An Evening With Saiyid Ali Naqvi

An evening with Saiyid Ali Naqvi

Yesterday, 03/29/2013 Syed Suhail Rizvi and Noor Salik spent about 5 plus hours with Saiyid Ali Naqvi.
The session started around 5:00 PM and ended after 10:00 PM.
What is so special about it and why it is being shared with other Thinkers Forum USA affiliates?

Let us start with Saiyid Ali Naqvi:
Saiyid Ali Naqvi is an octogenarian intellectual who can discuss complex issues. He can quote verbatim Ghalib and Iqbal when expressing any literary, philosophic or mystical point of view.

He had his engineering degree from Aligarh University (India) and migrated to Pakistan by choice.
He played important roles in the building of Mangla and Tarbela dams, holding technical and managerial positions.
Recently his 800 plus pages book “Indus Waters and Social Change: The Evolution and Transition of Agrarian Society in Pakistan” has been published by OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
Some details about the book will be shared with you later on.
He has provided enough information in his book to enable the public, especially the policy makers to hold informed debates in order to resolve the problems impeding the social and economic transformation.

Personally I wanted to sit with him for two reasons:
(1) I could express any point of view without any fear of condemnations.
(2) I want to listen and understand various interpretations of Ghalib’s complex verses.

In regards to TF USA (Thinkers Forum USA) he feels that TF USA affiliates talk about “Religion” especially Islam excessively. There are lots of social and economic topics which need our attention.

He did not fully agree with me when I said “At present time Muslims are more obsessed with religion than any other group”. He said religious fervor is on the rise in the whole world except very few regions.
What are those regions? Let us hear from you – what do you think?


Role of Religion in Violence

Shared and written By Dr. Syed Ehtisham

Role of Religion in violence

A Historic review of its Genesis

Violence in the current day and age
is regarded by most mainstream Muslims as a reaction to inequity, injustice,
and disempowerment, real or perceived. Stronger nations attack weaker ones when
the latter have either refused to be compliant with the objectives of the
former or have actually managed to hurt their economic interests

Examples of violence by the strong on the weak are many and come from the very earliest times of known history. Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Persian, Arab, British, French, Spanish, Dutch,
Portuguese, Italian, and Russian empires come easily to mind. They invaded the
weaker people to exploit resources of their countries. World wars were fought for
the resources of colonies. Post WWII, with weakening of the Colonial powers,
the USA took up the role and intervened directly by naked aggression and through
surrogates In Western countries, violence is attributed variously to fanaticism, clash of cultures, poverty, lack of education etc. Muslim residents of Western countries, by and large, condemn
acts of violence against innocent people, but would want the people in the West
to understand the reasons why a person would deliberately sacrifice his life.

Jews were persecuted by followers of practically all religions. Romans persecuted Christians, and Muslims, after their fall from power, were subjugated by all comers, including people of their own faith. But violence in the name of religion was first definitively documented in the late fifteenth century Papal Bull which authorized the king of Portugal “to attack, conquer and subdue Saracens, pagans and other non-believers who were inimical to Christ; to capture their goods and territories; to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to transfer their lands and properties to the king of Portugal and his successors”.

The common thread that runs through all aggression is greed or fear that the new creed would supplant the old one and control mode of production. When resources were no longer at stake diverse beliefs were tolerated as during the period of Muslim rule in India. The British did send preachers to “spread the word of God” and when natives killed
an odd missionary, gunboats followed.

Resistance to aggression against heavy odds is equally common.
All animals practice aggression against their own kind, and against other kinds, to a greater or lesser degree. The complexity of the practice appears to be directly related to intelligence.
Lower orders generally kill members of other species for food. Others may injure/wound rivals for the affections of a female or to control several comely ones, but generally do not kill them.

Violence for greed is the exclusive domain of Homo sapiens.

I will be accused of committing heresy, but am not. All religions are based on the fear of the unknown. They were, and are practiced to propitiate the supernatural for the
individual/common good. In any case religious persons do not require any
rationale to castigate difference of opinion. All “non-divinely” inspired
religions worshipped natural phenomenon, lightening, rain, storms, earthquakes,
fire, floods, sun, and moon etc. Male dominance had not taken firm roots, so
they had female deities in nearly equal numbers.

