Open Letter to Hamid Mir


May 30, 2010

Dear Mr. Hamid Mir,

Much has been said and written about your audio tape since last two weeks. I have also read your rebuttal, your email, a message that got "leaked" – as is claimed by one of the blogs, in which you're (claimed to be) clarifying your position and Asian Tigers' position, and a recent letter to an international newspaper. I do understand how this whole business of terror-network is run in Pakistan, how many state or non-state actors and interlocutors are involved in umpteenth levels of negotiations and contact building, but still this is matter of grave concern for an ordinary citizen of Pakistan.

Let me reiterate Hamid sahib, that as a citizen of Pakistan, I'm the primary stakeholder of terror business. Its me (as in the citizen) who has greatest threat from the terrorist attacks at personal level, as well as at a collective level. Its us – common citizens – who have to face embarrassment and humiliation in foreign lands as green passport holders, when it comes to Pakistan's terror-craft. My country, its eroding honor, its international credibility and life of millions of its citizens are under direct threat. It is, thus, a matter of gravest concern for us to see into details of who is responsible and / or is accomplice in all this business, and who is benefitting from killing my country's people and axing its honor among the nations of the world. I hope you do understand and appreciate this point.

It makes me, moreover, absolutely shocked at and skeptical of the role of entire media or at least a section of media, when I see you – the man who does not mince his words while telling us how bad and corrupt is the government, how immoral it is on the part of Jamshed Dasti to present fake (although unproven by any court of law) educational degrees, and how incompetent it is on the part of Interior Ministry for not having been able to control terrorism. This loud voice against the ills of the society & the government, brokering with the terror network is definitely not a pleasant episode for most of the people of Pakistan, who trust all of the TVenngelists (you inclusive) for identifying weaknesses of politicians (it is understandable why you do not touch upon the corruption of many other institutions which are holy cow in our country).

Hamid sahib, we know each other at least as acquaintance since past few years and keep meeting and exchanging greetings in Islamabad's drawing rooms and parties. Based on your apparent verbal frequent assurances of being committed to democracy, citizens' rights and upholding of journalistic standards, we supported you throughout the movement for citizens' right to information and freedom of speech, in the wake of a ban on your program during Musharraf's regime. Although that ban won you and many other TVengelists much of the credibility and legitimacy as "principled" journalists who "did not bow before a dictator". But we somehow knew you had very close contacts with most of the terrorist outfits, not that you ever tried to hide it. Interviewing Osama Ben Laden is not an evidence against you, but being Taliban apologist throughout and promoting their agenda subtly in your program, definitely is. We knew you are a journalist, quite active so, and quite in the limelight so, and that by the token of being a "frontline" journalist, you need to keep contact with everybody especially those who can make news. But we never knew the extent to which you are / have been part of these networks. I'm still ready to give you concession of being an ambitious "investigative" reporter, if you kindly clarify yourself of all the charges – too heinous, grave and ugly to be kept yourself stuck with. Here go my questions Mir sahib:

  1. You have been telling us ever since this tape was released, that Daily Times has done a damage to you by unilaterally publishing a story about it. Then you said that the tape is concocted and President Zardari's PPP is behind it. Then you said its ISI doing it with you. Then you said you've met with the President and all doubts have been cleared and that PPP is not behind this tape. And then you said that the voice on the tape is not yours, it is machine produced. Well, if it is produced / manufactured by the machine, then there exists machines that can be used to detect if the voice is original or not. I don't think you need to worry about it much. And then you started a silence because the case is "sub judice". Well, there have been many other issues that have been sub judice but we kept on having the privilege of hearing you on all those issues. But still, respecting your decision not to speak on the tape issue, we wouldn't ask about it. But what we'd like to ask is, whether you spoke to a Punjabi Talib ever?
  2. Did you ever share the information about the upcoming military operation against North Wazirastan with one of these networks?
  3. Didn't you propagate religiosity among masses through your program?
  4. What do you think of Ahmadis / Qadiyanis? Do you really think they are worse than "Kaafirs"? And what do you mean by this? Are they, who're worse than kaafirs, liable to be killed?
  5. What do you now say, was Khalid Khwaja a CIA agent? How do you think a CIA agent should be dealt with? Should s/he be killed?
  6. Do you support the kind of jehad Taliban and other militant groups are waging? If no, why do you eel obliged to respect them like a revered soldier should be?
  7. Do you think those who wage war against the federation / state of Pakistan are punishable with treason? If yes, why do you support Maulvi Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid? Why do you call Rasheed Ghazi a shaheed knowingly that he was killed during his war with Pakistan army? Do you consider Pakistan Army, which is fighting these criminals terrorists, as "Baatil force" against which jehad is normally waged?
  8. You were among those TVangelists who pressurized the then government to start operation on Lal Masjid / Jamia Hafsa duo, but immediately after the operation, you started molding people's opinion against that action, in favour of the criminals who challenged the writ of the state. What do you say to explain it?
  9. You recorded a program immediately after the Lal Masjid operation was completed. You arranged the whole drama of a girl crying and ranting out emotional speech to emotionally charge the people against military operation on Jamia Hafsa, who in the beginning wanted the operation. Do you really think this kind of journalistic dishonesty is allowed when it comes to your cause?
  10. What exactly is your cause? Does it sync with the 'cause' of those militants you keep talking to?
  11. After months of this first program, you recorded another program with around a dozen more students of different Madrassas. During the recording you kept on influencing the participating students to get as angry as they can, against the operation on Jamia Hafsa / Lal Masjid. On whose orders / suggestions did you do so? If you did it on your own, what was your inspiration? Do you think the culprits of public violence were actually crusaders of Islam? And that they are / were worthy of respect?
  12. We heard you saying on the tape (for us – the citizens of Pakistan – the voice was yours unless proven otherwise) that Taliban could explode as many NATO trucks as they can. What is your personal belief? Should the terrorists explode / bombard NATO trucks to push them out of Afghanistan? Are you with terrorists for human killings whether or not they are of Pakistanis?
  13. We heard you listening on tape from that TTP representative that there would be more of suicide blasts in the country. You were neither shocked nor agitated. Do you think they're doing a right thing by bombing innocent Pakistanis to death? If not, why didn't you inform the authorities responsible for security? If you did, whom did you talk / write?
  14. Why do you think ISI is your enemy? What exactly have you done to invite ISI's wrath?

