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Wake up Pakistan ! Presently the Muslim societies are in a state of ideological confusion and flux. Materialism, terrorism,...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The madressah factor

PAKISTAN’S madressah sector is increasingly being seen as a critical factor in the pervading insecurity in the country, particularly after the announcement of the National Action Plan. The fact is reflected in the decision taken by the Islamabad administration to close madressahs situated near Parade Avenue for one week on the eve of the March 23 military parade. According to media reports, the decision was taken on the advice of intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, the government is making only half-hearted efforts to reform the madressah sector which also lack the required security perspective. It has yet to convene meetings of the two madressah reform committees set up by the federal interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, last month.

Those at the helm of madressah affairs are well aware that the state has no vision, policy or strategy to deal with them. The government does not even have an authentic database or account of religious schools in Pakistan. Fully exploiting this gap, the madressah administrators and clergy are providing an exaggerated account of madressahs in the country. They have recently revised their previous claim of 22,000 to tell us that there are 40,000 madressahs in Pakistan.

A study of education and militancy in Pakistan, conducted by the Washington-based Brookings Institution a few years ago, found that there is a small proportion of students who attend religious seminaries full time. It argued that as madressahs account for only a tiny fraction of student enrolment, they can hardly pose a major obstacle to high-quality education and stability in Pakistan. According to the study, government schools still cater to 64-67pc of education requirements, though the quality of education is poor. Meanwhile 29-33pc children study in private schools and only 7pc are enrolled in madressahs. Some religious scholars estimate the total number of madressahs in Pakistan, including those with fewer students, as being not more than 10,000. The study, however, did not find any specific link between militancy and the madressah sector in Pakistan.

The state has no vision, policy or strategy to deal with the madressah sector.
It is interesting to note that the madressah sector attracts huge amounts of charity compared to its size. Where does this money go? One answer is that these funds are helping the madressah sector ‘encroach’ upon the mainstream or formal education sector. A few religious parties and big madressahs have established what they call ‘modern Islamic schools’. It is not clear if the government conceives the mainstreaming of madressahs in a similar manner.

While we know a lot about ghost schools in Sindh, there is no attempt to investigate the madressahs that only exist on paper or whose signboards we see along the highways. Indeed, there are many ghost madressahs in the country that are only used by ‘unknown’ people for the purpose of raising funds.

The expansion of the madressah sector in Pakistan has followed two distinct patterns. Large madressahs are located in commercial and industrial zones of the country, while comparatively smaller ones are situated along the main highways. Easy availability of funds is the obvious attraction offered by these locations. Most madressahs along major highways are located near bus stops or small highway suburbs, and these make announcements asking for donations all day long. As far as foreign funding to madressahs is concerned, a major chunk of it goes to the big madressahs chains. Therefore, it is not difficult for the state to track the foreign sources of funding to madressahs.

Despite all the hype about the increase in their numbers, madressahs face challenges in terms of enrolment. The number of local students is still low even in big madressahs. Madressah students mainly hail from poverty-stricken or conflict-hit areas of the country.

Another aspect of the madressah sector is its exploitation by the religious elite who tend to use madressahs as their political constituency and source of strength and power. The religious elite resist any action against madressahs, in the belief that it will create resentment and build internal pressure on them.

Interestingly, although they give an impression that there is complete unity and harmony amongst them at the institutional level this is not true. One example is the attempts at internal reform in madressahs, which have not been a smooth and uniform process. Madressahs are like private enterprises with their principals or administrators exercising a great deal of freedom and authority. Even their respective educational boards, or wafaqs, cannot intervene. The educational boards are responsible only for holding examinations in the affiliated madressahs.

Madressahs deem themselves to be the protectors of Islam, or at least their own brand of Islam. They disagree with the notion that they are encouraging extremism in any form. In a survey conducted by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, 79pc of madressah teachers denied any link between madressahs and extremism and emphasised the distinction between militant seminaries and ‘normal’ madressahs. Of the respondents, 8pc believed that some madressahs played a role in promoting extremism but also pointed out that such seminaries were close to the government and even received support from the West. Even those that identified extremism as a real problem refused to acknowledge that madressahs play a role in promoting it.