“Divinely inspired”[1] religions exhort us to fear God, the Day of Judgment, reward for good,
retribution for evil, sight unseen. God has sent messengers with a set of instructions on a body of beliefs, code of behavior, on how to propitiate Him, without a word on how to find or recognize Him. One is expected to believe in His existence without reason or rationale. We are told that our faculties are not developed enough or God has not endowed us adequately enough to be able to
do so. God remains largely unknown.

All religions reacted to the prevailing
milieu, and confronted the established order. They appealed mainly to the
disempowered, the destitute and the poor. The rich, the powerful, and the
learned had all the privileges already. They initially ignored the emergent
creed, did not see any good reason for change, which would, in any case, affect
their interests adversely. When the belief system gathered enough strength to
challenge the established order they tried to suppress the new forces with
naked force, bribes and temptation, whatever would work. The prophet of Islam
was offered riches, women, and positions of authority, if he would only give up
his “pointless” preaching. They failed in every instance with all the prophets.

Religions initially attempted to eradicate
social evils, and economic inequities. The ruling classes took measures to
preserve their authority. They controlled the “administration, the
legislature, and the judiciary” [2].

They treated the poor abominably, indulged in slavery, tightened their
stranglehold by such measures as exorbitant interest rates, forced and bonded
labor, serfdom, and claim on the major part of the produce of the peasantry.
The ruled had no recourse. All the levers of power were in the hands of the
ruling class. If they ran away and were caught, the punishment would be worse
than death. If not caught, starvation would be the fate of most.

It must be clearly understood that
religion did not hit at the root of privilege. It only aimed at amelioration of
the living conditions of the powerless. Private property remained sacrosanct.
Slavery was not abolished; the owners were exhorted to treat them humanely.
Women remained the underclass, though they were lulled with meaningless honors
like the paradise is at the feet of mothers or that their word was law as in
ancient India [3].

All religions frowned upon usury. Once
financial institutions and banking developed, interest became indispensable.
During European renaissance, financiers got around the prohibition on interest
by calling it commission, cost of labor, and payment to agents etc. More
recently Islamic banking has developed ways around it. Pakistan Government
calls is “Mark UP”.

Judaism was less restrictive. Jews excelled in financial dealings.

For their pain, the Popes cursed them, and
Shakespeare immortalized Shylock. Calling a person a Jew was an insult. You
called them Jewish. This was so in mid-sixties Britain. Even as late as 1975, one
of my patients in a Jewish Hospital in NYC, an old man of 94, told me that he
was not ashamed of being a Jew!  It has
been only due to the extended guilt trip since WWII, and its shrewd
exploitation by the ”chosen” of the God, that the Popes and, other Christian
clerics have stopped wishing perdition on them and have “invented” the concept
of Judeo-Christian civilization.
Fundamentalist Christians believe that
the Messiah will not descend from the heavens till the Jews have captured all
ancient territories of Judea and Samara. Only
then would the redeemer annihilate all the Jews and usher in the kingdom of
heaven on earth. They, therefore, support the state of Israel
fervently. George W does it for the same reason. Jews, smart people that they
are, happily accept Christian support, do not worry too much about the peril
that they will be subject to, if the Christian theology were to prove correct,
and are confident enough to let the future take care of itself[4].

Violence is initiated against a new
faith/reformist movement to protect status quo ante. Pharaohs persecuted the
Jews and dumped them into the Nile as the
“final solution”. In their turn, Jews did not hesitate a bit, sending one of
their own, Jesus Christ to the gallows. Christians were fed to the lions. They
were lucky enough that Constantine saw a vision and declared it the state religion.

In their turn they burnt heretics and conducted inquisitions. During one crusade when they managed to recapture Jerusalem they massacred Muslims till blood was ankle deep in the streets of the city.

