Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year, 2015

I wish a happy new year to all including political activists who have stood for the rights of the captive and brutalised people of Palestine under the occupation of a powerful colonial settler state, defenders of human rights and religious minorities, anti-war and anti-imperialism friends and comrades.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

After the defeat of US militarism in Afghanistan


Nasir Khan, Dec. 30, 2014

It is not what the Taliban stood for when they held power that any sane person could have sided with them and supported them with regard to their crude views of Islam and forcing it upon a war-weary people. But let’s see things in their political context to judge how they emerged as a political force.

They were able to take political power in Afghanistan easily because of US military and diplomatic support they received in their war against the Soviet forces that had come to uphold the socialist government in Afghanistan. They finished off the socialist regime in Kabul by the symbolic hanging of President Najibullah in the most savage manner. That signalled the shape of the things to come and the sort of theocratic system they had in store for the land. These mujahiddin, the Soldiers of God, that American policy-makers had groomed and used against the Soviet forces opened up a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history with their vision of a state based on the Sharia laws that had not the slightest regard to basic human needs of civilised behaviour and outlook.

But soon American policy in the region brought them in conflict with their major sponsor, the United States of America. When in 2001 America invaded and occupied Afghanistan, the whole political scenario underwent a drastic change. Now Afghanistan was under a foreign occupying power. A nascent movement of national resistance against the occupier started. Even those Afghans who had opposed the Taliban for their harsh policies and their primitive ways of imposing Islam when they were in power made a common cause with them to fight the occupiers. The puppet Karzai regime had to follow his masters. He had no leverage on American policy, ongoing war and frequent civilian deaths.

The US imperialists used barbaric methods to humiliate Afghan prisoners who were blind-folded and hooded before they put them on aeroplanes for transferring to Gitmo or other prisons around the world. President Bush and Defence Secretary Rumsfeld showed great cowardly chutzpah because they were able to impose their will upon a defenceless people and humiliate a proud people. What they didn’t take into account was Afghanistan’s old history. Foreign invaders like the Greeks, the Mongols and the British had occupied Afghanistan in the past but they were not able to maintain their occupation for long. The Afghans drove them out of their country. But was the same thing going to happen to American invaders? Or was the American occupation to be an exception in Afghan history because US was the greatest military power in human history and the world recognised ‘American exceptionalism’? What happened was something like this.

The Taliban became the leading voice of resistance. In this long American war American imperialists got bogged down in one of the most intractable militaristic quagmires from which they were not able to extricate themselves. The resistance continued against them and the Taliban never wavered in their determination to wear down the foreign occupiers. As we have seen in this 13 year war, they succeeded in doing exactly what they had aimed to do. American invaders and their international allies were tied down. Despite their overwhelming superiority in arms and armies Americans could only kill and terrorise but that didn’t stop the resistance and opposition to their occupation and war. New people continued to join the ranks of the Taliban in the warfare.

Now when the foreign forces are supposedly ending their active military operations, the Taliban are on the offensive and are targeting the forces of Afghan regime and its backers. They have not been defeated or weakened. American hegemon knows this fully well. The reason for their victory lies in the fact of leading a successful resistance by guerilla warfare against US military occupation and its military might.

How will things turn out in the coming months and years is difficult to tell. The Taliban may take power and oust the present regime. If that happens then the Taliban’s primitive version of theocracy will be imposed and the cycle of more disasters and oppression will gain a new lease of life.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The impact of famous poet Dr Iqbal on Pakistani politics and society

Nasir Khan, Dec. 29, 2014

First and foremost Dr Mohammad Iqbal (1877-1938) was an eminent poet in Urdu and Farsi, a poet whose ideas had a wide range and profound impact upon the educated Muslim masses. (As I have written about his political and social effect a few times earlier in my articles, I will not discuss him at length here.) What we see in the early period of his poetry are his universalist and humanist ideas – with no communalist or reactionary leanings as they became apparent later in his poetry.

Occasionally, he also wrote some stirring revolutionary poems (e.g. Lenin khoda ke hazoor main, etc.) for the struggles of workers and peasants and other down-trodden people in the prevalent system. He also castigated traditional mullahs, pirs and other religious parasites for their actions and the ignorance they spread. But unluckily that was not the dominant aspect of his poetry.

