Friday, July 31, 2015

How Seeing Greta Garbo Naked Shifted Jane Fonda's View Of 'Perfection'

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, and I thought you might be interested in reading it, too.

How Seeing Greta Garbo Naked Shifted Jane Fonda's View Of 'Perfection'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/30/jane-fonda-greta-garbo-swim_n_7911746.html

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

How Should We be Evaluating Two Nation Theory?

Pak Tea House » Partition » How Should We be Evaluating Two Nation Theory?

How Should We be Evaluating Two Nation Theory?

Raza Habib Raja

Somehow or the other the debate surrounding the Two Nation Theory (TNT) does not seem to die. We claim that we are no longer interested and yet keep on debating it. We claim that India and Pakistan are a reality and yet some continue to argue whether it was a right or wrong decision. Our interest in TNT springs from the fact that partition in 1947 was a highly contentious as well as a bloody affair, which continues to cast its shadow till this date.

This article does not try to address the validity of TNT but merely tries to offer my two cents as to how it could have arisen and also lay down some sort of criteria for its evaluation.  I am NOT trying to prove or disprove TNT but merely giving my opinion as to why it may have gained currency and what should we be looking at in terms of its evaluation.

Are Hindus and Muslims two different nations ?  And if yes, then did that difference justify creation of a separate nation state?  In my opinion the central question is not merely whether Hindus and Muslims are different but whether the differences merited a separate state. TNT cannot be separated from the issue of a separate state.

Presently the way, it is often interpreted in certain quarters is that Hindus and Muslims are two distinct nations who would have found it impossible to live together and therefore Muslims who were the minority at that time would need a separate politically autonomous state. I think that this version is highly debatable. If being a Muslim is the sole criteria of a separate state then why stop at India? Why not also include all the Muslims of the world and merge them into one nation state?

We know such a thing is not possible and is in fact laughable. The TNT would perhaps start making sense if only we understand the fleeting concept of identity within the context of British India. We are not just Muslims, but are also have ethno linguistic identities which at times may be competing with each other and at times complimenting each other. Everything revolves around a complex phenomenon known as identity and in politics that is often the most important factor in mobilization. Identity itself may be constructed or at times may simply be something you are born with. Moreover, identity may be dormant and can become active. It is when an identity becomes active, political expression follows.

How a particular identity becomes active often depends on the perceived benefits as well as drawbacks associated with it. It also becomes active, if there is a perception that you are being victimized on the basis of that particular identity. Once an identity is activated, it can form various political expressions which range from political mobilization to demand greater rights to outright demands for a separate nation state. What determines the exact form of political expression depends on many things. For example gender identity can form a political expression but it is not possible ( at least has not happened ever) for women to demand a separate country! Demand for equal pay and improved civil rights are expressed largely through civil society and do not aim to change the geographical and administrative structure of a particular country.

On the other hand ethnic identity can form various political expressions ranging from formation of political parties on ethnic lines to demands for a separate state. Here I would like to emphasize that nationalism is largely modern phenomenon.

Ethnic nationalists can demand a separate state particularly when an ethnicity views that it is possible to secede and the secession will lead to better standard of living and greater rights. The demand for a separate nation state is also hugely dependent on actual geographical dispersion of the population belonging to that ethnicity. If there are geographical concentrations then the demand for secession is more likely compared to a situation where the ethnicity is evenly dispersed all over the country.

Religion like ethnicity is an identity though compared to ethnic identity is less "rigid". It is generally said that religion is merely set of believes, but at least in political literature, it has always been considered much more than that. In fact, some have gone to the extent of calling religion of birth as a form of ethnic identity. Yes theoretically speaking it could be changed, but religious identity is a powerful identity particularly in circumstances where discrimination or perceived discrimination is conducted on religious lines.

Put simply religion can also be an effective political identity provided certain conditions are there. And like other identities, it can form a political expression of demanding a separate state.

Demand for Pakistan ( whether we consider it as an actual demand or as bargaining ploy by Jinnah) was a consequence of an activated political identity. There were incidences which activated the Muslim identity and led to demand for Pakistan.

 

Like ethnicity, religion can be a politically potent factor leading to possible demands of a nation state. In Pakistan's case Muslims were also concentrated in two geographical zones (present day Pakistan and Bangladesh). While a substantial number was also dispersed all over the country there is no denying of the fact that areas forming West Pakistan ( Present day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) were Muslim majority areas.

It is true that ethnic identity on its own is often a stronger motivating factor though at the time of independence there were no mass movements demanding independence on ethnic lines. In fact if demand for a nation state is only justified on ethnic lines then India itself should have been divided into many parts as there are so many languages spoken there.

