Tuesday, March 29, 2011

India-Pakistan Cricket Diplomacy at Mohali

Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh has invited his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch India-Pakistan World Cup semifinal at Mohali on Wednesday March 30 2011 for what is being described as "cricket diplomacy" between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.

History of Cricket Diplomacy:

This "cricket diplomacy" goes back to February 1987 when former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Haq went to India to watch a Test match between the two sides as part of his "cricket for peace initiative". This meeting did help lower the temperature that had been raised when India held large military exercises near the Pakistani border in Rajhastan and Pakistan responded by amassing its troops at the India-Pakistan border. Though Pakistan did win the Test series, the effect of diplomacy did not last long in helping resolve any of the longstanding issues between the two South Asian neighbors.

The last time India and Pakistan engaged in "cricket diplomacy" was when President Musharraf was invited by PM Manmohan Singh on April 17, 2005, and the match ended very badly for India. Pakistan beat India by 143 runs, propelled by Afridi's 134 runs.

Here's how President Musharraf described it:

Unfortunately for my hosts, the match turned out to be an embarrassment for India because one of Pakistan's star batsmen, Shahid Afridi, clobbered virtually every ball that the Indians bowled at him. Many of his hits headed straight for our VIP enclosure. Like any normal cricket fan I wanted to jump out of my seat shouting and clapping, but I had to control my enthusiasm in deference to my hosts.

Before the match was over, we left for our discussions. It goes without saying that I was dying to get back to the exciting match. So during our official one-on-one meeting I suggested to the prime minister that we go back to see the last hour of the match and also distribute the prizes. I made him agree in spite of his concerns about security. But then, as the meeting continued, my staff kept sending in notes informing me about the collapse of the Indian team when its turn came to bat. India's entire team got out long before the end of the game. Tightly repressing any outward signs of my inner joy, I had to inform Manmohan Singh that the Indian team's batting had been wasted and there was no point in another visit to the stadium.

Boys will be boys, some might say, but they obviously don't know cricket, or the importance of a match between Pakistan and India.

Policy Making:

Indian security analysts and politicians regularly blame Pakistan for the failure of past bilateral diplomatic efforts by citing what they believe is the adverse role of Pakistani military in framing Pakistan's policy toward India. This rationale, however, does not explain why the diplomatic initiatives undertaken by Pakistani military leaders from General Zia to General Musharraf have not borne fruit.

A more rational explanation for the policy failures has recently surfaced in secret US embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks and published by The Hindu. After a meeting with India's National Security Adviser and former Indian intelligence chief M.K. Narayanan in August 2009, American Ambassador Timothy Roemer concluded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was isolated within his own government in his “great belief” in talks and negotiations with Pakistan.

Sharm al-Shaikh Summit:

Roemer said that although Narayanan's hawkish stance on Pakistan was well known, his willingness to “distance himself from his boss (Manmohan Singh) in an initial courtesy call would suggest that PM Singh is more isolated than we thought within his own inner circle in his effort to "trust but verify" and pursue talks with Pakistan particularly in the wake of the hammering his government took from opposition for the July Sharm al-Sheikh statement with (Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza) Gilani.”

Agra Summit:

In the aftermath of the failure of the 2002 Agra Summit with former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, former Pakistani President Musharraf said the two leaders were close to a historic agreement until an Indian bureaucrat Vivek Katju conspired with India's entrenched security hawks to insist on last-minute changes unacceptable to Pakistan.

Resolution of Kashmir:

Kashmir remains the single most explosive unresolved issue between India and Pakistan, and President Musharraf devoted a lot of his energies with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to try and resolve it. The formula envisioned soft or porous borders in Kashmir with freedom of movement for the Kashmiris; exceptional autonomy or "self-governance" within each region of Kashmir; phased demilitarization of all regions; and finally, a "joint supervisory mechanism," with representatives from India, Pakistan and all parts of Kashmir, to oversee the plan’s implementation. It appears now that the hawkish Indian security establishment has succeeded in scuttling the peace efforts based on the Musharraf formula.

Indian Think Tanks:

A new and significant factor that stands in the way of peace and security in South Asia is the emergence and growth of Indian think tanks, making India second only to the United States in numbers of such think tanks.

Out of 422 recognized Indian think tanks, around 63 are engaged in security research and foreign policy matters. These are heavily funded by the global arms merchants. India’s retired spies, police and military officers, diplomats and journalists are hired and handsomely compensated by such national security & foreign policy research institutes.

They exaggerate terror threats with the help of the media and intelligence folks to promote greater defense and security spending. As a result, India has already become the world's largest importer of weapons last year, according to SIPRI. These weapons imports are done at the expense of other far more pressing needs of the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterate people who call India home.


