Thursday, November 13, 2014
Just 15 miles from the frontline of Isis, which persecutes their faith, the Christians of Qamishli gathered in the Church of the Holy Virgin for the wedding of Malek Aissa and Ilana Hacho.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — When trying to make sense of the Middle East, one of the most important rules to keep in mind is this: What politicians here tell you in private is usually irrelevant. What matters most, and what explains their behavior more times than not, is what they say in public in their own language to their own people. As President Obama dispatches more U.S. advisers to help Iraqis defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS, it is vital that we listen carefully to what the key players are saying in public in their own language about each other and their own aspirations. For instance, the Middle East Media Research Institute, or Memri, recently posted an excerpt from an interview given by Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini, a former adviser to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, which aired on Mayadeen TV on Sept. 24, in which he pointed out that Shiite Iran, through its surrogates, has taken de facto control over four Arab capitals: Beirut, through the Shiite militia Hezbollah; Damascus, through the Shiite/Alawite regime of Bashar al-Assad; Baghdad, through the Shiite-led government there; and — while few in the West were paying attention — Sana, where the pro-Iranian-Yemeni-Shiite offshoot sect, the Houthi, recently swept into the capital of Yemen and are now dominating the Sunnis. As Hosseini said of Iran and its allies: “We in the axis of resistance are the new sultans of the Mediterranean and the Gulf. We in Tehran, Damascus, [Hezbollah’s] southern suburb of Beirut, Baghdad and Sana will shape the map of the region. We are the new sultans of the Red Sea as well.” And he also said, for good measure, that Saudi Arabia was “a tribe on the verge of extinction.” We might not hear this stuff, but Sunni Arabs do, especially now when the United States and Iran might end their 35-year-old cold war and reach a deal that would allow Iran a “peaceful” nuclear energy program. It helps explain something else you might have missed: Sunni militants burst into a Saudi Shiite village, al-Dalwah, on Nov. 3 and gunned down five Saudi Shiites at a religious event. Well, at least Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is in the modern world. No, wait, what is the name that Erdogan insists be put on the newest bridge he’s building across the Bosporus? Answer: the Yavuz Sultan Selim bridge. Selim I was the Sunni Turkish sultan who, in 1514, beat back the Persian Shiite empire of his day, called the Safavids. Turkey’s Alevi minority, a Shiite offshoot sect whose ancestors faced Selim’s wrath, have protested the name of the bridge. They know it didn’t come out of a hat. According to Britannica, Selim I was the Ottoman sultan (1512-20) who extended the empire to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, “and raised the Ottomans to leadership of the Muslim world.” He then turned eastward and took on the Safavid Shiite dynasty in Iran, which posed a “political and ideological threat” to the hegemony of Ottoman Sunni Islam. Selim was the first Turkish leader to claim to be both sultan of the Ottoman Empire and caliph of all Muslims. Vice President Joe Biden did not misspeak when he accused Turkey of facilitating the entry of ISIS fighters into Syria. Just as there is a little bit of West Bank “Jewish settler” in almost every Israeli, there is a little bit of the caliphate dream in almost every Sunni. Some Turkish analysts suspect Erdogan does not dream of building pluralistic democracy in Iraq and Syria, but rather a modern Sunni caliphate — not led by ISIS but by himself. Until then, he clearly prefers ISIS on his border than an independent Kurdistan. As Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, put it in an Atlantic article entitled “The Roots of the Islamic State’s Appeal”: “ISIS draws on, and draws strength from, ideas that have broad resonance among Muslim-majority populations. They may not agree with ISIS’s interpretation of the caliphate, but the notion of a caliphate — the historical political entity governed by Islamic law and tradition — is a powerful one.” In fact, though, notes the Middle East scholar Joseph Braude, most Arab Sunnis in Egypt, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula in the late 19th century “were quite opposed to the [Turkish-run] caliphate they had experienced, which they saw as a kind of occupying force.” It was the 20th century Sunni Islamist groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, that revived the idea, idealizing the caliphate as a response to their region’s weakness and decline “and inserting it into mainstream religious discourse.” In sum, there are so many conflicting dreams and nightmares playing out among our Middle East allies in the war on ISIS that Freud would not have been able to keep them straight. If you listen closely, of those dreams, ours — “pluralistic democracy” — is not high on the list. We need to protect the islands of decency out here — Jordan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman — from ISIS, in hopes that their best examples might one day spread. But I am skeptical that our fractious allies, with all their different dreams, can agree on new power-sharing arrangements for Iraq or Syria, even if ISIS is defeated.
