In a recent piece in these pages, columnist Farman Nawaz averred: “Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism without an ideology and that is the reason behind why Pakistan has still not been able to define its goals and those of its fight.” He suggested that we, the people of Pakistan, do not have an “ideology” that can permit us to combat the forces of extremist terror that our own earlier follies have unleashed upon us and, indeed, upon the world.
I do agree that we are confused about our goals in this war. But I have problems with the overused word ideology in the context of the state. The term ideological state is synonymous with rigid, single-thought dictatorships, i.e. with totalitarianism. We have numerous, frightful examples – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, Communist China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia are some – of states in which all liberties were/are denied to the citizens, particularly freedom of thought and association, and scores, even millions, of people were/are imprisoned, tortured or murdered in the name of the purported ideology of the state. Thus, to take a proximate example, the Islamic state being set up by the entity known as Daesh (Islamic State) is indeed an ideological state. On the other hand, our Pakistan, where we pay at least lip service to democratic values and constitutional principles, is – thank the Almighty – not an ideological state.
But the real quandary that Farman Nawaz implies is this:“If the official state-promoted narrative (to abjure the term ideology) lies along the same locus as that of the enemies of that state, then how is the state to be defended against that particular enemy?The question is pointed. And it cuts deeper.
Ernest Gellner, the great British-Czech philosopher and social anthropologist who has been described as one of the world’s most vigorous modern intellectuals, wrote, among other issues, on nationalism. In his 1983 treatise, Nations and Nationalism, Gellner held that “Nationalism is primarily a political principle that holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent.”
Okay, fine. But how do we define a “national unit”? What creates in people’s minds that broad sense of identity and affinity, which is the “imagined community” of a nation? Is it common language? Racial uniformity? Cultural (including religious) similarities? Economic linkages? Common social values? Common geographic territory?As will be clear in a moment’s reflection, all these attributes, other than the last mentioned, are totally malleable, provisional factors that blend, change and evolve all the time. There is nothing fixed about them. Only geography does not change, or changes very slowly.
A nation-state is therefore a geographic entity upon which people live and may or may not develop common languages, religions, cultures, etc. Of necessity, it is also a military entity and must have defensible borders. The inhabitants of a nation-state feel their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are better served by belonging to that particular state than not so belonging. Primeval identities may assist these processes of integration but are not essential. Consider such notably patriotic citizens as those of, say, Belgium, Vietnam, Canada, Brazil, Switzerland, the US, or even India – all either multi-lingual, multi-religious and even multi-racial states.
A nation-state is then not eternal; it is a contingency at a particular point in the story of a geographic space. It is frequently a historical accident, whose longevity or otherwise depends, internally, on the relative satisfaction of its citizens and, externally, on its military defensibility and diplomatic expertise. In fact, according to Gellner, “Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness; it invents nations where they do not exist.” Thus, states develop national narratives and national myths as a kind of raison d’être for their existence and these are commonly developed after the establishment of the state, as a kind of retrospective justification, not before.
There are disparate elements involved in the formation of a state. Consider some of the varying motives and movements that led to the genesis of Pakistan. To begin with, there were the predominantly Muslim Ashrafelite of northern India: Mughal legatees, who had evolved into what Hamza Alvi has characterised as a ‘salariat’ that now sought a space for career growth and effective power. In Gujarat and Maharashtra, there was an incipient Muslim trading bourgeoisie, which struggled to emerge from beneath the smothering weight of the Baniya merchant castes’ traditional advantages. In East Bengal, the oppressed peasantry of the delta craved deliverance from the largely Hindu Bhadra Lok. The Makhdooms, squires and other members of the landed gentry of Punjab and Sindh rushed to protect their ancestral holdings from the Nehru-ite socialist radicalism of the Congress Party. And so on. These varying tendencies and interests all came together under the leadership of the Quaid in establishing the new state of Pakistan.
But the narrow bureaucratic-military leadership that actually assumed control after the Quaid’s death was sceptical of the very clear outlines, which that great liberal democrat had outlined for the national narrative of the new state. Pakistan, having already been achieved, the Quaid proclaimed, “You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
But the post facto national narrative actually contrived ignored the founder’s explicit desires. Cynical use was made of a pseudo-Islamic cement to bind together the different ethnicities, classesand interests. Had there been an iota of historical understanding or political wisdom within the ruling cliques, they might have understood the improbability of using the inherently non-national concept of the Muslim millat to strengthen a national consciousness among the diverse groups within this country. Maulana Maudoodi had long before grasped this contradiction when he had rejected the idea of a Pakistani nation as being an un-Islamic construction, disharmonious with the multi-state Muslim millat. In Gellner’s terminology, the borders of the millat, an enormous national unit, could never be congruent with the fractional Pakistani political unit.
But, of course, our bureaucratic-military masters were never too conceptually literate anyhow. Not only did their weak pseudo-Islamic narrative fail to hold the country together, it actually proved to be divisive, breeding the kind of violent divisiveness that a reactionary dictator like Ziaul Haq could exploit. It was also the rationale for creating the squads of armed goons who directly attacked the sovereignty of this already weakened state that had now also thrown away its monopoly over armed force. And it has raised precisely the questions that Farman Nawaz and many others are asking.
The way forward will begin to emerge only when we finally realise that, however a state may have chanced to appear on a map, once it has done so, its purpose is nothing more and nothing less than promoting the wellbeing of its citizens. It is meant to provide governance, promote economic activity, make available education and other social services to its citizens, and ensure their freedom, their rights, justice, and law and order. Nothing else matters.
The writer is a marketing consultant based in Karachi. He is also a poet
South Asia Analysis Group
Identity Crisis and Political realities of Indian Muslims
Paper No. 5922 Dated 30-Apr-2015
By R. Upadhyay
The surprising meeting of eleven Muslim leaders from across the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 6 suggests that some in the community think differently on the current political reality and the Muslim identity.
The leaders “expressed apprehensions about the trend of increased radicalisation and emerging threat of terrorism and underlined the need for greater unity and collective efforts to meet the challenge. They also discussed the issues relating to the properties of Muslim shrines, Masjids and Madrasas and sought the support of the Government in providing better facilities to Muslim youth particularly in the field of education.” The Prime Minister assured them of resolving these issues.
