19, 2006 Thursday Ramzan
25 , 1427 A.H
and bitter memories
the Line of Fire
President General Pervez Musharraf
Simon and Schuster,
S. A. Haleem
Delhi is in
the grip of a worst kind of communal frenzy. Houses of its
Muslim inhabitants are being burnt: some are roasted alive
while others are being butchered mercilessly, on roads and in
lanes. All this is being done by zealots who have opted to
celebrate the independence of India, and to get rid of the
Muslims who ruled India for more than seven hundred years.
horrid situation, Muslims are trying to migrate to Pakistan
for the safety of their lives, and among them is a boy of only
four years along with his other family members, ready to leave
their ancestral home and hearth--their destination, the new
homeland of Pakistan. No one knew at that time that this
four-year-old boy would one day become the President of
Pakistan--of course, he had to traverse a number of hurdles
and difficulties in the attainment of this goal. This boy was
named Pervez Musharraf.
memoirs "In the Line of Fire" President Pervez
Musharraf narrates, at great lengths, his educational career,
and his option to join the Pakistan Army, even at places
giving detailed accounts. This book while gives an insight
into Musharraf's educational career and thereafter his
professional career, it also reveals some hidden facets, which
could be claimed as "confusing" in the wake of
several repudiation by those personalities about whom the
president chose to speak. Prominent among these are former
prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Lt-Gen (Rtd) Ali Kuli Khan
and US President George W. Bush.
Kargil imbroglio, Musharraf terms it a successful operation
which according to him brought the dispute over the scenic
Himalayan state of Kashmir once again into the limelight and
compelled India to return to talks. According to the General
it was the Kargil operation which precipitated the composite
dialogue process between the nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.
prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who also heads his own faction of
the Pakistan Muslim League, and Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Kuli Khan
say that the Kargil operation was flawed in terms of its
conception, tactical planning and execution, in which a large
number of Pakistani soldiers laid down their lives.
issue is the personal diatribes between the two army generals.
In his book Musharraf states that he was one of the four
candidates short-listed for military training at Saudhurst,
Britain, but Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Kuli Khan contradicts, saying
there were five cadets selected by the Pakistan Military
Academy (PMA) for military training in England. They were
Shabbir Sharif, Afzal Malik, Khalid Nawaz, Zahur Afridi and
Ali Kuli Khan. Lt-Gen Khan further raises some points about
the elevation to the post of Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and
likewise some other issues.
me, and I'm sure many others will also fell sorry for the
wordy duel, insinuations and counter insinuations between
these two great soldiers of our country. However, it can't be
denied that the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif's action was
an abominable act for not permitting General Musharraf's plan
to land at any airport in Pakistan. It was a highly
condemnable act on the part of a country's prime minister to
allow a plane carrying the COAS and CJCSC of his country to
crash. In the words of Musharraf "On October 12, 1999, I
was Chief of the Army Staff, the highest military position in
Pakistan. My plane was about to land at Karachi from Colombo,
when the prime minister effectively hijacked it from the
ground, blocking the runways and closing all airports in
Pakistan. He ordered my plane to leave Pakistan airspace. Our
fuel was so low that we would have crashed had the Army not
taken control of the Karachi airport before it was too late.
We landed with only seven minutes of fuel to spare. The nearly
fatal confrontation with the prime minister brought me into
In fact it
was the Kargil debacle which strained the relationship between
Sharif and Musharraf and it deteriorated when Sharif suddenly
capitulated before the then US president Bill Clinton in
Washington on July 4, 1999. Hence Sharif found it to be a
golden opportunity to get rid of Musharraf when he was out of
the country--and hence the ban on his return.
controversial issues the book includes threats to the then US
undersecretary of state Richard Armitage to the ISI chief, the
amount of bounty paid by the United States to Pakistan for
capturing al-Qaeda members and other terrorists, the war on
terrorism, Pakistan's nuclear policy, and Pakistan's relation
with Afghanistan, etc.
told ISI chief Gen Mahmood that if Pakistan chose to be on the
side of terrorists, the country would be bombed into the
"Stone Age". During his recent US visit and his
meeting with President Bush, Musharraf mentioned the threats
to the US president, but the latter expressed his ignorance
about any such threat.
