Sunday, December 30, 2018

Ideology Behind the Extremist Violence in Pakistan

The following article I published on 31 March 2016 after an Islamist bomber targeted innocent people in Lahore. I am posing it again because the mainstay of violence in Pakistan has roots in an ideology which gets all the nourishment and patronage for its abominable crimes.

--- Nasir Khan

A suicide bomber belonging to extremist group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, associated with the Pakistani Taliban, attacked a large park in Lahore where people were celebrating Easter Sunday. His powerful bomb caused the deaths of at least 70 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 350 people. The bomber seemed to have targeted the Christians but the people taking part in the celebration were of all faiths, including Christians and Muslims. Most of the victims were Muslims. This bomber blowing himself up in a crowed public place was following the commands of his extremist mentors. In fact, such brainwashed suicide bombers are also victims of their own right-wing organizations that send them to commit such acts.

Yet, the events of Easter Sunday in Lahore did not come as a surprise to the people who know about the politicization of Islam in Pakistan that produced Islamist militants, willing to attack religious minorities as part of their religious mission.

It is important to keep in mind that such religious fanatics did not emerge in a political vacuum. They are a natural growth of the exploitation of Islam that Pakistan’s political elites had assiduously cultivated right after the death of Mr. Jinnah in 1948. A milestone in the regressive political scenario was reached in 1956 when the new country was baptized as the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’. Thus Islam and Pakistani State had become one; this union was the beginning of the theocratic state where religious establishment and Islamist parties were free to propagate their versions of Islamic State and its political direction.

From now on, religious parties and clerics became even more vocal champions of an Islamist state in which only the Islamic law, the Sharia, was to prevail, thus excluding any man-made laws based upon modern western legal principles and codes. The full introduction of the Sharia was to be the firm foundation upon which a paradise on earth was to be built, where peace and justice would prevail.

As many ignorant clerics and their supporters had scant knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, they visualized the model of the Islamic state strictly according to the Sharia as they wished. Apparently, many people have heard that under the Sharia laws, a thief’s hands are chopped off and a woman accused of adultery is stoned to death. As a result, millions of indoctrinated people are jubilant about the bright prospects of a truly Islamic order and its quick dispensation of justice. The women charged with adultery or some other sexual transgression would be readily sent to the next world; thieves with chopped off hands would prove a warning to any prospective offenders of the consequences of stealing. Such things would kindle the light of righteousness on the heavenly structure set up in Pakistan. No more worries. Worries would become a thing of the unholy past.

What the Pakistani Islamists and extremists have set their sights on are not confined to the borders of their country. Theirs is a universal call for all the ‘true believers’, everywhere. They have a sacred task ahead of them. They should move forward and do what their Islamist leaders tell them to do. In fact, most Pakistani Muslims, who are otherwise quite gentle and kind people in their dealings in their daily lives, support the idea of a such a truly Islamic state that is on the model of the caliphate of the seventh-century Arabia. The call for sharia laws has become the rallying cry and the heartbeat of these people.

How has religious orthodoxy and extremism affected the people of Pakistan can be illustrated from the case of Mumtaz Qadri. By all accounts, he was an ordinary man, certainly an indoctrinated poor soul, who was in the squad of the personal bodyguards of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab. He killed Mr Taseer in the most gruesome manner by shooting him with 28 bullets at close range. He committed this ghastly crime because Mr Taseer had opposed the notorious blasphemy laws and tried to speak on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, who was languishing in prison after her trial and conviction under the blasphemy laws on concocted charges.

On Qadri’s arrest and subsequent trial, large crowds held public demonstrations in the country in his favour. He was the hero of Islam. The role of thousands of lawyers in this sad story was equally alarming. They were over-zealous and were in the forefront of such demonstrations. These ‘educated’ people like uneducated or poorly educated people also saw and see the blasphemy laws vital to protect the name and honour of Almighty God, the Holy Prophet and the Qur’an. Therefore, when we discuss widespread indoctrination, a person with common sense or ordinary intelligence will soon realise the havoc caused by uncritical thinking and morbid indoctrination.

When Qadri was eventually executed for his premeditated murder, hundreds of thousands Pakistanis in many cities in Pakistan demonstrated in his favour, naming him the ‘hero of Islam’ and a ‘martyr’. Moreover, he received the same passionate support from the Pakistani communities living in Europe and elsewhere. Many ordinary people of European origin were simply amazed at what these people were saying and doing in free democratic countries.

In addition, the objective of Islamic parties and their indoctrinating clerics was to fight against what they regarded as western values, such as democratic forms of government, gender equality, freedom of expression and belief. Under this system, religious minorities have only a secondary status in Islamic Pakistan. A change of religion from Islam to any other faith is out of question. Those abandoning Islam run great risks; they become apostates and their punishment is death. However, there is a lot of goodwill towards any non-Muslim who converts to Islam. By such an act, a convert to Islam becomes the member of Islamic community and can have unlimited divine favours here and hereafter.

