Thursday, August 7, 2014
The apathetic regional and international response to ISIS is mysterious and alarmingThe rise of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) – now grandiosely renamed simply the Islamic State and declared a "caliphate" – raises a series of the most perplexing questions to have emerged in the Middle East in recent decades. At least as extreme as the most radical incarnations of Al Qaeda, this Salafist-jihadist group now controls a swath of territory approximately the size of Belgium across northeastern Syria and western Iraq. In the process, they have gained control of several key oil installations and major cities, including Mosul. Worse, their expansion appears virtually unchecked, and every setback they suffer seems offset by a new advance. But who, exactly, are they? It's not a question of identifying the individual local and foreign fighters who have been drawn into their midst. The real question that is so pressing, yet few are asking, and even fewer trying to answer, is: who is backing this group? It's true that ISIS has effectively functioned as a well-oiled crime syndicate for many years. But it's hard to imagine that foreign backing – private if not governmental – hasn't been a key factor in their ascendance. It might be argued that at this stage ISIS has achieved financial independence, given the resources they have commandeered, especially in petroleum. But it doesn't explain how they got to this stage in the first place, and who helped them do that and why. Anyone who believes that backing ISIS was a radical but either necessary or clever idea is bound to rue the day, if they haven't yet. In Syria, they charged, in effect, to the rescue of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, and are one of the most important factors keeping him in power in those parts of the country he most values. After all, if the choice is between the rule of a monstrous gang of lunatics who smash Sunni mosques and shrines, as well as those of other faiths and denominations and ancient artifacts; chase religious minorities out of the areas under their control; impose the most misogynistic and draconian restrictions against women; and enforce barbaric systems of "justice," on the one hand, versus a vicious but well-understood mafia regime, the latter suddenly looks less intolerable. In Iraq, anyone who thought using the black banner of ISIS to terrify Shiites and others was a brilliant strategy to get rid of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and reassert Sunni prerogatives in their own areas made a criminal mistake. Maliki will probably go, but given the behavior of ISIS in Mosul and elsewhere, two key illusions must have been shattered: first, that they are simply a front for many other groups who will dispose of them when they have achieved their aims, and second that their presence is an overall benefit for the Sunni cause in Iraq. In fact, they are quite out of control and are a catastrophe, as all the people under their rule are quickly discovering. The landscape of history is littered with monsters whose creators hoped they would do some small service and go away, but who ultimately proved more dangerous to their authors than anyone else. Who those authors are, precisely, isn't clear. Syria and Iran have clearly benefited from ISIS's rise, but in the long run the group does pose a major threat to them. As for most of the Arab states and the state system, ISIS is a terminal cancer. It is starting to intrude into Lebanon and possibly Jordan. It lurks on the borders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. As Arab state disintegration and systemic failure continues to metastasize, ISIS and similar groups are a mortal peril. They not only bring death and destruction, mayhem and chaos, and the worst kind of vicious obscurantist rule imaginable, they threaten to replace the existing state system with substate actors that are autonomous criminal gangs ruling over little fiefdoms – the Hezbollah and Hamas model writ large and spreading fast, but in a much more savage and extreme form. The Arab world has entered into a growing phase of terrorist warlordism. It's a calamity hitherto unimaginable. And, of course, it's a major threat to countries beyond the region, as well. ISIS has attracted countless foreign fighters, fanatical Muslims or converts from around the world, who have gathered in Syria and Iraq only to become even further radicalized, and worse, battle-trained and hardened. They can easily return to their home countries primed for mayhem, even though ISIS shows no interest at present in international terrorism. Instead, they have decided to seize and control territory and create their own de facto state. If anything, that's even more terrifying. And, in time and if they can consolidate their rule in those areas, international terrorism is potentially a logical move for them. Even if it isn't, there's nothing to prevent their protégés from turning to it. So the deepest question is: why isn't anybody doing anything serious about this mind-boggling peril? At present only Kurdish fighters, with some Iraqi government support, are really taking on ISIS on the ground. They don't appear to be receiving much international or regional support. The Arab states purport to be alarmed, but in practice their response to the creation of the ISIS mini-, petro- and terrorist-state in their midst has been a shrug of the shoulders. If that's unfair, it is at least undeniable they haven't mobilized quickly to take action. The latest ISIS advance apparently left them in control of Iraq's largest dam, with the ability to flood major cities, potentially including Baghdad. Meanwhile Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities flee for their lives. Tsk, tsk. Ho-hum. Oh well. The international community appears equally inexplicably sanguine. The latest American response to ISIS is to order American air carriers to fly over 30,000 feet if they're crossing Iraqi airspace. That'll learn 'em! ISIS's successes are completely disproportionate to their size: an estimated 8,000-20,000 fighters in Iraq, as opposed to at least 30,000 other Iraqi Sunni insurgents, not to mention the Iraqi army (such as it is) or Kurdish guerrillas. This is simply not an overwhelming force. It may be driven, fanatical and well-organized, as well as well-funded whether from crime or foreign backers, but if it were confronted by a serious armed response it could certainly be broken. The biggest question now, therefore, is: why is no one, either regionally or internationally, moving to do that? Is everyone – or anyone, for that matter – content with the growing power of ISIS? Do governments really believe there is nothing to be done? Don't they understand that they could be next, in one way or another? Perhaps even more mysterious than the genesis and support-base of ISIS is the lackadaisical response to it. It's as if no one is really all that bothered by it in practice, no matter what they say. And that might be the scariest thing of all. Will a small but determined and well-organized band of crazed terrorists really be allowed to reshape the Arab world largely unopposed? Because that's exactly what's happening now.