A Kurdish Alevi soccer player, Deniz Naki, was brutally beaten on Nov. 2 in Ankara by supporters of the Islamic State (IS) for standing in solidarity with Kobani. Three days after his ordeal, Naki told Al-Monitor he left his soccer club in Turkey because he feared for the well-being of friends and teammates. Naki, who grew up in Germany, is rather outspoken by Turkish standards; he is unapologetic for his Dersim tattoo. Naki’s family is from Dersim, which is a town known for its Alevi Kurdish population. (The 1937-38 massacre in Dersim is still a bitter memory for Alevis and Kurds, where thousands were killed by the army.) Naki told Al-Monitor the attack was not a sporadic incident, as he had been systemically targeted by IS supporters for seven months prior to the attack. When Al-Monitor asked whether he had sought legal protection, Naki chuckled and said, “How much trust could an Alevi Kurd have in the state for protection, given that all the dead kids from Gezi [Park] are Alevis? Did you forget?” Naki is convinced there is extensive support in Turkey for the IS caliphate beyond a few fanatics who are eager to join jihad. Naki’s painful experiences lead to a crucial question: How would an IS caliphate affect Muslims in Turkey?
By Erik Wasson and Heidi Przybyla A group of House and Senate Republicans wants to use spending legislation to block President Barack Obama from easing immigration policies unilaterally, a mechanism the party used last year to shut down the government. Obama has said he will use executive orders to revise immigration policy by the end of the year. "There is a debate raging on," said Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, who has been pressing fellow Republicans to ensure that legislation to fund the government denies money for actions in a potential immigration executive order. House Speaker John Boehner told party members Thursday that he doesn't want a federal shutdown, no matter what happens with a spending bill, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. Salmon told reporters he agreed with Boehner that "nobody wants a shutdown." Republicans won the Senate majority in the Nov. 4 election. The next day, Obama said he wouldn't back off from plans to issue an executive order on immigration. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is poised to be majority leader starting in January, and Boehner of Ohio have said unilateral action by Obama would poison relations and make compromise on immigration policy impossible. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in line to become Budget Committee chairman, said he wants a short-term bill to finance the government when current funding expires Dec. 11. Then once Republicans take full control of Congress in January, they could try to use the next spending bill to bar the government from carrying out the president's order. An insistence on defunding the Affordable Care Act by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas led to a 16-day partial government shutdown in October 2013. Because outgoing Senate Majority Leader Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is unlikely to accept long-term funding legislation that thwarts Obama's orders, Congress may be headed toward a short-term funding bill to steer clear of another shutdown. Salmon has gathered about 60 House Republicans' signatures for a proposal barring federal funds for work permits and residency cards under a presidential executive order. "The Congress has the power of the purse and should use it as a tool to prevent the president from implementing policies that are contrary to our laws and the desire of the American people," Salmon wrote in a letter Thursday to House Appropriations Committee leaders. Some Republicans, including Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Susan Collins of Maine, said they prefer a long-term spending measure. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican aligned with the tea party, said he thinks few House Republicans want a long-term bill. Rep. Ken Calvert, a California Republican and House Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, said negotiators continue to work on a measure that would fund the government through next September. "We are going to have a family discussion on how to proceed," Calvert said. A drive to use spending bills to thwart presidential orders on immigration may prevent Boehner and McConnell from resolving government funding so they can focus on other issues in 2015. Republican leaders say they want to vote on items that could gain bipartisan support, including trade promotion authority and repeal of a medical device tax that helps fund the ACA. A spending fight over immigration would also be an early test of the ability of tea party-aligned lawmakers including Cruz to push the party's leaders into confrontations with Democrats in the next Congress. An order by Obama could include halting deportations of the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally. Or it may be broader, covering many of the 11 million people included in a bill passed in June 2013 by the Democratic-led Senate. Sessions and five other senators said in a letter to Reid that they will use "all procedural means necessary" to prevent Obama from taking unilateral action on immigration. The letter didn't spell out specific proposed actions. Signing the letter with Sessions were Cruz and Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas, David Vitter of Louisiana and Mike Lee of Utah. "Senator Reid shouldn't be entitled to bind the country next year when we have got a new Congress," Sessions, set to lead the Senate Budget Committee starting in January, told reporters Wednesday in Washington. In an opinion piece published in Politico, Sessions said his proposal would bar U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from using funds and personnel to process visa applications from undocumented immigrants who would be allowed to stay under an executive order. Shelby, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said he would rather pass a long-term government financing measure. "I think Obama is overreaching," Shelby said. "I would fight hard against what he's doing but I don't want to shut down the government." Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said it would be "unwise" of Republicans to use a spending bill to confront Obama over immigration. She said negotiations with House members on a long-term spending measure are proceeding well and that she hopes to have an outline by this weekend. Collins said she opposed linking a spending bill to immigration and that she wanted a long-term measure. "I certainly hope President Obama doesn't issue the order but I view it as separate" from spending legislation, she said.
For President Barack Obama, Myanmar's stalled progress on promised political and economic reforms is jeopardizing what was to be a crowning achievement for his foreign policy legacy. Obama arrived in Myanmar's capital of Naypyitaw on Wednesday amid persistent questions about whether the government would follow through on its pledges — and whether the U.S. had made too many overtures to the long-isolated country too soon. Myanmar won wide sanctions relief from Obama after its sudden and unexpected shift from a half-century of military rule, but there's little certainty about the country's future. "Progress has not come as fast as many had hoped when the transition began," Obama said in an interview with Myanmar's "The Irrawaddy" magazine. "In some areas there has been a slowdown in reforms, and even some steps backward." White House officials say Obama has always been realistic about the challenges ahead for Myanmar, a country that in many cases lacks the infrastructure and capacity to enact the reforms its leaders have outlined. But critics of the administration's policy say the U.S. gave up its leverage too quickly by rewarding the government for promises rather than results. "With so many avenues for pressure lost, it can indeed seem like the U.S. doesn't have a lot of cards left to play," said John Sifton, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Critics also contend that the president got caught up in the notion that opening Myanmar to the outside world would be a central part of his legacy as America's self-proclaimed Pacific president. Indeed, a successful democratic transition would fit neatly into Obama's broader Asia strategy, which includes deepening U.S. political and economic partnerships in the region, particularly with countries seen to share America's values. The so-called pivot to Asia has raised concerns in China — Myanmar's neighbor and largest trading partner — that the U.S. is seeking to contain Chinese influence. Despite Obama's hopes for Myanmar, optimism within the administration has faded somewhat since the president's trip here in 2012. He was the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country, and aides still fondly recall the massive crowds that lined the streets to watch his motorcade pass. Yet there's little question Myanmar has failed to make good on the promises its leaders made to Obama during that short visit. More than any other issue, White House officials say it's Myanmar's persecution of minority Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state that threatens to alienate the U.S. and other nations that have been drawn to the country. Attacks by Buddhist extremists since mid-2012 have left hundreds of Rohingya Muslims dead and 140,000 trapped in dire conditions in camps. With presidential elections in Myanmar looming next year, the status of the Rakhine state has become mired in politics. The Rohingya are deeply disdained by many in Myanmar, and most officials dare not publicly call for better treatment, not even the country's pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama planned to meet with Suu Kyi at the end of his trip. He joined world leaders Thursday morning for a pair of Asia-Pacific summits and met with Nguyen Tan Dung, the prime minister of Vietnam, before heading to sessions with members of parliament and civic leaders. He also had a meeting planned Thursday night with Myanmar's President Thein Sein. White House officials have acknowledged that Obama almost certainly wouldn't be visiting Myanmar at this point had the country not been hosting the Asia-Pacific summits that he had pledged to attend as president. Beyond concerns about the Rakhine state, the U.S. is warily watching the lead-up to Myanmar's presidential election next year. The country's constitution currently bans Suu Kyi from participating in the election. The U.S. has sought explicitly aligning itself with a potential Suu Kyi candidacy, and Ambassador Derek Mitchell called her inability to run for the presidency "strange." Obama's schedule here clearly signals his preferences, given that he is holding his news conference in Myanmar with Suu Kyi, not the country's current president. The administration argues that the mere promise of a broader Myanmar relationship with the U.S. gives Obama leverage. American businesses are waiting for more political certainty before investing in Myanmar, officials say, and there are still U.S. sanctions that have not been repealed. "The United States can best move that forward by engagement," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. "If we disengage, frankly I think that there's a vacuum that could potentially be filled by bad actors."