To sum up, the phenomenon of Islamist terror, whose recent example was in Lahore, is not some incidental aberration but rather a result of a politically and religiously motivated world-view that has an ideological background. It is safe to say that most Pakistanis favour an Islamic order and the introduction of the sharia laws in their country because that will lead to a prosperous present and a virtuous future. However, they do not necessarily support the terrorist methods and bomb blasts of the extremists. They would love to see a peaceful transformation to the Islamic order without the terror of the Taliban and other militant groups they have seen for many years. The support for such an outlook is not limited to ordinary, uneducated and indoctrinated people either. Many well-educated people also stand with the upholders of Islamist ideology and the champions of the sharia laws. The call to turn to ‘real Islam’ echoes the feelings of a country of 200 million people. Where things are heading in Pakistan gives no room for complacency.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Maintaining Institutionalized Ignorance

-- Nasir Khan

Renowned American writer Saul Bellow (1915-2005) says: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance." This pithy saying speaks volumes if we analyze it at greater length. But I will offer only a few fleeting remarks here.

It may surprise some if I say that ignorance is not a simple matter. In fact, a complex phenomenon serves various social, political and religious interests. It is directly related to influence common people and their consciousness of the social reality that surrounds them. However, the task of the brainy purveyors of ignorance is not to inform, but to raise the barriers that would not let any truth slip into the masses! That means if the particular interests are to be protected and masses duped then ignorance has to be institutionalized, fortified and perpetuated by the powerful and the influential people who are at the helm of affairs.

Who can buttress the citadel of ignorance better than the people who are dubbed as intelligentsia, intellectuals and the ‘educated’ ones that separates them from the ordinary people? There is no doubt, they do an excellent job when they have rich and resourceful people to patronize them and institutions to hire their services. They are closely attached to upholding the interests of the ruling elite and justify their actions and policies. I call them modern-day gladiators!

On Proletarian Internationalism

--- Nasir Khan

When the workers of all countries unite for the common cause of a creating a society where the capitalists and owners of the means of production do not control the lives and destinies of the 99% of human beings in the world, any such unity in Marxist thought is known as proletarian internationalism.

The goal of the struggle of the working masses including the peasants and landless serfs is primarily to defend themselves against the power and domination of the owners of means of production that they mostly use for augmenting their own wealth and upholding their privileges. The ideas about the unity of working classes to create a humane world has been the focus of theoretical and practical activities of generations of socialists since the founders of Scientific Socialism formulated their economic and political theories in the 19th century.

The first major step in creating a socialist society took place in Czarist Russia where the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin overthrew the old dynastic rule and introduced the Soviet system.

The success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a catalyst for revolutionary activities of the working masses in many countries and also a clarion call to the colonized people to overthrow their colonial masters. As a result, anti-colonial struggles became a powerful force in many Afro-Asian countries. Many countries, big and small, succeeded in throwing off the yoke of European masters.

But in many instances the local ruling classes that emerged had their roots in privileged classes or groups. The struggle for political and economic exploitation became their sole interest. While such leaders plundered their own people and used the political system as a camouflage for furthering their interests, the plight of the poor people remained a non-issue for them. In any case, it is little consolation to the working class, poor or starving people that their “glorious” saviors and leaders have hundreds of millions of dollars stacked in secret banks accounts in Switzerland, France, Britain and America!

However, such exploitation and downright plunder is not incidental. It is endemic, and closely related to how the capitalist political and economic system works. As long as capitalism lives, such exploitation will have its sway. In the third world countries, the problem of institutionalized brainwashing coupled with the exploitation of religion and cheap deceptive slogans at the hands of the ruling elites will continue to play havoc with the people of many Afro-Asian countries.

No doubt, capitalism is wonderful for a few but a disaster for many. To address such issues, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels advocated socialist democracy and a socialist system in place of capitalism. To achieve that goal, political education of working class people is the first step and that education is part of the political activity that is expressed by the unity of the workers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Are Socialists Non-Believers?

--- Nasir Khan

Socialists are not non-believers. The people who believe in social justice, social equality of men and women, believe in a just and non-oppressive social, political and economic organization of society in the interest of all, believe in the advancement of knowledge free from the power of the ignorant people who keep society back, and who stand for humanity and human values for all without showing favour to any one religion, one special colour or race are believers on a higher level than the followers of dogmas and superstitions beliefs, worshipping stones and all sorts of natural or man-made objects.
A former Facebook friend of mine (she is no longer on my friends' list) and some other readers have come up with some strong criticism of Communists and their crimes under Communist leaders. In fact, her views are quite common in many parts of the world. I am adding my reply to her for other readers to see as well:

Dear XY: My piece is not about Stalin or Hitler and their actions. In it, I clarified in a summary form that socialists are also believers, and not non-believers as some people falsely assert. How are they believers that I’ve discussed. It is about the principles on which socialism is based and the principles which are the core of socialist thinking.

If a socialist or a communist has committed such crimes as you mention, then the fault does not lie with the principles of socialism but with any person who misuses the principles of socialism. In the same way, as Hitler, Franco, Pinochet, George W. Bush killed millions of innocent people; these leaders were Christians. The principles or dogmas of Christianity or even Jesus Christ did not stop them from killing millions of people for their political objectives.

The conquistadors in the New World (America) wiped out millions of the native Americans. All these killers were Christians from Europe. The same thing happened in Australia. The people who wiped out the native populations were Christians. But as a socialist, I do not blame Christianity for what these killers did. I can add to the list a lot more. But I wanted to give you only a short reply.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Religion and Politics

-- Nasir Khan

"In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

― American author Mark Twain (1835-1910)

In Norway, people say if you discuss religion and politics then your social contacts with your friends will have a short life. I am acutely aware of this dilemma because I often discuss religion and politics in my articles and comments that I share with many. No wonder if I can count the number of my close friends on the fingers of only one hand!