There are many such questions that emerge after hearing your tape. Can you please address them for the sake of record and reference so that your audience could not be led astray by those who want to malign you? Since you have an image at South Asia level, and keep portraying yourself as 'Amn ki Fakhta' when you're in India and in SAARC countries generally (unlike obviously your stance on Indo-Pak relations which you keep reiterating for local audience), I'm copying this email to senior journalists as well as prominent civil society activists, media houses and senior columnists from the region.

Awaiting your reply,

Marvi Sirmed


Objectives Resolution: The Root of Religious Capture of Pakistan

This speech was delivered by Mr. Sris Chandra Chattopadhya in opposition to Objectives Resolution, in Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 12 March 1949

(Courtesy Mr. Mohammad Anwarul Haq)

Mr. Sris Chandra Chattopadhya (East Bengal : General) : Mr. President, I thought, after my colleague, Mr. Bhupendra Kumar Datta, had spoken on the two amendments on behalf of the Congress Party, I would not take any part in this discussion. He appealed, he reasoned and made the Congress position fully clear, but after I heard some of the speakers from the majority party, viz, Muslim League Party, the manner in which they had interpreted the Resolution, it became incumbent on me to take part in this discussion.

I have heard Dr. Malik and appreciate his standpoint. He says that "we got Pakistan for establishing a Muslim State, and the Muslims suffered for it and therefore it was not desireable that anybody should speak against it". I quite agree with him. He said; "If we establish a Muslim State and even if we become reactionaries, who are you to say anything against it?" That is a standpoint which I understand, but here there is some difficulty. We also, on this side, fought for the independence of the country. We worked for the independence of the entire country. When our erstwhile masters, Britishers, were practically in the mood of going away, the country was divided – one part became Pakistan and the other remained India. If in the Pakistan State there would have been only Muslims, the question would have been different. But there are some non-muslims also in Pakistan. When they wanted a division there was no talk of an exchange of population. If there was an exchange of population, there would have been an end of the matter, and Dr. Malik could establish his Pakistan in his own way and frame constitution accordingly. It is also true that the part of Pakistan in which Dr. Malik lives is denuded of non-Muslims. That is clear.

Dr. Omar Hayat Malik: On a point of order, Sir, I never said that. He has understood me quite wrongly.

Mr. Omar Hayat Malik: I never said that Pakistan was denuded of non-Muslims. My friend on the opposite has misunderstood me.

Mr. Sris Chandra Chattopadhya: I say the part in which Dr. Malik lives is denuded of non-Muslims. I did not say that Dr. Malik had said that Pakistan was denuded of non-Muslims. That is clear.

But we belong to East Bengal. One-fourth of the population is still non-Muslim. Therefore, what constitution is to be framed, it is our duty, it is in our interest to look to. We are not going to leave East Bengal. It is our homeland. It is not a land by our adoption. My forefather, founder of my family, came to East Bengal thousand years back on the invitation of the then King of Bengal. I am 27th in decent from him. Therefore, East Bengal is my land. I claim that East Bengal and Eastern Pakistan belongs to me as well as to any Mussalman and it will be my duty to make Pakistan a great, prosperous and powerful State so that it may get a proper place in the comity of nations because I call myself a Pakistani. I wish that Pakistan must be a great State. That will be covetable to Muslims as well as to non-Muslims who are living in East Bengal. A few people from East Bengal have left – may be five per cent and my calculation is not even that. Of course, there are other calculations too – somebody says ten lakhs. We are living in East Bengal peacefully, in peace and amity with out Muslim neighbours as we had been living from generations to generations. Therefore, I am anxious to see that its constitution is framed in such a way which may suit the Muslims as well as the non-Muslims. I have gone carefully through this Resolution and I have carefully, read made-to-order, nicely-worded statement of my esteemed friend, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan. But after reading the Resolution carefully and reading the statement, even after hearing the speeches of my friends, both the Doctors and others, I cannot change my opinion. I cannot persuade myself to accept this Resolution and my instruction to my party would be to oppose this Resolution.

