Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pashto Music - Fazal Malik Akif - Mastay Mangay

Saudi Arabia’s ‘blasphemy’ is worse than Charlie Hebdo’s

Blasphemy is in the news yet again, not that there is ever a point in time, when it isn’t, but this time we won’t talk about Pakistan.
On January 7th, two gunmen entered Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper, and shot dead 12 people. Before using their automatic weapons to fire 50 shots, they shouted Allahu Akbar making their intent clear;they were there to take revenge. To avenge the blasphemy Charlie Hebdo had committed by drawing caricatures of the Prophet.
While some cartoons may have been distasteful to some, but were they really something to kill people over?  If peace and tolerance is what all Muslims say Islam teaches, wouldn’t that fact be more believable if people actually showed these qualities at times like these?
Drawing a picture of the Prophet vs. brutally killing people in his very name. Which one of these do you think is worse?
If you look back in history, depiction of the Prophet’s face, contrary to popular belief, was accepted. Muslims themselves used to create paintings and manuscripts depicting the Prophet’s face completely.
It is not till around the 17th century that it was disallowed.  However, Shiites did not stop till much later. One example would be the paintings of the Buraq and the visit to heaven. (Miraj Nama, Biblio the que Nationale, Paris).
There are numerous other pictures available if one did a simple research. However, I cannot post any of them here, even just to corroborate what I am saying, for obvious reasons.
In fact an Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, popularly known for sponsoring a contest to draw cartoons about the Holocaust, displayed a depiction of the Prophet on their site till not so long ago.
But let’s put all that aside, and just concentrate on the fact that it is a complete no to make fun of religious figures or religion. Ok, fair enough. But shouldn’t one practice what they preach? Muslims make fun of other religions every single day. The Hindu Gods are routinely made jokes about. The statues and rituals that other religions hold dear are laughed at and ridiculed daily.
Any questions why the Bollywood movie ‘PK’ did so well in Pakistan?
Imagine what would happen if people of other religions were to start killing Muslims who made fun of their Gods and religion. From the fastest growing religion, it would be become the most dying one.
Even Saudi Arabia, a country that routinely and harshly deals with blasphemy, condemned the murder of the cartoonists.
Speaking of which, as we are on the topic of blasphemy and Saudi Arabia surprisingly condemning the murder of the catoonists, I should mention Raif Badawi.
Raif Badawi created a website called ‘Free Saudi Liberals.’ It was an online forum where people could discuss and debate about religion, secularism amongst other topics.
He was arrested by the Saudi ‘thought’ police and charged with insulting Islam.
Raif Badawi has been sentenced to 10 years in jail, 1,000 lashes, as well as a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyals. He is to be brutally and publicly flogged with 50 lashes every single Friday till the 1,000 are up. It matters not whether he heals fast enough, what kind of physical and mental pain he goes through, come rain or shine, but those 50 lashes will happen on the holy day of Friday.
The first session even took place on 9th of January 2015 and if reports are to be believed, he will not survive the next flogging. His lawyer, who was simply doing the job that a lawyer is taught to do, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail as well.
“How dare he do his job? How dare he insult the judiciary by placing a case that theydid not think right.” This really makes me wonder if the words ‘justice’ and ‘fair trial’ mean anything there.
Incredulously, all this for thinking differently from what was expected of him to think –and that too from a country that commits blasphemy itself on some level every day.
They routinely destroy historical monuments and holy Muslim sites and shrines. The Prophet’s daughter’s shrine was destroyed. The house of Khadijah is now a block of toilets. 
In 1804, they even tried to destroy the grave of the Prophet, but the outrage around the world stopped them. The Qasida al–Burda, an ode praising the Prophet inscribed on his tomb, was painted over.
The House of Mawalid (Bayt al-Mawlid) where the Prophet was born is going to be demolished so a huge royal palace (because one can never have enough of those) can be constructed on top of it.
A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr.
Many of the columns in Mecca itself – the Ottoman and Abbasid columns inscribed with names of the Prophet’s companions have been destroyed. The column where he started his journey to heaven has been demolished. If this is not a pure disrespect of the religion and the Prophet, I don’t know what is.
Dozens and dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have been bulldozed over to make malls and buildings.
Malcolm X visited Mecca in 1964 and said the city was as “as ancient as time itself,” and that the partly constructed extension to the Masjid Al Haram “will surpass the architectural beauty of India’s Taj Mahal."
If he could see it now, he would see an obnoxious parrot green version of Big Ben surrounded by hotels glowering over everyone. In another few years, he would see a donut, because the whole of the interior of the Sacred Mosque is to redone again, only to be replaced with a super duper modern donut-shaped building. Yes, a donut.
All this is not disrespectful but just thinking differently is?