Reaction of the Traditional Leadership of the Community:
However, the sharp reaction of the traditional leadership in the community against this meeting suggests that they are too many unrealistic die hards who need to rethink on the priorities of the community in the larger interest of the nation. Minutes after the photos of the Muslim leaders who met the Prime Minister were posted on face book, comments have been pouring in – with majority of them even refusing to identify them as ‘senior leaders’ of the community.”(http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/muslims-on-facebook-refuse-to-identify-senior-leaders-of-muslim-community-who-met-pm-modi).
Some of the Muslim leaders even questioned that “how many of them can you identify as senior leader of the community”? https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204299602436202&set=a.1427932384318.2057780.
Just about a fortnight back before this meeting, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board held its meeting in Jaipur on March 22-23 and took a contrary position not even to meet Modi in the near future. Prior to that, a jointly organised colloquium “Country and Crossroads by Jamiat Ulama- e-Hind, Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat Ahle Hadees, Muslim Personal Law Board, Milli Council and the Delhi-based Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) on January 18 this year was abruptly cancelled perhaps due to the suspicion over the main organisers who were allegedly supposed to be “politically” close to Modi and perhaps assume the traditional leadership of the community. (http://www.firstpost.com/politics/muslim-meet-cancelled-delhi-feeling-guilty-talking-modi-2068143.html).
The Muslim leaders like Zafrul Islam Khan, President of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat and Abdul Aziz, Secretary, Milli Ittehad Parishad have continued with their the usual tirade that the Muslim youths are still arrested as terror suspects and “Modi’s words do not match his actions”. (http://www.voanews.com/content/india-pm-modi-remarks-on-muslims-mixed-reaction/2460436.html).
In the backdrop of such divisions one wonders how far this meeting of April 6 would change the prevailing perception of the community against the Prime Minister.
Post Partition Political Journey:
If we look into the post-partition political journey, it looks that the leadership in the community has mostly remained in the hands of the descendants of the former ruling class and the radical Islamists. These leaders do not seem to have overcome the hangover of the colonial politics within the new democratic and secular frame. They remained so much obsessed with the loss of power, political superiority and inequitable privileges even in British India that they were not satisfied with the mere rights of equal citizenship.
They equated Islam with Urdu language, Persio-Arabic culture and the traditions and values of Perso-Arabic way of life to sustain the “perception” of the cultural superiority of the community. This in a way kept them isolated from a truly modern and secular way of life.
This coalition of these self-serving elites and narrow-minded Islamist clerics never made an attempt to realise the new ground realities. Instead all they did was to extract concessions periodically to sustain their leadership while ignoring the fundamental issues facing the country as a whole. Their attempts to form an All India Party for the community to bag all the votes of the community in one basket has also failed so far. So far the polarisation has not worked but one sees a visible trend in the attempt of the Owasi brothers to have an “all India” spread.
It is not a communal but a psychological problem:
In fact, India does not have Muslim problem but the fact remains that the community is suffering from a psychological problem of being not treated equally and this has to be addressed seriously. The reasons may be may be many-like the community’s leadership that wanted to sustain itself , to successive ruling establishments going out of the way to treat them as separate entities -all for the votes, but one cannot run away from this perception.
Could it be that since Independence the leaders of the ruling establishment always treated them only as Muslims and not as Indian citizens who have been given equal rights in the constitution? Could providing them the status of minority to this second largest religious majority with special rights and privileges in the constitution be the reason for the perpetuation of this mind set?
Taking advantage of the constitutional rights, some of the leaders of the community have started playing a similar politico-communal game of the pre-partition days and carried forward the colonial politics of reservation in legislatures. Should the community be submerged in not thinking beyond Mosque, Madrasa and Waqf properties?
It is forgotten by many even today that the system of British-accorded separate electorates and reserved seats for Muslims in legislatures were buried in the Constituent Assembly debates, though the ghost of old misguided colonial privileges in the name of safeguarding the interests of the community continue to haunt many of them..
Due to a communication gap between Muslim intelligentsia and common Muslims, the radicals kept the community alienated from the national mainstream. Had the Muslim intelligentsia taken up the leadership of the community and freed them from the hold of the Mullahs, the psychological fear that continue to haunt the community could have been avoided. Another handicap is an acceptable tall leader of the community to guide the people. All they had were the Mullahs and the entrenched political leadership that had the only goal of sustaining itself.
Focus should be shifted from safeguarding the identity to one of social and economic development:
Thus, in absence of any focus on education, employment, entrepreneurship and overall development of the community either by the parties in power or by their leaders, the second largest religious majority in the country remained under the siege of the community brokers with pre-partition mindset that never allowed them to think beyond their religious identity.
The post-Independence political journey of Indian Muslim community had three major milestones namely Shahbano case in 1984, demolition of Babari Mosque in 1992 and Gujarat riots in 2002. With the success of mass agitation against the verdict of Supreme Court in Shahbano case, politicising the demolition of a disputed structure known as Mosque (which community is right or wrong is not the question here) and the sustained psychological fear of the community in connection with the Gujarat riots- as a reaction the community seems to be playing more and more an assertive kind of politics and this needs to be noted.
The question of “What to do?”
It has to be conceded, that the victory of the BJP in 2014 under the leadership of Modi has pushed the community leaders in a state of confusion. This political reality is new to them and this in turn has created, a sense of “what to do now?” Being scared of losing their political bargaining power, they had even refused to meet the Prime Minister. Will it help the community? I doubt. Therefore when some Muslim representatives met Modi, the traditional leaders became panicky and even questioned the authorities of these leaders without realising that they too have no legal sanction to be called as leaders of the community.
The Prime Minister’s declaration in a televised interview with CNN in September 2014,”Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India”. Does not seem to have had any impact on the community as whole.
It is a fact that the majority of the traditional Muslim leaders are not ready to accept the new political reality and therefore the Muslim masses are in a state of confusion as to what to do?
Arshad Alam, assistant professor in Centre for Social Systems at Jawaharlal Nehru University perhaps rightly observed, “Muslims are facing a complex situation today. Secular parties like Samajwadi Party and Congress have failed them. Muslim leaders on whom the community trusted sold themselves off repeatedly. So what do you do?” (http://www.firstpost.com/politics/muslim-meet-cancelled-delhi-feeling-guilty-talking-modi-2068143.html).
On the other hand Mohammad Sajjad, a historian at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), says: “Muslims will have to open up with Modi who is the Prime Minister today. But the problem is with the so-called traditional Muslim leadership which is corrupt and self-centred.”(Ibid.)
