Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Terrorizes India?

DECEMBER 20, 2010


Is Hindu radicalism a bigger threat to India than the Lashkar-e-Taiba? Yes, if you are to believe Rahul Gandhi, the ruling Congress Party's 40-year-old general secretary, widely regarded as India's prime minister in waiting. According to a cable released last week by WikiLeaks, Mr. Gandhi had this to say last year in response to a question U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer posed about the Pakistan-based transnational terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba—responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks: "The bigger threat may be the growth of radicalized Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community."

Predictably enough, Mr. Gandhi's comment has ignited a firestorm of protest. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, a man not best known for his subtlety, accused Mr. Gandhi of giving "inspiration" to the United States's alleged pro-Pakistan tilt. To his credit, departing from his party's initial instinct to dismiss the leaked cable as part of a conspiracy, Mr. Gandhi did not disavow his comments. Instead, his party issued a clarification stating that in Mr. Gandhi's view "terrorism and communalism of all types are a threat to India."

This anodyne formulation does little to reassure those who believe that when it comes to radical Islam, Mr. Gandhi and his party are at best dangerously naïve and at worst calculatingly cynical. Taken together with earlier remarks by Mr. Gandhi and senior Congress Party leaders, the comment to Mr. Roemer is part of a disturbing pattern. In October, Mr. Gandhi likened another terrorist group, the banned Students Islamic Movement of India, to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), a grassroots Hindu-nationalist organization that provides the opposition BJP with many of its foot soldiers, and much of its ideology and leadership.

Another senior Congress leader, Digvijay Singh, has repeatedly pandered to the most conspiracy-minded elements of India's 140-million strong Muslim population. Earlier this month, Mr. Singh hinted that Hemant Karkare, a top policeman shot by Lashkar-e-Taiba militants during the Mumbai attacks, may have been killed by militant Hindus upset by his investigation into bomb blasts ascribed to them. Mr. Singh has also questioned the official account of a 2008 terrorist shootout in New Delhi that claimed the life of a highly decorated policeman.

Two years ago, he backed the assertion of another Congress leader, Abdul Rehman Antulay, that terrorists "had no reason to kill Karkare." Another leaked U.S. embassy cable from the time described Mr. Antulay's statement as "outlandish": evidence that the Congress "will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest."

To concur with this view is not to sympathize with Hindu nationalism. Indeed, at a superficial level radical Islam and Hindu nationalism have much in common. Both represent a kind of religious tribalism marked by a sense of victimhood and deep suspicion of outsiders. Both radical Islamists and Hindu nationalists are prone to wild conspiracy theories—that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were planned by the U.S. government, or that Mr. Gandhi, whose mother, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, is Italian by birth, represents a secret Vatican plot to take over India. Both share a deep fascination with Western technology, and an aversion to Western culture. Both place group identity above individual rights.

But the similarities end there. Simply put, the notion that the radical Hindu threat to India is comparable to that posed by radical Islam is ludicrous. First there's the question of scale. Alleged Hindu terrorists—not one of whom has been convicted—are accused of bomb blasts in 2007 and 2008 in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra that killed 17 people. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the toll in India from about two dozen radical Islamic terrorist attacks since 9/11 stands at more than 950 dead and many hundreds more injured.

The principal Hindu groups accused of the bombings—Abhinav Bharat and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti—are ramshackle outfits with few members and scant popular support. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, by contrast, is part of a powerful international network and has close links with both al Qaeda and Pakistan's notorious military intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. Despite international pressure following the group's 2001 assault on India's parliament and the Mumbai attacks, Islamabad has been loath to move against Lashkar-e-Taiba. In part this is because the group enjoys popular backing in Pakistan's religion-drenched society.

Nor can radical Hinduism—such as it is—claim anything approaching the ambition or ideological rigor of radical Islam. From Morocco to Mindanao, radical Islamists are motivated by the desire to replace man's law with God's law by ordering every aspect of society and the state by the medieval dictates of Shariah law. In ideologues such as the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb (1906-66) and the Pakistani Abul Ala Maududi (1903-79), they find religious justification for terrorism. In Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, they see the possibility of making their dream a reality. In the oil rich kingdoms of the Middle East, they find deep pockets to tap. None of these is true of Hindu groups. The nature of Hindu society—diffuse, lacking a binding tradition and largely comfortable with modernity—makes the emergence of a Hindu equivalent of the Lashkar-e-Taiba difficult to imagine.

In the end, Mr. Gandhi deserves to be criticized not merely because he's wrong, but because his apparent naiveté hurts India. His comment to Mr. Roemer directly undercut one of New Delhi's main foreign policy objectives—to get the international community to take the threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups more seriously. More broadly, Mr. Gandhi and his party encourage precisely the kind of conspiratorial mindset and culture of grievance among a section of Indian Muslims that they ought to be working to end.

Finally, they raise the uncomfortable prospect of India being led by a man out of touch with the dominant ethos of the country he seeks to lead, one that may be flawed but remains essentially liberal, humane and resistant to any kind of radicalism. In the long run, it's this ignorance, not a handful of Hindu zealots, that poses the greater threat to India.

Mr. Dhume, a columnist for, is writing a book about the new Indian middle class.

Prof Jagdish Bhagwati on Pankaj Mishra & fiction as non-fiction

25 December 2010
Satyameva Jayati

…the naysayers, among them the socialists in the currently ruling Congress Party, have rejected the ‘miracle’ produced by the reforms by asserting darkly that the growth ‘lacks a human face’, that it is not ‘inclusive’, that the gains have accrued to the rich while the poor have been immiserized, that inequality has increased, and that India stands condemned before the world.

Perhaps the most articulate critics are the ‘progressive’ novelists of India, chief among them Pankaj Mishra whom the op-ed page editors of The New York Times regularly and almost exclusively invite to write about the Indian economy, a privilege they do not seem to extend symmetrically to American novelists to give us their profound thoughts on the US economy!

Mishra’s latest Times op-ed on October 2, 2010, writes of the ‘alarmingly deep and growing inequalities of income and resources in India’, ‘the waves of suicides of tens of thousands of overburdened farmers over the last two decades’, ‘a full-blown insurgency . . . in central India’ to defend tribals against depredations by multinationals, ‘the pitiless exploitations of the new business-minded India’, and much else that is allegedly wrong with India!

While economic analysis can often produce a yawning indifference, and Mishra’s narrative is by contrast eloquent and captivating, the latter is really fiction masquerading as non-fiction.

But are the opponents of the reforms right to complain that the reformers have been focused on growth to the neglect of the underprivileged; and that the latter have been bypassed or immiserized?

It has become fashionable to say that this must be so because the Human Development Index, produced by the UNDP, puts India at the bottom, at 135th rank, in 1994. But this is a nonsensical index which reduces, without scientifically plausible weights, several non-commensurate elements like literacy and health measures to a single number.

It is a fine example of how bad science gains traction because of endless repetition by the media: it must be dismissed as rubbish.

There is no substitute for hard, scientific answers to the questions concerning what has happened, during the period of reforms and enhanced growth, to the poor and the underprivileged: and these answers, as I will presently sketch, are more benign.

After a considerable debate, it is now generally accepted that the enhanced growth over nearly 25 years year was associated with lifting nearly 200 million of the extreme poor above the poverty line. By contrast, consistent with commonsense, the preceding quarter century with abysmal growth rate witnessed no perceptible, beneficial impact on poverty.

Then again, at a narrower level, the political scientist Devesh Kapur and associates have studied the fortune of the Dalits (untouchables) in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, between 1990 and 2008, to find that 61 per cent of those surveyed in the east and 38 per cent in the west said that their food and clothing situation was ’much better’.

