Friday, January 17, 2020

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Religious discrimination of minorities in #Pakistan

Dr Ravinder Singh Rana
Non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan are treated as separate and unequal citizens in a form of religious apartheid. The Constitution and laws of the land are overwhelmingly preferential to Islam, the State Religion, and Muslims. Systematic exclusion of Hindus and other minorities ranges from humiliations such that a non-Muslim lawyer cannot appear before Federal Shariat Court to Constitutional provisions that the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan must be Muslims. Religious extremism and fanaticism sponsored by the State that disenfranchise its own minority populations have engendered fringe factions that endanger the wellbeing and lives of minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians. Alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammad carries a mandatory death sentence. Most of these cases are either false accusations or pursuits of personal vendettas-a tool of repression often used against Hindus and other minorities. Several of the judges in the High Courts, as for example, Justice Akhter of the Lahore High Court, are advocating that it is the duty of a Muslim to silence the voice of a blasphemer. (i) A report recently published by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad, notes: “Four primary themes that emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks…are that Pakistan is for Muslims alone; Islamiat is to be forcibly taught to all the students, whatever their faith, including compulsory reading of Qu’ran; the ideology of Pakistan (sic) is to be internalised as faith, and hate be created against Hindus and India; and students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.” Further, “Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus…” (ii) Many of the approximately 2 million Hindus in Pakistan are compelled to pay regular sums, as a type of ransom, to extortionists and local leaders in exchange for the physical security of their families and themselves. (iii) It is conventional wisdom that no job higher than a clerk’s post may be obtained by a Hindu.

Furthermore, Hindus usually need a Muslim as a silent partner in order to run a business. Many Hindu temples have been desecrated, destroyed, or converted into government offices in Pakistan. In 1992 alone, hundreds of Hindu temples were destroyed in Pakistan in response to communal riots in India, in which Pakistani Hindus played no role. Despite official promises to rebuild these temples, in many cases, little or no action has been taken to redress the situation. Illegal encroachments on Hindu temples and lands, molestation and abduction of Hindu girls, demanding of huge ransoms in kidnap cases, and frequent arrests of Hindus on false charges have become commonplace in Pakistan. The plight of Hindus in Pakistan is nowhere more evident than in the fact that the population of Hindus in 1947, at the time of Partition, was estimated to be anywhere from 15 to 24 percent. There is no authoritative claim on these numbers. In 1998 the Hindu population in Pakistan was 1.60 percent. (iv) Where and how have these Hindus disappeared. School textbooks represent the political perspectives and national ideologies of whole edu­cational and government systems. As such, school textbooks are one of the most important indicators of official and popular perspectives of the cultural and political communities they depict both in words and images. The major findings of this report are that the content of Pakistani public school textbooks related to non-Islamic faiths and non-Muslims continue to teach bias, distrust, and inferiority. Moreover, the textbooks portray non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan as sympathetic towards its perceived enemies: Pakistani Christians as Westerners or equal to British colonial oppressors, and Pakistani Hindus as Indians, the arch enemy of Pakistan. These perceptions predispose students early on that the non-Muslim population of Pakistan are outsiders and unpatriotic.

These grossly generalized and stereotypical portrayals of religious minority communities signal that they are untrustworthy, religiously inferior, and ideologically scheming and intolerant. These messages are reinforced by the absence of deeper content addressing the complexity of religions, the rights of religious minorities, and the positive contributions of religious minorities in the development and protection of Pakistan. Outright errors about minority faiths and cultures are a major problem. Another significant issue is the inclusion of widely-disputed historical “facts” presented as settled history. Consider this quote found on page 23 of the tenth grade Urdu textbook: “Because the Muslim religion, cul­ture and social system are different from non-Muslims, it is impossible to cooperate with Hindus.” This kind of education closes all doors for a new generation of Pakistani Muslims to see a peace­ful future with Hindus of India, and worse yet, it provides a rationale to treat Pakistani Hindus as outsiders. In contrast, it ignores how Hindus and Muslims have cooperated and coexisted peacefully for centuries in the sub-continent. Another quote from the Sindh province seventh grade Urdu textbook mixes facts and con­spiracies, portraying Hindus and Christians as partners to destroy Muslims. Shahid Afridi’s hate for India and Hindu’s is a well established one.