However, he was an Islamist, a mullah, at heart and his poetry became more and more communal and Islam-centred. He became a vocal visionary of an Islamic polity and political domination. Now he was a rider on Islamic propaganda wagon. That was tragic for the Muslim masses. His influence, ideas and religious zeal were fully exploited by political reactionaries, opportunists and communalists of all brands within Indian Muslims. Thus an intelligent man’s faculties ended up in the service of reaction and Islamic utopia. Gone was the universal impetus and vision.

We have been watching the march of Islamic ‘pur-asrar ghazis’ in Pakistan and other Islamists and mullahs who have virtually pushed the land of our forefathers into the abysmal condition as at present. In my view, the conditions in Pakistan are not going to change for the better in the foreseeable future either. In some ways, Iqbal has much to account for our ‘Islamisation’ and our misery. But he is lucky not to see what we see and experience.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Has America the right to kill foreign people?

Editor’s remarks: In criminal law those who commit a premeditated murder are held accountable of their crimes in places where there is rule of law. The same principle extends in international law to the states that plan and kill people in foreign countries. They can be held accountable for the crimes of murder. If a powerful country like the United States uses its global domination and its overwhelming military and technological power and expertise to carry out such killings in some distant parts of the world, such killings are unlawful and culpable homicides. Those who authorise such killings by their military forces or by other means remain responsible vicariously for the crimes . Under international law they are responsible for the crimes of murder.
 
The American rulers have been killing people in many countries in total disregard to international law and the Geneva Conventions, acting as if they are above the law because there is no one in the world who can hold them accountable for their crimes. That means the brutal use of military and technological power by the American rulers is a law unto itself and the people around the world accept it as ‘American Exceptionalism’! In brief, the rulers of America can do whatever they want because they represent the the strongest imperial power in this age.
 
Nasir Khan, Editor


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http://www.truth-out.org/…/28221-killer-drones-are-a-lethal…

 
By the time Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize award one year into his presidency, he had ordered more drone strikes than George W. Bush had authorized during his two presidential terms.
truth-out.org|By Marjorie Cohn

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

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http://rupensavoulian.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/the-ultra-right-ukip-surges-and-british-politics-undergoes-ukip-ization/#comment-495

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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Guardian’s Misleading Editorial

 Nasir Khan, November 20, 2014

The Guardian’s editorial on 18 November 2014 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/guardian-view-on-jerusalem-killings) deals with the violent killing of four Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighbourhood on Tuesday 18th November 2014. On hearing the news the PA President Mahmud Abbas condemned this act of violence by two Palestinians, who were immediately killed by the Israeli police. The American rulers and media condemned these brutal killings vociferously. But as far as I am concerned I have always condemned and opposed any acts of violence against anyone because all bloodshed is wrong, unacceptable and indefensible no matter who the perpetrators of such crimes are, Israelis, Palestinians or someone else.

In the last two short paragraphs of the editorial, the editor raised fair questions about the policies of the Netanyahu government. But the editor’s portrayal of the gory acts in the first three paragraphs is much flawed and misleading. If the writer has some inkling of the forces that created Israel, not as espoused by the hasbara, but by historians of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict then he would have seen and wrote about them otherwise.

However, it is quite common to see amateur journalists who can easily skip facts to push a story on their readers. But we expect an editorial of the Guardian to present facts in a sober and judicious manner to help readers to understand the issues involved. Melodramatic and emotive language used here hides the facts more than it enlightens. All acts of violence, killings, desecration or provocation in a place of worship are reprehensible. We all readily agree on this. What the two killers did at Bar Nof synagogue was a crime.

At the same time we should also keep in mind what the Israeli authorities and righting Jews have been doing for quite some time at Al-Aqsa Mosque are also crimes and incessant provocations. In fact, the Israeli state and Zionist provocateurs bear the full responsibility for their criminal actions surrounding at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the last few weeks while such provocations by Israeli leaders have a long history. No wonder if such actions lead to their anticipated or unexpected fallout. The killings at the synagogue and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque are not isolated incidents; they are interrelated. Obviously, it does not suit hasbara to admit any such connection.

The editor writes, “Attacks like this were precisely what the creation of the state of Israel was meant to prevent. Israel was to be the one place in the world where Jews could pray in peace and safety. Synagogues in London, Paris or New York have grown used to having a security presence on the door. Now there are calls for the same precaution to be taken in Israel, a bleak thought for a country established to be a safe haven.” Here the whole narrative becomes untenable in the light of history. The state of Israel was not created, as the editor asserts, to provide a country to Jews where they could pray in “peace and safety”.