Most striking is the finding of the political scientists Al Stepan and Yogendra Yadav, drawing on polling data produced by the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, that for every disadvantaged group including women, the response to the question ’Has your financial situation improved, worsened, or has remained the same’ posed in 1996 and again in 2004, shows that every group has overwhelmingly remained the same or improved: those who claim to have worsened are invariably less than 25 per cent of the respondents.

As for the relative economic outcomes of the disadvantaged groups, the economist Amartya Lahiri and associates have studied India’s ’scheduled castes’ and ’scheduled tribes’, two particularly disadvantaged categories, and conclude that the last twenty years of major reforms ’have seen a sharp improvement in [their] relative economic fortunes’.

Then again, using household expenditure data for 1988 and 2004, the Johns Hopkins economists Pravin Krishna and Guru Sethupathy conclude that inequality, using a well-known measure invented by the Dutch econometrician Henri Theil, while showing initial rise, had fallen by 2004 back to the 1988 levels: a straight rise in inequality cannot be asserted.

I should also add that many reforms help the poor more than the rich because the rich can cope with the results of inefficient policies better than the poor.

If the public sector generation and distribution of electricity is inefficient, and the electricity goes off in the middle of the night in Delhi’s summer, the rich turn on their private generators and their air-conditioners continue working.

But the poor man on his charpoy swelters as his small Usha fan is not working. Those who object to letting in Coke and Pepsi forget that the common man derives his caffeine from these drinks while the well-off critics get theirs from the Espresso and Cappuccino coffee in the cafes.

The most interesting political implication of the success in finally denting poverty significantly, though nowhere enough, is that poverty is now seen by India’s poor and underprivileged to be removable.

India is witness finally to what I have called the Revolution of Perceived Possibilities. Aroused economic aspirations for betterment have led to political demands for the politicians to deliver yet more.

This suggests, as my Columbia University colleague Arvind Panagariya and I have hypothesized, that voters will look to vote for the politicians who can deliver growth, so that we would expect growth before the vote to be correlated with vote now.

In an important paper, Poonam Gupta and Panagariya have recently tested for this hypothesis and indeed found that it works. So, this implies that politicians should be looking to augment reforms, not reverse them as misguided anti- reform critics urge.

So, politicians would do well to strengthen the conventional reforms, which I call Stage 1 reforms, by extending them to the unfinished reform agenda of the early 1990s. In particular, further liberalization of trade in all sectors, substantial freeing up of the retail sector and virtually all labour market reforms are still pending. Such intensification and broadening of Stage 1 reforms can only add to the good that these reforms do for the poor and the underprivileged.

But these conventional reforms have also generated revenues which can finally be spent on targeted health and education so as to additionally improve the well-being of the poor: these are what I call Stage 2 reforms.

When ’progressive’ critics argue that Stage 2 reforms must replace Stage 1 reforms, because they appear superficially to be more pro-poor, they forget that Stage 2 reforms have been made possible only because Stage 1 reforms have been undertaken.

Why have Pakistan and India Evolved so Differently?

by Dr. Moorthy Muthuswamy

(November 01, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) In 1947, unknowingly, a socio-religious experiment was launched: The British-ruled India was partitioned into Pakistan and India for the Muslim minorities and the majority Hindus respectively.

Back then, these two highly illiterate South Asian nations had predominantly agriculture-based economies, with Pakistan inheriting a better-developed irrigation system compared to India.[i] Leaving aside their majority religions, at birth, they shared culture, language, ethnicity and culinary habits. Yet, their evolution couldn’t be any more different – while India has emerged to become a secular nation with a thriving and multi-faceted economy, constitutionally Islamic Pakistan has descended into an economic basket case and a fountainhead of terror.

This analysis offers the possibility of identifying the roots of Pakistan’s gradual evolution since its birth, including the policy decisions taken by the government and the factors influencing them. Such an analysis could form the basis of a more robust policy response to mitigate the threat posed by a nuclear-armed Pakistan. There is yet another reason: it’s due to the realization that Pakistan stands today as a microcosm of the challenges faced by Muslim communities around the globe.

The Pakistani state had the opportunity, like India, to focus on development and wealth creation. But it chose not to. India’s emergence is due to the investments it made in building quality higher educational institutions in the fields of engineering, technology and management in the 1950s and 60s.[ii]

During the same period, while neglecting modern education,[iii] Pakistan was busy sponsoring a myriad of homegrown jihadist groups as a means of extending its sphere of influence abroad. It is suspected of aiding some Taliban groups in order to advance its agenda in Afghanistan.[iv] It is also said to sponsor radical groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, implicated in the 2008 Mumbai attacks by the Indian government.[v]

A narrative of the Muslim minorities in South Asia consists of early hints that are as fascinating as they are telling of Pakistan’s descend into radicalism.

When the British colonizers set up a Sanskrit college in Kolkata in 1829, Hindu leaders opposed it, demanding English medium schools instead. However, when the British announced a program in 1835 to introduce English in schools, Muslim clerics opposed the move by claiming that education imparted in English was at variance with the tenets of Islam.[vi] Hindus clearly understood that acquiring new knowledge required learning English, whereas, Muslim clerics had viewed modern education offered in the English language as abhorrent. These respective outlooks continue to shape these two communities in South Asia even after the birth of Pakistan and India. Back then, the Muslims can hardly be considered a disadvantaged community, having been the ruling class for several centuries, before the advent of the British rule in 1757.[vii]

Before the partition, the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah outlined a rationale behind a homeland for the Muslims: “So far as I have understood Islam, it does not advocate a democracy which would allow the majority of non-Muslims to decide the fate of the Muslims. We cannot accept a system of government in which the non-Muslims merely by numerical majority would rule and dominate us.”[viii]

A prominent feature of Islam called jihad was invoked in order to carve-out the Muslim majority state of Pakistan. In general, jihad could either mean inner spiritual struggle or an offensive version – a religious war waged to conquer unbelievers and their land.[ix]

Toward establishing the goal of Pakistan, Mr. Jinnah conceived “Direction Action Day” in 1946, which eventually led to uncontrolled rioting and manslaughter.[x] Pamphlets circulated (and read out in mosques) by the Muslim League Party led by Jinnah called for an offensive jihad: “We are starting a jihad in Your [God’s] Name in this very month of Ramzan… enable us to establish the Kingdom of Islam in India and make proper sacrifices for this jihad – by the grace of God may we build up in India the greatest Islamic kingdom in the world."[xi]

Immediately after the birth of Pakistan, another prominent feature of Islam called sharia was invoked to play an overarching role to help govern the new nation. This is in contrast to India where there was separation of church and state due to the consensus belief that no theocratic feature of the majority Hindu religion should likewise play a similar role.

Mr. Jinnah, a westernized and non-practicing Muslim, started his reign with the following promise to the people, including the minorities: “We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.”[xii] Yet, he too found himself unable to resist sharia, often called an Islamic law. Mr. Jinnah remarked in 1948: “Why this feeling of nervousness that the future constitution of Pakistan is going to be in conflict with Sharia Laws? Islamic principles today are as applicable to life as they were 1,300 years ago… Islam is not only a set of rituals, traditions and spiritual doctrines. Islam is also a code for every Muslim, which regulates his life and conduct, even in politics and economics, and the like.”[xiii] Sharia is an Islamic legal system based upon the teachings of the Muslim holy book, the Koran and the Hadith, sayings and actions of Islam’s founder Muhammad – and it reflects the customs and traditions of Arab tribes of a bygone era.[xiv]

In the subsequent decades religious conservatives successfully pushed to enact increasingly ideological policy measures without encountering much resistance from the civic society. This put Pakistan on an inexorable path to extremism. For instance, in 1949, the Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan passed the “Objectives Resolution” making it clear that Muslims would have higher status than non-Muslims.[xv] With the adaptation of its constitution in 1956, Pakistan called itself an “Islamic Republic.”[xvi]

