The Arab Sunset

The Arab Sunset

The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies


Since their modern formation in the mid-twentieth century, Saudi Arabia and the five smaller Gulf monarchies — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — have been governed by highly autocratic and seemingly anachronistic regimes. Nevertheless, their rulers have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of bloody conflicts on their doorsteps, fast-growing populations at home, and modernizing forces from abroad.

One of the monarchies’ most visible survival strategies has been to strengthen security ties with Western powers, in part by allowing the United States, France, and Britain to build massive bases on their soil and by spending lavishly on Western arms. In turn, this expensive militarization has aided a new generation of rulers that appears more prone than ever to antagonizing Iran and even other Gulf states. In some cases, grievances among them have grown strong enough to cause diplomatic crises, incite violence, or prompt one monarchy to interfere in the domestic politics of another.

It would thus be a mistake to think that the Gulf monarchies are somehow invincible. Notwithstanding existing internal threats, these regimes are also facing mounting external ones — from Western governments, from Iran, and each other. And these are only exacerbating their longstanding conflicts and inherent contradictions.


As a proportion of GDP, the Gulf monarchies’ purchases make them the biggest arms buyers in the world.

The existence of substantial Western military bases on the Arabian Peninsula has always been problematic for the Gulf monarchies. To their critics, the hosting of non-Arab, non-Muslim armies is an affront to Islam and to national sovereignty. Their proliferation will likely draw further criticism, and perhaps serve as yet another flashpoint for the region’s opposition movements.

Among the largest Western installations in the Gulf is al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which owes its existence to the country’s former ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In 1999, al-Thani told the United States that he would like to see 10,000 American servicemen permanently based in the emirate, and over the next few years, the United States duly began shifting personnel there from Saudi Arabia. Today, al-Udeid houses several thousand U.S. servicemen at a time and has also served as a forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), a U.S. Air Force expeditionary air wing, a CIA base, and an array of U.S. Special Forces teams. Nearby Bahrain hosts the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the entire U.S. Fifth Fleet, which includes some 6,000 U.S. personnel. The United States recently downsized its force in Kuwait, but four U.S. infantry bases remain, including Camp Patriot, which is believed to house about 3,000 U.S. soldiers and two air bases.

The United States plans to further expand its regional military presence in the near future. As CENTCOM recently announced, the country will be sending the latest U.S. antimissile systems to at least four Gulf states. These are new versions of the Patriot anti-missile batteries that the United States already sent to the region and are meant to assuage the Gulf rulers’ fears of Iranian missile attacks. Tellingly, the announcement did not reveal exactly which states had agreed to take the U.S. weapons. Yet analysts widely assume that the unnamed states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.

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The Judiciary of Pakistan and its Role in Political Crisis

The Judiciary of Pakistan and its Role in Political Crisis

By Syed Sami Ahmad

A Review by Mirza Ashraf:


Though I have been reading articles and books about Pakistan’s historical, political and current problems, but it is only because of Syed Sami Ahmad Sahib’s book The Judiciary of Pakistan and its role in Political Crisis, that I have known and understood the root of present crisis in Pakistan. This book reveals the dismal state of the most prestigious institution of judiciary in Pakistan and the disastrous role of some of the Justices and Chief Justices that started soon after the death of the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. Before reading this book, I would sometimes blame the politicians, sometimes the Army Generals and at another time the people of Pakistan for all the problems in the country. But now I believe that the root of the crisis in Pakistan is because of a wrong tradition of injustice and favoritism for personal gains laid by the Judges and Chief Justices of Pakistan. They forgot and many of them are still forgetting that human societies are established on Truth, Justice and Hard work. Societies disappear as a group or a nation when there is no justice.