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to confirm a report published by The New York Times Thursday that said U.S. President Barack Obama is considering airstrikes and emergency relief airdrops to help 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who are trapped on a mountaintop after death threats by Islamic militants. "The situation is nearing a humanitarian catastrophe," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "We are gravely concerned for their health and safety." The White House called the dire humanitarian situation in Iraq a consequence of a broader failure of Iraqi political leaders. "There are no American military solutions to the problems in Iraq," Earnest told reporters during the midday briefing, adding that there would be no American boots on the ground. Solutions to the humanitarian crisis near Sinjar "will only come through political reforms in Iraq," Earnest said. Assault on minorities While the White House did not publicly outline the range of options under consideration, officials said the U.S. strongly condemns the extremists' assault on minorities, including the Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, and Christians. The urgency for action comes as Sunni extremists have made major gains in Iraq's north. The extremists took over the Kurdish town of Sinjar, forcing its population of Yazidi minorities to flee with little food or water. Obama huddled with his national security team Thursday morning to discuss the crisis in Iraq's north. Among the most pressing concerns is the plight of the Yazidis, who fled the Kurdish town of Sinjar in recent days. Thousands fled their homes for the mountains after the Islamic State group issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death. If Obama were to approve humanitarian assistance to the Yazidis and others, it could be delivered via airdrops by the U.S. military. The military could also advise and assist the Iraqi air force on where and how to deliver humanitarian relief supplies. Earnest said any U.S. military action would be limited in scope. A defense official told the VOA: "We have been working urgently and directly with officials in Baghdad and Irbil to coordinate Iraqi airdrops to people in need. The government of Iraq has initiated air drops in the region and we are in constant communication with them on how we can help coordinate additional relief, enhance their efforts, and provide direct assistance wherever possible." Militants gain ground The Islamic State's Sunni militants, an offshoot of al-Qaida who have swept across northwestern Iraq in recent weeks, have come within a 30-minute drive of the Kurdish capital of Irbil. The militants inflicted a humiliating defeat on Kurdish forces over the weekend, prompting tens of thousands from the ancient Yazidi community to flee the town of Sinjar for surrounding mountains. Some of the many thousands trapped on Sinjar mountain have been rescued in the past 24 hours, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier, adding that 200,000 had fled the fighting. The Islamist fighters, who have killed many thousands and declared a caliphate in the area they conquered, are threatening the northern Iraq region of Kurdistan, previously considered a bastion of stability in a country ravaged by conflict. The Kurds have made urgent appeals to Washington for arms or other military help, but the United States, committed to helping Baghdad restore a unified state and wary of Kurdish moves toward independence, have so far declined. However, there have been signs the Obama administration may be shifting its position. U.S. aid to Kurdistan Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for Obama's National Security Council, told Reuters on Wednesday that any provision of U.S. weapons to the Kurds “must be coordinated with central government authorities, in Iraq and elsewhere.” But she added that given the threat from the Islamic State “the United States will continue to engage with Baghdad and Irbil to enhance cooperation on the security front and other issues. We are in continuous consultation with the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to determine how they can best coordinate” to confront the militants. She said Washington fully supported a decision earlier this week by Baghdad to send air support to Kurdistan. Yazidi population Just a week ago, Yazidis living in their ancient homeland of Sinjar in northern Iraq felt protected by Kurdish peshmerga forces. Followers of an ancient religion derived from Zoroastrianism, the Yazidis are themselves Kurds. The peshmerga - “those who confront death” - had acquired reputations as fierce warriors who once took on Saddam Hussein's troops. But they gave way before the Sunni militants, who had seized tanks and armored personnel carriers from the Iraqi military when they swept through the north in June. Iraq's U.S.-trained and funded army crumbled, leaving the Kurds and Shi'ite militias to fight back against Sunni militants, who were gaining momentum after launching a weekend offensive. The Yazidis appear to be paying the heaviest humanitarian price for the ambitions of the Islamic State. “Most of the families were stopped by Islamic State militants while they were leaving and the militants killed men. Some were beheaded,” said Abu Ali, 38, who was hiding with tens of thousands of others on Sinjar Mountain. “One of the saddest stories was one of our relatives. They beheaded all his 15 family members in front of him and then took him with them.” Yazidi women were hauled away for forced marriages, or perhaps slavery, as in other towns. “Some were taken to Syria,” Abu Ali said. Many of Yazidi villages were destroyed years earlier when Saddam Hussein's troops tried to crush the Kurds. Some were abducted by his security agents. Now they are on the defensive again. Witnesses reached by telephone said about 100 babies died from thirst in mountains infested by snakes and scorpions. But coming down from the mountains and returning to Sinjar is a risky option. Minorities forced to conform In other places they have captured, Islamic State militants have imposed their radical view of Islam - women must wear a full-face veil, Shi'ite mosques must be dynamited, “infidels” eliminated. Minorities have little chance of surviving unless they conform. Nareen Shammo, a Yazidi activist, said families who stayed behind in Sinjar were forced to convert to Islam. “Five hundred women were kidnapped. Some of them were sold in an auction at low prices and others were forced to marry militants,” Shammo said. Amnesty International said panic was gripping northern Iraq. “Many members of minorities are even fleeing areas where there seems to be no imminent danger of an ISIS attack as they are so traumatized by their recent displacement,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser, who is currently in northern Iraq.