Pakistan has to be willing to take bold initiatives for peace and harmony in South Asia. But it takes two to tango. As long as the Indian hawkish security establishment remains in charge of India's Pakistan policy, there is very little chance of success of any initiatives, including the latest round of cricket diplomacy in Mohali.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Top Ten Sledges in Cricket

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Wikileaks on India's Hawkish Policy on Pakistan

Obama on Cricket

Case For Resuming India-Pakistan Peace Talks

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer

Thursday, March 24, 2011

India-Pakistan Lovefest or Sledge Match at Mohali?

Cricket was considered a gentleman's sport until the Australians invented sledging, defined as words or phrases designed to upset opponents to gain a competitive edge in crunch matches.

Though Aussies still remain the king of sledge, Indians and Pakistanis are also known to engage in this coarse practice when emotions are running high. But somehow, they tend to get in trouble more often than their Australian counterparts.

In a 2008 encounter between India and Australia, Indian bowler Harbhajan Singh was disciplined by the ICC when Australia's Andrew Symonds accused him of using a racial slur. Upon further investigation, it turned out that Singh said to Syomnds "teri maaN ki c---" (Your mother's c---) which Symonds heard as "monkey".

The Harbhajan-Symonds incident implies that there are some rules for sledging that permit verbal salvos against the character of women in the players' lives, while prohibiting any race-based verbal attacks. It also appears to imply that misogyny is permissible on the male-dominated cricket field but racism is not. Given this background and their common language, it's quite possible that both Indians and Pakistanis will freely offer their unflattering opinions of each others' female relatives at the upcoming World Cup semifinal at Mohali on March 30, 2011.

Among the most quoted sledges is this one about Australia's Rodney Marsh and England's Ian Botham: Marsh: "How's your wife and my kids?" Botham: "The wife's fine; the kids are retarded."

Not all sledges relate to females. The one reported about Pakistan's Javed Miandad and Australia's Merv Hughes goes like this: Javed Miandad called Hughes a fat bus conductor during a match. A few balls later, Hughes dismissed Miandad. “Tickets please,” said Hughes, as he mocked the departing batsman.

Regardless of sledging and match results, I do hope that the high-energy, high-emotion India-Pakistan encounter in Mohali offers a great spectacle of fine cricket and the best possible sportsmanship the two South Asian neighbors have to offer.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Top Ten Sledges in Cricket

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Obama on Cricket

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Resurgent Pakistan Roar in to WC Semifinal

Pakistan cricket team gave a very special gift to their nation on Pakistan Day today; it thrashed West Indies to roar into the World Cup Semifinal to be played at Mohali, India on Wednesday March 30 against the winner of Australia-India quarterfinal match tomorrow in Ahmedabad.

By pleasant coincidence, the venue for the Pakistan Day victory of Afridi's team was Shere Bangla stadium, named after Shere Bengal Maulvi A.K Fazlul Haque who introduced the Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940 in Lahore that led to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Bangladeshi spectators in Dhaka made the Pakistani team feel at home by loudly cheering them on during the entire match.

Skipper Shahid Afridi led Pakistan's devastating spin attack to bowl West Indies out for a paltry total of 112. The opening partnership of Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal did the rest by scoring 113 without losing any wickets.

Pakistan spinners Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal each took two wickets in an over to bowl out the Windies for 112. Afridi claimed 4-30 to reach 21 wickets in the tournament with only Shivnarine Chanderpaul resisting with 44 not out.
Pakistan reached the modest target with 175 balls left, man-of-the-match Hafeez (61) with 10 fours and opening partner Kamran Akmal firing seven fours in 47.

Coming on the heels of a historic win over unbeaten Australia last Saturday, this victory has helped boost the confidence of Pakistani team and its committed fans back home. I hope these back-to-back victories over Australia and the West Indies propel Pakistan to win the next two matches to lift the Cricket World Cup in 2011.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Breaks Australia's 34-Match Winning Streak

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pakistan Needs More Gujaratis?

Does Pakistan need more Gujaratis and Memons to boost its economy and create more jobs? A Gujarati Indian journalist and author Aakar Patel emphatically answers YES!

Drawing upon some of his very narrow parochial and racist-casteist thinking, Patel explains with credible data that most of the captains of business and industry in both India and Pakistan are originally from Gujarat, and India's economic success lies in the fact that it has a lot more Gujaratis than does Pakistan.

Here are some excepts from Patel's piece:

"Indian society functions as a whole. Observed in part, it’s dysfunctional. Let me explain. Without Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, India wouldn’t have an economy. Delete Tata/Birla/Ambani/Mittal/Premji and India begins to look like Bangladesh. The rest of the country—Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Kashmir, UP, etc.—will have lots of culture but little else."