Both religions and politics have their long lives that outlive us as individuals. In fact, both religions and politics share some common concerns that make them appealing to their followers. We follow religions because our ancestors have done so. In our childhood, we may ask some odd question but soon we find that the social pressure to conform prevails and we fall in line with the common traditional practices in our inherited religion. Western societies may have found some middle way, but the vast majorities of Afro-Asian societies follow the traditional pattern in matters of religion.

Some people may be modest not to proclaim the superiority of their religion, their religious beliefs or ‘their’ God/gods. But they are limited in numbers. Most followers of a religion take a different course. They may say something that amounts to this: ‘Other religions are false and based on wrong beliefs, but my religion is real and the best’, ‘our God is the only true God because he is not man-made as some others have’, and so on.

In politics, we have more or less the same. For instance, in the United States, there are only Democratic and Republican parties that have monopoly over power. You are either a Dem or a Rep by birth! Only a few may cross the party lines but the vast majorities of the two parties remain loyal to the party they inherited from their parents. Therefore, I find the traditional attitudes towards religion and politics Mark Twain referred to be empirically accurate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The threat of Hindutva fascism in India and Indian Muslims

-- Nasir Khan, December 18, 2018

Badri Raina is well-versed in India's political and social issues. Over the years he has been busy pouring forth his ideas and suggestions in his articles and columns with great vigour and in earnest. As a result, we find much food for thought in what he says or focuses on in his analyses or reflections. One may even look upon this retired professor of English as a political guru for well-educated Indians!

There are many glaring contradictions that an outsider like myself comes face to face when looking inside the Indian political system and judging its main political actors. On one hand, the fundamental principles enshrined in the secular, democratic constitution of the Indian Union are praiseworthy, but, on the other hand, the forces operating against the fundamental values of a secular democracy have been and are a constant threat.

The Hindutva fascism has taken firm roots within the Hindus, thus posing an existential threat to Indian Muslims, who are the main target of the right-wing Hindu militant organizations and their political parties. The expansion and influence of the Hindutva ideology and political brainwashing of the Hindu masses to regard Muslims as enemies and unwanted people has been phenomenal. The enmity and hatred towards Indian Muslims and Pakistan among the Hindu population, including ‘liberal’ Hindus, is bewildering.

Will Rahul Gandhi as the leader of Indian National Congress be able to stem the tide of Hindutva fascism? To succeed, even to a moderate degree, he will need all the active help of democratic people in India. Let’s hope the optimism Raina shows in this column is not misplaced.

In any case, I stand with all those who work for secular democracy, non-discrimination against any religious community and safeguard the human rights of all for a peaceful co-existence under the rule of law.


Why Rahul Gandhi Is Right to Pit Hinduism Against Hindutva

Gandhi underscores that Hindutva is a neo-fascist theory which is far removed from Hinduism. 

It is never a good thing for politics to go just one way in a democracy as pluralist as India’s.
The defeat of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the three Hindi heartland states, therefore, must be seen as a salutary course correction.

A hitherto supine Indian National Congress is clearly up and about, and a feisty revival of its self-confidence is visible everywhere. It will be graceless pusillanimity to deny that Rahul Gandhi as the new Congress president had anything to do with this. Gandhi has battled self-doubt and derision with a steady and humble self-application to the complexities both of his own party and the national zeitgeist, and he emerged triumphant.

Gandhi’s sifting of the campaign agenda and his denomination of personnel at all levels has, for the most part, been impeccable and untainted by small-minded considerations. As has been his refusal to answer the politics of hate and chicanery by similar means. He has earned his spurs the hard way and decisively put to rest speculations about his leadership. It may be said that his career graph defines a heroism of sincerity.

Most electoral campaigns in democracies tend to follow largely predictable axes of propagation, but three aspects of Gandhi’s campaign invite particular attention.

Also read: Here’s What Congress Needs to Do to Continue Its Winning Streak in 2019

Throughout the Congress’s campaign, Gandhi has sought to take the party more to the Left than could have been expected. He has relentlessly attacked the crony-corporate friendliness of the Modi dispensation and countered it by highlighting  agrarian distress and joblessness – issues that have yielded considerable traction among the populace – both in the rural and urban sectors.  The severity of these mass predicaments  has been far too real to be fobbed off by the regressively emotive shenanigans sought to be unleashed by the Hindu rightwing.

More controversially – and for most liberal commentators, problematically – Gandhi, after listening to the findings of the A.K. Antony report, has sought to boldly embrace his Hindu identity.

On the face of it, this aspect of his campaign must seem dismaying to those who hold on dearly to the secular principles of constitutional  politics. There is no doubt that this new turn within the campaign has caused deep apprehension among minority communities, especially  Muslims, who, regardless of their misgivings, see in the Indian National Congress some guarantee of secular safety.
Upon deeper reflection, however, a more constructive and long-term interpretation of this turn seems warranted.

An overdue agenda of India’s cultural politics has been to intelligently deny the Hindutva camp proprietorship of Hindu cultural identity. More acutely, Gandhi’s articulation here underscores that Hindutva, far from being a religious construct, is essentially a neo-fascist political theory of state and polity. Therefore, it’s far removed from Hinduism as practiced by India’s majority population. Where quotidian Hindus – like quotidian Muslims – have always practiced their faith in non-sectarian ways, Hindutva has viciously stoked sectarian and hate-filled cultural proclivities.