The head of the Kurdish security police in northeast Syria, Ciwan Ibrahim, said that his security forces are willing to cooperate with Turkey if it ends its support for radical jihadist groups.In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Ibrahim accused Turkey of continuing to support jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (IS), which is in the throes of a major and vicious assault against Kurdish populations in Syria and Iraq. The Kurdish security police, known as Asayish in Kurdish, operates in Syrian Kurdish cities to combat crime and terrorism. Amid the turmoil of Syria’s civil war, the Kurds established their own autonomous system and security apparatus in northeastern Syria in January. The Asayish is seen as being affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), although Ibrahim denied any link to any political party. Relations between the Syrian Kurds, steered by the PYD, and Turkey have been hostile, fueling repeated accusations from the PYD and the Asayish that the Erdogan government is supporting the radical IS, which is currently besieging the Kurdish enclave of Kobani and massacring Kurdish Yazidis in Iraq. Ibrahim also accused the Syrian government of backing IS to prevent the Kurds from achieving autonomy in northeast Syria. “Ali Mamlouk, the head of the intelligence, is responsible for all IS attacks in the Kurdish region,” he said. The Asayish head rebutted claims that the Kurds sought independence from Syria, stating that they only seek to be part of Syria where all their rights are respected. Speaking on the fight against IS, Ibrahim urged Western powers to provide technology to his forces to help beat IS. “If they would support us some way with technology, we would not have this problem.” The text of the interview follows: Al-Monitor: There have been media reports that Turkey is backing jihadist groups, such as IS and Jabhat al-Nusra. Do you agree with these reports? Ibrahim: Ankara supports radical groups. Near the border with Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan], a refugee camp is used as a training camp for jihadist fighters. They also support them with medicine and treat wounded jihadist fighters in their hospitals. Ankara does not control the border's security and allows Islamist groups to operate under the name Free Syrian Army, Islamic Front or IS. These groups are collaborating together in the Jazeera area against the Kurds to destroy the region. Al-Monitor: Why would Turkey support IS? Are they not a threat to Turkey? Ibrahim: The Turkish government is afraid of Rojava because of the new self-rule system here. Turkey does not want to happen here what happened in northern Iraq. If Turkey did not support people fighting our revolution, we would not have any problems with having ties with Turkey. They always say that we are the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party], but we are not the PKK. Al-Monitor: Do you think ties with Turkey could improve in the future? Ibrahim: If Turkey changes its behavior regarding its support for radical groups, then we don’t have any problems with the government of Turkey, or the people of Turkey. Al-Monitor: Do you have any relations with your counterparts in Iraqi Kurdistan? Ibrahim: Officially, we have relations with the Asayish of the PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan]. We have good connections with the people in Bashur [Iraqi Kurdistan]. But we do not have any relations with the Asayish of the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP]. The KDP sides with Turkey, and they are an enemy of the Rojava revolution. We want to have a good relationship with the KDP, and the Asayish in Erbil and Dahuk, but they are taking Turkey’s side. Al-Monitor: There are accusations that the Syrian government has also supported IS. In June, Syrian Kurdish politician Abdullah Ahmad Qirtimini was assassinated and his son blamed it on the government. What do you think of these accusations? Ibrahim: The main security risks for us are the regime and IS. I can assure you 100% that there is a connection between the Syrian regime and IS. So far, the regime has not attacked IS bases because IS is fighting Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army. Al-Monitor: Is it just IS fighting the Kurds in the Hasakah region, or are there other groups as well? Ibrahim: Here in the Cizire canton [Kurdish for Hasakah province], IS and other groups have united to fight the Kurds. They are afraid of the Kurds and say the Kurds want their own country and want a piece from Syria. But the truth is that the Kurdish movement just wants the rights of Kurds. This whole situation is created by the Syrian intelligence. Ali Mamlouk united every group that did not accept Kurdish rights. They’ve turned the opposition into just IS. They want IS to fight Arabs who are not with the regime. Ali Mamlouk, the head of the intelligence, is responsible for all IS attacks in the Kurdish region. Damascus has failed in its attempt to unite all radical groups against the Kurds. Al-Monitor: Do you have problems with the Arab tribes in Hasakah province? Ibrahim: In Tirbespiyeh [Al-Qahtaniyah], some Arab tribes brought by the regime in the late 1960s and 1970s, and that are supporting IS, are trying to create problems. There are IS sleeper cells. Mohammed Fares’ tribe [the pro-government Tay tribe] can become an IS partner in the future and create problems in the region. The Arabs don’t mind who the ally is, they just want to fight the Kurds. In Sweidiah village, near Rumeilan, there are connections between the local Arab population and radical groups. Al-Monitor: Does that mean you have problems with Arabs? Ibrahim: We have a future to live all together. Our problem is the al-Qaeda ideology that came here and brought terror. It’s not an ethnic problem. Some Arabs accept the new Kurdish system, and some Kurds work with IS. We do not want independence from Damascus, we want to be a part of Syria, with all our rights. Al-Monitor: The West has not supported your struggle against jihadist groups. How has that hindered your fight? Ibrahim: If you fight terrorism, you need support, like from the West. They had explosions in London and Madrid. We need Europe and the United States to support us with technology. Detectors and explosive deactivators are needed to fight IS. If they would support us in some way with technology, we would not have this problem. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/syria-kurd-pyd-asayish-isis-turkey-islamic-state.html##ixzz39jSO8lC0
Sunni Muslim extremists punctured Kurdish defenses in a major offensive in northern Iraq on Thursday, seizing control of the country’s largest Christian town and sending thousands of civilians fleeing in panic. Kurdish officials pleaded for international assistance as they appeared to be losing control of the 650-mile border between their semiautonomous region and territory controlled by Sunni extremist militants belonging to the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda splinter group. The Kurdish forces were forced to pull out of the towns of Qaraqosh, Bartella and Bashika overnight, putting militants within 40 miles of the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, the officials said. The Kurds’ reverses have compounded an already desperate humanitarian situation, and have left Iraq’s religious minorities particularly vulnerable. Iraqi politicians have appealed for emergency aid for thousands of civilians who have been stranded with little food on a mountaintop since they were driven from another town, Sinjar, by the al-Qaeda-inspired rebels several days ago. Most of those refugees are members of the minority Yazidi sect. They fear death if they descend into areas controlled by the extremist rebels, who consider them apostates. At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest on Thursday declined to confirm a New York Times report that the Obama administration is considering food-drops or airstrikes to aid the Yazidis. Earnest called the situation “barbaric and disgusting” and said President Obama had been briefed by his national security advisers on the “dire humanitarian situation.”