The Pakistani skipper has on several occasions in Pakistani cricketer and former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team Shahid Afridi had once revealed how he had smashed his television set at home when he saw one of his children enacting an ‘aarti’ scene while watching an India drama serial. The past ranted against Indian culture, its people, cricket team and the media. Talking on a chat show hosted by one Nida Yasir, on a Pakistani TV channel, the cricketer brazenly, taking pride in what he did, said he lost his temper when he found one of his children watching a Hindu ritual being shown on the Indian channel Star Plus, and smashed the TV set.

While the interviewer looks delighted on listening to Afridi’s anti-Hindu rants, the Pakistani audience can also be seen applauding the cricketer for his defiance against Hindu rituals and customs. Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar had revealed during a chat show that Danish Kaneria was treated unfairly by his Pakistani teammates because he was a Hindu and even barred the spinner from picking up food from the same table as others because of his faith. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to fast-track citizenship for persecuted minority groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The six minority groups that have been specifically identified are Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis. This is the reason why this amendment bill is important as minorities are fighting for their survival in neighboring countries.


Nadeem F. Paracha

 The assassination of the controversial major general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Qassem Soleimani, by the equally controversial government of US President Donald Trump, has put Pakistan into a spin.
A minister in PM Imran Khan’s gover­nment announced that Pakistan would side with Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom that is a firm American ally and strongly opposed to Iran.
However, the spokesperson of the Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Public Relations wing and then Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were quick to announce that Pakistan would remain neutral in case hostilities intensify between Iran and the US.
Pakistan was a frontline proxy state in the US and Saudi-funded ‘Islamist’ insurgency against Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. By the time Soviet troops left Afghanistan in the late 1980s, the fallout of that war greatly impacted Pakistan, deepening sectarian fissures in the country and aiding the mushrooming of religious militancy and extremism, that eventually mutated and turned anti-state.
Indeed, this must be on the minds of the state and government of Pakistan for them to declare their neutrality. But there is a lot more to Pakistan’s ambiguity in this context. And I use the word ambiguity because relations between Iran and Pakistan have largely remained abstruse, especially in the last 40 years or so. Rand Corporation’s 2014 reader Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan describes the relationship between Pakistan and Iran as ‘a complex mix of cooperation and peer rivalry’.
Since 1981, Pakistan’s relations with Iran have remained tense and enigmatic, in contrast to their earlier unqualified warmth. Yet not once have the two countries come close to fighting a war
Iran is a Shia Muslim-majority country headed by a powerful Shia clergy, which came to power through a revolution in 1979. According to Andreas Rieck’s 2016 book The Shias of Pakistan: An Assertive and Beleaguered Minority, Pakistan has a significant Shia minority. Estimates from 2018 suggest 20 to 25 percent of Pakistan’s population is Shia. And according to Jacquelyn K. Davis, in Anticipating a Nuclear Iran, many of the Pakistani Shia support Iran’s post-1979 political and ideological set-up.
Until the mid-1970s, Pakistan enjoyed a seamless relationship with Iran. In fact, Pakistan was closer to Iran than it was to Saudi Arabia. Iran, a modern pro-US monarchy, was one of the first countries to recognise Pakistan when it was formed in August 1947. Also, the Shah of Iran became the first major foreign head of state to visit Pakistan in 1950.
During the 1965 Pakistan-India war, when the US had suspended all military aid to both India and Pakistan, Iran sent nurses, medical supplies and 5,000 tons of petroleum to Pakistan. As an oil-rich country, Iran also threatened to impose an embargo on oil supplies to India.
In the 2015 edition of the journal International Affairs and Global Strategy, M. Saqib Khan writes that, to sidestep the US and European arms embargo imposed on India and Pakistan during the war, Iran bought 90 Sabre fighter jets from West Germany and sent them to Pakistan.
