with 21,784 votes and in the process wrested the seat from Respect Unity Coalition whose candidate Abjol Miah got 8,532 votes.

In second place was Ajmal Mansoor of Liberal-Democrat with 10,210 votes.

However, the other Labour aspirant Maryam Khan, a 27-year-old solicitor contesting from Bury North, went down fighting to her Conservative Party rival David Nuttal who polled 18,070 votes against Khan’s 15,827.

Khan was chosen to defend the seat previously held by David Chaytor, who was barred by the Labour Party from standing again and is being prosecuted over his expenses as a former MP. Labour also suffered defeat in Dewsbury, north west England, where sitting MP Shahid Malik, a junior minister, lost to his Conservative rival Simon Reevell by a narrow margin of 1,526 votes.

Reevell polled 18,898 votes against 17,372 votes by Malik.

However, according to analysts, Malik’s chances were dented by another Pakistan-origin candidate Khizer Iqbal who stood as independent and returned with crucial 3,813 votes in a seven-corner contest. In Luton South constituency, Pakistan-origin councillor Qurban Hussein of Liberal-Democrat failed to unseat his Labour rival Gavin Shuker who secured 14,725 votes. Hussein, in fact, finished third with 9,567 votes behind the second placed Nigel Huddleston of the Tory party. app.

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US Warns Pakistan over NY Bomb Plot

May 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The US secretary of state says Islamabad would face “very severe consequences,” if a terrorist attack on US soil was traced to Pakistan.

“We’ve made it very clear that if — heaven-forbid — an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences,” Hillary Clinton told CBS TV during an interview on Saturday.

However, she acknowledged that Pakistan’s attitude toward fighting terrorists had changed remarkably, but emphasized that US President Barack Obama’s administration “expects more.”

The remarks followed the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the suspect behind a failed bombing in New York’s Time Square.

US investigators believe the bomb plot was formulated by more than just one person and US media suggested that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was linked with the attempt.

However, TTP, a pro-Taliban militant group, has denied any connection with Shahzad.

The Obama Administration officials have said that “their top priority was to nail down Shahzad’s links to militant groups, and then to press Pakistan to act against the groups.”

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