DAWN - Editorial; December 28, 2007

Published December 28, 2007

Too simplistic

PRESIDENTS Pervez Musharraf's and Hamid Karzai's expressions of mutual goodwill and renewed commitment to the fight on terror should not make one oblivious of the difficulties involved in the way. The problems they face in fighting the Taliban are gargantuan and interrelated. They are also rooted in the domestic challenges they face in their own countries. At the joint press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, the Pakistani leader said "the key" to a successful war on terror was greater cooperation between intelligence agencies on both sides. This is putting it too simplistically. While the two governments must indeed cooperate and share intelligence, they must also explore avenues to resolve their domestic problems. Their failure to develop political and social stability has inhibited the two governments' capability to wage a joint and successful war on the Taliban.

Pakistan has been going through one of its worst political and constitutional crises since March, but the president's decision to shed his uniform, the return of the exiled ex-prime ministers, and the on-going campaigning have not given Pakistan even a semblance of normality. Violence not connected to the Taliban continues unabated in Balochistan and elsewhere, and a lot depends on how the losers react to the results. It is only when the election is over; all parties accept the results, and an elected government takes over that one can expect Islamabad to take up foreign policy issues that have been on hold for long.

In Afghanistan, the situation is even worse. The country has once again become the world's biggest drug producer, and the 41,000 troops of the International Security Assistance Force fighting against the Taliban are showing signs of fatigue. Many armies have orders only to fight in self-defence, and Germany, Holland and Canada are likely to pull out their troops by 2010. The anti-Taliban operations have been killing more civilians than militants, and, as a western diplomat put it, there is no sign of the Taliban being short of recruits. This problem is worsened by the absence of the desired degree of trust between Islamabad and Kabul. While Pakistan has seldom gone public with its criticism of the Karzai regime, the latter misses no opportunity to malign Islamabad. Last week again, in an interview with a German paper, Mr Karzai indirectly blamed Pakistan for the rise in the insurgency level. Often the goodwill shown by Islamabad in matters of transit facilities and in hosting an estimated 2.5 million Afghans still on our soil is not matched by Kabul. The latter's refusal to open the Nawa Pass road is an example.

While intelligence agencies must, no doubt, cooperate, the two governments must first work out a political approach to the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban represent a movement, howsoever vicious it may be. A political philosophy cannot be crushed by force alone. Recognising this principle, even some NATO governments have entered into contact with the Taliban, as the Karzai administration's expulsion of two UN and EU diplomats confirms.

Danger in Lebanon

MORE than a month has passed and Lebanon is still without a president. Analysts are now wondering if the crisis will degenerate into another civil war. So far, the parliament has failed 10 times to muster a two-thirds majority needed for a constitutional amendment and for electing a new president. Emile Lahoud walked out of the presidential palace on the completion of his term on Nov 23 without a successor in office because the politicians failed to agree on a new president. The country has not yet really recovered from the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in Feb 2005, and even though international pressures forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, the country's politics still revolves round anti- and pro-Syrian factions. Western powers, especially the US and France, have not helped matters by taking sides in Lebanon's traditionally fractious politics. Both sides now agree that army chief General Michel Suleiman should become the head of state, but the constitution bars a public servant from entering politics before the expiry of two years. This means the constitution should be amended if the compromise candidate is to move into the presidential office. But the pro-Syria opposition led by Hezbollah wants a government of national unity before the basic law is amended and the new president takes over.

The pro-Syrian opposition does not consider the Fouad Siniora government representative enough of the Lebanese people because its Shiite members quit the cabinet last year. The danger is that the crisis could take a violent turn, unless the politicians have the good sense to patch up their differences. Lebanon is a front-line country, and Israel has never missed an opportunity to attack and ravage it. However, in spite of the religious and ethnic differences, the Lebanese people have in times of crisis proved that they could unite irrespective of all differences to defend the country. The unity which the Lebanese people showed in the face of the Israeli aggression and the heroic resistance put up by Hezbollah fighters in the summer of 2006 humiliated Israel in the battlefield. The same kind of courage and unity are needed if the country is to avoid another bloodbath. Politicians owe it to their people to solve the crisis as quickly as possible so as not to let outsiders exploit the situation to further their geopolitical interests.