A delay in picking a president could have enormous ramifications for Afghanistan’s security.Hamid Karzai, who has remained Afghanistan’s president while the election results are being sorted out, has left to his successor the decision of whether to sign two security accords that would provide the legal basis for American and other NATO troops to remain after 2014. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the two political opponents who squared off in the June runoff, have each made it clear that they would sign the accords. But because of the infighting over the ballot recount procedures, only 2,400 of the nation’s 23,000 ballot boxes have so far been audited. Mr. Kerry plans to meet with Mr. Ghani, Mr. Abdullah and with Jan Kubis, the senior United Nations official here, on Thursday night. Mr. Kerry is also scheduled to see Mr. Karzai and to hold follow-up meetings before leaving on Friday for a conference of Asian nations in Myanmar. During his previous visit to Kabul last month, Mr. Kerry brokered a deal that called for all eight million votes cast in the runoff election to be audited under international supervision. The agreement also outlined a power-sharing arrangement in which the loser of the election, or a representative of his choice, would serve under the president as the government’s chief executive officer. After a loya jirga, or grand council, is held in two years, the chief executive post would be elevated to that of an executive prime minister, under the plan. Posts in the major security and economic ministries would be shared equally between the two sides. The one-page agreement has not yet been signed by the candidates or formally made public. And since the agreement was announced, the understanding has begun to fray. Aides to Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah have argued about the procedures for invalidating fraudulent ballots. With the outcome of the election still uncertain, and each side’s political patronage networks at stake, the candidates have been reluctant to complete the power-sharing arrangements. The senior State Department official asserted that the two sides had recently begun to work more collaboratively. But he acknowledged that Mr. Kerry would press them to reaffirm their commitment to the agreement with an eye to meeting the NATO summit deadline. “What is most important right now is not whether it is signed or not,” the official said of the agreement, “but really whether both sides demonstrate that they continue to be committed to it, that they are not walking back from the commitments.” “We need to continue to help to accelerate it,” he added. Mr. Kerry’s visit follows the shooting death on Tuesday of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene during a so-called insider attack by an Afghan soldier at Afghanistan’s premier military academy near Kabul. Fifteen people were shot before Afghan troops rushed in and killed the soldier, who was identified on Wednesday as Rafiullah, from the Jani Khel district of Paktika Province.
The singer posted a FaceTime screenshot with the 17-year-old education activist to his Instagram page Wednesday night.She's an international champion for girls' education rights who overcame a harrowing attack from Taliban forces in Pakistan. He's a Canadian pop star with hits like "Baby," a legion of young fans and several run-ins with the law. Justin Bieber is apparently aiming high in his efforts to woo yet another girl. The singer posted a photo of himself using FaceTime to video chat with activist Malala Yousafzai. "She has such an incredible story," Bieber, 20, wrote on Instagram Wednesday. "I can't wait to meet her in person and talk about how I can support her and the@malalafund. #love" The pop star didn't give any more indication into how he got to chat with Yousafzai, 17, or what the pair will be partnering on, but his apparent interest in global affairs comes on the heels of another petty scandal involving the "Boyfriend" singer. Just last week Bieber was embroiled in an alleged scuffle with actor Orlando Bloom, over charges that he'd been romantic with Bloom's ex-wife, model Miranda Kerr. The "All That Matters" singer delivered Bloom a low blow when he posted photos of Kerr, 31, to his Instagram — and posted a photo of Bloom apparently crying. Both photos have since been taken down. Yousafzai, on the other hand, has been busy promoting her cause — sending girls to school all over the world through the Malala Fund — most recently in light of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls and Africa Summit. Read more at http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/justin-bieber-facetimes-malala-yousafzai-article-1.1894981?cid=radiumOne#oiaTqdUJEXfl0Ix8.99
Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, has claimed that Sharif family has planned to flee to US from Pakistan and presented proof in the media today. He said that Sharif Family is trying to escape from the country adding that visa applications for servants on the Government letter head have been submitted in US embassy. Talking to press conference in Model Town Lahore, Dr. Qadri said that Saudi Arabia has refused visa to Sharif family. The PAT Chief informed that Hamza Shahbaz has submitted applications in US embassy on July 15 for the visa of their four servants, while embassy has fixed August 18 as date for interview. He said that they requested the embassy via foreign office for early interview. He said Sharif family would not get refuge in any country of the world. Qadri affirmed that he would not leave Pakistan without bringing about what he called ‘revolution’ in the country. He said that he has come to the protest to end politics of money, bluff and rigging adding that he will not leave the country without bring out revolution in the country. “I’m here to forge rule of law, the rule of God and to eliminate corruption and rigging and for the accountability of looters…No matter the government is planning to put me on the ECL, I assure you that I’m not going anywhere,” he said. He claimed that Sharif family is preparing to flee along with their family servants. Reading out numbers of the applications before media, Qadri claimed that the visa applications has been filed to US embassy. He said that the crackdown on PAT workers demonstrates that the government has admitted its ‘psychological defeat’. “Police and other state institutions are being used by the government for its heinous designs. The PAT has announced to observe Yaum-e-Shuhada (Day of Martyrs) on August 10 to pay tribute to those martyred in Model Town of Lahore in June. On the other hand, police have arrested dozens of political activists as the PML-N government braces for two major political protests in the next week. PTI is also set to hold a massive protest on August 14, led by Imran Khan. He has also called for the government to resign and plans to lead a motorcade from Lahore into the capital of Islamabad.
