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Showing posts from February, 2007

An open letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

ADVOCATE NAEEM BOKHARI'S LETTER to the CHIEF JUSTICE of the SUPREME COURT of PAKISTAN

Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry
Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Islamabad
Pakistan

My Lord:

I write this letter as an Officer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; as an Advocate enrolled in the apex Court since 1984 and in the High
Courts since 1972; as an Attorney who has paid more income tax from his earnings in the legal profession than many of my friends,
colleagues and seniors elevated to the Bench; and as a stake-holder in the dispensation of justice, intimately and vitally interested in
the functioning of the Supreme Court.

Many judges who adorn the Bench in the Supreme Court and the High Court know me over decades, as a person endowed by nature with a pleasant disposition and acceptance of human failings. Towards the courts, my approach has always been of consistent and continuous display of respect and humility. I bow out of conviction, not compulsion. I use the words &qu…

Committed but Incapable?

"Committed but Incapable?"
By Husain Haqqani
Gulf News, The Nation (Pakistan), Oman Tribune, Indian Express, The Star (Bangladesh) February 21, 2007

The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Ryan Crocker, has attempted to resolve the apparent contradiction between Washington's view of General Pervez Musharraf as a critical ally in the war against terrorism and intelligence about terrorists still operating out of Pakistan. "Pakistan has been fighting terrorists for several years and its commitment to counterterrorism remains firm," Mr. Crocker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the hearing on his nomination as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The challenge faced by Pakistan in coming to terms with Taliban fighters along its border with Afghanistan, he explained, lies in a lack of 'capacity.'

As suicide bombings and general lawlessness illustrate the insecurity of millions of Pakistanis, Pakistan's self-congratulating elite can now sit in the comfo…

Cheney's Surprise Visit to Pakistan: What for?

Cheney Presses Pakistan
Carin Zissis
February 26, 2007: Council on Foreign Relations

Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise stop in Islamabad to deliver a stern warning (NYT) to President Pervez Musharraf that Washington may reduce aid to Islamabad if he does not take a more offensive approach toward terrorists that have allegedly sought refuge close to the Afghan border. President Bush’s new budget includes $300 million in military aid to Pakistan to support counterterrorism activities and stop cross border raids into Afghanistan. The U.S. Congress has threatened to cut the military funding (CSMonitor) if Islamabad does not take a more aggressive approach toward controlling militants within Pakistan. The new pressure marks a change in tone from just last year, when Bush referred to Musharraf as “my buddy.” After Cheney’s brief visit, Pakistan’s foreign office responded pointedly, saying Islamabad does not take orders (The News) on how it handles counterterrorism efforts.

The U.S.-Pa…

The myth of Muslim support for terror

The myth of Muslim support for terror
The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews.
By Kenneth Ballen
Christian Science Monitor: February 23, 2007

WASHINGTON
Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organizatio…

The myth of Muslim support for terror

The myth of Muslim support for terror
The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews.
By Kenneth Ballen
Christian Science Monitor: February 23, 2007

WASHINGTON
Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organizatio…

The Taliban Rises from the Ashes - Insıghtful and ınformatıve analysıs

The Taliban Rises from the Ashes
Nafisa Hoodbhoy
Toward Freedom 22 February 2007

In a recent visit along the Pak-Afghan border, I found growing evidence that the battle hardened Islamic militants had regrouped with a vengeance. It should have come as no surprise: last year the Taliban insurgency had set a new record of over 4,000 people killed. Although the Northwest Frontier Province has traditionally been more conservative than the rest of the Pakistan, I discovered that Islamic militancy had grown almost reflexively in proportion to U.S. bombardment in the region.
Walking along the dusty broken roads of Frontier’s capital city, Peshawar, dodging smoke emitting rickshaws and vehicles speeding recklessly toward me, I went through public spaces which swarmed with men. An occasional shuttlecock burqa (veil) was the only indication that a woman was at hand. The `azaan’ (call to prayer) resounded in the antiquated city, throwing up a unique spectacle: male congregations knelt in p…

Oceans of hatred and ıgnorance

THINKING ALOUD: Oceans of hatred and jahiliya —Razi Azmi
Daıly Tımes February 22 2007

Extreme conservatism, the preaching of jihad, Islamist supremacist chatter and terrorist attacks in Europe and America have allowed one Israeli academic to advance a theory that life can become untenable when the Muslim population of a non-Muslim country reaches about 10 per cent

Sixty-six mostly elderly people from India and Pakistan visiting or returning from a visit to their relatives across the border were incinerated on a train. Not by accident, but by design. The carriage they were travelling in was firebombed by people who do not approve of the process of reconciliation and normalisation of relations between the two neighbours.

