Afghan scenario in terms of history

By K N Pandita

China and Pakistan have joined hands to uproot the semblance of Westminster type of democracy from the Asian continent. That is what has happened in Afghanistan.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has re-emerged after fighting the invading forces for two decades. Now we have three Islamic republics in the region namely Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. All of them express their allegiance to sharia law meaning the law that has been derived from two sources, the holy book (Qur’an) and the tradition (hadith). The Quran has variously interpreted; hardly two interpretations (tafsir) agree. The Sunni Hanafi sect of the Muslims in India largely goes by the tafsir of Allama Mauwdoodi. This interpretation has many takers not only in India but in Pakistan, Afghanistan, West Asia and some Islamic states in the African continent.

Similarly, the Qur’an is also variously interpreted by Muslim scholars. Many among them say that Islam is a religion of peace while others assert that Islam is a religion of protest. There surfaced protests, opposition and differences among the Muslims right from the day the Prophet departed from this world and a fierce struggle for succession ensued among his followers carrying the feud to the House of the Prophet (Ahl-i bait). Those who sided with the House of the Prophet formed a new faction which came to be called the Shi’a.

The story of animus between the Sunni and the Shia is most depressing. Since the Shias are in a minority except in Iran, they have been subjected to persecution in more than one way in every epoch. The Shia has his interpretation of the Quran. They are reluctant to accept the hadith or tradition of Sunni jurisprudents howsoever scholarly these may be.

Now in Afghanistan, there are Shia pockets in the north-west and the north. Their contribution to Afghanistan’s freedom is in no way inferior to others. Now that Pakistan is the virtual power holder in Afghanistan, and Pakistan has a formidable anti-Shia armed organization like Lashkar-i- Jhangvi at home responsible for carnage after the carnage of Shias, how is the interim government formed in Kabul going to maintain factional harmony? This is a big question. And now that the Taliban regime has announced that the Emirate will go strictly by the sharia code, is the code acceptable to the Shia population of Afghanistan?

The other day Pakistan radio announced that the dress code for females in Pakistan has been determined to be strictly following the stipulations with the Sharia law. Pakistani women have had a good deal of freedom in dress code and movement because it has a semblance of a liberalised community. Now that the sharia law is to be enforced piecemeal, the question will the liberalised and emancipated segments of Pakistani Muslims, males and females agree to put the clock back to the early days of Islam?

Then there is the issue of bank interest which is prohibited under sharia law. Though Pakistan has been producing pretexts one or the other to dilute the interest issue, the fact is that a huge segment of Pakistani society has not accepted the option of doing away with the bank interest without prejudice to the zakat etc. which a Musulman is expected to pay.

Now that the Pakistan government has taken off the lid from the dress code obviously to keep the diehard fanatics of the Taliban line in good humour, other sharia laws will gradually have to be adopted. For instance, the President, the PM and the entire cabinet will also have to observe the dress code; maintain a two-fist beard, wear shalwar reaching not below the ankles and wear a skull cap as does Lashkar chief Maulana Hafiz Saeed. How come that the Taliban have, overnight, discarded their baggy shalwars, tatters and roughshod slippers and adopted the American soldier’s battle dress, bulletproof vests, night vision binoculars, ultra-modern machine guns and rifles, missiles and Humvees all left behind by the fleeing Americans. Where has sharia evaporated in thin air?

Anyway, whatever, the Americans are gone never to return to Afghanistan. We must all be pragmatic and recognise that the rule of sharia that the Taliban and their mentors in Islamabad want to impose is a reality. The rule of sharia has begun in Pakistan and by implication; it should spread out to Kashmir also where the Kashmir valley Muslims are more than ready to adopt it. Kashmir Muslim thinkers will very soon depute a delegation to Islamabad and Kabul to request the Ecclesiastes there to issue instructions of what and how the sharia law should be implemented in Kashmir to replace the remnants of infidelity still pervasive in one or the other manner. Foremost of all activities, the first onslaught has to come down heavily on the Sufi shrines and waqf properties as Sufism is a big aberration because it comes close to the teachings of the Rishis strictly disallowed by puritanical Islam.

