Appeasement Only Encourages the Extremist Mobs

Seventy-two hours of street violence perpetrated by the Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan and its allies has demonstrated that in Naya Pakistan the state is not only willing to condone large scale violence by mobs but it appears as though the Deep State even encourages such violence.
 
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released a statementIt is a travesty that injustice should have followed so closely on the heels of justice – in this case, a verdict issued by the highest court in the land. Aasia Bibi has been thrust from acquittal to uncertainty, fear for her life and fear for the lives of her family. What was hailed as a landmark judgement and a human rights victory unraveled into a situation in which there was no distinction between the peaceful right to dissent and the thuggery of mobs who claimed a ‘moral right’ to wreak public havoc, to attack citizens and law enforcement personnel, to wantonly destroy property and to incite hatred against religious minorities.”
 
Further, “‘HRCP is seriously concerned at how quickly the government capitulated to the demands of extremist-led mobs, despite its earlier vow to preserve the writ of the state. The TLP called openly for murder and mutiny, made a mockery of the rule of law and fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, and appears to have assumed all the while that its methods were legitimate means of dissent. This cuts to the heart of the democratic process – a process in which the TLP and other religious-political parties took part and are therefore obligated to respect. HRCP strongly urges the government to take an unequivocal and consistent stand against groups and individuals that have no qualms about employing violent, extra constitutional means to have their way.’”

In Naya Pakistan State surrenders faster than in Purana Pakistan

The jubilation felt by many liberal and progressive Pakistanis and others around the world at the acquittal of Asia Bibi by the Supreme Court of Pakistan was shortlived. The monsters created and nurtured by our Deep state came back to bite us immediately and we had to witness the surrender, once again, of state authority before the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) of Barelwi cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi.
 
According to Raza Rumi, Editor of The Daily Times, the “cost of nurturing religious extremists is way too high” and warning signs are here for those who are watching and listening. 
 
In his latest piece, Cyrial Almeida, asserts that what we are witnessing today is not a state that is colluding with extremists but one that is on the defensive and cannot do anything. “The state is on the defensive and the extremist is in the ascendant. The two are linked — even though the extremist/ terrorist/ militant is of different stripes and sects and often at war with each other. The state as colluder everyone is more or less familiar with, but since 2001-2004 the state’s defensiveness has taken a new turn.”
 
We witnessed this in the recent protests led by the TLP that started immediately after the verdict was announced. “The protests were violent in nature and attacked the Army chief while asking other generals to step in. Worse, the judges were threatened and one of the leading clerics asked the domestic staff working with the judges to kill them!”
 
The second day of protests, road blockades, and violence “ended with an agreement with the TLP assuring the protestors that a review petition would not be opposed and that legal action would be initiated to place Asia Bibi’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL). The latter point of agreement was not just bizarre but blatantly illegal. For how can citizens be barred from leaving the country when there is no case against them? In fact, by placating extremist passions, the state of Pakistan has even overlooked the grave threat that the [majoritarian] sectarian mobilisation now poses. In other words, a non-Muslim Pakistani even when acquitted by the highest court must face the mobs.”
 
As Rumi points out, “The TLP is a force to reckon with for it enjoys a much wider support base and the majority of Sunni Muslims in Pakistan adhere to the Barelvi subsect. And blasphemy is an emotive issue that also fits into the larger narrative of global Muslim injury by the West.”
 
This is not the first time that a militant Barelwi organization has brought a government to a standstill. In November 2017, “it prevailed in inserting the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat issue in the election campaign. Because the PMLN government had hanged Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of the former Governor of the Punjab, it found itself on the back-foot.”
 
TLP’s power has grown since the July 2018 elections when, “the TLP managed to reduce the PMLN majority by 10-20 seats; participating in the polls and securing two provincial seats. Moreover, it bagged more than 2.2 million votes to emerge as the third largest electoral force in the Punjab. Even bigger than the mainstream PPP; which was once a popular in the province.”
 
As an Editorial in Dawn stated, “Pakistan, it would seem, was a country with no real leadership while chaos and anarchy spread in the streets once again. The repercussions could quickly manifest themselves in the days ahead.”

Pakistan’s Never-ending Clampdown

The international media and global human rights organizations have a negative view of Pakistan primarily because of our abysmal human rights, censorship and clampdown on the press and on freedom of expression. As if things could not get any worse Pakistan’s recent crackdown on international aid agencies has led to a pushback from many Western countries. 18 international agencies “most of them working on human rights issues, were ordered to leave Pakistan over recent months after being refused registration.”