In poor health

FOR a nation that has just turned 60, we are far from fighting fit. In fact our healthcare system has aged beyond its years due to poor maintenance and remains plagued with unfulfilled promises. What truly ails it is brutal apathy on the part of health authorities. The latest evidence of flagrant indifference is that as many as 61 health institutions in Karachi with another 180 in the rest of Sindh, which were built in the last few years, remain dormant due to paucity of funds. Despite the fact that we are approaching the second half of the fiscal year, the city government still awaits the assured finances from the Sindh government. These are not only to start the inoperative facilities but also to upgrade and manage existing services. Some six months ago, the Sindh administration had sanctioned a special one-off sum of Rs500m to different district governments of the province, but this has not seen the light of day yet. Other dismal statistics have also emerged from recent estimates that show one doctor for every 5,000 people living within the jurisdiction of the city district government.

However, keeping our frail healthcare infrastructure in good shape is no mean task. It involves sustaining standards and financial stability. Perhaps, it may be an idea to focus on preventive medicine and also use the much pledged funds to develop an action plan whereby easy, efficient and subsidised dispensation of health amenities is made possible for all so that actual care does not begin in the emergency rooms. The strategy should focus on primary care, updated and vigilant emergency services, which include ambulances, paramedics and help lines, and information on avoiding infection and injury. Successful implementation of such a scheme is particularly dependent on governmental involvement that translates into accessibility of funds as well as the creation of a quality monitoring authority to prevent pilfering and negligence. Incentives to doctors, nurses, attendants and paramedics are of equal significance. After all, robust medical facilities promote both productivity and life expectancy of a nation.

Islamic concept of state

By Prof Mohammed Rafi

Friday feature

IN present times the establishment of an Islamic state is a rallying cry for many Muslims described as Islamists and extremists. They contend that monarchies and dictatorial regimes are against the basic Islamic concepts.

The Quran clearly states that the aim and purpose of an Islamic system is the establishment, maintenance and development of those virtues which the Creator wishes human life to be enriched with and the prevention and eradication of those evils which He finds abhorrent. The Islamic state is neither solely an instrument of political administration, nor intended for fulfilment of the collective will of any particular group of people.

Man, by nature, is born free and desperately wants to do as he pleases. This may be possible if he leads his life on a solitary basis. This selfish attitude cannot contribute anything in a system of social life where other individuals, with their own desires, have rights too. According to Nietzsche if a human child, soon after birth, is left in a jungle without any human supervision and is brought up by animals, he will remain animalistic in his behaviour for the rest of his life. He will never attain the human posture and status though he would look like any other human being. He can only actualise and develop his potential in a social setup with other human beings.

Even today the most dreaded punishment is solitary confinement although it may be in very luxurious surroundings. The fear of the grave is another reflection of a solitary confinement. Islam has always stood for collective social life and values – a society in which there is harmony, peace and justice. These conditions enable a man to think beyond his physical existence and thus prepare for the next form of life in the hereafter. Hajj, Salaat, Zakaat, Jihad, etc., are all meant to help society and ultimately the state.

An Islamic state does not seek to restrict human rights and privileges to its boundaries. Islam has laid universal fundamental rights for humanity which are to be observed in all circumstances. These rights are for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Muhammad (SAW) brought the Divine Message that demolished all man made idols and ideals. The Quran lays down principles for implementing the Divine programme in a country for others to follow. Islam spread through its universal progressive message and evident results. This system was not permitted to be implemented through coercion, intolerance and extremism.

The Quran considers man as the real end of the existence of a country, state or even the entire universe. Everything has been created for man’s benefit. ‘Whosoever is there on this earth, God has created for you. Not only in the earth but whatsoever is there in the earth and the heavenly bodies’ (45:13). The Quran has not used the term state, but the idea of country and governance is there. At the outset of the call to prophethood, the exalted Muhammad announced the highest and the noblest possible Mission Statement ever, “We will establish a State wherein a beautiful young woman laden with jewelry will be able to travel alone from Yemen to Busra (in Syria, about 2000 miles). Yet, she will have no fear but the fear of Allah.” (Bukhari).This meant that in the Muslim Empire, the life, honor and property of all citizens would be safe. It promised peace and rule of law in society beginning with discipline in the hearts. The exalted Prophet achieved this lofty mission in his lifetime. Choosing leaders in an Islamic state ultimately rests with the community, a kind of a representative democracy couched in traditional Islamic norms.

The Quranic concept of sovereignty is also different from all other systems. It is a fact that the authority of some men over others has always been in vogue. The Quran considers this concept as humiliating to humanity and thus unacceptable. Sovereignty belongs to Allah and not to any individual or group. This leads to another misunderstood system in which a handful of religious leaders assume sovereignty in the name of religion. Quran negates theocracy.

