Sunday, July 17, 2016

Recent Albums of Pashto Music - ''Sardar Ali Takkar'' - پښتونخوا ـ احمد شاه بابا

How coups have Pakistan and Turkey inching towards puritanical Islamism

Now that the coup has been defeated and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed his one-time mentor Fathullah Guelen, he has opened the way to fill the ranks of his country’s army with loyalists who endorse his relatively orthodox Islamism. The coup gives him a reason to purge the army not only of officers sympathetic to Guelen but also staunch secularists.
The way the attempted coup has been projected, Erdogan has sought to narrow the choice in Turkey between the Islamist politics of Erdogan and the relatively Sufist base of Guelen. In the political arena, Kemalist secularism does not seem to have much space. From Erdogan to the Istanbul street, Guelen has been named as the likely coup organiser. There is little talk of secular politics – of which the army was hitherto seen as the bastion.
This could well mark the sort of shift that took place in Pakistan a few decades ago. The Pakistan Army, which had been encouraged to be secular and liberal under General Ayub Khan, was 'Islamised' during General Zia’s years in power. So was the country’s politics. By the time Zia’s decade in power ended in a 1988 plane crash, Pakistan’s political choices too had been generally linked to one sort of Islamist group or another.
It was General Pervez Musharraf who came to represent a relatively secular alternative when he seized power in 1999. After Zia, Nawaz Sharif inherited the support of the Jamaat-e-Islami, which formed the core of Zia’s support. To counter Jamaat’s influence, Benazir Bhutto propped up the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Over the past couple of years, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) led by Selahattin Demirtaş has represented the minority Kurds, along with the country’s avowed secularists. The fact that the latter had to link their political fight with that of Kurds is an indicator of how weak secular politics had become.
Modern Turkey was established by the staunchly secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Although he is still acknowledged as the father of the modern nation, Ataturk’s legacy appears to have been overwhelmed. Relatively wealthy urban residents – the sort who participated in the Gezi Park resistance against a park being cut for a high-rise in 2013 – are the flag-bearers of secularism in today’s Turkey.

Erdogan has spoken openly about a return to Islamic norms and to Turkey’s Caliphate. His regime promotes such symbols of Islam as the head-scarf, which were strongly discouraged by Kemal’s version of modernism.
Ironically, Guelen was once seen as Erdogan’s mentor. He represents a relatively liberal Sufist version of Islam, and has apparently been uneasy about the more puritanical Islamism that Erdogan now represents. In fact, Erdogan’s politics is closer to the Islamism of the Egyptian Brotherhood – and the royal family of Qatar.
Guelen, who lives in self-exile in the US, runs an extensive network of schools and other institutions across Turkey. The coup attempt on Friday night demonstrates that he has a wide following in the ranks of the army. Army units tried to take over installations across the country.
The popular resistance to the coup demonstrates that, in the minds of most Turks, Erdogan represents Turkish nationalism. Although the coup was not seen as a foreign plot, people generally rallied to the established government. It surely helped that Erdogan had purged many pro-Guelen officials and army officers. More have been arrested on Saturday after the coup attempt.
The political spectrum in countries like Iraq and Iran has already been largely limited to religion-based options. Although the Iraqi government is meant to be secular, it has earned the ire of Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis. Both view the regime as essentially Shia, backed by important seats of Shia religious authority.
Although Bashar al-Assad of the secularist Baath party remains President of Syria, the wars there have alienated most Sunnis and Kurds of that country too from his regime. The Salafist Islamic State controls large slices of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
The portents for that entire region are towards more authoritarian regimes, far more informed by religion-based politics.

Could Turkey Become US Ally 'Like Pakistan'?

Ia Meurmishvili

How the Turkish government deals with the aftermath of the July 15 attempted military coup could have lasting implications for U.S.-Turkish relations, according to some U.S. foreign policy experts. 
Turkey, as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member, is a valuable ally of the United States. According to Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, however, if Ankara backslides even further on democracy, rule of law and human rights, Turkey could become an ally much more in the mold of Pakistan, which has little in common with Western values, and where bilateral frictions, mistrust and recriminations are commonplace, even though both countries depend on each other for regional stability.

After the failed coup attempt, many observers are concerned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will further tighten his grip on power, purge the military and be more controlling of democratic processes in the country. While President Erdogan’s rule was widely seen as authoritarian in style, most of the international community nonetheless condemned the military coup attempt and declared support for Turkey’s democratic institutions. But if Erdogan uses the coup as justification for further crack-down, this sympathy could evaporate.

Less than 24 hours after the attempted coup started, President Erdogan appeared on live television at a rally in Istanbul, declared he was in control of the government, and said he was ready to take on the Gulenists, whom he said have caused much pain to Turkey.
Erdogan then publicly asked U.S. President Barack Obama to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey. Gulen is a 75-year-old Turkish cleric residing in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. “If we are strategic partners, or model partners, do what is necessary,” said the Turkish president. In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that U.S. authorities would investigate and issue a judgment against Gulen if Turkey submits evidence of wrongdoing.
Many arrests

In the meantime, thousands of military personnel, including flag officers, have already been arrested, more than 2,700 judges have been suspended, and some 140 arrest warrants have been issued against members of Turkey's Supreme Court. 
As the coup attempt was unfolding, the West showed unequivocal support for Turkish democracy. Executive Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker believes “this [support] will give Erdogan some running room to establish order and security in the country” following the coup attempt.
He also stated that “Erdogan, who had already shown some very strong anti-democratic tendencies before this coup, will use it as a justification for cracking down on society even more.” This type of repressive governance could potentially lead to a “more restrictive environment in Turkey, less press freedom, less political openness.”

