New strategy for Afghanistan?

31 08 2009

General Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan has called for a ‘tweaking’ in the Afghan policy. The General does not want any new troops as he thinks that the current policy is flawed. Instead, he thinks that the strengthening of Afghan Army and Police would be sufficent to counter Taliban threat. Read the rest of this entry »


Americans donating, Pakistanis laughing

13 06 2009

Pakistan government has announced its federal budget for the fiscal year 2009-2010. The Rs. 2.482 trillion budget (roughly around $36.1 billion) will be mostly spent on defense expenditures and debt servicing. Major chunk of defense expenditures are aimed at preparing the country for a war against India. This is despite the fact that the country faces real insurgency from Talibans and India is not even a threat anymore.

The most surprising and shocking aspect of this budget is the expenditure on education and health. The government has allocated only $90 million for health and $300 million for education. Isn’t that really shameful? We could have said that it depends on their national priorities and we should not interfere but there is a solid reason not to think on those lines.

United States is giving more than $1.5 billions in annual aid to Pakistan. Congress approved this deal only after getting assurances that the money will be spent on health, education and infrastructure development. Now just compare the $390 million to $1.5 billion. It is not even peanuts and that is really shameful.

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia

3 06 2009

So the American king (elected) is finally meeting with the Saudi king and princes (hereditary). Obama’s first visit to the Middle East is mired in controversy. As I mentioned in my last post, most Arabs are not happy with their autocratic monarchs and pseudo-democratic dictators. They need a change and this change can only be brought if the US is ready to help them.

We are still waiting for the message that Obama is delivering to the Middle East Muslims. There is an increasing tension with Israel and Iran is also giving the US a real tough time. Under these circumstances, Obama cannot appease both parties. Walking on a thin line, on the other hand, is also not the best option.

So let’s see the developments his visit will bring t0 the region. We are keeping our fingers crossed and will post a relevant analysis after some days.

Tablighi Jamaat: A missionary organization or?

28 05 2009

Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) is a very popular Islamic missionary organization working in South Asia. Now almost a century old, TJ functions as an essentially missionary organization trying to impart knowledge of ‘real Islam’ to Muslims and non-Muslims. The core focus of this organization is to educate the world about the basic components of Islam and to promote ‘Islamic’ living.

Besides working on that primary objective, the Jamaat is also known for its rather moderate approach towards Jihad. Apparently, it has no links with the Jihadis and Al-Qaeda as, according to its principles, Jihad can only be waged by an Islamic government, not individuals.

Despite this thinking, TJ is not completely free of Jihadists. As a matter of fact, Jihadis take TJ as the first step towards militancy. In the Taliban stronghold, TJ was very popular. Many of Taliban leaders took some lessons from the Jamaat.

So we need to know more about TJ. In the next post, I will try to come up with the working of TJ and its alleged links with terrorist organizations.

Islamic fascists targeting Pakistani women

22 05 2009

“The situation is Pakistan is deteriorating day by day and Taliban can soon invade Islamabad”. You must have heard this statement thousands of times. Though Pakistani military and political establishment denies this fact, the situation is actually worse than what is reported in western media. Taliban insurgency – that also has support from some elements of Pakistani spy agencies – is making its way through the common Pakistani society.

Pakistani society, that was once known to be a follower of Sufism, is turning towards the militant version of Islam. The urban lower middle class of Pakistan is fast becoming a hostage to Islamic fascists. In recent years, numerous Islamic organizations have been set up. Most of these cater to average Pakistani urban women. These women, who have got some education and can influence others, regularly visit gatherings where they ‘learn’ about the actual Islam.

Most of these gatherings are arranged by the women wing of radical Jamaat-e-Islami (that also has links with Al-Qaeda). There are other parties as well like Hizb-ut-Tehreer and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations. These entities, with direct interests in militancy, have adopted a new method to boost their outreach to common Pakistanis. They are targeting women as they find it easy to ‘brainwash’ an illiterate or semi-literate Pakistani female who is totally dependent on her male relatives for sustenance.

A typical congregation of women would start with a lecture on basic teachings of Islam. This, however, soon changes into an America bashing exercise. Using distorted definitions of Islam, these women are encouraged to model their lives as per Islamic teachings. The focus always remains on Jihadist tendencies. “Send your children to fight the evil Americans”; “West is behind all our problems” and “Boycott the use of American and Jewish products” is what you will hear in these congregations.

And they have gained currency with average Pakistani women. These gatherings, mostly held on a weekly basis, attract thousands of women. Some of these organizations also help the participants by teaching them skills like sewing and embroidery and thus attract a large number of poverty-stricken women.

This mass infiltration is going on without any checks. These organizations draw their funding from rich and mostly corrupt Pakistanis with some funds coming from overseas. The popularity of these extremist organizations is really alarming. Almost all Pakistani women now wear hijab as they are taught that traditional Pakistani dress is un-Islamic. Most also shun the western products, terming them as Jewish and Pro-Israeli. Those totally brainwashed are even ready to send their sons to fight ‘nasty’ Americans and Western ‘infidels’.

What Pakistani government is doing? Unfortunately, the weak and corrupt Pakistani government and politicians have lost their ground in urban areas of Pakistan. People are fed up with corrupt politicians and this void is being filled by militant organizations. The war against extremism is far complex than it seems. It is possible that Pakistani forces claim some victory in recent offensive but an army of young and brainwashed boys is ready to replace the current Taliban. And their mothers are fully supporting them.

The biggest threat to United States and European countries is the fact that some of these organizations have strong organizational base in some countries. This can be verified by visiting any local mosque in Birmingham, Cologne or Paris. In New York, areas with high concentration of Muslims, like Brighton Beach, have some elements that sympathize with these organizations. The battle against Islamic extremism cannot be won if the US and European countries turn a blind eye to their own backyard.

The need of the hour is to chart out a new strategy for the Muslim world. President Obama is pressing congress to approve billions in aid to Pakistan. The country definitely needs some assistance but it should not be given as a charity without any checks. Instead of stuffing the coffins of corrupt government, direct assistance to organizations working for literacy and public health would be a better option. Pakistani society is a hostage to terrorists and militant organizations. US should not allow the descent of Pakistani society into total chaos even if it entails a direct attack. A country with over 100 nuclear bombs (with many under production) and a corrupt and weak government requires special attention.

The confusing tactics of Islamic fascists 1

14 05 2009

Just visit a mosque in Iran, Pakistan, Egypt or Indonesia. I am not talking about the huge mosques in state capitals but a common neighborhood Islamic center. The first thing you will notice is a strong sense of anti-Americanism. Whether you sit in the traditional Islamic gatherings or listen to Friday sermons, a hatred against America is pretty evident.

The thought that instantly comes in one’s mind is why traditional Islamic mosques are a bastion for extremism? The answer lies in the training and environment of Islamic seminaries.

Islamic madressahs — most are housed in cramped buildings in slums and villages — are the breeding grounds for extremism. As the New York Times recently reported, madresshas offer a very narrow-minded approach in teaching. Pakistani society/government remained the biggest supporter of Madressah education and now bearing the  ‘fruits’ of this support.

In my next post on this series, I will try to dig deeper into the dynamics of Madresshas and mosques.