By Brig Anil Gupta A sensational story published last week in Daily Mail, UK revealed the ideological goal of Al-Qaeda as Ghazwa-e-Hind, or the final battle in India. It also quoted intelligence agencies to say that the terror network is making inroads into India, “sowing the seeds of a final war across the country”. It further stated “not only Kashmir groups but Taliban and Al-Qaeda groups have stakes in the larger scheme of Ghazwa-e-Hind where India is regarded as next battleground in the ‘End of Times’ battle.” This ideology is likely to be used to drive Taliban and Al-Qaeda affiliates into Kashmir. What is this ideology? What does ‘Hind’ mean? Ghazwa-e-Hind Ghazwa-e-Hind is a prophesied battle in which Muslim armies would invade the Indian subcontinent and would be victorious and establish Islamic law in the subcontinent. Flag the word Indian subcontinent. Hind does not mean only India but includes Pakistan as well. But anti-Indian Muslims in Pakistan have spin-doctored the ideology to mislead the community and create a hatred for India. This school of thought is also promoted by the Pakistani Army because it suits its ambition of subverting the supremacy of the elected government. As per them, “the concept of Khilafat, armies of greater Khorasan led by Pakistan and invasion and capturing of India in the end times, is a mainstream Islamic concept. It would reshape the geopolitics of the present and future world.’ Note how cleverly Hind (which included Pakistan as well) has been replaced by India. Syed Zaman, a jihadist-turned-religious scholar and mouthpiece of the Pakistani Army says: “The modern geopolitics supports this spiritual intelligence as well. India is betting itself with crusader Zionists of the West. History is a witness that it is the armies from Greater Khorasan which have always invaded and destroyed the myth of Hindu power. This will be done once again – for one final time led by the Pakistani Army.” Some Pakistanis led by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) harbour the idea of a “Greater Pakistan”. The envisioned map of Greater Pakistan and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’s Caliphate of Khorasan are almost mirror copies of each other. The idea draws inspiration from the doctrine of Ghazwa-e-Hind. Major parts of India and Afghanistan are included in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or the “Greater Pakistan.” Isn’t this a fantasy? Such fantasies and ideologies were needed to motivate and rejuvenate the Pakistani Army after it suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Indian Army in 1971. By no stretch of imagination Pakistan, even in its wildest dreams, can think to push across India like this. Such visions are fanatical but far removed from ground reality. What is the reality? The doctrine of Ghazwa-e-Hind is being used by terrorists, extremists and fundamentalists to incite hatred against India and give it a religious colour and justification. Buoyed by the unprecedented success achieved by ISIS in the recent months the international jihadi outfits want to expand the conflict zone in order to achieve their cherished dream of World Dominion of Caliphates. In mid- June this year Al-Qaeda released a video titled ‘War should continue, message to the Muslims of Kashmir.’ In this video Al-Qaeda called upon Muslims of Kashmir to follow the example of their brothers in Syria and Iraq and revolt against the authorities. It asked the Kashmiris to seek inspiration from the “new Afghanistan being created in Syria.” In the video Maulana Asim Umar, Al-Qaeda’s Pakistani propagandist, exhorted Muslims living in India and Pakistan as well as the two parts of Kashmir to join the global jihadi movement seeking to re-establish an Islamic Caliphate – as envisioned in Ghazwatulhind. The video promises a “caravan” of “heroic martyrs” coming from Afghanistan via Pakistan to “liberate Kashmir”. This was followed by the call made by the self-styled Khaliffah Ibrahim of Caliph of Islamic State at the beginning of the pious month of Ramzan. He called upon all believers to take up arms and terrify the enemies of Allah. Among the enemy countries he named both India and Pakistan. In another development, parts of northwest India and the whole of Pakistan were included in the Caliphate of Khorasan, in a map issued by the ISIS. In yet another development Syed Salahuddin, chairman of Pakistan-based United Jihad Council and Hizbul Mujahedeen supremo, has invited Al-Qaeda and Taliban and like- minded groups to extend a helping hand to “oppressed Kashmiris”. He announced “Jihad on the lines of ISIS in Iraq is the solution to Kashmir.” Are these actions a mere coincidence or ominous warnings to the rulers in India and Pakistan? Global Jihad The dark clouds of Jihad are hovering all over. The international terrorist outfits are shifting their focus towards the Indian subcontinent. ISIS has donned the role of premier international terrorist outfit. All others, including Al-Qaeda, appear to have accepted its supremacy. Pakistan’s ISI can go to any extent to harm India. It also appears to have joined the band wagon. Having failed to realise the dream of Greater Pakistan it is now trying to destabilise India and attack its basic core value of secularism through the so called Global Jihad. The concept of Ghazwa-e–Hind and the intent of Global Jihad is the same. Global Jihad is the campaign under which Islamist terrorist outfits are urging Muslims in India to wage war against their own country with the intention of turning it into an Islamic State. Their aim is to establish Islamist world supremacy. However, ISI is ignoring, to its own peril, the threat posed by the Islamist terrorist outfits to Pakistan as well. A network of militant Islamist groups stretches from the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf, and from the Hindu Kush to the Indian Ocean. For them anybody who does not subscribe to their interpretation of Islam is not a Muslim and needs to be killed. They have pronounced the regimes in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India as “oppressive.” Al-Qaeda is the most infamous of these groups. In a video released by Al-Qaeda in March 2012, its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Pakistanis to revolt against their government and military. He said: “O our brothers in Pakistan! O our people in Pakistan! This treacherous army and bribe-taking government have plundered your wealth. They have ruined your economy and destroyed your world as well as your hereafter. What then are you waiting for? Take a lead from your brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria who are