"Why is Pakistan such a mess? Some would blame Islam, but they’d be wrong. The problem isn’t religion at all. The problem is lack of caste balance. There aren’t enough traders to press for restraint and there are too many peasants. Too many people concerned about national honour, and not enough people concerned about national economy. Put simply: Pakistan has too many Punjabis and not enough Gujaratis. The majority of Pakistanis live in Punjab, but well over 50% of government revenue comes from just one city in Sindh: Karachi. Why? That is where the Gujarati is.

Gujaratis are less than 1% of Pakistan’s population, but they dominate its economy because they are from trading communities. Colgate-Palmolive in Pakistan is run by the Lakhani Memons, the Dawood group is run by Memons from Bantva in Saurashtra (the great Abdus Sattar Edhi is also a Memon from Bantva). The Adamjee group, advertisers on BBC, are from Gujarat’s Jetpur village and founded Muslim Commercial Bank. The Khoja businessman Sadruddin Hashwani owns hotels including Islamabad’s bombed-out Marriott. Khojas founded Habib Bank, whose boards are familiar to Indians who watched cricket on television in the 1980s. The Habibs also manufacture Toyota cars through Indus Motors. Pakistan’s only beer is made by Murree Brewery, owned by a Parsi family, the Bhandaras. Also owned by Parsis is Karachi’s Avari Hotels.

People talk of the difference between Karachi and Lahore. I find that the rational view in Pakistani newspapers is put forward by letter-writers from Karachi. Often they have names like Gheewala, a Sunni Vohra name (same caste as Deoband’s rector from Surat, Ghulam Vastanvi), or Parekh, also a Surat name.

Today capital is fleeing Pakistan because of terrorism and poor governance. To convince investors things will get better, the Pakistani government has appointed as minister for investment a Gujarati, Saleem Mandviwalla. The Mandviwallas own Pakistan’s multiplexes, which now show Bollywood. The place where Gujaratis dominate totally, as they do also in India, is Pakistan’s capital market. Going through the list of members of the Karachi Stock Exchange (www.kse.com.pk) this becomes clear. However, few Pakistanis will understand this because as Muslims they have little knowledge of caste.

The Gujarati tries to hold up the Pakistani economy, but the peasant Punjabi (Jat) runs over his effort with his militant stupidity. Why cannot the Pakistani Punjabi also think like a trader? Simple. He’s not converted from the mercantile castes. There are some Khatris, like Najam Sethi, South Asia’s best editor, but they are frustrated because few other Pakistanis think like them. Are they an intellectual minority? Yes, but that is because they are a minority by caste. One great community of Pakistani Punjabi Khatris is called Chinioti. They are excellent at doing business but in a martial society they are the butt of jokes. I once heard Zia Mohyeddin tell a funny story about the cowardice of Chiniotis and I thought of how differently a Gujarati would look at the same story."

Is there is more to life than economy?

Here's how Akar Patel answers this question:

1. "Gujarat also needs another thing, though some might disagree. As a mercantile culture, Gujarati literature is quite poor. The shelves of Crossword stores in Ahmedabad (Surat has none) are lined with volumes of Bengali novels in translation. I wonder how many Gujarati novels have Bengali translations. Probably none, but Gujarat needs the literature of others and I only discovered Camus through his Gujarati translations. Gujaratis speak no English and though Azim Premji and Ratan Tata run billion-dollar information technology businesses, they are dependent on south Indians to staff their companies. This sort of dependency is everywhere we look in India."

2. In another piece published earlier, Patel argued that Allama Iqbal was Kashmiri Punjabi, and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was Gujarati. Gandhi and Jinnah, the founders of India and Pakistan, were both Gujarati speakers. Nehru had his roots in Kashmir, as did Iqbal.

3. Specifically on Iqbal and Jinnah as visionaries, he says "Allama Iqbal imagined Pakistan as a utopia in northwest India where Punjabis would do ijtihad and read Nietzsche. The Quaid-e-Azam ordered a Pakistan where religion would cease to be a matter for the state. But both men saw something magnificently dormant in the character of India’s Muslims, which would flower in isolation."

Today, he argues, Iqbal's Islamic vision of Pakistan appears to be more commonly accepted than Jinnah's secular vision of Pakistan by Pakistanis.

Though I don't agree with much of what Patel says, I do think he challenges us to think about the issues of religion and economy which are both vitally important to Pakistan today.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

An Indian's View of Iqbal, Jinnah and Pakistan

Jinnah's Vision of Pakistan

World Memon Organization

Aaker Patel on Philathropy

Why is India Part Dysfunctional?

