Thursday, May 31, 2007

Summary of Pakistan's Implosion - What of the Sikhs?

I've written several times and highlighted several times the continuing decline of Pakistan as a civil society. I foresee a Talibanization occurring there and am not the only one. The article below is picked up from the Western Resistance blog where it was reproduced from Family Security Matters.

This is a very nice summary of the current destabilization and implosion that is occurring there. My question in the past has been, without any answer, 'What becomes of the Sikhs and their religious places?' .

Do the Sikhs become dhimmis and pay jizya? Will Sikhs be allowed to visit their religious and historical places of worship?

The government of Pakistan has for some time now been trying to expand the religious tourism and interest of Sikhs in Sikh religious sites in Pakistan. Will that continue?

Someone in Sikh leadership circles has to start asking questions and an action plan needs to be put in place to ensure the following:

1. Sikhs will not be subject to Jizya or dhimmi status, and

2. Sikhs will enjoy full rights to take care of and use Sikh religious and historical places as Sikhs see fit, without interference of any kind.

See below for the article outlining the current state of Pakistan. Please visit the original article at Western Resistance to follow the links embedded inside the article. I've inserted the links for you to follow to the articles at WR, which further links to Family Security Matters.
Pakistan: Islamist Crisis Deepens - Part 1 (of 2)

Author & Pig

This article by Adrian Morgan (Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance) appeared earlier today in Family Security Matters and is reproduced with their permission.

Pakistan: An Ally's Crisis Deepens

Part One (of Two)

Hafsa Women

In April I described the mounting crisis that was then starting to engulf Pakistan (parts one, two and three). At that time there were problems with Islamist radicals in Islamabad, the capital, protests across the country from lawyers against Predisent Musharraf, and in North-West Frontier Province the Pakistani Taliban were flexing their muscles and intimidating those not deemed "Islamic" enough. In all these areas the problems remain, but they have become worse.

The Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad has a compound containing two madrassas (Islamic seminaries), called the Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia. Students from these seminaries had occupied the only children's library in the capital since January. The head imam at the Lal Masjid, Abdul Aziz, had threatened that any interference with his students would be met with a campaign of suicide attacks across Pakistan. Many of his students came from the troubled North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) which borders Afghanistan, and while the Lal Masjid students attacked stores selling Western DVDs and CDs in the capital, similar actions were being taken in NWFP.

On March 26, students had kidnapped three women and a six month old child, and held them hostage, tied up with rope. The kidnap victims were accused of running a brothel and were only released three days later when they publicly recanted their "immoral behavior". On March 27, when police tried to arrest two female madrassa teachers as they went to work, armed students kidnapped two policemen. The policemen were released the following day. In April, the Lal Masjid established a "sharia court" in the complex.

Nilofar jump

On April 9, the first fatwa of the Lal Masjid sharia court was issued - targeting a woman member of the government. Tourism minister Nilofar Bakhtiar was accused of "lewd conduct", after she had been photographed being hugged by a paragliding instructor in Paris. Ms Bakhtiar had been raising money for victims of the earthquake of October 8, 2005, which had killed thousands. On May 20 Bakhtiar succumbed to pressure and resigned as tourism minister. She had been forced to resign from her post as head of the women's league within her party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), earlier in the month and had also received death threats.

Negotiations were made with the Lal Masjid leaders by politician Chaudry Shujaat Hussain, at the behest of President Musharraf, but the mosque leaders refused to tone down their public demands for nationwide sharia law. Threats of suicide attacks continue to be made. The Lal Masjid has 2,500 students at two madrassas - the Jamia Hafsa and the Jamia Fareedia. In 2005, after the London 7/7 bombings, there was a crackdown on extreme madrassas. The Lal Masjid showed then that it would react violently to interference from the authorities. When police tried to enter the mosque complex (without removing their shoes) there were violent clashes, in which 35 girl students were injured.


On Friday, May 18, four policemen were kidnapped by students from the mosque complex as an act of retaliation for the arrests of 27 students. Two policemen were released the following day, but the other two were kept inside the complex. On Thursday May 24, the remaining officers were escorted from the building (pictured) by Abdul Rashid Ghazi, one of the two cleric brothers who run the complex. Ghazi said: "We have released the two policemen on Islamic and humanitarian grounds because their relatives came to us with requests to free them. We are not cruel people like the government. None of them contacted us for negotiations, nor did they release our remaining students."

