Folksmagazine [India] September 26, 2011
Pakistan Parliament House, Islamabad, 2006 — Via Wikimedia Commons.
Two weeks after the 10th anniversary of the terrorist assault on America in 2001, an objective observer – if such a person exists today – looking at relations between the Muslim lands in crisis and the developed Western and East Asian countries, might easily agree with those who describe the situation as a clash of civilizations.
At the United Nations in New York, Palestinian Arab demands for recognition of a sovereign territory alongside Israel – the “two-state solution” that majorities among both Israelis and West Bank Arabs agree they want – were “self-sabotaged” by Palestinian rhetorical excess. An end to the Israel-Palestine controversy seemed further away than ever, with diplomacy serving as a masquerade for impotence. France, as a member of the UN Security Council, wriggled, supporting a Palestinian “non-member observer” seat at the UN. Israel remained calm, notwithstanding talk of a new mass political mobilization by the Palestinians and, in such a case, a tax blockade by the Jewish state, which collects revenues for the Palestinians. Meanwhile, as has become habitual at the UN, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disgraced his country, with the absurd allegation that the September 11, 2001 atrocities were falsified by the U.S. for the benefit of Israel.
Continue reading Pakistan Vs. America – Still No Accountability
by Stephen Schwartz
NewsGram [India], May 6, 2011
The execution of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. military personnel in a raid on the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, which includes the Pakistan Military Academy, as well as vacation and retirement homes for Pakistani military officers, calls forth a wide range of reflections. For me, some of these thoughts are personal, and embody experiences in my own life.
Some, however, are commonsensical. It seems to have gone unnoticed that Abbottabad, aside from its martial features, and its proximity (less than 120 km in distance) to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, as well as the country’s military headquarters in Rawalpindi, is also fewer than 100 km from the “line of control” partitioning Kashmir. U.S.-led forces had concentrated their search for Bin Laden on the other side of Pakistan’s narrow northern tip, in the border areas with Afghanistan. But the fortress built for the terrorist chief had better access to Kashmir, which has, longer than Afghanistan, been the target of Pakistani jihadism.
Terrorists trained and financed by Pakistan for raids into Kashmir include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT or “Army of the Righteous”), an Al-Qaida auxiliary. LeT established the first major radical Islamist network uncovered in the U.S. after 11 September 2001, the so-called “North Virginia paintball jihad” group, whose members were tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison. LeT stood behind the Mumbai terrorist raid of December 2008, which shocked the world. David C. Headley, an American citizen born Daood Gilani, was a key figure in the bloody Mumbai incursion, and was arrested in Chicago, Illinois. Last year, he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.
Continue reading Reflections on Bin Laden and Pakistan – Will There Be a Reckoning? by Stephen Schwartz
NewsGram [India], January 14, 2011 (This is the first of a regular series of columns by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz that will appear weekly in this online periodical based in India).
The assassination on 4th January of Salman Taseer, the secular governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province, has been overshadowed in western media by the attempted murder of U.S. Congress member Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, four days later. The violent incidents bear a common element. In both, the men charged with the shootings were quickly mislabeled by journalists and commentators.
Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the slayer of Taseer, was naturally assumed to belong to Pakistan’s Taliban faction or another of the powerful jihadist groups in the country. That description was predictable given the current descent of Pakistan into open civil conflict. This expanding war pits ideological radicals inspired by Saudi Arabia and the Taliban against the moderate majority of Pakistani Muslims, including Sufis and Shias no less than exponents of secular rule.
Continue reading Pakistan’s morality and moderates after Taseer by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Hudson Institute New York, December 15, 2010
Although commentators reporting on the passing of Richard C. Holbrooke have stressed his role as a representative of President Barack Obama in the Afghanistan-Pakistan war theatre and his main prior exploit as a diplomat – the imposition of the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the brutal war in Bosnia-Hercegovina — Holbrooke’s legacy, regardless of the obituary rhetoric, was an ambiguous one.
Holbrooke’s “resolution” of the Bosnian war was emblematic of “land for peace” through negotiations and concessions, the latter typically to be delivered up by the victims of aggression. Indians worried that Holbrooke might have asked their country to hand over Kashmir to Pakistan in exchange for a promised abatement of Pakistani jihadism and of the unadmitted but obvious support, by powerful elements in Islamabad, for the Afghan Taliban. Such a bargain would have closely resembled the outcome Holbrooke pressed on the Bosnian Muslims. In exchange for peace and protection in an enclave, and promises of future reintegration, the Bosnian Muslims had to accept partition of their native land.
Under Dayton, about half of Bosnia’s territory was retained by the so-called “Serbian Republic” established by invasion and terror, while another third, the Croatian section of the so-called “Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosnia-Hercegovina,” has been the subject of a similar attempt at amputation. The Dayton Accords did not dissuade Slobodan Milosevic and his clique from undertaking a new effort at ethnic expulsion in Kosovo in 1998-99. That resulted in, rather than a diplomatic deal, the U.S.-led NATO military campaign against Belgrade in 1999. But many observers on the ground in the Balkans, in the direct aftermath of Dayton, saw that without the immediate removal of Milosevic, Kosovo would be the next target for aggression by Belgrade. Still, Holbrooke was notably proud of his effort “to end a war” – the phrase he adopted as the title for his memoir, published in 1998.
Continue reading Richard C. Holbrooke’s Problematic Legacy by Stephen Schwartz
CIP, November 26, 2010
The Center for Islamic Pluralism calls on the government of Pakistan to immediately cease the persecution of Aasia Bibi, 45, a Christian, for alleged “blasphemy” against the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahualeyhisalem). We note that Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for minorities in the administration of president Asif Ali Zardari, has called for Aasia Bibi to be pardoned and her family protected from harm.
Zardari’s regime has, however, failed to act with appropriate speed in addressing this scandalous case. The lethargy of the Islamabad authorities, who have also neglected their duty to protect Shia Muslims and Sufis under assault, like the complicity of Pakistani military and intelligence authorities in terrorism in Kashmir and against India, reflects the reluctance of Zardari to break with radical forces both inside and outside his administration.
Continue reading CIP Calls on Pakistan to End Blasphemy Persecution by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Hudson Institute New York, July 22, 2010
In an important development for Islam in South Asia and around the world, the government of Bangladesh, a country with a population of almost 160 [...]