The madressah sector poses diverse challenges ranging from insecurity and sectarian violence to education and social transformation of society. But the government is unclear about what to do about this sector of education, which evidence links to many security-related problems. No one even knows who is responsible for oversight of the madressah sector: the interior and religious affairs ministries try to put the ‘burden’ on each other. After the 18th Amendment, education has become a provincial subject. But most provinces have not come up with relevant legislation, while those which have, have ignored madressahs.

The provinces have to take up the responsibility, and evolve strategies for maintaining a database on madressahs, managing the registration process, mainstreaming the madressah sector and introducing curriculum reforms. Security is also a provincial subject, and they must be more vigilant on this front and develop a better monitoring system for the small fraction of madressahs linked to terrorism.
The madressah factor
by Muhammad Amir Rana, dawn.com
The writer is a security analyst.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Terrorism - Regional & Religious solutions

The monster of extremism and terrorism has domestic roots but it is equally fed and sustained by transnational and trans-border networks of individuals, groups and movements in Pakistan. It is not just private persons and entities within the broader Middle Eastern region giving support to religious and secular organisations, but the secret and not-so-secret involvement of states in support of their objectives and interest that makes the challenge of terrorism so messy and complex. Another very important dimension of this challenge is the scale and the long time over which it has grown with the usual apathy of our ruling groups. No political leader has ever stood firmly with a resolve to take the extremism challenge as one of the key priorities; it was as if his challenge was for others to address. In times of intense political rivalry between the two major political parties in a decade-long confrontation, each one of them showed no hesitation in courting the support of groups and individuals with ties to extremist organisations.
The challenge of extremism that has transformed itself into sectarian terrorism is a national problem first, but at the same time, it is a regional problem. The rise of the Islamic State (IS) in parts of strife-stricken Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen and its chronicles of atrocities against anyone branded or even suspected as ‘enemy’ has shocked the whole world, but most importantly, it has pushed a number of regional states to cooperate and coordinate their intelligence and military operations against the IS. A good number of regional countries have very courageously opted to be part of an international coalition to defeat the IS. The groups associated with the IS in the Middle East may also find support in Afghanistan and Pakistan among similar groups and movements that might share their world view and the ‘ideal’ state they are trying to establish. There are indications that some groups have already aligned with the IS in this region as well. Not doing so, will run counter to logic and the history of transnational links between the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Middle East.