All four kidnapped officers claimed that weapons were being held inside the mosque complex. The authorities had been planning an operation to storm the complex, and to this end had drafted in 10,000 police constables from Punjab province. This action was conducted in a haphazard manner, with some officers sent to Islamabad on only an hour's notice. When they arrived at the capital, no accommodation had been made for them, and many were forced to sleep rough. Some had been housed at local mosques, but had been ejected when clerics learned that they were to be involved in a storming of the Lal Masjid complex.

On the night of Saturday May 26, half of the Punjabi police left the capital. A group of 2,200 Punjabi police had taken up residence in the Pakistan Sports Complex last week, against the wishes of the center's administrators, who accused the police of vandalism. Doors of some rooms and toilets had been broken down, and water pumps and chairs at the main Jinnah Stadium had been vandalized. 5,000 police reservists remain in the capital, and police chiefs claim that the storming of the Lal Masjid has only been postponed, not cancelled.

On Friday, May 25, Maulana Abdul Aziz, the senior cleric at the Lal Masjid announced that his students would attack shops selling audio CDs and videos unless these stores were closed. He said: "Our students can attack these outlets anytime because the deadline given to their owners had already passed."

The deputy secretary of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the coalition of Islamist parties with 66 members sitting in the parliament, accused Musharraf of deliberately manipulating the Lal Masjid situation. Liaquat Baloch claimed that the issue was being exploited to draw attention away from the other problems in the country.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), headed by exiled former rime minister Benazir Butto, has made similar claims. The PPM spokesman said: "The situation in Islamabad is all contrived. The government wants to tell the west that Pakistan is in danger of being taken over by Islamists."

The MMA has been involved in demonstrations by members of the judiciary against the government, but its aims are ultimately the same as those of the Lal Masjid - to enforce Sharia law throughout the country. Both the MMA and the Lal Masjid members support the Taliban. Earlier in May, the MMA had introduced a proposed bill to the National Assembly, called the Apostasy Act. Under the terms of this bill, any person who left Islam for another faith would be subjected to draconian punishments - death for a man, and life imprisonment for a woman. In addition, anyone convicted under this proposed law would lose legal custody of their children, and have their land and property confiscated. The draft bill was approved by the Assembly. Additionally, a law to water down Pakistan's blasphemy laws was rejected by the parliament.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws are deliberately exploited to discriminate against minority groups. These rules were introduced in 1986 by the Islamist military dictator General Zia ul-Haq. Article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) stipulates that anyone who insults prophet Mohammed can receive the death penalty. Originally, judges had the option to impose a death sentence or life imprisonment, but in the early 1990s, the law was altered so that the death penalty was mandatory for breaches of Article 295-C.

Article 295-B of the blasphemy laws maintains that anyone who "defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom" shall receive life imprisonment. Once accused of blasphemy, there is no possibility of bail - the person is automatically held in custody until the trial is concluded. False accusations, particularly against minorities such as the Ahmadi sect of Islam and Christians, proliferate. In April an 11-year old boy was among five Christians detained under Article 295-B.

In Lahore in Punjab province, a 79-year old Christian is currently facing the death penalty, after his neighbors who run the Jamil Mosque accused him of insulting Mohammed and burning the Koran. The mosque members took over Walter Fazal Khan's property and turned it into a madrassa. Mr Khan's 84-year old wife Gladys has been forcibly converted to Islam. She has been so traumatized by the experience that she is in hospital, unable to talk. Such abuses of the blasphemy laws and attacks upon Christians have recently escalated. On May 10 Christians living in Charsadda in North-West Frontier Province received letters, giving them a one-week deadline to convert to Islam.

The demonstrations by lawyers began in March after Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry from his post in the Supreme Court, accusing him of misuse of power. These have continued, assisted by the MMA and other opposition parties. On May 24, effigies of Musharraf were burned in Dera Ghazi Khan in North-West Frontier Province. The leaders of the Lal Masjid also support the suspended Chief Justice. Abdul Rashid Ghazi said: "We have sympathy for the chief justice's plight, which is because of the system that has allowed Musharraf to do this kind of thing. The man who is meant to give justice to the people is begging for justice himself."

Chaudhry responded on Saturday May 26 to Musharraf's accusations in a speech that was broadcast on television. He did not mention the president by name, but said: "Abuse of power often occurs in a system of governance where there is centralisation of all power in one person." He claimed that the judiciary was a "bulwark against abuse of power". When the judiciary upholds laws that blatantly discriminate against citizens, Chaudhry's defense of the legal process in Pakistan sounds hollow.

