We can argue about whether what happened to Jibran Nasir and fellow peace activists on Thursday was ‘arrest’ or ‘detention’, but this will be arguing over semantics and entirely missing the point of the incident. Similarly, many immediately took to terming the action as evidence of government siding with militants – an understandable response at first glance. But taking a moment to consider the larger context, the actual meaning may be way worse.
Pakistan Ulema Council issued a condemnation of IS militants on Friday as reports of infiltration by the jihadi terrorist group across the country. This condemnation of IS militants by the respected clerics is welcomed, but the qualified statement highlights dangerous double standards toward extremism and militancy that must be addressed.
The PUC statement only addresses one group (IS) and includes the following qualification:
“The PUC appeals to people and youth in Islamic countries to not cooperate with any violent group whose teachings or actions are against the teachings of Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).”
The problem with this statement is that it gives a free pass to violent groups who do believe their teachings and actions are in line with Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). In other words...all of them.
Freeing Pakistan of the scourge of extremist violence requires a comprehensive, unqualified condemnation of militancy. No exceptions. Until then, qualified condemnations will not only be fruitless, they will continue to provide an ideological justification for terrorists of all stripes.
China is in many ways an ally that is the complete opposite of America. One way that has had great consequences for our relationship has been America’s insistence on doing business in the public spotlight whereas China has always been willing to speak about sensitive matters behind closed doors. Even though Chinese officials don’t give public statements the way Americans, do, it is still possible to understand how relations between our two countries are going if you’re willing to pay attention. Today, China sent us a very clear message: And it’s not good.
Gen Kayani’s imminent retirement has resulted in a surge in two related parlour games: Wistful speeches about the outgoing Army chief’s place in history and the wishful thinking about who the incoming Army chief will be and how he will continue Kayani’s legacy of saving Pakistan. Whoever the new COAS will be is known only to one man right now, and he isn’t talking. But it is worth taking a moment to reflect on Gen Kayani’s legacy, both the myths and the reality.