Despite fighting a long and bloody battle with terrorism, Pakistan is still caught in its quagmire. The terror activities in Pakistan have definitely fallen to a great degree but the residual terrorism continues with its dangerous pangs. Last Friday, three devastating terror strikes rocked Pakistan. The day began with high profile attack on Chinese consulate in Karachi. Three suicide attackers stormed the consulate amid a series of gunshots and an explosion, but were killed before they could force their way in with a car packed with explosives. The attack, claimed by separatist insurgents from the impoverished southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, killed four people, including two police officers, but it was far from the most deadly on a particularly violent day across the region. Around the same time a suicide attacker on a motorbike set off explosives in a crowded festival and market in northwest Pakistan’s Orakzai region, killing at least 25 people and injuring dozens others. The attack, according to reports in Pak media, had originated from across the border in Afghanistan, with Jamaatul Ahrar or the militant Islamic State group being the likely perpetrators. The two groups are known to have sanctuaries in Afghanistan, and the attackers possibly entered Pakistan through an unfenced portion of the former Kurram agency. In yet another bloody attack, a suicide blast at a mosque on an army base, over the border in eastern Afghanistan, killed at least 26 people and wounded 50, security officials said. Earlier in the week, a suicide bomber killed 55 people in the capital, Kabul. Though the attack on Chinese consulate was frustrated by the alert policemen but it indicated the underlying dangers. The terrorists in Pakistan are still capable of reaching and hitting their target. The Baluch Liberation Army claimed the attack. Pakistan said that the group is backed by “the enemy country”, a reference to India. There was no immediate comment from India’s External Affairs Ministry about the C4 plastic explosive claims. However in an earlier statement, India denied helping the Baluchistan insurgents and was quick to condemn the violence. Pakistan Tehreek Taliban (PTT) has remained a major contributor to terrorism in Pakistan.
Though Taliban as a potential force has been decimated by a ferocious military campaign but the Friday attacks in Orakzai region, indicates that some leftovers are still active. But what is more concerning is the growing influence and activities of the ISIS. It is widely believed that the ISIS has set up a strong base in Afghanistan with the active help of America where from it is coordinating attacks in Pakistan. It is a serious challenge that Pakistan is facing on its western front presently. The growing bitterness with Afghanistan government is also a contributory factor in terror attacks on Pakistan. The Pakistan government should, in the first place, settle its differences with Afghan government to curb the scheming and planning of terror attacks from that soil. Pakistan must take advantage of its present government. It is after a long period that Pakistan civil government and military are on the same page on the issues facing the country. Prime Minister Imran Khan is also known as an articulate and effective leader. Though he has some serious challenges before him; the bitter relations with the US the prime among them. Still he has some favorable things at his hand. Pakistan, mush to the chagrin of the US, is on way to rebuilding its relations with Russia. Saudi Arabia and UAE, which in the past three years, had not-so-friendly relations Pakistan are also turning better. The two influential Arab countries have promised financial support to Imran Khan to take Islamabad out of the present economic mess. China is as friendly to Pakistan as ever. Turkey and Iran’s relations with Pakistan are also extraordinarily good. This can help Pakistan to offset the American pressure. Imran Khan should avail all these opportunities to his country’s favor and dislodge the terrorism from the bottom. That is quite important for restoring the image of Pakistan as a reasonable and responsible state.
