Did Pakistan’s Army Chief want Asia Bibi to hang like Afzal Guru?

Asia Noreen Bibi, the poor Christian woman on death row for 9 years has left Pakistan and is in Canada. Even though the Pakistani civilian government and military establishment appear to be taking credit for her release and for improving Pakistan’s image in the global arena what is the reality? Did the security establishment want Bibi released or not?

On a recent television show Orya Maqbool Jaan, Pakistani columnist and talk show analyst with Jihadi leanings who is known for close ties to the deep state, asserted “I met Pakistan Army Chief [Gen Bajwa] during Asia Bibi’s acquittal issue. He said he wanted judges to do same like Afzal Guru case in India who was hanged due to public sentiment. But courts decided in favor of Free Asia poster I saw in Paris.”

The video is available here

https://twitter.com/TahaSSiddiqui/status/1126454523013283840/video/1

Open Letter to Imran Khan on Spirituality and Super Science by a Geo-scientist

Pakistan has had its share of scientists who believe in Djinn energy and the ability to use water to run cars, so it comes as no surprise that in a recent speech Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that Pakistan would “convert spirituality into a super science.”

In response to Prime Minister Khan’s speech Pakistani-American geo-scientist Dr Asim Yousafzai has written him an open letter which is a must read and is copy-pasted below:

“The government of Pakistan’s Twitter account wrote, “Al-Qadir University would provide both Islamic and scientific education to the students and help them become morally, intellectually and spiritually accomplished persons”. Your government’s Information Minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, was quoted as saying that “the credit for the unique and creative idea of Al-Qadir University goes to PM Imran Khan and the First Lady. To make the idea practical, the PM and First Lady played a personal role”.”

“Mr Khan, your statements are baffling, to say the least. There is no such thing as ‘super science’, and no one has ever claimed to convert ‘spirituality’ into super science. Science is based on logical questioning, critical thinking, experiments, and drawing conclusions from testable hypotheses. Spirit comes from the Latin word ‘to breathe’ and ‘spirituality’ is based on the inner workings of a human soul. Consequently, theology and science serve two different domains, and confusing one with the other can be an explosive mix. Both science and spirituality can have some overlap, but no one has ever proposed to fuse the two. It appears like you are conflicted about both science and spirituality. Spirituality (and meditation) is practiced all over the world, and it appeals to the internal mechanisms of a human body. Paradoxically, yoga, which is a form of spirituality, is looked down upon in Pakistan. Spirituality has been reduced to a dogma – a ‘voodoo’ – where tombs are worshiped, and ‘Najoomi professors’ bring ‘Mehboob’ to your front door after reading your palm. By providing easy answers and ‘awe moments’, superstition and pseudoscience has hindered Pakistan’s progress since its inception in 1947, and you and your government are adding to it, and abetting it.”

“The world of science has made incredible progress – there are at least three new experimental frontiers that are being investigated for integration, to gain perspectives into mind-body interactions: lab experiments on the origins of life, search for extra-terrestrial intelligence and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. Mr Imran Khan, how much is your country contributing to these highly scientific endeavors? The answer is zilch. Let’s assume, Mr Khan, that we have taken your proposition of converting spirituality into ‘super science’ at face value. But how are you going to achieve it? Pakistan is 117th out of 180 countries in corruption; 150th out of 189 countries in Human Development Index; 800th out of 1000 university rankings; and 147th in GDP per capita out of 181 countries. In April 2019, your government slashed higher education funds by 50 percent, thus depriving poor, but deserving students, of a golden opportunity to receive higher education. This is an alarming situation. For the sake of argument, let’s also assume that 100 students graduate from Al-Qadir University in the year 2023 with a degree in ‘Spirituality and Super Science’. Where will they be employed? Pakistan already has a very high number of unemployed and underemployed graduates, and adding more to this list would be a disservice to the country you often claim to love.”

“There is no scientific and technological infrastructure in the country; the bridge between research and development and the industries was never developed. Pakistan does not produce any satellite information, and has only one satellite in geostationary orbit which was launched from a Chinese platform. Neighboring India has six satellites in orbit, and is planning for a Mars mission in 2022. The nation would be eternally indebted to you if you focused on improving the current infrastructure of science and technology in the country rather than making new, unfounded claims. PM Imran Khan, you also mentioned that “students will be given financial assistance and scholarships, quite like Namal University. This will then be extended to other cities and towns”. How do you know that it will be extended to other cities? Are you or your wife stakeholders in the project? As a private entity, you or your wife should not have any stakes in this project.”

“In my opinion, educating students at Al-Qadir University would be tantamount to dumbing them down – they would neither become good scientists, nor good yoga instructors. On the contrary, there is a good chance that these students would end up as confused citizens. At the end, Mr Khan, I would frankly request you to stop patronizing such dubious projects which are counterproductive, and will further erode the confidence of the current and next generation of scientists, doctors, professors, technologists and engineers. Pakistan is replete with religious seminaries of every color, value and hue, catering to the needs of every sect and every denomination in the country. Let the private ownership take care of their own theological needs.”