Dr. Rashid Shaz, an internationally acclaimed Muslim author and known for his reform writing on Islam while addressing a group of students in Aligarh University in May 2014 welcomed the victory of Modi. He said, now, for the first time in independent India, Muslims are able to see the ‘stark political realities that otherwise have been hidden by the secular hypocrisy of the Congress’. He also observed: “One of the most positive aspects of the new political development is the fall of un-Godly Muslim clergy who worked as middle-men between the Muslim masses and the ruling elite”.
The community should realise that a larger section of intelligentsia even in Muslim-majority countries feel jealous of Indian Muslims in the environment of religious liberalism. Farman Nawaz, a Pakistani journalist in his write up entitled “India make me jealous” expressed- “I am open-minded and I am a democrat but when I see that Hindu majority India enjoys co-existence of faiths, religious liberalism and active social responsiveness of its common people then I feel jealous of India”” .
In view of the incapacity of the traditional leaders to mobilise an honest and a dispassionate consensus for establishing a channel of communication between common Muslims and the present Government, it is the duty of Muslim intelligentsia to come forward, hold a meaningful debate among them, judge the merit of the slogan – ‘Sabka Vikas, Sabka Saath’ and finally take a decision to guide the community for alternative politics and keeping aside the traditional politics of identity.
At the same time, Prime Minister Modi should also think of developing a mechanism so that common Muslims can avoid their middlemen culture and build direct communication with him.
(He can be reached at e-mail email@example.com)
Nickelback’s new song deemed Western Propaganda by Chinese newspaper
Because the world needed yet another reason to ban Nickelback, we can now add “violent revolutionists” to the infinite list. A recent article from Chinese-owned news source Global Times, written by Farman Nawaz, proffers that the Canadian band’s newest song, “Edge of a Revolution,” is actually a white anthem for riotous revolution and global anarchy.
As if anyone takes anything Nickelback does seriously.
To be fair, the music video does feature real footage from recent revolutions, including Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. And in it, children do some silent screaming and throw a few papers around a classroom, presumably starting a bit of a tussle. Plus the song is called “Edge of a Revolution.” Nickelback, not one for the subtle approach, are we?
Neither the song nor the article mentions China or the Occupy protests in Hong Kong directly, but Nawaz does say that the Canadian band is, “trying to export the Occupy [Wall Street] movement, blended with a dash of violence, to Asia, where the vested interests of the West are no longer realizable through diplomacy…” Yikes. The author also throws around terms like “moral superiority,” “protest against the state,” and “imposing ideologies through propaganda.” That’s right, Mr. Nawaz, the Canadian government has a secret conspiracy to initiate violent revolutions in Asia, and they chose Nickelback, beloved and trustworthy, as their foreign liaison to achieve their dastardly plan for anarchy. Good one.
Nickelback joins Kenny G as the part of the “they still exist?” musician club to be swept up in the Occupy Hong Kong frenzy, since both musicians have history as being volatile supporters of anti-government demonstrations.
So if the protests in Hong Kong become violent, we will know who to blame: Nickelback.
If students in mainland China begin throwing their books and chairs, inspired by the cinemotagraphy of American director Wayne Isham, we will know who to blame: Nickelback.
And if, later today, you can’t find your house keys or you miss the bus or step in a puddle or something, you can blame Nickelback because Nickelback is the cause of all the anger and unhappiness in the world.
Watch the video, read Nawaz’s article and then pray that Nickelback remains out of the news and off our radios for the rest of forever.
By Briel Waxman
[h/t Coconuts Hong Kong]
Squeezed Pak Taliban tries to unite the house
Author is a columnist for Middle-East and Af-Pak region and Editor of a geo-political news agency Views Around can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr Farman Nawaz Columnist from Bannu, Pakistan provided inputs for the article.
Middle East Media Research Institute
Debating the Pakistani National Interest over the Kerry-Lugar Bill
By: Tufail Ahmad
Urdu-Pashtu Media Project| 553| October 13, 2009
On October 7, 2009, the Pakistani military took an extraordinary step by expressing publicly its “serious concern” over the civilian government’s approval of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, a U.S. aid program for Pakistan approved by Congress. The military fears that its role will be curtailed if the bill comes into effect. The debate, emerging out of the military’s concern, also reflects the complex nature of the Pakistani national interest.
Broadly speaking, the military’s intervention on a matter of government policy has revealed concerns regarding: a) the Pakistan Army’s near-absolute control of power; b) strain in military-government ties and the future of democracy in Pakistan; c) opposition parties’ view of a “strategic sell-out” to the U.S.; d) Pakistani envoy to U.S. Husain Haqqani’s alleged role, or lack of it, in shaping the Kerry-Lugar Bill; e) Pakistan-U.S. relations and Pakistan’s role in defeating jihadists in Afghanistan-Pakistan border region; and e) the nature of the Pakistani national interest.