A Muslim, a slave Bilal by name,
suffered the scorching sun of the desert with a heavy weight on his chest;
others stood up to all kinds of physical and mental tortures, exile and
privations and did not hesitate in giving up life for their faith. But when they
had attained power, turned around and offered the non-Muslims following choices
a) conversion to Islam with second class status relative to Arab Muslims [5] b)
payment of Jazya [6], which
would entitle them to exemption from military service-which they could in any
case not enter and c) liberty to practice their religion in private and family
laws per their own faith. But in public domain they would remain subservient to
Muslims, for example their status as a witness would remain subsidiary etc, d)
the point of the sword. As a direct consequence Zoroastrianism was wiped out of
its birthplace Iran.

In current times no sooner than the
fanatics among the Hindus had thrown the yoke of British rule than they went
for Muslim blood with a vengeance. The liberal [7] among
them practiced a more subtle form of victimization. Muslims are definitely an
under-class in India, in many ways worse off than the “untouchables” though they are denied
concessions of that class. They had bided their time for a thousand years of
Muslim rule, during which the “upper” classes adopted many mores of
Iranian/Arabic/Mongol culture and language.

After replacing the establishment, all
religions organized their own hegemony. The adherents then proceeded to use the
faith to advance their own cause. Hegemony inevitably develops a class
structure. Jewish priests objected vehemently and violently to Jesus Christ
bucking the trend; challenging their right to privileges and a life of luxury.
Voodoo practitioners keep their hold on popular mind by subjecting the deviants
to exorcism. Christian priests accumulated great wealth, land, and authority
rivaling that of Kings, the Popes actually had their own country; vestiges can
be seen even now in the Papal state in Rome.
The clergy firmly aligned themselves with the landed gentry, supported the
established order, exhorting the poor to obey the ruler, suffer deprivation
cheerfully, palming them off with the lure that the Kingdom of heaven will be
theirs, as long as they do as they are told in this life. It was symbiotic
existence; feudal class supported the clergy and was legitimized by the latter.

The thread of supremacy of authority
runs through all religions. Islam ordains that one should obey the ruler, as
long the ruler does not interfere with the private practice of the faith.

Among the divinely inspired religions,
only Islam founded a political state in its early infancy. The late advent of a
political control though did not prevent the followers of other belief systems
from going forth, marauding and plundering in the name of the faith.
Conspicuous in this behavior were the Christians, who openly flouted the
teachings of their prophet to offer the other cheek etc. But first in the field
of colonization in the name of their faith were the Muslims. Jihad, and
proselytization were among the core articles of the faith.

Emerging from the wastelands of the Arabian Desert, they managed to conquer most of the known world in a matter of a few decades. They had been energized by the conviction
that everlasting salvation lay in the true path. They did not object if in the
process riches, land, and women fell into their lap.

The vanquished did not surrender without a fight. Resistance was in fact fierce. There is credible evidence that after the main battles, people fought on in guerrilla fashion [8].
Urdu language is replete with tomes of conquests of Muslim heroes and how they
got the better of the sly infidel. History is being repeated in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other
countries. Not able to confront the aggressor directly they have developed a
culture of suicide bombing and other such similar measures.

In those long gone days communications
were poor, the concepts of nationalism and patriotism were in the distant
future and people accepted every ruler as long they were left alone to pursue
their own private affairs. One ruler was pretty much the same as another; they
did not worry too much about the ruler’s faith, race, nationality or color.
Rulers also tended to, after gaining complete control, treat all the subjects
equally well or poorly. So there were no instances of widespread or lasting insurgency.

With decline of Muslim power- all
Empires run out of steam in due course- and nearly simultaneous European
renaissance, Christian cast their covetous eyes on the riches of the East.
Advent of the Industrial revolution in the same time frame made them invincibly
potent. They went forth as traders for spices [9]
and paid in gold, as India did not need any handicraft they could produce.

They found riches beyond dreams of avarice. The rulers in the East were highly cultured and sophisticated, and compared to the rather coarse Westerners, effete and indolent. Oriental
potentates looked down on Europeans and had several derogatory terms for the foreigners,
all meaning uncouth, unlettered, and uncivilized.

