The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed today across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir

LAHORE : The ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ is being observed on Friday (February 5) across the country, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir for expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir waging a struggle for their right of self-determination for the last six decades. The day has dawn with special prayers for the liberation of Kashmir, in all principal mosques throughout the country.

Prayers will also be offered for victims of Kashmir freedom struggle. One-minute silence will be observed throughout the country with sounding of sirens at 10 am and the traffic will be brought to a halt. Newspapers will also publish special editions on the occasion, while TV channels and radio centres will air special programmes, highlighting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris.

On this day, Pakistani nation renew its pledge that it would continue to extend unflinching moral and political support to their Kashmiri brethren in their heroic struggle for their right to self-determination. The day is also an occasion to salute the courage and bravery of the freedom loving people of Kashmir who have remained steadfast and resolute in their quest to attain their inalienable right of self-determination.

Political parties and people hailing from different walks of life will join hands to express complete solidarity and unity with their Kashmiri brethren on February 5, in their just struggle. To mark the day, seminars, public gatherings, rallies and other events have been planned in a bid to highlight the plight of Kashmiris besides expressing solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren.

Speakers through their speeches will press the peace loving nations all over the world to exert pressure on India to stop its aggressive policies and allow the Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination. The government has already declared public holiday for February 5 and all the government offices, as well as educational institutions will remain closed. Shops, markets and business centres will also remain closed on this occasion.

There is complete consensus among the ranks and file of political leadership in the country that Kashmir issue is a threat to peace and stability of this region while peaceful and durable solution to the dispute, in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of the people of Kashmir is the only solution.

In Lahore, processions and rallies will be taken out from different areas to express solidarity with Kashmiri brethren and condemn atrocities against innocent people of the held valley. It may be mentioned that Pakistan has always emphasised the necessity of a meaningful and constructive dialogue to resolve the Kashmiri dispute.

Kashmiri leaders were of the view that the Kashmir Solidarity Day has assumed special significance in the changed geo-political environment of the region, where the Kashmir dispute is widely believed as a flash-point, drawing international attention for its resolution, according to the United Nations resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris. Mohammad Saleem

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The struggle for freedom in Kashmir has undergone a radical change during the last few years

The struggle for freedom in Kashmir has undergone a radical change during the last few years, changing in character from essentially a reliance on the power of the armed resistance to embracing the tactics of non-violence. For freedom fighters to make this transition is a substantive step which is loaded with tremendous possibilities and is capable of unleashing the might of the pent-up anger and hurt caused by the roughshod treatment of Kashmiris into a potent and irresistible movement. The civil society in Kashmir is getting organised to challenge the  abominable way in which the Indian state has treated it and that is no cold comfort for their tormentors. The power of this trend is becoming manifest when the common people are coming together to defy the power of the state to represent themselves.

The efficacy of the trend is evident through formation of organisations like the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and by resilience of activists like Parves Imroz, who have begun to draw attention at forums like the European Parliament for the unending pain that the Kashmiri population has to bear with.

The September Eleven incident has erased the line separating the freedom fighter from a terrorist and this has provided India with a handle to portray the alienation of Kashmiris with the Indian occupation as a foreign sponsored movement employing terror tactics. This has also enabled India to get away with the grave human rights violations it is perpetrating in Kashmir. One has to also take it into account that in the course of armed resistance spread over two decades the Kashmir landscape has been saturated with jackboot and the bayonet; thoroughly bruising and traumatizing the Kashmiri nation. The evolving non-violent mass resistance movement in Kashmir is in step with the global dynamics and reflects their impact on shaping local ground realities.

The Kashmiri armed resistance has been waged by around 1500 freedom fighters, operating in IHK at the peak of insurgency. Yet to neutralise this modest number of freedom fighters the Indians have physically deployed 700,000 troops who occupy every nook and corner of cities and hamlets and crisscross the forests, turning the landscape into a virtual jail. Around 100,000 Kashmiris have lost their lives during 20 years of conflict and 8000-10000 people have simply vanished after arrest by the
security forces. The Indian armed forces employ infamous Special Operations. Momin Iftikhar

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The media plays a significant role in manufacturing Islamophobia within western societies

The media plays a significant role in manufacturing Islamophobia within western societies by manipulating and shaping an individuals opinion on anything and everything.  It presents us with distorted images of Islam and that in turn conjures stereotypes and prejudice.

For people who are sceptical about the notion of ‘Islamophobia’, a study was conducted in the US where  the public were asked to write down, with as little thought and as much honesty as possible, all the words that come to mind when you think of the words “Islam” or Muslim”.