The British imperialists laid the foundations for such a state in 1914 many years before the Nazis under Hitler gained political power in Germany. After the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the plans for the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their land were in place. During the inter-war period, the growing Jewish migration to Palestine and subsequently at the end of the Second World War, the Zionist terrorist organisations in Palestine lost no time to force the British as the mandatory (colonial) power to run back to the British isles. Now the Zionists were in full control. This was the creation of Israel and the start of the process of the Zionist colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

What started in 1948 is still going on. The West Bank has gradually been devoured by Israeli settlements and in East Jerusalem the pace of settlements has increased. Whereas the Gaza strip remains a virtual concentration camp. After the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, the Zionists have devastated Gaza from which it may take years to recover. Moreover, it is Israel that tells PA President what to do or not to do. Living under Israeli occupation, he has few options. He is a nominal figure operating under a colonial power. As a result he conforms to Tel Aviv’s edicts.

Obviously, the creation of Israel was not to provide a safe place of worship to the Jewish believers. In fact, there was no restriction on Jews going to their synagogues. That was so in Europe, Asia and America. The present-day safety measures in the synagogues of London, Paris or New York, as the editor erroneously explains, are not due to any inherent hatred against the Jews but rather due to the genocidal policies of the state of Israel and its brutal oppression of the Palestinians.

The editor pushes his/her line of thinking even further and along the same lines as before and comes up with an explanation that many observers may find amusing: “By attacking men as they pray – not, it is worth stressing. In the occupied West Bank or in annexed East Jerusalem but inside the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel proper – . . .” No one from Israeli ruling class has ever defined where Israel’s borders and boundaries lie or would lie. To have done so would have meant to forego the Zionist objective of creating Greater Israel. Consequently, the easiest thing to do was better served by keeping the question of ‘Israel’s borders’ a matter in the grey zone, where nothing was definite and all was subject to change as the chances arose.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Pakistani blasphemy laws and minorities

Nasir Khan, November 6, 2014

This unthinkable and horrifying news of the breaking of the legs of a working-class Christian couple and burning them alive by a large mob of Muslims in Pakistan shows the utmost inhuman acts in the name of religion in general and blasphemy laws of Pakistan in particular. (For details, see:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-147-2014) It is also important to see that this was an extreme example of that social and moral degradation that prevails in Pakistan. The morbid disregard shown by some extremist or even some ordinary Muslims for crimes against the members of any religious minority, such as Christians, Ahmadis or Hindus, etc. is not frowned upon by many Muslims but is rather viewed as an act of devotion to God and the Prophet. Such is the lower depth of depravity that prevails in Pakistan and very many indoctrinated ignorant  people  rejoice over such acts of  unspeakable savagery in that  country.

But there is little ground to criticise only the ‘uneducated’ or ‘brainwashed’ people; many ‘educated’ people including many lawyers also support such blasphemy laws. For instance, in 2011 Mr Salman Taseer, governor of the Punjab province, a secular leader and opponent of the unjust blasphemy laws, was killed by his own bodyguard because he had spoken against the ill-treatment of Christians and advocated the repeal of the blasphemy laws. It may come as a somewhat surprise to many people in the world that many people in Pakistan had zealously demonstrated in favour of the murderer and among such demonstrators were the Pakistani lawyers who wanted to stand by the murderer and protect the blasphemy laws!

Pakistani rulers and legislators imposed the blasphemy laws in a country where Muslim populace was religious but never morbidly extremist or intolerant of other faiths or viewpoints. However, the introduction of the blasphemy laws changed things drastically. They strengthened further the hands of the rightist and obscurantist forces in the land. Such laws could easily be used and exploited in matters that had nothing to do with religion as such. For instance, they provided a pretext, a cover-up to those who to settle their private conflicts or disputes could readily accuse their opponent of having said anything derogatory about matters covered by the blasphemy laws. 

Thus any Christian or the follower of any other minority faith can be falsely accused by anyone; it has been happening regularly. Once charged, their fate was sealed. There was little any such accused people could do to prove their innocence because the charge of blasphemy had already tilted the balance of justice against them. To the outside world such things may seem too primitive and stupid for a country in these times. But that’s how the things are in Pakistan. And the injustices ordinary innocent people suffer especially the religious minorities are getting worse in Pakistan.