Europeans swooped down on the East, as well
the Americas and found rich pickings everywhere. The idea of spreading Christianity was the
inevitable excuse, but that did not keep them from using all kinds of measures
and subterfuges, immoral in their own books, to subjugate the natives. The
English and other immigrants- economic, religious, and political refugees,
escaping starvation, discrimination and destitution in their home countries,
were welcomed by the American natives, given shelter and food, and paid the
debt back by gifting small pox infested blankets to their hosts[10].
Power and dominance lend legitimacy. No one talks about the genocide
perpetrated by the English. It barely merits a footnote in history.

Europeans captured vast colonies and exploited
the resources for their own ruling class. Remember, even at the height of their
power, the ordinary British citizen often went without a job, food shelter or
protection under the law. Debtor’s jails were bursting at the seams. Malnutrition was common and child labor universal. Twelve-hour days, six and a
half days a week, was the norm. Bonded labor and serfdom were accepted facts of
life; the lord of the manor owned the peasants body and soul, often taking his
pleasure in female (and male) bodies. Prostitution was rife; physical
punishment, beatings were permissible [11].

The British were the leading Colonists.  In most places it is they who
left a mess behind. It is they who were primarily responsible for the creation
of Israel/Arab conflict. They gave mutually contradictory pledges to both
sides, and cut and ran when the going got too tough. Let us concentrate on

By 1850, the British had all of India in their
firm grip. On paper, though, they still ruled in the name of the Moghal
“Emperor” Bahadur Shah whose writ ran only in the few acres of the Lal Qila
(Red Fort) of Delhi [12].

Indians, high and low, Muslims and
Hindus, got together one last time in 1857 and nearly got the British out of
the country. Mention of one of the reasons of the failure of the revolt, War of
Independence if you will, is relevant to our discussion as most of the Jihadis
of Pakistan are the progeny of the Indians who had supported the British.
Perhaps the historic guilt is driving them.

The British were, and are, past masters at the art of divide and rule. They had honed their skill during European wars, and patronized Hindus and Muslims in turn. After the crusades,
in which the British had played a leading role too, it was they who used the
religious divide as an instrument of policy. They also promoted Shia-Sunni conflict [13].

They had left festering wounds
behind.  Chronic infections metamorphose
into cancer. Kashmir and Arab-Israeli
conflicts no longer need promotion and have spawned generations of “terrorists” [14].

Post WWII, with the Empire gone
they passed on the “torch” to the USA.

Advent of oil and the consequent
dependence of Capitalist economy on it, catapulted Middle Eastern countries
into a position of consequence. These countries happened to be Muslim. The
rulers, creations of colonists [15]
one and all, were all too amenable to foreign control. But the common man,
indubitably more dis-empowered than his counterparts in Capitalist democracies,
had felt the wind of change. Indonesia, India and a few other countries had broken the bond of colonial rule. China had thrown out the Imperialist surrogate. They wanted to utilize their resources for their own welfare.

Their attempts were thwarted, first when the state of Israel was
created. Arab grandees and the king of Jordan actively helped the Jews and later when the combined “might” of Arabs failed to defeat Israel [16].

That led to the coup in Egypt.

After a while religious zealots
started undermining the nationalist government as it had introduced economic
reforms and made an attempt to empower the down trodden. A few years later in
1956, Nasser stood up to the might of
British/French/Israeli onslaught. Americans had not been “consulted”; they did
not want to promote the decadent colonists either. Soviet
Union also got into the act. In spite of the overwhelming
superiority in the field the aggressors had to withdraw,

Capitalist Powers soon realized that the
retreat was a strategic mistake. They rectified it in 1967 [17].

Even before the Arab debacle, foreign
agents, aided and abetted by leading members of Shia clergy, had managed to put
the Shah of Iran back on the throne after he had run away, after his
nationalist Government’s takeover of the Anglo-American oil company. The
inevitable excuse was that the nationalists were infidel communists and fellow
travelers. That led, in time, to a truly religious state.

A few adventurers in critical
positions of authority in Afghanistan, with an organized political cadre backing them, though lacking popular support, yet decided to take over the Government. They naturally started squabbling among themselves. A depraved, alcoholic ruler of the Soviet union, who thought
he was the incarnation of Caesars of Rome, decided to intervene and establish a
socialist regime in a country with 98% orthodox Muslim population, and over 90%

The regime could not stand on its own feet.  Soviet regime had to prop it up
with scarce available resources. The Americans, quite correctly, saw it as
chance to exact revenge for their own debacle in Viet Nam. They poured in supplies
and advice to the resistance through its all too willing surrogate Zia of
Pakistan, who was fired by the all-consuming fire of fanaticism [18].