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former U.S. Defense Department official, says the West is not going to be trapped by this stated support for democracy, if it the government cracks down.
“Going after the judiciary, going after the press is not going to be acceptable. The Europeans, Americans and others can say that they stood up against an illegal coup. However, they support the rule of law – and it can be violated either by the coup plotters or by the president of Turkey,” Rubin told VOA.

Volker does not think Turkey’s overall strategic goals would change. He therefore does not anticipate any major foreign policy cleavages with the United States in the short term. However, if human rights and rule of law are abused by the government, “in the long run, it will lead to frictions” with the West.
Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim square, July 16, 2016.
Turkish soldiers secure the area as supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan protest in Istanbul's Taksim square, July 16, 2016.
Delicate diplomacy

In light of a turbulent election year in the United States, as well as increased terrorist activities in Europe, Western leaders may be inclined to be less critical of Erdogan’s authoritarian rule in order to maintain stability in the region. “He may try to ride that wave of stability,” admitted Rubin. However, the United States “relying on a strongman in order to stabilize the region may be a short-term strategy.”

Rubin believes U.S.-Turkish relations are already changing and not for the better. “The United States is entering into a corollary situation to what we have with Pakistan. In that, we deal with anti-Americanism, which sometimes is incited by the government. At the same time, even though we recognize it’s a flawed ally, we do whatever we can to keep the relationship up regardless.”

Shortly after Erdogan demanded Gulen’s extradition from America, Turkish authorities grounded almost all U.S. military flights from Incirlik airbase. From this airbase, the U.S. military conducts its air raids in neighboring Syria against Islamic State. These flights are now paused. Officials claimed the need to protect the safety of Turkish airspace until all military aircraft ,which may have been used during the attempted coup, are accounted for. In addition, the Pentagon reported that commercial power to the base was cut, and Incirlik was operating on an internal power supply. 
While it may be too early to say what may be the implications for U.S.-Turkish relations of the failed coup d’état in Turkey, steps such as these may suggest that Ankara has already started saber-rattling.

Pakistan - Govt failed to address Kashmir issue owing to Nawaz-Modi friendship: Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has failed to address the Kashmir issue since his foreign policy is based on “friendship with Modi”.
“Can’t he [Nawaz Sharif] see the killings of innocent Kashmiri youth and disgrace that Kashmiri women have to face? How many times did he mention Kashmir in the past few days?” he asked to a charged crowd in Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir during electioneering on Saturday.
Bilawal said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lacks the wisdom to lead a better foreign policy and have miserably failed in this regard.
Regional peace: Bilawal pleads for UN intervention in Kashmir
“Is there a single border where we are not facing tensions?” he asked while referring to the PML-N run foreign policy.
Speaking against Indian forces atrocities in Kashmir, PPP chairperson said the oppression in the region has increased to an extent that now the occupying forces are firing pallets bullets on Kashmiri children, making them blind for the rest of their lives.
However, he remarked that “in these 68 years, Kashmiris’ passion for freedom has not diminished in any way”.
Lambasting the PML-N led government, Bilawal said that the prime minister is not a politician but a businessman who has benefited from running the government.
Discrimination: Bilawal warns Centre over money distribution
“In six months, neither did they [PML-N] create electricity nor did the load-shedding end. However, corruption has increased manifold,” he said.
Asking the passionate gathering to vote for his party in the impending election, Bilawal said that if the PML-N government is formed here in Azad Kashmir, then I fear the resources of the valley will be taken to the Raiwand State.
“I implore the youngsters of Peoples Youth Organisation (PYO) and Peoples Students Federation (PSF) to keep a check on PML-N rigging on the day of election. The youth have greater responsibilities in the upcoming election,” he added.
The general elections in Azad Kashmir is scheduled to be held on July 21.
On Thursday, Bilawal Bhutto questioned the silence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the latest spate of violence in the valley, terming it “unfortunate.” Addressing a rally in Rawalakot, the PPP chairman said that the premier had done nothing during the past three years except establishing offshore companies.
Bilawal called on the international community to help settle the dispute as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people to ensure durable peace in South Asia.
The PPP chairman has also been criticising PM Nawaz for his alleged offshore wealth as exposed by Panama leaks.
Leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama had showed the prime minister’s three children – sons, Hassan and Hussain, and his daughter, Maryam – owned at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.
On April 30, Bilawal had urged the premier to resign from his post until investigation into the disclosures is over.
Kashmir has been gripped by a week of intensifying unrest, sparked by the killing of a popular, young rebel commander, Burhan Wani, in a firefight with the occupied forces on July 8.
At least 38 people have so far been killed during protests in the valley with the Indian police seizing tens of thousands of newspapers to curb news of fatal clashes.

