[Dawn] IT has been a decade of bans and lists. As the world of terror revealed itself to be more and more amorphous, nation states have fought back collecting the names, identifying the leaders and eliminating the followers of terror groups.
There are lists of banned ...the word banned seems to have a different meaning in Pakistain than it does in most other places. Or maybe it simply lacks any meaning at all...
organizations in Pakistain and lists of people not permitted in America. Along with lists there are typologies and profiles; the richer the nation, the more detailed the conjured portraits of terror.
In one of the latest episodes revolving around terror and terrorists, Malik Ishaq, leader of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ... a 'more violent' offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistain. LeJ's purpose in life is to murder anyone who's not of utmost religious purity, starting with Shiites but including Brelvis, Ahmadis, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Rosicrucians, and just about anyone else you can think of. They are currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of al-Qaeda ... , was recently released from detention from Kot Lakhpat jail.
A few days later, he attended a rally in Multan organised by the Difa-e-Pakistain Council, seen as a new motley coalition of groups such as the Jamaat-e-Islami ...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores... , Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (formerly known as Sipah-e-Sahaba), Maulana Samiul Haq's faction of Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam ...Assembly of Islamic Clergy, or JUI, is a Pak Deobandi (Hanafi) political party. There are two main branches, one led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and one led by Maulana Samiul Haq. Fazl is active in Pak politix and Sami spends more time running his madrassah. Both branches sponsor branches of the Taliban, though with plausible deniability... and others.
Malik Ishaq was not the only freed terrorist present at the rally. Also in attendance was Hafiz Muhammad Saeed ...founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and its false-mustache offshoot Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The United Nations declared the JuD a terrorist organization in 2008 and Hafiz Saeed a terrorist as its leader. Hafiz, JuD and LeT are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Pak intel apparatus, so that amounted to squat... , head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa ...the front organization of Lashkar-e-Taiba... . Under the new rhetorical flourish of 'defending Pakistain' each emerged in public, untouched by previous sins committed under old names.
The massacre of Shia Hazaras in Mastung and the horrific attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team that left this country humiliated all seemed to be forgotten in view of the latest indignities imposed by the United States, the desecration of Mohammedan corpses by 'infidel' soldiers and the absolving magic of a new patriotic name.
The name game -- the coining of new names as one agenda for hatred morphs into another -- and the painstaking tracing of genealogies of terror by American experts has become such a well-oiled cycle that both ends follow practised sequences enacted with well-rehearsed outrage.
As per this worn script, two days after the rally the US ambassador to Pakistain reportedly warned that aid disbursements to Pakistain would be ceased unless action was taken against the two individuals.
Also as per the stage instructions, Pak heads nodded and made responsive motions, yet the curtain fell on January with no conclusions and no catharsis.
Adequate room was left by all involved for sequels that capitalise on the same plotlines with mildly altered angles and slight variations of dialogue. There are many critiques of course: everything written on either side of this issue; the inadequate denunciation and pursuit of terror on one end, the imperialist overreach and illegality of secret wars and surreptitious killings on the other.
Neither is able or willing to see the new pathology spawned by the entrenchment of these roles. Paks and Americans as well as their respective governments are unable to see terror except in the limited shades of this scripted tragedy.
The challenges of labelling terror as endemic and the terrorist as a criminal, his pursuit and apprehension as an act of law enforcement rather than war-mongering at the American end rest on two issues.
First is the fact that the American criminal justice system rests on the precept of innocence until guilt has been established in a court of law and robust scepticism towards pre-emptive punishment even in situations where individuals pose a significant risk of future criminal activity.
Because the core of the ongoing war on terror is largely pre-emptive, there is resistance to the prosecution of alleged beturbanned goons in American criminal courts or as the passage of the National Defence Authorisation Act reveals, the creation of a parallel system that permits acts such as indefinite detention that would otherwise be deemed unconstitutional.
The second factor has been the United States' long-standing reticence to join the International Criminal Court ... where Milosevich died of old age before being convicted ... , established in 2002 through the Rome Statute to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The first creates a perception of terror as something finite, existing in particular times and contexts and with a distinct end. The second leaves a vast gap in the transnational legal tools available to prosecute crimes beyond national jurisdictions.
Cumulatively, both leave the issue of terror to foreign policy experts and military strategists, both of whom conceptualise the elimination of terror and the terrorist as a linear task with finite parameters accomplished via bombs and assassinations.
On the Pak end, there is the inability to conceptualise terrorism as a moral issue with dimensions beyond imperialism, nationalism and illusory sovereignty.
As a result, people appear at rallies where known terrorist leaders are present; mobs collect and enact fatwas that punish religious minorities, and any failing to echo the populist rhetoric of denouncing America and railing against the West.
On the basis of this dynamic, the end of the war on terror and the withdrawal of the US and NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A collection of multinational and multilingual and multicultural armed forces, all of differing capabilities, working toward a common goal by pulling in different directions... forces is equivocated with the end of terror itself, possibly even the end of all scourges leaving a pristine Pakistain untrammelled by want or famine or disaster.
The beneficiaries of these delusions -- American and Pak -- are Hafiz Saeed ...who would be wearing a canvas jacket with very long sleeves anyplace but Pakistain... and Malik Ishaq, who can discard their banned outfits for new fashions of populism, managing to dupe both those in Pakistain and those in America.
The former invest these chameleons with the bravado of facing down a bossy superpower; the latter believe that the terrorist is a product of ideology, demography, faith and a smattering of other variables.
Neither seems to understand that terror, like crime, is an ugly fact of life, the result of the failure of conscience and a detriment to all human beings. It will never go away, not with the exit of a superpower or the elimination of a terrorist leader.
Its denunciations must rest not on strategic calculations, the disbursement of aid, the passage of shipments, the counting of corpses and ruined lives and destroyed futures, its biggest casualty is our universal loss of faith in the possibility of justice.
On the campaign trail, presidential candidate Barack Obama once called for a "reset" policy with Iran. Supposedly, the unpopularity of the Texan provocateur George W. Bush and his administration's inability to finesse "soft power" had needlessly alienated the Iranian theocracy.
After Obama took office in 2009, we had a new Iran 2.0 policy implemented on a variety of fronts.
The result of Obama's Iran 2.0 policy?
Failure on every front. The Iranians sped up work on the bomb. They snubbed every deadline we issued. They increased weapons shipments to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. The Russians aided rather than blocked Iranian nuclear efforts.
In other words, after demagoguing the old Iranian 1.0 containment strategy, the Obama administration is now trying to play 3.0 catch-up after its own failed 2.0 appeasement policy.
But the likely result of this schizophrenia will probably be an Obama 4.0 Iran policy -- in other words, a big war in the Persian Gulf.
This was an interesting article as well as the intense debate following re the ability to "shut down the Straits". What was missing was that evryone debated who would "win" between the military options. There is no need to do that. Strategically the aim is to reduce the economic flow of oil, all as part of sabre diplomacy. It is the insurance companies that will tell their tankers to stay away. LLoyds of London has too much to lose to either have insured tankers sunk or deal with oil spills. This can be done by threats and manipulation of those CNN guys. No need to fire a shot.