In any event, Pakistan as conduit of military, financial and intelligence aid, got its cut, came out of economic depression and worked hand in hand with its patron in supplying the
resistance fighters with materiel and training.

Their patrons, in their glee at Soviet
discomfiture, and with exhaustion of their old foe fervently anticipated,
glossed over the fact that they were nurturing a serpent in their sleeves. They
were in cahoots with Taliban [19], the most virulent variety of fanatics.

In due course Taliban made short work of all the other groups. They were especially
brutal in suppressing Shias. In the town called Mazar Sharif they killed
thousands of unarmed men women and children after tempting them to surrender
with an offer of amnesty sworn on the holy book. They went on to unleash an
unprecedented reign of terror and misogyny. Western powers only made pious
noises as a matter of form.

Ben Laden’s Al-Qaida emerged as an
international movement. Starting with the 1993 attack on the World Trade
Center its operatives started attacking western interests


Come 9/11, the junior was in the White House. Regardless of the genesis of the outrage, and I doubt if the word is understood in ruling circles, except in its Biblical concept, the USA had to deal with Al-Qaida and the Taliban. The move met universal acceptance.

But that was not enough muscle flexing for the lesser Bush [20].
He was perhaps, still smarting against the Wimp label adhering to the senior,
in spite of the successful Gulf I. He was told that the senior had not finished
the job. It was a blot on the escutcheon. When asked why he so hated Saddam,
“the man had tried to kill my daddy”, he responded in his “sublime’
intellectual fashion. He had a bunch of zealots to goad him on. They concocted
the fairy tales of weapons of mass destruction and dreamed of direct physical,
versus through surrogates, control of the richest oil resource in the world.
The international community was not taken in. The only power of any consequence
to support action against Saddam were the British, whose status vis a vis US
policymaking is that of a rather weak viceroy in India in the decision making
process of the British cabinet.

All it achieved was enhancement of recruits to fanatic groups and wanton destruction of Iraq.
The pundits of all hues, leanings, and national origin are busy explaining the genesis of terrorism. The Muslim baiting cadre attributes it to their different values, hatred of
Judeo-Christian ethos, lure of paradise with nubile and willing virgins, and
all kinds of thinly disguised racist attitudes. Others dwell on desperation,
reaction to historic injustices, after effects of colonialism, legacy of the
Soviet Union, poverty, lack of education, indoctrination, reaction to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Relative success in achieving
objectives against an otherwise invincible foe has been blamed for enhancing
the fanatical fervor. But only countries of little consequence withdrew from Iraq after their soldiers came under attack, till Spain gave in the
aftermath of train bombings, and Italy was shaken in its resolve [21].

There is an element of truth in all the proffered reasons. Not all suicide bombers are illiterate. Many come from affluent households. The TV pictures of Madrassahs (seminaries) with children reciting the Quran, which they obviously do not understand, would not appeal to an
educated person. The recent London subway suicide bombers were born and brought up in Britain. That country offers free Health service, nearly free college education (completely free in Scotland), and a decent welfare system. One of the bombers was teacher of children with
learning difficulties. He was well respected and had to be a sensitive and
considerate person to be able to cope with his job. It is argued that but for
religious indoctrination, they would not have suicide bombed London tubes and bus system.

All 9/11 hijackers were well educated and lived a fairly affluent life. But they
conveniently forget that George Washington and his fellow leaders of the
American war of independence were wealthy landowners.

Apologists lament that Islam does not
sanction mindless killing, that suicide is a sin in Islam etc. But the
promoters of the acts of terror appear to have equally valid authority to back
up their claim that suicide bombers are fighting injustice and killing for a
good cause.

I have dwelt at some length on a
historic review of violence and the thread of religion running through it.
Secular fundamentalists attribute it entirely to exclusivity of faith. It is true
that all religions teach that followers of the particular creed are on the
right path; only they enjoy divine favor and all that goes with it.
Non-believers will never be forgiven and burn in hell forever. Except for
Hindus and Jews they lay great store by proselytization, though this abstinence
has not kept the two peoples from mayhem and murder.