For decades, Afghanistan and Pakistan have witnessed a big informal flow of funds, militants and dangerous ideas from the extended Middle East. The problem is that rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is secular in its ends but essentially sectarian in its means, within the Middle East has always found its expression through similar instruments and organisations in our region. Focusing overly on the cycles of the Afghan wars and weakening of the state there and the nominal presence of the Pakistani state in the frontier regions, we tend to look at the pull factors and the vacuum that militant organisations have filled. No less important is the Middle Eastern push factor that comes with the funds, ideas and organisational support in many forms.
While Pakistan and its society struggles to face the challenge of extremism through its fresh resolve and under a consensual, multi-pronged National Action Plan, we need to think of broader response with essential regional and international ingredients. Regionally, close relations with Afghanistan hold the key to our success against extremism and terrorism. Employing of proxies by either side for decades in troubled times of the other has not worked and will never work. Hopefully, we are moving towards that realisation — this holds the key to cultivating a climate of a strong relationship between the two.
It is equally important, though difficult, to plug the holes through which Middle Eastern money and the sectarian divide enter our society. The traditional state apathy towards this issue has greatly contributed to the strength of sectarian forces. A multipronged counterterrorism strategy at home and cooperation with Afghanistan and other regional states will give Pakistan a better handle on the extremism challenge.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2015.
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Defeat religious terrorism with power of Islam:
هزيمة الإرهاب الديني مع قوة الإسلام:
Please analyse , consider all aspects, reject or accept with logic, improve & propose alternate if disagree. Take your time
http://goo.gl/owS18Z
انتہا پسندی کے مسائل اور علاقائی طاقتیں
دہشت گردی اور انتہا پسندی کے عفریت کے وجود میں آنے کی وجوہ یقینی طور پر مقامی ہیں لیکن اسے پالنے اور تقویت دینے میں دیگر ممالک میں موجود گروہوں اور افراد کی معاونت بھی حاصل ہے۔ پاکستان میں کام کرنے والی مختلف تنظیمیں اور تحریکیں بھی اس میں اپنا اپنا حصہ ڈالتی ہیں۔ صرف مشرق ِ وسطیٰ کے ممالک سے تعلق رکھنے والے افراد یا نجی تنظیمیں ہی نہیں بلکہ کچھ ریاستیں بھی خفیہ طور پر(جو دراصل اتنی خفیہ بھی نہیں ہوتیں) ایسے گروہوں کی مدد کرتی ہیں جو ان کے مقاصد کے حصول میں معاون ثابت ہوتے ہیں۔ اس وجہ سے دہشت گردی کا مسئلہ انتہائی پیچیدہ ہوجاتا ہے کیونکہ پاکستان کھل کر ان ریاستوںسے بات نہیں کرتا۔
اس چیلنج کا ایک اور اہم پہلو اس کا وسیع سکیل اور وہ مدت ہے جس میں حکمران طبقوں کی روایتی غفلت اور بے حسی کی وجہ سے اسے پھلنے پھولنے اور اپنی جڑیں مزید گہری کرنے کا موقع مل گیا۔ پشاور واقعے سے پہلے حکومتوں میں شامل کسی قابل ِ ذکرگروہ یا سیاسی رہنما نے انتہا پسندی کو کچلنے کے لیے سنجیدگی کا مظاہرہ نہیں کیا تھا۔ اس معاملے سے اغماض کی پالیسی برتی گئی یہاں تک کہ اس نے ہماری سلامتی کو چیلنج کرنا شروع کردیا۔ دوبڑی سیاسی جماعتوں کے درمیان ہونے والی ایک عشرے پر محیط رسہ کشی کے دوران، دونوں نے اپنے اپنے دور میں انتہاپسندوں کو ناراض نہ کرنے میں ہی عافیت گردانی۔ بلکہ بعض نے تو سیاسی مفاد کے لیے انتہا پسند تنظیموں سے تعاون بھی طلب کیا۔اس کے بعد ظاہر ہے کہ ان کے خلاف کارروائی کی گنجائش نہیں نکلتی تھی۔