As it was
said so easily by the USA president about such an unbecoming
and violent threat, it is not that easy for anyone to believe
that the U.S President is so much unaware of the contents of
the threat delivered by Richard Armitage. Pakistan in its own
interest and which has also remained the pivotal point of
Pervaiz Musharraf also, decided not to allow its soil as an
spring hoard for terrorist activities, hence Pakistan has
played an important role in nableing the suspected terrorists
who aimed to operate from its soil. More than 600 terrorist
were arrested and more than 360 were handed over to the US.
The US also gave huge amount as bounty for the arrested
terrorists. This evidently negates the oft-cried lamentations
by some vested interests that Pakistan has done nothing or
very negligible to apprehend the terrorists; particularly it
is more striking when the Afghan rulers raise their fingers at
Pakistan in this respect.
accusation against Pakistan is that acts of terrorism carried
out in Afghanistan emanate from Pakistani soil. However, in
his book Musharraf strongly rebuts this Afghan theory, saying
the Afghan government needs to focus more on improving
security inside its own country instead of blaming others.
Brushing aside the charge that Pakistan is not doing enough in
the 'war against terrorism', Musharraf ascribes it to lack of
knowledge about the ground realities. He reiterates that
Pakistan's decision to support the global war against terror
was based on its own interests.
about the nuclear proliferation and the role of Dr Abdul
Qadeer Khan, or Dr AQ Khan, Musharraf says whatever he did was
his personal act, and the government was not aware of his
proliferation network. Dr AQ Khan was stripped off his post
and confined to his house after the network was unearthed. He
was interrogated, and details of his activities were shared
with the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA. In short it can be said
that it has been very helpful in dismantling the network, both
internationally and in Pakistan. But now some of the
allegations leveled against the nuclear scientist have been
debunked by his daughter Dina in her recent interview. It
would have been better had Musharraf not divulged so much
about Dr AQ Khan without thorough investigations.
nutshell the book is a great effort by President Pervez
Musharraf to remove some of the cobwebs spun by vested
interests on the face of Pakistan. It has also made it amply
clear that acts of terrorism have not only afflicted the
Western nations, but these have also wrought havoc in
Pakistan, and Islamabad in its own interest is determined to
eliminate the menace of terror.
Writings of Eqbal Ahmad
never got around to writing a book, so his Selected Writings
Press, 2006), with a preface by his close friend Noam Chomsky,
will make his writings more accessible. He was not just an
intellectual, but an activist, a comrade for those involved in
the human rights and peace movements in Pakistan and India. To
so many of us, he was always "just Eqbal". Always
courteous, he would listen attentively with genuine curiosity
to anyone, regardless of differences like age, status and
experience, and ask thought-provoking questions that provided
new insight. He
extended the same courtesy to those who opposed his
progressive, secular world view -- from military dictators to
religious extremists. Some criticised him for this -- there
are extremists among progressives too, who prefer not to hear
the other side.
Zia years, Eqbal was unable to return to Pakistan as he faced
treason charges punishable by death. He held prestigious
academic positions abroad, but found the forced exile
extremely painful. By the time he came home, after Zia's
death, he was already a legendary figure in Pakistan, anathema
to the establishment but embraced by human rights activists
and the intelligentsia.
friend the lawyer Reza Kazim in Lahore believes that the
shadow of sadness that crossed Eqbal's face in repose stemmed
from the early childhood trauma of his father being murdered
while Eqbal lay next to him, in their family home in Bihar,
India. There was also the trauma of migration in 1947 to
Pakistan. Eqbal was separated from them at Delhi. It was
rumoured that he had run off with a gun to fight for Kashmir's
liberation from India but Stuart Schaar says this was not
true. In any case, this first war between India and Pakistan
over Kashmir ended with a UN-brokered ceasefire that left
Kashmir as part of Indian territory -- and an ongoing dispute
that Eqbal likened to the question of Palestine, with its
roots in the history of colonialism and decolonisation.