Atheists compare religion to a poison. They say that if you leave cyanide around children would eat it. It is not just that the attitude is crudely elitist, but also it is impractical. You
cannot hide all the poison in the world. Some poisons do have medicinal value and are used in industry.
The alienation of well-placed and prosperous Muslim expatriates deserves a careful study and analysis. The solution is not to destroy all venom, but to spread the knowledge of its lethal qualities and above all to work towards and found an equitable and egalitarian society.


[1]  Monotheistic would perhaps be a better term
and I include Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam in the group

[2] These
offices did not exist in their current form, but members of the ruling class
did administer, make rules and sit on judgment.

[3] An ancient Indian lore has it that four
brothers went hunting and found a stray but comely girl. They brought her back
to serve their mother and told her that they had a gift for her. The mother
said that she was too old for gifts and they were to share it among themselves.
Gods blessed the polyandrous alliance with a unique concession. She would
regain virginity after each cohabitation. Firaq Gorakhpuri’s rather irreverent

“Hazar bar zamana edher say
guzra hai

nai si hai teri rah guzar phir bhi”

[4]  (Christian Right in the USA however has the greater covert agenda of
controlling the US
government. They have so managed to frighten politicians that they run to curry
favor from them. Republican candidates roll over at their sight. John McCain,
who had ignored them with disdain in 2000, attributing his loss to Bush to lack
of support from religious right is now swearing undying loyalty. Their
influence is only a little less than that of the Jewish lobby.

[5] The relic of the practice has lasted to this day. In order to work, or do business
in most Arab countries, you need a “Wali”, protector.

[6]  A tax levied on non-Muslims under Muslim rule. The issue is emotionally charged and is indicative of subservient status
rather than a monetary excess. Muslims were required to pay 2 ½ % of their
assets as annual religious tax. Aurangzeb the last credible Moghal king levied
it and is still castigated for it.

[7] This is not to say that all the adherents of a faith in each case went berserk. There
are glowing and redeeming examples in the followers of all religions. I am only
referring to the dominant, albeit tolerated by the majority, trends.

[8] Nasim Hijazi was a prolific novelist of Urdu. He wrote numerous nostalgic tomes in
which nubile girls in Spain invariably fell in love with Muslim warriors,
converted to Islam and lived happily ever afterwards in which heroines chaffed
at being forced to accept Islam and were forever on the look out to reconvert
to the true faith. I have come across Christian equivalents of Nasim Hejazi

[9] Their fixation with spices can be easily understood. It was critical. Their own land
was cold, relatively infertile and productive only during short summer months;
they had to keep food for long periods of time. There was no refrigeration,
natural ice and snow not being consistently reliable, food, especially fish,
often went bad. Its odor had to be suppressed, hence the value of pungent

[10]  This was the first recorded use of Biological
warfare, and that too on non-belligerents. The natives not having been exposed
to the virus before, had no immunity and died in their hundreds of

[11] Please read Charles Dickens and Somerset Maugham, especially the latter fro a
description of the pathetic state of the working class in early twentieth century England.
If the ruling class treated their own kind this way, you do not have to stretch
your imagination too far to make an educated guess of the treatment meted out
to the “natives”.

[12] The Head of the East India Company had to appear before him, hat in hand, every
year to pay ceremonial tribute. He had to stand during the audience, and walk
back out of the sight of the Emperor. One of them requested that he be excused
from making the annual appearance, or at least be allowed to sit in the
presence and permitted to walk with his back to the King. Bahadur Shah
indignantly turned the request down, telling him that his superiors, potentates
in their own right were not allowed the privilege

[13] In the nineteen forties one of their paid agents, a Maulana Abdul Shakoor of the
Frangi Mahal-a renowned house of Muslim Scholars of Lucknow-wrote a pamphlet in
that it was the Shias who had martyred Imam Husain!! He insisted on taking out
a Madhe Sahaba (adulation of the first four caliphs of the Prophet of Islam
procession through Shia localities. He rode in a palanquin A Maulana from
Lahore Ataullah Shah Bukhari followed him on an elephant. The British gave
permission for the procession to parade through the route. Quite a few
Shia-Sunni riots ensued. Insiders let the cat out of the bag. The Frangi Mahli
Maulana had been gifted a printing press by the British administration and was
on a regular, and generous stipend.