1. The Pakistan Army’s Control of Power
Between July 2008 and October 2009, the Pakistan Army has acted twice in a way that has sought to publicly undercut the authority of the democratically elected government headed by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
First, in July 2008, the Gilani government issued a notification placing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the interior ministry’s control. The move to bring the country’s military-led spy agencies under civilian government’s control was rebuffed within six hours, even as the Pakistani prime minister was in the midst of a visit to Washington DC. According to a Pakistani daily of July 28, 2008, “the military leadership stood up and managed to reverse the government’s decision soon after the notification was issued.”(1)
Second, the long-persisting view in Pakistan that the army exercises near-absolute control on civilian state institutions was demonstrated again on October 7, 2009, when the military leadership took the unusual step of issuing a press statement, expressing “serious concern” over the clauses regarding Pakistan’s national security in the Kerry-Lugar Bill.(2)
The Kerry-Lugar Bill, No. S.1707 – Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, seeks to triple American aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion annually for next five years. Under its Section 201 (4), the bill also aims to curtail the Pakistan Army’s role in politics by promoting “control of military institutions by a democratically elected civilian government.”(3) In the eyes of its critics, the bill’s provisions regarding the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies are controversial, including references to military-backed militant organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. The bill is also seen as a prelude to the expansion of Pakistani military operation outside the tribal region to Baluchistan and Punjab provinces. Under various sub-sections of the Section 203 of the bill, aid to Pakistan is conditional upon the U.S. Secretary of State certifying that:
a) Pakistan is taking steps “to dismantle supplier networks relating to the acquisition of nuclear weapons-related materials”;”
b) Pakistan “has demonstrated a sustained commitment to and is making significant efforts towards combating terrorist groups”;
c) the extent to which Pakistan has made efforts on “ceasing support, including by any elements within the Pakistan military or its intelligence agency, to extremist and terrorist groups, particularly to any group that has conducted attacks against United States or coalition forces in Afghanistan, or against the territory or people of neighboring countries”; and
d) Pakistan’s progress in “preventing Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated terrorist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, from operating in the territory of Pakistan, including carrying out cross-border attacks into neighboring countries, closing terrorist camps in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas along Afghan border], dismantling terrorist bases of operations in other parts of the country, including Quetta [capital of Baluchistan province] and Muridke [near Lahore in Punjab province].”(4)
The military’s statement over the proposed U.S. legislation was seen as a rebuff to the civilian government of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, both of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The statement issued by the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations department noted that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Kayani expressed his concerns in an address to the October 7, 2009 Conference of Corps Commanders. It added: “The COAS, in his opening remarks, [expanded] upon various issues related to national security and impending challenges faced by the country. The COAS reiterated that Pakistan is a sovereign state and has all the rights to analyze and respond to the threat in accordance with her own national interests. The Kerry-Lugar Bill also came under discussion during the conference. The forum expressed serious concern regarding clauses impacting on national security. A formal input is being provided to the government.”(5)
2. The Future of the Democratic Government
The present government of Prime Minister Gilani came to power after the Pakistan People’s Party emerged victorious in the February 2008 polls. The elections were seen to have put Pakistan on a long, fragile path of transition to democracy after eight years of military rule. However, the Pakistani military’s extraordinary criticism of the Kerry-Lugar Bill has now raised questions over the survival of elected leaders in power. The army’s move to provide “formal input” to the government is seen in public eyes as an extra-constitutional step, potentially leading to a coup.
In its statement, the military went on to add, “it is the parliament that represents the will of the people of Pakistan, which would deliberate on the issue, enabling the government to develop a national response.”(6) Notwithstanding the military’s comforting words on the authority of parliament, there is a new concern that the gulf between the Pakistan Army and the civilian government is widening. In an editorial, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jasarat made a prescient observation: “Though the top military leaders have said that the parliament is supreme in this regard, this is a matter of long debate as to who is supreme. However, the kind of reaction that has come from the military causes concern that a big disagreement [conflict] can develop between the government and the army.”(7)
The concern is that the Pakistani state may unravel if the government and the military are not on the same wavelength. In an editorial, the liberal newspaper Dawn noted that the debate on Kerry-Lugar Bill is turning out to be “democracy versus national security,” observing also that “intertwining them runs the risk of undermining the transition to democracy.”(8) The newspaper criticized the civilian government for not consulting with all the stakeholders on the U.S. aid bill, but added: “The fact that… [the military] has chosen to make its reservations public as opposed to going through private governmental channels is regrettable.”(9)
The editorial, expressing “support for the democratically elected government against extra-constitutional intervention,” further observed: “Right or wrong, wise or unwise, the bill must not become the basis for fresh cleavages between the army and the political opposition on one side and the government on the other. The national security-democracy debate is not an either/or issue – national security can and must be protected through the democratic process.”(10) The significant point here is also the fact that the military and the country’s main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), a center-right party, are on the same side.
Other reasons for concern in Pakistan are the timing of the military’s intervention on the Kerry-Lugar Bill, whose text has long been available on Internet for anybody to read, and media reports of a secret meeting recently between Gen. Kayani and Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab province and leader of PML-N, the main opposition at federal level.
Nawaz Sharif, the senior opposition leader and chief of PML-N party, has not commented on the Kerry-Lugar Bill. However, reports of his brother Shahbaz Sharif’s meeting with Gen. Kayani have led to speculation about likely extra-constitutional intervention. On October 6, 2009, Shahbaz Sharif answered journalists’ queries about his secret meeting with the army chief and a likely military coup in Pakistan, stating: “We… cannot make a justification for dictatorship, but we will not allow anybody to play with Pakistan’s dignity and reputation.”(11) The word “dignity” is understood as the military in this context. Shahbaz Sharif added: “I will not confirm or deny press reports about my meeting with the army chief.”(12)
Significantly, during his midnight meeting with Gen. Kayani, Shahbaz Sharif had been accompanied by Chaudhry Nisar Ahmad, leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, the lower house of the Pakistani parliament.(13) Chaudhary Nisar Ahmad leads the opposition viewpoint in Pakistani parliament.
3. Opposition Criticism: Strategic Sell-Out of Pakistani Sovereignty
The response of opposition religious and political parties to the proposed U.S. legislation has been similar to that of the military. Stepping up the opposition criticism after his meeting with the army chief, Chaudhary Nisar Ahmad told the National Assembly, “Under the Kerry-Lugar Bill, the command of the Pakistan Army will, instead of remaining under the president and the prime minister, be under the American chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.”(14)
Syed Munawwar Hasan, the Emir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, has announced that his party will hold a countrywide referendum, asking the people to vote in favor or against the acceptance of Kerry-Lugar Bill by Pakistan.(15) The religious leader described the proposed U.S. legislation as insult to Pakistan, adding: “The U.S. has started tightening the noose around Pakistan. Its freedom, sovereignty and national dignity are being traded for aid. The conditions of Kerry-Lugar Bill are insulting.”(16)
Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, deputy emir of Jamaat-e-Islami in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), warned: “The Kerry-Lugar Bill is a conspiracy for Saqoot-e-Pakistan (Fall of Pakistan).”(17) The term Saqoot-e-Pakistan resonates with the popular expression Saqoot-e-Dhaka, i.e. the Fall of Dhaka that led to secession of Eastern Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1971. Another religious leader, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, whose Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) party shares power in the federal governing coalition, has warned that “any aid that opens the path for foreign intervention [in Pakistan] cannot be accepted. The parliament should defend the army’s reservations over the Kerry-Lugar Bill.”(18)
Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain, the leader of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), the PML-N’s breakaway group that supported Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s eight-year military rule, also criticized the proposed U.S. legislation, describing it as a victory for India.(19) The statement came in the backdrop of the fact that anti-India jihadist organizations Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad found mention in the Kerry-Lugar Bill.