Death tolls, government dysfunction and the Islamic State group threaten to sink hopes for Afghanistan - but it's not over yet.More than 4,600 Afghan soldiers have been killed in action so far this year, shattering the previous record set last year, when 4,350 soldiers died. Afghanistan's military cannot sustain such a high casualty rate, says U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the second-highest NATO commander in the country, who spoke by teleconference to Pentagon reporters last week. He discussed some of the Afghan government’s efforts to recruit more troops and improve medevac capabilities so more wounded-in-action soldiers survive long enough to get to a hospital. “But they do need to decrease their casualty rate,” Anderson added. “All those things have to continue to improve to reduce those numbers, because those numbers are not sustainable in the long term.” The startling casualty figures highlight a pivotal time for the central Asian nation after 13 years of war. The U.S. will end its combat mission and cut current troop levels by three and a half times by the end of this year, down to 9,800. The remaining forces will halve again by the end of 2015, and withdrawn with them will be the critical logistics, intelligence and medical capabilities they have tried – nobly but incompletely – to pass on to their Afghan counterparts. By 2016, if President Barack Obama maintains his current plan, all U.S. troops will come home. Meanwhile, the Iraqi security forces continue to disintegrate in the face of the menacing specter of the Islamic State group, an insurgency that reportedly already has eyes on establishing a presence in Afghanistan in the coming months. Latest reports from the ground indicate the fledgling Afghan government and its military are still reeling from the politicking of former President Hamid Karzai, who refused to sign a security agreement with the U.S. defining the American military presence for the next few years. That process was drawn out even further by a presidential election that led to a runoff, leaving the future of U.S.-Afghan relations in flux until just weeks ago. As a result, the local economy, foreign investment and hope among the Afghan citizenry all came to a grinding halt. The leadership tandem of new President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah now must kick-start the future prospects of the troubled country. Afghan leaders also must now contend with "Daish," an Arabic acronym and alternate name for the Islamic State group. It reportedly is already brokering deals with Taliban commanders to establish a presence in Afghanistan after NATO combat forces leave in 2014 – a situation eerily similar to the disenfranchised Sunni population in Iraq who bought into the Islamic State group’s promises for change. “That’s becoming an increasing part of the narrative. The undertones there are, ‘If you leave: Daish,’” says Jason Campbell, an analyst at the Rand Corp. in Arlington, Virginia, who recently returned from a series of meetings in Afghanistan with members of the country's new leadership. Campbell is able to share the Afghan leaders' perspectives on the condition their identities remain anonymous. “We’ve seen signs of Daish in Pakistan and maybe even here in Afghanistan. So [Afghan leaders] weren’t trying to foist all their security woes on a Daish insurrection,” he says. “But sitting in Afghanistan when an official says that during the course of a conversation a couple times, it does peak your curiosity.” The Afghan government already has approached the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, among others, for advice and military support related to future insurgency problems. Some countries, including the U.S., are reportedly pushing for peace negotiations with Taliban leaders amid separate efforts to fight and defeat them. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also are participating in the U.S.