It cannot be detrimental for this contrast to have been flagged during the campaign. Gandhi, then, did not so much as succumb to Hindutva as he sought to dethrone its pernicious content with the virtues of personally-held faith. I make bold to say that if the Congress party works this agenda with intelligent discrimination and in tandem with demonstrated pluralism in government and on the ground, such praxis may rid us of a menace against which Indian politics seems helpless.

This must now involve re-owning India’s minority populations with conviction and without fear of the hitherto accusations of ‘minority appeasement’. Given that, however subtly, Gandhi has shown Hindutva to be the larger and more detrimental appeasement politics, Indian Muslims need not suffer any longer on account of an opprobrium that the Congress party has caved into off and on.
The Indian masses have seen enough of the depredation wrought by Hindutva as a political-cultural posturing now to know that it is anything but Hinduism. Gandhi has courageously taken on the onus to exorcise Hindutva jinn from India’s statecraft and body-politic. However, should the Congress be seen jittery again in embracing India’s minorities, especially Muslims, it would only end in paying a fatal compliment to the adversary it seeks to vanquish.

Also read: Assembly Elections 2018: What Does This Loss Mean for the BJP?

The third aspect of Gandhi’s tenure as party president concerns his style of leadership. By all accounts, his democratic humility is no mere posture. The stunning revival of the party structures from top to bottom seem intimately connected with his determination to respect opinions on as wide a scale as party functioning permits. He seems truly to have encouraged First Amendment rights, so to speak, to workers, satraps, regional leaders and party spokespersons to a point where they now seem both unafraid and all the more committed to the party’s ideology rather just to his person. This is a fine prospect for India’s multi-party democracy and for the Indian National Congress particularly.
But, having ousted the BJP from its heartland bastions by appraising the electorate of the hollow nature of political jumlas, the Congress must now ensure that its own manifesto does not similarly remain a fake gesture. It will be crucial for the party that its governance remains rooted in delivering upon its promises. Where if fails to do so for objective reasons, it must be able to forthrightly communicate to the people the constraints which prevented it from performing in those areas.
Much of the party’s credentials to play a leading role in unifying political opposition against the BJP in the upcoming general elections will depend on its people-oriented governance.

Badri Raina taught English literature at Delhi University for four decades. He is the author of Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth, The Underside of Things: India and the World, Kashmir: A Noble Tryst in Tatters and other books.

Christmas, Palestine & Kashmir

Nasir Khan, December 18, 2018

Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy Yule to all who live in peaceful, democratic countries where human rights are respected and the rule of law is followed. 

But the occupied people of Palestine live under a brutal colonial power, Israel, which is busy killing and uprooting the Palestinians. 

The same story is repeated in Kashmir, where Kashmiris demand freedom and the right to self-determination. In response, the Indian army kills, maims, blinds and terrorizes the Kashmiri people ruthlessly. The Indian rulers think that by their military force, they will prevail over the demands of the people of Kashmir, as they have done for the last seven decades. But the people of Kashmir continue to resist the Indian rule.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Wars and Profits

--- Nasir Khan. 

"War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it."

-- British writer George Orwell (1903-1950)

Well, selling weapons and making enormous profits is quite common for the weapon producers. If there are no wars or no military conflicts, the weapon industries of the major industrialized countries can’t sell their products and can't survive financially. No war, no profit. Therefore, they have to use their political influence to push the ruling elite to start some military conflicts under some flimsy slogans that catches the attention of the ordinary people.

But when a powerful country decides to invade a foreign country, the ruling elite and their henchmen do no say they are going on a military spree to earn large profits! Instead, they have to use other means to carry out their war plans, by hiding the true objectives of foreign wars.

First, they feed the population of their country with false information. They can offer any reasons to justify a war. The whole state-machine and its think tanks can offer all sort of explanations to gain support for a coming war.

Secondly, they appeal to the demons of nationalist jingoism and patriotism to sell their war. This stratagem or trap never fails. In fact, the thin porridge of national pride to win victory over a distant ‘enemy’ is gladly devoured by the vast majority. What comes next is all too familiar!

Monday, December 10, 2018

The break-up of Pakistan in 1971

-- Nasir Khan

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 Awami 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 Sheikh 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.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Palestine, Palestinians and Israel

---Nasir Khan, December 6, 2018

Today, Terry Deans in the public group John Pilger - Hidden Agendas, Honest Debates wrote a comment in response to my exchange of views with Stephanie Schwartz that I had posted there as a member. 

I am reproducing Terry Deans's comment, followed by my reply.

Terry Deans wrote: 

Well done so far, Nasir Khan. This matter has been a long and complex time in it's establishment and evolution and, as such, any understanding and/or resolution deserves to be regarded with much more than a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer to a very basic question which on no level takes into account the issues you have raised. And there are more than likely to be many more dynamics to this situation.
Nasir Khan wrote: 

Thank you Terry Deans for a politically realistic comment and seeing the problems involved in finding an acceptable solution to the problem Palestinians face. It is common knowledge that Israel has tried a number of solutions to change the face of Palestine and has spared no effort to present the people of Palestine as remnants of a bygone age, which no one should bother about any longer. But for some reason the Zionist rulers of Israel have not tried the 'final solution' yet, even though they had all the military power and the technical know-how to resort to it.

