Saturday, September 24, 2016

India, the Kashmir Conflict and the danger of war

Nasir Khan, September 24, 2016

India is a big military power and it uses its military power to keep Kashmir under its colonial possession.

Indian rulers have shown no interest whatsoever in finding a workable solution to the seven-decade-old conflict about the State of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems they will continue the same old policy of playing for time and hope that the demands of the Kashmiris for freedom will die down. That is a false hope.

Under some flimsy pretext, India may even start a war against Pakistan to divert the world attention from its barbaric atrocities in Kashmir. 


But any war between the two nuclear powers – India and Pakistan – is fraught with great dangers for the people of the two countries and the region. A conventional war may soon become a nuclear war and therein lies the greatest danger to the people of India and Pakistan. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 attacks


Nasir Khan,  September 11, 2016

If we leave aside many questions around the falling of the Twin Towers and the mysterious collapse of the 47-storey 7 World Trade Center Tower on September 11, 2001, one thing is certain: Who brought these towers down and by whatever means were not Iraqis or President Saddam Hussain of Iraq. That much is well known and remains unquestioned.


The Bush administration did not accuse Iraqis of being involved in 9/11 in any way, either. So, why did President Bush invade Iraq and unleashed a destructive war of aggression in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed and this once-rich and prosperous country reduced to shambles?



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 https://www.facebook.com/Abolishthemilitarypolicestate/photos/a.1081674101842915.1073741828.1077765718900420/1283387871671536/?type=3&theater




Sunday, September 04, 2016

Kashmiris and Pashtoons – Reply to a commentator

Nasir Khan, September 4, 2016


In response to my today's post "Indian forces' atrocities and murders in Kashmir continue" in a Facebook group ("Daring Facts") one Mr Jaffar Safi wrote a comment. I am producing his comment, which was not directly related to my post but I replied to him where I tried to clarify some questions he had raised that may be of general interest to my readers and FB friends:

Jaffar Safi: But Nasir Khan you must know the fact...within 40 years at least 70 thousands kishmiris martaryed by the indian forces and the whole world is crying in general and pakistani people in particular...but within 7 years only in Pashtoon belt round about 80 thousands plus innocent people were killed within the jurisdiction of pakistan ...but we did not see even a single protest in azad kashmir and even in the rest of provices of pakistan ...even you did not write a word of condolence....NASIR KHAN is it parity or disparity equality or inequility or justice or injustice with our people?
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Nasir Khan: Jaffar Safi - What happens in Pakistan or has happened in Pakistan is not the theme of my brief piece on the ongoing killings of the people of Kashmir. That's the first thing to keep in mind. However, the killing of Pashtoon that you refer to is part of the political power struggles within Pakistan.

Pakistani rulers have used Islam for their political ends and exploited this religion to the full in every conceivable way. They used the same Pashtoon fighters to wreak havoc in Afghanistan in the 1980s and were instrumental in the holy war as paid- and misguided mercenaries of USA, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary powers that were involved in destabilising Afghanistan to destroy the Afghan Revolution.

After destroying the Socialist rule and killing the Afghan President Najibullah the same Pashtoon fighters became the soldiers of Allah under the name of the 'Taliban' and started killing innocent Pakistanis, targeting schools and religious and ethnic minorities. It was at that juncture that the Pakistani army took major military offensive against the militants and their hideouts. Of course, many innocent people also died as a result of military operations and millions fled from their homes and sought refuge in other places. This I don't deny or condone. The so-called Taliban and their Islamist backers are still a festering sore in the body-politic of Pakistan.

Secondly, you mention only the plight of the Pashtoons under the military operations. But you don't say what the same army has been doing and is still doing in Baluchistan. How have thousands of people been killed or "disappeared" there? A precarious situation in Sindh prevails where the suppression of the national demands of the Sindhis have been the part of the oppressive policies of the Pakistani rulers. All provinces of Pakistan have grievances, not only the Pashtoons of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

You raise a direct question about me in this. For me that was quite strange to read. As an ordinary political activist I have opposed and written against the policies followed by Pakistani rulers and their mercenary army for decades. Since the internet became available for general use, I have used different websites to expose the policies and violations of human rights of people in Pakistan and other places around the world. By the way, I have not lived in Pakistan for more than half a century. All I know about Pakistan is from some general news in English media in the West. However, I appreciate that Pakistanis who live in Pakistan and know the daily events and the role of the army against the Pakistani people write and publicise as much as they can. It is their responsibility to do their work.