The Drabu drop scene
In politics, as said, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way. Dr Haseeb Drabu has finally bid adieu to the PDP. On Thursday, Drabu sent his resignation letter to the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti calling it a day with the PDP. It is not known whether Drabu has bid adieu to his political career as well but the way he was treated by the PDP over the past one year, it is not unreasonable for him to be feeling cynical about politics. Drabu may not be a political saint or sage but he definitely gave PDP a meaning, both, in terms of politics and governance. PDP, for all probabilities, was founded on vague and nebulous ideas with no clear direction and outlook. The slogan of so called Self Rule was simply a misnomer with no party leader, including Mufti and his daughter little knowing what it meant. The slogan was borrowed from Pakistan President Gen Parvaiz Musharraf’s four point formula but Drabu gave it the shape of ideological frame and document. Before it, PDP would cross all borders in search of identity. From extreme separatist position to ultra-nationalist stand, PDP leadership, more particularly Mehbooba Mufti, tried every trick in the book to invent a new identity, way away from her past baggage. She revealed it on the floor of the state assembly during previous NC-Congress rule that Haseeb Drabu (he was Chairman, J&K Bank then) had drafted the document of Self-Rule for PDP. Indeed, it provoked a serious reaction from NC legislators in the House. Many people believe that this became a drop scene for Drabu’s removal as J&K Bank Chairman. Mufti many a time told the press that Drabu was the author of all the election manifestos of PDP. What prompted Mehbooba Mufti then to throw Drabu out of the cabinet should be read and understood in the proper context. Nobody can deny this fact that Mehbooba Mufti was going through a serious crisis of self-image after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The BJP’s aggressive positioning and posturing on key issues directly related with the sentiments of the state’s majority community had taken heavy toll on her image. No doubt PDP, in real, owes its popularity and rise mostly to Mehbooba Mufti. But this too is an undisputable fact that the fall of PDP has also begun with her. One had expected her to take advantage of the Chief Minister’s office and strengthen her position as a credible and dependable voice of Kashmir.
But she, for all probabilities, proved a disaster. She could not be even a pale shadow of her yester-year’s self. Embarrassment and humiliation had become core of BJP’s agenda of governance with PDP. Dropping Drabu from the cabinet was her desperate attempt to remake her image. It was Haseeb Drabu who wove the alliance with the BJP twice paving way for Muftis—first Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and now Mehbooba—to take control of the state. Mufti, known as a master planner with astute sense of politics, gave no leverage to BJP to dictate terms. However, his death on January 7, 2015, virtually dealt a severe blow to the PDP.A section of PDP leadership began to hobnob with the BJP to form the government bypassing Mehbooba caused added damage to whatever the remains of the PDP. Sensing coup, Mehbooba again fell back upon Drabu to save the day for her. However, the same section of the PDP leadership crafted a narrative of “Drabu being a ‘BJP-man, RSS-man, a Delhi-man’. Ironically, Mehbooba not only allowed this smear campaign against Drabu swell but also adopted those very people in her coterie who had engineered coup against her. Drabu negotiated power with BJP for Muftis, not for himself. He did not do it by himself. He had the party’s and leadership’s (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Mehbooba Mufti) instructions and mandate. PDP, more particularly Mehbooba Mufti cannot be more dishonest and ungracious than seeing the man who brokered power for her out of the party.
Over the centuries, Quranic concepts of an egalitarian human society have either been forgotten, or diluted through simple-mindedness, narrowness of thought and need for political mileage. Scholarship and discourse have centred on rituals and questionable ahadith. Culture and traditions have replaced religion.Today, much of what is practised in the Muslim world bears little resemblance to real Islam. It is time for Muslims to revert to the Quran with the aim to understand it more comprehensively.According to Dr Fazlur Rahman, the most significant ethical themes in the Quran are iman, Islam and taqwa, all of which are closely linked. ‘Iman’ primarily means to be safe, derived from ‘to be at peace’ and is used in the meaning of having faith in God and His message. Iman is an ‘act of the heart’, a decision to accept God totally and be at peace. This faith is not without knowledge, nor is it dependent upon it. It bonds the mind and knowledge.
According to the Quran, intellectual knowledge is not sufficient for faith, but equally, a human being cannot be guided without knowledge. Also, faith that does not result in actions is completely useless. To have faith with rationality, to constantly develop one’s knowledge and strengthen faith and to act out the faith reinforces one’s imanduring life.Faith and surrender purify a human soul.
The second concept — Islam — means ‘whole’, ‘integrity’, ‘peace’ and ‘surrender’. A Muslim is one who becomes complete by surrendering himself or herself to God. Nature is ‘Muslim’ because it obeys the laws of God. The term ‘Islam’ was formally given to the religion after the Muslims established themselves in Madina, and both Makkan and Madani verses speak of iman and Islam with the same meanings. “Those whom Allah (in His plan) willeth to guide, – He openeth their breast to Islam. …” (6:125).
Both bestow peace, security and integrity upon a Muslim. This equivalence is a departure from the conventional understanding that iman is belief and Islam is comprised of the obligations of prayers, fasting etc. It does mean, however, that Islam is the externally visible manifestation of iman and one has to be grounded in iman in order to express it outwardly. The two, therefore, imply each other. One cannot exist without the other. Islam relieves humans of the fear of everything else except fear of displeasing God, for the surrender to Him means they sense His presence everywhere and all the time.