Iran saw Pakistan as a modern extension of Persian culture in South Asia because of the role this culture and language had played during Muslim rule in India between the 13th and 19th centuries. But since the Shah’s Iran was known as ‘America’s policeman in Asia’, it also tried to insulate Pakistan from the left-leaning ‘Third-Worldism’ — an idea first formulated by the charismatic Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and the ‘socialist’ Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru. Iran made sure that Pakistan remained firmly in the American orbit during the Cold War.
The state of Pakistan admired Iran’s economic and social modernity and tried to emulate it. In his essay, “Pakistan As A Factor in Indo-Iranian Relations”, for the December 1974 issue of The Indian Journal of Political Science, L.K. Choudhary wrote that, during the 1971 Pakistan-India war, Iran again sidestepped an arms embargo on Pakistan and supplied it with military equipment. The Times of India quoted the Shah as saying, “Pakistan and Iran are like one soul in two bodies.”
In 1973, when a Baloch insurgency broke out in Balochistan, which shares a border with Iran, the Shah provided lethal American-made combat helicopters to Pakistan so that Baloch insurgents operating in the remote areas near the border could be eliminated. This way Iran also eliminated the threat of the insurgency spilling into Iran’s Baloch-majority areas.
Relations between the two countries began to somewhat recede when the populist government of Z.A. Bhutto in Pakistan attempted to formulate an international ‘Muslim bloc’ in 1974. The planned bloc also included ‘enemies’ of the Shah, especially ‘radical’ Soviet-backed Arab regimes, such as Libya, Iraq, Syria, Algeria and the erstwhile South Yemen. Therefore, the Shah was the only major Muslim head of state to decline attending the 1974 Islamic Summit in Lahore, organised by the Bhutto government.
In 1977, the Bhutto regime was toppled in a reactionary military coup by Gen Ziaul Haq. So when the Shah’s regime fell in 1979, and was replaced by a radical theocracy, Pakistan became the first country to recognise the new government. But the refreshed relations between the two countries, on the basis of Islam, soon began to nosedive from 1981 onwards.
From the mid-1970s, Saudi Arabia, buoyed by increasing oil prices, had begun to aggressively expand its circle of influence with the power of the so-called ‘petrodollar’. It also started to outpace Iran in matters of providing economic aid to Pakistan, which came with the condition of adopting the Arab culture and faith as prescribed by Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s Shia theocracy began to be seen as a threat by the puritanical Saudi political and religious establishment — especially when Iran initiated the rather unabashed export of its version of anti-Saudi and anti-US ‘political Islam’ to other Muslim countries.
In the 1980s, Pakistan accepted hefty financial and military aid from the US and Saudi Arabia during the anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan. This money was also used to form radical Sunni indoctrination outlets and militant outfits to supplement Afghan militant groups. But many such outfits eventually turned anti-Shia and thus anti-Iran. This saw Iran bankroll militant Shia groups within Pakistan. The result was deadly violence, clashes and riots between Saudi and Iranian proxies in Pakistan.
Even though Pakistan declared neutrality during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the Zia regime increasingly galvanised Pakistan towards the Saudi and American orbit. Pakistan sent 40,000 soldiers to Saudi Arabia in case the conflict spread to the kingdom. A cultural consequence of this was the ‘Saudization’ of Pakistan and the steady erosion of Persian culture; after the 1979 revolution in Iran, it began being seen as ‘Shia culture’.
Ever since 1981, Pakistan’s relations with Iran have remained tense and enigmatic. Iran has often accused Pakistan of backing radical anti-Iran Sunni groups operating near the Pak-Iran border, and Pakistan has expressed concern that anti-Pakistan groups backed by India have been allowed by Iran to operate near the same border.
Yet, not once have the two countries come close to fighting a war against each other. Soleimani was understood by Islamabad as being an ‘anti-Pakistan hawk.’ Pakistan, having frenzied borders with India and Afghanistan, and only recently managing to vanquish the extreme consequences of its participation in the anti-Soviet Afghan insurgency, has wisely decided to declare neutrality in the US-Iran conflict. More so, it has downplayed the fact that Soleimani was no hero to Pakistan.