What can the international community do to stop this savagery in Pakistan? Let me leave this question for consideration to other writers and activists also. In this context, I appeal to all human human rights organisations, individuals who defend human rights and political activists for their help and solidarity for a common struggle against the most frightening crimes committed in Pakistan against the ordinary people belonging to various religious minorities. As long as the present blasphemy laws are on the statute book such brutal crimes as we saw in the case of the inhuman murder of this Christian couple will not stop. 

The minorities of Pakistan are extremely vulnerable and they need our help and protection. There are many things that need to be done; to demand the repeal of the blasphemy laws in one of them because these laws are a flagrant violation of human rights and a sickening misuse of Islam, a great and noble religion of compassion and toleration. This matter should also be brought before the organs of the United Nations. All civilised people around the world have a moral responsibility to raise their voice against the violations of basic human rights under the blasphemy laws and the victimisation of religious minorities in Pakistan.

 (The server to Humanrights.Asia for the link seems out of order now. But the tragic news can be read on this link: http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article33445)

Monday, November 03, 2014

Violence in Pakistan and religion

Nasir Khan, November 3, 2014

Yesterday 60 people were killed in Pakistan and many were injured. Such killings of the innocent people have become a matter of routine that are repeated so often. Ordinary people are helpless; they can’t do anything. The government cannot control this pervasive violence because the causes of violence are many. It is obvious that no pious wishes can change the situation because without uprooting the causes of violence, none can stop the violence. There are many causes for this, starting from the manipulative policies of Pakistani rulers and their subservience to US imperialism, to the Saudi role in Pakistan and the exploitation of religion in general for well over six decades.

A tree is known by the fruit it bears. Pakistan is harvesting the fruit now in the shape of senseless killings, violence and religious fanaticism. In this country different political and social forces have done much to banish sanity from the public and private lives of its citizens. Political elite and religious establishment had set the process of making Pakistan a citadel of ‘pure’ Islam. We see how that citadel looks and how the rest of the world sees it. The results of myopic indoctrination and misuse of religion are clear. 

No realist observer can predict any change for the better in the foreseeable future either because the communal hatred, sectarianism and ignorance [jahilia] have taken deep roots that cannot be uprooted by any emergency measures. Pakistan needs a new direction in politics and in educational system to stop the misuse of religion and new strategies to cope with violence and fanaticism.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Religious freedom or religious coercion?

Nasir Khan, October 30, 2014

The whole history of mankind shows when Religion and State were united, the world saw only political and social oppression, injustice and disasters. The same thing is happening in many countries now where some people are killing others in the name of their religion and for imposing their brand of religion on others by terror and coercion to take political power. But they reject the other course, a humane and sensible course, which allows a peaceful existence of all people in a democratic way, which leads to the well-being of all, respect for all religions and their followers, such as, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Buddhists, animists, all sorts of believers or non-religious people.

Under such a democratic and humane system all people have equal social and political rights. There is no discrimination against anyone because of their religion or oppression of any religion under any pretext. All people have freedom to follow their religions according to their customs and traditions freely. Religion becomes a matter of personal choice over which no other authority, social or political, can intervene.

The question before all of us is: which is the better way? I think the people who have not been fully brainwashed and indoctrinated will accept the democratic path. But those who want to kill and terrorise to impose their only misguided convictions and dogmas will continue to kill and terrorise. If they gain power, they will impose their unjust laws, discriminate against other faiths and sects and make the life of minorities intolerable and brutish.

Stephen Lendman: America’s Deplorable Afghanistan Legacy

civilian-casualties
 
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg absurdly calls Afghanistan an Alliance success story. As ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) “completes” its “mission at the end of this year.”
 “This unprecedented international effort has contributed to a better future for Afghan men, women and children,” Stoltenberg claims. “And it has enhanced global security.”

Disaster more accurately describes things. Conditions are horrific. Perhaps worse than ever. A testimony to US-led NATO high crimes against peace.

Afghanistan’s new puppet government agreed to let around 10,000 US troops remain indefinitely. Immune from Afghan laws. Free to rampage with impunity. On the pretext of serving in an advisory capacity.

Afghanistan today reflects “the grand illusion of the American cause.” What CIA officials called Vietnam decades earlier. After over 13 years of neo-colonial war, Washington won’t cut its losses and leave. For good reason.