انتہا پسندی کا چیلنج فرقہ واریت اور دہشت گردی کو فروغ دیتا ہے۔ یہ ہمارا قومی مسئلہ تو ہے لیکن اس کے ساتھ ساتھ یہ علاقائی مسئلہ بھی ہے۔ عراق، شام، لیبیا اور یمن میں داعش کا سراٹھانا کوئی اچنبھے کی بات نہیں ۔ یہ دراصل مختلف ریاستوں کی دیرینہ پالیسیوں کا شاخسانہ ہے۔ اس کی جڑیں عقیدے کی غلط تشریح کے ساتھ ساتھ مسلک اور مذہبی منافرت میں گڑی ہیں۔ آج صورت ِحال یہ ہے کہ داعش کی سفاکیت سے وہ ریاستیں بھی خطرہ محسوس کررہی ہیںجو اس کی پیداوار کی ذمہ دار تھیں۔ چنانچہ آج بہت سی علاقائی ریاستیں اپنے انٹیلی جنس اور فوجی ذرائع یک جان کرتے ہوئے داعش کے خلاف کارروائی کرتی دکھائی دیتی ہیں۔ کچھ علاقائی ریاستوں نے ایک قدم آگے بڑھتے ہوئے داعش کے خلاف بننے والے عالمی اتحاد میں بھی شمولیت اختیار کی ہے تاکہ اس فتنے کوجلد از جلد کچلا جاسکے۔
داعش سے الحاق رکھنے والے گروہوں کو افغانستان اور پاکستان سے بھی حمایت مل سکتی ہے کیونکہ یہاںموجود انتہا پسندگروہ بھی انہی نظریات کے حامل ہیں جو داعش کے ہیں۔ ان سب کا مقصد ایک اسلامی خلافت کا قیام ہے۔ پاکستان میں کچھ عرصے سے اس کے لیے فکری طور پر زمین تیار کی جارہی تھی۔ کچھ ایسے اشارے ملتے ہیں کہ یہاں کے کچھ مقامی گروہ داعش کے ساتھ روابط قائم کرچکے ہیں ۔داعش کے حق میں ملک کے کچھ مخصوص حصوں میں کی جانے والی وال چاکنگ کی خبریں بھی آتی رہتی ہیں۔کسی کو اس کا مقامی امیر مقرر کیے جانے کی بازگشت بھی سنائی دیتی ہے۔ خدامعلوم ان خبروں میں کتنی صداقت ہے لیکن ایک بات پورے وثوق سے کہی جاسکتی ہے کہ پاکستان اور افغانستان میںکام کرنے والے انتہا پسندگروہوں کے مشرق ِ وسطیٰ کے روابط کی تاریخ موجود رہی ہے۔ اس سے انکار کرنا حقیقت سے آنکھیں چرانے کے مترادف ہوگا۔
کئی عشروں سے پاکستان اور افغانستان میں مشرق ِ وسطیٰ سے فنڈز کا بھاری بہائو جاری ہے۔ اس کازیادہ تر رخ انتہا پسند گروہوں کی طرف ہے کیونکہ وہ مسلک اور نظریات کے اعتبار سے مشرق ِ وسطیٰ کی ریاستوں کے قریب ہیں۔ ایک طرح سے پاکستان متحارب مسالک کا میدان ِ جنگ بن چکا ہے۔ اس کی وجہ دو ممالک کی نظریاتی دشمنی ہے۔ اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ اس نظریاتی کشمکش کی بنیادی وجہ مذہب نہیں بلکہ کمرشل تصورات ہیں ،تاہم ان کے لیے فرقہ وارانہ تنائو کا ہتھیار استعمال کیا جاتا ہے۔ افغان جنگوں کی وجہ سے پاکستانی ریاست کے شمالی مغربی سرحدی علاقوں میں حکومت کی عملداری برائے نام رہ گئی۔ ان علاقوں میں انتہا پسند جمع ہوگئے۔ اس کو فنڈز فراہم کرنے میں مشرق ِ وسطیٰ کے کردار کو نظرانداز نہیں کیا جاسکتا۔ اگرچہ ایسا سوویت یونین اور کمیونزم کے خلاف جہاد کے لیے کیا گیا تھا لیکن فنڈز کی فراہمی کے لیے ہم مسلک گروہوں کا ہی انتخاب کیا گیا اوریہ محض اتفاق نہیں تھا۔
جس دوران پاکستان اور اس کا معاشرہ انتہا پسندی کے چیلنج سے نبردآزما ہونے کے لیے ہاتھ پائوں ماررہا ہے، ہمیں اس کے خلاف ایک تازہ بیانیے کی ضرورت ہے۔ نیشنل ایکشن پلان پر عمل کیا جارہا ہے اور یہ اچھی پیش رفت ہے لیکن ہمیں وسیع تر خطوط پر سوچنے کی ضرورت ہے کہ یہ مسئلہ علاقائی جہت رکھتا ہے۔ اس لیے علاقائی طاقتوں کو اس میں شامل نہ کرنا غلطی ہوگی۔ سب سے پہلے ہمیں افغانستان کے ساتھ اچھے اور قریبی تعلقات درکار ہیں ۔ اس کے بعد ہی ہم انتہا پسندی اور دہشت گردی کے خلاف کامیابی کی امید کرسکتے ہیں۔ اس کے علاوہ بھارت کے ساتھ اچھے تعلقات بھی ضروری ہیں کیونکہ دشمنی اور تنائو کی وجہ سے پراکسی جنگ کا تصور ابھرتا ہے۔ اس کے لیے انتہا پسند گروہ ناگزیر ہوجاتے ہیں۔ اس وقت ، جبکہ فوجی آپریشن کامیابی سے جارہی ہے، سفارتی محاذ سے بھی کچھ اچھی خبریں آرہی ہیں۔ تاہم مشکل لیکن اہم قدم مشرق ِوسطیٰ کی طرف سے آنے والے نظریات اور فنڈز کو روکنا ہے۔ اگر ریاست نے اس طرف چشم پوشی کی پالیسی جاری رکھی تو بہت دیر ہوجائے گی اور فرقہ وارانہ طاقتیں مزید مضبوط ہوجائیں گی۔اگر افغانستان اور دیگر ریاستوں کا تعاون شامل رہے تو ان طاقتوں کی حوصلہ شکنی ہوگی اوراُنہیں شکست دینا آسان ہوجائے گا۔ تاہم اس وقت جبکہ فوج اپنا کام کررہی ہے، حکومت کے کرنے کے بھی بہت سے کام ہیں۔ کیا آنے والے دنوں میں ہم حکومت کو یہ مشکل لیکن ضروری کام سرانجام دیتے دیکھیں گے؟

