Pakistan: Now or Never?

Revenging al Libi’s death in Pakistan

February 29, 2008

Given the central role of the Wahhabi tradition in inspiring the Taliban and al Qaeda, it’s worth looking behind the scenes at the news that al Qaeda wanted revenge for the killing of Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan — in particular what exactly al Qaeda said about his death.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and the death of a general

February 28, 2008

The killing of the Pakistan army’s top medical officer this week was another reminder of the price being paid by the military in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. Lieutenant-General Mushtaq Ahmed Baig was the most senior army officer killed by militants to date.

from FaithWorld:

How should the media handle the Dutch anti-Koran film?

February 28, 2008

Geert Wilders, pictured during an interview with Reuters television in 2005Geert Wilders doesn't do things by halves. The anti-Koran film that this far-right politician has been working on in recent months will be finished very soon. He doesn't know if any Dutch broadcaster will touch it because of the controversy it has already stirred up. So he has arranged to have "Fitna" put out as a webcast as well. That should ensure that the film can be seen all around the world and not just in the Netherlands.

from FaithWorld:

Influential Muslim seminary brands terrorism un-Islamic

February 26, 2008

Darul Uloom Deoband, India/official photoOne of the most influential Islamic seminaries in one of the world's most populous Muslim states has issued an important statement denouncing terrorism as un-Islamic. The statement is all the more interesting for the fact that it comes from an institution often linked in the media to the Taliban. But the seminary is hardly known to non-Muslims and the country is not an Arab state, not even a real "Muslim country" as such. So the statement, which was backed by several thousand Islamic scholars, looks like it will end up like the tree that falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it. It got some good coverage in its home country (like here and here and here) , but little anywhere else.

Going after al Qaeda in Pakistan

February 25, 2008

Reports last week in the New York Times and the Washington Post about CIA operations against al Qaeda inside Pakistan — with or without the permission of the Pakistan government — have got everybody asking what exactly is going on. Let’s rewind and look at what the United States asked for immediately after 9/11 when it demanded President Pervez Musharraf’s cooperation in hunting down al Qaeda.

from FaithWorld:

Pakistan bucks apparent Islamist trend in elections

February 21, 2008

Pakistani voters in Karachi, 18 Feb. 2008/Athar HussainAn interesting thing happened in the Pakistani elections this week. A country where radical Islamism has been on the rise in recent years went to the polls and voted Islamists out of office. In North West Frontier Province (NWFP), the most "Talibanised" part of the country, an avowedly secular Pashtun party -- the Awami National Party -- emerged as the largest party by far. This bucks what seemed to be a trend in the Muslim world, i.e. the freer the election, the more chances the Islamists have. Think back to late 1991, when the Algerian military cancelled the run-off round of elections after the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) took a strong lead in the first round. In more recent years, elections in Egypt, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza have shown Islamists doing well at the polls. In a very different context, Turkey's "post-Islamist" AKP has gone from strength to strength thanks to the ballot box.

from FaithWorld:

Is it time to scrap the term “jihadist”?

February 21, 2008

Filipino Muslim shouts “jihad” at ant-U.S. protest, 9 Oct. 2001/stringerAt a conference on terrorism in Brussels this week, debate on how to tackle al Qaeda was punctuated by repeated arguments over the terms "jihad" and "jihadist".

Pakistan’s coalition of the unwilling

February 20, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari/Goran TomasevicThanks to readers for pointing out some great online debates on who is going to form the next government in Pakistan. 

Pakistan: Can America square the circle?

February 20, 2008

Scanning the U.S. media for reaction to the Pakistan election, two themes stand out.  One is a U.S. desire to reach out to the newly elected political leaders in Pakistan and bolster a return to civilian-led democracy. The other is the U.S. need to shore up the battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban — even if it means pursuing them aggressively inside Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.  One may turn out to contradict the other.

Pakistan election – what next for Musharraf?

February 19, 2008

President Musharraf votes/Reuters TVPresident Pervez Musharraf could hardly have found a better way of convincing the world about his commitment to holding a “free and fair” election in Pakistan — by letting his own allies in the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) be defeated at the polls.