Terrorist Watch List

Interesting and wroth reading analytical article in NYT.

GOVERNMENTS wade into treacherous waters when they compile lists of people who might cause their countries harm. As fears about Japanese-Americans and Communists have demonstrated in the past, predictions about individual behavior are often inaccurate, the motivations for list-making aren’t always noble and concerns about threats are frequently overblown.

So it might seem that current efforts to identify and track potential terrorists would be approached with caution. Yet the federal government’s main terrorist watch list has grown to at least 700,000 people, with little scrutiny over how the determinations are made or the impact on those marked with the terrorist label.

“If you’ve done the paperwork correctly, then you can effectively enter someone onto the watch list,” said Anya Bernstein, an associate professor at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and author of “The Hidden Costs of Terrorist Watch Lists,” published by the Buffalo Law Review in May. “There’s no indication that agencies undertake any kind of regular retrospective review to assess how good they are at predicting the conduct they’re targeting.”

What’s more, the government refuses to confirm or deny whether someone is on the list, officially called the Terrorist Screening Database, or divulge the criteria used to make the decisions — other than to say the database includes “individuals known or suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism and terrorist activities.” 

Even less is known about the secondary watch lists that are derived from the main one, including the no-fly list (used to prevent people from boarding aircraft), the selectee and expanded selectee lists (used to flag travelers for extra screening at airport checkpoints), the TECS database (used to vet people entering or leaving the United States), the Consular Lookout and Support System (used to screen visa applications) and the known or suspected terrorists list (used by law enforcement in routine police encounters).



9 questions about Iran’s nuclear program you were too embarrassed to ask

( Shared By Tahir Mahmood)

The United States and five other world powers reached a deal with Iran over its controversial nuclear program Sunday. The agreement sets stringent limits on Iran’s nuclear activities; in exchange, the country will get about $6 billion in unfrozen foreign assets and relief from sanctions. Some people think it’s a good deal, some think it’s bad deal, but everyone agrees it’s a big deal.

For people who have not been following every twist and turn of the Iranian nuclear dispute, which is just about everyone, this story can get overwhelming. There are the decades of history leading up to it, deeply contentious diplomacy by several countries that want very different things and, of course, the nuclear science of what Iran can and cannot actually build. It can be a lot to keep straight, not least because some of the most important details are disputed.

Here, then, are the most basic answers to your most basic questions. First, a disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive or definitive account of this very complicated story, just some background, written so that anyone can understand it.

1. What is Iran’s nuclear program?

This question is the entire conflict. Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful, but a lot of countries worry that they’re cover for a nuclear weapons program. The dispute, on the most basic level, is over what sort of nuclear program Iran gets to have — if any at all — and what happens if it defies the world’s demands.

Iran has been developing nuclear fuel and technology for years, which it says is just for power plants and scientific research. They’ve got a few big facilities, some of which are out in the open and some of which are hidden away in underground bunkers. The program, and this is where it gets controversial, includes some stuff that would be awfully useful if Iran wanted to go a step beyond a peaceful program and develop a nuclear bomb.

2. So is Iran building a nuclear bomb or not?

It’s not clear. The United States and several other countries believe that Iran is trying to develop the technology and fissile material necessary to build a nuclear weapon. There’s an important distinction here: Western intelligence agencies have not concluded that Iran has decided to definitely build a bomb. Rather, they’ve reported lots of signs — secret facilities, weapons-related research programs — that suggest that Iran is trying to develop the technology and materials necessary to build a nuclear bomb very quickly. This is called “breakout capability,” as in Iran would have the ability to quickly “break out” into a full-fledged nuclear weapons state.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog hasn’t definitively concluded that Iran is doing this, but it has reported some very worrying signs and says it can’t state confidently that the program is peaceful. Iran has also dodged inspections and built secret facilities, which is not exactly reassuring anybody.

The world is so worried about Iran’s nuclear intentions that, starting in 2006, even China and Russia joined with the rest of the United Nations Security Council — a small, powerful body of world powers — in ordering Iran to “suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.” Iran has not complied, insisting that its program is a point of national prestige and independence. It’s been punished severely with economic sanctions, including on its vast oil and gas industry.