Time to lift veil on Saudi Arabia’s hijacking of Islam

By Fintan O'Toole

Saudi Arabia has spent $100 billion in recent decades spreading an extremist ideology.

Imagine an attempt to ban the veneration of the Prophet Muhammad. Go further and imagine a plan to level his tomb in Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, dig up his remains and rebury them in a secret, unmarked grave. Go further again and imagine the actual, systematic destruction, in the early years of Islam, of the tombs of the major figures, including the prophet’s closest relatives.
What lunatic would even imagine going to these extreme lengths to provoke, insult and enrage Muslims? Well, the House of Saud, rulers of Saudi Arabia and guardians of the extremist ideology that fuels much of today’s Islamist terrorism, wouldn’t just imagine them. It does them.
In all the official rhetoric about freedom of speech in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, it is notable that there are two words that apparently must not be spoken: Saudi Arabia. Yet it is impossible to understand what is happening now without grasping the fact that the mentality of the killers is not a weird aberration. It is shaped by an official cult propagated by a government western states are anxious to appease at almost any cost. Saudi Arabia has spent about $100 billion in recent decades spreading an extremist ideology, a hybrid of Wahhabism and Salafism, two versions of an Islam supposedly “purified” of its “foreign” influences.

Saudi largesse

These are not ancient traditions. Wahhabism was born in the 18th century, Salafism in the 19th. And they are not “Islam” – Salafis and Wahhabis make up 3 per cent of Muslims. One of the more bizarre aspects of this ideology is that it involves attacks on things most Muslims regard as sacred. When western liberals wring their hands about giving offence to Muslims by depicting or representing the prophet, they miss the most important point. Cartoons in Charlie Hebdo are vastly less offensive to most Muslims than the destruction of early Islamic tombs by the Saudis. But of course self-appointed defenders of Islamic sensitivities, funded by Saudi largesse, won’t tell you that.
In the last 20 years or so, the Saudis have destroyed hundreds of holy sites in Mecca to clear ground for the construction of hotels and shopping malls and around the Grand Mosque. Much of this is about money, of course, but the destruction is sanctioned by Wahhabi ideology and Saudi history. The Wahhabi sect regarded the veneration of sacred tombs as heretical.
The Wahhabis destroyed dozens of holy tombs in Mecca and Medina when they conquered those cities in 1806 and even attempted to level the prophet’s tomb. They did the same when they reconquered the cities in 1925. This mania continues: just last year, a senior Saudi cleric prepared a detailed plan for the dismantling of the prophet’s tomb. The followers of this ideology have continued to destroy sacred Islamic sites and tombs in Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Muslim outrage

How do most Muslims feel about this? Outraged of course. A large survey in 2012 of opinion among Muslims in western Europe, west Africa and Malaysia found 75 per cent of respondents believed the veneration of the graves of Muslim “saints” (ziyarah) was essential or desirable.
For the vast majority of Muslims the running story of sacrilege and provocation is not a few cartoons in secularist European newspapers, it is the Saudi iconoclastic assault on veneration of the prophet.
And yet we never hear about this when the question of “insulting” the prophet or disrespecting the sacred traditions of Islam is raised in Europe. Why? Money. The Saudis have vast amounts of it and use it to fund mosques, schools and Islamic cultural centres all over Europe. A hundred billion dollars buys you a lot of silence. And that silence engenders one of the great hypocrisies of our times: a cartoon of the prophet is a provocation that deserves death but the destruction of his tomb is a religious duty.
This hypocrisy is underwritten by a tacit understanding among western governments: don’t mention the Saudis. The house of Saud runs a vicious tyranny that, among other things, treats women as badly as apartheid South Africa treated blacks. While theCharlie Hebdo killers were going about their ultimate acts of censorship, the Saudi government was savagely lashing the blogger Raif Badawi for daring to promote public debate in his blog.
But the Saudis are “our” Islamist extremists and they’re sending us lots of cheap oil right now. So when we talk about not insulting Muslims, we ignore what most Muslims regard as most offensive. And when we talk about confronting the nihilistic bigotry of extremist Islamism, we ignore the government that is pumping it into our societies through its promotion of a cult that most Muslims reject. It is long past time for democracies to take offence.