Now as for the first paragraph:

"Whereas sovereignty over the entire universe belongs to God Almighty alone and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust".

This part of the Resolution, I think, ought to be deleted. All powers, in my opinion, rest with the people and they exercise their power through the agency of the State. State is merely their spokesman. The Resolution makes the State the sole authority received from God Almighty through the instrumentality of people – Nemittamatrona, "Merely instruments of the State". People have no power or authority, they are merely post boxes according to this Resolution. The State will exercise authority within the limits prescribed by Him (God). What are those limits, who will interpret them? Dr. Qureshi or my respected Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Osmani? In case of difference, who will interpret? Surely they are not the people. One day a Louis XIV may come and say "I am the State, anointed by the Almighty" thus paving the way for advent Divine Right of Kings of afresh. Instead of State being the voice of the people, it has been made an adjunct of religion. To me voice of people is the voice of God, "Jatra jiba tatra shiva." The people are the manifestation of God.

In my conception of State where people of different religion live there is no place for religion in the State. Its position must be neutral: no bias for any religion. If necessary, it should help all the religions equally. No question of concession or tolerance to any religion. It smacks of inferiority complex. The State must respect all religions: no smiling face for one and askance look to the other. The state religion is a dangerous principle. Previous instances are sufficient to warn us not to repeat the blunder. We know people were burnt alive in the name of religion. Therefore, my conception is that the sovereignty must rest with the people and not with any body else.

Then about the Constituent Assembly representing the people of Pakistan. This Constituent Assembly was created by a Statute – Indian Independence Act – allotting one member for ten lakhs of people to be elected by the members of the Provincial Assemblies. The members were not elected by the people themselves. They are for the purpose of framing a constitution. They have the legal right to do so but they cannot say that they are the representatives of the people. They are merely a Statutory Body.

Then I come to the fourth paragraph:

"Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed."

Of course, they are beautiful words: Democracy, freedom, equality, everything. Now about this portion I had some discussion with some Maulanas from the Punjab. What they told me must be from their religious books. I shall repeat here. If I commit blunder, I wish to be corrected.

In this connection you say "equal rights", but at the same time with limitations as enunciated by Islam. Is there any equal right in an Islamic country? Was there any …. An Honourable Member: "There was in Islamic countries." ……. It was not between Muslims and non-Muslims. We are now divided into Congress Party and Muslim League Party here for farming constitution and suppose after framing of this constitution we face election, and parties are formed on different alignment, there may not be Congress, there may not be Muslim League, because the Congress has fulfilled its mission of attaining independence and Muslim League has also got Pakistan. There may be parties of haves and have-nots – and they are bound to be – and have-nots party may have a leader coming form non-Muslims. Will he be allowed to be the head of the administration of a Muslim State? It is not a fact that a non-Muslim cannot be head of the administration in a Muslim State. I discussed this question and I was told that he could not be allowed to be the head of the administration of a Muslim State. Then what is the use of all this. The question is whether there can be Juma Namaz in a country with a non-Muslim as its head, I am told that a country where a non-Muslim is the Head of the administration – as was in India, the Britishers were the head of the administration – according to the interpretations of Muslim rules, and I do not know much of them Muslims cannot say their Juma Namaz. As an instance, I cite a case and I think, the Honourable President also knows about it – in the District of Faridpur, Dudu Mea’s party. They do not say Juma Namaz. His grandson, Pir Badshah Mia, told me that "in a country where the head is a non-Muslim, there cannot be Juma Namaz." Therefore, the words "equal rights as enunciated by Islam" are – I do not use any other word – a camouflage. It is only a hoax to us, the non-Muslims. There cannot be equal rights as enunciated by Islam. If the State is formed without any mandate of the religion, anybody whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist who can get votes can become its head, as such there would be difficulty if a portion of a book – it is not my book, it is not a Congress book, it is a Jamat-I-Islam publication from Lahore and it was handed over to me. I read a few lines from this book – Page 20.

"The preceding statement makes it quite clear that Islam is not democracy; for democracy is the name given to that particular form of Government in which sovereignty ultimately rests with the people in which legislation depends both in its form and content on the force and direction of public opinion and laws are modified and altered, to correspond to changes in that opinion. If a particular legislation is desired by the mass of people steps have to be taken to place it on the Statute Book if the people dislike any law and demand its removal, it is forthwith expunged and ceases to have any validity. There is no such thing in Islam which, therefore, cannot be called democracy in this sense of the term".

My friend, the Honourable Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, the other day said ‘What is in the name’? I also say, what is in the name? Name may be given to mislead people but it will smell theocracy.