اسلام کے نام پر فسادی جنگ کا خاتمہ صرف اسلام سے:

اسلام ، جہاد کے نام پر فساد کا خاتمہ کرنے کے لءیے محض مذمتی قراردادیں، کمیٹاں،دھواںدار تقریریں، بیانات، کانفرسیں، قوانین، فوجی  کاروائیاں، فوجی عدالتیں   وغیرہ کافی نہیں. یہ ایک مکمل قومی، مذھبی جنگ ہے(Total War).
  مسلمان حکمران علماء کرام کی مدد سے  تکفیری فسادیوں اور ان کے ھمدردوں کے خلاف خالی فتووں کے علاوہ کھلم کھلا اعلان جہاد کریں جس میں ہر مسلمان جان، مال، قلم یا کسی اور متفقہ طریقے سے  حکومت کی مدد (غیر سرکاری طور پر نہیں)  سے حصہ لے .

انشا ء اللہ امت مسلمہ اس سازش کو تباہ کر کہ امن قاءم  کر لیں گے. یہ کوءی سیاسی جزباتی نعرہ نہیں ایک ممکن سنجیدہ حل ہے اہل دانش اس معاملہ پر ٹھنڈےدل و دماغ سے غور و فکرکریں اور  ممکن عملی اقدام تجویز کریں. پیغام پھیلاءیں پر امن دباءو ڈالیں.

مَّن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً حَسَنَةً يَكُن لَّهُ نَصِيبٌ مِّنْهَا ۖ وَمَن يَشْفَعْ شَفَاعَةً سَيِّئَةً يَكُن لَّهُ كِفْلٌ مِّنْهَا ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقِيتًا
جو بھلائی کی سفارش کریگا وہ اس میں سے حصہ پائے گا اور جو برائی کی سفارش کرے گا وہ اس میں سے حصہ پائے گا، اور اللہ ہر چیز پر نظر رکھنے والا ہے(قرآن:4:85)
Takfiri Khawarji Terrorism :
http://peace-forum.blogspot.com/2015/02/defeat-religious-terrorism-with-power.html?m=1
http://flip.it/kiJqd
http://Takfiritaliban.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Traders in Power politics

In every society, there is a conflict between conservative tradition and modern ideas. Those who believe in old traditions want to preserve them and prevent any attempt made to replace them with new and modern values.