According to a report in the leading daily The News, the opposition parties have seen the U.S. legislation as the “strategic sell-out of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”(20) Faisal Saleh Hayat, the parliamentary leader of PML-Q, urged the parliament to reject the Kerry-Lugar Bill “to give a strong message to the U.S.,” adding that through this bill, the “sell-out of the national institutions” and “insult of the armed forces” would not be accepted.(21)
Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the leader of Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao), also urged the parliament not to accept the U.S. aid bill. He added: “It would not be beneficial for the U.S. either, as it will fuel hatred against Washington. Parliament should send a strong message to the U.S. and the government should disassociate itself from this bill; and we should go with the public opinion.”
Strangely, a proposed U.S. legislation has come up for debate in a foreign legislature, i.e. on the floor of the Pakistani parliament where it cannot be defeated, as the ruling Pakistan People’s Party enjoys majority support.
4. The Pakistani Envoy to the U.S. and His Book
The influential Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, and his recent book,Pakistan between Mosque and Military, have also come under searing scrutiny in Pakistan, for his role, or the lack of it, in the writing of the Kerry-Lugar Bill.
Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ahmad noted that it is not the U.S. but “our own people” who have ensured the inclusion of conditions in the Kerry-Lugar Bill regarding Pakistani Army’s interference in civilian affairs with consequences for the country’s national politics.(22)
Faisal Saleh Hayat of PML-Q party referred to excerpts from Haqqani’s 2006 book, accusing the ambassador of advising the U.S. to use its aid as a weapon against Pakistan, noting: “So when the country’s ambassador is suggesting such things, what can we expect from others?”(23) Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the former federal interior minister, also questioned the role of the Pakistani envoy, wondering “what Pakistan’s ambassador and lobbyists were doing when the bill was being presented in the U.S. Congress.”(24)
The daily The News published a report, blaming Husain Haqqani and his book for the conditionalities in the Kerry-Lugar Bill with regard to the requirement of curtailing Pakistan Army’s role in civilian affairs. It quoted Haqqani as writing that “the United States must use its aid as a lever to influence Pakistan’s domestic policies… Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support of Islamic militants, its use of its intelligence apparatus for controlling domestic politics, and its refusal to cede power to a constitutional democratic government.”(25)
The report quoted from the book: “Because Washington has attached a few conditions to U.S. aid, the spending patterns of Pakistan’s government have not changed significantly. The country’s military spending continues to increase…. Unlike governments in other Muslim countries like Egypt and Turkey, Pakistan’s government – particularly its military – has encouraged political and radical Islam, which otherwise has a relatively narrow base of support.”(26)
According to The News, the book says: “The United States can help contain the Islamists’ influence by demanding reform of those aspects of Pakistan’s governance that involve the military and security services…. Washington should no longer condone the Pakistani military’s support of Islamic militants, its use of its intelligence apparatus for controlling domestic politics, and its refusal to cede power to a constitutional democratic government.”(27)
The civilian government is under pressure to change the Pakistani ambassador in Washington. According to a report in The Nation daily, President Zardari has defended ambassador Haqqani, but Maleeha Lodhi, who has served as Pakistani ambassador to London and Washington, has been sounded out to be “on standby as Haqqani’s replacement.”(28)
5. Pakistan-U.S. Relations
On October 6, 2009, i.e. a day before the Corps Commanders’ Conference, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani met with U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Commander of International Forces in Afghanistan, in the GHQ (Gen. Headquarters) in Rawalpindi, the twin city of Islamabad.
Gen. Kayani told the U.S. general: “Like the Pakistani people, the military and intelligence services are furious at the observations made on Pakistan’s security establishment in the Kerry-Lugar Bill…. Gen. McChrystal returned from the GHQ with an unambiguous message that the terms set in the Kerry-Lugar Bill on the national security interests of Pakistan are insulting and are unacceptable in their present formulation.”(29)
In an editorial titled “Just for the Sake of $1.5 Billion,” the Karachi-based Urdu-language dailyRoznama Ummat warned that the U.S.’s real targets are Pakistan’s nuclear assets, noting that the proposed legislation’s objective “is to snare Pakistan in chains of such conditions that can pave the path for intervention in its military, judicial and other government spheres. The targets of the U.S.’s last and real hit are its atomic assets.”(30)
Outlining Pakistani national interests, the daily added: “The armed forces of Pakistan would not have expressed any view with regard to the Kerry-Lugar Bill if there were no concerns about its impacts on the military institutions and atomic assets. Included in their duties is the task of defending the nation from internal and external threats, in addition to securing the country’s ideological and geographical borders.”(31)
The public criticism in Pakistan over the Kerry-Lugar Bill is part of a series of growing diatribes against the U.S. Over the past few months, public anger against the U.S. has been mounting with regard to a number of issues. Maulana Fazlur Rahman, whose Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party is part of the federal governing coalition, has criticized the expansion of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, accusing the U.S. of creating a “mini-Pentagon” in the Pakistani capital.(32)