‘Taqwa’ means fear of God, righteousness, piety and responsibility towards self and the world. It implies meanings similar to iman and Islam, comprising both faith and surrender. The rites of Haj must be carried out with due consideration for taqwa, deep from the heart, lest they become mechanical movements; behaviour towards the enemy should be with taqwa and collaboration with each other should be based on taqwa. One can only strive for taqwa, not achieve it totally. It is the best garment one can wear (7:26) and the best provision for the future (2:197). It is a protective shield against sin and evil. It is fear of one’s inclination towards temptation and human weaknesses that drive one to errors.
Taqwa includes self-evaluation-cum-correction, accompanied by seeking forgiveness from God and asking for guidance and light. The recognition that God will judge human beings after death will ensure that life in this world is not lived for the moment, but has longer-term goals.Simultaneously, a person has the opportunity to judge himself or herself every moment and develop self-awareness through taqwa. In this manner, ‘God-awareness’ is created through awareness of one’s own weaknesses and efforts to correct them. This rising above small-mindedness and preoccupation with earthly desires is what takes a person towards taqwa. God’s purpose in creation of humans is their tazkiya (purification) through imanand Islam and this moves them towardstaqwa and enables them to be true vicegerents of God. Faith and surrender purify a human soul and enhance its taqwa. The reverse is also true.
Imran Khan’s peace offensive
Opening up of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims is turning out to be a major peace offensive of Imran Khan against India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has virtually been caught in a corner with little option to ignore. Though presently the Indian government has rejected all the peace moves initiated by Imran Khan but these are motivated by political exigencies staring at Narendra Modi’s face. The Indian Prime Minister is facing general election within a few months. Any move to make peace with Pakistan will not go well for him in the elections. Not that Indian people do not want peace with Pakistan but for the fact that Modi and his party has, of late, cultivated a support constituency squarely on Pakistan hysteria. Any climb down would mean the loss of this constituency.
As things stand, Modi and his men have little to showcase in the elections as ‘achievements’ to win favor of voters in the elections. The tall promises made by Modi in the last elections have come to haunt him as he has not been able to keep even one of them. Creation of five crore jobs, depositing Rs.15 lakh in each citizen bank account, bringing back black money and teaching Pakistan a lesson—none of them was kept. As against this, Modi government took some giant steps like demonetization, increase in petrol prices and GST which common people viewed as anti-people. If the reports emanating in national press are any guidance, the overall economy of the country has taken a downslide with prices of essential commodities sky rocketing. The even more horrifying is the condition of farmers. Thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the past four and a half year rule of Modi due unbearable burden of loans and other things. Over the past some time, farmers all across the country have been protesting against government’s anti farmer policies.
Recently thousands of farmers from all the country had gathered in Delhi to agitated their problems. At the elections, these are not good indicators for the sitting government. In this backdrop Modi and his party BJP are heavily depending on some emotional card to win back the voters. Pakistan and Muslims (in India) are the only two issues on which the BJP can get together the Hindu voter. The rejection of Imran Khan’s peace moves and frenzy created in the name of building Ram temple are the only issues that can whip up religious emotions. On Tuesday, India did not invite Pakistan to the Custom meeting of the 21-nation Asia Pacific to devise common strategy to counter organized crimes such narco-terrorism, money laundering and smuggling. Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier rejected Pakistan invitation to the inaugural function of Kartarpur corridor. Then, in response to Imran’s statement that Pakistan and India could make peace if traditional enemies like France and Germany can now be so friendly, Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that there can be no peace until Pakistan becomes a secular state.
But much to the chagrin of the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Imran Khan, through his peace overtures, has created a constituency among Indian masses who favor good relations over acrimony between the two countries. A variety of media concerns, through editorial comments, have appreciated Imran Khan’s dialogue offers and are terming Imran Khan as the best bet India could ever have while dealing with Pakistan. What goes to the advantage of Imran Khan is that he has the army’s support. It would be in the best interests of the people in south Asia that Narendra Modi and his party rise above elections politics, and grab the opportunity to make peace a reality in the region.