Agents of change belonging to different sections of society make efforts to dismantle the old structure and construct a society based on new ideas which could enhance their role and status. Among these, traders are the most active and vibrant agents of social change, which is why they are criticised and condemned by conservatives who wish to uphold the traditional system which provides them security and privileges.

Edmund Burke (d.1797), the conservative thinker of the 18th century and the author of Reflection of French Revolution (1790) critically examines the role of traders during the French Revolution. According to him, besides intellectuals, it was traders who contributed to the destruction of the old political and social institutions of France which preserved stability and peace.

Is modern day consumerism responsible for social change?
According to him, the aristocracy checked radical change and kept the old system in order. As the French traders helped the revolutionary forces to lessen the power of the church, the nobility and the king, French society became chaotic. The traders on the other hand were interested in change because it would open new venues of profit and benefit their commercial activities. Burke, however, did not consider the role of the French traders positive because their endeavours plunged the society into conflict.

Burke also accused the traders of the East India Company of using illegitimate ways and means to accumulate wealth pilfered from India. He pointed out that as the traders belonged to the lower social classes of England, they lacked the high qualities of the English aristocratic culture, which was primarily the reason that they committed crimes in India by making profits from illegal trade as well as accepting a lot of money as bribes from the Indian rulers.

When they came back to England with all the riches that they had accumulated in India, they polluted English politics by buying land and seats in the parliament. They destroyed the institutions of India and created a vacuum in politics which subverted the local values and norms and destabilised the political structure.

Burke, throughout his parliamentarian career, criticised the East India Company and its rulers. His approach towards the role of the traders remained negative and he regarded them as destroyers and not builders.

Adam Smith (d.1790) in his book Wealth of Nations also castigated the role of the East India Company. According to him, when a trading company ruled India with the help of a military force, its interest was limited to trade concessions. Since the company’s interest was to earn more profit, it consequently ruined the industry in the subcontinent and gave no advantage to the English society through its business. He concluded that whenever traders became rulers, they used political power for profit and not for the welfare of people.

Another intellectual who defended the conservative system was Justus Möser (d.1794) who was the inhabitant of a small German state, Osnabrück. He was skeptical about the new changes which came about as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

He was content with the old lifestyle in his small city where artisans manufactured things according to the local needs and shopkeepers sold commodities of daily use. There was no materialistic desire among people to have extra stuff that was not very useful to them.

However, after the industrial revolution, the situation rapidly changed. With mass production in factories, traders were interested in creating consumers for it. There was an invasion of traders in Osnabrück, who brought new products and sold them cheaply in the market. It greatly affected the traditional artisans and shopkeepers who failed to compete with the aggressive traders and they lost their profession as well as their income.

According to Möser, the village life changed when peddlers reached distant places to sell new products. To Möser, it was the end of the old world in which people had been happy and content with what the local artisans produced for their needs. The change increased material desires among people and transformed them into avid consumers.

In The History of Syedwala, Muhammad Ramzan describes how during the colonial period, a family in a village could live on Rs69 for a whole year, excluding the expense of wheat and daily use products. Life was simple and the desire for consumption was limited.

In the capitalist system, the approach is to attract people to buy new products. In the olden days, shopkeepers did not display their commodities and the customers could not see them openly so they bought what they needed. In the new system, the products are displayed to catch the attraction of the consumers and to create a desire for purchasing and ownership. People also enjoy window shopping as a pastime. The question arises as to whether consumerism is a positive change or is it disastrous for the common man who is constantly competing with others to consume the new product.