Pakistan - Case against PoPA extension

By Afrasiab Khattak

Protection of Pakistan Act (PoPA) one of the major anti-terrorist laws in Pakistan, expired yesterday. It was promulgated in July 2014 with a two year sunset clause. In this way PoPA has come to an end after completing its prescribed age. The present government has every intention of extending it further by getting approval from both Houses of the Parliament. But acting according to its routine practice the government was in a deep slumber so far and is coming into action only after the expiry of PoPA. Had the process of legislation been confined to the National Assembly the government would have no problem as it can pass any law by simple majority there. But it will face problems in the Senate where it doesn’t have majority and will need the support of the opposition political parties for passing laws. Be that as it may, this development invites our attention to the legal front of the struggle against terrorism in Pakistan because we know that by the end of the current year our Parliament will also have to decide the future of 21st Constitutional Amendment which provides for trials of civilians in military courts for terrorist offenses. Again that is because of the two years sunset clause in the aforementioned Constitutional Amendment according to which it is to expire in January next year.
Thanks to the notorious policy of denial regarding thr terrorist problem, Pakistan didn’t have effective anti-terror laws for long years. Despite the fact that top operatives of Alqaida, IMU , ETIM, JuD, Taliban and other dangerous national and international terror networks were active here the Musharraf regime played down the problem by calling it the propaganda of “Yahood-o-Hanood” (Hindus and Jews). Musharraf tampered with the Constitution but did not bring in effective anti-terror laws. So the country could not develop Counter Terrorism Strategy, effective anti terror laws, high security prisons and other anti terror infrastructure. The entire war on terror was confined to a few local operations in FATA, rationing out Alqaida prisoners to US and drone strikes. After the general elections in February 2008, the PPP led coalition government had a clearer policy against terrorism. It fully supported the provincial government in Pakhtunkhwa during the military operation in Swat. But the PPP government despite having the required political will for taking on the menace of terrorism suffered from two major limitations. First, after completing operation against Taliban in Swat the country’s security establishment was not ready to launch full fledged action in FATA in general and in North Waziristan in particular. It is quite fashionable these days to blame the former COAS General Kayani for this. But that doesn’t seem to be the case as it was policy of the security establishment as a whole and not that of an individual. Actually it was directly connected with the country’s Afghan policy. Terrorist infrastructure in FATA, the main sanctuary of Taliban in their fight across the Durand Line, was not to be demolished before Taliban could launch their final military push in Afghanistan, because it could have been a set back for Taliban. Hence the deliberate inaction. Second, the PPP government didn’t have even a simple majority of its own in the National Assembly. It had to seek support of the opposition parties for the passage of laws. Religious political parties in general and JUI-F in particular fully exploited this situation by blocking anti-terrorist legislation. So the legal vacuum in war on terror became quite serious after the military operation in Swat. There were quite a number of prisoners in the custody of armed forces during and after this operation and the government didn’t have the legislative framework to handle the situation. Under pressure from the army for finding a way out, the government promulgated Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011, an extremely draconian and black law. By providing for the so called internment centers the FATA Regulation provided legal cover to the armed forces for keeping prisoners accused of terrorist offenses in their custody.
The PPP government did amend the 1997 Anti Terrorist Act just before the end of its constitutional term although it had to make many adjustments and compromises. So after the commencement of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 in North Waziristan the question of an effective anti terror law to reinforce the legal front in war on terror was raised once again. The main argument in favor of the extremely draconian law PoPA was that Pakistan is in the middle of a war against terrorism and it needs harsh laws to deal with this menace. PoPA empowers the security agencies to keep the accused persons in prolonged custody and even shoot to kill where necessary. The jurisprudential principle of innocent until proven guilty has been totally discarded in this law and burden of proof has been shifted to the accused person. Opposition political parties had serious reservations about the draconian nature of the law. Sunset clause of two years was made part of the law to assure the members of Parliament that it is an extraordinary piece of legislation for an extraordinary situation to be in existence for a limited period.
Government’s case for further extension of PoPA is extremely weak for the following reasons. One, special courts under this law have remained totally ineffective. These courts remained non functional for quite some time. Even when the special courts were operationalised they failed to prosecute persons accused of committing terrorist offenses. Two, the 21st Constitutional Amendment providing for military courts for putting civilian accused on trail in cases of terrorism that came in January 2015 is a proof of the uselessness of PoPA. Three, at the time of PoPA’s approval the government had repeatedly assured the Parliament that it will be used only against “jet black terrorists”, but it has been grossly misused against innocent people from slum dwellers of Islamabad to tenants in Okara. There other numerous examples. Four, instead of creating multiple draconian legal systems the government should opt for one law that is effective in prosecuting terrorists but is not violative of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Five, an important factor for the rise of terror problem in Pakistan is the misconceived state policy regarding militancy. Reform in the said policy and not the oppressive laws is the way out from the present mess. Going back to and reviving NAP can be a step in the right direction.