Altaf Hussain

There are two large parties in Pakistan's National Assembly which support President Musharraf - the PML-Q which was established by the president in 2001, and the MQM - the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. MQM has 48 seats in the National Assembly. The MQM was established in 1978 in Karachi, largest city in Pakistan, in Sindh province in the southeast of the country. Though avowedly secular, and an advocate of equal rights for women, the party has been linked to acts of terrorism and violence in Karachi. The party's leader, 53-year old Altaf Hussain, has been based in Edgeware in northwest London since 1992. He claims to live in Britain because of fears of assassination in Pakistan. He has been granted British citizenship.

On May 12, there were riots in Karachi, in which up to 40 people were said to have been killed. The riots happened after Hussain ordered his supporters in the city to support Musharraf's decision to suspend Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry. Supporters of Benazir Bhutto's PPP, clashed with MQM members, and shots were fired. The rioting lasted for an hour. MQM was condemned by the PPP and also the Islamist parties of the MMA for instigating the rioting. Mohammed Anwar, the London-based senior coordinator of MQM stated: "We were the only party in the city that had permission from the authorities to hold a rally in the city on Saturday, so why would we shoot out own supporters?" He blamed the MMA and PPP for starting the violence, saying: "It is the death squads of these parties who were responsible for the carnage, and nothing to do with MQM."

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), a party founded by cricketer and former playboy Imran Khan, announced its intention to sue the British government for "harboring" the leader of the MQM. A coalition of opposition parties, including the PTI, PPP and MMa announced that they would be making a legal challenge against Blair's decision to grant Altaf Hussain citizenship. The head of the MMA, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, has demanded that Altaf Hussain be extradited to Pakistan. It should be noted that Qazi Hussain Ahmad is a suporter of the Taliban and has frequently praised Osama bin Laden. The MQM released a video last week, apparently showing PPP guards opening fire on demonstrators.

Altaf Hussain stands by his support of the President. He said: "Because of activities next door in Afghanistan as well as our own country, the Taliban is growing very strong. He is doing his level best to fight these groups. Musharraf is a very brave man. Only he can prevent the Talibanization of Pakistan."

The internal intrigues of the squabbling factions within the National Assembly are insignificant compared to the very real threat of the country descending into the clutches of a Taliban-style regime. The march of Islamization is quickening its step, assisted by a general dissatisfaction with Musharraf.

On Wednesday May 23, a report by the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity announced that of all the countries in the "war on terror" alliance, Pakistan was the largest recipient of funds, gaining about $200 million per quarter. The Coalition Support Fund donated more than $3 billion to Pakistan between 2002 and 2006.

There may be reasons to question the size of these sums, but as Pakistan is a nuclear power, the need to keep the nation out of the clutches of Islamofascists is paramount. As I will describe in Part Two, even though Musharraf has made moves to counteract the threat of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the threat of large parts of the nation being taken over by the current movements for Talibanization is becoming increasingly real.

Here's Part Two from Western Resistance...

Pakistan: Islamist Crisis Deepens - Part 2 (of 2)

Pakistan: An Ally's Crisis Deepens

Baluchistan map

Pakistan's 1,500 mile border with Afghanistan is rugged and mountainous, and for the tribal peoples living alongside it, the border is porous. The border, or "Durand Line", was artificially created in 1893 by the British more as a cartographic exercise than anything taking into consideration the ethnicity of the region. Pashtuns live in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Taliban fighters frequently cross over this border with impunity.

Two provinces lie alongside the border - North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan (Balochistan). The latter province also lies alongside Iran, and is rich in oil and gas. Since 2004, there has been an insurgency in this region, led mainly by the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) which was formed in the 1970s. Bugti tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti led this group until he was killed in a shootout with government forces on August 26 last year. The insurgency in Baluchistan has been driven more by financial reasons than religious ones. The local people feel they have not benefited from the revenue made from the oil and gas fields.

The BLA was banned in April last year by the Pakistani government, which denounced it as a terrorist organization. The group has committed atrocities against civilians in Quetta and against military personnel, but most of its targets have been the gas and power networks in the region. Bombings and attacks continue in the region. On the night of Sunday May 27. A bomb was placed in a parking lot of a state-owned gas company office complex in Quetta, killing a security guard and injuring another. The following day, three laborers were injured in six blasts around Quetta.

The Baluchistan insurgency seems less of a threat to the stability of the nation than the Islamist anarchy which has spread from NWFP, where the Pakistani "Taliban" has established itself. In September 2006, General James Jones, then NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, claimed that the Taliban was headquartered in or around Quetta in Baluchistan. Pakistan has denied this. In 2004, the Pakistan army moved against NWFP tribal leaders who were openly supporting Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban who were based in the tribal agency of North Waziristan in NWFP. The mission failed to gain control of the region, and led to local dissent against the federal authorities.