In 1962, the Pakistani government established Council of Islamic Ideology to ensure that the laws enacted were in conformance with sharia.[xvii] In 1971, as part of putting down an insurrection by disgruntled Muslims in East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh), the West Pakistan-dominated army was issued both verbal and written orders by the military high command to selectively kill the Hindu minorities in East Pakistan in collaboration with jihadist groups.[xviii] This was carried out as part of a pogrom to “cleanse” the region of the “infidel” influence. As a result, millions of Bengalis including possibly a million Hindu minorities were exterminated.[xix]

In 1974, the government, pressured by orthodox Sunni Muslims, passed a bill declaring the more tolerant and inclusive Ahmadiyya Muslim community a non-Muslim minority. Interestingly, unlike the orthodox Sunnis or the Shias, the Ahmadiyyas do not subscribe to the idea of a violent jihad waged on unbelievers.[xx]

A defining metric of where the new nation chose to expend its creative energies and resources is elucidated through the following data. Since its birth in 1947, a total of 106 doctorates in engineering and technology have been awarded in Pakistan, compared to a grand total of 232 doctorates in the field of Islamic studies (out of 2287 total doctorates awarded in social sciences).[xxi] Further breakdown reveals that the majority of the 106 doctorates were awarded since 2005.[xxii] While there has been a major spurt in the number of doctorates awarded since 2000, the focus in PhD production has shifted away from social sciences. For instance, between the years 2005 and 2009 the number of doctorates awarded in engineering and technology shot up from 9 to about 40.[xxiii] However, during the same period, the social sciences saw only a 50 percent increase in the number of doctorates granted.[xxiv]

The above data analysis leads to the following conclusion: until the year 2000 – fifty three years into its birth – Pakistan produced between five to twenty times more doctorates in the single subject of Islamic studies for every doctorate produced in the entire fields of engineering and technology. Evidently, with Islam playing a prominent role in the affairs of the state through sharia and jihad, even mainstream universities took to emphasizing religious scholarship.

By portraying sharia as a “divine” law, the masses are made to depend on regressive Muslim clerics for its interpretation, thereby by giving the clerics unmatched control and authority over Muslim communities. Sharia can be seen to create conditions for the flourishing of jihad in Pakistan, by restricting and over-regulating young Muslims’ lives, and importantly, hampering their ability to create wealth. Offensive jihad then became an all-too-convenient outlet for their pent up energies and desire for adventure.

Whole new independent channels were created to systematically indoctrinate impressionable young minds to develop a passion for jihad (in the context of a religious war) in Pakistan. The social studies curriculum guidelines for grades 6 and 7 instruct textbook writers and teachers to “develop aspiration for jihad.” The government-approved Islamic studies textbook for eighth grade tells students they must be prepared “to sacrifice every precious thing, including life, for jihad.”[xxv] The government even went on to declare that jihad was essential for every Muslim.[xxvi]

Indoctrination extended to the armed forces; “faith, piety and jihad in the path of Allah,” became the motto of the Pakistani army.[xxvii] A required reading of Pakistan’s military officers is an authoritative military manual on jihad called The Quranic Concept of War.[xxviii] It outlines an offensive jihad claimed to be rooted in the religion: “The Quranic military strategy thus enjoins us to prepare ourselves for war to the utmost in order to strike terror into the heart of the enemy, known or hidden... Terror struck into the hearts of the enemy is not only a means; it is the end in itself... Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him.” A map distributed to the Pakistani military singles out northern India for a transformation into a Muslim-dominated region and its eventual merger with Pakistan by the year 2020.[xxix] Toward achieving this nefarious design, over 800 jihadist cells have been setup within India, presumably with the help of the military-dominated Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.[xxx]

Sharia is popular with the Pakistani public. A poll conducted by World Public Opinion during the period 2006-2007 even in the relatively cosmopolitan urban areas of Pakistan found seventy nine percent of the respondents agree with seeking to “require Islamic countries to impose a strict application of sharia.”[xxxi] Evidently, the perception of Islam as an all-encompassing “guide to life,” shaped by sharia and preached through Muslim religious institutions was the likely culprit behind Pakistan’s less than whole-hearted embrace of modern education. Indeed, this very outlook too may have discouraged Pakistan from setting up a modern and equitable tax revenue stream. With the affluent and elite hardly paying any taxes, the cash starved Pakistani treasury has to rely on foreign assistance.[xxxii]

An intriguing question is why sharia and violent jihad have dictated the evolution of Muslim-majority Pakistan. A plausible explanation could be because sharia[xxxiii] and jihad[xxxiv] are among the prominent or standout features of Islam’s foundational texts – the Koran, the Hadith and Sira (Muhammad’s biography). And in particular because violent jihad waged on unbelievers has been shown to statistically dominate the non-violent inner struggle jihad in the texts.[xxxv] If these are indeed true, not just in Muslim-majority Pakistan, even if all manner of opportunities for development are available, there should exist compelling evidence of sharia and jihad stunting development and fostering extremism in minority Muslim communities. A window into this perspective comes from the developed western nation of Britain where Muslims of Pakistani origin form the dominant ethnic component in a sizeable Muslim minority population.

The first generation of Muslims from Pakistan and Hindus from India immigrated to Britain during the post war era to find employment in textile mills and in other blue-collar professions. Yet almost fifty to sixty years later, Hindus there have income and education levels comparable to those of the native majority whites. Muslims of Pakistani origin have exactly the opposite record; they tend to be poorer, less educated, and tend to have high crime rates.[xxxvi] In fact, the Muslim population (of which Muslims of Pakistani origin constitute about thirty five percent) in British prisons is about twenty times that of the Hindus. But the Muslim population in Britain is only three times that of the Hindus – and the British Muslims are three times more likely to be unemployed.[xxxvii]

A survey of young British Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 found that forty percent of them would prefer to be governed by sharia laws, while the figure among Muslims of age 55 and over, in contrast, was only 17 per cent.[xxxviii] This discrepancy can be readily inferred as due to the increased exposure to jihad and sharia the younger generation was subjected to, thanks to the well-resourced local mosques funded in the 1980s (and onwards) by the oil-rich Middle Eastern Sheikdoms.

One in eight young British Muslims showed admiration for jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda that, "are prepared to fight the West."[xxxix] Three of the four jihadists associated with the 7/7 London bombings were from ethnic Pakistani Muslim communities.[xl] And one in four British Muslims, while not condoning the London bombings, sympathized with the feelings and motives of the perpetrators.[xli]

Religions are defined by ideas and practices. In retrospect, that certain attributes of a religion influence people, communities and even nations should surprise no one.

However, it is indeed worrying that certain prominent features of Islam overwhelm modernism and development opportunities under varying conditions – and lead to radicalization of communities, and eventually in many cases, formation of armed groups with a political agenda.

Yet the conventional wisdom is that Muslim radicalism needs to be tackled politically, augmented by security and economic measures, while doing little to directly address the underlying religious dynamics. Among the proponents of this view is the prominent counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen. In discussing the insurgencies in Pakistan and elsewhere, Dr. Kilcullen asserts: “Islam is invoked by all sides as a rallying cry, not solely by the insurgents. And in fact the conflict is entirely political: it concerns power in human social structures, not theological disputation.”[xlii]

The fact that Islam should be a rallying cry for all sides in itself is an indication that certain religion-based regressive mindset has taken root across the spectrum – and as a consequence, the conflict is not entirely political, free of religious influence.

Admittedly, Dr. Kilcullen’s insightful observations came from field studies; but they are best described as anecdotal evidence. Besides, in his piece he failed to note that sharia has long repressed Pakistan from developing itself, and the focus on violent jihad didn’t help Pakistan’s relations with non-Muslim nations or its very own non-Muslim citizens. Evidently, in the long run, all of this has led to a nation that has failed to provide a future for its citizens and has immersed itself into conflicts in the name of religion. Behind Pakistan’s evolution lie political decisions that are – as discussed in the previous paragraphs – driven by certain prominent features of Islam. Hence, religion plays a central role in the politics of this conflict, contrary to the assertion of Dr. Kilcullen.