Saudi blogger's flogging should outrage world

The killings of 12 journalists and others at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has led many to wonder about the role of Islam in fueling vicious attacks on civilians in the name of the religion.
Policymakers wring their hands about how to curtail the spread of extremist religious ideologies that terrorize Western targets, but also Muslims and non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East, who are extremism's primary victims.
Where are some Muslims getting the idea that violence against journalists who offend them is OK? Why do they see beheadings as a fitting punishment?
A good place to look for answers would be to examine Saudi Arabia's policies of intolerance and extremism. King Abdullah, as the protector of Islam's most sacred religious sites and leader of Saudi Arabia, is widely considered an important role model for Muslims around the world. So it should not come as a surprise that many Muslims take their cues from the country on the prohibitions and punishments they consider appropriate to inflict on those who challenge or disagree with their interpretations of Islam.
Saudi Arabia gave a good indication of its position on appropriate punishments last Friday, when it carried out Round 1 of a public flogging -- 50 lashes -- against Raif Badawi, a young blogger, in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah. A Saudi court had fined Badawi and sentenced him in 2014 to 1,000 lashes over 20 sessions and to 10 years in prison for the crime of "insulting Islam" -- in part for setting up a liberal website to debate various topics, including religion.
Badawi is not the only Saudi who has faced punishment for his perceived views. The government has jailed many leading intellectuals, writers, and activists who have dared to question any tenet of the orthodoxy imposed by the country's Wahabi religious leaders. A former colleague of Badawi, Su`ad al-Shammari, was jailed in late 2014 on charges of "insulting the messenger and the hadith" in connection with tweets that allegedly criticized religious authorities.
In October, a Saudi court sentenced a Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, to death for criticizing the government and "breaking allegiance with the ruler." The prosecutor had sought what the Saudis call a crucifixion sentence, the kingdom's harshest, in which the convicted person is beheaded and the decapitated body displayed in public.
There is so much shock and outrage about ISIS propaganda videotapes showing its beheadings of journalists in Iraq and Syria -- and most recently, the reported beheadings of two Tunisian journalists in Libya. But the much more routine and widespread beheadings by Saudi Arabia get little scrutiny and condemnation. Saudi Arabia beheaded at least 26 people last August alone. The 82 executions in 2014 make Saudi Arabia a world leader in capital punishment.
Saudi Interior Ministry news releases indicate that about half of them were for nonviolent crimes, the other half for drug offenses and one for sorcery. Yes, you read that right. In 2014, Saudi Arabia was still beheading people for "sorcery."
So is it really any surprise that extremist groups -- also acting in the name of Islam -- seem to be following Saudi's lead, meting out their own severe punishments against journalists and activists they find offensive? If Saudi Arabia thinks publicly beheading people comports with Islamic religious teachings and deters those who also might want to criticize them or question their religion, why shouldn't ISIS?
One might argue that a nation, unlike some self-designated Islamic Caliphate, has the legitimacy and authority to exercise state-sponsored violence, including against its own citizens. But countries also have obligations to respect human rights. Saudi Arabia's abusive prosecutions and cruel punishments flout these obligations, and undermine its own legitimacy.
There is probably little governments and policymakers can do to influence the ideology of extremist armed groups. But there's a lot more they can and should do to influence the policies and practices of purported allies in the "war on terror." That includes the anti-ISIS coalition, to which Saudi Arabia and many other unaccountable, authoritarian, and deeply abusive Arab governments belong.
While the United States and United Kingdom governments' statements condemning Badawi's flogging were a good start, more often these countries are utterly silent in the face of Saudi Arabia's grotesque abuses against its own citizens. The West's denunciations of ISIS abuses have less credibility when governments carrying out similar abuses, if much smaller in scale and magnitude, are good chums, strong allies, and important investors.
If the international community is serious about taking on Islamist extremist ideologies -- if it wants to see real models of tolerance, respect for diverse viewpoints, religious freedom, and the free and peaceful exchange of ideas — it must urge King Abdullah to be the true protector of the rights of Muslims around the world.
For a start, he can overturn the sentence against Badawi and release dozens of detained activists and writers. He could even abolish beheadings, overnight, if that is what he wanted.