NWFP map

North Waziristan is one of seven "Federally Administrated Tribal Areas" (FATA) within NWFP. These are still governed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) deriving from 1901, when the region was part of British India, states a December 2006 report by the International Crisis Group, entitled "Pakistan's Tribal Areas - Appeasing the Militants. ICG suggests that since 2004, the Pakistan authorities have resorted to peace deals and treaties with tribal leaders, rather than establish real control of the region. Although 70,000 troops have remained posted near the border, and outside journalists are denied entry to the FATA territories, Musharraf's authority here is insignificant. Deals made with groups that resent "alien" Pakistani authority have not brought any positive results.

At the end of 2005, it became clear that "Taliban" influence was becoming officially established in the agencies of North and South Waziristan, described earlier in FSM. By March 2006, the local "Taliban" ruled South Waziristan and had established a sharia court in Wana, the agency's capital. More than 120 clerics and tribal elders had been killed in the year leading up to this takeover. An official accord was signed with tribal leaders of North Waziristan on September 5 last year, but did not stop the cross-border activities of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In April, Uzbek radicals who had been part of the Talibanization of Waziristan were ousted by local Taliban. These "internal" conflicts appear to have been replaced by drives to impose strict Islamist principles in NWFP. In late April 32-year old Mullah Nazir, one of the South Waziristan Taliban leaders who had been involved in removing the Uzbeks' control declared that he would shelter Osama bin Laden if the Al Qaeda leader wished. On Saturday, May 5, 200 Taliban in Bajaur agency forced cars to stop, smashing their cassette players.

On May 6 the prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, refused to rule out having a state of emergency declared. He said that the constitution allowed for such a measure to be taken. On the same day a member of the PPP party was shot dead in NWFP, and the outlawed Lashkar-e-Islam staged a rally in Khyber agency, NWFP. This group had earlier demanded sharia law be imposed in villages in the agency, and its leader Mangal Bagh had presided over a public stoning in March.

AQ Khan

On May 7, US media reported that the US had concerns that nuclear technology could fall into Al Qaeda hands. Such a scenario could happen in the event of an Islamist coup. In February 2004, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted on TV that he had supplied nuclear technology and information to Libya, Iran and North Korea. Khan's illegal acquiring of nuclear technology had led to Pakistan's first nuclear tests which took place in Chagai, Baluchistan on May 28, 1998. Within days of his confession, Khan was pardoned by Musharraf for sharing nuclear technology. The fruits of his treachery led to the regime in North Korea detonating its first nuke on October 9 last year.

On May 14, prime minister Shaukat Aziz declared that there was no need to impose a state of national emergency. Lawyers in NWFP also ordered that if any members of the secular MQM party, which supports Musharraf, should enter the region, they should be shot on sight.

The government prepared for a crackdown on the outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (TNSM) in Swat district, NWFP. This extreme Islamist group had threatened on March 25 to launch suicide attacks across Pakistan if their jailed leader Maulana Sufi Muhammad was not released within days. Tis individual claimed to have recruited 10,000 jihadists to join the Afghan Taliban in 2001.

The following day the military was attacked with grenades in Tank district, NWFP. A soldier was killed and military personnel and civilians were injured. In Punjab province, four members of the al-Qaeda linked Zafar group were arrested in Lahore.

On May 19, nine government officials were kidnapped in North Waziristan agency, NWFP. Six of these were women. Two days later, Taliban members in Lakki Marwat district, southern NWFP, kidnapped a member of the Ahmadi sect, which is regarded by Islamists as "heretical".

On Monday May 21, Mangal Bagh, the head of Lashkar-e-Islami ordered on FM radio that a tribal journalist in Khyber agency, Nasrullah Afridi, should be killed. Later that day a music shop was blown up in the home village of the federal interior minister, in NWFP.

On Monday May 21, the US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher praised the successes of the Pakistan military in repelling Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives along the Durand line. He said: "They've had 80,000 troops in that (border) area who’ve been active and I would say, for the last six months they’ve been increasingly active in preventing infiltration across the border, disrupting and arresting Taliban and supporting tribal leaders who are trying to expel foreign militants." The next day, an Al Qaeda camp in Zargarkhel village in North Waziristan was attacked by troops, backed up by helicopter gunships. Four al Qaeda members were killed in the operation.

On Thursday May 24 a committee of tribal elders in North Waziristan resigned. These individuals had the responsibility to ensure that the peace deals of the accord of September 5 were followed. They resigned in protest at the killing of four people in the military attack on Zargarkhel village. On the same day in Islamabad, the capital, the deputy leader of the Lal Masjid warned Musharraf that a Taliban opposition was growing to challenge his rule. Abdul Rashid Ghazi said: "If the government tries to suppress the change that our movement is demanding, then there is a likelihood of Talibanization. I can see it happening."