Dr. Kilcullen gives the example of successful counter-terrorism strategies implemented in Iraq as a justification of his delinking of politics from religion. For many decades under Saddam Hussein’s secular rule, there was a “separation” of mosque and state. Not wanting to be challenged or dictated by clerics, Mr. Hussein kept a tight leash on Islamic institutions, by curtailing political sermons and community mobilizations led by the mosque. This ensured that sharia was relegated to the backburner.[xliii] However, Mr. Hussein’s deposal in 2003 due to the American military intervention created a power vacuum that was readily filled by the mosque. Still, decades of Mr. Hussein’s secular rule left the Iraqis unprepared for the sharia-based edicts of the clerics.[xliv] The resulting erosion of the newfound clerical support base, and the radicals supported by them, arguably, were among the primary reasons for the success of the America-led “surge” in 2007. In other words, unlike Pakistan, due to its unique history, delinking of politics from religion was an exception in Iraq, rather than the rule – a nuance missing from Dr. Kilcullen’s narrative.

This political-centric view probably led to proposing what may be called “development first” (long-term) strategy toward addressing the jihadist threat. This strategy presumes that by helping to build modern institutions of governance and education (in order to create wealth and opportunities), improve infrastructure and create employment in nations such as Pakistan, an increasingly influential and assertive civic society can be created that would in turn roll back the radicalization of the society. This is the basis of the Kerry-Lugar legislation – a $7.5 billion, 5-year American non-military developmental package for Pakistan.[xlv]

However, the plan associated with the legislation lacks specific religion-centric measures to soften the influence of sharia and jihad on Pakistan. As the previous paragraphs make it clear, the plan in the present form ends up dealing with the symptoms of Pakistan’s shortcomings while overlooking the root causes. This approach is not only destined for failure but is bound to backfire.

Right from its birth, Pakistan chose to ignore opportunities for development, and went on to embark on a sharia-jihad buildup. One wonders, with the fervor for sharia and jihad still remaining high in Pakistan, what has changed? Indeed, the nation’s religiosity appears to have only increased in the subsequent decades. Hence, increasing the standard of living of Pakistanis under the present circumstances is to facilitate furthering the present trend, as paraphrased in the summary of an expansive survey carried out recently: “better economic conditions may be associated with greater support for Islamist militancy.”[xlvi]

Under the present levels of religiosity in Pakistan, externally funded efforts to improve its education system could mean producing more capable new generation of jihadists. For instance, the extremist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba has recruited more educated youths, some of whom even hold advanced degrees, in the recent years.[xlvii] The other concern is the diversion of funds to wage jihad on Pakistan’s neighbors and to the programs aimed at developing new generation of nuclear weapons.[xlviii]

In conclusion, a study of Pakistan and its Diaspora in Britain, and Pakistan’s contrasting evolution with India suggests the need for paradigm shift in addressing the threat of radical Islam (long-term) – that of a strategy shift from “development first” to “undercutting the influence of sharia and jihad first."

(Dr. Moorthy Muthuswamy is a U.S.-based nuclear physicist and author of the recent book Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War. His email:






















[xxi]; Specific data on the number of doctorates awarded in the field of Islamic studies was acquired by contacting Higher Education Commission, Pakistan.





[xxvi]Pervez Hoodbhoy, “The Saudi-isation of Pakistan,”, January 2009,




















[xlvi]Jacob N. Shapiro and C. Christine Fair, "Why Support Islamist Militancy? Evidence from Pakistan," International Security, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Winter 2009/2010).



Monday, December 20, 2010

WikiWrecks: 26/11 And US Intent

By M Shamsur Rabb Khan
Eurasiareview (article since removed but available at google cache)

The David Headley saga put a big question mark over the US policy for tackling terror due to the inability of the FBI to inform their Indian counterparts about 26/11. New Delhi learnt the big lesson that it had to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorists on its own, while the rhetoric from Washington was only a diplomatic red herring. Now the Wikileaks disclosure is another setback for Indo-US relations. According to a leaked cable, the US suppressed information related to the involvement of the ISI in the Mumbai attacks, but also defended it. They vindicate India’s firm stand that the ISI was behind the Mumbai terror attack, but paint the US government in very poor light, especially its intention to proceed seriously in the war on terror.

The relevant cable from the US embassy in Pakistan to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in January 2009 says, “We are concerned that India's premature public dissemination of this information will undermine essential law enforcement efforts and forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation. Our goal is not only to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, but also to begin a dialogue that will reduce tensions between India and Pakistan.” The use of phrases like “premature public dissemination” and “forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation” are objectionable since New Delhi has every right to pursue and bring to justice those who are behind these ghastly attacks. In view of the dubious role played by David Headley, it is undeniable that the US was also a major player in 26/11.

This is not all. On the issue of investigations into the Mumbai attacks, the US Embassy described the “Million Dollar Question” as the role played by the ISI. The US also tried to protect ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha from the investigations into 26/11 by India even though the findings clearly indicated the ISI’s involvement as led by him. In its further double-standard policy to save Pasha, the cable from the US embassy in Islamabad revealed that the US was keen on urging India to delay the release of their findings since they could undermine Pasha. Washington thus showed little concern for the victims of 26/11 and their families.

In this confidential exchange of diplomatic messages, the US is clearly seen to be supporting the Pakistan Army and not the democratically elected President, Asif Ali Zardari, who was ready to send the ISI chief to New Delhi after the attacks. However, the Pakistani army led by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the cable said, overruled Zardari. And it seems the US, in turn, played a major role in influencing the decision of the Pakistan Army. It is high time the Government of India readjusts its policies in view of the differentiated American perceptions of the war on terror: the US considers 9/11 to be its watershed, but has shown indifference to India’s 26/11. For New Delhi, the US is a party to the delay that Pakistan maintains in prosecuting the perpetrators of 26/11.

Another WikiLeaks cable which will act as an impediment to close ties with the US reveals American perceptions about the Indian Army and its war preparedness. In a cable dated 16 February 2010, the US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer, described the “Cold Start Doctrine” as a mixture of myth and reality. Roemer says, “It's never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints.” For Roemer, the Indian Army is “slow and lumbering, and unable to attack with an element of surprise.”

New Delhi has placed too much reliance on support from the US regarding its crucial security concerns, including fighting the terror infrastructure across the border. Washington’s apprehension about escalating tensions between India and Pakistan has not yielded any worthwhile results either in restraining Pakistan from exporting terror or appreciating India’s forbearance in not snapping diplomatic ties. Given the US interest in tackling the Mumbai terror attacks, it is imperative for New Delhi to reveal its seriousness in single-handedly pursuing the perpetrators of 26/11 without much consideration for US concerns. Only then would India, as a sovereign state, restore the faith of its people in its strength and ability to take decisive action.

WikiWrecks: Did The US Double-Cross India?
Monday, 13 December 2010 13:10
At Eurasiareview since removed (google cache)

By Radhavinod Raju

Indian media reactions to the WikiLeaks’ disclosures pertaining to the 26/11 attacks were, to say the least, unfair. One headline read, ‘US backstabbed India after 26/11?’ It is now known that the US agencies had shared intelligence that revealed there were threats of a sea-borne attack, that the Taj Hotel was a target, and places frequented by foreigners, especially Americans and Israelis, were vulnerable to attacks. It is not yet clear whether David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani, the US citizen of Pakistani origin who collaborated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Mumbai attacks, was under the surveillance of US agencies from before the attack, and whether they were aware of his role in the planning of the attack. There is no evidence thus far to suggest such a possibility.

