The terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, it has been found, were carried out with the instrumentality of a Pakistani organization called Jamaatu-d-Da’wah (meaning “Congregation/Group of the Invitation/Proselyting”, hereinafter “JuD”). It is an organization allied with Lashkar-e Tayyiba (literally, “Army of the Pure”, note that it could also mean “Army of Muhammad” when “Tayyib” is one of Muhammad’s names/titles, hereinafter “LeT”).
This is not good news.
There are two obstacles: popular support for JuD, and a lack of incentive for Pakistan to crack down on them.
JuD operates mainly within Pakistan with eyes towards Chechnya, Kashmir, and other areas where Muslim extremist “freedom-fighters” are wont to obsess about. It is ideologically tied to the Ahl-e Hadith, which the Salafi groups (the most prominent one among which is the Wahhabi Hanbali movement) subscribe to or teach or practice the most. Thus, JuD is linked, even if only ideologically and theologically, with the vast multinational Islamist extremist movement under the the auspices of the Salafi movement. (Although not all Salafis are extremists, and not all extremists are Salafis, the momentum of Islamist extremism is mainly because of the Salafi movement spreading itself and its version of pure and purified Islam.)
Unlike some Salafi movements, however, JuD is a little different, which I will discuss in the following two days.
The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai were unprecedented on a variety of levels.
Most terrorist attacks involved a single target, whether a train, market, plane, or building. This time, multiple targets were targeted at the same time in a sophisticated, coordinated attack.
Most terrorist attacks involved a single incident, whether opening fire or exploding a bomb. This time, the terrorists took over two major hotels and a Jewish center, staying there for days.
Most terrorist attacks targeted random bystanders. Reports indicate that the terrorists singled out people from Western countries (particularly America, the UK, and Israel).
But the terrorists, I think, accomplished their goals, even though most were killed. They spread immense panic and unrest throughout the world.
I think it is a little difficult, perhaps, for some people in the West to realize what role, status, and stature hotels have, particularly in South Asia. Americans don’t often go to hotels unless they’re staying in one or are attending some grand function or gathering. In South Asia, hotels are often the gathering places for the elite, who dine there and go to see and be seen. They are very much a part of the local community’s life, not just those of guests or banqueters. Attacking the Oberoi and Taj hotels dealt an immense blow to the communities and elite of Mumbai.
More on these attacks, what they mean, and issues behind them, will be forthcoming.
I believe there is a technical difference between martial law and emergency rule. I believe that in the former, the entire government is overthrown and replaced with a caretaker (and temporary) government, usually hand-picked by the new military ruler. In the latter, the government is simply authorized to do more things than before. In both cases, the constitution is suspended. (I am not sure which cases, if any, necessarily involve the imposition of a Provisional Constitutional Order, which is a sort of temporary constitution.)
(As a point of reference, Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India, had emergency rule, which was not martial law, declared, which spanned from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977. (This period is often known as the Emergency Raj.) This was in response to the Allahabad High Court dismissing her. That incident, and the difference between what Musharraf recently did and what he did when he initially took over in 1999, warrants a differentiation between martial law and emergency rule.)
Technically, Musharraf has imposed emergency rule and/or declared a state of emergency. He said in his address that the government will remain intact: nothing will change with regard to current governing authorities and bodies. In any case, the constitution has been suspended, and the Supreme Court has been flushed. All anti-Musharraf justices have been dismissed and detained. A new chief justice was sworn in by Musharraf. It is expected that the new Supreme Court will be assembled and sworn in soon. This time, it is expected that the Supreme Court will not challenge Musharraf or his directives.
Whether one may call this a “coup” is debatable. On the one hand, this was a coup against the Supreme Court. On the other hand, governing bodies, people, and authorities remain unchanged.
In old households, an interesting implement that existed was a spittoon (called a “thookdaan”). These were important because a common and traditional edible thing, “paan”, was and is often made with tobacco (called “tambaakoo”). Depending on the type, it would have to be spit out after one has chewed it and absorbed its high-inducing properties. To protect the walls and floors, one would spit into the aforementioned spittoon. Most of these were made of metal. (Obviously, the servants would empty and clean it. Almost everyone has servants in Pakistan.)
The need for spittoons can be easily seen by the conditions of the public streets and sidewalks in Pakistan: they are all marred by red stains, residue of people spitting the remains of chewed-up tobacco.
Because paan is not going away anytime soon — although the traditions and rituals around it are no longer as prevalent, eating it still is ubiquitous — perhaps there should be more widespread use and presence of spittoons. America no longer needs spittoons: might as well export them to Pakistan and India, eh?
Random language point: “daan” means “place or container”. A “thookdaan” is a “daan” (“container”) for “thook” (spit, here referring to tobacco-stained saliva). A “paandaan” is a container for the ingredients and acoutrements for making and eating paan.
WickedPinto and S. Weasel recently have inquired whether I am Indian or Pakistani (ethnically, I assume).
I tend, as WP has probably noticed, to avoid answering such a question. But let me answer and let me explain why I am reluctant to answer it.
My ethnic ancestry descends from two primary areas: the northwest area of South Asia (between Pakistan and Afghanistan) and Punjab. Specifically, regarding the former, I have ethnic roots that may be said to be Pashtun or Patthan. (As a point of reference: the Taliban is overwhelmingly Pashtun. The Pashtuns comprise one of Afghanistan’s significant ethnic people.) How Punjabi I am depends on how far back my Punjabi ancestors go.