Turkish main opposition asks Islamic world to embrace secularism

Turkey’s main opposition party has called on Islamic countries to adopt secularism in order to end the roots of terrorism, denouncing last week’s deadly Paris attacks and stressing that “killing innocent people has nothing to do with Islam.” 

“We are calling on the entire Islamic world: Please adopt secularism. It was described as sacrilege until yesterday, but secularism is the assurance of all faiths; it means no political interventions on people’s religions," main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told his parliamentary group on Jan. 13.

"Secularism is the antidote to terror,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

The CHP head said the attacks against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo revealed once again the importance of secularism, recalling that Turkey’s prominent role among Muslim countries was because of its secular state tradition brought about by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. 

“Killing innocent people is not Islam and we strongly condemn this attack, just like the enter contemporary world does,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, stating that Islam is a "religion of peace."

He underlined that the fight against terrorism is no longer an issue countries can deal with alone, but is an international problem requiring co-operation.

Strongly criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) foreign policy, Kılıçdaroğlu argued that extremist jihadists have become Turkey’s neighbors as a result of the government’s mistaken policies. 

“We warned the government; not once, not twice, not three times: If you follow such policies, terrorist organizations will become your neighbors. If you follow such policies, Turkey will pay the price,” he said, also claiming that Turkey had supplied weapons to these groups along with "main sponsor" Qatar.

The government has long been meddling in the internal policies of Syria, Iraq and Egypt, and this policy has resulted in Turkey's “precious loneliness,”  citing some government officials who had used this description while trying to respond to criticism that Turkey was isolated from its allies. 

Addressing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, he suggested that the government had followed reckless policies in the Middle East. 

“He should ask himself: ‘Why am I being criticized?’ This terrorist organization called ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is designated as a terrorist organization everywhere in the world, except by one person, one government and one party: The AKP. Why don’t you designate it as one too?” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

Music Video - Indian Mashup

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Why Obama was probably right not to go the Paris rally

If we can be serious for a moment: The president made an error in judgment by not sending someone with a higher profile than our ambassador to join world leaders Sunday at a solidarity rally in Paris.

 This more or less sums up the news of the past two days, but you wouldn’t guess it from the coverage and commentary. Based on the nearly 24-hour rehashing of the administration’s failure to assume a more important role at the rally, you’d think the United States had dropped out of NATO.
I’m not usually mistaken for an Obama advocate, but I’m finding it difficult to embrace the direness of his uncharacteristic disobedience to stagecraft. The lead headline in Monday’s New York Daily News instructed the president: “You let the world down.
Really? The United States has been leading the world in the fight against terror for well over a decade, and the president let down the world by not appearing at a rally?
Don’t get me wrong. The rally was important. Beautiful and profound, it was a consummate expression of the modern world’s commitment to end the madness of terrorism. I loved every moment of it and, as both a reporter and a member of the human race, which are not always mutually exclusive, I longed to be there.
I also would have enjoyed seeing our president among the 44 leaders who attended. But who really doubts the United States’ commitment to fighting terrorism or supporting the French in this moment of crisis? Certainly not the French. Not the terrorists. And certainly not our military men and women who have sacrificed blood and limb in the fight.
Thus, it seems we might reserve our high dudgeon for the murderous actors rather than the administration’s decision to send only U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley. Poor Hartley. She has been so minimized by President Obama’s critics that chopped liver sneers with contempt.
Realistically, it is entirely possible that Obama’s advisers considered the terrorist threat in France sufficient to keep him away — not out of fear or lack of courage, as some commenters have suggested, but out of an abundance of caution. As important as all leaders are in the conduct of man’s moment on the planet, none is as important to the enemies of freedom as the president of the United States.
Obama the man may not be able to alter the position of stars or rewind the tides, but Obama the president can move crowds — or inspire havoc. All it takes is just one of the thousands of jihadists believed to be living in France to pull a stunt with the U.S. president in attendance and the world teeters.
Moreover, anyone who has traveled with a president knows that preparations are elaborate and time-intensive. Dozens upon dozens of people work weeks or months in advance to plan and arrange such an expedition, coordinating security in the host country, mapping routes and timing details to the minute.

