Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pakistani chameleon cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri’s art of deception

By West one way, by East another

Qadri, who espouses an admirable brand of moderate Islam in the West has claimed that it was he who, in the Zia-ul-Haq regime, helped incorporate section 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code, adding the death penalty to the blasphemy law.
With the Supreme Court set to announce the verdict in the Panama-gate case soon, Tahir-ul-Qadri was always going to spring back into the news. For, at least one party in question looks set to utilise his services as a seasonal revolutionary. But Tahir-ul-Qadri was in the news over the weekend for his other specialisation: jihadist deception.
On Up Front on Al-Jazeera with Mehdi Hasan, Qadri gave his latest fatwa against ISIS. “They are distorting Islam. They are exploiting the name of Islam. They are misusing the name of Ummah. They are misusing the name of Islamic caliphate”, he said.
Fair enough, what the Islamic State has been doing includes some acts that even the most radical interpretations of orthodox Islam don’t allow. And of course the more scholars call out ISIS and any forms of jihadism, the better it is for Islamic reformation and indeed the Muslim world.
Two years ago, Qadri’s Minhaaj-ul Quran International (MQI) announced the launch of the first Islamic ‘counter-terrorism curriculum’ in the UK, amidst rise of European Muslims – especially British – joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Qadri’s counter-terrorism curricula was an offshoot of his fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings. And it absolutely cannot be stressed enough, just how much the Muslim world needs such edicts.
So far so good then? Not quite.
Notwithstanding the imprudent theological apologia that forms the entirety of the ‘counter-terror’ curricula, completely negating any ideological influence over acts of terror – which Qadri loves to give sweeping fatwas over – it is the MQI Chief’s duplicity that is the most damaging for reformism.
For, the honest cleric that upholds the literal interpretations of the scripture can be shunned as outmoded, it is the mullah that sells different arguments to different audiences that is significantly more dangerous than the hardliner.
Qadri, who espouses an admirable brand of moderate Islam in the West is the self-professed scribe of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He has claimed on multiple occasions that it was he who, in the Zia-ul-Haq regime, helped incorporate section 295-C to the Pakistan Penal Code, adding the death penalty to the blasphemy law.
He is on record saying that “blasphemers should be killed like dogs” (YouTube it) and hence has a stake in responsibility for all those extra-judicially killed, tortured or imprisoned in the past three decades since 295-C was added to the Penal Code.
This art of deception isn’t exclusive to Tahir-ul-Qadri. It isn’t uncommon for those representing the Muslims in the West to adhere to doublespeak – selling moderation to the others, while fanning extremism in mosques and other Islamic organisations.
What is truly astounding, however, is the fact that the likes of Qadri manage to play this double game in the digital era, where anything and everything that is on the web can be – and will be – dug out.
The persona the Qadri dons when he’s in the middle of one of his seasonal revolutions in Pakistan is in complete contrast to what he depicts on international channels. For instance, he has said on multiple Western channels that no one should be killed for blasphemy, claiming that Islam doesn’t endorse capital punishment for it.
In Pakistan he extols martyrdom, using the word Shaheed to such a frequency that it has been immortalised through memes and satirical videos. But in the West he talks about valuing life and give importance to this world.
The best part is that all of this is on record, easily verifiable on the internet. But not only does Qadri continue to play the double role of a moderate reformist and a jihad-monger, seemingly no one in Pakistan – let alone his faithful – is interested in asking him questions over his duplicitous ideological positions.
Whenever Qadri comes to Pakistan next – and it should be very soon, not only due to the Panama Case verdict in the apex court, but also because of the looming elections – someone from the media should compile a package with all of Qadri’s statements endorsing a tolerant brand of Islam, condemning jihad and delegitimising the blasphemy law.
He should then be asked, in front of the local audiences, whether the blasphemy law is a farce or if it’s a bona fide legislation spearheaded by Qadri himself.
For, more than the West it is Muslim states like Pakistan where “revisionism” on the blasphemy law and radical Islam is most needed.