Sami Sahib in this book has daringly exposed the disastrous role played by the 2nd Chief Justice after the creation of Pakistan, Chief Justice Munir by unjustly empowering Governor General Ghulam Muhammad who had dissolved the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, a sovereign body which could make and unmake laws, on October 24, 1954. Maulvi Tamizuddin, being the President (what is Speaker today) of the Assembly filed a petition against Ghulam Muhammad’s unconstitutional act. The historic judgment of the Chief Court of Sindh (what is High Court today) restored Maulvi Tamizuddin. But Ghulam Muhammad, after transferring and retiring the rightful Justices, picked up a junior person, Justice Munir as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court. Justice Munir and his companion Judges at the behest of Ghulam Muhammad, over ruled the judgment of the Chief Court of Sindh. In order to strengthen Ghulam Muhammad’s grip, Justice Munir laid the foundation of the most vicious “Law of Necessity” for which the whole nation had to pay the price that plunged the whole nation into chaos and crisis. This clearly tells that a civilian Governor General, and an unjust Chief Justice, are responsible in blocking the road to democracy in Pakistan and at the same time opening the door for the army dictators to step in. I am in shock to know what Sami Sahib has cited about Justice Nasim Hasan Shah saying, “So long the army rule is there, no judge can afford to be independent. No judge would like to be crucified.” What an irony that in the first place it was a Chief Justice who introduced the Law of Necessity and paved way for the Generals to derail the democracy and scrap or suspend constitution of the country, and now another Chief Justice is showing his helplessness to stand for justice. I am here reminded of six lines of a poem from the Arabian Nights, which I quote here:


When the unjust judge

Without justice judges,

Horrible, horrible things are done;

But more horrible things are done

When justice judges

The unjust judge.                    (The Arabian Nights)


The Judiciary of Pakistan and its Role in Political Crisis, as I view, is not just a history of unjust and just judges and of many disastrous decisions which has brought that nation to current crisis, it is rather a “Ruling of justice judging the unjust judges.” I wonder, if Syed Sami Ahmad Sahib, an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and a President of Sindh High Court Bar Association, can stand against the Generals like, Ayub, Yahya, Zia, and Musharraf, and against the corrupt political rulers and did not bow before the unjust judges of the highest courts, how come these Judges and Chief Justices cowed by the dictators would judge unjustly. During the book launching ceremony moderated by Brother Mahfooz ur Rehman attended by another distinguished member of Thinkers Forum Dr. Riaz Chaudhary on December 22, we watched a very daring speech by Syed Sami Sahib as a President of the Sindh High Court Bar Association addressing a gathering of the lawyers in the presence of Prime Minister Juneju, openly condemning the Martial Law without fearing the dictator General Zia.


Chapter 14 of this book on Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah vs Syed Sami Ahmad, President of Sindh High Court Bar Association, relates a very interesting story of the courage and bold stand of Sami Sahib for the sake of truth. It is a rebuke to Nasim Hasan Shah’s remark, “So long the army rule is there, no judge can afford to be independent. No judge would like to be crucified.” I would dare to add a line in Khalil Gibran’s famous poem, “Pity the nation where a Chief Justice is the servant of a dictator.” For sure, only honest and unselfish sons of a nation show courage to stand before a dictator, even if they have to pay the price of their life.


حرف ِ حق  باعث ِ آزار  ہے اشرف  لیکن
دیکھ اُنکو جو سچائی کا جنوں رکھتے ہیں
بات ممبر پہ کہیں ۔ دار پہ سمجھاتے ہیں

زندگی رشکِ صداقت کا ستوں رکھتے ہیں


The incident is related as Sindh Police under the patronage of Pakistan People’s Party’s Chief Minister of Sindh Abdullah Shah, had trespassed into the premises of Karachi Bar Association, firing, shelling, stoning and assaulting the lawyers including lady members. Sami Sahib received an SOS telephone-message describing the grave situation, which had never happened before in the history of any of the Bar Associations of Pakistan. He immediately summoned the meeting of the members in which it was unanimously decided that as President of the Bar he should contact the Chief Minister of Sindh to stop police’s firing and shelling. Many attempts to contact the Chief Minister proved futile. It was decided to meet the Chief Justice Hafeez Memon of the High Court of Sindh to seek his help. The Chief Justice was in the tea room and did not respond to many messages that there was an emergency and the members of Bar were waiting anxiously for him. The situation was becoming bad to worse because of firing and shelling. Sami Sahib immediately left for the chamber of the Chief Justice of Pakistan Sajjad Ali Shah and entered in where he saw him relaxing on a sofa, and Chief Justice Hafeez Memon and the Attorney General of Pakistan sitting there sipping cups of tea. As soon as he entered the chamber, he requested Hafeez Memon to grant the Bar members immediate audience and help stop the brutalities of the police. The Chief Justice of Pakistan told Hafeez Memon to go immediately to his chamber meet the members who were helped and their request was granted to speak with the Chief Minister of Sindh who invited them to meet him in his office. Sami Sahib met him on emergency basis which though proved to be an exercise in futility except that firing and shelling did not occur thereafter.