Terrorist label, like most other labels invented by humans, has an
unpredictable shelf life. Only the other day, a true blue American observer pointed
out that fathers of this nation were dubbed terrorist by the British. In more
recent memory, Menachim Begin, one time PM of Israel had a price on his head, after he had blown up King David Hotel in Jerusalem, and sent a number of Britishers to an unscheduled meeting with their Maker. He shared a Nobel peace prize with Saadat of Egypt. Yasser Arafat after heading the list of “terrorists” for a considerable time was feted at the White House.
He also won the Nobel peace award. US officials are trying to open lines of
communications with the insurgents in Iraq.

[15] Before
WWI the British and the French had suborned Arabs to rebel against the Turks.
After the Turks lost the region they divided it into respective zones of
influence. Satraps were imposed on countries created by artificial lines. Kuwait had been part of Iraq and Syria and Lebanon were one country.

[16] Jews has twentieth century technology and they were sincere to their cause. They had
no problem defeating the poorly led, disorganized and ill-equipped Arabs, whose
rulers aided and abetted the Israeli effort.

[17] Whether the Soviet leaders were fooled into misleading Nasser-he had left his entire
Air Force planes exposed on an airfield like sitting ducks at the explicit
Soviet assurance that Israelis would not attack-or they were the recipients of
quid pro quo, is open to question.

[18] To give the man his due, he had his back was to the wall; economic sanctions were
strangling the country and he had to borrow from the late Bank of Commerce and
Credit International (BCCI) to pay salaries to Government employees. Following
the court abetted murder of ZAB; he had become an international pariah. Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan came as the proverbial manna from heavens. How history repeats itself.
Musharraf after overthrowing Nawaz Shareef was a pariah too. I recall a report
in a newspaper, that during a UN General Assembly dinner, Clinton cut Musharraf, and the latter had to go to latter’s table with a photographer in tow, for a photo op for consumption
back home. Post 9/11, and with his role of an effective stooge, he was
entertained at Camp David, no less, much to
the chagrin of Indians.

[19] Literally seekers, in
common usage, of Education, they were indoctrinated in religious seminaries in Pakistan. To
add to the missionary zeal and to give it an International color* (remember all
Muslims, in theory, belong to one Ummah -Brotherhood, comrades in arms, it is
difficult to translate) were the cohorts of Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaida.

The policy was akin to lighting slow fuses to widespread ammunition dumps.

developed in the fashion of hydra heads. It is no use cutting one, another, nay
be many, will grow to replace it. It was only a question of time, before it
would garner adequate resources, technology and men to hit at the vitals of the

[20] I owe the term to Arundhati Roy.

[21] Lately Tony Blair has started dropping hints that he has had enough of being kicked
around in the cause. He has messianic beliefs too.

Dr. Syed Ehtisham MD

Treatment of Minorities in Pakistan

Shared by Babar Mustafa


The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore

The local police told the inhabitants of Joseph Colony, Badami Bagh, to evacuate their houses as they were going to be attacked the next day. This is shocking incompetence or perhaps complicity, even by our standards. However, if one absorbs the full implication of this warning, it seems to point to the major crisis we face. There is no “State” in Pakistan. It has withered away, and not in the Marxist sense but in the Weberian one. The monopoly over violence has been lost; violence has been privatised and has been sold cheap. The failure to honour Salmaan Taseer, the forgetting of Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti, the intent to surrender to the TTP, the failure to crackdown on sectarian murderous outfits and now this. To be told officially that you are on your own.