One reporter in Monday’s White House news briefing pointed out that Obama was able to get to Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on short notice. Why not Paris? Press secretary Josh Earnest responded that the Mandela memorial plans had been in the works for years. Spoiler alert: Reporters write important people’s obituaries long before those people die, as well.
More to the point, South Africa hadn’t just suffered a terrorist attack. In fact, it was such a relaxed occasion that one would have been comfortable taking selfies in the middle of the ceremony.
In the grand scheme of things, Obama’s calculation may be unpopular but was probably the right one. No disrespect to France’s ability to handle security around an enormous crowd while still reeling from a terrorist attack, but Obama’s presence unquestionably would have added several more layers of concern, logistical headaches and, not inconceivably, imposed greater risk for the throng.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris at the time, would not have been so problematic. Or Vice President Biden could have made the trip. In hindsight, one of them should have filled the void. But beyond the historic optics, there was no rational reason to expect the president to be there. In fact, one could reasonably argue that his going would have been a dereliction of duty, given the potential risks.
What France and other nations need from us is support, sympathy and, most of all, intelligence. Symbolic gestures have their place in diplomacy and war, but sometimes the wiser act is playing it safe.

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Pashto Music ..... Hedayatullah ....


سردار علی تکر - دغنی بابا کلام - Pashto Music

Afghanistan, a cauldron of chaos

With US troops exiting Pakistan, the Taliban is stirring the pot from its safe havens in Pakistan
American military interventions in recent times, whether in Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, Libya or Iraq, have undermined regional stability and left deep scars on the body politic of the affected countries. The society and body politic of the US itself has felt the tremors of these misadventures.
American military intervention in Afghanistan, code-named Operation Enduring Freedom, commenced in the aftermath of 9/11. Its combat role ended 13 years later, on December 31, 2014.
The Americans tried to win cheaply, outsourcing many operations to the erstwhile Northern Alliance.
This led to adversaries comprising the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban, the Al-Qaeda led by Osama bin Laden, and thousands of Islamic radicals from the Arab world, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China’s Xinjiang Province and ISI-linked Pakistani terrorist groups, escaping across the Durand Line, to safe havens under ISI protection, in Pakistan.
The US has paid a heavy price for this folly. Some 2,200 of its soldiers were killed in combat; it suffered its heaviest losses in the last four years after it became evident that it was pulling out.
As the US was winding down its military presence and transferring combat responsibilities to the Afghan National Army (ANA), an emboldened Taliban and its Chechen, Uzbek, Uighur and Turkmen allies have emerged from their Pakistani safe havens. In the subsequent fighting, 4,600 Afghan soldiers were killed in combat in 2014 alone. The Afghan army cannot, obviously, afford to sustain such heavy casualties continuously, if morale is to be sustained.
Trouble in northern Afghanistan
Apart from what is happening in southern Afghanistan, Taliban-affiliated groups are now increasing their activities in northern Afghanistan, along its borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China’s Xinjiang Province. Afghanistan’s Northern Provinces such as Kunduz, Faryab and Takhar, have seen increased attacks by Taliban allies from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
American forces are scheduled to be halved in 2015 and reduced to a token presence, just sufficient to protect American diplomatic missions, by the end of 2016. Not surprisingly, President Ashraf Ghani has asked the US to review its withdrawal schedule.