Afghanistan is strategically important. A geopolitical prize. Straddling the Middle East, South and Central Asia. In Eurasia’s heartland. Permanent occupation is planned. War won’t end. At issue is exploiting Eurasia’s vast oil, gas and other resources.

Significant Afghan resources rarely discussed.


Continues >>

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Haaretz: Harry Potter actress blames ‘stupid’ Israel for anti-Jewish backlash

Nasir Khan,  October 28, 2014

The Zionists have cultivated anti-Semitism by their anti-human hasbara, their ethnic cleansing of Palestine and their brutal genocidal wars against the captive Palestinians of the Occupied Palestine. The world sees now what they do and what they have done before. As a result many ordinary people have nothing but revulsion and disgust against what the Zionists stand for and the horrible war crimes they have committed. The last major crimes they committed were in Gaza in July-August in 2014 which we all witnessed on our telescreens. Unluckily many Jews have fallen in the trap of the Zionist deception. That has been a deeply tragic thing for the Jews, Palestinians and many other people around the world. The shameful ‘victories’ of the Zonists are losses for humanity.

——————————
British Jewish actress Miriam Margolyes says anti-Semitism is horrible but Israel is ‘stupid for allowing people to vent it.’

By Haaretz | Oct. 28, 2014

The British Jewish actress who played Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films has called Israel “stupid” for allowing people to “vent” anti-Semitism.

Miriam Margolyes told Radio Times, a British television and radio magazine, that there has been a “troubling backlash” against Jews in the wake of the summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, British media reported.


“I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behaviour is not acceptable,” she said. “There’s been a troubling backlash.”

Margolyes grew up in a Jewish household in Britain, according to Sky News. Her parents are descendants of immigrants from Belarus.

Continues >>

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Democratic rule or theocratic rule for the Muslim people

Nasir Khan, October 26, 2014

Islam is a religion, a great religion, but it is not a political ideology for multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies of the present times. It contains some golden principles such as equality, fairness and justice that are applicable in politics because such universal principles are recognised as the pillars of democracy and open society. But that does not mean religion, any religion for that matter, can be an alternative to democratic form of government because this inevitably leads to the concentration of power and influence in the hands of some potentates and despots. This has been the case in the the Middle Ages where the Church dominated states and it became a symbol of tyrannical rule and oppressive practices. It is quite so in some Islamic countries where dynastic despots and oligarchs rule by using Islam for their own ends and state oppression. 

It’s not difficult to see that different people have different interpretations of Islam. Historically, there has never been any unanimity of views in Islam on a range of issues. During the formative period of the Islamic Caliphate after 632 C.E. differing and mutually exclusive interpretation of Islamic state and Islamic rule had soon started to take shape when the community split along the Sunni-Shia lines. Such differences have multiplied over the course of fourteen centuries. Even within the Sunnis different schools of thought emerged and there is no way they can ever be reconciled. Nor, can the Sunni and Shia concepts of what constitutes Islamic ruler be reconciled because of the differing concepts that underlie Caliphate (Sunni) and Imamate (Shia).

When some people dare to give their opinions, which do not repeat the centuries-old stereotypes they are attacked for their heretical views by the orthodox and rigid literalists of traditions. They assume only they have the ‘true’ version of Islam; therefore, only they are the ones who can rightfully speak on behalf of God and Islam while all the others are groping in the darkness of ignorance and suffering from the malaise of modern Western ideas of democracy and human rights. However, it is essential to explain that democracy is a form of government in which the will of the population of a country is decisive in forming policies that advance the cause of the citizens in social, religious, economic and political matters. In a genuine democracy this will reflects the actual needs of the people but in a bogus democracy the form of democracy is used to further individual or particular interests while paying lip-service to the values of democracy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Asia Bibi, the condemned Christian woman to take blasphemy case to top Pakistani court

Nasir Khan,  October 21, 2014

First of all, as a Humanist I fully acknowledge the positive aspects of all major religions including Islam. But what ignorant people do in the name of a religion is a different thing; they negate or pervert the positive sides of religions. Unfortunately the case of many indoctrinated and misled Pakistani people and their support for the blasphemy laws shows the degree of ignorance that prevails in that country. The misuse of the religion of the majority by the lawmakers shows how they enacted such laws in violation of basic human rights including the freedom of speech. No surprise if the judiciary upholds these laws and proves pivotal in perpetuating gross injustice and denial of justice on flimsy grounds. Thus Pakistani religious minorities suffer; they are victimised in the name of ‘safeguarding Islam’ as we can see in the case of Asia Bibi.