So there were in reality various identities emerging out of Indian subcontinent. There was a broader Indian identity, religious identities, and ethnic linguistic identities. In other words there have always been nations within a nation. So while the TNT may be "correct" in the sense that Hindus and Muslims can be called as two different nations but frankly we can also call Tamils, Punjabis, Sindhis, Biharis also separate nations within their own right. In fact I can go ahead and convincingly argue that Punjabi Muslims are a separate nation from Pakthun Muslims and also from Non Muslim Punjabis.

And then there is a concept of hybrid identity. It is not important for many to be just Muslims but rather they want their religious freedom as well as their ethnic and cultural independence. So I may be Muslim but at the same time I would prefer that my Punjabi cultural freedom is also safeguarded.

When Bengali and Sindhi Muslims voted for Pakistan (after all let's not forget that these two provinces clearly voted for Pakistan), the idea was not merely preservation of their religious freedom but a combination of both religious as well ethnic/cultural freedoms. Thus when Bengali Muslims (who were also geographically concentrated) voted for creation of Pakistan, it was also for the preservation of their Bengali identity along with religious identity.

The choice was to join Indian federation or join Pakistan. Those who voted for Pakistan joined Pakistan with the view that perhaps  their ethnic and cultural freedom would be better safeguarded in Pakistan rather than India.

So what should be the criteria for evaluation of TNT?

In my opinion the debate should not focus whether Hindus and Muslim are one nation or two nations. In fact I can very convincingly argue that within Muslim nation, there are several nations. 

Eventually the way to judge TNT would not be to say that Hindus and Muslims are separate nations but whether the differences merit creation of a separate nation state. Here the costs associated with such a creation have to be taken into account and not only short run costs but also the long run. Short run costs would include huge costs of displacement of literally millions and long run costs would include the way creation of a separate state has led to animosity between the political states of India and Pakistan and the way partition has impacted the communal harmony in both the countries individually. 

Assessment of benefits would include addressing the questions such as : Are really Muslims better off? One way would be to compare the condition of average Indian Muslim with Pakistani Muslim. But assessment should go beyond this comparison. We also need to evaluate whether Pakistani Muslims who belong to the minority sects such as Shiites and Ahmedis are also better off compared to their counterparts in India. 

Moreover, the TNT also needs to examined more in historical context. Even if Muslims and Hindus are assumed to be separate nations, the validity (or lack thereof ) comes more from comparing it with the other options present at that time. 

Finally we should not be using the creation of Bangladesh as a litmus test for proving or disproving TNT.

The reason why Bangladesh came into being is less to do with fallacy of TNT but more with how actually West Pakistan treated East Pakistanis. It is not the idea itself but the way Pakistan tried to over centralize and negate Bengali culture and their ethnic identity. Pakistan superimposed Urdu over Bengali and adopted a policy of sustained repression. Bengalis seceded mainly because of the way we treated them. The discrimination activated the Bengali nationalism and led to secession. But once again it was the hybrid identity of both Islam and Bengali ethnicity which dictated the choice of independence rather than merger with India. What had earlier prompted them to opt for Pakistan, once again led them to become an independent state.

 

 

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Who's in charge of the Taliban?

THE SOUTH ASIA CHANNEL

Who's in Charge of the Taliban?

Who's in Charge of the Taliban?

Two days before the second official meeting between the Afghan government and the Taliban is scheduled to take placefresh rumors are swirling that Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has been dead for two years, killed either in an internal power struggle or from tuberculosis. Even before word of the reclusive leader's unconfirmed death, speculation of his demise and questions about who actually controls the movement have persisted since shortly after his escape from Kandahar in late 2001 — no double fueled by the fact that he has appeared in public only a handful of times, even during his rule over Afghanistan in the 1990s. With talks (hopefully) less than 48 hours away, the question now more than ever is: Who leads the Taliban?

Though the Taliban's leadership structure is purposely oblique, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour has long been seen as the insurgency's second-in-command. Setting aside whatever Omar's current physical condition may be, Mansour has been making more day-to-day decisions and had more non-symbolic power than anyone else in the movement. He arguably has greater influence on the Taliban shadow government operating inside Afghanistan than any other Taliban leader. More importantly, he has maintained working relations with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), something that separates him from the "Taliban Five," the former Guantánamo Bay detainees released in a prisoner exchange and currently residing in Doha, Qatar.

Mansour was born and raised in the poppy-rich river valley of Band-e Timor, the very same area of central Kandahar province where Omar first mobilized what was to become the Taliban movement and from which a disproportionate number of the Taliban's leadership has traditionally hailed. Like many Afghans, Mansour grew up in Pakistan during the communist and mujahideen governments of the 1980s and early 1990s, earning a degree from Darul Uloom Haqqania, a madrasa outside of Peshawar known as "Jihad U" and the "University of Holy War" due to the number of extremists it matriculated over the years.