In such a scenario, the most powerful countries, such as the United States and its allies, that dance to the tunes of Zionist rulers of Israel and their lobbies would have looked the other way, as if nothing was happening. The actions of Israel in Gaza are not hidden from anyone; yet western imperial powers fully support the crimes and incremental ethnic cleansing of the besieged and isolated Palestinians of Gaza. Of course, the western mantra that Israel has a right to defend itself is a handy tool for all events, and it would have been used and thus put the matter to rest. Full stop.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Poverty and helpnessness

 -- Nasir Khan

Such were the sights of the poor and the helpless children and of the working class people in the Victorian England that led the two contemporary thinkers Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels to study why the capitalist system was not meant to cater to the needs of the working class people or the poor and unemployed but only to exploit human labour and material resources only for profit. What was true in their day is absolutely true today in many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. In my original homeland, Pakistan, I have seen seven- and eight-year-old children doing odd jobs to earn money for their families. They are the 'breadwinners' for their poor parents. 

It is true that in the Nordic countries, the economic conditions of the working class people have greatly improved, but the problem of poverty and helplessness in many western countries, including Britain and America, remains.

Richard Falk and Palestine

-- Nasir Khan

Dr Richard Falk's single-minded struggle to show the situation of the captive population of Palestine stands out as a conspicuous example of a man of conscience who has been an inspiration to so many! For long, the Zionists and their friends have vilified him and distorted what he said or stood for. Yet, despite all that, he has stood his ground with courage and determination. The Zionists have even called him 'a self-hating Jew' (!); they were not interested in to know that he was not a self-hating Jew, but a beacon of light for truth and justice, siding with an oppressed people, not the oppressors!

It takes some intelligence and much humanity to see that. The Zionists are not without intelligence; they use their intelligence to mislead, to lie, to cover-up the incremental ethnic cleansing of Palestine and thus further the cause of Zionist expansion while using the name of the Jewish people, as we all know. Their humanity? They had banished humanity for good because of their dedicated service to the cause of imperialism, colonialism and deception.


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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What public praise for a philosopher's ideas leads to

-- Nasir Khan

"I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding."

-- Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BC - 271 BC)

Epicurus was a renowned philosopher and he certainly was aware of the worth of his ideas. In a simple and subtle way, he has also touched our profound longing to be appreciated by others for our mental and intellectual prowess and skills. Some may call it a human trait, some skeptics may call it a human weakness. Let us see what the public approval of one's ideas, especially those of a philosopher in reality amount to. That idea is framed and presented in such a way that they will appeal to the feelings of the ordinary people, who, in return, will heap praise on some ‘clever’ guy!

Can a philosopher or thinking person really expect to validate his ideas with the help of popular applause and praise? Epicurus reply was in the negative. So is mine, after having seen how things work in our times!

In fact, the cheap tricks played on the unwary and simple people (simple people never think they are simple!) are a form of manipulation. In extreme cases that has led to personality cults, from the olden times to the present times, with disastrous consequences. We are still reaping the toxic fruits of our gullibility as common people because those personality cults are still shaping our history. The dead of the ancient and past history still rule us from their graves. We never question them or their motives. We simply worship them!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Response to Dr. Nyla Ali Khan and Dr. Nasir Khan, Concerning the Kashmir Question

By Luis Lázaro Tijerina

Recently Dr. Nyla Ali Khan wrote in The Daily Times an essay that could be misconstrued as more of a defense of a family member than an actual objective historical account of a politician who played a pivotal role in the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir— that being her mother’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who eventually resigned as Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, after a fallout with the Nehru Government during the period of 1948-1953. In Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s OP-ED essay “In politics there are no permanent friends or foes — I”, she stated “Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did not lose faith in the international system which was premised on Woodrow Wilson’s principle of self-determination, post-World War 1. The Sheikh, I argue, sought self-determination for Jammu and Kashmir as a territorial unit, not as a Muslim nation. He wanted Kashmir to be an international polity. I posit that he perceived the evolution of Kashmiri nationalism in world-historical terms, as opposed to a domestic and local issue.” Although the author on the Kashmir Question has shall we say ‘good intentions’, she fails to understand that Kashmir Self-Determination and Independence goes well beyond whether Nehru oppressed her grandfather’s political agenda, or whether the territory of Jammu and Kashmir should be also be understood as religious issue regarding Hindu and Muslim faith peoples who live in that region that is located between India and Pakistan. The Question of Kashmir is also a class struggle which needs to be addressed in the most formidable terms.

In a response to the issue of Nehru and the fragile situation in the Jammu and Kashmir region, Dr. Nasir Khan wrote in a response to Dr. Nyla Ali Khan’s essay that “However, the situation in Kashmir region was a bit more complicated for him for a number of reasons. Despite his personal friendship with the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru also thought himself a Kashmiri. Kashmir was not only part of India, but it was also his ancestral home! Consequently, he was not the one who would allow anyone, even a personal friend like Abdullah to assert an independent position for himself or for his people when it came to Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an ‘integral part’ part of India. The legal fiction of ‘Accession’ was always at the back on Nehru’s mind! Many still believe in that false claim.” Actually, I would say that the situation for Nehru, who ideologically was a socialist, but who had been influenced in his youth by Marxism, was caught up, like the leadership in Kashmir, with political and military intrigues that neither parties could escape with their bourgeois fetters of governing their two regional or state principalities. 