The Honourable Sardar Abdur Rab Khan Nishtar (West Punjab: Muslim): Do you know what treatment was meted out to this man by the Government? He is in jail.

Mr Sris Chandra Chattopadhya: That is a different matter. Further he goes on:

"A more apt name for it would be the Kingdom of God which is described in English as "theocracy".

I do not know much of your theocracy or Sunna. But he told me many things about Islam.

And then you will also find this:

"No law can be changed unless the injunction is to be found in God’s shariat. Laws are changed by the concensus of opinion amongst the Muslims."

So, if any law is to be changed, it is to be changed by the vote of the Muslims only. Where are we then? We are not Muslims. There are, I find, many safeguards in the Resolution. I do not attach much importance to them. Words are there but there is no law which will allow them to be put into practice. That is the limitation. If the non-Muslims cannot vote, then what is the good of our coming here for farming the constitution? Even if we have the right to vote for a legislation but if some non-Muslim wants to be the President of the State, he will not be able to do so. If we want to elect somebody who is a non-Muslim, he cannot be elected by us to be a member of the legislature. We may vote, but we can vote for Mr Nishtar only and not for Mr Chandra Chattopadhya, who is a non-Muslim. I know you can pass this Resolution because you are in the majority and I know the tyranny of the majority. But we cannot be a consenting party to it; we must oppose it in order to safeguard our interests and not to commit suicide by accepting this Resolution. If that is so, what is the position of non-Muslims in a Muslim State? They will play the part of the second fiddle – the drawers of water and hewers of wood. Can you expect any self-respecting man will accept that position and remain contented? If the present Resolution is adopted, the non-Muslims will be reduced to that condition excepting what they may get out of concession or pity from their superior neighbours. Is it equality of rights? Is it wrong if we say that the non-Muslims will be in the position of Plebeians? There may not be patricians and plebeians in the Muslim community, but the question is between the Muslims and non-Muslims.

That much about this Resolution. Now, Dr Qureshi has attributed fear complex to the non-Muslims and has found a new dictum of behaviour for the minority. He has given a warning to the non-Muslims and has asked them to discard fear and behave well. What does our conduct show? We are not afraid of anybody. We, the Congress people, were not afraid of any or any power. We are still living in Eastern Pakistan and we are not running away. We are telling our brothers not to leave Eastern Pakistan and not to give up one inch of land. The position in the Western Pakistan is different. There the non-Muslims have left. But we are determined to stay on. As for behaviour it depends upon the majority community by their behaviour to get the confidence of the minority people. The minority people cannot create by their conduct confidence in the majority. They majority people should behave in such a way that the minority people may not be afraid of them and may not suspect them.

Dr Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi : On a point of personal explanation, Sir, I never said or implied in my speech that my friends on the opposite side were suffering from the fear of the seen. Unfortunately, they have been suffering from the fear of the unknown and my point was that the Objectives Resolution does not embody any principle which might make them afraid. I know that my friends are very brave and they would certainly not run away and I also know .. …

Mr President : This much will do for your explanation.

Mr Sris Chandra Chattopadhya : It goes without saying that by introducing the religious question, the differences between the majority and the minority are being perpetuated, for how long, nobody knows. And, as apprehended by us, the difficulty of interpretation has already arisen. The accepted principle is that the majority, by their fair treatment, must create confidence in the minority. Whereas the Honourable Mover of the Resolution promises respect, in place of charity or sufferance for the minority community the Deputy Minister, Dr Qureshi, advises the minority to win the good-will of the majority by their behaviour. In the House of the Legislature also we find that, while the Prime Minister keeps perfectly to his dictum, others cannot brook that the Opposition should function in the spirit of opposition. The demand is that the Opposition should remain submissive. That is Dr Qureshi’s way of thinking. The minorities must be grateful for all the benevolence they get and must never complain for the malevolence that may also be dealt out to them. That is his solution of the minority problem.

Dr Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi : Sir, I again rise on a point of personal explanation. I never said that. My words are being twisted. What I said was this that the best guarantee of a minority’s rights is the good-will of the majority and those words cannot be twisted into the way my friend has been twisting them.

Mr Sris Chandra Chattopadhya : My esteemed friend, Mr Nishtar, speaks that there is difference of outlook between the two parties. It is true that before the division of India into two States, India and Pakistan, we opposed the division on the ground that the people of India consisted of one nation, and the Muslim League supported the division on two-nation theory, the Muslims and the non-Muslims. There was this fundamental difference in our outlook and in our angle of vision. India was divided without the division of the population. So, in both the States there are Muslims and non-Muslims – no exchange of population and even no exchange of population under contemplation. We, the non-Muslims of Pakistan, have decided to remain in Pakistan, as the loyal citizens of Pakistan. Of course, some non-Muslims from East Bengal and practically the majority of non-Muslim from West Pakistan left the place. We all ourselves the nationals of Pakistan and style ourselves as Pakistanis. But this Resolution cuts at the root of it and Mr Nishtar’s speech makes it clear. We, the Congress people, still stick to our one nation theory and we believe that the people of Pakistan, Muslims and non-Muslims, consist of one nation and they are all Pakistanis. Now, if it is said that the population of Pakistan consists of two nations, the Muslims who form the majority party and the non-Muslims who form the minority party, how are they to be described? Nowhere in the world nationality is divided on the score of religion.