Most people gave an almost routine set of answers.  The names and events they thought of tended to be associated with violence, e.g., Osama Bin Laden, 9/11, Palestinian suicide bombers.  The ideas and practices were associated with oppression, e.g., Jihad, veiling, Islamic law. And the places were limited to the Middle East, e.g., Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran.  Of course some answers escaped the pattern, e.g., the Qur’an, pilgrimage to Mecca, Muhammad Ali, but these were relatively few.  When asked about their answers, many responded unfortunate as such associations may be, Muslims and Islam feature prominently in many of the world’s conflicts and injustices, and this they conclude says something about their religion.  Judging from the portrayals of Muslims and Islam in Western media, it’s hard to argue with them.

In September 2005, the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Postem, published 12 depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.  Awareness of the cartoons became widespread and a global protest soon grew, typified by peaceful gatherings of thousands of protestors in many places.  Unfortunately some Muslim’s reacted violently.

Islamophobia is even presented in popular films such as Hollywood blockbusters and children’s cartoons.  A report by the Islamic Human Rights Commission argues that films such as Aladdin and East is East have contributed to demonizing Muslims as dangerous and violent.  For example, in Aladdin, rather than presenting the Arab culture and Islamic religion in a positive way, it is associated with harsh punishments and oppressive practices.  In the British film East is East, a mixed raced Anglo-Pakistani family is presented struggling with their traditional background forced upon them by their father.  The representation of the Muslim husband is of a polygamous wife beater.


Sadly, media outlets consistently overlook the voices of moderation that come from the majority of Muslims.  When violence flared in 2006 over the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, very few of America’s frontline newspapers reported the condemnation of the violence issued immediately by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the most important Islamic organisations In the US and only one of many that decried the attacks.  In another instance the year before, a Connecticut newspaper ran an editorial decrying the lack of public statements by Muslim leaders against the then recent terrorist attacks in London.  The state chapter of CAIR wrote back asking why the newspaper had not mentioned its own denunciation of the violence, which the group had sent the newspaper.  In fact, since this event, a great variety and number of Muslim leaders in the US and abroad condemned the attacks but received little coverage by the American media.

The media is always quick to stereotype Muslims as terrorists by linking the news to religion when Muslims have done something wrong.  But does the media link crimes carried out by Westerners to religion?

The answer is no.  The Columbine High School shooters religions were not disclosed, nor are the religions of any Western perpetrators.  The media believes that any Muslim who commits a crime is doing so in the name of Islam and therefore feels the need to disclose his religious views.

Because Muslims seldom appear in news reports or other media sources except as perpetrators of violence, supposedly in the name of Islam, many Westerners understandably conclude that all Muslim’s act from inherently religious motivations and that Islam is dangerous. Muslims become two-dimensional, existing only as Muslims, seemingly never sharing identities or interests with non-Muslims.  However, Westerners engage with Muslims in thousands of ways every day: a student and her classmates, a banker and his customer, a homeowner and her neighbours.  The globalised world we inhabit makes possible increasingly intimate connections between distant individuals with increasing speed.  So why, despite all this contact, do domestic news and entertainment sources seldom mention the terms “Muslim” or “Islam” except in the context of conflict, violence and bloodshed?? By: Ismail Farooki. Cambridge –England

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Gen Kayani vows to root out militancy despite losses

RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Pakistan has suffered the maximum in terms of human and economic losses due to terrorism and violent extremism, but it has not dented the resolve of the nation and its armed forces to root out the terrorism in line with own national interests.

He made these remarks, while talking to a group of foreign correspondents on his return from Brussels, where he had gone to attend the conference of NATO commanders on a special invitation.

The Army chief said he has conveyed the concerns, challenges, contributions and constraints of Pakistan in its fight against the terrorists.

The COAS said that he had highlighted the key issues of the conflict that needed to be fully understood and addressed. He drew the attention of the forum towards the huge sacrifices made by the people of Pakistan and its armed forces, due to the effect of ‘Blow Back’.

Referring to Afghanistan, Gen Kayani said: “Our objective is to have peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan. We cannot wish for Afghanistan anything that we don’t wish for Pakistan”.

He reaffirmed that geography, culture and history can neither be separated nor wished away and emphasized that our operations in 2009 have helped improve situation in Afghanistan in terms of squeezing of spaces, better control of areas and continuous logistic flow.

The COAS identified five fundamentals that helped in turning the tide and must not be lost sight for future operations. These are: public opinion, media support, army’s capability and resolve, ‘our war’ was not ‘US war’ and a comprehensive strategy based on four different phases namely clear, hold, build and transfer.