Sami Sahib’s effort to save human lives brought the result of a show cause notice served to him and three other Supreme court lawyers for forcing an entry into the chamber of the Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah who was relaxing on a sofa. Sami Sahib fought his case to prove that there was no breach of law and as a President of the Bar, it was his lawful as well as moral duty to do whatever was necessary in emergency situation to save the lives of those who were being fired at, shelled, and stoned. Still Sami Sahib was asked to say sorry for entering the Chief Justice’s Chamber, which he as an honest and brave person refused to say. Consequently, another Justice, Muhammad Munir Khan arrived at about 9:00 am and after giving an order against Sami Sahib flew back in the evening. Sami Sahib and two of his colleagues, without being heard were suspended from the practice of the Supreme Court for a period of two years.


I believe that the unjust justices, who rise unfairly to highest posts, are innerly abased by a guilty complex. They know that they cowed, bowed and submitted themselves for personal greed before the dictatorial powers, and thus by forcing every other just and honest person to submit to them they seek a satisfaction for their own guilt. This is what the Qur’an clearly invokes, “The unjust people follow their selfish desires without any knowledge.” Interestingly another Justice, Abdul Razzak, later on told Sami Sahib that Justice Munir Khan was repenting for not giving Sami Sahib an opportunity of being heard. “Ha’ay us zood pasheman ka pashaman hona.”


I could not help expressing my dard-e-dil, summed up in a short Urdu Ghazal, which I believe was more intense and painful for Syed Sami Ahmad Sahib while writing this book. Arising from my heart and mind, this Ghazal, on the footsteps of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, relates the pathetic and distressing state of Pakistani nation’s sufferings. I am now convinced that it is because of the unjust judges and chief justices in Pakistan, daringly exposed with proofs and full references, in the book, The Judiciary of Pakistan and its Role in Political Crisis, that the whole nation is in dilapidated state.


روسیاہ منصف و حَاکِم کی جو روداد آئی
جانِ شوریدہ سے انصاف کی فریاد آئی
کلمہء صدق و صفا لب پہ گنہگار ہوا
کوئے ایوان ِ عدل میں شب ِ بیداد آئی
شرمسار طوق و رسن دار و زنجیر ہوئے
چلتے پھرتے ہوئے مقتل کی جو ایجاد آئی
کیوں ہوا قتل نہ مقتول نہ قاتل کو خبر
قتل ِانصاف سے یوں صَرصَر برباد آئی
دورِ آمر ہو یا جمہوری مگر دیکھ اشرف

سخن و تحریرِ سمیع  سے شرح آزاد آئی


Mirza Ashraf


Other Books by Syed Sami Ahmad Sahib:


1. Struggle Against Martial Law

2. The Judgment That Brought Disaster (Tamizuddin Khan Case)

3. The End of Muslim Rule in India

4. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: The Saviour of Muslim India

5. History of Pakistan and Role of The Army

6. The Trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and The Superior Judiciary In Pakistan


In Contradiction: A Study of Transconsistent By Professor Graham Priest

A review of a book “In Contradiction” by Graham Priest

Shared by Noor Salik

NOTE:                  Professor Graham Priest is a renowned living philosopher specializing in Modern Logic. Contradiction, tautology (esp. imagining a logical link where it is non-existent) , finite logic, infinite logic are the concepts worthy of the discussion among TF USA affiliates (nSalik)

Graham Priest

In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent

Published: March 18, 2007

Graham Priest, In Contradiction: A Study of the Transconsistent, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition (expanded), 2006, 352pp., $35.00 (pbk), ISBN 0199263302.