alternatives he outlined in 1990 for India are still relevant:
continue the suppression "which would entail endless
brutalisation of Kashmir and of the Indian polity", blame
Pakistan and go to war ? which would not resolve the problem
-- or "recognise that the problem is political and its
solution can only be political which implies an absence of
war, an end to repression, and an admission of Kashmiri right
He was among
those who conceptualised and gave direction to the Pakistan
India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD)
established in 1994 to facilitate people-to-people dialogue
between ordinary Indians and Pakistanis. PIPFPD was the first
forum to articulate the formula that Kashmir is not a
territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, but a matter
of the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, who must
be included in any dialogue to resolve the issue ? a
formulation that has finally seeped into public discourse and
supported freedom struggles around the world. Fidel Castro
sent him Cuban cigars, but stopped when Eqbal continued to
argue for greater civil liberties and democracy. The Indian
historian Radha Kumar (who introduces the South Asian portion
of this book), says that Yasser Arafat showed her the chair
that Eqbal liked to sit in. This friendship too, dimmed when
Eqbal stuck to his stand for non-violent strategies and
dismissed Oslo as bringing unsustainable peace at the cost of
the Palestinian people.
He and six
other anti-Vietnam War activists were tried for conspiring to
kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow up federal buildings (the jury
declared a mis-trial in 1972 and the government eventually
dropped the case). While
still under trial in the USA, Eqbal criticized the Pakistan
government for the army aggression in then East Pakistan. Few
Pakistanis dared take this stand. His seminal 'Letter to a
Pakistani Diplomat' is reproduced in this collection. He
writes that he could not otherwise oppose American crimes in
Vietnam or India's occupation of Kashmir. He condemned the
Bengali nationalists' irresponsible acts but pointed out that
these could not be equated with those "of the government
and the criminal acts of an organised, professional
army." He clearly foresaw that "no genuine
restoration of civilian government will be possible until the
East Pakistanis were conceded their right to autonomy or even
secession." We all know how it ended. His words continue
to ring true for other military aggressions today.
Ahmad divided his time between America and Pakistan, teaching
at Hampshire College, writing a weekly newspaper column for
Dawn, participating in human rights and peace related efforts,
and working towards his dream, Khaldunia, a liberal arts
university in Pakistan that successive governments kept
blocking. His retirement ceremony at Hampshire College in 1997
drew a couple of thousand adherents. John Trumpbour of the
Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program says that
"more than the numbers, the more impressive thing was the
distance people came, and the distinguished intellectuals and
activists in attendance."
Eqbal Ahmad was part of the struggle against the "talibanisation"
of society and the use of religion for political purposes. His
articles on Jinnah predicted where the country was heading. He
articulated the essential link between the rule of law and a
country's stability, noting that Jinnah "did not lose
sight of this civic principle even in the darkest hours of
1947". He wrote against the infamous Hudood Ordinances of
1977 that criminalise adultery and make rape an offence in
which the survivor has to prove her innocence.
In 1998, he
blasted the BJP-led government for its nuclear tests and
argued that Pakistan need not follow suit. He was severely
disappointed when the Nawaz Sharif government gave in to
domestic political pressures and the severe provocation from
India, and turned the Chaghi mountains white.
diagnosed with cancer of the colon in May 1999, as both
countries geared up to celebrate their nuclear anniversaries.
He died just six days later, on the morning of May 11, the
anniversary of India's nuclear test.
lives on, in his writings, and in his memory. The Eqbal Ahmad
Foundation set up by his relatives and friends holds an annual
distinguished lecture series in Pakistan named for him.