By 1993, Mansour had moved southward to the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Kandahar and from where a good deal of the Taliban's leadership-in-exile has long resided. From his position in Balochistan, Mansour played an early key role in linking Omar to Pakistan's ISI, a connection that sustains the movement to this day. When the Taliban took control of Kandahar in 1994, Mansour was made Minister of Civil Aviation. Residents of his native Kandahar recount stories, perhaps apocryphal, of Mansour transporting opium in Talban helicopters from the fields of his native Band-e Timor to smugglers' dens along Afghanistan's southern border.

When the Taliban collapsed in 2001, Mansour fled back to Balochistan after briefly serving as one of Mullah Omar's representatives in last minute talks with the Central Intelligence Agency.

While other Taliban leaders have been imprisoned or put under house arrest by Pakistani authorities, Mansour remains a favored son in large part because he has remained in step with ISI policy and has often served as a link between the Haqqani network of Waziristan and the Afghan Taliban of Balochistan. He is also one of the individuals to have benefited from the U.S. surge in 2010-2011. As one analyst from Kandahar notes in an interview: "More than anyone else, Mansour has benefited from the leadership vacuum that opened up after the U.S. started to take a lot of the Taliban commanders out — particularly in the south. Mansour remained safe in Pakistan and he was able to expand his network and powerbase, even though he had never really been a military commander per se."

As late as 2012, Mansour was seen as a hardliner among Taliban leaders, opposing any talks with Hamid Karzai's government. From about 2013 onward, his position appears to have changed, putting him directly at odds with Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a Taliban military leader from northern Helmand who has for years commanded arguably the largest organized insurgent front inside Afghanistan.

Throughout 2014, Mansour and Zakir bickered over the direction of the movement, with Zakir adopting a hard line and eventually being sacked, only to be re-instated after a reconciliation involving a few slaughtered goats and hearty man hugs. By early 2015, however, the two "frenemies" were reportedly at odds again. The most recent news reports of Omar's death also speculate that Mansour and Omar's son are involved in a fight for control.

Given his historically close ties with Pakistan, Mansour's moderation could be read as a clear indicator that Pakistan's calculus has indeed changed. The fact that the first and second rounds of peace talks will be held in the Pakistani resort town of Murree, which until now was mostly known as a nice day trip from Islamabad and for its brewery, also plays to Mansour — and Pakistan's — strength, particularly as regards the Doha-based leadership.

For all the things that Mansour may be, he is definitely not Mullah Omar. Far more than al Qaeda, and perhaps even more than the Islamic State, the various competing interests inside the Taliban have remained nominally united due to the belief that Omar is the amir ul momineen (leader of the faithful). Omar's spiritual status has long been the only thing holding the Taliban together. Mansour may have important friends in Pakistan but he is no leader of the faithful, and on the eve of negotiations, the Taliban seem closer than ever to splitting wide open.

Photo credit: HOCINE/AFP/Getty Images

2 comments
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marty martel

Pakistan State was, is and always has been in charge Afghan Taliban.

Dead or alive, Mullah was a Pakistani State's creation and continued to be so all his life.

US has knowingly & gladly rewarded Pakistan with billions in aid for Pakistani PROXIES killing US troops in Afghanistan.

Afghan Taliban was created and funded by Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto government beginning in 1992 to take over Afghanistan.

Nawaz Sharif was called 'Fateh Kabul' (Vanquisher of Kabul) in Pakistani media for successfully installing puppet Afghan Taliban government in 1996 after Benazir's 1992 beginning.

With US knowledge, Pakistani State has sheltered, financed and guided Afghan Taliban for all these years since 2001 for a reason.

"For twenty years Pakistan's army - the real power broker in the country - has backed the Afghan Taliban. It helped create the Taliban's Islamic Emirate in the 1990s and build the al-Qaeda statewithin a state. The army has provided safe haven, arms, expertise and other help to Taliban. It briefly pretended to abandon Taliban to avoid American anger in 2001 misleading George W Bush", so said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and now a scholar at the Brookings Institute, at an US Islamic World Forum organized in Qatar on June 9-11, 2013.

Afghan Taliban & Haqqani network are 'the PROXIES of Pakistani government' as per Adm Mullen's testimony to US Senate Armed Services Committee on 9-22-2011.

Adm Mullen told 'A BLUNT TRUTH AND DID SO PUBLICLY' on 9-22-2011 as per Def Sec Panetta in his book published in Oct2014.

Def Sec Gates as per his book published in Jan2014, kept lying to US Congress & Press that Pakistan was an ally against terrorism when it was really NOT.

Barbarise

@marty martel you don't need to tell us the whole story we knew from before, is there anything new you know which we don't know?