Even in Muslim countries there are people of different religions. They do not call themselves a majority or minority party. They call themselves as members of one nation, though professing different religions. If the Muslims call themselves Pakistanis, will the non-Muslims call themselves non-Pakistanis. What will they call themselves?

Some Honourable Members : Pakistanis.

Mr Sris Chandra Chattopadhya : Will they both call themselves Pakistanis? Then how will the people know who is Muslim and who is non-Muslim? I say, give up this division of the people into Muslims and non-Muslims and let us call ourselves one nation. Let us call ourselves one people, people of Pakistan. Otherwise, if you call me non-Muslim and call yourselves Muslim the difficulty will be if I call myself Pakistani they will say you are a Muslim. That happened when I had been to Europe. I went there as a delegate of Pakistan. When I said "I am a delegate of Pakistan" they thought I was a Muslim. They said "But you are a Muslim". I said, "No, I am a Hindu". A Hindu cannot remain in Pakistan, that was their attitude. They said: "You cannot call yourself a Pakistani". Then I explained everything and told them that there are Hindus and as well as Muslims and that we are all Pakistanis. That is the position. Therefore, what am I to call myself? I want an answer to that. I want a decision on this point from my esteemed friend, Mr Liaquat Ali Khan.

I request my Honourable friend, Mr Nishtar, to forget this outlook, this angle of vision. Let us form ourselves as members of one nation. Let us eliminate the complexes of majority and minority. Let us treat citizens of Pakistan as members of one family and frame such a constitution as may not break this tie so that all communities may stand shoulder to shoulder on equal footing in time of need and danger. I do not consider myself as a member of the minority community. I consider myself as one of seven crores of Pakistanis. Let me have to retain that privilege.

I have stated about this Resolution. Now what will be the result of this Resolution? I sadly remind myself of the great words of the Quaid-I-Azam that in state affairs the Hindus will cease to be a Hindu; the Muslim shall cease to be a Muslim. But alas, so soon after his demise what you do is that you virtually declare a State religion! You are determined to create a Herrenvolk. It was perhaps bound to be so, when unlike the Quaid-I-Azam – with whom I was privileged to be associated for a great many years in the Indian National Congress – you felt your incapacity to separate politics from religion, which the modern world so universally does. You could not get over the old world way of thinking. What I hear in this Resolution not the voice of the great creator of Pakistan – the Quaid-I-Azam (may his soul rest in peace), nor even that of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Honourable Mr Liaquat Ali Khan but of the Ulemas of the land.

When I came back to my part of the country after several months absence in Europe, the thing that I saw there depressed me. A great change for the worse has come over the land. I noticed that change this side also. I told His Excellency Khawaja Nazimuddin of it. I told the Honourable Mr Liaquat Ali Khan about it and now that spirit of reaction has overwhelmed this House also. This Resolution in its present form epitomizes that spirit of reaction. That spirit will not remain confined to the precincts of this House. It will send its waves to the countryside as well. I am quite upset. I have been passing sleepless nights pondering what shall I now tell my people whom I have so long been advising to stick to the land of their birth? They are passing a state of uncertainty which is better seen and left than imagined from this House. The officers have opted out, the influential people have left, the economic conditions are appalling, starvation is widespread, women are going naked, people are sinking without trade, without occupation. The administration is ruthlessly reactionary, a steam-roller has been set in motion against the culture, language and script of the people. And on the top of this all, by this Resolution you condemn them to a perpetual state of inferiority. A thick curtain is drawn against all rays of hope, all prospects of an honourable life.

After this what advice shall I tender? What heart can I have to persuade the people to maintain a stout heart? But I feel it is useless bewailing before you, it is useless reasoning with you. You show yourselves incapable of humility that either victory or religion ought to generate. You then go your way, I have best wishes for you. I am an old man not very far from my eternal rest. I am capable of forgetting all injuries. I bear you no ill will. I wish you saw reason. Even as it is, may no evil come your way. May you prosper, may the newly-born State of Pakistan be great and get its proper place in the comity of nations. (Applause.)

What's Wrong with Suicide Bombing?


This was an interesting read from an old post that appeared in The Wisdom Fund

What's wrong with "suicide" bombing? Like tanks, gunships, bunker-busting bombs, F-16s, and cruise missiles, it kills people. That's what's wrong.

The reported fatalities between December 1987–the first Palestinian intifada–and January 2002 were 2,166 Palestinians, and 454 Israelis. During this same period, the number of Palestinians seriously injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets, shrapnel, etc. were 18,761; the number of Israelis seriously injured 427. This from statistics reportedly endorsed by the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem.