What complicates matters is that my recent ancestors, for a number of generations, have not been from where they are ethnically from. Whereas my ethnic origins are from the northwest region of South Asia, my ancestors were most recently in northern central India (namely Uttar Pradesh) and Rajasthan.
Considering my ultimate ethnic origins, I can say I am Pakistani. Considering, furthermore, the fact that “Pakistani culture” is basically Muslim South Asian culture, which my ancestors have been for many generations, I can say I of Pakistani cultural origins. I and my relatives and ancestors, with regard to traditions and customs, can be quite different from the Hindu culture thereof, even though there has been a lot of syncreticism in the Muslim culture of South Asia.
However, the creation of a Pakistan in contradistinction to India — that is, to divide South Asia into such regions — really does not make sense or, for me, is relevant as South Asia is South Asia. Whereas I have no political inclination towards either of the states that could claim me as a South Asian (Pakistan on basis of my ethnic origins or my ancestors’ religion and culture; India on basis of my ancestors’ recent places of residence), I really cannot choose. And I still need to determine whether, all things considered, I would be more Indian or Pakistani.
There are many South Asians who identify as Pakistani even though their connection to the geopolitical area is tenuous at best: many have had parents or grandparents migrate to Pakistan.
So, to answer the question: Neither. I am of South Asian origins, and in a somewhat stubborn move I would like to refuse to classify myself as either Pakistani or Indian. The division is artificial and ridiculous. That said, culturally I do belong to the Muslim South Asian (Barelvi Hanafi Sunni) cultural milieu, which many classify as “Pakistani” for various reasons.
And — sotto voce — we have no desire to ever do so.
Pakistanis, for some reason, suffer from delusions of grandeur, that powers want them, are after them. The usual suspects are America (and like entities such as Freemasons, Zionists, imperialists, Crusaders, Christians, Christian evangelists, Christian fundamentalists, Satan-worshiping sodomizers, et cetera) and Israel (and like entities such as Freemasons, Zionists, imperialists, Jews, and other Muslim-blood-sucking critters – with what else will they make their maztah bread?).
The fact is, if we had our way, we would wholely and utterly divorce ourselves from Pakistan. We want nothing from Pakistan; we want nothing to do with Pakistan. Pakistan, what with its internal instability, idiocy, corruption, hopeless future, and strife, is more a pain than any asset. The very existence of Pakistan moves our spinning blue planet hurtling towards entropy. Read the rest of this entry »
Going along my “use Mexico rather than China” line, using Mexico would be strategically beneficial for The United States. The less we depend on China, the more China will need us and our good will towards them. By swaying the balance in our favor, we will be able to negotiate better deals with China in addition to being able to force the Chinese government to make necessary civil rights reforms. Right now, because we need China as bad as China needs us, we ignore the Chinese government’s atrocities.
Another aspect is geopolitical. (Here I hope Geoff will help me out.) Read the rest of this entry »
geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions has been doing an excellent job posting on what can be called the Second Cold War: the efforts of Russia and China to check, hinder, diminish, and threaten America’s influence (or, rather, that of capitalism and The West) just as The Soviet Union tried to do during the First Cold War. I do lament that this is something that has not been on the People’s mind lately. (Although I do know that certain agencies of the government have kept this on their mind, seeing it as a continuation of a traditional threat or issue rather than the resurgence of a new one.)
For more information, please read the following by geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions:
- “The real problem with Iran”
- “More on Iran and its relationships”
- “The Sino-Russian clubhouse, and guess who wants in?”
- His comment on “On the question of more troops – addendum”
Now, let us delve a little into international relations. Read the rest of this entry »
In Arabic, the word (عورة, ‛awrah) refers to, among other things, one’s private area. This is defined according to Islamic law as the area between the navel and knees for men and the entire body, except the face and hands, of women. Not only does this word refer to the private area, per se, but also to what “private area” is used euphemistically for, namely genitalia.
This is explained in a somewhat cheeky comment on a page called “neqabi”. (A (نقاب, niqāb) refers to a veil that covers the face but (usually) exposes the eyes. (نقابي, niqābī) would be an adjective form, meaning “of or pertaining to wearing a niqāb.“) I found this page via Isaac Schrödinger‘s post “100% Vagina” (which, coincidently, is a useful phrase for the paragraph below).
What also intrigues me is that when the Arabic word (عورة, ‛awrah) is rendered, according to the normal rules, into Urdu, it becomes (عورت, aurat) which, in Urdu, means “woman.” What does it mean when Urdu uses a word that in Arabic means “private area” (and, I should add, “weakness, weak spot, defectiveness, faultiness, deficiency, imperfection” and refers to female genitalia) to refer to women individually and categorically?
The ISI — Inter-Services Intelligence — is one of the most notorious entities in Pakistani politics and infrastructure. It is perhaps one of the most powerful entities in Pakistan. Thoroughly military, it has had a hand in many issues. As paranoid as some Pakistanis may be about the CIA or Mossad, they ought to be as paranoid (if not more) about the ISI.
To be fair, the ISI has changed a lot from its creation. It was created in 1948; its powers were first expanded by Field Marshal Ayyub Khan (military ruler from 1958 to 1969); its powers were expanded even more, evolving slowly to become thereafter the potent and unruly force it often proves to be, under General Zia-ul-Haq (military ruler from 1978 to 1988). (Lots of 8s!)
The duty of the ISI is to coordinate intelligence, train spies, and provide security. Thanks to the expansion of its powers, it also watches political parties, supports Islamist terrorism, and even carries out terrorist attacks (directly or by proxy). Read the rest of this entry »