Why It Doesn't Make a Difference If Pakistan Could Beat India in a Land War

Key Point: Although India or Pakistan might be able to beat the other in a normal war, any armed fighting raises the risks of a nuclear exchange. If nuclear weapons are used, everyone loses. The Indian subcontinent is home to two of the largest armies on Earth. Not only are the armies of India and Pakistan both larger in personnel than the U.S. Army, but they have stood at alert facing one another since the dissolution of the British Indian Army in 1947. The two armies have clashed four times in the past seventy years, and may yet do so again in the future.
The Indian army is the primary land force of the Indian armed forces. The army numbers 1.2 million active duty personnel and 990,000 reservists, for a total force strength of 2.1 million. The army’s primary tasks are guarding the borders with Pakistan and China and domestic security—particularly in Kashmir and the Northeast. The army is also a frequent contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions abroad.
The army is structured into fourteen army corps, which are further made up of forty infantry, armored, mountain and RAPID (mechanized infantry) divisions. There is approximately one separate artillery brigade per corps, five separate armored brigades, seven infantry brigades and five brigade-sized air defense formations.
Infantry and mountain divisions are mostly assigned to the mountainous North and Northeast regions, where manpower intensive counterinsurgency and mountain warfare forces are important, while infantry, RAPID, and armored formations sit on the border opposite Pakistan. Perhaps unusually the Indian army has only one airborne unit, the Parachute Regiment, which is actually an umbrella headquarters for army airborne and special forces. The Parachute Regiment controls seven special-forces battalions and three airborne brigades.
The army is equipped from a number of sources, primarily Russia and a growing domestic arms industry, with increasing amounts of Israeli and American weaponry. More than 4,000 tanks equip the country’s ninety-seven armored regiments (the equivalent of American battalions), including 2,400 older T-72 tanks, 1,600 T-90 tanks, and approximately 360 Arjun Mk.1 and Mk.2 tanks. Complementing the T-72/90 tanks in armored and mechanized infantry formations are BMP-2 mechanized infantry combat vehicles.
Most of the Indian Army’s 4,000 artillery pieces are from Russia, including newer 300-millimeter Smerch multiple launch rocket systems, but the country appears to be turning away from Russian field artillery towards American towed M777 and South Korean K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers. A new howitzer, the Dhanush, appears close to widespread adoption. Air defense artillery, on the other hand, is dominated by Russian equipment, from battlefield Tunguska self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to S-400 “Triumf” high-altitude air-defense missiles.
The Pakistani army numbers 650,000 active duty personnel and five hundred thousand reserves, for a total strength of 1.15 million. Although Pakistan resides in what most would consider a rough neighborhood, it is on relatively good terms with neighbors China and Iran. As a result, the army’s primary missions are domestic security operations against the Pakistani Taliban and facing off against the Indian army. Like India, Pakistan is a major contributor of forces to United Nations peacekeeping missions.
The Pakistani army consists of twenty-six combat divisions falling under the control of nine army corps. Most divisions are infantry divisions, with only two armored and two mechanized infantry divisions. Each corps also controls an average of one armored, one infantry and one artillery brigade each. Not only is the Pakistani army smaller than the Indian army, but it features fewer offensive forces capable of attacking India head-on. Special operations forces are concentrated under the control of the Special Services Group, which controls eight commando battalions.The army’s equipment is mostly Pakistani and Chinese, with Turkish and American armaments in key areas. The country has fewer than seven hundred frontline tanks, including the Khalid and the T-80UD, with another one thousand modernized versions of the 1970s-era Chinese Type 59. Pakistan lacks a modern infantry fighting vehicle, relying on more than two thousand upgraded M113 tracked armored personnel carriers.Pakistan has nearly two thousand artillery pieces, primarily Chinese and American, but they are older models with little in terms of acquisitions in sight. Standouts among these are roughly 250 M109A5 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers and two hundred A-100E 300-millimeter multiple launch rocket systems—similar to India’s Smerch. One standout category where Pakistani weapons outmatch Indian ones is the area of attack helicopters, where the country fields fifty-one older AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters with another fifteen AH-1Z Vipers on order.
If the two countries went to war, a major clash between the two armies would be inevitable. Outnumbered and under-equipped, the Pakistani army believes it is in a position to launch small local offensives from the outset, before the Indian army can reach its jumping-off points, to occupy favorable terrain. Still, the disparity in forces means the Pakistanis cannot hope to launch a major, war-winning offensive and terminate a ground war on their own terms. As a result, the Pakistani army is increasingly relying on tactical nuclear weapons to aid their conventional forces.
For its part, the Indian army plans to immediately take the offensive under a doctrine called “Cold Start.” Cold Start envisions rapid mobilization followed by a major offensive into Pakistan before the country can respond with tactical nuclear weapons. Such an offensive—and Pakistan’s likely conventional defeat—could make the use of tactical nuclear weapons all the more likely.
The adversarial relationship between India and Pakistan makes the Indian subcontinent one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The disparity in forces, war plans on both sides, and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons makes a regional nuclear war—even a limited one—a real possibility.