According to University of California professor Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions:

"The Koran's definition of a Holy War is virtually identical with that of a Just War in the Canon Law of Catholicism. It must either be defensive or to right an horrendous wrong."

Islam forbids killing except in certain circumstances such as in self defense, or in response to another killing. Even then Islam counsels forgiveness, or compensation for the victim's family. What else is wrong with "suicide" bombing? Legally, less than what one might believe. While it may or may not be good strategy, it appears to be permissable under international law. Most Israelis over the age of 18, aren't exactly civilians. All eligible men and women are drafted into the Israel Defense Force at age 18. Men serve for three years, women for 21 months. Upon completion of compulsory service each soldier is assigned to a reserve unit. We Hold These Truths, a Christian organization, reports:

– All Israeli busses are owned and operated by the state, and each one serves as a military transport vehicle. Civilian passengers often find themselves riding next to an on-duty, rifle-carrying soldier being ferried to a duty station.

– Israeli pizzerias and McDonalds fast-food restaurants are teeming with off-duty and on-duty Israeli military men and women, many of both sexes carrying rifles.

Palestine is occupied land, and under international law, the Palestinians have the legal right to resist this occupation by any and all means. This may make busses, restaurants, discos–where Israeli military congregate, lawful targets. But there's no excuse for killing children. And there's no excuse for either Israelis or Palestinians knowingly putting children in harm's way. And what fuels the intifada, and the Palestinian "suicide" bombings, is Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes and orchards, Israeli settlements–a violation of international law, and President Sharon's desire to scuttle the peace process, and drive Arabs out of Palestine, permanently.

Suicide–the deliberate termination of one's life–for a greater cause is not an Arab monopoly. The Japanese used kamikaze or "suicide" attacks in World War II; a woman belonging to the Tamil Tigers blew up herself, several others, and India's prime minister Rajiv Gandhi; and those who protect the U.S. president are taught to sacrifice their lives if necessary. And what Western media call "suicide" bombings are generally viewed as martyrdom by Arabs. Islamic scholars say Islam forbids suicide, but accepts martyrdom–suicide being a selfish act contrary to God's will, martyrdom being an act of courage, sacrifice, and faith.

In the end, whether it's "suicide" bombers, or tanks, gunships, bunker-busting bombs, F-16s, and cruise missiles, the end result is the same: people die. And Palestinians are the overwhelming victims. So why does the media focus on "suicide" bombing?

Because it sets up Palestinian Arabs, Christian and Muslim, as the "other," therefore, a more legitimate target in the eyes of the American public, and it helps legitimize Israel's criminal conduct against the Palestinians, which, according to Francis A. Boyle, professor of international law, "has been financed, armed, equipped, supplied, and politically supported by the United States."

A Decade Of Trends And The Unexpected

Published on on January 5, 2010

It's actually been a decade of less and less war. There's also been a lot of déjà vu, with many wars seeming to be endless. Some wars are like that. So what were all the current hot spots like a decade ago, and what happened to them? Below is a list, with the short version of what happened (check out archives for the much longer version).


Afghanistan was sort of under the control of the Pakistani backed Taliban in 2000. But the civil war, that began in the late 1970s, was still going on. The Taliban were winning, slowly, fueled by taxes on the heroin trade. But the Taliban were increasingly unpopular, mainly for trying to impose lifestyle rules on a hostile population. September 11, 2001 brought in the Americans to help the factions still fighting the Taliban, and within three months, the Taliban were out of power, and fleeing to Pakistan. A democracy was established, but corruption and tribal rivalries crippled it from the start. The Pushtun tribes resented the domination of the non-Pushtun tribes (60 percent of the population), and this enabled the Taliban to rebuild and undertake a terror campaign to regain control of the country. It's a suicide mission (even most Pushtuns oppose them), but that's pretty normal for Afghanistan.



Algeria. The local Salafist Islamic radicals were fighting a bloody terror campaign against a corrupt dictatorship. These Islamic radicals would lose before the end of the decade, accepting amnesty, or hunted down and killed. Over 100,000 died in a decade of Islamic terrorism.


Angola. The long civil war finally died out, early in the decade.

Balkans. Kosovo had just been liberated by NATO troops, and American air power. By the end of the decade, Kosovo would be independent, and the region would still be screwed up. Turkey develops an Islamic streak. Bosnia settles down, despite constant threat of Islamic terrorists setting up shop.

Central Asia. A decade of some violence. Meanwhile, dictators brew rebellion by suppressing democrats, Islamic radicals and anyone else who objects to strongman rule. Not a lot of violence, just a lot of potential. The dictators in the "Stans" (the former provinces of the Soviet Union that became five independent nations; Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan) have been rebuilding the Soviet era secret police. The new dictators noted that the Soviets never had any problems with Islamic terrorism, or any other kind of terrorism, and are going old school on this new problem.