Afghanistan’s Southern Provinces, bordering the disputed Durand Line with Pakistan, are increasingly ungovernable.
Following General Raheel Shareef’s assault on Pashtun tribals in Pakistan’s tribal areas, over one million Pashtun tribals have fled their homes in Pakistan, with an estimated 250,000 fleeing into neighbouring Afghanistan.
If Mullah Omar, his Taliban associates and Sirajuddin Haqqani’s terrorist outfit are finding safe havens in Pakistan, Mullah Fazlullah and his followers in the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) appear to have disappeared into the wilderness, in Afghanistan.
Mullah Omar going strong
Senator Kerry may issue a waiver on legislative requirements to enable the flow of aid to Pakistan. The reality however, is that even after the Peshawar massacre of schoolchildren, terrorist groups like the Haqqani network, the Jaish e Mohammed and the Lashkar e taiba receive safe haven and support in Pakistan.
Despite American hopes of a change of heart in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the reality is that Mullah Omar is still leading the Afghan Taliban from a safe house in Karachi.
The day-to-day conduct of operations in Afghanistan have reportedly been transferred by the ISI to one of his deputies, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour. Taliban attacks within Afghanistan reached unprecedented levels in 2014.
Moreover, while Washington proclaims that any process of reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government will be “Afghan-led and Afghan-driven”, Rawalpindi will ensure that the entire ‘reconciliation’ process is controlled and driven by the ISI.
China, now endorsed by the US as the new Good Samaritan to facilitate the ‘reconciliation’, has maintained ISI-facilitated links with Mullah Omar’s Quetta Shura. Beijing will naturally endorse the wishes of its all-weather friend Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbours who are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), to which India was recently admitted, can expect little from this organisation to deal effectively with their concerns.
China has been now joined by Pakistan, as a member of the SCO. Given its growing economic woes and sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, Russia will have little choice but to fall in line with China, even though its special envoy Zamir Kabulov has expressed Moscow’s readiness to supply weapons to Kabul. Past Russian policy has been to supply weapons to Kabul on strictly commercial terms.
Patchwork coalition
Adding to the prevailing uncertainty, is the fact that Afghanistan is today ruled not by the provisions of its constitution, but by a patchwork coalition of two formerly implacable political foes, President Ashraf Ghani and ‘Chief Executive’ Abdullah Abdullah.
The political gridlock in Kabul is tight. After the presidential elections, which were internationally regarded as neither free nor fair, the ruling duo, stitched together by Senator John Kerry, has been unable to agree even on the names of any new ministers. India obviously cannot countenance the return of an ISI-backed Taliban order in Afghanistan.
The US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement envisages the possibility of a US military presence “until the end of 2024 and beyond”.
Will it, however, be realistic to expect a war-weary US and its Nato partners -- now heavily focused on combating ISIL and similar radical groups across the Islamic World ranging from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Lebanon, to Somalia and Nigeria -- to continue to bail out a politically unstable Afghanistan?
Will the US and its allies provide the Kabul government with adequate air support, weapons and financial assistance, amounting to between $ 5-10 billion annually?
These are realities we cannot gloss over.
The security of our nationals and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan will require constant attention. Work on prestige projects such as the Salma Dam and the Afghan parliament will need to be expeditiously completed.
Cooperation with Iran on the Chabahar Port and establishing strategic connectivity to Afghanistan and its Central Asian neighbours will have to be strengthened. Navigating on the road ahead is going to be tough.

