Saturday, December 20, 2014

Education and Indoctrination in Pakistan

Nasir Khan, Dec. 20, 2014

A Facebook friend of mine wrote me about the importance of education in fighting against superstitious beliefs and belief-systems. In a sense, education is seen as a vehicle of change against indoctrination. My brief reply is as follows:

Yes, I agree. Apparently education is the way to enlighten people and negate the superstitious beliefs held by people. But in many Afro-Asian countries, education is part of indoctrination process in religious dogmas. Once such beliefs are instilled in impressionable minds of children, they become part of their whole life. It is not easy to shake off these because for most of us what we internalised as truth in our younger days stays with us. Only a very limited number of people manage to break out of that mould.

The recent massacre of school children and teachers in Pakistan was a savage act of the Taliban. But this tragedy has also some other relevant issues we need to take into consideration and let not the inhuman callousness of the killers make us oblivious of the broader picture when we are traumatised by the enormity of the crime.

The Taliban have shown hostility to girls' education all along. In North Waziristan Pakistan army has indiscriminately targeted many civilian villages as well as the militant hideouts causing much suffering and enormous dislocation amongst the civilian population. The Taliban have resorted to revenge killings as a response to the military operations. They kill and target wherever they can including the school children in schools. For the Taliban their mission is to further the cause of Islam as their leaders and mentors have set for them. (Who created the Taliban and what for is a question, I wouldn’t discuss here and now.)

Due to the pervasive indoctrination and resultant ignorance caused by mullahs, Islamist teachers and preachers, the Taliban feel they are the soldiers of Islam. They have no remorse for what they do. Instead they are proud of what they do and they justify their actions as in the service of a higher cause - the cause of creating a pure Islamic state with the Sharia laws (regarded as 'God's laws') that will be the foundation of the new political and social system. So  many ordinary, non-militant millions of Pakistani Muslims have been brainwashed to the extent that they support anyone who wants to work for an Islamic state based on the Sharia laws.

Consequently, tens of millions of such people are clamouring for a total Islamic system. Islamic zealots and fanatics can count on the support of millions of 'educated' people such as teachers, lawyers, academics, journalists, etc., who stand for a religious state and the enforcement of the Sharia laws. They want to use their religion, their Sunni version only, as the ultimate standard that is to take precedence over all other minority religions, other Islamic sects and secular views to force obedience to God, His Holy Book, His Holy Sharia Laws, and His Holy Prophet. At present they support the existing blasphemy laws that are easy to use against anyone who says a single word that is seen as derogatory of God, Islam or the Prophet or accuse falsely anyone for having done that bears fatal consequences for the accused ones.

So 'education' can mean many different things depending on the society and the people we talk about. In brief, education and indoctrination are two different things and we need to emphasize their different approaches, methods and goals.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

US stands against the Palestinians’ right to independence and state

Nasir Khan, December 16, 201

America cannot go against the wishes and diktat of Israel. That means it will veto any bid to statehood for Palestine in the United Nations Security Council and it may instead use the empty rhetoric of ‘direct negotiations between the parties’ as the only way forward, knowing fully well that there is no substance to any such way forward as the last 20 years have shown.

The whole world knows that Israel has used the gimmick of negotiations since the Oslo Accords in 1993 to colonise the West Bank and East Jerusalem while systematically wreaking havoc on the beleaguered Gaza time and again. That virtually means that the Zionists are not going to agree to end the occupation of Palestine as long as they have the power and control over the US government and its foreign policy.

Here by ‘ending the occupation’, I mean nothing more than accepting the 1967 borders as the Palestinian Authority leadership has agreed to compromise and thus end the conflict. The reason is simple. Israel has and is continuing its objective of expansion in the occupied areas methodically and relentlessly. What the captive people of Palestine are asking for or aspiring to – the end of occupation of their land and their right to self-determination – is the last thing the Israeli rulers are interested in to listen to or care about. However, I’ll be profoundly happy if things turn out to be different and my fears are proved wrong.

US officials divided on Palestine proposal to UNSC

Senior American officials have failed to reach an agreement on how the US administration should react regarding the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s project to the UNSC calling for a timeline to be set for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, AP reported yesterday.

White House officials said US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the US has to make efforts to delay the Palestinian plan and the French initiative in this regard until after the Israeli elections.

“Escalating violence in the region is another reason to postpone the Palestinian plan,” AP reported Kerry as saying.

Meanwhile, the National Security Advisor Susan Rice supported the idea of conducting American-French talks on the issue to see if it is possible to reach a moderate solution for the Palestinian proposal.

Continues >>

Monday, December 15, 2014

More Than A Quarter Of The World’s Countries Helped The CIA Run Its Torture Program

But even as the White House and the CIA engaged in this dispute with the Senate, a separate, and potentially more serious, set of revelations was at stake.