Noam Chomsky addressed the series in November 2001, and
received standing ovations at each venue. Edward Said was to
address the series also but sadly, this could not happen.
banner of the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, Parvez Hoodbhoy and Zia
Mian made documentary films on the nuclear issue and on
Kashmir, opening discussion on subjects that were for long
practically taboo. A young computer professional Sabeen
Mahmood set up a website hosted free by Zaheer Kidvai's
organisation, www.bitsonline.net to archive Eqbal's writings
and other material. Many other human rights activists among
the younger generation continue to be inspired Eqbal Ahmad's
work. Oxford University Press in Pakistan published a
selection of his essays on South Asia (2004), edited by his
daughter Dohra Ahmad, nephew Iftikhar Ahmad, and Zia Mian. The
Columbia University Press publication adds to this essential
reading list, and is expected to be available in Pakistan and
India also. Hopefully, there will be translations in local
languages so that it reaches the maximum number of people.
of Middle East imbroglio
Myths About the Middle East
East political scenario is once again in the limelight due to
the immense response
after the election process by the Palestinian bourgeois cadre
that smoothly elevated Hamas, a synonym for Harkat al-Muqawama
al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, to power.
indisputably the most annoying factor in the history of
Israel's suppression of Palestinian people. Hence it
exasperates the curiosity of political philosophers to explore
the reasons vis-a-vis repercussions of the decade-old
controversial elements of the Middle East.
efforts have so far been made to bring peace to the region,
but without any tangible results. In the words of Voltaire
"tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they
support the laws before destroying them." In the case of
Palestinian peace process, the same philosophy is executed to
achieve the strategic geo-political superiority over the land.
the real socio-political scenario of the Middle East, writers
have contributed their liberal views at various stages. A
number of articles and books have been brought out for the
politically conscious people to judge the situation for
themselves. Books like Suicide in Palestine: Narratives of
Despair by Nadia Dabbagh, and Resurrecting Empire: Western
Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East by
Rashid Khalidi are some of these books that carry analytical
reviews on the Middle East situation to bring forward
practical approaches to resolve this lingering tug of war.
Halliday is the most recent addition to this constellation of
scholars. Halliday's earlier books Islam and the Myth of
Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East, Two
Hours That Shook the World: September 11, 2001 Causes and
Consequences have been acclaimed as highly readable by various
schools of thought.
of International Relations at the London School of Economics,
Halliday has authored several books, including The World at
2000, The Middle East in International Relations. A leading
authority on superpower relations, development issues, and the
Middle East, he is also a broadcaster, and writes regular
columns for opendemocracy.net.
evident from the title of the book, 'The 100 Myths About the
Middle East', it reflects the hundred most commonly
misconstrued socio-cultural, political, historical facts and
fallacies about the region. Besides, as the Middle East
controversy mainly lies in the religious factor, no other
faith has been misunderstood or rightly framed to advocate the
supremacy or inferiority of both the sides, ie Israel &
context, the book under review illuminates each case without
compromising its underlying complexities. Whether it is the
Israel-Palestine crisis, Iran-Iraq war, US-led Gulf
incursions, Afghan-Soviet conflict or other significant
milestones in the modern Middle East history each case is
scrutinised with persuasive conclusions. For the reader, it
would be easier to come to a conclusion about the ongoing
Middle East political horizon.
gained wide readership due to his simplicity or consistency
over a subject. His brilliant argumentative style of writing
in this book unfolds different views and angles of different
sects coexisting in the Middle East region.
A number of
radical reforms, road maps, declarations, and negotiation by
the United States and the United Nations have been made from
time to time for implemented initiatives to resolve the
controversial Middle East fiasco. From the Oslo Accord to Bill
Clinton's Camp David Accord in summer 2000, Madrid Conference
to Prince Abdullah peace plan; none has been worked out due to
the inflexible and inhuman policies of the Israeli government.
Identifying and later avoiding to address the root cause
behind the insecure Middle East region has actually delayed
the resolution of peace process where as focus is shifted to
the suicide bombing and its backing while ignoring the real
legal demand of Palestinians to have their immediate and
ultimate rule of law over the land of Palestine.
his book adopts the distinctly qualitative straightforward
approach to unfold the world's most tolerant religion of
Islam. This quality has actually compelled the reader from all
the sects to review their own perception under the provided
facts and philosophies.
Saudi Gazette "In this pithy book Halliday tackles most
of the myths in just one or two pages of tight argument."
Where as Jordan Times described the book as "fascinating
reading, challenging proverbial 'wisdom', pat answers and
politically motivated lies, he addresses 100 common
misconceptions about the Middle East and how the region
figures into US and European foreign policy."