The leaked cables indicated that the US Ambassador to Pakistan was concerned about premature public dissemination of information by India that would undermine essential law enforcement efforts and forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation. The input further stated that their goal was not only to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, but also to begin a dialogue that would reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. Related cables show that the ISI chief had agreed to share information about the progress of their investigation with India, and that premature dissemination of this information in the Indian media would have reflected badly on him in the Pakistani media which would have been a setback. According to the cable, it was necessary to keep channels of communication open in order to prevent future attacks.

These cables were from the US Ambassador to Pakistan to her Government. There appears to be nothing wrong with this assessment. The US Ambassador to Pakistan was in touch with Pakistani officials and was communicating their fears and her own assessment of these fears to her Government. How would this be backstabbing India?

The other important cable was that no amount of money to Pakistan would prevent the Pakistan Army from supporting terrorist groups that were attacking India. This is an assessment that would more or less agree with the assessment of the Indian security establishment, who would never lower their guard against terrorist attacks emanating from Pakistani soil. For them, their experiences over the past 60 years were too harsh to have any other contra view.

Published material, including Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, would show that the Pakistanis had told the US that rogue elements in the ISI could be involved in the Mumbai attacks. However, published material of David Headley’s interrogation would indicate that Headley was funded by a serving ISI Major, Iqbal, for going to Mumbai in preparation for the attack. The Pakistanis have reportedly said that Headley’s statement during his interrogation would be treated as hearsay by Pakistan’s courts. This is a technical issue and there could be a way to work around this. The question is whether the Pakistanis, or to be more specific, the Pakistan Army, would cooperate in this effort. Major Iqbal is just a name, and could be one of the aliases that the ISI Major was using. He cannot be identified without the full cooperation of the Pakistan Army. There is little possibility of this ever happening.

We just have to recall a few incidents that would point out who calls the shots in Pakistan. Soon after the Zardari-led Government came to power in Islamabad, they issued an order to bring the ISI under the control of the Interior Ministry. This order was recalled post-haste after the Army Chief objected. The Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was actually in India when the Mumbai attack took place. If he had the slightest inkling that an attack was to take place, would he have been in India? Zardari offered to send the ISI chief, Shuja Pasha to India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack. He was forced to wriggle out of this public commitment after the strong objection expressed by the Army Chief.

What we need to have is unassailable evidence that a serving Major of the ISI was a key element of the attack, and that the other important player, the retired Major Pasha, was working closely with the ISI in the LeT’s plan to attack India. As of now we lack evidence that could withstand judicial scrutiny, though the information is quite solid. The Pakistan Army is simply not ready for peace. Its instrument, the ISI, would continue to target India’s economic and security centres to bring pressure on India through non-state actors to yield on Kashmir. After Kashmir, they will invent some other root cause to extend the conflict. We have to be prepared for the next attack. The Wiki cables do give a hint of this. For that we should be grateful for the leaks, for it agrees with our own assessment.


Search for "Headley" at

Is Pakistan Losing Patience in the War on Terror?

Monday, Dec. 20, 2010


On Saturday, in answer to a New York Times article, Pakistan's secretive spy agency denied that it had exposed the identity of a senior CIA official in Pakistan, causing him to abruptly leave Pakistan. In a briefing held on background, an official of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) couldn't have made it more categorical: "We absolutely deny this accusation, which is totally unsubstantiated and based on conjecture."

Short of a smoking gun, we'll have to take the Pakistanis' word for it. CIA cover is never perfect, and this wouldn't be the first time that a CIA officer has been forced to leave his post in the middle of the night.

But what can't be dismissed is the suit filed by a Pakistani tribesman in which he accuses the CIA of murdering his brother and his son in a drone attack. According to press reports, none of which have been confirmed by the CIA, it was the appearance of the station chief's name in a filing in this suit, along with unspecified threats, that caused him to be pulled. Regardless, the suit itself could be an ominous sign that the Pakistanis may be coming to the end of their rope in the "war on terror."

Here's why: I have long known that the ISI oversees the judiciary, from the appointment of judges to interfering in cases that harm national security. There are no exceptions. If there were a Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, he'd be behind bars — for life. In other words, it's all but certain that the ISI greenlit the case brought by the tribesman for the death of his brother and son.

The ISI's power in the judiciary hit home for me two years ago. My wife and I were winding our way through the Pakistani court system as part of an adoption. I wondered right from the beginning how often ex-CIA agents had appeared before Pakistan's notoriously conservative judiciary - and what the government would think about us, or if it might even block the adoption. Every lawyer I talked to assured me that the government - the ISI - wouldn't care about a civil case. When I asked whether the ISI intervened in cases touching national security, they only smiled.

In trying to figure out what's happening in Pakistan these days let's not fool ourselves. The ISI is not a rogue agency that does exactly what it wants. It falls squarely under Pakistan's military. The commander and chief controls the budget as well as personnel appointments. At any time, he can remove the ISI's director. And since Pakistan's military is the ultimate executive authority in the country, it would be safe to conclude Pakistan itself permitted the suit against the CIA.

Conceding that I've climbed out on a long speculative limb — but who doesn't when it comes to Pakistan? — we should be wondering just how much purchase we've lost in Pakistan. They want our money, but not our drones. They don't want the United States to fall into the arms of India, but they also do not intend to kowtow to us. They want to be a part of any settlement in Afghanistan, but they won't or can't bring the Taliban under control. But now, with leading elements of the country possibly going after the CIA, whether it's by leaking a name or by fighting it in the courts, we should start wondering whether Pakistan is done with the bargaining on the war on terror.

Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, is's intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and, most recently, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower
Note: The CIA quickly withdrew its Islamabad station chief from Pakistan on Friday after his identity was revealed in a lawsuit that alleges U.S. responsibility for the wrongful death of civilians as part of its drone operations in the FATA. The station chief had reportedly received death threats from terrorist groups as a result of the lawsuit. The lawyer representing the lawsuit, Shahzad Akbar, said he had received the station chief’s name from local journalists. On Saturday, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) denied accusations made by U.S. officials that the ISI had intentionally exposed the name of the CIA station chief in retaliation for U.S. lawsuits filed last month which named ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha in connection with the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.


Daily Times
Monday, December 20, 2010
EDITORIAL: An unfriendly act

Pakistan is in the midst of yet another controversy. Jonathan Banks, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief in Pakistan, had to flee the country last week after reportedly receiving serious threats to his life. An application against the CIA chief was submitted by a resident of North Waziristan, Karim Khan, to the Secretariat Police Station in Islamabad whereby Mr Khan has alleged that his son and brother were killed in a drone strike and since Mr Banks oversees the drone attacks, he should be held responsible for their deaths. It is now being reported that because of the police’s hesitation to take action against Mr Banks, he was able to leave the country. What remains a mystery though is who could have leaked the name of the CIA chief to the drone victims’ family. According to the New York Times, “The American officials said they strongly suspected that operatives of Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI], had a hand in revealing the CIA officer’s identity — possibly in retaliation for a civil lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month implicating the ISI chief [Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha] in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008.”

Blowing the cover of the CIA chief and his subsequent departure from Pakistan is not a small matter. The Americans will not take it kindly and this would be seen as an unfriendly act by the US’s frontline ally in the war against terror if the ISI did out Mr Banks’ name. Even though the ISI has vehemently denied this allegation by calling it “a slur” that “can create differences between the two organisations [the ISI and CIA]”, it is not unnatural that the finger of suspicion is pointing towards Pakistan’s top spy agency. Mr Banks was reportedly here on a business visa, meaning thereby that he was operating undercover. To find out his identity is no mean task and could not have been done without the help of our intelligence agencies, who are the only ones to have access to such sensitive information. If indeed the ISI exposed the CIA chief in retaliation for the lawsuit filed against the ISI chief in the US, it could have grave repercussions for our country. Complaints against the ISI have been lodged in Pakistani courts over the years yet that has never bothered the spy agency before. It is unclear what prompted the ISI to indulge in this seemingly tit-for-tat move against the Americans. The US is not very happy with Pakistan’s double game vis-à-vis the Taliban in the first place; outing the CIA chief under such circumstances is akin to provocation of a serious nature. There is already immense pressure on Pakistan to launch a military offensive in North Waziristan to take out the Taliban safe havens. Drone attacks have also increased in recent months and the message from the US is loud and clear: if you are not willing to take action against the Taliban, we will.