The unresolved conflict over Iran’s nuclear program has left the once-wealthy country increasingly impoverished, harming especially its large middle class. It’s also bad for European economies, which are losing out on all the business they’d do with this large, resource-rich country. It’s terrified Iran’s neighbors, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are worried what Iran would do with a nuclear weapon. And it’s been a major part — but far from the only part — of Iran’s long-standing tension with the West, especially the United States, in which war is a remote but real possibility.

3. Wow, Iran’s nuclear program is causing some major problems, especially for them. Why do they insist on it?




“A Portrait of Lucian Freud” By Julian Barnes


On Capri they show you the sheer cliff from which those who displeased the Emperor Tiberius were reportedly flung (though the Capresi, who call him by the softer name of Timberio, insist that the death toll was much exaggerated by muck-rakers like Suetonius). The court of Freud was similarly absolutist in its punishments: if you displeased him – by bad timekeeping, unprofessionalism, or disobedience to his will – you were tossed over the cliff. In the painting which shows Wyndham flaubertising in the foreground, the background originally held the figure of the model Jerry Hall breastfeeding her baby. She sat thus for several months, until one day she called in sick. When, a couple of days later, she was still unfit to pose, the enraged Freud painted over her face and inserted that of his long-time assistant David Dawson. But the baby had not caused offence, so was not painted out, with the result that a naked and strangely breasted Dawson is now seen feeding the child. Freud’s American dealer assumed the picture would be unsellable; it was bought by the first American client he showed it to.

Penelope Fitzgerald thought the world divided into ‘exterminators’ and ‘exterminatees’. Certainly it divides into controllers and controllees. A typical controllee is someone who is love-dependent; Freud was that once, and swore never to be so again. He was always a controller, and sometimes an exterminator. Martin Gayford and Geordie Greig’s accounts of Freud’s behaviour reminded me at times of two unlikely novelists: Kingsley Amis and Georges Simenon. When Amis’s second wife and fellow novelist, Elizabeth Jane Howard, saw him, at eleven o’clock on the morning he was due to lunch at Buckingham Palace, standing in the garden punishing an enormous whisky, she said, ‘Bunny, do you have to have a drink?’ He replied (and it was a reply that would have fitted a vast number of other exchanges): ‘Look, I’m Kingsley Amis, you see, and I can drink whenever I want.’ As for Simenon, he practiced two things obsessively: his art and fucking (though his speed at writing contrasts with Freud’s slowness at painting). Simenon once winningly observed: ‘Maybe I am not completely crazy, but I am a psychopath.’ Freud confessed his ‘megalomania’ to Gayford, adding that there was a bit of his mind ‘that believes, just possibly, my things are the best by anyone, ever’. Amis, Simenon and Freud all had controlling, interfering mothers, which may or may not be relevant.



(Organized by Thinkers’ Forum USA at the Islamic Center of Rockland, New York on November 24th, 2013)

Today as our respected speaker Saiyid Ali Naqvi Saheb, a great genius and a scholar, is going to reflect upon “Adam In The Poetry And Prose Of Iqbal” in English, a poetry naturally spoken by Iqbal in Persian and Urdu, I am tempted to say:


ہمارے  طرزِ  تکلم  کی دیکھ  رنگ ریزی
کہ جان و دل میں ہے اردو زباں پہ انگریزی

hamarey terz-e-taklum ki dekh rang raizi

keh jan-o-dil mein hai Urdu zaban pe Angraizi


Iqbal, who has said 12,000 verses comprising of 5,000 in Urdu and 7,000 in Persian, has reflected on his bilingual poetical exposition as:

گرچہ اُردو در عذوبت شکر است

طرزِ گفتارِ دری شیریں  تر  است

gar cheh Urdu dar azubat shakr ast

tarz-e-guftar-e-dari shereen ter ast
اگرچہ ٹیسٹ میں اردو شکر ہے
زبان ِ  فارسی  شیرین  تر  ہے

agar cheh taste mein Urdu shakr hai

zaban-e-Farsi shireen ter hai


Iqbal was a great literary genius of his time having an authority on the literary and philosophical output of the thinkers of East and West from ancient time to his contemporary period. He had read, critically discussed, and intelligently understood, hundreds of theistic and atheistic thinkers and philosophers, and concluded to apply academic philosophical standards to Islamic thought with Qur’an as the mother of universal knowledge famously saying, “If you desire to live as a Muslim, it is not possible to live with Qur’an“:


گر تو می خواہی مسلماں زیستن
نیست  ممکن  جز  بقرآں  زیستن

gar tu may khwahi Muslman zeestan

nayst mumkin juz ba Qur’an zeestan


Iqbal focuses his unique philosophy of Khudi on the infinite, finite and spiritual nature of man. Throughout his poetry man’s infinite nature is represented by Khizer, finite by Iskander and the spiritual nature by Rumi. So emphatic is his conviction in the value and permanence of the human Khudi or individuality that he rejects the ambition for the finite individuality of man to be immersed or lost in the Infinite or the Absolute. In one of his lectures he says, “It is with the irreplaceable singleness of his individuality that the finite ego will approach the Infinite ego to see for himself the consequences of his past actions.” In Lala-e-Toor Iqbal beautifully views. 
سکندر با خضر خوش نکتہء گفت

Sikander ba Khizr khus nukta-e-guft    
شریکِ سوز و سازِ بحر و بر شو

shareek-e-soz-o-saz-e-zindgi ho
تو ایں جنگ از کنارِ عرصہ بینی

tu ein jung az kinar-e- arsa beeni
بمیر اندر نبرد و زندہ تر شو

bameer under naburd-o-zinda tar sho
کہا خوش تر سکندر نے خضر کو

kaha khush ter Sikander ne Khizr ko
شریکِ سوز و سازِ زندگی ہو

shareek-e-soz-o-saz-e-zindgi ho
تماشائی نہ بن اس کارگاہ میں

tamashaii na ban es kargah mein
شہیدِ رزم ہو اور زندہ تر ہو

shaheed-e-razm ho aur zinda ter ho


Here, Iskander representing the finite nature of man is impressing upon Khizer representing the infinite nature man, that laying one’s life in struggle for a higher purpose, is real infinitude. He has emphasized this as, “What is that hard worker, who extracts water from stone like Iskander without the help of Khizer”.

آں سخت کوش چیست کہ گیرد ز سنگ آب

aan sakht kosh cheest keb geerad ze sung aab

محتاج ِ خضر مثل ِ سکندر نمی شود

mohtaj-e-Khizr misl-e-Sikander namey shwad

پسِ مرگ نام و نشاں مرا نہ دیار میں نہ مزار میں

ہو دلانِ خلقِ جہان میں تو یہ فرش عرش سے کم نہیں

pas-e-marg nam-o-nishan mera na dayar mein na mazar mein

ho dilan-e-khalq-e-jahan mein to yeh farsh arsh se kum nahein


As we are gathered here today to listen from Naqvi Saheb’s scholarly exposition on Iqbaliyat, Iqbal himself had predicted about this day as:
پس از من شعرِ من خواند و دریابند و می گویند

pas az man sher-e-man khwanund-o-daryabund-o-mey goyund

زمانے را دگر گوں کرد یک مردِ خود آگاہے

zamane ra degargon kard yak mard-e-khud aagahey


مرے اشعار میرے بعد پڑھتے ہیں تو کہتے ہیں

meray ashaar meray ba’ad parhtey hain to kehtey hain

کہ اک مردِ خود آگاہ نے زمانے کو بدل ڈالا

kek ek mard-e-khud aagah ne zamane ko badal daala


Here are two verses of Iqbal said by him about himself, My body comes from the earthly paradise of Kashmir; My heart belongs to Hijaz and my song to Shiraz”.