The process of globalisation can also be examined on the basis of past historical knowledge. As in the past, the industrial revolution wiped out the traditional artisan classes, similarly globalisation is destroying the local industry by importing cheap goods and commodities and transforming people from producers to consumers.
By Mubarak Ali, dawn.com

Monday, February 9, 2015

Defeat religious terrorism with power of Islam:

The Terrorists are using name of Islam and Jihad to commit atrocities strictly forbidden in Islam. They use Islamic religious symbols and terminologies (Jihad) to misguide and recruit  the ignorant, innocent Muslims, and to gain sympathies and support. The great religion "Islam" has been hijacked by few lunatics while 1.5 billion Muslims watch helplessly; What a shame! In order to defeat them; mere meetings, condemnations, resolutions , speeches, religious edict (Fatwas), laws, speedy military courts and military action against them are JUST NOT ENOUGH. They have to be >>>>> keep reading >>>>> http://goo.gl/owS18Z


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pakistan's Competing Narratives

We aim to create a fictional or nonfictional narrative and populate it with people either imaginary or drawn from real life, using language that bends to our wishes as it projects perception and beauty.

Now the term “narrative” has been co-opted by those who observe politics and seek to make sense of the real world. Hence the question “What’s the narrative?” whenever a major political event unfolds.

As John Lanchester wrote in The London Review of Books:

“Everybody in politics now seems to talk about narratives all the time; even political spin-doctors describe their job as being ‘to craft narratives.’ We no longer have debates, we have conflicting narratives.”

I once read that there is an important difference between “the facts” and “the truth.” The difference between “narrative” and “the truth” is even more important. “Narrative” does not refer to twisting facts to suit our stories; it refers to the act of choosing which facts to use in order to create a story that fits a certain agenda. This is more dangerous than merely falsifying facts (an offense easy to detect) because a fact-based “narrative” can be taken seriously and influence events to come.

Take, for example, the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 16, in which Taliban gunmen killed about 150 people, most of them children and teachers, before the military killed the attackers. In the aftermath, Pakistan was united in grief and anger against the Taliban. Civilian and military leaders alike expressed resolve that domestic terrorism had to be defeated before it claimed more innocent lives.

The Pakistani Taliban immediately claimed responsibility, calling the attack revenge for a six-month-long military operation that has targeted militants in North Waziristan. But very quickly, two competing narratives developed, disrupting the country’s unity.

The first: that the attack was conducted by members of the Pakistani Taliban who have been strategic assets of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment but have now turned on it, trying to destroy the Pakistani state itself. The second: that the attackers were actually agents of Indian intelligence, or perhaps the C.I.A., masquerading as Taliban. In this version, the attack was part of a decades-old conspiracy by Pakistan’s fiercest enemies to destroy the country.

The first narrative is popular with progressive and secular Pakistanis — those in the intelligentsia and the military who have a nuanced understanding of local and regional politics and who recognize that the strategic landscape changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Conservative citizens, analysts and old-school military brass espouse the second — which fits the traditional assumption that India is Pakistan’s No. 1 enemy and that our foreign policy must focus on restraining any aggression from it. That well-worn view hasn’t changed much over decades, thanks to three wars and to innumerable border skirmishes, which continue today.

Believers in the first narrative understand that Pakistan needs to transform its security policy so that it deals with the internal threat from the Pakistani Taliban and other militants; they fear that Pakistani society will become “Talibanized” as militants gain supporters. Adherents of the second narrative see only external threats, concluding that no policy change is needed, and that Pakistan must dig in its heels and continue to treat India as hostile. They also think that America’s claims to be our ally are false, and that Washington wants to help India break up our country.

It is painfully clear today — in the wake of a bombing at a Shiite mosque in Shikarpur that killed at least 50 people on Friday — that the narratives we choose today will have profound sway over where we go as a country tomorrow.

I believe firmly in the first narrative — that Pakistan must face its inner demons if it’s to survive as a country. But when I write, my beliefs and preferences cannot stand in the way of inconvenient truths. Should new events contradict that narrative — human conduct being prone to delivering surprises — I would be conscience-bound to document the story as it really has played out.

Writers cannot control the meaning that other people see in an event. Still, readers depend on us to crystallize those events, giving them weight and nuance, when we make a story out of them. And our narratives about real-life events have real-life consequences, sometimes for generations.