At the same time, I have seen very little support amongst my Pakistani Facebook friends or those who are members of Facebook groups for the Kashmiris who are under Indian military occupation. That shows clearly the level of political consciousness such Pakistanis are able to display. This is my first and last response to you. My best wishes to you if you do any constructive work.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Turkey under Erdogan


Nasir Khan, August 24, 2016

Dr Richard Falk looks at the present situation in Turkey under Erdogan from different angles, and he weighs in both positive and negative sides of the likely scenarios after the July 15 coup. Shifting political partners and allies is a common addiction of all power-hungry leaders. We who have the welfare of people of Turkey in our hearts would be glad that Erdogan does not fall in the trap of those  myopic considerations and interests.

How will Erdogan fare in the near future is difficult to predict. However, demagogues may be clever in mobilising support of ordinary people around themselves but not so clever when it comes to using that popular support for the common good that in case of Turkey still is to maintain a secularist democracy as Ataturk had envisioned and introduced. Any sneaking religious compromises go against the Kemalist legacy that had made a break with the medieval mindset of the Ottoman times.

Despite all the overtures from the PKK leadership to find an acceptable solution to the demands of the Kurds, Erdogan did not do much. He continued dragging his feet and that has led to the renewed military confrontations with the Kurds. This is true that Erdogan can cause much damage to the Kurds militarily, but he will not be able to control the fallout of such ‘military solution’ to the problem. The Kurds are not going to disappear. That will create more violence and instability. The whole situation is fraught with great dangers for both sides.

If he opens up too many fronts, how will he fight? He may wield only two swords in his two hands but he will need may hands to hold many swords to fight on many fronts! As a result only the ordinary people of this country will suffer.


Dr Richard Falk
 
[Prefatory Note: An earlier version was published by Middle East Eye on August 10, 2016. It seems so important at this time for the sake of the future of Turkey that the West look at the country …

 https://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/the-sky-above-turkey/

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review of the paper on the Dome of the Rock and its Arabic text from the Omayyad period

Nasir Khan, August 21, 2016

This is a scholarly paper, originally in Swedish, authored by Lars Djerf in which he has concentrated mainly on the Arabic inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock (DR), their meaning and purpose in a wider political and religious context at a time when Islam had emerged as a dominant political power and religion in the Middle East by replacing the Byzantines in the region.

His presentation of the material is systematic and well-grounded in historical researches and important sources throughout the paper. The interpretation of the Qur’anic texts on DR takes into account the cultural context as Ludwig Wittgenstein had advanced in his views on ‘language games’. Philosophers belonging to different trends in the Continental and Anglo-American analytic philosophy have generally accepted the insights Wittgenstein provided about the working of languages in varying social contexts. The author emphasises ‘understanding intentions and actions’ while interpreting the Arabic texts. In a historical narrative, a text needs to be understood in its social and cultural context to see and analyse the intentions of the original writer.

The author has given a good summary of the condition of DR before Caliph Abd al-Malik (reigned 685-705 AD) started the construction of DR. He discards the view that the Caliph wanted to replace the Meccan shrine with a new structure at DR, as some people have suggested. In fact, much false propaganda is still found about this great caliph. Some have even argued that Abd al-Malik was the real founder of Islam and not the Prophet Muhammad! However, there is little support for such views in serious scholarship on the early history of Islam.

Islam arose in Christian and pagan environments. During the early centuries of the Church numerous Christological controversies arose. During the life of the prophet Muhammad, the controversies about the nature of Jesus (whether he was a man, a divine god or both) were widespread throughout the length and breadth of the Byzantine Empire. Christology had become extremely polemical and led to unending conflicts between different Christian sects.

However, the Qur’an offered a different view of Jesus from the ones professed by Christians. The author has discussed this point adequately and shown why the Qur’anic verses or paraphrases of the Qur’anic texts were meant to offer a theology that emphasised the humanity of Jesus and his prophthood. After the peaceful ‘conquest’ of Jerusalem by Caliph Omar in 638 AD, Islamic political power was established there. At that time, Jerusalem was mainly a Christian city.

By the time of Caliph Abd al-Malik Islamic power was stabilised and the Islamic empire had expanded vastly. Now the task for the new rulers was to assert the uniqueness of Islam as the true religion that was open to all others. The selective Arabic texts from the Qur’an were meant to show what Islam taught about Jesus. In a way, the message of Islam for Christians and Jews was there on DR for all to see. The pure form of monotheism (belief in only one god) that Islam represented was not reconcilable with the Trinitarian godhead of the Church.