According to Mehr Chand Mahajan, who was the third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India prior to the complicated and shall one say the messy events in Kashmir (Maharjan being the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, during the reign of Maharaja Hari Singh, would play a key role in the accession of J&K to India) the intervention into the affairs of Kashmir went both ways. If we are to believe his point of view on the ‘accession’ of the Kashmir region, let us study his memoirs on that situation, when he wrote “Give army, take accession and give whatever powers you want to give to the popular party (National Conference headed by Sheikh Abdullah), but the army must fly to Srinagar this evening, otherwise I will go and negotiate terms with Mr (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah (the Pakistan leader) as the city (Srinagar) must be saved,” Mahajan had reportedly told Nehru and Patel.” ” and it should be understood here that during this period “Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had request that his British commander-in-chief send the Pakistani army and take over the Kashmir state. However, the British military officer refused to follow this order and told Jinnah that he could not do it without consulting the Supreme Commander of all British forces remaining in India and Pakistan, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck. Seemingly, such was the political and military affairs of the Kashmir Question which had nothing to do with personalities or even class difference between the regional warring parties.

Nehru, would not accept a military interference by Pakistan forces, and his hand was forced to send Indian troops into the Jammu and Kashmir region. This political and military escalation was inevitable, as the tensions between the two nation-states of India and Pakistan had not been resolved. One only has to look at the situation regarding the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the horrific political and military tensions between the fascistic state of Israel and the fragile leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected President of the State of Palestine by the PLO Central Council. Amid all such chaos what is forgotten is that the people of Kashmir and Palestine are factory workers, small farmers, students and a progressive intelligencia in both regions that are seeking a normal life. Neither Nehru, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah nor any of the Pakistan leadership could stop the unsettling and justified need for an independent state of Kashmir.

Recently on the website “CPI(M)-CPI” there was a statement on Kashmir that was posted on September 3, 2016, which although goes back two years ago, still has weight in my opinion, in which the author or authors wrote:

The consistent stand the Left parties have been taking is that Jammu & Kashmir has a special status which was reflected in the adoption of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. At the heart of the matter lies how in letter and spirit its autonomy and special status, eroded over the years, can be restored. A political agreement must be reached, which should be acceptable to the people whereby the state of Jammu & Kashmir would remain as part of the Indian Union but by fulfilling the commitment, made to the state and the people in 1948.

The entire geo-political situation has changed in the post-independence decades. A solution to the Kashmir problem has also the dimension of India and Pakistan discussing to settle long standing disputes. For the past nearly two months Kashmir has been in turmoil. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Commander, the people in the Valley have been out on the streets in mass protests. More than 70 people have died in the firing by the security forces and a few thousand have been injured. Two security personnel have also lost their lives. Pellet guns used by the security forces have blinded and maimed many. Instead of quelling the protesters, it only intensified with each death and injury in police firing. The main force driving these protests are the youth. These mass protests that have spread into rural Kashmir, graphically illustrate the deep sense of alienation of the people from the Indian State. At no time has the gulf between India and the Kashmiri people been so wide. This serious situation calls for an examination of the entire Kashmir problem. 

The situation of the Kashmir Question will not be settled by legislation neither by India or Pakistan, nor by any ‘Article’ within the framework of the Indian Constitution. In my most humble opinion, I would state equivocally that neither India nor Pakistan will allow Kashmir to become a democratic or socialist state by a referendum— the voting for independence at the ballot box. One only has to look at the Catalan Question in Spain and the ongoing repression of the Catalan people, or the decades of repression of the colonized Mexican Americans who live in the United States, to understand that Self-Determination and Independence is not given to any people, they have to fight for it. Indeed, the Vietnamese peoples and their revolutionary leadership knew that, when they undertook the political and military struggles against the French and then the American regimes to find their complete freedom from colonial bondage. As Stalin so aptly put it “The principle of self-determination should be limited in such a way as to make it applicable only to the toilers and not to the bourgeoisie. Self-determination must be a means of attaining socialism …” , and as I would say about the Question of Kashmir, it is the right of the common people of Kashmir to decide their right for Self-Determination and Independence, for their rightful place among the nations of the world.…/in-politics-there-are-no-perm…/……/untold-story-one-note-neh…/


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Nehru, Abdullah and Kashmir

-- Nasir Khan, November 22, 2018

My introductory remarks to Dr Nyla Ali Khan's article:

Khan's article is well-written. She has given her views, fairly and judiciously, on the troubled history of the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since the 1947 Partition of India. The roles of Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah in the history of J&K are the focal points of her narrative.

Indeed, the tasks before Nehru as India’s prime minister after the independence from Britain were enormous. Among such tasks was the policy towards the princely states of the Indian Subcontinent and their incorporation into the Indian Union by all possible means. No one and nothing was to be allowed to stand in the way of the enforcement of such a policy.

However, the situation in Kashmir region was a bit more complicated for him for a number of reasons. Despite his personal friendship with the Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru also thought himself a Kashmiri. Kashmir was not only part of India, but it was also his ancestral home! Consequently, he was not the one who would allow anyone, even a personal friend like Abdullah to assert an independent position for himself or for his people when it came to Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir had become an ‘integral part’ part of India. The legal fiction of ‘Accession’ was always at the back on Nehru’s mind! Many still believe in that false claim.

As long as Abdullah followed the path Delhi had decided for any political leader who held power in J&K, he was free to do some good work, including the land reforms, which Khan has mentioned in her article. But if he ever imagined that he could pursue an independent course for his state under the Union, then he was not being realistic. Perhaps, he knew he had not many options. In fact, his ouster from power and subsequent imprisonment, etc., were inevitable, and Nehru and his policymakers had no qualms about it.

Of course, Nehru and his successors always had the upper hand to use Kashmiri leaders as pawns as long as they thought them useful to their ends. Obviously, they are still in the same business, and they pursue the same policies towards J & K and its people. They can easily hire and fire any status-seeker politician in the Valley. There is not shortage of such self-serving political figures in Kashmir.