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By Adeel Raja and Susannah Cullinane, CNN

October 20, 2014
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — A Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan plans to take her case to the country’s highest court after a high court last week rejected her appeal, her attorney says.


Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with Muslim fellow field workers.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water she had touched because she was not Muslim.


In November 2010, a Pakistani district court found Bibi guilty of blasphemy. The offense is punishable by death or life imprisonment, according to Pakistan’s penal code, and Bibi was sentenced to hang.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Note on Leon Trotsky


 Nasir Khan, Oct. 18, 2014

Leon Trotsky has either been demonised or idealised within the socialist movement for various reasons. Those who have demonised him saw only a personification of counter-revolutionary in him. But those who idealised him see in him the only great revolutionary in the twentieth century. Thus unluckily the evaluation of Trotsky has become a question of putting him in one category or the other, nothing in between in these two extremes. Such modes of thinking are still common among his supporters or detractors. But this is not the way the historic role of an eminent Marxist leader and revolutionary should be judged and described. Neither hagiography nor calumnies do justice to a great revolutionary who despite his differences with the Bolsheviks came to the side of Vladimir Lenin and became a dynamic voice defending and serving the October Revolution. But he was not the man who could have survived the tumultuous times once Lenin was no more. What happened to him after the death of Lenin in 1924 is well-known to all.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marjorie Cohn: US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History

For many years after the Vietnam War, we enjoyed the “Vietnam syndrome,” in which US presidents hesitated to launch substantial military attacks on other countries. They feared intense opposition akin to the powerful movement that helped bring an end to the war in Vietnam. But in 1991, at the end of the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”

With George W. Bush’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and Barack Obama’s drone wars in seven Muslim-majority countries and his escalating wars in Iraq and Syria, we have apparently moved beyond the Vietnam syndrome. By planting disinformation in the public realm, the government has built support for its recent wars, as it did with Vietnam.

Now the Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war. The program is focused on honoring our service members who fought in Vietnam. But conspicuously absent from the website is a description of the antiwar movement, at the heart of which was the GI movement.

Continues >>

Netanyahu says there will never be a real Palestinian state

Editor’s remarks: Netanyahu is saying what is obviously Israeli position despite the charade of ‘peace negotiations’ and the mouldy mantra of the ‘two-state’ solution that has been the stock-in-trade of the Israeli deception and thereby misleading the Palestinians and the world public opinion. Most of the Arab states and their servile rulers are dependent upon US imperialism for their survival. Except for an occasional pronouncenment of solidarity with the people of Palestine, mostly for domestic consumption and to please the Arab masses, the countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are furthering the Israeli designs. What makes these countries partners of Israel and for which objectives is not always divulged openly.

Nasir Khan, Editor
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Netanyahu says there will never be a real Palestinian state

Philip Weiss, mondoweis.net,  July 15, 2014

Lots of folks are talking about this. Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a press conference in Hebrew in which he stated that he would never accept Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank because Israel’s security needs are too great in an era of Islamic radicalism. His remarks have been summarized by David Horovitz in the Times of Israel, with limited quotations.

“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” Netanyahu said, leading Horovitz to say: “That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state.” Just Bantustans, what we’ve observed again and again in recent years.

Continues >>


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Imperial Pax Americana (Video)

What is the health of the American empire? How does the American empire differ from all other empires in history? What factor will inevitably be the collapse of the American empire? Is it supporting policies that actually play against US interests?

CrossTalking with Eric Draitser, Bruce Fein and Vassilis Fouskas.

Click on the link below to see the video:

http://rt.com/shows/crosstalk/195320-us-empire-collapse-policy/#.VEAHOp4KVws.facebook

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Do Americans Hate Beheadings But Love Drone Killings?

Editor’s (sacrcastic) remarks: The Drone way is good; it is almost like mercy killings. American killers don’t see their victims and the victims get no time to see their killers. In fact, if the victims had a few seconds before they are killed they should kneel before their god and thank the Americans for their act of kindness. This also shows that American way is far superior to Islamist thugs’ cruel and inhuman way. It is not for nothing that American exceptionalism is respected over the world. The Islamist thugs need to learn humane and American values from their American counterparts and do as they do! That’s the way to go forward and bring peace to the troubled regions of the world.

