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


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.|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


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.