Protesting against enforced disappearances is not a crime

We have often written about the enforced disappearances and missing persons in Pakistan and the refusal by the deep state and the judiciary to take action on this critical issue. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a statement recently on the recent sit-in by the Shia Missing Persons Relatives Committee that hoped to find out what happened to their family members.

HRCP expressed support “for the families of missing persons from Karachi’s Shia community, and said that, ‘Foremost is the right to due process. While the police have claimed that five of the missing people were arrested on suspicion of ‘anti-state activities, the Committee’s rejoinder, that the people in question are innocent of these charges, must be investigated fairly and transparently.”

HRCP also expressed alarm at “the crackdown against relatives of missing persons, in which at least 36 people were arrested on a wide range of charges from ‘rioting’ to ‘waging war againstPakistan.’ Although many have since been released, these remain absurd charges, given that the protestors had the right to assemble to demand the recovery of their loved ones. That this avenue of protest against enforced disappearances should meet with suspicion and harassment on the part of the state is a distressing development. Above all, this still leaves the fate of numerous others from the Shia community – and indeed, from other communities and regions – unknown. Once again, HRCP urges the state not to delay the criminalisation of enforced disappearances, to which it has publicly committed, and to take all civil society stakeholders on board when doing so.’” 

Gwadar Suicide Attack Reflects the Challenges in Balochistan

On May 10, 2019, five people including a soldier were killed after gunmen stormed the Pearl Continental, a five-star luxury hotel, in Balochistan. According to news stories the attack killed four hotel employees and a Pakistan Navy soldier and injured six others, including two army captains, two navy soldiers and two hotel employees.

In a statement the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack referring to it “a practical example of following our founder leader martyr General Aslam Baloch’s approach of fighting against the occupiers until the complete liberation of Balochistan.” The BLA also asserted that the attack “was fully supported by Baloch armed organisations Balochistan Liberation Front and Baloch Republican Army (Beebarg).”

Further, the statement said “Our self-sacrificing squad successfully achieved all their targets and killed dozens of Chinese and military personnel in Gwadar attack today. China or any other foreign power will not be allowed to exploit the natural resources of Balochistan and they will be targeted with brute force until and unless they leave Balochistan and put an end to all their so-called economic and military endeavours.”

BLA statement also noted: ““Today members of BLA Majeed Brigade broke all security cordons in Gwadar and fully occupied Pearl Continental Hotel, where we had information that dozens of Chinese and other foreigners were present. In the battle that lasted for multiple hours our brave fighters killed scores of foreigners and Pakistani personnel. Simultaneously, Gwadar port was also attacked with rockets inflicting heavy losses on it. Our brave fighters occupied the hotel for more than ten hours. During this time, they did not only fight against the Pakistani military but also searched each and every room of the hotel and killed scores of Chinese officials. Pakistani state and its media are once again hiding their failures by downplaying the number of causalities. However, Baloch fighters successfully achieved their targets and embraced martyrdom by using their last bullets on themselves after they run out of ammunition. We have warned China and other foreign investors multiple times and we want to inform them once again that Baloch Liberation Army will not accept any so-called economic or military manoeuvres in Balochistan. No one will be allowed to plunder Baloch resources and use our coastal line for their military interests. Therefore, foreign powers particularly China should immediately withdraw from their all projects in Balochistan. In these circumstances BLA is willing to halt its actions against Chinese nationals until they fully evacuate. Otherwise, today’s attack in itself proves that BLA is capable of achieving any target no matter how heightened Pakistani security cordons are.”

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad condemned the attack and hailed the “heroic action of Pakistani army and law enforcement agencies” in a post on Twitter.

Return of Basic Democracy? Deep State Strikes Back!

The Pakistani Deep State has never been comfortable with democracy or with civilian politicians who it cannot manage or control. Pakistan’s First military dictator, General Ayub came up with the Basic Democracy system in which he tried to replace existing political parties and leaders with directly elected civilians who would be indebted to the military. This backfired as in elections people chose the popular civilian leaders, even when they were forced to run independently.

Decades later General Musharraf came up with another form of the basic democracy system in which nazims were directly elected. He too sought to create new political leaders – who would be establishment people and have little grassroots support. This did not work out either as the existing political parties in every province retained their support base.

Under Imran Khan once again the military is trying to create a new form of basic democracy. At a recent press conference Khan “spoke at length about the newly adopted local government system in Punjab, which aimed at “taking the government to the people” and announced a two-tiered election across Punjab. Giving details of the new Punjab Local Government Act 2019, Imran Khan said a direct election would be held in 22,000 village councils in Punjab, for equal distribution of revenue and indiscriminate development of the entire province. “People need governance,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said and added that the new concept was brought to the fore after lengthy deliberations and study of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government system and similar systems in vogue internationally.”

Further Khan said ““The city mayors will be directly elected and they will generate their own money. The tehseel nazim would also be directly elected,” he said, adding that the new local government system will produce new leadership. The Local Government Bill 2019 was approved by the Punjab Assembly on April 30 through a majority vote with the opposition boycotting the session. The mayor will choose his own cabinet, the PM said, saying the mayor of London is directly elected.”

Pakistan needs an overhaul of the existing system but using techniques that have failed in the past is not the way out. The way out is more democracy, more civilian control and less military interference.