After the CIA chief debacle, the US might be forced to take some even more drastic action. Given our military establishment’s track record, the possibility of the ISI’s role in this incident cannot be overlooked. If this is true, did the ISI not realise the implications of angering the Americans to an extent that could lead to a stand-off between the superpower and Pakistan? If the ISI is indeed responsible for blowing Mr Banks’ cover, we could be in for a lot of trouble in coming days.
December 17, 2010
New York Times

Pakistani Role Is Suspected in Revealing U.S. Spy’s Name


WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency’s top clandestine officer in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, was removed from the country on Thursday amid an escalating war of recriminations between American and Pakistani spies, with some American officials convinced that the officer’s cover was deliberately blown by Pakistan’s military intelligence agency.

The American spy’s hurried departure is the latest evidence of mounting tensions between two uneasy allies, with the Obama administration’s strategy for ending the war in Afghanistan hinging on the cooperation of Pakistan in the hunt for militants in the mountains that border those two countries. The tensions could intensify in the coming months with the prospect of more American pressure on Pakistan.

As the cloak-and-dagger drama was playing out in Islamabad, 100 miles to the west the C.I.A. was expanding its covert war using armed drones against militants. Since Thursday, C.I.A. missile strikes have killed dozens of suspects in Khyber Agency, a part of the tribal areas in Pakistan that the spy agency had largely spared until now because of its proximity to the sprawling market city of Peshawar.

American officials said the C.I.A. station chief had received a number of death threats since being publicly identified in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police this week by the family of victims of earlier drone campaigns.

The American officials said they strongly suspected that operatives of Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, had a hand in revealing the C.I.A. officer’s identity — possibly in retaliation for a civil lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month implicating the ISI chief in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not immediately provide details to support their suspicions.

The mistrust between the C.I.A. and ISI, two uneasy but co-dependent allies, could hardly come at a worse time. The Obama administration’s Afghan war strategy depends on greater cooperation from Pakistan to hunt militants in the country’s western mountains, and yet if Pakistan considers Washington’s demands excessive, it could order an end to the C.I.A. drone campaign.

“We will continue to help strengthen Pakistani capacity to root out terrorists,” President Obama said Thursday in a briefing on the war strategy. “Nevertheless, progress has not come fast enough. So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”

The job of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad is perhaps the spy agency’s most important overseas post, one that requires helping oversee the agency’s covert war and massaging its often testy relationship with the ISI.

That relationship has often frayed in recent years. American officials believe that ISI officers helped plan the deadly July 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as well as provided support to Lashkar-e-Taiba militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks later that year.

Michael J. Morell, the C.I.A.’s deputy director, met Thursday with Pakistani officials in Islamabad, but American officials said his visit was not the result of the station chief’s case.

The lawsuit filed in Brooklyn last month, brought by families of American victims of the Mumbai attacks, names the ISI chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, as being complicit in the attacks. The suit asserts that General Pasha and other ISI officers were “purposefully engaged in the direct provision of material support or resources” to the planners of the Mumbai attacks.

A senior Pakistani official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the Pakistani government “believes that the suit in New York does not have a sound legal basis, and is based on conjecture.”

“We did not need to retaliate,” he said. “As far as the government of Pakistan and the ISI are concerned, we look forward to working with the Americans in securing the world from transnational threats, especially the shared threat of terrorism.”

The legal complaint in Pakistan that identified the station chief was filed Monday over drone attacks that killed at least four Pakistanis. The complaint sought police help in keeping the station chief in the country until a lawsuit could be filed. The C.I.A.’s decision to remove the station chief from Islamabad was first reported Friday morning by The Associated Press.

The C.I.A. officer’s name was revealed last month in a news conference by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer who filed the complaint this week.

Soon afterward, the name began appearing on a number of Pakistani Web sites generally believed to have a close association with the ISI. One Web site mentioned the C.I.A. officer on Dec. 14 and asked readers to track down pictures of him.

The New York Times generally does not identify American intelligence operatives working undercover.

Mr. Akbar, the lawyer who brought the case against the C.I.A., said it would continue despite the station chief’s absence. He is representing Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan who said that his son and brother were killed in a drone strike.

A vast majority of C.I.A. drone strikes in the tribal areas have occurred in North Waziristan. Mr. Khan is seeking $500 million in compensation, and accusing the C.I.A. officer of running a clandestine spying operation out of the United States Embassy in Islamabad.

“My brother and son were innocent,” Mr. Khan said in a recent interview. “There were no Taliban hiding in my house.”

Western and Pakistani intelligence officials said, however, that the drone attack also killed Haji Omer, a senior commander allied with the Haqqani militant network and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Akbar said that he did not believe that the station chief had been removed from Islamabad for his security. “Obviously, his name had come out in the open, and maybe he feared police action or an action by the Supreme Court,” Mr. Akbar said in an interview.

American officials disagreed. The threats to the station chief “were of such a serious nature that it would be imprudent not to act,” according to a United States intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

George Little, a C.I.A. spokesman, would not confirm that the station chief had to leave Pakistan, but did say that “station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe,” and that “their security is obviously a top priority for the C.I.A., especially when there’s an imminent threat.”

Meanwhile, the C.I.A. has continued to pummel parts of the tribal areas with missiles. On Thursday, a C.I.A. drone launched a strike in the Tirah Valley of the Khyber Agency, where Pakistani militants are believed to have fled to escape military operations in other parts of the tribal belt. Three more strikes followed on Friday, a Pakistani government official said, killing dozens of militant suspects.

Attacks in Khyber are uncommon. Pakistani officials have tried to dissuade the Americans from attacking Khyber and Mohmand Agency, fearing that strikes in those areas could fuel violence in Peshawar. The Khyber Agency is home to Lashkar-e-Islami, a militant organization sometimes allied with the Pakistani Taliban.

Discussing the conclusions of the latest review of the Afghan war strategy, Obama administration officials said this week that the United States would be more aggressive in going after militants in the tribal areas — with or without Pakistan’s help.

NATO trucks attacked again in Pakistan

Pakistani "Militants" surrounded convoy before destroying trucks with rockets

(AKI) - By Syed Saleem Shahzad -A pro-Al-Qaeda group of militants in Pakistan's tribal region of Khyber Agency on Monday and carried out an attack by surrounding Nato oil tankers from all four sides before firing rockets into the convoy. The attack destroyed two of the vehicles and injured two people.

According to eye witnesses a group of militants hid themselves in the nearby mountains and provided the cover to the militants who confronted the security escort along with the Nato tankers. The action lasted for half an hour during which time the militants escaped.

The action was taken at a time when hundreds of Nato supply convoys travelled from Peshawar to the Jamrood district of Khyber Agency in order to cross the border into Afghanistan. The incident caused a panic in the area and the tanker drivers immediately tried to drive back to Peshawar. This situation caused a massive traffic jam on the road prompting the local administration closed down the Torkham border crossing.

Almost 75 percent of the NATO supplies for the land locked Afghanistan goes through Khyber Agency. Khyber Taliban and Al-Qaeda bases were few prior to 2007. The majority of the area belongs to Sufi Islam which does not subscribe to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’s Salafi or Deobandi ideology.

In late 2007, Al-Qaeda began an initiative to create bases in the area, eventually transforming the tribal area into its most effective training centre , using it as a launch pad for actions throughout northwest Pakistan.The bulk of supplies and equipment required by foreign troops in Afghanistan is shipped through the Khyber region, although US troops increasingly use alternative routes through central Asia.