standing up against oppression and oppressors with their bare chests exposed and offering sacrifices so that victory may be ordained for them.” Despite whatever the Pakistan Army may say, the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) is a close associate of Al-Qaeda. Jamat-e-Islami and its student wing are known to provide shelter to Al-Qaeda cadre in its urban centres. Radicalisation of rank and file in the Pakistan Army is also well known. There are hard line militant sympathisers among senior ranks in the army. The details about the arrest in June 2011 of Brig Ali Khan, a third generation soldier, are already in the public domain. He was linked to a banned terrorist organisation Hizb-ut-Tehrir (HUT) that rejects democracy and calls for the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate. Pakistan therefore can ill-afford to dismiss the threat to its existence from Islamist jihadi outfits. The battle cry of Ghazwa-e-Hind is being used by the terrorist outfits to motivate and indoctrinate their cadres. ISIS has evolved different strategy for different nations to fulfil its cherished dream of World Dominion of Caliphates. According to my hypothesis, which needs to be confirmed by the intelligence agencies, Al-Qaeda has been made responsible for waging jihad in the proposed Caliphate of Khorasan. The centre of gravity of this jihad is going to be Kashmir and would spread across the entire Indian subcontinent. Al-Qaeda to prove its relevance is going to use all resources at its disposal, including Taliban and its various factions, Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) and Indian Mujahedeen (IM). The latter would be used outside Kashmir while the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish would be used to support HM as well as IM. TTP supported by Uzbeks, Chechens and Uighurs would take care of Pakistan. Taliban would challenge the Afghan National Security Forces. The likely time of launch would coincide with the US drawdown in end 2014. There are enough indicators to support my hypothesis. It would be in the best interest of India and Pakistan to contain these terrorist outfits and prevent their free movement. If we do not fight the international terrorist outfits across the Durand line, we may have to then fight them across the Radcliffe line. A scenario both India and Pakistan would dread. Conclusion The concept of Caliphates does not recognise national boundaries. Pakistan has to realise that the Global jihad is as dangerous for her existence as it is for destabilising India. Ghazwa-e-Hind as prophesied includes the entire Indian subcontinent. Pakistan no longer can ignore the ominous signals. It is for both India and Pakistan to bury the hatchet and get ready to face the common enemy in the form of Islamist terror. Both countries need to evolve a joint mechanism to fight the growing menace. One sincerely hopes that reality would dawn on the Pakistani authorities to change their anti-India outlook lest they are determined to implode. For the Indian authorities it would be advisable to take China on board. China is not merely a threat but provides a lot of opportunities as well, particularly when Pakistan has hurt China also by supporting the Uighur Islamist militants and separatist movement in Xinjiang. China may be more than willing to rein in Pakistan if it decides to ignore this sane advice.
By Akhilesh Pillalamarri
Recent violence against the Ahmadi minority is part of a disturbing trend.While South Asian human rights discourse, including both Indian and Pakistani, is obsessed by the issue of Palestine, a cause that has little real relevance to the region, numerous violent incidents closer to home get scant attention, such as the violence in Xinjiang, China, just over the border from both India and Pakistan. Most disturbing, however, is the daily violence perpetuated against religious minorities in Pakistan. Much of this violence is perpetuated by mobs or terrorists against individuals accused of apostasy, blasphemy, or other charges that relate to defaming Islam. The Pakistani government lacks either the ability or the will to put a halt to this violence, and there is even speculation that some government forces are participating in these acts of violence themselves. Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority bears some of the brunt of this mob violence, in a trend that is getting worse. Ahmadis are members of the Ahmadiyya movement, which was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in British India. Ahmad claimed to be a prophet and the second coming of Jesus, a claim that is deemed heretical by mainstream Islam due to the belief that Muhammad was the final prophet. However, Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslim. The animosity towards Ahmadis took yet another deadly turn last week when a mob in the city of Gujranwala in Punjab province killed three Ahmadi individuals. The mob formed after an Ahmadi man, Aqib Salim, allegedly published a “blasphemous” Facebook picture in which a scantily clad woman and the Kaaba in Mecca appeared together. This angered a collection of 150 men who had left a mosque in the town after prayers. These individuals marched to a police station where they demanded the registration of a blasphemy case. However, while police officers negotiated with them, another mob began attacking and burning the houses of Ahmadis, none of whom were connected with Aqib Salim. The three Ahmadi individuals killed included a 55 year old woman and her two granddaughters, aged 7 years and 8 months respectively. Many individuals in the mob seem to have used the violence as an excuse to loot and plunder various valuables. While the police claimed to have calmed the mob as quickly as possible, other reports argue that the police did not intervene. This lends credence to the allegation that accusations of blasphemy are frequently being used by individuals to grab property and settle scores, often with the collusion of local authorities. However, underlying this is the fact that the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan has created a situation where opportunistic individuals or clerics can easily incite mobs against religious minorities. It implies that to an extent, an atmosphere of a lack of respect for non-Sunnis has taken hold among Pakistan’s Sunni majority. This is ironic, considering the fact that many prominent Pakistanis were Shia, including its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, as well as the Bhutto and Zardari families. Although Shias are a minority in Pakistan, Pakistani Shia are numerically the second or third largest Shia population in