According to several U.S. officials involved with the negotiations, the intelligence community has long been concerned that the Senate document would enable readers to identify the many countries that aided the CIA’s controversial torture program between 2002 and roughly 2006. These countries made the CIA program possible in two ways: by enabling rendition, which involved transferring U.S. detainees abroad without due legal process, and by providing facilities far beyond the reach of U.S. law where those detainees were subjected to torture.

Continues >>

Sunday, December 14, 2014

History of Israel: Stolen Land of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

Nasir Khan, December 14, 2014

This is an important video in which Israeli historian Dr Ilan Pappe presents some historical facts about the Israel-Palestine question from a perspective that is not so common in the world because of the Israeli propaganda and the rampant Zionist mythological narratives. All those who want to understand the history of the Palestinian people whose land was forcibly taken from them by the colonial-settler state of Israel in 1948 will find Dr Ilan Pappe's books, articles, speeches and videos of enormous value.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The break-up of Pakistan in 1971

Nasir Khan, December 9, 2014

In 1971, under the orders of President Yahya Khan Pakistani army unleashed Operation Searchlight in East Pakistan. What the army was asked to do was to crush all opposition after political negotiations between Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to form the national government failed. In fact, it was Sheikh Mujib’s Awamy League that had won the majority of seats and its leader, Sheikh Mujib, was entitled to become the prime minister of Pakistan. But it did happen this way.

Some prominent politicians in West Pakistani didn’t want Sheikh Mujib to gain power or were unwilling to share power with him. This led to public protests in East Pakistan and opposition to West Pakistan’s domination. Soon the opposition became a rebellion that became a war of independence for the people of East Pakistan to overthrow the yoke of West Pakistan’s political and economic domination. After making enormous sacrifices and receiving military help from India to defeat the beleaguered Pakistani army, the Mukti Bahini, the volunteer liberation army, achieved independence. Bangladesh came into existence as a new sovereign state.

After the tragic destruction and suffering of the people in East Pakistan and the humiliating surrender of Pakistani army there, Mr Bhutto emerged as the most powerful leader in Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) while Shiekh Mujib became the iconic figure and ruler of Bangladesh.

In 1971, the two-winged Pakistan lost its one wing. Since then it has been flying on only one wing! If the high horizons set by its leaders and its mullahs remain undisturbed, it may soon reach some new universe.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The impact of UKIP on British politics

Editor's remarks: Under the old-established British political order political power alternates after a few years between the Tory Party and the Labour Party. It is a political arrangement where political rhetoric may change and arouse the passions of the electorate for a short while but after the electioneering is over the forces that rule the country remain the same and their position remains unchallenged.

Now a populist party has gained much ground. In a thoughtful article Rupen Savoulian shows the impact of the ultra-right UKIP on the political scene. This populist party has built its power-base on the general discontent of the people from all sections of society including the working class and their fears ranging from the Britain’s place in the EU to the question of immigration, etc.

The irony is that the bourgeois establishment will not become weak. It will rather force the Conservative Party and the Labour Party move more towards the right because of the rise of the ultra-rightist UKIP. I think, the discounted people, especially those from the working class who are supporting the new party as a vehicle of change will eventually find that they have betted the wrong horse. But in a country where gambling is a national pastime, people know they don’t always win. At least they clear their thoughts with a few pints of beer in some local pub and wait for the good times to come.

--Nasir Khan, Editor


The ultra-right UKIP surges, and British politics undergoes UKIP-ization

By Rupen Savoulian

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Rational views against the blasphemy laws of Pakistan

Nasir Khan, December 4, 2014

From my own experience with many expat Pakistanis, Mr Mushtaq Khan Kayani stands out as one clear-headed educator who in blunt terms exposes all hypocrisy woven around our past history and religious figures. One problem facing any rational human being who comes from a traditional Islamic background, such as Mr Kayani, is the wide-spread ignorance that permeates every pore of our phoney and superficial religiosity and spirituality. As a result, the clash between the upholders of ignorance [Jahiliyya] and common sense is inevitable.

One obvious example of that social retrogression we witness are the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, which were introduced by the brutal military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. However, the civilised people in the world are stunned by such pathetic nonsense. Thus such laws have made Pakistan a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. Strangely enough, many teachers, preachers, lawyers and columnists defend these laws and they think they are defending God, the Prophet and Islam! In fact, these laws are a true representation of that ignorance and false indoctrination that prevails in that country.

The misuse of Islam has become endemic and has taken deep roots in Pakistan. Only a handful of people like Mr Kayani dare to tell what is happening in Pakistan. As a result they have to face much opposition and vulgar abuse at the hands of obscurantists and self-styled custodians and defenders of God and Islam. Any voice of reason has thousands and thousands of people to drown it in the traditional waywardness.