Pakistan shut its main northwestern border crossing to NATO supply vehicles on September 30 for 11 days after a cross-border NATO helicopter assault killed two Pakistani soldiers.

Scores of NATO supply vehicles were destroyed in gun and arson attacks while the crossing was shut, as Taliban militants stepped up efforts to disrupt the route in response to US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt.

Iran hangs 11 Jundullah Sunni militants

20 December 2010

Iran has hanged 11 members of a Sunni militant group Jundullah for murder and terrorism, the country's justice ministry said.

The men were executed at dawn in Zahedan, the capital of the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

Officials said they belonged to Jundullah, which said it was behind an attack on a mosque last week which killed 39 people.

But it is not clear whether those executed were involved in that attack.

In June, Iran killed Jundullah's leader, but attacks have continued.

"The people of Sistan-Baluchestan province, in their continuing campaign against the elements of cruelty and insecurity, hanged 11 people at Zahedan prison," the justice ministry said in a statement on Fars news agency.

Ebrahim Hamidi, head of the provincial justice department, told state news agency Irna that the group had received a fair trial and had been charged with "corruption on earth, fighting against God and the Prophet and confronting the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran".
Deprived province

The deadly suicide bombing outside the Imam Hossein Mosque in the city of Chabahar on 15 December killed and wounded scores.

Founded in 2003, Jundullah (Soldiers of God) says it is fighting for the culture and faith of the ethnic Baluch people.

The majority of Iran's ethnic Baluchi population live in Sistan-Baluchistan and adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. They claim that as a minority in a Shia state, they are persecuted by the authorities.

Sistan-Baluchistan is one of Iran's most deprived provinces and its location also makes it a key route in the international drugs trade.

Iran caught Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi while he was on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan in February, and executed him in June.

“The perpetrators of such terrorist attacks are in Pakistan who are led by foreign intelligence services,” Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour told reporters on Monday.

He criticized the Pakistani government for not cooperating with the Islamic Republic in identifying and eradicating terrorist groups in Pakistan, calling on Islamabad to find the people behind the terrorist attack.

Iran Warns Pakistan to Control Borders

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian military commander urged Islamabad to tighten control over its shared borders with Iran, and warned of Tehran's unilateral action in case Pakistan shows any further negligence in this regard.

"If Pakistan fails to control and prevent terrorist measures at its borders like recent years, we will make use of our legitimate rights," Iran's Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabadi cautioned on Monday.

Stressing the age-old friendship between Iran and Pakistan, he stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always paid attention and interacted with the brotherly country of Pakistan, but "Pakistan unfortunately does not control and stop terrorists".

"The terrorist incidents at border areas with Pakistan make us revise the related issues," Firouzabadi added.
He made the remarks after a suicide attack near a mosque in Southeastern Iran killed at least 37 and wounded 95 people in a mourning ceremony held to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Shiites' third Imam on Wednesday.

The attack took place outside Imam Hossein Mosque in the port city of Chabahar, in Sistan and Balouchestan province, near the border with Pakistan.

The Pakistani-based Jundollah terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Following the incident in Chabahar on Wednesday, Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said that the terrorists in charge of the bombing had received training in Pakistan.

"A number of terrorists that are being trained beyond (Iran's) Eastern borders in Pakistan have carried out this terrorist attack," Najjar said.

Also, after Iran arrested Jundollah's number one Abdolmalek Rigi in late February, the criminal ringleader confessed that he was traveling to Bishkek to meet with a high-ranking US official at a nearby military base to discuss new terrorist attacks on Iranian territory. Rigi was executed in June.

Iran says that there are few remaining elements of the group that the United States and British intelligence services are supporting. Tehran has arrested or killed a large number of the Jundollah terrorists, including the ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi and his brother and Jundollah's number two man Abdolhamid Rigi.


FACTBOX-Jundollah, Iran's Sunni Muslim rebels

Dec 15 (Reuters) - Here are some key details about Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundollah which said on Wednesday it was behind an attack which killed dozens in southeastern Iran, according to Al Arabiya television. [ID:nLDE6BE0KQ]


* Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite, has linked Jundollah (God's Soldiers) to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network. It also accuses the United States of backing Jundollah in order to create instability in the country. Washington denies the charge.

* Jundollah says it is fighting for the rights of Iran's minority Sunnis. Iran rejects allegations by rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.


* Jundollah chief Abdolmalek Rigi said in a 2007 interview that his group was fighting for the rights of the Baluch people facing what he called "genocide" in Iran, but denied it harboured any separatist or radical sectarian agenda.

* Jundollah has evolved through shifting alliances with various parties, including the Taliban and Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, who saw the group as a tool against Iran, according to Lahore-based Pakistani analyst Ahmed Rashid.

* Jundollah, which also calls itself the Iranian People's Resistance Movement, was founded in 2002 and launched its armed campaign in 2005.

* Since early 2005 the group has sought to expand operations in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

* The group probably numbers fewer than 100 militants armed with explosives and small arms in Sistan-Baluchestan which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

* Last month the United States named Jundollah for repeated attacks within the Islamic Republic to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.


* In June 2005, The Sunni Muslim Jundollah Baluch militant group, which Iran says has linked to al Qaeda, kidnapped Revolutionary Guard officer Shahab Mansuri and sent a video of him to al-Arabiya. He was killed on July 13.

* On Dec. 14, 2005, an assassination attempt was carried out against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while on a visit to Sistan-Baluchestan. This attack was also blamed on Jundollah.

* In 2007, Jundollah claimed responsibility for several attacks. On Feb. 14, 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were killed in an attack on a bus in the city of Zahedan.

* In Dec. 2008 there was a suicide attack in Saravan on a security forces headquarters. This was the first such suicide attack in Iran and was carried out by Abdul-Ghafoor Rigi, a brother of the group's leader.

* On May 28, 2009, a suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded more than 120 in an attack on a mosque in Zahedan. Jundollah claimed responsibility for the attack.

* An Oct. 18, 2009 bombing by the group killed 40 people. Fifteen Revolutionary Guards members were among those killed, including the deputy head of ground forces. Jundollah said it was behind the deadliest attack in Iran since the 1980s.

* On July 15, 2010 powerful bombs exploded near Zahedan's Grand Mosque scattering body parts around the holy site. At least 28 people were killed and more than 169 injured. The Sunni Muslim Jundollah militant group claimed the blast in revenge for the execution of its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, on June 20.

* Two people including a hostage were killed on Sept. 18 during an operation to free six Iranians taken captive from a bus. Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards' ground forces said Jundollah was behind the abduction of the five soldiers and a bank employee in Sistan-Baluchestan.

* Dec. 15 - At least 30 Iranians were killed and over 100 wounded in a suicide attack in the city of Chabahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province, near the Imam Hussein Mosque, during a Shi'ite mourning ceremony. Jundollah claimed responsibility for the bombing.


* On May 30, 2009 three men were hanged in public for involvement in the Zahedan bombing. Two more were hanged on June 2. Iran executed 13 more men accused of membership of Jundollah in July 2009.

* On Nov. 3, 2009 Iran executed Jundollah member Abdolhamid Rigi.

* The leader's brother also called Abdolhamid was hanged in on May 24, 2010.

* The group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, was arrested in February 2010. He was convicted by a Revolutionary court of various charges, including armed robbery, kidnapping, drug smuggling, assassination attempts and murder and was executed on June 20.

* Iran arrested three Jundollah members in October who played "a major role" in the July mosque explosion IRNA news agency reported.

Sources: Reuters/Janes World Insurgency and Terrorism (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On blasphemy, clerics and intolerance

On blasphemy, clerics and intolerance
Sher Khan
Express Tribune
December 4, 2010

Maulana Sheerani became the controversial new head of the CII earlier this year

Intolerance is making headlines again. One can elucidate that local cleric Qari Salam’s decision to facilitate an FIR against Aasia Bibi or the appointment of JUI-F cleric Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani as the 12th chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) show that we are victims of our own social confusion.