No one has yet claimed responsibility and probably never will, for the crime is too ghastly to claim credit for. But one can easily surmise that the perpetrators are religious fanatics or religio-nationalist extremists. They could be Pakistani jihadists graduated from the …

Sıgns of bıgotry...

Zill-e-Huma murder case: Investigators probing ‘serial killer’s’ links to extremist groups
Daıly Tımes February 23 2007

ISLAMABAD: Investigators are probing whether a “serial killer” cleric who assassinated a female minister this week — having previously confessed to four other murders — had links to Islamist groups.

In a case that shocked Pakistan, extremist Mohammad Sarwar shot Punjab social welfare minister Zill-e-Huma Usman in the head at a public meeting in central Gujranwala city on Tuesday.

Police have said that Sarwar objected to the involvement of women in politics and disapproved of the clothes worn by Ms Usman.

“I killed her out of conviction that she was leading an un-Islamic life and spreading an evil influence on other women,” he told interrogators, according to a police source.

Police say that in 2003 Sarwar had escaped justice despite publicly admitting that he had killed four prostitutes and injured another four as they waited by roadsides for clients. “He is a serial kill…

Change ın the aır!

Pakistan's Islamist tide pushed back on Lahore campus
By Simon Cameron-Moore
Boston Globe February 21, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - She may be a model of Islamic modesty beneath her headscarf, but Nilofar has no time for religious political students who would dictate how she dresses, who she talks to, and what she can and can't study.

The willowy 21-year-old is taking a masters in fine arts at Punjab University, where the student wing of Pakistan's most influential Islamist party tried to prevent the introduction of a musicology and performing arts department last September.

"It's not right that they stop people from doing music and theater," says Nilofar, who gave only her first name, standing in Lahore's Alhamra Gallery, dressed in a traditional black shalwar kameez outfit.

Lahore is home to some of the most liberal as well as the most puritanical parts of society, and after growing up in a city regarded as Pakistan's cultural capital, Nilofar has …

Islam and the West: Hopeful Indicators

Poll sees hope in West-Islam ties
BBC February 18, 2007
Most people believe common ground exists between the West and the Islamic world despite current global tensions, a BBC World Service poll has found.

In a survey of people in 27 countries, an average of 56% said they saw positive links between the cultures.

Yet 28% of respondents told questioners that violent conflict was inevitable.

Asked twice about the existing causes of friction, 52% said they were a result of political disputes and 58% said minority groups stoked tensions.

Only in one country, Nigeria, where Christian and Muslim groups often clash violently, did a majority of those polled (56%) cite religious and cultural differences between communities as the root cause of conflict.

Doug Miller, president of polling company Globescan, said the results suggested that the world was not heading towards an inevitable and wide-ranging "clash of civilisations".

"Most people feel this is about political power and inter…

India-Pakistan Tussle over Afghanistan

Afghanistan's proxy war
Boston Globe
By Xenia Dormandy | February 16, 2007

THE PAPERS ARE full of the slow demise of Afghanistan. The Pakistanis are to blame; no, the Afghans; no, the United States. America didn't do enough or did too much. NATO isn't stepping up to the plate, or is it the Germans, or the French people. Is it the Taliban, Al Qaeda , or Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence that is pulling the strings? Is President Karzai powerless, or is he boosting the warlords, or is he a puppet for Americans , or all three? The blame is widespread.

But a large part of the problem is being missed. There's talk about the U S -Pakistan-Afghanistan tripartite, but it's the wrong one. The focus should be on the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India triangle.

In the 1980 s and early 1990 s, Afghanistan was a proxy battleground for the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. One could argue that America was the winner in that battle (the Soviet Union and Afgh…

Where the Taliban breeds...