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THE SOUTH ASIA CHANNEL

Claims of Mullah Omar's Death Circulate; Militant Leader Reportedly Killed in Ambush on Pakistani Police; President Mukherjee is 1993 Bomber's Last Hope

Claims of Mullah Omar's Death Circulate; Militant Leader Reportedly Killed in Ambush on Pakistani Police; President Mukherjee is 1993 Bomber's Last Hope

Afghanistan

Claims circulate of Mullah Omar's death

Zafar Hashemi, deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said on Wednesday that his government is examining claims that the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is dead (APBBC). "We are aware of the reports of the passing away of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader," Hashemi said. "We are still in the process of checking those reports, and as soon as we get confirmation or verification, we will inform the Afghan people and the media." Reports state that Omar died over two years ago from Tuberculosis and was buried in Afghanistan after his son identified his body (ET). The Taliban have not yet commented on reports of Omar's death, but are expected to make a statement soon. Omar, who led the insurgency against U.S.-led forces after the Taliban was toppled from rule in 2001 and was allied with al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been declared dead multiple times before. Failure to prove that Omar was alive was a major factor behind the defection of several senior Taliban commanders to ISIS earlier this year.

Taliban gain in three provinces

The Taliban seized territory across three provinces in northern Afghanistan in recent days as Kabul has struggled to reinforce outposts and checkpoints (NYT). In addition to the more than 100 police officers at the Tigaran base in Badakhshan province on Saturday who surrendered to the Taliban, more than a thousand soldiers and fighters with pro-government militias have retreated (AP). The Taliban's movement has reached a large district in Sar-i-Pul province in the northwest, where a local police unit surrendered after a 10-day battle. Kunduz province has also been imperiled by the renewed Taliban push, where Taliban forces have seized towns on the outskirts of its most important city, Kunduz.

Pakistan

Militant leader reportedly killed in attack

Malik Ishaq, the leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni extremist group, is believed to have been killed in a shootout early Wednesday morning after supporters tried to free him from police custody (NYTAP). Thirteen supporters of Ishaq were also killed in the clash in Punjab province. Shuja Khanzada, Punjab's home minister, said supporters attacked a police convoy that was transporting him, his sons, and three of his aides, all of whom had been arrested Saturday on suspicion of involvement in sectarian killings. In a later statement, police said "14 or 15 unidentified armed terrorists" attacked police vehicles to free Ishaq when officers were returning from an area in Muzaffargarh after seizing weapons. Details of Ishaq's killing remain murky in Pakistan, where extrajudicial killings by police remain common.

Pakistan dropping English as official language

Pakistan is dropping English as its official language and switching to Urdu, the Pakistan Minister of Planning, National Reforms, and Development Ashan Iqbal confirmed in an exclusive interview with TIME (TIME). Iqbal said the change was being made because of a court directive. The Pakistani constitution, passed in 1973, included a clause specifying that the government must make Urdu the national language within fifteen years, but the clause was never enforced. English will still be taught alongside Urdu in schools. Iqbal said the move would "help provide greater participation to people who don't know English, hence making the government more inclusive." 

India

President Mukherjee remains as 1993 bomber's last hope for avoiding execution

The 1993 Mumbai bombings convict Yakub Memon, scheduled to be hanged tomorrow at a Maharashtra Jail, sent a fresh mercy plea to President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday morning, after the Supreme Court dismissed his plea against his scheduled execution (TOIHinduNDTVBBC). President Mukherjee is expected to forward the mercy plea to Union Home Ministry for examination but the ministry is unlikely to take a lenient view as they have already opposed any relief to be given to Memon.

Earlier on Wednesday Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao also rejected Yakub Memon's mercy petition. Last year in May, the President, acting on the advice of Home Ministry had rejected Memon's earlier mercy petition. On the other hand, numerous celebrities ranging from Bollywood film stars to opposition politicians have publicly asked for Memon's sentence to be commuted. On Wednesday, former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi appealed to the President to reconsider the mercy petition as a "fitting tribute" to former President APJ Abdul Kalam who died on Monday (PTI). The 1993 blasts in Mumbai killed 257 people and wounded 713.

GM to invest $1 billion in India

Top executives at the American firm General Motors Co. (GM) said that the company will invest $1 billion in the next few years to turn operations in India into a new global export hub aimed at boosting sales in fast-growing emerging markets (Reuters). GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said at a briefing in New Delhi, "GM cannot remain a global leader without making a serious investment towards expanding our presence in growth markets like India." India's automobile market has been sluggish for the past few years, with annual sales of less than 3 million cars. But by 2020 analysts expect India to become the world's third-largest passenger vehicle market after China and the United States.

— Emily Schneider and Shuja Malik

Edited by Peter Bergen

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Sent from my iPad Iqbal Nick QUIDWAI Newbury Park CA USA