India and Pakistan Compared in 2010

Gujaratis of Pakistan

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pakistan Cricketers End Australia's Unbeaten Run

How sweet it is!

Pakistani cricketers have ended defending champions Australia's 34-match unbeaten run at the Cricket World Cup 2011 with a four-wicket win.

The last time Australia lost a world cup match was in 1999, and that too was a loss to Pakistan at Headingley in England.

The groundwork for Aussie defeat was laid when the mighty Australians were restricted by Pakistani bowlers to a mere 176 all out in 46.4 overs, their lowest total at any world cup match since 1992. Pakistan's pace attack led by Umar Gul (3 wickets for 30 runs) and Abdur Razzak (2 wickets for 8 runs), and surprisingly well supported by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and the rest of the fielders, did the trick.

With the exception of youngsters Asad Shafiq (46 runs) and Umar Akmal (44 runs, not out), Pakistan's batting was not particularly impressive, but it was good enough to score 178 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in 41 overs to defeat Australia.

This significant morale-boosting win has come after a very rough patch for Pakistan's cricket. Pakistan was scheduled to co-host the world cup tournament but it was taken away from it due to security concerns after the attack in Lahore on the visiting Sri Lanka team in March 2009. Last year, several Pakistani players came under suspicion of match-fixing and two of them have been banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

I hope that this historic victory leads to Pakistan convincingly winning the world cup this year AND this dramatic success helps turn the fortunes around for the nation's cricket and its long-suffering cricket-crazy people.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan Punish Aussie 2-0 in T20 Series

Afridi's Leadership

Pakistan In, India Out of T20 Semis

Pakistan Beat India in South Africa

Kiwis Dash Pakistan's ICC Championship Hopes

Pakistan Crowned World T20 Champs

Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Beats Tennis Great Roger Federer

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Nuclear Fallout in South Asia and the World

Japan has suffered a massive human tragedy caused by a major 9.0 earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed. Within days of its occurrence, the natural catastrophe has now been completely overshadowed by growing fears of total meltdown at Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the whole world from California to Pakistan is watching these ominous developments and fearing the worst.

Lacking any oil and gas reserves of its own, the energy-hungry Japan relies heavily on nuclear energy. The nation currently has 55 nuclear plants and 14 more are being planned or built, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's the third largest producer of nuclear energy behind the United States and France, according to Bloomberg News.

South Asian nations of India and Pakistan are looking to ramp up nuclear power production to deal with their chronic energy shortages and to meet growing electricity needs. India has 20 existing nuclear power plants and planning or building 23 more. Pakistan has 2 atomic power plants and currently building or planning 3 more. With 20 atomic reactor plants currently in operation, China is in the midst of a huge ramp with 77 more plants in various stages of planning and construction.

The world's nuclear plant designers, builders and operators have their anxious eyes on Japan to understand the full extent of the problems at Fukushima, and the evolving public reaction to the unfolding events. What do we know so far about it? It appears that the 40-year-old Fukushima plant stood up to the country’s worst earthquake on record March 11 only to have its power and back-up generators knocked out by the 7-meter tsunami that followed. Back-up diesel generators that might have kept the core cool, and averted the disaster were positioned in a basement, where they were inundated by waves and rendered useless.

In addition to the loss of backup power for cooling the core, the other major issue highlighted by the Fukushima disaster is the spent fuel storage. Like Japan, the US stores spent fuel rods on site densely packed in pools at the reactors. It is these spent fuel rods that have lost water and caused a fire from hydrogen explosions in one of the reactors, and released radiations into the atmosphere.

A number of countries, including China, France, Germany and Russia, have suspended the approval process for new nuclear plants and ordered a review of the existing plants since the Japanese nuclear power crisis began. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India has asked for a full safety audit of India's 20 operating nuclear reactors, but India's atomic energy chief Srikumar Banerjee insists that India's plants are "100% safe", according to media reports. Similarly, a statement issued by Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission says that their plants’ safety had been assessed by experts from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) over the years....apparently meaning that they are no safer than the Japanese plants built in the 1970s that had similar audits and approval.

The recent Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in West Virginia and the Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico tell us that there is no such thing as 100% safe when it comes to producing energy. However, the current nuclear radiation crisis in Japan has the strong potential to reshape the energy debate which was just beginning to favor nuclear energy as green and safe. Let's hope that the outcome forces us to carefully balance safety concerns with the energy needs of growing population amidst shrinking hydrocarbon resources and climate change concerns.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Can Thorium Energy Save Planet Earth?