Major General Waheed Arshad, a senior spokesman for the ISI, claimed that support for the Taliban was coming "from a tiny minority". He said that fencing of the Durand line was going ahead, and the first 20 miles of this fencing would be erected along the border of Afghanistan and North and South Waziristan.

In Tank district, seven rockets were fired at a paramilitary fort, without injuries. On Friday, May 25, tribal elders in Mohmand Agency refused to take part in a jirga, or tribal council. The jirga was to have been held to unite elders in condemnation of the Taliban, but the participants feared "target-killings" like those which happen frequently in Waziristan.

On Saturday May 26, three soldiers were killed in Tank after a bomb attack on their convoy. Seven other soldiers were injured. On the same day, the home of Nasrullah Afridi, the journalist who had been subjected to a death fatwa from the Lashkar-e-Islami, was attacked. Three grenades were thrown, but no-one was injured. On the same day in Darra Adam Khel in NWFP, music and video shops were warned to cease their "unIslamic" activities.

On Monday, May 28 two soldiers were killed in Tank by a suicide bomber who rammed an explosives-laden car into their convoy.

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over the issue of Kashmir for years, and Pakistan has allowed groups that support Indian Kashmir secede from Delhi's control to function unimpeded within its borders. Since 2003, there have been attempts between the two nations to resolve their differences. There are about 20 groups who support secession of Jammu and Kashmir state from India, and several of these are headquartered in Pakistan, such as Harkatul Mujahideen, Jamat ud-Dawa which is led by Hafiz Mohammed Saeed (who also founded the terror group Lashkar -e-Taiba), and also the group known as Hizbul Mujahideen. The latter group is headed by Syed Salahuddin, who also controls an alliance of separatist groups called the United Jihad Council (UJC).

Kashmir map

Pakistani Kashmir, according to a recent EU report entitled "Kashmir: Present situation and Future Prospect", is certainly not a place of freedom. The author, Baroness Emma Nicholson described the two Pakistan-controlled Kashmiri regions of Gilgit and Baltistan as "black holes". In these regions, human rights violations flourish. The report was condemned by Pakistan's ambassador to the EU as lacking objectivity, but Baroness Nicholson insisted that on October 26, 1947 the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, had clearly spelled out his reasons for his state becoming a part of India, rather than Pakistan. Nicholson described Pakistani Kashmir as being "in chains".

Gilgit is in the north of PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) is 60% Shia, and in the past the Pakistan army has colluded with extremist Sunni groups, including the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, to oppress the Shia population.

The crisis within Pakistan is between secularism and Islamism, federalism and tribalism. The Lal Masjid, based in the Aapara district in the heart of the capital though with a large student intake from NWFP and links with mosques throughout Pakistan, highlights the tensions within the nation as a whole. Members of Pakistan's secret service, the ISI, have been worshippers at the Lal Masjid. One former ISI member, Khalid Khawaja, is currently in jail for fomenting the anarchy of the mosque students. In the past ISI has been responsible for coup attempts. Musharraf, as head of the army, can withstand a coup as long as he is supported by the military.

One retired general, Talat Masood, recently claimed that Musharraf has lost control of the government. On Saturday May 26 Musharraf warned that religious extremism was threatening the stability of the nation.

On the same day, the US warnedits citizens not to travel to Pakistan, on account of intelligence which suggested that Western interests in the nation were due to be attacked. The US Embassy in Lahore warned: "American citizens should avoid areas where Westerners are known to congregate, vary their routes and times, and maintain a low profile. We remind American citizens that protests and demonstrations may occur throughout Pakistan without prior notice and to avoid all demonstrations and protests."

Musharraf is an ally of the West, but he alone cannot stem the tide of religious fundamentalism which is aiming to engulf the nation. Should Pakistan fall to the Islamists there is no knowing what will happen to the nation's nuclear arsenal. In the face of Islamofascism, there are few safeguards to maintain rights and freedoms for minorities. Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis have been treated so poorly under successive Pakistani regimes and their forcibly-imposed regulations that many have fled. The suspended Chief Justice Iftikar M Chaudhry is parading himself on public tours around the country, and claiming that the rule of law is important. When this same judge, supported by the Islamists who wish to tear down the government, upholds a legal system which still blatantly discriminates against women and non-Muslims, then Pakistan is truly in a deep crisis. Musharraf may have his faults, but Pakistan without his influence could easily succumb to the process of Talibanization.

Adrian Morgan

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