Pakistan - Sindh girl becomes world's youngest Chartered Accountant

18-year-old Aqsa Majeed Memon has become the youngest Chartered Accountant in the world.
Aqsa belongs to Sakrand town of Sindh province.
Aqsa, a daughter of shopkeeper Majeed Ahmed Memon, became world's youngest Chartered Accountant.
She got her early education from her hometown and was born in 1999.
She took admission in FIA course in September 2014 and completed it in August 2015.
After the completion of FIA course, she enrolled herself in ACCA and passed it in July 2017 at the age of 18.
Generally candidates of ACCA get enrolled at the age of 18 while Memon completed it at the age of 18.
ACCA examinations comprised three levels the knowledge module, skills module and professional module.
ACCA examinations contain 14 papers which require time span of three years to complete.
After passing the examination at the age of 18 years and four months she became the world's youngest Chartered Accountant.
Earlier in 2015, Ramkumar Raman from India completed his ACCA at the age of 18 years and eight months.

Pakistan - Panamagate verdict to be announced by Supreme Court on Friday

Haseeb Bhatti
The Supreme Court will announce its decision on the Panamagate case around 11:30am on Friday, according to a notification issued by the registrar of the Supreme Court.
The landmark verdict will be announced in Courtroom 1 of the Supreme Court building in Islamabad.
A three-member implementation bench of the apex court had concluded hearing the petitioners and defendants on July 21, giving them time to respond to the Supreme Court-sanctioned joint investigation team's (JIT) report on the Sharif family's financial dealings, submitted on July 10.
The original five-member bench of the Supreme Court which heard the Panama Papers case is going to issue the final verdict. Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan will be present for the hearing.
Special security arrangements have been made. Besides police from the Security Division and Operations Division, Rangers and FC personnel will also deployed.
Entry to the court premises will only be allowed through passes being issued by the Supreme Court Registrar. The media will be issued passes through the Supreme Court's public relations officer. No unauthorised person will be allowed to enter the capital's Red Zone.
April 20 order and JIT investigation
The April 20 judgement issued by the larger bench in the Panama Papers case had been split 3-2 among the five judges, with two dissenting notes from Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Justice Ejaz Afzal authored the majority opinion in the 540-page judgement.
The two judges who ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif had said he should be disqualified as he could not be considered 'honest' and 'truthful' (ameen and sadiq), whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT to definitively answer the question of whether the allegations against the prime minister were true or not. A special bench of the Supreme Court was constituted to examine the case under Section 184/3 of the Constitution. The bench comprised the three judges who had prevailed.
The court had further said that: "upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be, the matter of disqualification of respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif] shall be considered. If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, [Nawaz Sharif or any other person may be summoned and examined."
The Sup­reme Court had on May 6 formed the JIT, putting a senior officer of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in charge. After considering the background and antecedents of the officer, FIA’s Additional Director General Wajid Zia, a grade 21 officer, was appointed head of the probe team.
Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, Executive Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Bilal Rasool, National Accountability Bureau Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, Brig Muha­mmad Nauman Saeed of Inter-Services Intelligence and Brig Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence were appointed as the remaining members of the team.
The six-member JIT's damning report, submitted after a 60-day investigation that sought answers to 13 questions raised by the Supreme Court's larger bench, had maintained that Prime Minister’s family owned assets beyond its known sources of income. It declared that both Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were used as proxies to build family assets.
Consequently, the six-man JIT concluded that it was compelled to refer to sections 9(a)(v) and 14(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, which deal with corruption and corrupt practices, though such charges are yet to be proven in an accountability court.
The JIT report also highlighted Articles 122, 117, 129 and other sections of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order 1984 (Law of Evidence), which places the burden of disproving the allegations on the person facing accusations.
The JIT pointed out failure on the part of the Sharifs to produce the required information that would confirm their “known sources of income”, saying that prima facie, it amounted to saying that they were not able to reconcile their assets with their means of income.
The prime minister's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, had on the same evening issued a strongly-worded statement on behalf of the PML-N, saying:
"JIT report REJECTED. Every contradiction will not only be contested but decimated in SC. NOT a penny of public exchequer involved: PMLN."
Her tweet followed a press conference conducted by four senior PML-N leaders, who had taken turns to criticise the JIT report as 'serving Imran Khan's agenda'.
The Sharif family's legal team's strategy in subsequent hearings had focused on discrediting the report, the evidence collected and the means used to do so, and raising questions about the impartiality and capability of the six men who had comprised the JIT.

How Pakistan's Panama Papers probe unfolded

Pakistan’s conscience and Yemen?