I couldn’t help but notice that the history of intolerance and ignorance has always been battling against humanity. One of my colleague who visited Aasia Bibi’s village in Nankana to interview Qari Salam was astonished by the lack of remorse he felt regarding the decision to facilitate the FIR filed against her. When asked about pardoning Aasia Bibi, he went on to say that if it was his own “personal matter” he could consider pardoning her. Furthermore, he also hinted at potential public backlash from such a decision. The point I am getting at is that there was societal dynamics, which trumped anything supposedly rational.

Discussing the idea of social confusion, KK Aziz in his book “The Pakistani Historian” worried that changing society had been replaced by apathy and a lack of thought. The truth is we have reached a point where lack of education and moral strength has bred this confused circle of intolerance. Various facets of life ranging from politics to religion and even culture has challenged this attitude to live for the “now” as Aziz puts it.

Furthermore, with the death of pan-Islamic thought, our society’s ethical and moral debate has been hijacked by the religious cleric. By any means, the Council of Islamic Ideolgy has failed to even raise a proper voice against terror because religious parties remain confused about how religious beliefs fit into the concept of Pakistan. Furthermore, the state’s endorsement of Sherani is a sign that clerics retain political power during a time when academic Islamic scholars are forced to live in exile.

It seems that while living for the present, we have forgotten our past. As we boast laurels about old Islamic empires and hope for a new Saladin to come to our rescue, remember that the difference between then and now was an inherent attitude of tolerance. Tolerance in education, thought, and life in general meant that there was a collective will to strive and adapt to the changing times.

Where did Pakistan's blasphemy law come from?

Marvi Sirmed
in The Express Tribune

The justice system in Pakistan has been influenced by a long history

According to Islamic belief, blasphemy is considered the use of profanity or a show of disrespect towards religious beliefs and holy personages, but unlike Judaism and Christianity, no strict punishment for the crime has been proscribed. In fact, Allah takes it upon Himself to deal with those who “revile Allah in their ignorance”.

Quran’s Surah Al-Anam aayah 108 says:

“Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings. In the end will they return to their Lord and We shall then tell them the truth of all that they did” as per the translation of Maulana Yusuf Ali.

Similarly, in Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic religions, there’s no concept of blasphemy as a punishable crime.

Following the Prophet’s footsteps

The life of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is proof of the fact that Islam reinforces the values of forgiveness, kindness and tolerance especially for those who refuse to accept the word of wisdom and commit blasphemous acts. Throughout our student life, we have been hearing compelling stories of the Prophet’s tolerance, forgiveness and his exemplary ways of dealing with the worst of his enemies. Most common of them being the anecdote of that old woman who used to throw garbage on the Prophet whenever he passed her street. The Prophet got concerned when it stopped one day, enquired about her health and took care of her when he found her ill.

The second common narration is that of the Prophet’s early preaching visit to Ta’if, a small city in the Southeast of Mecca, where he was cursed and stoned by the locals. The persecution was so harsh that his body was full of wounds when he returned and his shoes were full of blood. But he responded to them with kindness and prayed for their blessings.

The birth of the black law

The blasphemy laws in the subcontinent, which were mainly the work of Muslim rulers, were later repealed by the British colonial rule to evangelise the Christian missionaries. But in 1860 the law was retained in the Indian Penal Code as Section 295, which gave protection to worship places, scriptures and personages of all religions of India. Later in 1927, two Sections 295 (A) and (B) were inserted, which prescribed punishment for outraging religious feelings of any class or religious group with deliberate and malicious intentions. Pakistan and Bangladesh inherited this Code and hence, the Blasphemy Law was born.

The wave of Islamisation of the judiciary and constitution made Pakistan take the lead in having the strictest blasphemy laws among all Muslim-majority states. An Amendment was introduced to 295 (B) in 1982 that extended penalty options to include life imprisonment, in addition to inserting Section 295 (C) whereby defamation against Prophet Mohammad was punishable by death.

In 1986, further additions were made to Section 295-C adding the option of the “death penalty”, and a minor amendment to Section 296 (disturbing religious assembly). In 1992, the Nawaz Sharif government removed the option of life sentence from Section 295-C (“derogatory terms against Prophet Mohammed”). In this shape, the blasphemy laws of Pakistan made convicted “blasphemers” liable to a mandatory death sentence.

It’s not just Pakistan

In the rest of the world, blasphemy has been a serious crime punishable by death and remains so in some parts to this day. The last execution for blasphemy in Britain occurred in 1697 when an 18-year-old Thomas Aikenhead was persecuted for saying: “I wish I were in that place Ezra calls hell so I could warm myself.”

British blasphemy law was repealed in 2008 while in the US, it is unconstitutional to try someone for blasphemy. This historical journey of blasphemy legislation did not come about without a popular vigilantism patronised by political leaders and state institutions of the time.

Today, these laws pose the greatest threat to minority communities of Pakistan and bring shame to Pakistan’s name in the comity of nations every other day. Pakistan’s civil society has been voicing its concern and standing for the repeal of especially 295 (B) and (C) for over two decades.

Since their inception, these black laws could not see any serious attempt for their repeal due to lack of public support and too much pressure from religious parties and organisations. In 2000 The all-powerful former president, General (R) Musharraf promised to ensure that before making charges of blasphemy, the case would be examined by a civil servant. It is not difficult to guess why he took back his proposed amendment to blasphemy case procedures just a month after the proposal; it is not rocket science.

Not only do these laws have no religious standing in Islam, they are repugnant to the basic principles of justice, equality and human rights in addition to challenging the basic spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees equal rights to all citizens.

It is high time we build public pressure groups to repeal the blasphemy laws which make it impossible for religious groups that do not have a voice in the political system to impose their version of religion over a vast majority of this country – a country whose population is religiously diverse and moderate.

Hardline Pakistan Islamist offers reward to kill Christian woman

Fri Dec 3, 2010 12:41pm GMT

By Faris Ali


PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A hardline, pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam.

The sentence against Asia Bibi has renewed debate about Pakistan's blasphemy law which critics say is used to persecute religious minorities, fan religious extremism and settle personal scores. Non-Muslim minorities account roughly 4 percent of Pakistan's about 170 million population.

Maulana Yousef Qureshi, the imam of a major mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, offered a $5,800 (3,700 pounds) reward and warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law.

"We will strongly resist any attempt to repeal laws which provide protection to the sanctity of Holy Prophet Mohammad," Qureshi told a rally of hardline Islamists.

"Anyone who kills Asia will be given 500,000 rupees in reward from Masjid Mohabat Khan," he said referring to his mosque.

While Qureshi is not believed to have a wide following, comments by clerics can provoke a violent response and complicate government efforts to combat religious extremism and militancy.

Qureshi, cleric who has been leading congregation at the 17th century Mohabat Khan mosque for decades, later told Reuters he was determined to see her killed.

"We expect her to be hanged and if she is not hanged then we will ask mujahideen and Taliban to kill her."

Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of four, is the first woman to be sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

Blasphemy convictions are common in mainly Muslim Pakistan. Although the death sentence has never been carried out as most convictions are thrown out on appeal, angry mobs and fanatics have killed many people accused of blasphemy in the past.

In 2006, Qureshi and his followers announced rewards amounting to over $1 million for anyone who killed Danish cartoonists who drew caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad that had enraged Muslims worldwide.

After her conviction, Bibi appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her, saying she had been wrongly accused by neighbours due to a personal dispute.

Last week, a government minister said an initial inquiry into the case showed she had not committed blasphemy. The Lahore High Court last month prevented Zardari from granting a pardon and ruled that the High Court should be allowed to decide her appeal.

"No president, no parliament and no government has any right to interfere in the commandants of Islam. Islamic punishment will be implemented at all costs," said Qureshi.

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