About the way forward, he said that, the fundamentals should remain strong and intact, short and long term interests be reconciled, strategic direction should be maintained and coordination be effect based.

He informed the NATO commanders that our strategic paradigm needs to be fully realized. He said we are the second largest Muslim nation in the World located in a strategic region defined by competing interests and civilizational cross roads, with a prolonged history of conflict.

“We have three million Afghan refugees. At present, our operations are in a transitory phase (from hold to build), we must consolidate our gains and fully stabilize the areas secured, lest it falls back to terrorists.”

Constraints of capability to absorb and operate, limited cutting edge counter intelligence, counter terrorism capability and limited budgetary space should be factored in, he said.

In his concluding remarks, General said Pakistan has contributed to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“We have the will and resolve to overcome the menace of terrorism in our country and we have the public support. We have also offered to train ANA and ANP, as we have the capacity and wherewithal to do so.”

He reiterated that Pakistan should be trusted and enabled.


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Cricket terrorism

Sultan M Hali | India has used every excuse possible to turn it into an instrument of terror. It has used coercive diplomacy, taking full advantage of the reconstruction opportunity in Afghanistan to launch terror attacks in Pakistan. 9/11 was used as a ploy to ditch its erstwhile ally Russia and join the US camp to take up cudgels against Pakistan. The Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline was employed as a tool of intimidation and blackmail. The Confidence Building Measures by Pakistan were misused by India as a ploy for oppression and viewed as a sign of Pakistan’s weakness. Other nations including Pakistan make use of sports, culture and fine arts to enhance relations especially when tensions are rising. Pakistan’s president Zia-ul-Haq used cricket diplomacy to diffuse the chances of conflict between Pakistan and India when there was fear of war between the two during the Operation Brass-tacks era.

Unfortunately, India is exploiting the event of sports, especially cricket for terrorizing Pakistan. Earlier too Hindu extremists have threatened to attack and maim Pakistani cricketers in pursuance of their nefarious chauvinistic designs. They have dug up cricket pitches, created furor by inciting crowd vandalism to disrupt matches which appeared to be going against India. In the early days of Pakistan-India cricket fixtures, readers may recall an incident when Pakistan team was visiting India for a cricket series, Pakistan’s star batsman Hanif Muhammad was approached by an Indian fanatic posing to be a “fan”, who wanted to shake hands with the “Little Master” on the eve of the match. Innocently Hanif Muhammad extended his hand, but a blade concealed between the fingers of the “fan” cut his hand badly. That is another story that with a bandaged hand and three stitches, the master player went on to score 202 runs. Pakistani players playing for the Indian Premier League (IPL) who were stuck in Mumbai following the attacks on 26/11/2007 were threatened to be assassinated by Hindu militants as retaliation for the assault. Pakistani teams have time and again been threatened to desist from visiting India.

The forthcoming cricket “World Cup”, which is to be hosted by South Asia in 2011, with the venues to be divided between Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India was sabotaged for Pakistan. Initially India raised the specter of terror threats to visiting teams in Pakistan, which caused Australia, New Zealand and England to abstain from playing in Pakistan. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, in a show of solidarity with us, decided to send their cricket teams to Pakistan. Reportedly, Indian intelligence agency RAW organized a deadly attack on the visiting cricket team at Lahore, sealing the fate of Pakistan as venue for the World Cup. This is not only going to deprive Pakistan of revenues and Pakistani fans the chance of witnessing exciting cricket matches, but also divest the national team of vital match practice, contributing to its dismal match performance in the recent past. The latest machination by the protagonists of Hindutva and Indian extremists, in humiliating Pakistani cricketers in the IPL is not only distasteful, but requires condemnation at the international level. Pakistani cricketers are not only the world champions in the 20/20 form of cricket, but have also rendered match winning performances in their various teams during the previous IPL tournaments. They should have been in demand by each and every team contesting in the IPL. Initially, problems were created in the issuance of visas for the Pakistani players, and then they were told to face the ignominy of facing auctioneering by different team sponsors/proprietors. Once the Pakistani players were placed for bidding, to their utter humiliation, not a single Pakistani cricketer was bid for. It has now emerged that the farcical auction was engineered by RAW and militant Hindus. Rajasthan Royals’ co-owner Shilpa Shetty, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab Preity Zinta and Shahrukh Khan of Kolkata Knight riders have confirmed that the Hindu Extremist organization Shiv Sena and goons of RAW’s underworld mafia threatened the bidders to refrain from hiring Pakistani Cricket stars at the auction of the players for the 3rd session of IPL.

