Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pakistani Left: Launch Movement against Terrorist Activities in the Name of Islam

For a while now, I have meaning to discuss what seems to be a nascent revivification of the Left in Pakistan. Over the last year or so, I have seen several pictures of Press Conferences with two of the leading lights of the Pakistani Left, the poet Ahmed Faraz and Abid Hasan Minto, the veteran Marxist leader visible in each. I might be mixing up vague memories, but there was a press conference about a joint movement by six Left parties; a press conference about the "military action" (I don't remember exactly whether the phrase "civil war" was used) in Balochistan; I think one about the Iraq War and then one about the military action in Waziristan...or maybe I am exaggerating; but not by much.

Then, a day or two ago, via Munir Saami Saahab and Tarek Fatah (themselves veterans of the Left in Pakistan, and now lights in the Progressive constellation up to the North of us in Canada), I got the statement below and knew I had to share it with everyone. For people not familiar with the Pakistani political and activist scene, please mark the names signed at the bottom--people who are familiar with that area of activity will already know the names:
"We Condemn the Heinous Crime in Mumbai"

The bomb blasts on local trains and at railway stations in Mumbai, in which over 160 people have been killed and many more are on the verge of dying, are perhaps the most shocking of all such killings that have occurred in the subcontinent of late. The reason is that this massacre has targeted thousands of office and factory going men and women returning home to be with their children and parents after a whole day?s hard work. Those who committed this great crime cannot even be called animals because animals do not commit such crimes. Only human beings do.

It is time for the governments of Pakistan and India to re-assess their priorities and be on a state of high alert. As long as they fail to resolve their mostly man-made disputes and allow free and unfettered people-to-people interaction between the two countries, all sorts of extremists and terrorists would find it easy to indulge in and get away with such insane barbarities. What has happened in Mumbai is indicative of a widening of the dimensions of terrorist outreach. It calls for united effort by not only the governments of Pakistan and India but the people at large to identify and wipe out this cancer that is spreading far and wide at a frightening pace.

Pakistan needs to take stern measures to put down all kinds of demonstrations and displays of religious extremism in the country, which directly or indirectly encourages terrorist activities in the name of religion and undermines the peace process between Pakistan and India.

Similarly, India needs to curb the activities of religious fanatics using the umbrella of India?s pluralist democratic political system, to spawn communal conflicts and derail the peace process. In order to avert a possible collapse of the peace process as a result of such tragic incidents, it is necessary that the two governments put their heads together and take immediate steps to create a relaxed political atmosphere in the subcontinent by removing all outlandish restrictions on the movement of people between the two countries, thus making it impossible for the terrorists to operate.

We would also ask all the sane, secular forces among the Muslims of the world to rise above their petty sectarian positions and help launch an international movement against terrorist activities in the name of Islam.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the members of the families who have lost their near and dear ones in the bomb blasts and assure them that we will strive, along with those in Pakistan and India and the world who abhor religious extremism and terrorism, to fight this evil till it is eliminated for good.

M.B.Naqvi, Senior Columnist & Founder Member PIPFPD
Dr. A.H.Nayyar, President, Pakistan Peace Coalition
Karamat Ali, Director PILER
Muhammad Tahseen, South Asia Partnership-Pakistan
Ms. Ayesha Yahqub, Takhleeq Foundation
B.M.Kutty , Secretary, Pakistan Peace Coalition
Dr. Aly Ercelan, Economist
Ms. Sheen Farrukh, Journalist
Ms. Sheema Kermani, Director, Tehreek-e-Niswan
Notice the statement does not talk about "reforming Islam", or about "bringing liberal or progressive values to Muslims". This is just a bunch of citizens living within Muslim community who think, very naturally, that Muslims should work against Terrorism in the name of Islam.

There is much talk nowadays about looking for voices from the Muslim world that are not right wing or, whatever the word now means, fundamentalist. And great excitement on finding the stray one. Expatriates often talk about trying to create examples within the community that are not corrupt and which work for the uplift of the masses. The question that crosses my mind is this: Which organization or organizations in the Pakistani diaspora, or the wider South Asian diaspora, especially in the US, would put its signature to such a statement? Who's going to live up to their progressive ideals and actually reach back and work as equals with the folks "on the ground", so to speak?

[Acknowledgements: I'd like to thank Maroof Syed and Prof. Adil Najam in help locating the picture above, which was finally located on the on the Islamabad Metroblog. I already mentioned Munir Saami Saahab (founder and moving spirit behind Writers' Forum, the list on which I received the statement above) and Tarek Fatah.]

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