In all probability, the Taliban mullahs will volunteer to travel to Kashmir via Pakistan along with their American weapons to propagate the rule of sharia in Kashmir. They will deliver sermons on true Islamic teachings and their audience will comprise the top personalities of Kashmir like the ex-Chief Ministers, Ministers, lawmakers and bureaucrats. Indian democracy gives them freedom of expression and action as does the sharia at least in eradicating all traces of damned western secular democratic concepts which Indians have been brandishing shamelessly for the last seven decades and more and which have now been consigned to dust by the sharia abiding Taliban.

Real freedom (azaadi) is beckoning Kashmiris and they have to take the call.

Why overstate Taliban takeover in Kabul

By K N Pandit

Because of the covert and overt help of Pakistan, and the US’ blurred vision of Afghan policy, the Afghan Taliban are walking the streets of Kabul without a stiff battle. The Americans are gone. The “elected” government of Ashraf Ghani is gone and the Afghan national army raised by the Americans with great fanfare is invisible – destroyed, absconding or deserted. Continue Reading…

India will handle the Taliban with tactful strength

By K N Pandita

Pakistan is euphoric about the victory of the Taliban and the fall of Kabul. It is her fulfilment of the four-decades-old desire of achieving strategic depth westward. This country has been feeling nervous about the vulnerability of her eastern border after the loss of Bangladesh in the 1972 war with India. What added to her anxiety was the growing cordial relationship between India and Afghanistan. Why Muslim Afghanistan developed a cordial relationship with the infidel India and did not warm up with her has remained an unresolved enigma for the rulers of Pakistan. Continue Reading…

India enters its 75th year of independence

By K N Pandita

Westminster model democracy takes a long time to strike its roots deep in the psyche of the people. The British democracy is more than a millennia, and the American democracy is nearly 250 years old. The survival of democracy, as we glean from the example of the two countries mentioned above, depends on how pragmatic these are with the inbuilt capacity of adjusting with a new imperative that appears rapidly in an age of scientific and technological advancement. Continue Reading…

Iran: problems after the change of regime

By K N Pandita

The Problem

On August 5, Ebrahim Raisi, the President-elect of Iran took formal oath of office and thus replace the somewhat moderate predecessor Hassan Rouhani. His election for the top position in Iran is a shot in the arms of the conservative clergy since Raisi is known and the diehard Islamist very close to the patriarch Ayatollah Khamenei. To some commentators he is the most likely leader to succeed the patriarch when he is no more. What are the national problems looking into his eyes and how is he likely to react? This is what we intend to discuss here. Continue Reading…

Iran at a crossroads: emerging scenarios

By K N Pandita

Stating the issue

On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the JCPOA and signing a presidential memorandum to institute the “highest level” of economic sanctions on Iran. In a statement, Secretary of the then Treasury Steve Mnuchin stated that sanctions would be re-imposed subject to certain 90 days and 180 days “wind-down periods.” Reacting angrily, Iran said that since the US had rescinded the nuclear deal unilaterally, she was not bound to honour the agreement. Continue Reading…

Taliban spill over to Central Asia: Exit the US enter Russia

By K N Pandita

The Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar was right in saying that India wanted peace in and around Afghanistan. As Taliban are reported to be taking control over more and more towns and border crossing points, the neighbouring states, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, China and Russia, all are closely watching how the situation is developing in strife-torn Afghanistan after the exit of the US and NATO forces. Continue Reading…

New weapons in Pak’s jihad arsenal

By K N Pandita

The Hindustan Times of 1 Dec 2020 published alarming news. It said: “Pakistan’s ISI, inspired by the success of using cheap drones to carry out small bomb attacks, has been exploring this option for terrorist groups. The ISI had laid out its plan first at a meeting with senior Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed commanders in Punjab province’s Texila in April this year. Continue Reading…

Gaza de-escalation: the tenuous ceasefire

By K N Pandita

At the special session called by the Security Council to discuss the fighting in Gaza, the Pakistani foreign minister strove every nerve to project it a global Islamic issue and tried to invoke the Muslim countries to consider the Israeli attack nothing short of “genocide of Palestinian Muslims.”. He was more vocal than any other delegate and boasted that the “united effort had brought about the desired pressure on Israel to accept a ceasefire.” Continue Reading…

Pandemic, opposition and the blame game

By K N Pandita

In a situation of the pandemic, when the entire nation is in the throes of existential threat, it expects a true and disinterested democratic opposition to sweep aside political and other differences for the time being, and offer full support to the government in meeting the deadly challenge. Criticising the government for where or how it has faltered is all right, but more than criticism, the situation demands honest and pragmatic suggestions and practical involvement in saving the nation. Continue Reading…

The US’ pull out in Afghanistan: What are the implications?