Joseph Colony was not in Pakistan to begin with. A “Christian” housing society, separate housing communities, fenced and isolated, like Hazara town in Quetta, ghettos, perhaps in some way also like DHA on the other side of town. The Christians in Joseph Colony still love Pakistan. Why they do beats me, because this country surely does not love them back. It is not enough that they live in abject poverty in separate settlements. The faithful citizens of Pakistan proper have also the liberty to set fire to their houses and lives when fragile sentiments are hurt. The sentiments in front of which no other or no one else’s sentiments have any value — churches, crosses and Bibles will be burnt. How arrogant a person or a group has to be to believe that their sentiments triumph everyone else’s, also law and common decency. The minorities in Pakistan are guilty unless proven innocent, and then guilty still.

There will be multiple inquiries and findings, just like Shantinagar, like Gojra and then we will wait for the next incident and then another round of inquiries. It will happen again, because the Blasphemy Law provisions will remain on the books and we will keep on talking gibberish about correct interpretations and applications, silent peace-loving majority, etc. Does no one realise that all religions stand naturally and unequivocally in blasphemy to all other religions? There can hardly be sacrilege to a thing that you, in the first place, do not believe exists or is true. When the Ahmadi places of worship were attacked in Lahore, condemnation was hard to find; everyone in power wanted to change the topic. If the Muslims were required to sign a statement similar to the Ahmadi declaration on the passport in any part of the world, what do you think the reaction would be? Thermonuclear war, perhaps. Similar to this is the case of the members of the Tableeghi Jamaat. They attempt to save the infidels by inviting them to the truth but at the same time believe that once in if you want out, you are to be killed. They just do not notice the minor contradiction in their sales pitch.

How would it feel to lose everything and then hear that the real tragedy is that the image of this country has been tarnished? Your suffering and loss do not matter; you are just a marketing prop. You should, perhaps, be ashamed for having your houses burnt and bringing embarrassment to the Fatherland. Pakistan does not have an “image” problem. The gap in the conveyed image and reality is there, but it is the other way around. Pakistan should be thankful that most of the world does not read or hear the Urdu press, the local Friday Khutba, banners on Hall Road, Lahore, or pamphlets in the Civil Courts. Pakistan has an image that is softer than it deserves.

Most of this happening in Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s tenure should not come as a surprise. It was, after all, his political mentor Ziaul Haq who brought us most of these gifts. The elder Mian tried to become the “Amir-ul-Momineen”. The younger Mian is just keeping the torch blazing, in Shantinagar, Gojra and Joseph Colony. Zia made the “Objective Resolution” an operative part of the Constitution as Article 2A. Hence, very early in the Constitution all non-Muslims are told this country thinks that their beliefs are false and will be treated with little regard. Mr Bhutto had already extended the non-Muslim category in his attempt to appease the religious element; the appeasement did not work, and nevertheless, we were left with discriminatory laws. The non-Muslim category has for all practical purposes seen another increment; this time, the Shias are moving from the green to the white. Despite new entrants, the white portion seems to be diminishing in size and will soon disappear at the present rate. It will be painted red in the meantime.

Pakistan is hostile to all non-Muslims. That is a simple, cold truth. The laws are discriminatory and the pious population does not like the non-believers either. The size of the processions in favour of the killer Qadri as compared to the vigils for Salmaan Taseer was enough evidence of the violent majority. It is not only madrassa-trained jihadis either. Mumtaz Qadri was garlanded by lawyers and is represented by a former chief justice; the mastermind of the attack on Ahmadis in Lahore apparently is a doctor.

There has never been much of an argument for blasphemy laws. Yet, a lazy one was that it was there so that people do not take the “law” into their own hands when religious sensibilities are hurt. The suspect, Savan Masih, was already under custody when Joseph Colony was assaulted. That is all there is to this argument.

The scenes of Joseph Colony are the real “image” of Pakistan. That image is Pakistan going to hell on a metro bus. The rest, the cultural and literary festivals, the song and dance it seems are diversions, marketing ploys. The Blasphemy Law and Objectives Resolutions will have to be repealed, not amended or implementation ensured, etc; Repealed. Religion will have to be taken out of all public life and statutes books before we can legitimately complain about our “image”. That day will not be tomorrow, or the day after, or next year or perhaps decade. Till that day, if it ever comes, the least we can do is to be honest as we remain bystanders to slaughter and await our turn. Honestly, Pakistan does not welcome the non-Muslims or the “wrong” Muslims and encourages their murder and pillage.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2013.