 

According to the wire service Reuters, diplomats of many Western countries including the European Union and the United States in a recent letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan “expressed “serious concerns” about this crackdown on aid groups. This letter was a follow up to a similar letter sent in September to the Interior Ministry.

 

The letter to the Prime Minister stated that “the groups did not get a proper explanation for why the government had ordered them out and there was a “lack of transparency” in the registration process.” The diplomats stated: “We are writing to express serious concerns with respect to recent developments. Restriction on civil society risks affecting Pakistan’s international reputation as a genuine partner on human developments and undermining confidence of the international donor and business community.”

 

Further, the letter said that the impact of expelling the groups would be “significant”, and would imperil some of development goals championed by Khan. “Restricting INGO operations will affect millions of poor Pakistanis. In 2017 alone, the INGO sector reached 34 million people with humanitarian relief and development assistance. This will mean thousands of Pakistanis employed by INGOs and local partners may lose their jobs.”

 

Pakistan, however, “has long viewed foreign-funded aid groups with suspicion and many members of the powerful military believe that Western countries often use such groups as a cover for spying.”

Naya Pakistan Annoys another neighbour -Iran- just like Purana Pakistan

Pakistanis are fond of stating that the only neighbor with whom they have conflictual relations is India. However, the truth is that all of Pakistan’s immediate neighbors, India, Afghanistan or Iran, have been unhappy with Pakistan over its policies of providing safe havens to jihadi groups that attack its neighbors.
Time and again relations between Tehran and Islamabad flare up and it has to do with Pakistan’s support for and safe havens given to   
 
On October 16, 14 Iranian security personnel including Revolutionary Guards were kidnapped on the Iran-Pakistan border by Jaish e Adl, a Sunni militant group that has safe havens inside Pakistan. Iran has demanded that Islamabad “use all possible means” to free them.”
 
A spokesperson for Jaish e Adl, Ebrahim Azizi said: “’This morning Jaish al-Adl forces attacked a border post in Mirjaveh and captured all their weapons.’ The group also claimed responsibility on its Twitter account. Azizi said the attack was retaliation for what he called the Iranian state’s oppression of Sunnis in Sistan-Baluchestan, a mainly Sunni province with a long history of separatist unrest.”
 
Foreign Minister Javed Zarif spoke with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi as the “abduction caused a friction between the two countries, as the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Pakistani envoy in Tehran to convey its concerns over the issue.” According to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi, “militant groups operate from safe havens in Pakistan.” The Revolutionary Guards also issued a statement: “We expect Pakistan to confront these terrorist groups that are supported by some regional states, and immediately release the kidnapped Iranian forces.””
 
While Pakistan maintains that it is doing all it can, we must remember this is not the first time that something like this happened. It has happened in 2017 and 2017. In previous cases of such cross-border clashes, Iran has threatened to hit militant bases in Pakistan unless Islamabad took action.
 
If Pakistan wants to improve relations with its neighbors, it will need to do more than claiming that a new government in power. It will need to implement policies that will reassure these neighbors.

Should the Chinese envoy to Pakistan act as a viceroy?

If China is seeking to build soft power around the world, maybe they first need to teach their diplomats to stop acting like viceroys.

 

On Saturday October 13, the Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission, Lijian Zhao, launched a personal attack on former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani. Mr Haqqani had tweeted a story from The Times UK that referred to the Chinese repression against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and was titled “China demands that Uyghur Muslims eat pork.”

The Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission took affront at the tweet and sent out two personal attacks against the well-known author and former ambassador.

It is interesting that instead of denying the story Mr Zhao preferred to attack the messenger. What is well known is that Mr Zhao previously called himself Muhammad Lijian Zhao dropped ‘Muhammad’ after China banned Muslims names.

While the usual PTI trolls hurled abuse on Mr Haqqani and praised Mr Zhao’s tweets, many Pakistanis objected to a Chinese diplomat attacking a Pakistani citizen over sharing a news story.

Many leading Pakistanis on twitter and others around the world rose up in defense of Amb Haqqani.

Marvi Sirmed, a columnist for Daily Times and human rights activist said,

Leading investigative journalists, Umar Cheema and Ahmad Noorani, who have often disagreed with Mr Haqqani, too rose up to defend him.

Alfons Lopez Tena, a Spanish jurist, had this to say