Nasir Khan, Editor

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Why Do Americans Hate Beheadings But Love Drone Killings?

by Coleen Rowley, Huff Post, September 28, 2014

The answer lies in human psychology. And probably like the old observation about history, people who refuse to understand human psychology are doomed to be victims of psychological manipulation. How is it that even members of peace groups have now come to support US bombing? One lady framed the issue like this: “I request that we discuss and examine why the videotaped beheading of a human being is understood to be more egregious than the explosion (almost totally invisible to the public) of a human being by a missile or bomb fired from a drone.”

There are at least four main reasons that explain why Americans care far more about the beheadings (thus far) of two Americans and one U.K citizen, than they care — here’s the polling — about the thousands of foreign victims of US drone bombing. Here’s how people are likely being manipulated into believing that more US bombing is the answer to such terroristic killings even when almost all military experts have admitted that it won’t work and “there’s no military solution”.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Palestinian leaders help Israel evade ICC, again

Riad Maliki during his visit to the ICCRiad Maliki during his visit to the ICC

In 2009, Palestinian leaders attempted to bring Israel’s actions during “Operation Cast Lead” to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Although the bid was refused by the then prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on the grounds that only states could do so and Palestine was not recognized as a state, the move fuelled hopes that one day Israel could be held accountable.The United Nations General Assembly approved Palestine’s 2012 statehood bid, upgrading Palestine to a non-member observer state and therefore making it eligible to bring a case to the court. The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has stated that “the ball is now in the court of Palestine,” “Palestine has to come back” and “we are waiting for them.”

When Palestinian foreign minister Riad Maliki visited The Hague in early August, the seat of the ICC, hopes were once again raised- would Palestine’s leaders finally follow through with its ICC threats? Maliki told reporters that the visit was made in-order to discuss the implications of signing the Rome Statute. Signing the Rome Statute would make Palestine a member of the ICC with the authority to call for an investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Israel.

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Monday, September 08, 2014

Stephen Lendman: Abbas Scuttles Fatah/Hamas Unity

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Last April, Fatah and Hamas agreed on establishing unity Palestinian governance. Hamas official Izzat Ar-Rishiq said issues separating both sides were resolved. Fatah confirmed the report. Both sides agreed to form a “government of independents.” It would be “tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year.”
 
PLC deputy head Dr. Ahmad Bahar called the agreement historic. Gaza’s coalition of independent figures head Abdul-Aziz Shiqaqi said it breaks new ground. It offers reconciliation hope. Earlier unity talks failed. Israel sabotaged them. In April 2011, both sides met in Cairo. They announced a draft reconciliation agreement.

Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported “a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections.” Hamas official Izzat Ar-Rishiq said differing issues between both sides were resolved.

Fatah’s delegation head, Azzam Al-Ahmad, confirmed it. Both sides agreed on unity governance, he said. They’ll be “tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year.”

Reconciliation didn’t follow. Agreed on terms were ignored. A similar Doha 2012 agreement followed. Announced national unity governance wasn’t consummated.
Netanyahu reacted as expected. He demanded Abbas “choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.”  “There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly,” he said. “I think that the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip.”

Continues >>

Friday, September 05, 2014

Peter Hart: Israel, Gaza and False Balance

Media construct a symmetry of violence where none exists

By Peter Hart, Fair, September 1, 2014


 Extra! cover, September 2014 
 
Striving for a deceptive “balance,” US media miscast the devastating violence of Israel’s attacks on Gaza and obscured the lopsided nature of the death toll.
 
This started with the timeline preferred in much of the press. By most media accounts, the conflict started when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped on June 12; their bodies were discovered on June 30. The Israeli government immediately declared Hamas responsible. Days after the discovery of the victims’ bodies, a Palestinian teenager was abducted and murdered by Israeli extremists, in what was called a “revenge” attack. Hamas rockets started falling in Israel, and “Operation Protective Edge” was Israel’s response.

This narrative of Israeli response to Palestinian aggression was set from the beginning: “Striking back. Israel hitting hard overnight with 34 precision airstrikes on a Hamas compound,” declared ABC World News’ Alex Marquardt (7/1/14). A USA Today editorial (7/15/14) explained that the war started when “Hamas began its latest round of mostly ineffectual rocket attacks on Israel.”