Police have raided the offices of private security firm Inter-Risk, reportedly contracted by the U.S Embassy. The firm, run by retired military commando Capt. (retired) Syed Ali Jaffar Zaidi, was disbanded by the Pakistani interior ministry.(33) Pakistani parliament has constituted a committee to probe the presence and role of Blackwater, a private U.S. security firm also identified with another name, XE Worldwide, in Pakistan.(34) The legislature of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has debated the role of Blackwater in the province.(35) DynCorp International was ordered to stop its activities after the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) expressed “reservations that the activities of the U.S. security company are a source of concern for the country’s security network.”(36)
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s Islamic nuclear bomb, has accused the U.S. of eyeing the Pakistani bomb, noting: “The real aim of anti-Pakistan forces, including the U.S., is to deprive it of its nuclear weapons. They do not want a Muslim country to have a nuclear arsenal, as it is a direct threat to Israel’s superiority in the Middle East.”(37) Lt.-Gen. (ret) Hamid Gul, the former chief of ISI, has said the U.S. is working for a new chief of Pakistan Army to be appointed “as per its own liking.”(38) Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan has described the U.S. aid as a “gallows for Pakistan” and as “threat to the security” of the country.(39)
Rejecting concerns that elements in Pakistani military and its military-led intelligence Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are involved in supporting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the ISI’s director-general, asserted on October 1, 2009: “The ISI is a professional agency and does not have links with any militant outfit, including the Taliban.”(40) Pasha’s statement was preceded by media reports that quoted former intelligence official Khalid Khwaja as saying that the ISI had arranged several meetings between Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the country’s center-right politician Nawaz Sharif.(41)
Rejecting media reports that the ISI protects the Taliban Shura (executive council led by Mullah Omar) in the region of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said: “The American leadership should decide explicitly whether they consider the ISI as a friend or foe.”(42)
6. The Pakistani National Interest
There are two sections of the Pakistani opinion over the Kerry-Lugar Bill: First, religious parties, opposition political leaders and the military who view the proposed U.S. legislation as a strategic sell-out that will negatively impact Pakistan’s national interests; and, second, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and the tiny liberal elite who think that the Kerry-Lugar Bill will assist Pakistan on a path of economic and educational development while simultaneously strengthening the civilian government’s ability to exercise control on military. The second group points out Section 201 (4) of the Kerry-Lugar, which seeks to “strengthen the institutions of democratic governance and promote control of military institutions by a democratically elected civilian government.”(43)
Writing in Dawn, Pakistani television journalist Gul Bukhari noted the “factual nature of Pakistan’s transgressions in the past based upon which the bill places restrictions upon the country” and scoffed at the critics of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, saying: “None deny Pakistan’s past role in nuclear proliferation; none deny Pakistan’s past misuse of American aid towards aiding and consolidating Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives; none now deny the involvement of Pakistanis in the Mumbai attack; and none deny the presence of the Taliban in south Punjab. Moreover, none disagree that today Pakistan is on a precipice, gazing down into a void due to these very reasons.”(44)
In an article in the mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang, columnist Agha Masood Husain pointed out that the bill’s three provisions are “in exact accordance with Pakistani national interest”: Pakistan’s compliance in preventing nuclear proliferation; preventing use of Pakistani soil for terror attacks against any country; and the army not being party to end of democratic rule in Pakistan.(45)
Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, chairman of Pakistan’s Planning Commission, added that the U.S. apprehensions outlined in the Kerry-Lugar Bill are not misplaced in view of the nuclear proliferation track record of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the first Islamic atom bomb. Ali added: “U.S. apprehensions [about Pakistani nuclear proliferation] are well placed. One should not forget what Dr. A. Q. Khan, [who is] considered a national hero, did by exporting nuclear material to other countries [by the] planeload.”(46) Farahnaz Ispahani, a top aide to President Zardari, has insisted that the standards presented by the bill are reasonable and that the language had actually been softened through the various versions.(47) Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani too has described the proposed U.S. legislation as a “victory for democracy” in Pakistan.(48)
After the military expressed its “serious concern” over the proposed U.S. aid bill for Pakistan, President Zardari’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar asked the army not to interfere on a subject of the government’s prerogative and instead remain within its limits.(49) “The army should voice its reservations through a proper channel,” the presidential spokesman said, noting: “The Supreme Commander of all the three armed forces is the Head of the State, Asif Zardari. There are forums in which such issues can be raised [by the army].”(50) In an editorial, the Urdu-language newspaperRoznama Jasarat expressed concern that if the Kerry-Lugar Bill is approved by the Pakistani parliament, where the government has necessary majority, a new tussle for control of power will begin between the military and the civilian executive.(51)
