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Militant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist?
Pakistan, October 1, 2017 : As international pressure is mounting on Islamabad to do more against militant groups operating from its soil, some militant groups are rebranding themselves as political parties.
“The Pakistan military is allowing militant, virulently anti-Indian groups to enter the political process to enable a vocal political voice against any Pakistani civilian warming relations with India,” Thomas Lynch, a research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, told VOA.
“The aboveground voices of [Hafiz Mohammad] Saeed and [Kashmiri militant leader Fazlur Rehman] Khalil as political figures will meld with their enduring role as leaders of virulently anti-India armed groups in a way that will further constrain Pakistani political leaders from easily undertaking any moves toward rapprochement with India,” Lynch added.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JUD), which has been designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and is widely considered a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, launched a new political party last month.
Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
JUD’s newly established Milli Muslim League party came in third in a by-election in Punjab last week, securing more votes than Pakistan’s People’s Party contender did.
Lynch said he thought that without the military’s blessings, the militants-turned-political parties cannot thrive.
“Nothing of consequence inside Pakistan security, politics or economics happens without the Pakistan military’s concurrence, either by direct support or indirect acquiescence,” Lynch said.
“This mainstreaming of longtime militant-terrorist groups led by Saeed and Khalil is of consequence [and] therefore must be supported by the Pakistan military,” he added.
Last week’s by-election was also contested by the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a party of the followers of Mumtaz Qadri, who was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer, the same person he was paid to guard.
Qadri killed the governor in 2011 because he advocated for reforms in the country’s controversial blasphemy laws.
The two parties of militants-turned-politicians reportedly secured 11 percent of the total votes in last week’s election.
The politicization of militancy coincides with increasing international pressure on Pakistan to take action against militant safe havens in the county.
Announcing his South Asia strategy, U.S. President Donald Trump last month put Pakistan on notice to stop harboring militant groups that use Pakistani soil to plan and launch attacks against Afghan and U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Leaders of BRICS, an economic bloc composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, also expressed concerns this month about Pakistan-based militant groups and cited them as a problem for regional security.
Pakistan has long denied that militants enjoy safe havens in the country and has proclaimed itself as a victim of terrorism.
The country’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, however, this week admitted that Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba were liabilities for his country.
“Saeed, LeT, they are a liability, I accept it, but give us time to get rid of them,” Asif said at an Asia Society event in New York on Tuesday.
Some analysts, however, see the new trend of pushing militants to mainstream politics as a good development.
“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to be a part of the political system, they might never change their way and will go underground, which will be much more dangerous,” said Zubair Iqbal, an analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
The question is: Can violent extremism and politics co-exist? Pakistani-based political analyst Khadim Hussain has his doubts.
“The ‘mainstreamed’ extremist organizations have not publicly revoked their ideology. They have not yet dismantled their militaristic, welfare and ideological infrastructure. This seems to be legitimizing extremist violence in Pakistan,” Hussain said.
Hussain added that ” ‘mainstreaming ‘ and ‘integration’ seem to be a tactic to divert the U.S., BRICS and other regional and international stakeholders’ attention from the core issues of policymaking in Pakistan.”
Lynch of NDU echoed Hussain’s analysis and said it was unlikely that the move would help curb extremism.
“I do not see this move helping to curb extremism in Pakistan over the short term,” Lynch said.
As Pakistan is holding national and provincial elections in 2018, analysts fear that militant groups will attempt to use the new platform to influence legislation.
“These groups will inject xenophobia and extremist views in the body politic if given free hand in politics,” Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed wrote in an op-ed in Lahore’s Daily Times, urging the state to halt any kind of support to these groups. (VOA)
Super model and actress Hailey Bieber said she is lucky to have a husband like Justin Bieber, refuting rumours of the ace singer not treating her properly. Hailey was speaking at singer Demi Lovato's podcast '4D With Demi Lovato', dailymail.co.uk reported.
Talking about her popstar husband and rumours around their marriage, Hailey said: "I think one of the biggest things is you have to know what the truth is behind everything. You know, there's so many narratives that float around about me, about him, about us together." She addressed the rumours point blank as she said: "There's one big fat narrative that goes around that's like, 'Justin is not nice to her, and that he mistreats her', and I'm just like, it's so far from the truth, and it's the complete and utter opposite."
Hailey went on to set the record straight about Justin, who she married in 2018. She said: "I really am lucky to say I'm with someone who is extremely respectful of me, who makes me feel special every single day. So when I see the opposite of that, I'm just like, 'Huh?' And everybody around who knows us personally would say the same thing." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Hailey Bieber, Justin Bieber, husband, respectful, truth, married
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. In its Ecoscope report, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "With Covid-19 hurting India's 'Household' (HH) and 'Government' sectors adversely, the continuity of strong consumption growth is in question."
"On the contrary, with listed companies' financial positions improving and an uptick in household investments in the Real Estate sector (called physical savings), the narrative of investment-led recovery is gaining momentum." The report prescribed that various economic participants - households, governments, listed companies, and unlisted corporates -- to increase their fixed asset investments in the immediate future based on their financial position.
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. | Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
At present, the listed and unlisted corporate sector accounts for only about half of total investments in India. The 'HH' sector including unincorporated enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent in India's investments, while the remaining 12-13 per cent is contributed by centre and states governments. Besides, the report cited that demand environment is expected to remain subdued due to weak financial position of 'HH' and government sector.
"Despite household investments picking up strongly in 2HFY21, given that Indian households bore the maximum brunt of Covid-led losses in CY20 (and CY21), we believe household spending would remain subdued over the next few years." It further pointed out that unless 'HH', 'Unlisted Corporate', and government sectors can improve their financial positions -- leading to a demand uptick -- a strong revival in investments seems challenging. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, covid, pandemic, growth, household, government, investment