the world, after Iran and India. Ahmadis, however, fare much worse than Shias. For reasons primarily due to political opportunism, Pakistan declared Ahmadis non-Muslim in 1974, on the basis of their heretical belief in another prophet after Muhammad (Iran applies the same logic in its persecution of Baha’is, while ironically Sunni extremists argue that the Shia doctrine of 12 imams after Muhammad amounts to almost the same thing). This declaration took the form of a constitutional amendment and was widely supported by Muslim clerics. As such, it is unlikely it will be reversed anytime soon, although there is a debate as to whether Takfir, the act of declaring someone to be non-Muslim, is even permitted in Islam. Further discriminatory laws were introduced against Ahmadis in the 1980s, including those that forbade them from using Muslim greetings, calling themselves Muslim, or proselytizing. Four years ago, 86 Ahmadis were killed with impunity in coordinated attacks in Lahore when gunmen assaulted Ahmadi mosques. According to The New York Times, attacks against minorities have become the norm in Pakistan. This is largely due to the silence of society and governmental authorities. The problem lies in the fact that many Pakistanis, especially in rural areas, support an interpretation of Islam that allows blasphemers to be executed. Due to the perception among many that Ahmadis or Shias are blasphemers, many individual Pakistanis believe that they deserve death. This view is fueled by the influence of the conservative Deobandi interpretation of Islam and Saudi Arabia. It serves both the religious and political purposes of both groups, as well as many in the Pakistani government who fear non-Sunnis as a potential fifth column. According to a Pew Research Center study, 64 percent of Pakistanis support the death penalty for people who leave Islam. The Pakistani Penal Code declares that “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by an imputation, innuendo, or insulation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.” In such an atmosphere, it is unlikely that society will change its views on capital punishment for blasphemers soon or that blasphemy and apostasy laws will be removed from Pakistan’s criminal code. Even their modification is unlikely, after the assassination of several individuals calling for that. However, what is possible is strong state action that makes sure that all blasphemy cases are judicially tried and not by resolved by vigilante action. Furthermore, the government can ensure that only cases considered serious are tried and not every frivolous case that involves a Facebook post. However, it is unlikely that the government will do even this due to its lack of ability or will. This amounts to a depressing verdict for the future of minorities in Pakistan. At best, it is to be hoped that eventually the more tolerant Sufi-influenced Islamic traditions native to Pakistan will prevail as people grow tired of the endless violence that characterizes daily Pakistani life.
By Sadia Qasim Shah
“Pekhawar kho Pekhawar day kana” is a song, which speaks of a city bursting with life. Another song about Peshawar (pronounced as Pekhawar in Pashto), composed few years later, “Pa Pekhawar kay parhar ma jorhawa” speaks about the agony of a lover of Peshawar, who pleads that the bleeding city be spared when frequent terrorist attacks sucked life out of this city every other day.
Both these poems have been written by a sensitive soul, Fazle Subhan Abid.
Abid, only 46, is a soft spoken Pashto romantic poet. He writes about finer things in life like love and beauty but one topic which is recurrent in his poetry is Pekhawar. It is a symbol of a place for a Pukhtun, wherever he may be, to call his home.
Abid often speaks of love for Pakhtuns, their glorious past and Pakhtun luminaries in his poems but when he pens down his feelings about Pekhawar, he expresses his best. Abid hails from Dargai, Malakand yet the city of Peshawar is his beloved.Since Abid himself earned his living by working abroad, he also speaks for those labouring in Middle Eastern countries and other cities away from their homeland. Da Karachai da ranrhagano khaar kay wraka yara, Da khpalay kharhay kusay heray na khray … Ka Karachai pa ta wadana vi, wadana de vi, Zama da zrah Pekhawar ma herawa In this poem, Abid speaks for the Pakhtuns hailing from the rural parts of the province who work in Karachi, the city of lights. Peshawar, the beloved, calls for those lost in the city of lights and reminds them the dusty streets of their villages, which wait for their return. It is sad that the poet, who has written so much about life, is silently losing his fight against hepatitis C without complaining. “The peoples’ appreciation of my lyrics encourages me to live,” he says. Abid has been suffering from hepatitis for the last six years. His resembles that of great English romantic poet John Keats, whose life was also cut short by a disease (tuberculosis) and worsened by poverty. Abid feels that his poetry would survive him. He has stopped writing poetry because of ill-health. For the last seven months or so his condition has deteriorated. The treatment would cost him about Rs8 million but he has nothing except his talent and self-esteem. He could not get any medical help and quietly went through the agonies accompanied with this disease. His self-esteem is so high that he didn’t disclose his deteriorating condition and money problems even to his friends. In his famous poem “Pa Pekhawar kay parhar ma jorhawa”, he expresses how he suffers when Peshawar is bombed and destroyed. Now it seems if it is a case of unrequited love affair with Peshawar. He is victim of a bigger disease -- the apathy of the people of Peshawar and the provincial government. The provincial government is letting this flower whither away. It has done nothing so far to show that it values those, who become the voice of the city. Os ka da khkulo adagaanay staye Abida da ba loy tawan kaway Sanga ba wayem chay Pakhtun Shaer ye Chay day qalam raparedalay na day Yet Abid feels the compulsion of writing about the plight of Pakhtuns. Amid turmoil, he feels he can write about nothing but what he sees around him. He feels he owes it to the people of this land to write and tell the world the truth about Pakhtuns. It is ironic and somewhat sad that there are advocates, who want the provincial government to save a shabby house of Dilip Kumar in Peshawar city at whatever the cost may be. The last demand as price of the house was Rs80 million. Sadly, there is no voice to compel the government to save this precious soul, which always sings songs about Peshawar.