How an Indo-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Doom the Entire Planet

By Kyle Mizokami
Key point: Even though only India and Pakistan would be destroyed directly by nuclear weapons, the radiation and fallout would change the world. If enough weapons were used, it is very likely that the sun would be blocked out causing crop failures and mass starvation.
Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.
Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”
The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.
Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.
Exactly when Pakistan had completed its first nuclear device is murky. Former president Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, claimed that her father told her the first device was ready by 1977. A member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said design of the bomb was completed in 1978 and the bomb was “cold tested”—stopping short of an actual explosion—in 1983.
Benazir Bhutto later claimed that Pakistan’s bombs were stored disassembled until 1998, when India tested six bombs in a span of three days. Nearly three weeks later, Pakistan conducted a similar rapid-fire testing schedule, setting off five bombs in a single day and a sixth bomb three days later. The first device, estimated at twenty-five to thirty kilotons, may have been a boosted uranium device. The second was estimated at twelve kilotons, and the next three as sub-kiloton devices.
The sixth and final device appears to have also been a twelve-kiloton bomb that was detonated at a different testing range; a U.S. Air Force “Constant Phoenix” nuclear-detection aircraft reportedly detected plutonium afterward. Since Pakistan had been working on a uranium bomb and North Korea—which shared or purchased research with Pakistan through the A. Q. Khan network—had been working on a uranium bomb, some outside observers concluded the sixth test was actually a North Korean test, detonated elsewhere to conceal North Korea’s involvement although. There is no consensus on this conclusion.
Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world. Other observers, however, believe Pakistan can only develop another forty to fifty warheads in the near future.
Pakistani nuclear weapons are under control of the military’s Strategic Plans Division, and are primarily stored in Punjab Province, far from the northwest frontier and the Taliban. Ten thousand Pakistani troops and intelligence personnel from the SPD guard the weapons. Pakistan claims that the weapons are only armed by the appropriate code at the last moment, preventing a “rogue nuke” scenario.
Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.
Pakistan currently has a nuclear “triad” of nuclear delivery systems based on land, in the air and at sea. Islamabad is believed to have modified American-built F-16A fighters and possibly French-made Mirage fighters to deliver nuclear bombs by 1995. Since the fighters would have to penetrate India’s air defense network to deliver their payloads against cities and other targets, Pakistani aircraft would likely be deliver tactical nuclear weapons against battlefield targets.
Land-based delivery systems are in the form of missiles, with many designs based on or influenced by Chinese and North Korean designs. The Hatf series of mobile missiles includes the solid-fueled Hatf-III (180 miles), solid-fueled Hatf-IV (466 miles) and liquid-fueled Hatf V, (766 miles). The CSIS Missile Threat Initiative believes that as of 2014, Hatf VI (1242 miles) is likely in service. Pakistan is also developing a Shaheen III intermediate-range missile capable of striking targets out to 1708 miles, in order to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.
The sea component of Pakistan’s nuclear force consists of the Babur class of cruise missiles. The latest version, Babur-2, looks like most modern cruise missiles, with a bullet-like shape, a cluster of four tiny tail wings and two stubby main wings, all powered by a turbofan or turbojet engine. The cruise missile has a range of 434 miles. Instead of GPS guidance, which could be disabled regionally by the U.S. government, Babur-2 uses older Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and Digital Scene Matching and Area Co-relation (DSMAC) navigation technology. Babur-2 is deployed on both land and at sea on ships, where they would be more difficult to neutralize. A submarine-launched version, Babur-3, was tested in January and would be the most survivable of all Pakistani nuclear delivery systems.Pakistan is clearly developing a robust nuclear capability that can not only deter but fight a nuclear war. It is also dealing with internal security issues that could threaten the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.