Amid the growing confrontation between the civilian executive and the military establishment, President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and Army Chief Gen. Kayani held an extraordinary reconciliatory meeting in Islamabad on October 10, 2009. The meeting was joined midway by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Lt.-Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief. According to a report in The News, it was decided to ask the Obama administration through diplomatic channels to address Pakistani concerns, “particularly those pertaining to the controversial clauses relating to national security.”(52) The report, titled “The Presidency Blinks,” noted further: “It was also decided to ‘try convincing’ the majority of the parliamentarians to desist from rejecting the bill outright and, instead, to pass a resolution that would suggest its acceptance provided the controversial clauses were redrafted [by the U.S.] in a satisfactory manner.”(53)
However, two days after this meeting, Pakistan’s mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang published a report, noting: “The [military] establishment, without bothering about the anger of the Presidential Palace, will defend the [national] interests.”(54)
Farman Nawaz, a columnist with Peshawar-based daily The Frontier Post, has made the following observation on the bill’s importance to Pakistan: “Some of the clauses of Kerry-Lugar Bill are the requirement for reforming our system, for example a free judiciary, no intervention of the army in politics, and monitoring of foreign funds. In reality, these are the flaws of our system, and politicians have suffered a lot because of these problems.”(55) He added: “The powerful hands are setting one against the other to try to modify the clauses relating to the prevention of interference of [the military] establishment in politics… In a way, it is the first violation of Kerry-Lugar Bill.”(56)
کیا انگریزی ذریعہ تعلیم ہماری ترقی کے لیے ضروری ہے
انگریزی تعلیم کے حوالے سے فرمان نواز صاحب کی تحریر[کیا سائنس کی ترقی ہمارے خلاف ہے] نظر سے گزری جو کہ ایکسپریس کی ویب سائٹ پر ہفتہ، 14جون کو شائع ہوئی۔ یہ تحریر انکے جذبات کا آئینہ ہے۔ انہوں نے کھل کر اپنے جذبات کا اظہار کیا ہے۔انکی یہ جذباتی تحریر انکی پاکستان اور پاکستانی عوام سے دیرینہ محبت کو ظاہر کرتی ہے مگر انکی سمت تھوڑی سی غلط ہے۔ انگریزی زبان کے جو فوائد انہوں نے گنوائے ہیں ان سے اتفاق کرتا ہوں مگر انگریزی کو ذریعہ تعلیم بنانے سے اختلاف کرتا ہوں۔ اس اختلاف کو سمجھنے کے لیے ہمیں اقوام کے ماضی اور حال پر نظر ڈالنی ہو گی اور اردو زبان کی اہمیت کو سمجھنا ہوگا۔
دنیا کی کوئی بھی قوم ایسی نہیں ہے جس نے کسی اور زبان میں تعلیم حاصل کر کے ترقی کی ہو۔ آپ کے سامنے پورے یورپ کی مثال موجود ہے۔ کسی بھی یورپی ملک میں انگریزی زبان کو نہ تو سرکاری حیثیت حاصل ہے نہ ہی تعلیمی ۔ وہ تمام مضامین اپنی ہی زبان میں پڑھاتے اور سکھاتے ہیں۔ چین اور جاپان تو ایشیا سے تعلق رکھتے ہیں مگر پھر بھی انکے یہاں ذریعہ تعلیم انگریزی نہیں ہے۔تمام مضامین جن میں سائنس اور انجینیرنگ بھی شامل ہیں وہ اپنی ہی زبان میں پڑھاتے ہیں اور بہترین نتائج بھی حاصل کرتے ہیں۔
مختلف ممالک میں ملازمت حاصل کرنے کے لیے اگر انگریزی کی ضرورت ہے تو اسکو درجہ دوم کی زبان کے طور پر با آسانی سیکھا جا سکتا ہے۔ ملازمت یا تعلیم کے حصول کے لیے ہماری آبادی کا بہت ہی زیادہ قلیل حصہ ہی سفر کرکے بیرون ملک جاتا ہے۔ اس بات کو وجہ بنا کر پورے ملک کا زریعہ تعلیم انگریزی کر دینا کسی صورت بھی مناسب نہیں ہے جبکہ ہمارے ملک کی آبادی کا بہت بڑا حصہ دیہاتوں میں بستا ہے جہاں تعلیمی صورت حال ویسے ہی بڑی خستا ہے ۔ انگریزی محض ایک زبان ہے جو کہ کوئی بھی شخص کچھ ہی مہینوں کی محنت کے بعد با آسانی سیکھ سکتا ہے اور اپنے خیالات کو الفاظ کا جامہ پہنانے کے قابل ہو جاتا ہے۔ اسکے لیے بچوں کو انکی معصومیت کے دنوں میں تختہ مشق بنانا کہاں کی عقلمندی ہے۔
مسلمانوں کے عروج کے زمانے میں یورپی اقوام کے فرد عربی زبان سیکھتے ضرور تھے وہ بھی صرف اس لیے کہ مسلمانوں کے علم سے استفادہ حاصل کرسکیں مگر اپنے ممالک میں عربی کو ذریعہ تعلیم نہیں بناتے تھے۔آپ تاریخ میں سے کوئی ایک مثال سامنے رکھ دیں جس سے پتہ چلتا ہو کہ مسلمانوں کے عروج کے زمانے میں کسی یورپی قوم نے عربی کو اپنایا ہو یا اپنا ذریعہ تعلیم بنایا ہو۔ آج ہم لفظ الجبرہ تو سنتے ہیں اور کہتے ہیں کہ یہ عربی لفظ ہے مگر صرف اس نام کے آپ کو ماضی کی الجبرہ کی کسی کتاب میں عربی نظر نہیں آئے گی جو کسی یورپین حساب دان نے لکھی ہوگی۔ اسپین کا حال تو سب ہی جانتے ہیں، کیاانہوں نے بھی مسلمانوں کے جانے کے بعد عربی کو ذریعہ تعلیم بنایا تھا ؟ یقینا نہیں۔ انہوں نے تو عربی لباس ، عربی زبان اور عربی ثقافت کا قلع قمع کرنے کی بھرپور کوشش کی، جس میں وہ پوری طرح کامیاب بھی رہے۔ انہوں نے تو مسلمانوں کا علمی زخیرہ تک جلا کر خاکستر کردیاتھا، وہ تمام کتابیں جو عربی زبان میں تھیں چاہے وو مذہبی ہوں یا نہ ہوں صفحہ ہستی سے مٹا ڈالی تھیں۔ اسکے باوجود آج انکا شمار ترقی یافتہ ممالک میں کیا جاتا ہے۔
بابائے قوم محمد علی جناح یقینا ً فر فر انگریزی بولتے تھے لیکن اردو کو قومی اور سرکاری زبان بنانے والے بھی وہ ہی تھے۔ اگر وہ اردو کی اہمیت نہ جانتے ہوتے تو ایسا کبھی نہ کرتے۔ اردو وہ زبان ہے جو پاکستان کے مختلف علاقوں میں بسنے والے اور مختلف زبان بولنے والوں مختلف علاقائی ثقافت رکھنے والوں کو آپس میں جوڑتی ہے۔ اردو جو کہ عربی ، فارسی، ہندی اور کئی زبانوں کا مجموعہ ہے اپنے دامن میں ان سب زبانوں میں موجود علم کو سمیٹے ہوئے ہے اور مزید زبانوں اور ان میں موجود علوم کو خود میں ضم کرنے کی بھر پور صلاحیت رکھتی ہے۔ اس وجہ سے اسکو بولنا اور سیکھنا نہایت آسان ہے۔ اسکا رسم الخط بھی عربی پر مشتمل ہے جس سے ایک ایسا شخص بھی واقف ہوتا ہے جو کبھی اسکول ہی نہ گیا ہو کیونکہ ناظرہ قرآن کی تعلیم ہر شخص ہی حاصل کرتا ہے۔ اردو کی بدولت قرآنی عربی سمجھنا اور آیات کے معنی اور مفہوم سمجھنا انتہائی آسان ہو جاتا ہے۔
مضمون نگار خود ذہنی طور پر الجھن کا شکار ہیں اور واضح نہیں کر پارہے کہ کہنا کیا چاھتے ہیں۔ کبھی وہ انگریزی کو ہماری ترقی کا ذریعہ ثابت کرنے کی کوشش کرتے ہیں اور بعد میں خود ہی لکھتے ہیں کہ ہماری زبوں حالی کی وجہ قدامت پرستی اور بنیاد پرستی ہے زبان نہیں۔ خود ہی فرماتے ہیں کہ ترقی یافتہ ممالک میں “قومی زبان” کے ساتھ ساتھ ایک دوسری زبان بھی پڑھائی جاتی ہے لیکن جناب یہاں یہ چاہتے ہیں کہ دوسری زبان کے ساتھ ساتھ قومی زبان بھی پڑھا دی جائے، کیا کریں قومی زبان جو ٹھہری۔ جہاں تک بات ڈارون کی ہے تو اس پر تفصیل سے آئندہ کبھی لکھوں گا۔ دنیا بھر میں جو لوگ بھی خدا پر ایمان رکھتے ہیں چاہے وہ کسی بھی مذہب سے تعلق رکھتے ہوں انسانی ارتقاء کے نظریے کی مخالفت کر تے ہیں۔ اس نظریے کی شدت سے حمایت صرف دہریے ہی کرتے ہیں۔ اسکی وجہ صرف یہ ہے کہ اس نظریے کے ذریعے وہ خدا کے وجود کو رد کرنے کی ناکام کوشش کرتے ہیں۔ محترم، اگرآپ صرف نظریہء ارتقاء کو ہی سائنس سمجھتے ہیں اور انگریزی کو سائنس کی زبان سمجھتے ہیں تو آپ سائنس کے حوالے سے انتہائی سطحی معلومات رکھتے ہیں۔ یہ انتہائی غیر منطقی بات ہے کہ سائنس کو کسی ایک زبان کے ساتھ جوڑ دیا جائے۔ انگریزی صرف اور صرف ایک زبان ہے جس کا ہماری ترقی یا تننرلی سے کوئی تعلق نہیں ہے۔