On Wednesday, Pakistan began to arrest a number of activists ahead of two protests that will call for the government to resign including a march planned for August 14 in Islamabad and organized by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) (Reuters). On Wednesday, Rana Mashhood Ahmad, the law minister for Punjab province, told Reuters that 32 supporters of the activist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri who had called for a separate protest on Sunday had been arrested. Ahmad stated: "We have received intelligence reports that Qadri's activists are collecting weapons and preparing barbed sticks to attack law enforcers." A Qadri spokesperson said 538 activists were arrested but did not provide names for the individuals. Anila Khawaja, a PTI activist, also stated that two PTI activists were arrested on Wednesday. According to a report Thursday in Dawn, the PTI has told its workers to besiege police stations and roads if police try to arrest them while cautioning them to remain unarmed (Dawn). The PTI's chapter president in Punjab province stated: "The government will see massive protest demonstrations across the province if police tried to stop protesters from using their democratic right." The government's actions ahead of the protests have also received criticism from opposition parties. On Thursday, Syed Khursheed Shah, the leader of the opposition and a member of the Pakistan' Peoples Party, warned that if certain actions were taken against the march, political leaders' names will be "included in the list of dictators" (Dawn). Shah also stated, ‘Please don't worry about the PTI long march as it is the constitutional right of any political party in the country."
The uncertainty engulfing Pakistan because of political instability sent the Karachi stock market 666.24 points down on Monday, a huge blow to an economy struggling to survive. Investment, both domestic and foreign, has dwindled due to terrorism and the energy crisis. With no let up in sight on both fronts, especially terrorism that is destroying Pakistan’s religious and cultural mores, political bickering over alleged rigging in the 2013 elections is likely to further erode whatever economic stability the country is aspiring to. According to the recently released UN Human Development Report 2014 titled, “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Enhancing Resilience”, Pakistan has retained 146th position in the category of low income countries. That explains the plight of ordinary citizens. In Pakistan, according to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) poverty survey, 58.7 million people are living in multidimensional poverty with 46 percent of the rural population and 18 percent of urban households falling below the poverty line. Political instability breeds uncertainty regarding continuity and the future economic policies of a country, with the result that investment and productivity wither. Civil unrest, strikes and demonstrations interfere with the normal operation of firms and markets, reduces hours worked and bottoms out growth. These circumstances are all the more necessary for the political leaders of the country to keep in mind when dealing with the issues confronting the country. In the last 13 years, Pakistan has experienced both war and political instability, including assassinations, bombings, sit-ins, demonstrations, violence and armed clashes. Pakistan’s political situation has never been satisfactory but over the last decade or so, or more precisely since the war on terrorism began, political volatility has grown manifold. Interestingly, the political and economic crises coincided with the restoration of democracy to make things more complicated for the leaders not mature enough to develop a synthesis for a new political order. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, one democratically elected government handed over power to another in the 2013 general elections. For a country ruled for 33 out of the 67 years of its existence by the military, it was a big achievement. For a country where politicians have been known to destroy each other’s power base rather ruthlessly and in connivance with the military, the completion of its tenure by the PPP-led government was no small feat, especially when terrorism is taken into account, which had almost shattered not only the economy but the social fabric of the country. The complexity of the political and economic situation has been completely ignored by politically immature figures such as Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri. The Azadi (independence) march and the Inqilab (revolution) march of both respectively, meant to derail the democratic process only to revive it later with a fresh mid-term election or with a new system are only muddying the water instead of helping to resolve problems. Political realism demands a process-based incremental development in the political and economic spheres, notwithstanding conflict arising from competing interests, as institutions strengthen and tough decisions are taken to overcome obstacles to progress. There is no substitute for patience in a country mired in misgovernance and corrupt practices. Claiming to wash out the rot that took 67 years to accumulate in 90 days, as Imran Khan is fond of claiming, is nothing but childish. Similarly, the call for revolution to change the system could be at best be described as Tahirul Qadri’s undelineated pipe dream. The ‘wait and see’ ‘friendly’ policy of opposition parties such as the PPP could be considered responsible for having given Imran and his like more political space to mount their challenge to the government. PML-N’s overtures to most of the opposition parties to manage the political crisis is a belated effort, nonetheless important. ‘Reconciliation’ may have found space in the political dictionary. However, its spirit has yet to be acquired. PML-N’s hubris, leading to political isolation, has resulted in fatal mistakes such as the handling of the Model Town incident. With all this in the background, an inclusive approach to political matters should be adopted, which could accommodate the reasonable demands of the opposition to maintain stability in the country.
Following the registration of FIR against Dr Tahirul Qadri, heavy contingents of police were deployed in Model Town while all roads leading to Minhajul Quran secretariat were sealed.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has said that Imran Khan and Dr .Tahir ul Qadri would soon emerged as a united force against the existing political setup. Addressing a press conference here Thursday, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, an ally of Dr. Tahirul Qadri, ruled out any chance of negotiations with the Pakistan-Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, saying “we are very much close to our destination.” “Civilian martial law exists in the country and there are no signs of democracy,” he said, claiming that the government would be no more by the end of August. Hussain further said Model Town of Lahore should be renamed as Jallianwala Town. FIR of Model Town tragedy has not yet been registered, he added.
A blast targeting a police van in Chaman area of Balochistan injured at least 11 people, including three policemen and a woman. According to sources, explosives were planted in a standing motorcycle at Chaman’s Mall road and went off as the police vehicle passed by. The injured were rushed to a hospital. Several vehicles were also damaged in the blast.