Pakistan Launches Wind Power Projects

Renewable Energy to Solve Pakistan's Electricity Crisis

India's Growing Population and Depleting Resources

Wind Turbine Manufacturing in Pakistan

Pakistan Pursues Hydroelectric Power Projects

Solar Energy for Sunny Pakistan

Wind Power Tariffs in Pakistan

Pakistan's Twin Energy Shortages

Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technology

Electrification Rates By Country

Renewable Energy for Pakistan

Abundant Cheap Electricity From Pakistani Coal

Pakistan Policy on Renewable Technology

Sugarcane Ethanol Project in Pakistan

Community Based Renewable Energy Project in Pakistan

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Exposing Congressman King's Hypocrisy

Republican Congressman Peter King, the U.S. Representative from New York's 3rd District, is using his powerful post as House Homeland Security Committee chairman to hold a highly controversial hearing on what he has dubbed radicalization of Muslims in the United States.

In order to assess the sincerity of Mr. King's efforts or the lack of it, it is important to look into his past activities and statements relating to terrorism. Here are a couple of statements regarding the Irish Republican Army attributed to Mr. King by the New York Times:

“We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women (of the Irish Republican Army) who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” Peter King 1982

“If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation, it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the I.R.A. for it.” Peter King 1985

For those unfamiliar with the Irish Republican Army's reign of terror unleashed upon the Irish and the British people, here is a brief snapshot of some of their deadly attacks on civilian targets:

* Bloody Friday: a 1972 attack in Belfast in which 22 bombs, set off in just over an hour, killed 9 people and injured 130.

* In 1979, the IRA assassinated Queen Elizabeth II's uncle and former governor general of India, Lord Mountbatten, and three others by blowing up his boat.

* In 1998, an IRA car bombing killed 29 people in Northern Ireland. The attack was severe enough to provoke threats by the Irish government that paramilitary groups must declare a cease-fire.

King has never regretted his past support for terrorism. The IRA, he still says, was “a legitimate force” battling British repression — analogous to the African National Congress in South Africa or the Zionist Irgun paramilitary in British-ruled Palestine. “It was a dirty war on both sides".

People familiar with King's career know that he is an opportunist. It was King's support from the Irish-Americans that helped him make the leap from Comptroller of Nassau County, New York to member of the House of Representatives. That support was in part predicated upon King's support for the Irish Republican Army.

Knowing his past, it's clear that King sees another opportunity here to build his political career and consolidate his position with the radicals in his party by making the outrageous assertion that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement. He is simply grandstanding on national television to spew hate against America's Muslim minority.

King's reckless assertions and these hearings bring back memories of the Communist witch hunt in the 1950s which was spearheaded by Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy made accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Harry S. Truman, Voice of America, and the United States Army. He also used charges of communism, communist sympathies, or disloyalty to attack a number of politicians and other individuals inside and outside of government. The McCarthy era finally ended on December 2, 1954, when the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48.

The hysterical Islamophobic rhetoric of King's supporters, such as Brigitte Gabriel of Act for America, conflates all Muslims with terrorists and it amounts to outright fearmongering. It deserves to be denounced, not dignified with congressional hearings on national television. Unfortunately, Representative King has invited witnesses with records of making outrageous claims about Muslims, such as Walid Shoebat. Shoebat asserts that "Islam is of Satan". It's noteworthy that King has not invited any law-enforcement official or other experts to discuss his claim that 85 percent of leaders of American mosques hold extremist views and that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.

In addition to inviting the only Muslim-American Congressman Rep Keith Ellison to testify, the Homeland Security Committee’s top Democrat, Representative Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, has invited Leroy Baca, the sheriff of Los Angeles County, who has praised Muslim assistance to law enforcement, and Representative John D. Dingell, Democrat of Michigan, who has many Muslim constituents.

As these hearings get underway, it's important for all right-thinking Americans to expose Congressman King's hypocrisy to help ensure that the injustices of the past committed against specific minority groups in America, such as the African-Americans and the Japanese-Americans, are not repeated yet again.

Here is a video report on the eve of the King hearings:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

FBI Entrapping Young Muslims

Duke University Study on Muslim Americans

Early Anthrax Probe of Pakistani-Americans

Violence Against Indians in Australia

First Haji in US Congress

Inside the Mind of Times Square Bomber

Home-grown Terror Plots Seen as FBI Entrapment

Milgram's Experiments on Obedience to Authority

Monday, March 7, 2011

Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan

The recent assassination of Pakistani federal minister Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti of Catholic faith is a tragic event that has been widely condemned in Pakistan and abroad.