The Divine rules practically mean following His laws. No one has the authority to make any changes in the Divine Code, not even the Messengers. ‘Judge the matters of these people according to the Book of Allah’ (5:48) declare openly that it is not for me to make any changes therein according to my wishes’ (10:15). The Messengers were the first to submit to the Divine code. In such a system there would neither be a ruler nor any ruled. We must remember that Muhammad (SAW) never called himself a ruler, king or monarch, although he had authority over a million square miles.

In an Islamic system of governance the scales of justice have to be established in the light of the Divine laws. A person who, when, violating the law thinks that no one is watching or thinks that he can bribe his way out or use influence to sway judgment and escape punishment, does not believe in God.

An Islamic government can only be established to implement the Divine laws and under such a government no criminal can escape punishment.

When monarchy creeped into the Muslim culture, the Divine system no longer remained operative. The relationship of the state and the individual changed .The rulers became autocratic and the citizens had no choice except to obey them. Gradually the Muslim domination of the world tumbled down.

Even today the Muslims are confused about the true Islamic system. This is because the role model today is the Islam of the kings and not the pristine Quranic values.

In an Islamic state no man has the right to exploit another man or to use him as means of furthering his personal interests. Moreover, tolerance, kindness, forbearance, mutual respect and justice are the pillars of the state. Above all no man is permitted to compel others to obey him. In obeying the Divine Laws we obey God and ultimately enjoy the fruits of living in such a system.

If the Islamic world succeeds in re-establishing the universal democracy of Islam by recasting Islamic jurisprudence on the basis of the Quranic principles, the leadership of the world will be theirs.

If, however, they fail to discharge this vital duty, the other nations will regard their failure as the failure of Islam and on the evidence of that failure would declare that Islam was successful only in a particular period of time and thereafter exhausted its dynamism and is no longer capable of keeping pace with the growing needs of the changing world.

OTHER VOICES – Pushto Press

Afghan president’s visit

AFGHAN president Hamid Karzai is coming to Pakistan for a two-day official visit … General Pervez Musharraf had invited the Afghan president on the eve of the Pak-Afghan peace jirga held in Kabul last August.

The visit is taking place at a time when US Secretary of State Robert Gates has warned that Al Qaeda is regrouping in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda now seems to concentrating on areas inside Pakistan. Both the tribal areas and the settled districts of the NWFP have remained in perpetual terror in recent times due to incessant bomb blasts and suicide attacks. The frequency has, nevertheless, increased in Afghanistan as well.

Terrorism and extremism have come to be the stumbling blocks to the progress and prosperity of both the neighbouring Islamic countries. The people of both countries are living a life of horrible uncertainty due to the activities of terrorists. At such a time the visit of the Afghan president … will provide a golden opportunity to find a solution to the problem due to which the people of both countries are witnessing a bloodbath in their homelands … The visit of the Afghan president has received immense importance in the context of finding a durable solution to the monstrous problem of extremism and terrorism in the region.

The visit will give an opportunity to the presidents … to deliberate on the threats to the survival of both countries. The two presidents will be able to carry out an in-depth analysis of the factors behind the menace of terrorism and find a solution to the problem through mutual consultation.

One would like to urge the presidents of both countries to take up the core issues of extremism and terrorism to find an effective solution for rooting out the menace of terrorism. — (Dec 25)

Balach Marri’s shocking death

THE mysterious death of Balochistan Liberation Army chief and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly Balach Marri is a huge loss for the Baloch masses. Sadly, the military regime used the demise of the Baloch leader for political purposes.

In an array of statements the military spokespersons of the federal government held the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Brahamdagh Bugti, responsible for the death of Balach Marri. This was apparently an effort to create schisms in the Baloch nationalist movement. In response to these statements, Brahamdagh Bugti said that the Marri leaders recognise those responsible for the death of Balach Marri.

The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and the treatment meted out to him after his death clearly shows the grudge held by the central government and the military brass against the leaders of the Baloch movement. Those engaged in winning the rights of the Baloch continue to suffer derogatory treatment. The military leadership seems to be obsessed with its grudge against the Baloch leadership [and] the central government appears to have taken a step forward to counter the Baloch struggle with brute force.

This attitude on the part of the central government and the military leadership might increase the hostility felt by the marginalised nations and that could go against the interests of the country. It is the need of the hour to create an environment of trust in the country and engage the leadership of the marginalised nations in a meaningful dialogue. Sanity demands a pragmatic approach to resolve the conflict.

We the editorial team of Pukhtoon condemn the killing of Balach Marri and express our solidarity with the Baloch people. — (Dec 2007)

— Selected and translated by Khadim Hussain.

© DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2007



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