Chad. The civil war in Sudan (Darfur) spills over. Sudan and Chad support each others rebels, and this leads on two attempts by rebel forces to cross Chad and attack the capital. French forces (there to protect current government) help keep the rebels from winning. Oil was developed in the last decade and, despite strenuous efforts by the World Bank and other NGOs, Chad officials still plunder the oil revenue. Things have settled down by the end of the decade, but there is no peace yet, if ever. Chad has been suffering civil war for three decades now.

China. Undertook a program to buy and steal all the military technology it could from Russia, and largely succeeded. China also began modernizing part of its armed forces, and shrinking the rest. The diplomatic/military "siege" of Taiwan continued.

Colombia. Decades of leftist rebels trying to take over the country, plus the growth of the cocaine trade, receded during the decade, as an effective opposition, and government, develops. Leftist groups lose more than half their strength in the decade, and drug gangs begin moving out of the country.

Congo. A civil war, caused by defeated Hutus from neighboring Rwanda, ends up destroying much of eastern Congo and leaving millions dead. Because of the Hutu militias, fleeing Rwanda after their 1994 genocide failed to destroy the Tutsi minority, civil war was triggered in eastern Congo, and eventually ended 32 years of despotic rule. Several brigades of UN peacekeepers arrive, beginning in 2000, and by the end of the decade, the fighting is dying out, but not gone yet. The worst conflict of the decade, with over four million dead.

Ethiopia. Decade began with first ever free (but not so fair) multiparty elections. There was also an end to the two year war with Eritrea. But there was no permanent peace, as Ethiopia refused to abide by the ruling of an international arbitrator regarding border dispute with Eritrea. Uprisings among Omoro and Somali tribesmen, and a yearlong incursion into Somalia.

Haiti. Peacekeepers arrived in the 1990s, and remained throughout the last decade. Two centuries of independence have failed to improve the lives of Haitians. Corruption, and lack of cooperation, continues to block progress and peace. 

India-Pakistan. Pakistani backed terrorism in Kashmir was a growing problem, and both nations had troops massed on the border, after almost going to full scale war in 1999. Pakistan begins the decade as a military dictatorship again, but switches back to democracy by the end of the decade. Pakistan comes to regret harboring and encouraging Islamic radicals since the late 1970s, and ends the decade at war with these killers, and the Pushtun tribes they have infected.

Indonesia. Throwing off 32 years of despotic rule, the last decade has largely been a battle against separatism and Islamic radicalism. Democracy survived, Islamic radicalism was defeated, and only East Timor managed to separate itself from Indonesia and become independent.

Iran.  Has two of its hostile neighbors (Saddam's Iraq and Taliban Afghanistan) neutralized by the United States. This enables religious dictatorship to increase efforts to help Shia minority take over Lebanon. In Iraq, Shia are a majority, but most are hostile to Iranian plans, and Iran is forced to back off. Same deal in Afghanistan. Offers of help accepted in Gaza, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Effort to build nuclear weapons and longer range ballistic missiles continues. Internal opposition to all this, and a religious police state in general, grows. By now, there are major anti-government demonstrations.

Iraq- Saddam Hussein was under siege at the beginning of the decade, refusing to comply with the terms of his defeat in the 1991 war over Kuwait. Saddam, as he later admitted, had no weapons of mass destruction, but did not want the Iranians (who wanted to kill him for invading in 1980) to know. It was a successful deception, so much so that all the world's intel agencies agreed that Saddam had these weapons, and that was used to justify the U.S./British invasion of 2003. There followed five years of terrorism, as the Sunni Arab minority (which Saddam had led) tried to murder their way back into power. That didn't work, and Iraq ends the decade with a booming, not shrinking, economy, and a bloody resolution to some long time political disputes. 

Israel. The decade began with Israel making a peace offer to the Palestinians. By today's standards, it looked like a great deal. But the Palestinians decided to try a terror campaign against Israel, to get better terms. That failed. Israel figured out how to halt Palestinian terror attacks inside Israel, and in the process, destroyed the Palestinian economy. All the stress caused a split among the Palestinians, with the old line, but corrupt, PLO controlling the West Bank, and radical Hamas, running Gaza (which Israel, in 2005, gave control of, to the Palestinians, in 2005 as a peace gesture). The decade ends with the Palestinians pleading that they are victims (of shooting themselves in the foot) and in need of international assistance (which discouraged donors are no longer willing to provide.) Israel also withdrew from bases in southern Lebanon. That gesture didn't work either, and Hezbollah is equipped by Iran to attack Israel with barrages of rockets, and does just that in 2006.

Ivory Coast. Began the decade with a growing dispute between the north and south, natives and migrants, Moslems and Christians. Got ugly for a while, but has since settled down, with the country split in two, but still pretending to be one nation.  

Korea. South Korea thrives, while North Korea spends the decade threatening to blow up the world, if enough free food and fuel is not sent to prevent North Korea from starving and freezing to death. Two nuclear tests carried out, and more are promised. Leadership also gets shaky up north, with arguments over succession, and how to cope with the economic problems. South Korea gets fed up and goes hard line over dealing with the north.