Bhatti's is the second assassination of a prominent politician of the ruling Pakistan Peoples' Party in the relatively muted debate on anti-blasphemy law in Pakistan.

As we mourn these tragedies, it is essential that the ideology of hate that inspired these murders be countered effectively by all Pakistanis, including the government, the leading politicians, the mass media and the civil society at large.

Unfortunately, however, people like late Punjab governor Salman Taseer, late federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Ms. Sherry Rehman, a former minister whose life is under threat from the extremists, can not fight this war by themselves because they can easily be dismissed as secular, liberal or kafir by the violent heretics who falsely claim to be the sole thekedars of Islam.

This war will require a powerful team of established, competent and respected Islamic scholars who can make a difference by offering strong fatwas (religious edicts) denouncing as "heretics" the clerics and their misguided followers who are responsible for murder and mayhem in the name of Islam.

Along with the need to bolster security for those who speak out against hate and intimidation, this anti-hate campaign must be orchestrated by the top political leadership and the mass media acting in unison by forming religious coalitions to mobilize public opinion to isolate and marginalize those who support this carnage.

Strong and well-publicized fatwas from established Islamic scholars need to be an essential part of the mass education campaign against the violent radical minority within Islam that is causing murder and mayhem.

These killers and their supporters are heretics who must be exposed for who they are by showing that they are violating the explicit injunctions of the Quran itself.

Among the Quranic chapters and verses that can be cited in this national campaign are the following:

There is no compulsion in religion. 2:256

Killing one human being is killing humanity as a whole. 5:32

Whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. 18:29

Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion. 109:6

As Pakistanis discuss the anti-blasphemy law, it is more important than ever for Muslims to make a serious effort to understand what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood for and how he lived his life. The issues of education, faith, reason and compassion need to be understood in the light of the Quran, the Sunnah and the Hadith. It is this understanding that will help guide the Ummah out of the deep crisis it finds itself in.

Here is how I remember the Prophet I know from my reading about his life:

Secular Education:

The Prophet I know instructed Muslims to "go as far as China to seek knowledge". It was clear at the time that China was not a Muslim nation. It is therefore safe to conclude that the Prophet encouraged all necessary efforts to seek all knowledge including secular education.

Faith and Reason:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran to humanity, the Book that repeatedly and emphatically challenges readers to "Think" and "Ponder" for themselves. This is the best proof that Islam wants Muslims to embrace and reconcile faith and reason. It was this teaching that brought greatness to Muslims in seventh through thirteenth centuries following the death of Prophet Muhammad.


The Prophet I know showed compassion and understanding when a Bedouin person entered the Prophet's mosque in Medina and urinated, an act that infuriated the Prophet's companions. He restrained his companions and asked them to show understanding for the ignorance of the Bedouin.


The Prophet I know spoke softly and briefly. His last khutbah was a mere 430 words lasting a few minutes. He did not make long, fiery speeches.

Response to provocation:

The Prophet I know responded to abuse by prayer. When the people of Taif threw rocks at him, he responded by praying to Allah to give guidance to those who abused him.

Respect for Life:

The Prophet I know brought the Holy Quran, the Book that equates " unjust killing of one person" with "the killing the entire humanity". It commands respect for life.

The need for an effective broad-based campaign to reclaim Islam from the violent heretics is extremely urgent. Failure to fight the spreading hateful ideology in Pakistan will only encourage more death and destruction by the modern version of the "Hashashin" (Assassins) who went on a killing rampage from from 1092 to 1265.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan

South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Fighting Agents of Intolerance

Remembering Sikh Massacre of 1984

Gujarat in 2002

21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Radical Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

India's Guantanamos and Abu-Ghraibs

Gujarat Muslims Ignored by Politicians

Rise of Hindu Fascism in India

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Hindu Rashtra ideology was driving force for Malegaon conspirators

The Rise and Rise of Mangalore's Taliban

Who Killed Karkare?

Hindutva-Military-Intelligence Nexus

Malegaon Files

Samjhota Express Blast

Muslims Falsely Accused in Malegaon Blast

Hindu Nationalists Gang Up on Musharraf at Stanford

Christmas Greetings From Pakistan

Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?

Muslims in India: Twocircles.net

All India Christian Council

Violence Against Indian Christians

Priest Survivor: Hindu Radicals are Terrorists

Gujarat Pogrom of 2002

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teach For Pakistan--Volunteer For the Noblest Profession

Guest Post by Rakesh Mani

With all the depressing news coming out of Pakistan in the last few months, there is one major development that has me hopeful and excited. Last month saw the launch of the Teach For Pakistan movement, which aims to expand the urban poor’s access to quality education by recruiting highly qualified young Pakistanis to teach in under-resourced schools for two years. In the long-run, these ‘fellows’ will go on to be successful leaders in various other fields, but will continue to support local educational initiatives from their positions of influence.