تنم گُلے ز خیابانِ جنتِ کشمیر

دل از حریمِ حجاز و نوا ز شیراز است

tanum gule zay khayabaan-e-janat-e-Khashmir

dil az hareem-e-Hijaz-o-nawa zay Shiraz ast


مرا بنگر کہ در  ہندوستاں دیگر نمے بینی

برہمن زادہء راز آشنائے روم وتبریز است

mra ba nigar keh der Hindostan degar namey beeni

Brahman zada’ei raz ashna-e-Rum-o-Tabrez ast

مجھے دیکھو کہ ہندوستان میں مجھ  سا نہیں کوئی

برہمن  زادہ  ہوں راز  آشنائے  روم  و  تبریز  ہوں

mujhey deekho keh Hindostan mein mujh sa nahein koii

Brahman zada hoon raz ashna-e-Rum-o-Tabrez hoon


Before I invite Saiyid Ali Naqvi Sahib to reflect upon “Adam In The Poetry And Prose Of Iqbal” it is important to introduce him to those who did not get a chance to know him. Jenab Naqvi Sahib, born in Amroha (Sub-Continent of India) and graduating in Civil Engineering from Aligarh University moved to Pakistan where he commenced his career with the Pakistan government’s Central Engineering Authority. He received field training in USA, and in 1956 was appointed Deputy Pakistan Irrigation Commissioner. He oversaw the implementation of the interim agreements between India and Pakistan on sharing the waters of Indus rivers. He was subsequently transferred to the Water Development Organization and has devoted nineteen-years of his career to large dams in Pakistan. He has held senior executive position under WAPDA in relation to the Mangla Dam, Terbela Dam, and Kalabagh Dam (a project in controversy).

In addition to authoring numerous articles on water resources issues, Naqvi Sahib, a cousin of the great artist Sadequain, is devoted to Urdu and Persian poetry. Among other expressions of his poetic interests, he has written papers and articles on Ghalib and Iqbal. He is compiling a set of his own Urdu poetry for publication for which we are all waiting excitedly.

Oxford University Press has recently published, Saiyid Ali Naqvi Sahib’s 800 pages magnum opus, Indus Waters and Social Change: The Evolution and Transition of Agrarian Society in Pakistan, which I have graciously received through Brother Noor Salik Sahib. This book is not only a wealth of knowledge on water resources and a history of Indus river by an engineer, it is a book of geography, philosophy of history, sociology, politics, literature, and many other ethos of the sub-continent of India. This great work is adorned with the verses of Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz from beginning to the end. Interestingly Naqvi Sahib in the 14th chapter “Harnessing The Indus Waters (1961-80) where the rule of Generals starts in Pakistan, has cited a quote by Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”  Naqvi Sahib brings this great work to an end with three lines of Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

Abhi girani-e-shab mein kami nahin aai              ابھی گرانئ ِ شب میں کمی نہیں آئی

Najat-e-dida-o-dil ki ghari nahin aai                   نَجاتِ دیدہ و دل کی گھڑی نہیں آئی

Chale chalo ke woh manzil abhi nahi aai            چلے چلو کہ  وہ  منزل  ابھی نہیں آئی

As we will be hearing from our respected speaker on Iqbal’s concept of Adam, I would say:

یہ جہاں لمحہ بلمحہ ہو رہا ہے نو بنو
ہر قدم منزل نئی ہے ہر نظر منظر دِگر

جیسے عالَم ہے تلاشِ آدمی میں مضطَرِب
جو ہو نقشِ آب و گِل میں نفسِ کامل مستِمَر
This world moment to moment is becoming new to newer
at every step there is a new goal, at every sight a new science
As if the universe is restlessly in search of a man [or person]
who in the figure of water and clay is a complete perfect soul
نگہِ جستجو ہے جہاں پڑے دلِ مضطرب میں تڑپ اُٹھے
یہاں ذرہ ذرہ نقاب ہے اسے دیدہ ور کی تلاش ہے
Wherever the searching eye falls a lightening rises in the restless mind and heart
here every particle of dust is cover [of hidden knowledge] which is looking for a man of vision.


مری فرسٹ فنگر سے کی دبے دلِ لیپ ٹاپ کلک کرے
جونہی گوگل سرچ کی ویب کھلے تو ملے وہ جسکی تلاش ہے

My first finger presses a key, [and] the heart of lap top clicks;                                         As Google search’s web opens [we] find whatever is being searched.


Mirza Ashraf