Continues >>

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The truce between Gaza and Israel

Nasir Khan, August 27, 2014

All the well-wishers of the people of Palestine around the world are relieved to hear about the recent truce arranged between Gaza and Israel in the hope that it will put a stop to Israel carrying out further destruction and massacres in Gaza. Many people have voiced their opposition to the Israeli savagery in Gaza. But how long will the truce last or how will Israel behave in the days, weeks and months to come is yet to be seen. Zionist rulers of Israel can never be trusted for anything positive except for their unmatched expertise in deception and manipulation. As things stand at present, it is prudent to say that this truce means the temporary end of hostilities and nothing more.

Israel’s overwhelming military power in the hands of a rabid rightist government was used in the most destructive way over a population that practically has been defenceless and beleaguered by Israel. Despite all the destruction and massacres of a captive people, the resistance forces of Gaza have faced Israel with incredible heroic courage and determination. If they also had the sort of advanced weapons Israel used in Gaza then the carnage we watched on television screens would not have taken place.

Killing a defenceless people is easy and cowardly. What Israel did was to rain bombs and missiles on the Gazans without incurring any damage or loss itself because the Palestinians had no weapons to use against them. As a result Israeli military forces were free to indulge in an orgy of death and destruction with impunity. Despite this, the Palestinian resistance forces remained steadfast and unyielding. As a gesture of defiance they continued to fire rockets into Israel that did little or minimal damage. But their defiance against the brutal occupier and aggressor adds a new and glorious chapter in the history of the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation and emancipation. However, the road ahead will be long and tortuous.

We solute the brave sons and daughters of Gaza for their determined opposition to the Zionist barbarism in Gaza. They were alone to face a ruthless and insensate military power that was backed by the United States. They received no military help from any powerful state to fight off the aggressor. While powerful Western countries sided with the aggressor, the US-friedly Arab regimes remained either silent or followed the lead of the United States and the Zionist ringmasters. But large number of people in the world have stood with the people of Gaza. They showed this by public demonstrations against the incredible savagery of Israel in Gaza. They showed their solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza in their dire situation.

Lastly, Facebook users have also done much to inform the world of the suffering and destruction in Gaza. Among my Facebook friends some people have given much needed information and views with courage and determination. I thank all such friends in my personal capacity as a Facebook and internet user as well as many owners of websites that publish online newspapers and journals sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ilan Pappe: The Historical Perspective of the 2014 Gaza Massacre

By Ilan PappĂ©, PIPR,  21 August, 2014
 
People in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine feel disappointed at the lack of any significant international reaction to the carnage and destruction the Israeli assault has so far left behind it in the Strip. The inability, or unwillingness, to act seems to be first and foremost an acceptance of the Israeli narrative and argumentation for the crisis in Gaza. Israel has developed a very clear narrative about the present carnage in Gaza.

It is a tragedy caused by an unprovoked Hamas missile attack on the Jewish State, to which Israel had to react in self-defence. While mainstream western media, academia and politicians may have reservations about the proportionality of the force used by Israel, they accept the gist of this argument. This Israeli narrative is totally rejected in the world of cyber activism and alternative media. There it seems the condemnation of the Israeli action as a war crime is widespread and consensual.

The main difference between the two analyses from above and from below is the willingness of activists to study deeper and in a more profound way the ideological and historical context of the present Israeli action in Gaza. This tendency should be enhanced even further and this piece is just a modest attempt to contribute towards this direction.

Continues >>

Friday, August 22, 2014

3 Ways America Enables Slaughter in Gaza



The U.S. government plays a central role in perpetuating the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The American and Israeli flags.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
 
American debate on the hundreds of civilian deaths in Gaza and the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict is polarized between feelings of sympathy with civilian victims on either side and mutual vilification of the Likud-led government of Israel and the Hamas-led government in Gaza.  But it may be more constructive for Americans to think about the role that the U.S. government plays in perpetuating this never-ending and heart-rending conflict. 

Opinion polling during a crisis tends to reflect the passions of the moment, but Americans have told pollsters for decades that we want our government to take an even-handed position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  A Chicago Council Global Views survey in 2012 found that 65% of Americans want the U.S. to "not take either side", while only 30% want it to "take Israel's side". That majority rose to 74% vs 17% at the height of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2004.