In the US, Teach For America (which the movement in Pakistan is modelled on) has been operating for over 20 years — with tremendous academic impact. Most alumni, over 60 percent in fact, have stayed within the field of education and continue to make an impact as educators and social entrepreneurs. In India, we launched a similar movement in the summer of 2009.

Almost two years ago, I was sufficiently inspired by the transformational power of grassroots work in education to come join Teach For India in Mumbai. But it was not easy. Leaving behind my banking job in New York meant exposing myself to financial insecurity, living the Spartan life of a schoolteacher and battling social and parental misgivings. But I was not alone either. I was inspired by 87 young idealists who had joined with me — all giving up lucrative careers and moving cities, countries and continents.

Teaching in Mumbai’s harsh Prem Nagar slums, some sights and sounds have become permanently etched in my mind — the family of five who cannot afford to send all their children to school, and therefore picked two, a girl and a boy; the beatings that a 3rd grade student can receive at home for scoring poorly on a weekly class test; a young girl reciting a poem from memory in fluent English without understanding a word of what she is saying.

My worldview changed dramatically as I saw firsthand the stark challenges of poverty — illiteracy, child labour, abuse and the privations imposed by caste hierarchies. I was astounded by this contradictory nation — innovative yet impoverished, globally oriented yet parochially sectarian.

Despite the posturing of our politicians and patriotic czars, the reality is that the lowest sections of Indian and Pakistani society are united by their shared sorrows. The education received by a child is still largely determined by their birthplace and their socio-economic background. If Nehru and Jinnah could see our countries today, 62 years after independence, nothing would shock them more than the extent of illiteracy among the masses. They would be appalled that half the adult population (and more than half the female population) remains unable to read and write, and powerless to break the cycle of poverty and servitude.

In India, 15 out of every 100 children will never attend school. And among the 85 children who do, 50 percent will drop out before 5th grade.

The challenges are manifold and multi-layered. Firstly, there is limited access to schools (particularly in rural areas) and, in cases where they do exist, the quality of education is often poor and the infrastructure abysmal. For example, a recent study showed that only 55 percent of schools in India have separate toilets for girls — a major reason for parents not sending their daughters to study. Teacher absenteeism is rampant and textbooks, as vehicles for government propaganda, offer little contextual relevance in a student’s everyday life.

Education here largely involves the teacher playing narrator in the classroom. Students are receptacles who are trained to memorise and reproduce. The more meekly they accomplish this, the better students they are. But as young children are forced to submit to rote learning, they lose the critical consciousness they will need to succeed in the years to come. And as they embrace educational passivity, they also more readily accept the imperfections and injustices their societies impose on them.

The young leaders of this movement have a chance to provide young children with the essential tools for self-defence and empowerment in tomorrow’s Asia. Imagine the socio-economic revolution possible if our youth are better equipped to compete for secure employment, to defend themselves in court, to enforce their rights, to take advantage of technology and to take part, intelligently, in political activity.

Even without teaching full-time, there are numerous ways to contribute and be a part of the solution. Your time and presence is the most valuable commodity you can part with. Volunteering in classrooms and talking about your life and work allows students to fashion a broader mindset. They learn to communicate more effectively and find role models to emulate. Even something as simple as donating and reading out simple, colourful storybooks — which affluent children have easy access to — makes a huge impact.

In just two years as a teacher, I ended up learning much more than I could ever teach. And I hope that the thousands of young, accomplished Pakistanis who join and support Teach For Pakistan will have a similarly profound experience — in humility, perseverance and leadership.

Note: This piece was first published in Pakistan's Daily Times

Here's a brief video presentation on Teach For Pakistan:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Teach For All

Pakistan Must Fix its Primary Education Crisis

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Student Performance By Country and Race

India Shining and Bharat Drowning

South Asian IQs

Low Literacy Rates Threaten Pakistan's Future

Light a Candle, Don't Curse Darkness

Mobile Phones For Mass Literacy in Pakistan

Poor Quality of Higher Education in South Asia

Teaching Facts vs Reasoning

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Resilient Pakistan Defies Doomsayers

Pakistanis are no strangers to the oft-repeated apocalyptic forecasts of imminent collapse of their nation that have been regularly dished out by many western leaders, leading analysts and mainstream media over the years. The 2009 Swat valley insurgency and 2010 summer floods sent these pessimist pundits in overdrive yet again as the images of the victims of these crises were widely distributed and discussed at length.

