Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
The minute I entered the elegant book-lined club in central London where Pervez Musharraf was about to launch his political career, it was clear who was to dominate the proceedings - Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam, Founder of the Nation, Father of Pakistan. In his trademark peaked Jinnah cap, it was his photo alone which was hanging prominently on the platform where the former military ruler was to speak; and his photo on the little entrance ticket they gave you to get past security.
It was his spirit which was invoked even in the name of Musharraf's political party -- his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) was a deliberate echo of the pre-independence All India Muslim League, through which Jinnah created the state of Pakistan in 1947.
It was Jinnah's speech of August 11, 1947 that Musharraf cited as one of the guiding principles of the APML, with its most famous lines: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State."
Musharraf quoted a verse too from Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher who imagined Pakistan as a place where what he saw as the true spirit of Islam -- equality, peace and justice -- would flourish. And it was to that idealistic vision that Musharraf appealed when he promised to fight poverty and corruption, end the domination of the feudal elite, and bring true freedom and economic well-being to the poor masses of Pakistan.
If you listened to some of the rhetoric in the lead-up to Thursday’s conference on Afghanistan in London and followed the coverage accompanying it, you would think it is a meeting of the victors of war.
Here we are, at a meeting attended by representatives from more than 50 countries, offering the Taliban a chance for peace before the “surge” of 30,000 additional U.S. troops hits them. They better grasp it before the tide turns decisively against them, seems to be the message. Host British Prime Minister Gordon, according to this report, vowed to “split the Taliban” while offering them a full part in the rebuilt Afghanistan if they united behind the government in Kabul.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
In the absence of a coherent narrative about the failed Christmas Day attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the debate about how best to tackle al Qaeda and its Islamist allies has once again been thrown wide open.
Does it support those who want more military pressure to deprive al Qaeda of its sanctuary on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, or suggest a more diffuse threat from sympathisers across Europe, the Middle East and Africa? Should the United States open new fronts in emerging al Qaeda bases such as Yemen and Somalia, or focus instead on the fact that the attempted airline attack did not succeed, suggesting al Qaeda's ability to conduct mass-casualty assaults on U.S. territory has already been severely degraded in the years since 9/11?