میں خود ایک استا د ہوں اور یہ بات جانتا ہوں کہ طالب علموں کو انگریزی کی با نسبت اردو میں سمجھانا نہایت آسان ہوتا ہے۔ اپنی زبان میں جو فہم ایک استاد اپنے طلباء کو دے سکتاہے وہ کسی اجنبی زبان میں ممکن ہی نہیں ہے۔ سائنس کو سیکھنے اور سمجھنے کے لیے انگریزی کی کوئی ضرورت نہیں ہے اگر ضرورت ہے تو اس امر کی ہے کہ تعلیمی اداروں اور تعلیم سے وابستہ اساتذہ اور محکمہء تعلیم سے وابستہ افسران اور ماہرین تعلیم کا معیار جانچا جائے اور انہیں بہتر کیا جائے۔ تعلیمی پالیسیاں اس طرح تیار کی جائیں کے کارگر ثابت ہوں اور بجٹ میں تعلیم کے لیے ایک خطیر رقم مختص کی جائے اور نصاب کی ایک مقررہ وقت پر تدوین کی جائے اور اس پر نظر ثانی کی جائے اور اسے بین الاقوامی معیا ر سے ہم آہنگ کیا جائے۔ انگریزی کو محض ایک زبان کہ طور پر پڑھا یا جائے۔ اگر یہ اقدامات خلوص نیت کے ساتھ اٹھالیے گئے تو ہمیں ترقی کرنے سے کوئی نہیں روک سکتا ہے۔
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Opinion: Why Pakistan should recognize Israel
Note from Farman Nawaz: I did not mention Israel in my original article.
By NOMAN SAJJAD \ 11/11/2015
“We can no longer blame the US, India and Israel for anything and everything that happens in our country,” writer from Pakistan states. (http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/14907/stop-blaming-the-us-and-india-for-our-problems/)
Sometimes it becomes inexorable and practical to change the paradigms, let the past stay in the past and forget about historical incidents in order to open doors that lead to peace, prosperity and harmony.
History documents that Pakistan and Israel are never directly involved in hostility or disputes with each other. However, in showing solidarity with Arab countries and in support of Palestine, Pakistan has categorically refused to recognize Israel as an independent state since its inception. Our history books and widespread stereotypes have played a major role in filling our hearts and minds with hatred against Israel.
Considering the cost-benefit analysis and without abandoning support for the Palestinians here are some of the reasons to accord recognition to Israel:
1. To promote regional peace, foster inter-ethnic and interfaith harmony with understanding.
2. The strategic location of Pakistan and geographical location of Israel can definitely complement one another well.
3. To lessen the pressure of difficult neighbors. Such an increase in the list of allies can do wonders.
4. To better Pakistan’s image as a friendly and moderate Islamic state.
5. To boost the economy by building trade relations, importing foodstuffs, cotton, etc., since Israel offers a huge market, and benefiting with the Israeli export of military and agricultural technology.
6. To put an end to hypocrisy, because after devastating wars with India and with the Kashmir issue still unsettled even after scores of years, India was not only accepted as a state but voted a “most favored nation.” On the other side, Pakistan buys ammunition from Israel, lets Israeli products dominate its market and yet is hesitant to accept Israel as free state. (Robert Fisk highlights the arm deals in between Pakistan and Israel in his book The Great War for Civilization.) 7. Pakistan-Israel ties could be an advantageous move as Israel has great influence with the United States and India.
8. Opening academic and cultural exchange opportunities for students.
9. Allowing Muslim and Christian Pakistanis to visit their holy places in Israel.
10. Jews, Muslims and Christians share some commonalities in their faith, which can definitely promote interfaith harmony.
11. By establishing ties Pakistan can influence Israel with regard to resolving the Kashmir issue and can possibly play a part in normalizing relations between Palestine and Israel.
12. Lastly, policies are not decoration pieces. They are meant to change with the growing needs and for the protection of national interests and national security.
Pakistan has not accorded Israel recognition since its inception due to the Palestine issue, and fears that India-Israel connections are working against its security, ultimately affecting the sub-continental balance of power. However, there is dire need to wash out all the stereotypes which have existed in our belief system since our inception.
Firstly, we need to realize that it is not about Jews vs Muslims. It is more Israel vs Palestine, mainly over land disputes. There are nearly 400,000 Palestinian Christians among the sufferers in disputed lands.
Secondly, we can no longer blame the US, India and Israel for anything and everything that happens in our country.
Thirdly, Arab countries enjoy good relations with Israel. Even Turkey – one of our supporters – has good diplomatic relations with Israel. Furthermore, Pakistan extended its full support to some of the Arab countries against Israel, but Pakistan was hardly backed by Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and many other Muslim leaders when Pakistan was in need of support.
Rationally, is there any reason not to have diplomatic relations with Israel? The need of the hour is to realize that Israel didn’t vanish from the map because Pakistan decided not to recognize it. On the other hand, Pakistan is getting nothing out of this rigid stance.
Our own country is riddled with humongous problems and disputes that need to be addressed before we point fingers at Israel’s intrusion into Palestinian land.
Pakistan must not only reassess the realities on the ground, but needs to readjust its diplomatic stance. Logical reasoning, a rational attitude and political maturity need to replace the emotional stance, aggressive slogans and baseless rhetoric. Making such changes democratically will be an uphill task, because foreign policy cannot be formed without consideration for public opinion. Education and balanced media can play major role in deeper understanding of such sensitive issues, issues that should be discussed in parliament, not in roadside restaurants and streets corners.
The author is from Pakistan, and works as a program assistant in the peace-building department of the Diocese of Raiwind-Church of Pakistan.