Without clearly naming Shiv Sena and RAW goons, the Bollywood sensations have expressed that they were threatened that if they would opt for hiring Pak cricketers, they (Pak Cricketers) would be badly harmed by them ( the Shiv Sena and RAW goons). Apart from the showbiz beauties who were amongst the bidder at the IPL auction some business tycoons at the auction, including Ness Wadia and Mukesh Ambani have also expressed the same while talking to media or commenting over the situation at private functions in Mumbai. The bidders have confirmed that the Pakistani cricketers were in great demand while some impartial and saner elements of the Indian media have disclosed opinion polls reflecting the choice of Indian fans who voted in the excess of 72% to see the star performers from Pakistani cricket playing on their soil.

On the other side, Indian belligerent leaders continue to threaten Pakistan with dire consequences if 26/11 type attacks are repeated. Indian threatening attitude has taken the extreme situation, where they see PAF’s preparations for war games at Sargodha as threatening for India. Sargodha is situated in the heart of the Punjab and is a Main Operating airbase, yet it is being described as a border city and the trenches and tunnels dug for war-games, have been construed as threatening postures. Indian Air Defence has gone so berserk that it mistook its own aircraft on the radar and declared them as hostile intruders and was preparing to take punitive action. Under these circumstances, Pakistan should boycott the IPL matches. No Pakistani cable operator should broadcast the IPL matches in Pakistan. During the Cricket World Cup, Pakistan should refuse to play any match on Indian soil. In one of the previous World Cup cricket tournaments, Australia had refused to play in Sri Lanka; we can adopt a similar policy for India. Such drastic steps will expose Indian belligerence and cricket terrorism and bear pressure on it from using sports fixtures for its nefarious ends.


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A Two-Front Threat Emerging For Pakistan

Dr. Shireeen M Mazari:

The moment of truth for those in Islamabad who continue to trust the Americans is nearing and might have already arrived. Pakistan needs to respond to the provocations by India and by those who are supporting India. Pakistan also needs to consider withdrawing from the coming London conference on Afghanistan if its legitimate security interests are further ignored by the United States and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Pakistani forces need to be positioned along the border with southern Afghanistan, where some elements within the US establishment seem to be planning limited incursions.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—A nightmare security scenario for Pakistan seems to be emerging – that of a two-front military conflict. Pakistan is already facing an internal militancy aided and abetted from Afghanistan and is threatened with all manner of likely US boots actually coming into Pakistan.

Already, the drone attacks on Pakistani soil have increased. For all these reasons, Pakistan has moved a large chunk of its forces away from its Eastern border with India and along the LoC, and moved them to the Western front along the international border with Afghanistan as well as into FATA.

Now India has upped the military ante against Pakistan after meetings between Indian officials and America’s Holbrooke and Gates. Hence we are seeing the unprovoked Indian military firing at Pakistani forces across the international border, the working boundary and across the LoC, which has resulted in death and injury for Pakistani soldiers. What can possibly be the Indian intent at this time to undertake such military adventurism? Had it been given some go-ahead by the Americans?

This new military provocation comes when there seems to have been a decision made by the British and Americans to give India a major military role in Afghanistan. The two allies are all set to spring this nasty decision onto Pakistan at the international conference on Afghanistan in London at the end of this month when it will be proposed that India train the Afghan National Army – something it is already doing at a small level covertly and on that pretext already has its operatives in Afghanistan. It is these operatives who are conducting the aid and assistance to militants within Pakistan.

In view of these developments, what are the immediate options for Pakistan which will protect its interests as well as signal an effective message to both the US and India?

First and most immediate, Pakistan needs to move its troops back to its Eastern front and cease operations in FATA. We need to distinguish between our militancy problem, which is certainly threatening and very real, but has multiple dimensions, and the misguided US ‘War on Terror’. On the Western front, it needs to realign its forces along the Chaman border area with Afghanistan where it is expected US boots may enter Pakistan on the ground.

Second, it needs to tell the US in no uncertain terms that it will not tolerate these Indian military incitements and may well up the ante also choosing its own time, place and type of response.

Third, Pakistan needs to categorically refuse to participate in the London Conference if the plan to train the Afghan National Army by India is even discussed informally. In fact, under the circumstances, if India participates in the Conference, Pakistan should consider the option of boycotting it. Let us see how far the US and UK get in Afghanistan without Pakistan’s active cooperation!

Fourth, it is time to demand that Indian operatives move out of Afghanistan and Indian consulates in Afghanistan along the border area with Pakistan be closed.

The fact that the Indian aggression has come immediately in the aftermath of the discussions between the Indians and visiting Americans including Defense Secretary Gates, and following on the heels of the visit to Kabul by India’s DG MI, shows only too clearly the Indo-US nexus in terms of presenting Pakistan with a possible two-front threat.

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