Kenneth Roth is a man who talks truth to power. The Human Rights Watch chief outdid himself this week. If Saudi Arabia is so concerned about state-sponsored terrorism in its backyard, he intimated, it would do well to stop fixating on Qatar and instead look at its own military intervention in Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest nation.
Or words to that effect.
We applaud Roth. We also understand the dynamic at play when organisations like HRW issue such statements. Meaning that they are not responsible for policymaking, per se, at either the national or international level. But they are gradually replacing the role of traditional lobby groups that rely on partisan support. For this reason — words such as spoken by Roth are heard loud and clear.
Yemen is home to 27 million people. The Riyadh-led military intervention has left 3 million internally displaced and 10,000 dead. In addition, 17 million have access to barely sufficient food to ensure sustenance; 7 million suffer chronic hunger; and a staggering 10 million children have no kind of access to basic medical care, clean drinking water, sanitation and education. According to those who know — Yemen is now facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
If Qatar sponsors terrorism, then what should we call the effects of the Saudi-led war?
Pakistan, for its p art, is regularly on hand to shed crocodile tears for the Palestinians, with the odd few harsh words for Israel; a shortcut to reconsolidating its imagined importance within the Muslim world that challenges not the status quo. We still trade with the US, the Jewish state’s largest financial contributor, and take its aid. All dressed up in the latest shade of realpolitik. Sadly, Pakistan is not alone in this.
But here’s where Pakistan can make a meaningful albeit symbolic difference.
Two words: Saudi Arabia.
The time has come for our establishment to stop eyeing the Kingdom as time-share arrangement to sit out disgraced and disqualified exile conditions. Given Riyadh’s current military aggression in Yemen, the ongoing belligerence towards Qatar and the ever-present behind-the-scenes manoeuvring against Iran – Islamabad should seriously rethink its position on the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance, including the commander-in-chief role of Gen Raheel.
This is unlikely to happen. Given that money talks in this rich man’s world. Which casts Pakistan as the perpetual listener and bidder.
Thus responsibility predictably falls on the shoulders of civil society here to build strong linkages to the anti-Saudi activism found across the Muslim world. In this current climate of accelerated globalisation — it is no longer sufficient to pay vocal tokenism to the Palestinian issue as evidence of a one-size-fits-all liberalism. Nevertheless, this could include taking a leaf out of the Palestinian-led Boycott Divest Sanction initiative. Though this would mean that Pakistan’s elite would be encouraged to give up American imports — from expensive foodstuffs, to clothing to cars to education systems — or perhaps Saudi Islamic Banking schemes.
The horror.

#Pakistan Abducts Own Citizens, Muzzles Rights Watchdog - U.N.

Pakistan must address a catalog of human rights failings including state-sponsored abductions and a death penalty that amounts to torture, but its national watchdog is muzzled, the U.N. Human Rights Committee said on Thursday.
Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael defended Pakistan's record before the committee earlier this month, but members of the committee said his delegation had given few responses to their questions and very general answers.
They were also concerned at a no-show by the chairman of Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights, who was allegedly barred from traveling to Geneva to meet them and was not able to probe wrongdoing, they said.
"The Commission is prevented from fully cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms, cannot inquire into the practices of the intelligence agencies, and is not authorized to undertake full inquiries into reports of human rights violations by members of the armed forces," the U.N. committee report said.
Pakistani officials in Islamabad could not immediately be reached for comment on the committee's findings.
At the top of a long list of human rights concerns were Pakistan's renewed use of the death penalty, its blasphemy laws, and "enforced disappearances" and extrajudicial killings.
Enforced disappearances, seen in tribal areas and Baluchistan for the past 15 years, have become widespread across Pakistan, committee member Olivier de Frouville told reporters.
"This is an admitted fact even within the country that this is carried out by agents of the state," he said, adding that the government's own investigations were insufficient.
A high number of people were allegedly in secret detention in military internment centers, the committee's report said. Killings were allegedly perpetrated by the police, military and security forces but there was no law explicitly against such practices.
The committee also lambasted Pakistan's widespread use of hanging since it lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, following an attack on a school in which more than 150 people, mainly children, were killed.
Death sentences were passed on mentally disabled people and suspects who were minors at the time of the crime, and the method of execution amounted to torture.
"There have been reports of botched executions, failed executions, with grave consequences on physical integrity," de Frouville said.
Pakistan has executed 468 prisoners since 2014 and has 1,500 people on death row, the report said.
Capital punishment was mandatory under blasphemy laws, which often led to false accusations and "mob vengeance", the committee said, calling for those laws to be repealed.