Where the Taliban breeds
Toronto Star: February 18, 2007
By Olivia Ward

Analysis | The porous Afghan-Pakistani border has been lawless since being imposed on Pashtun tribes in 1893. But this wild frontier must be tamed if Afghanistan is to flourish.

When Hassan Abbas, then a Pakistani police chief, went on a raid in the country's lawless border region, he was surprised to find himself outside his territory – and inside Afghanistan.

"We weren't the only ones who were confused," says Abbas, now a fellow of the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

"For hundreds of years, people have been living on both sides of the border, and when it was divided they found it inconceivable that they should suddenly be residents of another country."

The story illustrates how porous is the wild, mountainous frontier that separates the two countries along the 2,400-kilometre line, which is still in dispute more than a century after it was negotiated by Briti…

Pak-Afghan Relations

Karzai’s change of heart on Pakistan
By M. Ziauddin
Dawn, February 16, 2007

LONDON, Feb15: The Afghan President Hamid Karzai appeared to be bending backwards as he tried to avoid making his usual allegations against Pakistan at the joint press conference that he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed here late Wednesday evening.

He seemed determined not to say anything against Pakistan on the British soil and to every question on the subject of cross-border militancy he responded by referring to what he said a sharp decline in such activities since September last and added that things had immensely improved “and I hope they would continue to improve and both Pakistan and Afghanistan would be able to jointly defeat terrorism with the help of friends like the UK and the US”.

He said that increased cooperation with Pakistan was vital to halting Taliban fighters passing through the porous border with Afghanistan.

Mr Blair said that the neighbours must work together to defeat those on “…

Beards in Bajaur...

Ban on beard-shaving extended across Bajaur: Shaving beard to cost Rs 5,000
Daily Times, February 15, 2007

KHAR: The ban on shaving of men’s beards has been extended across Bajaur Agency and violators will have to pay a Rs 5,000 fine, Ghulam Khan, president of the barbers association, said on Wednesday. “It has been unanimously decided that there will be a ban on shaving beards all over Bajaur Agency,” Ghulam Khan told reporters in Khar, regional headquarters of Bajaur Agency. The ban on shaving men’s beards was imposed following distribution of pamphlets from an unidentified militant group on Sunday that the practice was “un-Islamic”. “No excuse will be accepted for violating the ban and violators will have to pay a Rs 5,000 fine,” Ghulam Khan said, adding that the political administration had been informed about the barbers’ decision. “We have to take the threat seriously because no one can guarantee our security if we ignore the warning,” the chief barber added. Meanwhile, some youth…

A Great Move...

Image
Move to make Quaid’s speech part of Constitution
By Raja Asghar
Dawn, February 14, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Feb 13: The National Assembly allowed the introduction of a ruling party member's bill designed to amend the Constitution to insert a key speech of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah about Pakistan's polity, overruling a ministerial objection.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, who is incharge of the government's legislative business in parliament, opposed MP Bhandara's private bill that seeks to incorporate in the Constitution the Quaid-i-Azam's historic August 11, 1947 speech to the then Constituent Assembly with words that religion would have "nothing to do with business of the state".

But a majority of ruling coalition and opposition members voted ‘yes’ to allow Mr Bhandara, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML), to introduce his Constitution (Amendment) Bill seeking insertion in the Constitution of a new article consist…

Sunni-Shiite rift widens in Arab world?

WP: Sunni-Shiite rift widens in Arab world
Sectarian tension called region’s ‘most dangerous problem’
By Anthony Shadid
The Washington Post: Feb 12, 2007

CAIRO - Egypt is the Arab world's largest Sunni Muslim country, but as a writer once quipped, it has a Shiite heart and a Sunni mind. In its eclectic popular culture, Sunnis enjoy a sweet dish with raisins and nuts to mark Ashura, the most sacred Shiite Muslim holiday. Raucous festivals bring Cairenes into the street to celebrate the birthdays of Shiite saints, a practice disparaged by austere Sunnis. The city's Islamic quarter tangles like a vine around a shrine to Imam Hussein, Shiite Islam's most revered figure.

The syncretic blend makes the words of Mahmoud Ahmed, a book vendor sitting on the shrine's marble and granite promenade, even more striking.

"The Shiites are rising," he said, arching his eyebrows in an expression suggesting both revelation and fear.

The growing Sunni-Shiite divide is roiling an Arab w…