Let's briefly review the hysteric predictions about Pakistan's imminent fall made in the last two years:

Swat Valley Taliban Insurgency 2009:

It was early 2009 when the Taliban appeared to be in control of Pakistan's Swat valley, and the US politicians and media were deeply concerned about the insurgents closing in on Islamabad.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Pakistan was “abdicating to the Taliban”. Various western commentators and pundits went further by predicting Pakistan's "imminent collapse", and the usual foreign policy rags chimed in with their shrill talk of Pakistan as a "failed state".

"We're now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems. . . . The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover -- that would dwarf everything we've seen in the war on terror today", said David Kilcullen, George W. Bush's Iraq adviser, on the eve of Pakistan Day in 2009.

Others, such as Shahan Mufti of the Global Post, argued that Pakistan was dying a slow death with each act of terrorism on its soil.

Devastating Summer Floods of 2010:

As the massive floods inundated large swathes of Pakistan's rural landscape in summer of 2010, the western media fretted yet again that the natural disaster "could spark political unrest that could destabilize the government".

Experts cautioned that "the state itself could collapse, as hunger and destitution trigger explosions of popular anger". As the water began to recede, there was more doom and gloom about spread of epidemics like cholera and dysentery.

Pakistanis' Response to Swat Violence and Nationwide Floods:

We are now in 2011, and Pakistani have demonstrated their extraordinary resilience in defying dire predictions of "imminent collapse" in 2009 and 2010.

Pakistani military has cleared Swat region of the Taliban. Millions of refugees have returned home to resume normal life.

Businesses and schools are open and the hills are alive with the sound of music and entertainment. Swat's Malam Jabba ski resort is open for business, and visitors to the beautiful valley are struck by the extraordinary resilience of the people who were forced by Taliban insurgents to flee by the millions amid dire predictions of the imminent collapse of Pakistani state in early 2009.

In 2010, Pakistani military led the rescue and relief operations in the flood zones, followed by civilian officials of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Agency(NDMA) and many local and foreign NGOs. And seven months after the onset of the floods, only 160,000 of the original 3 million refugees remain in camps, mostly in Sindh province which was the last to be hit by flood waters. The worst fears expressed in summer of 2010 have not materialized. Pakistani state has not collapse, nor have the predicted second wave of deaths in the camps for the millions of internally displaced persons. None of the predicted epidemics (such as cholera and diarrhea) took place. While some of the affectees have had to deal with malnutrition which is chronic in some rural areas, Pakistan has managed to stave off the worst of the expected food insecurity.

Life is returning to normal in the rural areas of Pakistan, and the rural economy is showing signs of strength. The transfer of additional Rs. 300 billion to Pakistan's agriculture sector during the current fiscal year 2010-2011 by higher prices of agriculture produce and direct flood compensation is boosting economic confidence in the countryside. It is already generating rural demand tractors and for consumer items including consumer durables such as fans, TVs, motorcycles, cars, refrigerators, etc.

Technology to The Rescue:

In an unprecedented branchless banking operation mobilized for the flood victims by EasyPaisa and UBL-Omni, the Pakistani state has given away Rs. 28.6 billion to 1.483 million affected families using one of the the world's largest biometric databases maintained by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). Each family received a cash card (called Watan card) through NADRA loaded with Rs.20,000 to help with the recovery. With over 83 million registered citizens so far, the NADRA tech network is now used for everything from getting a passport to paying utility bills.

Several organizations used mobile phones in innovative ways unrelated to branchless banking during the floods. Ushahidi, an open source project that allows users to crowdsource crisis information via mobile, set up pakreport.org a mapping service that enabled anyone in the country to text information about the flood. Information was collated and made available to the emergency services and disaster response organizations and NGOs via a web-based interface.


Pakistan continues to face major problems as it deals with the violent Taliban insurgency and multiple crises of stagnant economy, scarcity of energy and the lack of sense of security. The recent assassinations of the ruling PPP party leaders Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti are a reminder of the daunting challenge posed by the violent religious fanatics. The bumbling political leadership of Pakistan is incompetent and corrupt. However, what the prophets of doom and gloom often discount are key factors that keep the nation going, including the resilience of Pakistan's people, the extraordinary capabilities of its large and growing urban middle class, and the stabilizing influence of its powerful military. Pakistan is just too big to fail. I fully expect Pakistan to survive the current crises, and then begin to thrive again in the near future.

Here's a video titled "I Am Pakistan":

Here's a CNBC Pakistan video on January 2011 events:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

What Pakistan Did Right

Branchless Banking Responds to Pakistan Floods

Pakistan's Rural Economy Recovering

Pakistan's Growing Middle Class

Pakistan is Too Big to Fail