Reviewed by José Martínez Fernández, University of Barcelona

A dialetheia is a true contradiction, that is, a sentence A such that A ∧ ¬ A is true.  Since falsity is defined as truth of the negation, a dialetheia can be equivalently defined as a sentence A that is both true and false. The first edition of In Contradiction, published in 1987, has become the classical presentation and defense of dialetheism: the view that there are dialetheias. This thesis may look at first sight almost unintelligible, making us wonder what the meaning of truth and negation would be if there are true contradictions. But after reading the careful arguments that Priest builds to defend dialetheism, and the passionate attack he launches on classical logic and consistent views of the world, one realizes that dialetheism is a major logical theory, deserving a detailed examination.

The second edition of the book incorporates unchanged (apart from corrections of typographical errors and notational changes) the text of the first edition with its three parts and then adds a fourth part with six new chapters (ch.15-20), which comment on the text of the first edition and further develop some of its contents, expanding the book by one third. I will begin by outlining the main changes and additions that Priest has made to the first edition of the book. I will then make two critical comments.

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Some important books recommended by Neil deGrasse Tyson


Shared by Syed Imtiaz Bokhari

An interesting article by Neil deGrasse a scientist by profession delineated on the importance of math, physics and cosmology in our lives. He is great fan of Bertrand Russell and his books.


Neil deGrasse Tyson: By the Book

The Hayden Planetarium director and author, most recently, of “Space Chronicles,” would love to have met Oscar Wilde: “Anyone who could pen the phrase ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’ gets a seat at my dinner table.”

Who are your favorite science writers? Anyone new and good we should be paying attention to?

In no particular order: Dava Sobel, Timothy Ferris, Cornelia Dean, Bill Bryson and Michael Lemonick. And I just recently discovered the delightfully irreverent books of Mary Roach. I take this occasion to note that Agnes M. Clerke, writing in the late 19th century and the turn of the 20th, was one of the most prolific science writers in any field, although her specialty was astrophysics, then a male-dominated area. Her titles include “The Concise Knowledge Library: Astronomy” (1898), “Problems in Astrophysics” (1903) and “Modern Cosmologies” (1905).

If a parent asked you for book recommendations to get a child interested in science, what would be on your list? 

Kids are naturally interested in science. The task is to maintain that innate interest, and not get in their way as they express it. Early on, my favorite children’s book is “On the Day You Were Born” (1991), written and illustrated by Debra Frasier. I’m often asked by publishers whether I will ever write a science-based children’s book. My answer will remain no until I believe I can write one better than Frasier’s. It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future. Also, I remain impressed how fast the Dr. Seuss “Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library” series updated Tish Rabe’s book “There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System” (1999, 2009) to reflect the official 2006 demotion of Pluto to “dwarf planet” status.

What are the greatest books ever written about astronomy?

Because the field of study changes so rapidly, any book that’s great in one decade becomes hopelessly obsolete by the next. But if I am forced to pick one, it would be Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” (1980). Not for the science it taught, but for how effectively the book shared why science matters — or should matter — to every citizen of the world.

And your favorite novels of all time?

Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726). I often find myself reflecting on the odd assortment of characters that Lemuel Gulliver met during his travels. We’re all familiar with the tiny Lilliputians, but during his voyages he also met the giant Brobdingnagians. And elsewhere he met the savage humanoid Yahoos and the breed of rational horses — the Houyhnhnms — who shunned them. And I will not soon forget the misguided scientists of the Grand Academy of Lagado beneath the levitated Island of Laputa, who invested great resources posing and answering the wrong questions about nature.

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you steer clear of?

Not enough books focus on how a culture responds to radically new ideas or discovery. Especially in the biography genre, they tend to focus on all the sordid details in the life of the person who made the discovery. I find this path to be voyeuristic but not enlightening. Instead, I ask, After evolution was discovered, how did religion and society respond? After cities were electrified, how did daily life change? After the airplane could fly from one country to another, how did commerce or warfare change? After we walked on the Moon, how differently did we view Earth? My larger understanding of people, places and things derives primarily from stories surrounding questions such as those.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I have multiple shelves of books and tracts on religion and religious philosophy, as well as on pseudoscience and general fringe thinking. I’m perennially intrigued how people who lead largely evidence-based lives can, in a belief-based part of their mind, be certain that an invisible, divine entity created an entire universe just for us, or that the government is stockpiling space aliens in a secret desert location. I find this reading to be invaluable in my efforts to communicate with all those who, while invoking these views, might fear or reject the methods, tools and tenets of science.