100 myths, the religious philosophies are depicted very
carefully so that not to stir more confusion in confessing the
factual fragmentation of the holy land of Palestine.
politically fragile status quo of the Middle East, a balanced
and sober source is required to accelerate the peaceful
provisions in the region, whereas it is the sole
responsibility of political scholars and writers to bring
forward authentic analysis and ease the already jeopardised
security concerns that could ensure peaceful existence.
believe the book contains much information for a layman to
understand the real side of the Middle Eastern controversy,
hence no need for further study about what and where went
wrong that accelerated the socially insecure environment on
how strong measures could be applied to bring down the
mounting hostilities between Israel and the right wing
Palestinians, the solution lies entirely with the Israeli
authority to acknowledge the right of Palestinians to their
land. Unless Israel does not show flexibility theories would
remain fruitless. Whereas Palestinians' do-or-die philosophy
lies in the liberation from Jews' detonation, hence they would
employ all means to secure their legal right over their land.
Jefferson once said that "the execution of laws is more
important than the making them" nevertheless, dialogues
and mediations work only if there is a strong desire to
execute the mutual conception for lasting peace.
Muhammad Aslam Mir
Kashmir lawmaker paid gratitude to the government as well as
people of Pakistan for springing up to the distress call of
their Kashmiri brethren when a massive earthquake ravaged
parts of the North-West Frontier Province and the scenic state
of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on October 8, 2005.
indebted to the whole Pakistani nation and the international
community, which shared our grief and sorrow after last year's
catastrophic earthquake in which thousands of people were
killed, crippled, widowed or orphaned," said the member
Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, Abdul Majid Khan,
while speaking at the launching ceremony of 'Aur Zameen Phat
Gayi (And the Earth Split),' a book chronicling the horrendous
temblor, at Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Azad Kashmir.
Kashmiri nation is marking the first anniversary of the
horrific tremor that has changed the entire demography of this
erstwhile scenic state," he added.
however optimistic that they "would bring back smiles on
the faces of the earthquake survivors with the support of
President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz".
people of Azad Kashmir are faced with the gigantic task of
reconstruction and rehabilitation of the quake-devastated
areas, the determined people of the area would accomplish this
Herculean assignment with the help of governments of Pakistan
and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he hoped. "It is not easy to
remember our loved ones who perished in the earthquake but
this 'remembrance' guides us to starting our lives anew,"
book he said 'Aur Zameen Phat Gayi' is a highly commendable
effort to chronicle the pre- and post-earthquake history of
the devastated Himalayan state. Although the author, Muhammad
Luqman Chaudhry, is a disabled man, the book shows the
throbbing heart of Chaudhry, who was deeply moved by the
miseries of the quake-stricken people.
salute Chaudhry for exhaustively covering the relief
activities, the role of public, media, and national and
international NGOs, and the miseries of the victims. Besides,
his scholastic research on the earthquake from both Islamic
and scientific viewpoints lent authenticity to the book,"
suggested that the book, which contains authentic facts about
the tremor, be translated into other international languages,
so that the non-Urdu speaking reader could also know the
devastation caused by the deadly earthquake.
the occasion, prominent literati and noted poet from
Muzaffarabd, Mukhlas Wajdani, hailed Chaudhry's effort and
recommended the "useful book" to the students of
History and Geography. "Written in a simple and
easy-to-understand language, 'Aur Zameen Phat Gayi' shows how
the writer has tried to influence the general reader, and here
lies the uniqueness of this book," he opined.
co-author of the book, Muhammad Aslam Mir, gave a detailed
presentation on 'Aur Zameen Phat Gayi' and briefed the
audience about the objectives of bringing out this book. Mir
said Chaudhry has tried to make this book a source of
information for those who want to contribute to various
sectors of the rehabilitation and reconstruction process in
the quake-hit areas.
in-charge of the Press For Peace (PFP) Media Centre, Amiru Din
Mughal, presented the note of gratitude and thanked the
who represented the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) at
the ceremony, concluded the programme with Dua.