Kurdish War. The Kurdish radical PKK took a hammering and was on the ropes at the end of the decade. There's less fighting, but more political activity. The Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq became independent in the early 1990s, when the U.S. and Britain told Iraq to stay out, or else. After 2003, the several million Iraqi Kurds grew more prosperous and independent minded, while still (once more) a part of Iraq. And so it continues.

Mexico. Drug gangs grow in power, corrupting police, politicians, and even the army. This triggers a violent response from the government, which leads to high levels of violence along the U.S. border as war between the security forces and drug gangs plays out.

Myanmar. Yet another decade of military rule. Police state keeps democrats down, while army keeps fighting tribes in the north, nearly crushing the major ones by the end of the decade, and causing many tribal refugees to flee into Thailand and China.

Nepal. Maoist movement succeeds in demolishing the monarchy, when everyone decides that continued fighting is not the best way to go. Republic installed in 2008. Over a decade of Maoist violence left 12,000 dead. Maoists enter government as largest party, but then leave when they can't get all they want. Decade ends with   Maoists threatening to resume war, but are unsure if the more popular government could now crush them.

Nigeria. Islamic radicalism grows throughout the decade, but never becomes a major problem. Violence between Moslems and non-Moslems continues to be a more serious problem. But the worst violence is in the Niger River delta, where locals want a larger cut of the oil revenue. Rebels cut production by over a million barrels a day, causing the government to provide amnesty and other concessions. Niger Delta violence likely to resume because corruption in government will cause many of the amnesty benefits to disappear.

Philippines. This war, against Moslem separatists and communist rebels, continues, after four decades. Some Islamic terrorists have been added, but the government is in a better position, having gotten separatists and communists to undertake peace negotiations. Islamic terrorists grab headlines, but are not a major threat.

Russia. The army had just invaded Chechnya again. The last time, in the early 1990s, was a disaster. This time, the army was prepared. Chechnya had descended into anarchy, dominated by criminal gangs and Islamic radicals, spewing violence and crime throughout the Caucasus and southern Russia. The Russian invasion was the response. The problem was solved the way the Russians had done so many times before; using brute force. Meanwhile, Russia realized that their armed forces were falling apart (the budget had been cut 90 percent through the 1990s), and it was time to rebuild. Government revives many police state characteristics, but goes go after corruption and gets the economy moving.

Rwanda and Burundi. Decade opens with Hutu rebels were still active in Burundi, but already crushed in Rwanda. It would take another decade to settle down in Burundi. The Hutu/Tutsi rivalries and hatreds are centuries old, and are not going away anytime soon.

Sierra Leone. Years of civil war and chaos slowly ended over the first half of the decade. Peacekeepers began arriving in 2000 (and leaving in 2005). Country is still a mess, but a relatively quiet one.

Somalia. Attempts to form a government (the last one disappeared in 1991), kept failing. In the last decade, several Islamic radical factions developed. This triggered an Ethiopian occupation of the capital for a year. Islamic radical factions now fighting each other, partly over the sanctuary some groups are providing to foreign terrorists (like al Qaeda).

Sri Lanka. Tamil (ethnic separatists) are hammering army at the start of decade, but government turns things around over next nine years and crush the rebels.  

Sudan. The Islamic conservative government goes through the motions of establishing an Islamic dictatorship, and crushing all opposition from the half of the population that was not Arab (culturally). Began the decade trying to settle the civil war in the south (against non-Moslem, non-African tribesmen). Sort of did that, then started another one in the west (against non-Arab Moslem farmers.) New oilfields developed with Chinese help, and China becomes an ally.

Thailand. Decade begins with minor Islamic terror movement emerging in the south, and the cleanest national elections ever. Royalist and populist politicians cannot agree on how to run the country, and military stages a coup in 2006. Backs off after a year and allows elections, but still helps suppress populists. While all this nonviolent political strife unreels, violence grows in the south, leaving over 4,000 dead for a decade of Islamic terrorism (to establish a tiny Islamic state from the three southernmost provinces).

War On Terror. At the beginning of the decade, Islamic terrorists were being pursued, and were known to be very active in many places (particularly Afghanistan, where they were welcome,  and Algeria, where they were not). September 11, 2001 was a wakeup call for the West. Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq cause huge losses for al Qaeda, especially the loss of sanctuary in the Persian Gulf. Decade ends with al Qaeda more of a media, than physical, presence. Very few successful attacks in the West since 2001, and a long string of defeats.

Uganda. The government was able to deal with several rebel groups, except one (the LRA, or Lords Resistance Army). By the end of the decade, the LRA had been driven out of Uganda, and the army had permission from neighboring countries, to chase down the LRA remnants.

Yemen. Installed its first elected president in 1999, but powerful factions enabled Islamic terrorists to install themselves. Throughout the decade, independent minded Shia tribes in the north cause unrest, and then open rebellion at the end of the decade. This triggers drive to destroy al Qaeda presence, along with Shia tribal violence.