In Iconoclastic controversy that lasted 120 years within the Byzantine Empire, St John of Damascus (c. 675-749 AD) defied Emperor Leo III and came firmly in support of icons. The work of St John of Damascus as the defender of orthodox Christianity was to combat Islam, which he termed as the ‘heresy of the Ishmaelites’. He did not see Islam as a new and independent religion. In fact, for him Islam was one more heresy within Christianity.

The author in his conclusion shows that the motives behind the inscriptions on the DR were purely missionary. Having shown what the Qur’an says about Jesus, a great and venerable prophet, the message to all was to come to Islam.

The author has written a commendable paper that contributes to our understanding of the interaction between Muslims and Christians. The attitude of the Omayyad caliphs of Damascus towards Christians was one of toleration and respect. They held high official positions in finance and public administration.


Photo: The Dome on the Rock, Jerusalem





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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Religious beliefs versus rational thinking

Nasir Khan, July 31, 2016

From a Humanistic point of view, followers of all religions should be respected and their concrete good work for other people should be admired and acknowledged. In this connection, it is important to underline that such respect and admiration is not due to their inherent or internalised beliefs and dogmas, but because of our common humanity that binds all of us together.

There is no doubt that vast numbers of honest and sincere believers will never question the contents of their religion. That is a sacrosanct terrain where no intrusion is possible. For them, to question their religious beliefs is simply out of the question.

Consequently, the worst possible sin they can commit is to question what to them is Holy and the Truth. This attitude is the corner-stone of the belief system of the followers of all religions. The only exceptions here may be some non-dogmatic mystics and the followers of the universal love for all humanity, such as the Bahá’ís.

However, despite all the claims believers may make in support of the truth and the uniqueness of their religion, the fact remains that their strong convictions and their strongly-held religious beliefs do not bring them one inch closer to the fundamentals of rational thinking. The instructions issued by the Supernatural Being through his chosen ones and the views on which rational thinking rests have hardly any mutually acceptable meeting point.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kashmir, Palestine and My Facebook Friends

 Nasir Khan, July 24, 2016

At present, I have about three thousand Facebok friends who come from different parts of the world. This list also includes a few hundred friends from Pakistan or who are of Pakistani origin. Over the last few weeks, when Indian army unleashed its brutal crackdown in Kashmir, killing, blinding and maiming the Kashmiri people, most of my Pakistani Facebook friends have shown no interest in the plight of the Kashmiri people. The number of such friends who have actively published and posted on their Facebook walls remains very small.

However, many people around the world have shown their solidarity with Kashmiris, including many people from India and Pakistan who have held public demonstrations in many cities and places against the frightening atrocities of the Indian army in Kashmir. But our Pakistani Facebook friends have remained largely indifferent to the ongoing brutal killings and the blinding of the youth in Kashmir. In fact, their indifference is not limited to Kashmir but also extends to the people of Palestine who, like the Kashmiris, have been under Zionist colonial oppression and subject to systematic ethnic cleansing since 1948.

Some Pakistanis even say that the Kashmir conflict is only for the Kashmiris to resolve themselves. Pakistan and Pakistanis should not bother about Kashmir and its people. In the same way, when it comes to the question of occupied Palestinians, they remain indifferent. Some even support what the Zionists stand for and argue that Israel is defending itself against the Palestinian terrorists!

According to such a perverted logic, it is the Palestinians who are the cause of trouble, not Israel. It is not any secret that some Pakistani leaders and politicians have supported the idea of normalising relations with Israel by recognising it. But what about the Palestinians whose lands has been taken from them by a colonial power? That problem can be ignored. In fact, some Pakistani politicians had other considerations to gain the favours of the Zionists than to take time to think about the captive population of the apartheid state of Israel. But what are the great motives of my Pakistani Facebook friends in their indifference to or even hostility towards the national struggle of the Palestinians? I have no clue.

For decades, I have been a supporter of the right of the people of Palestine and have opposed the policies of Israel towards a captive people. This I have done purely as a Humanist and a Socialist peace activist. I respect the religious or ethnic identities of all people but find no justification for the ideas that any person becomes better than others merely because of his/her religion or ethnicity. I have also some friends who are famous Jewish academics and political activists; they oppose Zionism, Israeli policies towards the occupied or besieged people of Palestine and are firm supporters of the national rights of the Palestinians. Luckily, there are many people in the world who support the cause of the people of Palestine. In this, I also acknowledge the positive role of some Pakistani Facebook friends play in the difficult struggles of national emancipation both in Kashmir and Palestine.

Among all my friends, no matter where they are from or what their ethnic identities may be, if they support the Indian military occupation of Kashmir and the Israeli occupation of Palestine can unfriend me on Facebook.

That also means many Pakistanis may have to unfriend me. I thank all such people for bearing with me but now we should part company.