So how do we devise the narrative? In the name of delivering honest information, we must do all we can to record what has happened, pushing aside the question of whose narrative the facts support or undermine. The critical need is for our narratives to rely only on truths that can be documented or defended — whichever story line they seem to illustrate. If we do this, we improve the chances not only to see the situation as it really is and make our choices in good conscience, but we also leave a door open for a different narrative, offering a wiser interpretation of reality, when new facts unfold.

Christopher Merrill, a poet and journalist who reported on the Balkan wars in the 1990s, said in a recent interview with the filmmaker Kalpna Singh-Chitnis that “wars are brought to an end by military means and diplomacy, not journalism, which has a much different responsibility: to record the truth.” In Bosnia, he said, “I was under no illusions writing about this that my role was anything other than getting the facts straight, teasing out their meaning, and composing a lively narrative true to the events that I witnessed.”

In Pakistan, where we have been living for some time with a seemingly endless war, that advice has never been more important.

Bina Shah is the author of several books of fiction, including, most recently, “A Season for Martyrs.”

© 2015 The New York Times Company.

Monday, February 2, 2015

What Confucius taught us

When a society passes through critical crises, alternative systems emerge to tackle the situation. Reformers try to repair the broken system and make it functional again. On the other hand, revolutionaries and radicals want to completely abolish old institutions and replace them with new ones that are based on their ideology.

After developing an understanding of the society and its problems, philosophers, thinkers and intellectuals present ideas and thoughts to change the social fabric. The role of philosophers became crucial and effective in Chinese history whenever the society faced political, social and economic difficulties.

The famous philosopher who presented innovative ideas to control the crises and to transform the society was Confucius, who was born in 551BC at Lu (Northern China). After completing his education, he wandered from one state to another in search of employment as he wanted to implement his ideas through state authority. But he failed to get a job and returned home disappointed.

We love Chinese food and culture, how about some Chinese philosophy?
Later, when he became a teacher, he attracted students and disciples who were eager to learn his brand of philosophy. He established an academy, which was an innovation because there was no such educational institution in China at the time. Previously, education was a privilege only for children from the nobility, but his academy was open to the rich and poor alike. This showed his belief in social equality. He introduced a curriculum which included poetry, history, politics, music and sports with the objective of producing educated and well-rounded people for a model society.

Confucius, like Socrates, did not write anything but verbally transmitted his knowledge to his students. Later, his disciples collected his sayings in the form of a book entitled Annalex. Through this book, we can study the philosophy and ideology of Confucius which emphasises the creation of a class of morally and ethically sound bureaucrats. He believed that the three qualities imperative for government officials were kindness, courtesy and compassion.

He wanted them to be appointed on the basis of their intelligence and merit, and not by right of birth or because they belonged to a privileged family. Thirdly, he believed that they should have the determination and courage to implement law and order, and perform their duties without any fear of higher authorities. Candidates appearing in the examination for bureaucracy or civil service had to learn and memorise the ideas and teachings of Confucius as part of the curriculum.

Confucius also laid stress on maintaining the hierarchical order of the society. In a family, children should obey their parents and look after them in their old age. Since there was no system of social security for the elderly, this ensured that the family would be morally bound to take care of their elderly parents and grandparents.

He highlighted ancestry and the importance of linking the past to the present. He wanted people to obey their superiors and ultimately the ruler. Successive Chinese ruling dynasties adopted the philosophy of Confucius to control social and political problems and to establish their domination.

Is the philosophy or ideas of Confucius relevant today or not? In Pakistan, moral and ethical values have declined and thus corruption, lawlessness, disorder and anarchy have been unleashed. There is increased unemployment leading to an increased crime rate. The bureaucracy trained and educated on principles of colonialism is inefficient and corrupt, arrogant, rude and anti-people.

The society needs to learn moral values as a solution to these problems. Confucius’ philosophy is not based on any religious or spiritual authority but purely on a secular concept of meritocracy. Perhaps our society requires such moral and ethical values to restore honesty, piety, dignity and compassion.

Past present: What Confucius taught us
by Mubarak Ali, dawn.com