Afghanistan - Why the Taliban is Turning to China


After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s landmark visit to China in October 2014 the Chinese government announced its full support for the Afghan peace process.
Beijing’s efforts include an invitation for the Taliban to visit China, which was accepted by the Taliban. According to a leading Pakistani newspaper, two senior Afghan Taliban visited China last November. The Taliban wants China to help negotiate a political settlement with the Afghan government.
The Taliban, particularly after they closed their headquarters in Qatar, demonstrated extreme antipathy to peace talks with Kabul. This antipathy stems from an absence of a realistic peace plan from the former Afghan government under Hamid Karzai; a reluctance from neighboring countries supporting the Afghan peace process; and political uncertainty due to prolonged elections in Afghanistan.
Yet the Taliban signaled a breakthrough in efforts to start peace negotiations by visiting China and seeking Chinese support for mediation between them and the Afghan government.
Though, the outcome of the Taliban visit to China is not clear, it gives optimism to the people and government of Afghanistan that official peace talks with the Taliban may start soon. Afghans are generally optimistic for peace after the popular presidential elections and a peaceful transition of power to new the president of the country.
Yet skeptics may ask what persuaded the Taliban to entertain diplomacy?
Strong stance of the Afghan government against Taliban
Unlike President Karzai, President Ghani has adopted a strict policy in dealing with Taliban. He has given a very clear message to the Taliban. “Do not ever threaten an Afghan with violence. We will rise as one and we will face every threat the way we have taken on thousands of previous armies and conquerors,” Ghani told CBS.
“This is the moment of destiny. Work with us to transform Asia but should you threaten our existence everybody will be destroyed, not just us,” he added, smiling.
This was message not only for the Taliban but also for those who support and shelter them. President Ghani called repeatedly upon the religious clerics to denounce Taliban activities and support government, something that rarely happened under President Karzai.
In another stance, on October 9, 2015 during a visit to Afghanistan’s largest prison, Pule-Charkhi Prison, President Ghani gave a strong message to Taliban: “Those who were involved behind the killing of children, women and Afghan security forces should be punished for their crimes.”
On the other hand, Afghanistan’s First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum threatened the Taliban with a tough crack down. On a mission to the northern Juzjan province he gave a clear message to Taliban. “Living in peace is better that being killed.” Dostum also proclaimed that he has prepared a Special Force of 20,000 fighters to eliminate the Taliban from Afghanistan.
The Taliban realized that despite the drawdown of international security forces, General Dostum holds enough power the fight them.
Local uprisings against Taliban
Local villagers for the first time got the Taliban scrambling after they mounted a rebellion against the insurgents in the eastern province of Ghazni, back in 2012. A group of angry Afghan villagers in the Ander district of Ghazni province inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban and succeeded in banishing them from several of villages and many districts of Ghazni Province.
Today, the uprising against Taliban has reached to Paktia, Konar, Nuristan, Laghman, Faryab, Logar and Kandahar(the birth place of Taliban) provinces. Without any doubt such uprising could spread rapidly across the country and have the potential to gain a grip in displeased communities across Afghanistan. As local villagers, under Taliban-controlled areas, are extremely frustrated from the Taliban and their followers. Closing schools, pressuring the population, atrocities, and intimidation by the Taliban is no more tolerable by millions of Afghans who wants a change.
Taliban certainly have a sharp memory to recall the consequence of local uprisings if they grip the entire country. Let’s take a close look at recent uprisings in Afghanistan.
  • In 1838, popular uprising against the Great Britain by the Afghan people resulted in the massacre of the entire British army of 15,000, save one.
  • Second Anglo-Afghan War 1878, the second uprising against Great Britain, though, brutally crushed in a pre-emptive move but finally resulted the complete withdrawal of British invaders.
  • In 1917, the invading forces of Great Britain for the third time got wind of another impending rebellion against their occupation which resulted the full independence of Afghanistan. Proclaimed by the King Amanullah Khan in 1918.
  • Last, but not the least, the uprising against the Soviet Union invasion started right after their invasion in 1978. The local uprising, backed by the Islamic world and United States not only resulted in the complete withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan but the independence of many central Asian countries.
Local upraising undoubtedly alarmed Taliban that, there is no more space for them in the Afghan society.
Changing Pakistan
Pakistan is the Godfather of the Taliban that not only created but sheltered and supported the group since their birth in 1996.
Pakistan, which itself is already in turmoil due to rampant corruption, incompetent governance, economic crises and political tension, can no longer support a group of people that has no foundation in the Afghan society. International pressure on Pakistan to destroy the safe heavens of terrorist and put an end to its three decade-long covert war seems to have compelled the leaders of Pakistan to rethink its strategic depth policy in Afghanistan and stop supporting the Taliban.
The Taliban, who never had international support, were dealt a harsh blow in their ongoing battle in Afghanistan after losing a close ally in Pakistan. Thus it is time for the Taliban to talk about a political settlement.
Regional changes
In the 1930s, Pakistan’s poet-philosopher Allama Mohammad Iqbal characterized Afghanistan as Qalb-e-Asya (the Heart of Asia).
In his unique style, Iqbal wrote in Persian, and I translate:
“Asia is comparable to a living body. The heart that beats inside the body is the homeland of Afghans. The destruction of Afghans would be the destruction of Asia. In their [Afghan] progress and prosperity lies the well-being of Asia.”
After eight decades the major powers in Asia must believe these prophetic lines of Alama Iqbal and support Afghanistan in reaching a sustainable peace. Although India and Turkey played a key role over the past 14 years,China is emerging from the shadows to play a significant role in bringing peace to Afghanistan. The Heart of Asia Conference concurs the wind of change in Asia.
The Taliban got wind of these impending changes in Asia and embarked on a political struggle to protect their future by indicating a willingness to talk about a political solution to the Afghan crises.
Moreover, as the US and NATO military drawdown and Afghan security forces take full responsibility of security in the country, the Taliban lost the excuse of fighting against foreign forces. They can no longer justify the war against the Afghan forces.
Now that the Taliban stands at a crossroads between choosing a peaceful life and isolation, they seek China to help negotiate a political settlement with the Afghan government.

It is a strategic opportunity for the new Afghan government to use all instruments for bringing peace in the country. It’s important for the Afghan government to pressure the Taliban by supporting the local uprising and enhancing its ties with Pakistan and other regional nations. Afghans, like other nations, have the right to live in peace, and Kabul must use all means to bring peace to this war-weary nation.