How many people remember or tell the simple facts that during the turbulent period following the Partition, the Indian army was sent to J & K, which, with the help of militant right-wing Hindu organizations, massacred from 300,000 to 400,000 Muslims in Jammu region to create a Hindu majority region versus the Kashmir Valley where Muslims were in the majority?

It was the famous British historian Perry Anderson who lifted the veil of secrecy on such pogroms in his groundbreaking three large papers in London Review of Books in 2012 which were later published as a book (LRB, Vol. 34 No. 13, 5 July 2012, LRB Vol. 34, No. 14, 19 July 2012, LRB. Vol. 34 No. 15, 2 August 2012).

These massacres took place when Nehru and Sardar Patel were adjusting the map of Independent India.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Making of History

-- Nasir Khan

"Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like an nightmare on the brains of the living."

-- Karl Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)


The social, political and economic factors in shaping history have been emphasized time and again by socialist theorists. Here in this short extract, Karl Marx points to the importance of prevailing objective conditions that determine the course of history. How he sees a logic in the social developments is part of his philosophy of history.

The conscious efforts of human beings sometimes set in motion the wheels of history and sometimes accelerate the speed of that process. But these variables are also dependent on the major trends that already exist. What exists is not independent of what has gone before but is rather a result of the earlier conditions under which historical events took place and the steady historical processes that have been in operation. Even in the realm of speculative thought and old metaphysical issues, we are profoundly conditioned by the old modes of thought and traditions.

Even a great thinker like Marx elaborated his thought by imbibing the ideas of the French Enlightenment, from Montesquieu to Linget and Condorcet, and by the Scottish historians. He took from Hegel the idea that history is the progressive self-realization of man by practical social activity. While Hegel's ideas were couched in somewhat obscure language, Marx was able to find the essential meanings they contained. As a result he developed his ideas by subjecting Feuerbach and Hegel in matters of the role of religion, State, civil society, bureaucracy and the class structure of the industrial society.

His ideas of revolutionary Socialism became clearer in his thought by his critical assessment of the older socialist thinkers. The same thing applies in his understanding and explanation about the capitalism by his close scrutiny of the earlier economists.

Marxism and Freedom

-- Nasir Khan

“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.”
― Jamaican musician Bob Marley (1945-1981)

To gain freedom from social, political and religious oppression is a great thing for every sentient human being. As we know we are living in a world where the 'ruling ideas of the age' we are living in, are related to Power - in all its nefarious forms. Political power, economic power, social power, religious power - all such different faces of power are intertwined; they contribute to the same goals and the same targets. Politically conscious people know that the targets are the ordinary people of any given society, whether in the advanced capitalist societies or the 'developing' countries. If the people became aware of the overall bondages they are subjected to, they will strive for freedom.

The fact remains that only a very tiny minority develops such consciousness; for the vast majority the established order is more like the divine writ, which none should question. However, the ideas and actions to challenge the established order are not easy either; they often have unexpected harsh reactions and consequences. The revolutionaries of the past ages have shown that nothing comes without struggle. In our age, it is still the revolutionary thought and praxis of Marxism that has to 'bear the cross’. This is despite all the howling of the jackals of reaction and their ilk.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Importance of the Separation of Religion and State

-- Nasir Khan

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
[Letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803]”
― James Madison (1751-1836). He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America and its fourth President.

While underscoring the importance of the separation of Church and State, James Madison had in view the gory history of Europe over the course of at least 18 centuries of political strife, horrifying torture and violence because of the unquestioned power of the church over the states and within the political systems of states. The rulers had to obey the commands of the Catholic Church. After the Reformation, the Lutheran including the Calvinist churches also had immense power over the states.

In fact, the question of the separation of Church and State in a broader sense is the question of the separation of Religion and State. After the end of the medieval times, there was a movement towards the freedom of conscience. The people had to be freed from the suffocating clutches of Religion.

It meant a challenge to the clerical authorities that had imposed their will and their interpretations of what God may have said or ordered. Thus, the chief custodians of the divine truth, who had arrogated all powers on behalf of God to themselves for so long found themselves confronting a new situation. Their monopoly over what God said was under question. That was dangerous, very dangerous!

Now some thinkers and enlightened people said what people believed in matters of a Divine Power or Religion was a personal matter; this was secularism. It was no business of the state to impose the will of the clergy on the people. According to them, people should have the freedom of conscience.

For most people, it was a novel idea; they never had anything like this for so many centuries. Thus, a revolutionary idea was introduced that had far-reaching effects. Consequently, the process of freedom of conscience and the secularization of the state and society gained more ground in most of Europe, North America and Australia, etc.

While the western countries made such inroads into enlightenment, freedom of conscience, and gave legal protection to people to believe or practise any religion, the vast majority of Muslim countries has followed a different course.
The ruling classes and the Muslim clergy became close partners to advance their respective agendas. In fact, they found Islam as a convenient tool to gain power and influence over a people who had a strong cultural identity with Islam. This they exploited to the maximum. That opened the way for the fanatics, misguided and indoctrinated people to clamour for an Islamic polity under the rule of God.