-led mission to fight the Islamic State group from the air over Iraq and Syria, with varying degrees of involvement. Organizing that coalition was reportedly difficult enough. Afghan leaders are having an even more difficult time getting world attention before time runs out. “With the drawn-out election dispute, what you’re having is this very, very condensed period here where you’re trying to engage for what’s going to be a very different atmosphere coming up at the end of the year,” says Campbell, referring to the formal end of combat by December. “And, also trying to put up a government that is going to instill some confidence [among] the international community as they reassess what their longer-term commitments are.” The attitude among Afghan leaders following September's presidential inauguration, Campbell says, is that "we have 100 days to show some substantive progress, and we’ve already used 20 of them.” At the forefront of Afghanistan’s problems is whether Obama will fulfill his campaign promise of ending the war in Afghanistan by 2016, much as he did with Iraq in 2011. Insiders since have stipulated the White House could have done more to pressure then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow some U.S. support to remain behind, bolstering local forces with specialty skills in intelligence and logistics. Marine Gen. James Cartwright, however, says nothing more could have been done in Iraq leading up to 2011. He served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011 and oversaw the tumultuous drawdown in Iraq. The U.S. could have done nothing more to change the minds of Iraqi leadership at the time, he tells U.S. News. That past, he adds, should serve as a dire warning for the current Afghan leadership.
Pakistani police fired live ammunition at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) after rioting broke out in the northern city of Bannu on November 13. Initial reports said at least two people had sustained gunshot wounds. Two other IDPs were also injured. Nine police were wounded after being pelted with stones. It's not clear how the trouble started, but it flared up as IDPs gathered to receive a weekly food ration. Around a million people have been displaced from their homes in North Waziristan tribal district by a Pakistani offensive against Taliban militants. (RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal)
Barbarity of burning a Christian couple alive in Pakistan is worse than the beheadings by the Islamic State.“The barbaric act by fanatic Pakistani Muslims of burning alive a poor Christian couple is a crime against humanity. It’s the worst crime in the history of Pakistan committed in the name of religion. It was triggered by the false accusation of the burning of some pages of the Qur’an.” That’s Father James Channan of the Dominican Order in Pakistan summing up the horrific incident last week when a mob of more than 1,000 Muslims in a small village in the province of Punjab killed a poor Christian couple. Shahzad and Shama Masih (the Blessed One, referring to Christ — a common last name among Pakistani Christians) worked at a brick kiln. Its owner reportedly locked up the couple and their three children over a wage dispute. The next day, an announcement was made from two mosques that the couple had committed blasphemy. Frenzy ensued. A crowd ran and beat up the couple, who pleaded innocence and begged for their lives, but were dragged and thrown into the kiln and burnt alive. Shama was pregnant. The barbarity was worse than the beheadings by the Islamic State militia in Iraq. Here was a civilian mob, mobilized by a mullah or two, either paid by the kiln owner or, worse, motivated by assumed religious duty. Neither Islamic law nor Muslim tradition permits lynch mobs. Allegations of crime must be proven before a qadi, judge, who’s obligated as part of due process to give the full benefit of the doubt to the accused. The penalty for false accusation is greater than the penalty prescribed for a crime. In this case, therefore, those instigating the horror, those participating in it and those who did nothing to prevent it are all culpable. The alleged crime is itself of dubious theological provenance. Tradition differs from culture to culture as to how to dispose of old, tattered copies of the revered book — burying in the ground, dropping into a well or in an ocean or a flowing river, to be one with the environment, or, according to some scholarly opinions, burning it. The real offence rests elsewhere — deliberately desecrating the book as an act of hate and incitement. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws date back to British colonial rule that made it a crime to disturb a religious assembly, trespass on burial grounds, insult religious beliefs and intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship — punishable by one to 10 years in jail. (Similar laws have been inherited in India where they are also still abused.) Pakistan toughened the laws during the 1980s. Making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages was made an offence (three years in jail); “wilful” desecration of the Qur’an (life imprisonment); blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (“death or imprisonment for life”). There is no provision to punish a false accuser or a false witness. Worse, the laws have been misused to settle personal scores, monetary and property disputes, or pursue vendettas while the state has watched helplessly. “Muslims and Christian alike are victimized,” as Father James Channan notes. But minorities are disproportionately targeted. A total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been accused of blasphemy since 1987, according to the National Commission for Justice and Peace. Minorities are persecuted in other ways as well, and Hindus and Christians remain at the bottom of the economic ladder — bonded labour in the rural areas and in menial jobs in cities. Seventeen people are on death row, convicted of blasphemy, and another 19 are serving life sentences. Death sentence is rarely carried out but that’s no solace. Mere accusation of blasphemy is enough to kill you, literally. Before or during or after a trial, the accused can get bumped off and the killer never found. Those speaking out against both the blasphemy law and the absence of state protection can be killed. In the last four years alone, a moderate Muslim cleric, a Muslim governor of Punjab and a Christian junior cabinet minister have been gunned down. The governor’s murderer was hailed a hero. Days after the Masih case, an axe-wielding police officer killed a Shiite man in police custody, claiming he had committed blasphemy. In September, a 70-year-old paranoid schizophrenic man convicted of blasphemy was shot by a police guard in jail. This is a sick society we are dealing with, doing un-Islamic things in “Islamic Pakistan.” In the Masih case, 45 people have been arrested. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said justice will be done. “A responsible state cannot tolerate mob rule and public lynching with impunity.” Such statements are made and forgotten. People arrested are quietly let go. Charges are withdrawn. Court dates never come. Trials are derailed by bribing or threatening the prosecutors and the judges. In 2010, a private member’s bill to amend the blasphemy law was sent to a parliamentary committee but withdrawn a year later under pressure. Brave people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, working to change the situation remain a voice in the wilderness. What’s needed is international pressure and severe penalties on Pakistan — not merely tribal loyalty to Christians or sympathy for other minorities.
Being true Pakistani Christian, I would like to share my pain and burden for Pakistan’s sovereignty, prosperity, peace and restoration from the terrorists that is under jeopardy of different politic parties for personal’ power and politics for personal benefits than country’s sovereignty. Pakistan is standing on the extreme dangerous situation because of those elements that are against Pakistan.
The Express Tribune NewsEight policemen and 11 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were injured in a clash at a ration centre near Bannu Sports Complex, right before the arrival of international donors of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in the district, Express News reported on Thursday. The donors were due to visit the IDPs camp for the first time, but were safely taken to an unidentified place by the security forces after the clash broke out. It is unsure if the donors will visit the camp or not. Earlier, mismanagement at the distribution centre led to IDPs pelting stones at police officials present in the area. Security forces resorted to aerial firing and tear gas shelling to disperse the IDPs. Police also baton-charged the unruly crowd to bring the situation under control. At least eight vehicles were also reportedly damaged in the incident. The injured, in critical condition, were moved to the Civil Hospital soon after the incident.The IDPs have also set fire to sheds installed to protect them against the scorching sun.