By K N Pandita

In the later phase of his administration, former President Trump had expressed his desire of sending the American troops “back home for Christmas”. The Doha conference of 2020, arranged after much legwork was done silently by the diplomats, showed that his intention was genuine. There had been some re-thinking among the US planners that continuing the two-decade-old war in Afghanistan has a reduced priority in the wake of changing political alignments on a global level. Continue Reading…

The intricate deal of Chahbahar port

By K N Pandita

At a time when India, after a temporary halt, resumed and accelerated work at Chabahar seaport in the Gulf of Oman, the Iranian Foreign Minister gave an intriguing statement that made observers raise an eyebrow. Speaking to the audience at an event in Raisina Dialogue 2021 in the second week of April, Javad Zarif said, ” We have made very clear to our Indian, Chinese friends that Chabahar is open for cooperation for everybody. It is not against China …. is not against Gwadar…..” Continue Reading…

Whose baby is the Tehreek-i-Labbaik?

By K.N. Pandita

The anarchy and bedlam let loose by the extremist right-wing party Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in Lahore and other major cities in Pakistan is the reward deservingly offered to the politicians of Pakistan. It is a stunning example of Frankenstein. Continue Reading…

Are we heading towards ‘Asian NATO’?

By K N Pandita

The Quad is an offspring of the US’ Indo-Pacific security, under contemplation for quite some time at various levels of the US think-tanks. The perception received a boost during the Trump administration when relations between Washington and Beijing soured. Continue Reading…

Pakistani peacenik warriors: Changing strategy not heart

By K.N. Pandita

General Bajwa says India and Pakistan must live in peace and dialogue is the only way. In recent months this is the third time he has spoken of peace in the region. It sounds bizarre. The army that initiated three wars with India with the fourth an ongoing proxy war believing that it has to inflict a thousand cuts on the body of India, wants to abandon war and seeks peace. Is this posture real or fake? Continue Reading…

Sub-continent in the grip of disquiet

By K N Pandita

Three countries of the Indian sub-continent – India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – are bogged with grim disquiet whose roots lie in the exclusivist beliefs of the Islamic State of Pakistan. After actively stoking the embers of Theo-fascism for more than three decades, the deep State finds that at the end of the day the flames are engulfing it. Continue Reading…

Pakistan struggles for Pan-Islamic bloc

By K N Pandita

How the Biden administration will deal with Pakistan is not an immediate concern for policy planner in Islamabad: their real concern is how the divided Islamic world patches up and agrees to stand behind her for realizing the Kashmir dream. Pakistan foreign minister’s jaunts to some West Asian countries and the statements emanating from the host as well as the visitor, both, are clear indications that Pakistan wants to mend the fence and bridge the chasm not really for bringing peace and prosperity to Muslims but to garner the support of Islamic radicals for grabbing the entire region of Kashmir. She wants the ummah to believe that Pakistan’s struggle is Islam centric whereas actually, it is Kashmir centric. Continue Reading…

A new phase in Himalayan border strategy

K N Pandita

Reporting that the embattled commanders of India and China in Ladakh have agreed to disengagement of troops at the Pangong Tso watershed, the Hindustan Times of 16 February quoted an official source making a cryptic remark which no policy planner can afford to ignore. The commentator had said that the speed at which China has moved back its armoured units is not only surprising but it also shows their capacity to deploy the tanks and heavy vehicles again. Continue Reading…

Momentous farewell to veteran parliamentarian

By K N Pandita

Rajya Sabha or the Upper House of the Parliament witnessed an unprecedented event of momentous farewell given to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of the opposition (Cong), who along with his other three co-parliamentarians will be retiring after completing their tenure next week. Continue Reading…

Farmers’ strike ends in a fiasco

By K N Pandita

That the 53-day strikes by the farmers ended in a fiasco did not spring a surprise to anybody with an understanding of the democratic arrangement of our politics and the astute manner in which the government handled the situation. During the long period of the strike there surfaced numerous occasions where people began to apprehend a physical lash likely to take shape. Continue Reading…