As a result, we see the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the terrorists of the Islamic State in many countries and many Islamist groups and organisations causing havoc. One thing: They are convinced they represent the 'light' of Islam. They are offering the salvation to worldwide Muslim community people (the Ummah); the golden age of ‘Islamic truth’ and ‘Islamic justice’ is near when the Sharia laws of the seventh-century Islamic Arabia will be enforced.
In fact, many ordinary Muslims think that the era of the early Caliphs of Islam of the seventh-century Arabia will solve all their worldly problems. It is logically possible that such a golden age can emerge if there was anything like this before!

However, we may pause for a second and think (not easy though): The world has moved with the times, including the Christians of Europe and their descendants in North America and Australia, etc. How will Islamists go back from the 21st century to the seventh-century Arabia? The only possibility I can see is if Aladdin with his magic carpet appears and transports us back to our golden age, back in time. If he does that I’m sure he will give me some space on his magic carpet; I promise to report back to all of you my story from there!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The fanatic mobs of Pakistan are a threat to democracy and the rule of law

-- Nasir Khan, November 1, 2018

It may come as to jolting shock to many civilized human beings in the world that hundreds of thousands of Muslims of Pakistan are protesting, not against something awful that happened, but because an innocent Christian women, Aasia Bibi, who had falsely been accused of blasphemy was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on her appeal.

The judges of the Supreme Court found that she had been falsely charged by some Muslim co-workers on some very trivial dispute; the trial judge had sentenced her to death on the basis of false accounts of the witnesses of the true nature of the petty dispute. Aasia Bibi, a married working-class woman, had languished in prison for the last eight years in solitary confinement.

Now, so many Pakistani Muslims are protesting and threatening to bring the country to a standstill for the acquittal of Aasia Bibi!

It is difficult to believe this, but that is exactly what these people are doing, and they think they are doing it to 'defend and exalt the honour of Prophet Muhammad'.

The events in Pakistan show how the Islamic clerics, with the support of the Pakistani ruling elite over the years, had a free hand to spread the poison of religious fanaticism among the ordinary people and turn them into extremists, who, apparently have become indifferent to the distinction between right and wrong because of their religious indoctrination.

Pakistan: Thousands protest blasphemy acquittal, ignore PM's call

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan-led protests take place across the country, a day after Supreme Court clears Aasia Bibi.

Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in three major Pakistani cities on Thursday [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]
Islamabad, Pakistan - Thousands of far-right religious demonstrators continue to block major roads across Pakistan in protest against the acquittal of a Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) political party, led by firebrand Muslim leader Khadim Rizvi, organised rallies in cities across the South Asian country on Thursday, despite a warning from Prime Minister Imran Khan not to "force the government to have to take action".
Aasia Bibi, 53, who was on death row for eight years, was acquitted by the country's top court on Wednesday, with judges saying the prosecution contained "glaring and stark" contradictions.
Shortly after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling was pronounced, Rizvi led a major protest outside government buildings in the eastern city of Lahore, with fellow TLP leaders declaring the three judges who acquitted Bibi to be "liable to be killed".
The sit-in protest in Lahore remained the largest TLP demonstration on Thursday, with other major demonstrations being held in the southern city of Karachi, Pakistan's largest. Protesters are also blockading a major highway into the capital, Islamabad.
Most schools and many businesses remained closed in all three cities through the day, with hospitals on high alert in case the protests turned violent. Highways were partially shut down and the federal cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the law and order situation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised address to the nation, accused the TLP of attempting to stir religious sentiments for political gains.
"I say to these people: do not confront this state ... do not damage this country for your vote bank," said Khan.
"If you do this, I promise that the government will do its duty … I ask you: do not force the government to have to take action," he added.
On Thursday, Shehryar Afridi, Pakistan's minister of state for interior affairs, told parliament that talks were under way with protesters to end the standoff.

'Watershed moment'

Blasphemy against Islam and its prophet is a sensitive subject in Pakistan, where the crime can carry a compulsory death sentence.
Increasingly, blasphemy accusations have resulted in mob lynchings and extrajudicial murders.
At least 74 people have been killed in violence related to blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.
PM Imran Khan urged calm since Bibi's acquittal but his call has fallen on deaf ears so far [Saudi Press Agency via AP]
There are still roughly 40 people on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy, in Pakistan, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Bibi's case had become emblematic of fair-trial concerns in cases related to the country's blasphemy laws, with two senior political leaders who stood up for her gunned down in 2009 for supporting her.
Rights groups have hailed her acquittal as a watershed moment.
"Justice has finally prevailed. The message must go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute the country's most vulnerable minorities," said Omar Waraich, deputy director for South Asia at human rights group Amnesty International.

Tense calm 

At the protest at Islamabad's Faizabad interchange, roughly 2,000 TLP supporters had gathered to block a major road into the federal capital.
TLP volunteers had visibly beefed up security at the demonstration's entry and exit points. They barred entry to journalists, saying they would only be allowed to pass after surrendering cameras and other equipment.
Among the protesters, a tense calm prevailed, with many young men interspersed among the crowd carrying sticks and metal rods.
Many sat on reed mats, listening to devotional poems and sermons extolling the virtues of loving Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The TLP mainly represents the Barelvi sect of Sunni Islam, which places a particular importance on the veneration of the personage and honour of the Prophet.
Overhead, two military helicopters flew low over the crowd, prompting shouts from many protesters. Two young men manning a barricade angrily shook their sticks at the aircraft.
Further protests are expected on Friday following midday prayers, with other right-wing religious groups joining the TLP in its rejection of the verdict.
Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim
Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?
Inside Story
Pakistan protests: How powerful are religious groups?
SOURCE: Al Jazeera News