Under Zia, the doctrine of putting religious beliefs over the call of duty became official in Pakistan’s administrationLast week, in Kot Radha Krishan, a man and his pregnant wife were set on fire by a mob for alleged blasphemy. The act hardly comes as a shock. The real shock is that we have learnt to live with cruelty in the name of religion. Violence in the name of religion is rampant here. And yet, in almost all the cases, there is a political or economic motive where some influential used religion as a pretext to serve vested interests. On every act of such savagery, liberals blame the violent tendencies of religion to assert their point. The religious leaning point at the ulterior motive to dissociate the role of religion from the incident. And yet, in this polarised debate, the paramount questions remain: why has religion acquired such a status where any act of savagery can be carried out in its name without any fear of consequences and why has the state become so toothless against this tide of religious fervour that it cannot assert itself when acts against the state and humanity are carried out, challenging its very writ? This process of state surrender has been gradual. The Objectives Resolution under Liaquat Ali Khan was the hallmark incident of religion entering the state. Though it did set a wrong precedent the use of religion in polity by men on top was mostly political maneuvering and was hardly an act of imposition of personal beliefs. The first incident of incorporation of personal spiritual beliefs to influence state policy can be attributed to Qudrat Ullah Shahab. Shahab’s rise to power in Pakistan’s administration coincided with his spiritual transformation. And, at some point, he started mixing the two. Shahab’s cult had very broad intellectual resonance among administrative officials and intellectuals. In the process, ‘Shahabists’ started defining the state of Pakistan in the mould of a divine mission. It may not have been Shahab’s intention, but this led to something very dangerous. It gave people in administration a passport to serve their vested interests, linking them to divine missions. Shahabists, for the most part, were non-violent and adhered to the version of Islam that was moderate but they emphasised the superiority of those with similar faith over others and with men in powerful positions having this belief, it started reflecting in the state’s policy. The big buzz came in the form of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The JI was different from the religious orthodoxy prevalent. For one, unlike Sufi, Deobandi or Barelvi movements that were more interested in regional impact, it was the first pan-Islamic movement in the region (the difference between the Deoband and JI in some ways is similar to the difference between the Taliban and al Qaeda with the former being region focused). Secondly, it was opposed to the creation of Pakistan and thus was at odds with the state during the early years. Third, it adhered to a stricter interpretation of religion and had more room for stiffer actions to Islamise the state. Around the late 1960s, with the rise of leftist politics in East and West Pakistan, the established order saw benefit in collaborating with the JI. Under General Sher Ali Khan Pataudi and Altaf Gohar, the JI became an ally of the established order. The period of the 1970s is marked by the bonding of Shahabists and the JI. If one tracks Shahab’s own spiritual journey, its very root makes him a contrarian to JI ideology. And yet there were similarities between the two. One was superiority of those with a similar faith. And both were very anti-secular. This marriage of Shahabists and Jamaatists culminated in the birth of Ziaists in late 1970s. Zia, himself, was an amalgam of Shahbists and Jamaatists. Inspired by Maulana Tufail, the head of the JI, Zia had a strong Sufi tinge to him as well. He would be a regular at the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri and yet his policies were closer to more strict JI interpretation. Under Zia, the doctrine of putting religious beliefs over the call of duty became official in Pakistan’s administration and this led to the erosion of the state’s authority. Seeing the opportunity, the vested interests, too, jumped onto the bandwagon and thus religion became a tool of political, social, and economic achievement. Post 9/11, it became evident that the pan-Islamic hardline flare was detrimental to the established order’s interests. This was an opportunity for the state to divorce the religious beliefs of individuals from the state’s policy. Rather, what the dominant part of the state chose was to break the bond between Shahabists and Jamatists. So, rather than ensuring that state officials carry out their duty under the law rather than their personal spiritual beliefs, the state only limited the acceptance of such beliefs to moderate beliefs. So now, Hizbut Tahrir’s penetration in state institutions will be quelled and ISIS will be cracked down on but the persecution of those of different faiths and other criminal acts in the guise of religious beliefs will be overlooked. In recent years, even the JI is transforming to seek approval of more moderate elements in the established order. It is neither religion alone nor the manipulation by people to further their interests that is the core problem. The fundamental problem is that the state, thanks to the personal beliefs of its officials, has ceded its authority to anything and everything in the name of the religion. Allowance of religious beliefs of individuals to supersede needs of statecraft will continue to lead to Kot Radha Krashan like incidents. We are heading towards a complete collapse of the state and society on this route. One should continue to grow on the spiritual path as an individual but mixing it with the state’s duties makes the collapse inevitable. Rather than focusing on decoupling the bond between moderate and hardline, the state needs to set its eye on the new age, a futuristic age of the state’s authority and sanctity of written law and social contract, an age of diversity and tolerance.