What book has had the greatest impact on you? 

George Gamow’s “One, Two, Three . . . Infinity” (1947) and Edward Kasner and James Newman’s “Mathematics and the Imagination” (1940) are both still in print. I have aspired to write a book as influential to others as these books have been influential to me. The closest I have come is “Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries” (2007), but while I think it succeeds on many educational levels, I’m quite sure it falls short of what these authors accomplished. For me, at middle-school age, they turned math and science into an intellectual playground that I never wanted to leave. It’s where I first learned about the numbers googol and googolplex (a googolplex is so large, you cannot fully write it, for it contains more zeros than the number of particles in the universe). It’s also where I learned about higher dimensions and the general power of mathematics to decode the universe.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?

I’d like to believe that the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the world, has time to read more than one book. But picking just one book reveals my bias: “Physics for Future Presidents,” by Richard A. Muller (2009) is, of course, already conceived for this purpose. The president’s science adviser has traditionally been a physicist. Parting the layered curtains of science reveals that there’s no understanding of biology without chemistry, and there is no understanding of chemistry without physics. Informed people in government have known this from the beginning. And all of engineering derives from the laws of physics themselves. So the physics literacy of a president is a good thing, especially since innovations in science and technology will drive the engines of 21st-century economies. Failure to understand or invest wisely here will doom a nation to economic irrelevance.

What books have you most enjoyed sharing with your children?

The last book that I read to both of my kids, at the same time, was Carlo Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinocchio” (1883). At the time, they were both old enough to read on their own, but I nonetheless invited them to hear my recitation, in four or five sittings. Only when you read the original book do you realize how much of an undisciplined, stubborn, troublemaking truant Pinocchio actually was — complete with him squashing Jiminy Cricket, reducing him to a mere smudge on the wall, killing his short-lived spiritual adviser early in the story. The book served as an excellent example of how not to behave as a child. And it further served as a reminder of how Hollywood, or Disney in particular, can denude fairy tales of their strongest messages.

If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you want to know? 

Oscar Wilde. Anyone who could pen the phrase “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” gets a seat at my dinner table. Also, I’ve been intrigued by the breadth of topics that interested Edgar Allan Poe. In particular, his prose poem of speculative science called “Eureka” (1848), which lays out basic tenets of modern cosmology, 70 years before cosmology even existed as a subject of study. For all we know, their best-known works are only the tip of an iceberg of mental processing and thoughts that engaged them daily. These would surely be thoughts that would emerge during a nice meal I might have with them, over a good bottle of wine.

If you could be any character from literature, who would you be?

I’d be Thomas Stockmann, the medical doctor in the 1882 Henrik Ibsen play “An Enemy of the People.” And I’d handle the situation a bit differently. I’d alert the townspeople of the problem with their public baths in such a way that they would welcome the news rather than reject it. This requires sensitivity to how people think, and an awareness of what they value in life and why. The town might then have been compelled to fix the problem rather than view the messenger and his message as their enemy. When I first read the story, I was astonished that educated adults would behave in such a manner, and was prepared to discount the whole story as a work of unrealistic fiction. I would later see actual people — including those in power — behave in just this way on all manner of scientific topics, instilling within me the urge to become the doctor’s character and make everything O.K.

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Although I’m not actually embarrassed by this, I tend not to read books that have awesome movies made from them, regardless of how well or badly the movie represented the actual written story. Instead, at cocktail parties, I’ve always found it a bit awkward when I’m not up-to-date on all the latest novels and other written works that get reviewed in The New York Review of Books. That means I’m not only not reading the hottest novels, I’m not even reading the reviews of the novels themselves.


What do you plan to read next?

Four books that I just acquired from an antiquarian bookseller — short monographs by the philosopher, mathematician and social activist Bertrand Russell: “Justice in War-Time” (the 1924 printing), “Mysticism and Logic and Other Essays” (1932 edition), “Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare” (1959) and “Has Man a Future?” (1961). It’s always refreshing to see what a deep-thinking, smart and worldly person (who is not a politician) has to say about the social and geopolitical challenges of the day.