Origins of Muslim Problems?

The decline of the Muslim civilization, a puzzle that remains elusive despite a rich variety of suggested causes from the goat to Mongols, began almost simultaneously with the rise of the modern Europe. The advent of the Reformation that transformed the intellectual landscape of Europe is dated from 1517 when Martin Luther began his campaign against the Church. By a remarkable coincidence an event that helped freeze the intellectual landscape of the Muslim world took place at about the same time.

In 1515 the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, persuaded by the influential clerics of the realm, issued a decree that imposed death penalty on anyone using a printing press, invented in Germany in 1455, to print books in Turkish or Arabic. The ban remained in force for the next 270 years, till 1784, except for an attempt to circumvent the ban in 1729. Thus, it was only after 1784 that the technology of printing could filter to the rest of the Middle East. Even so it was not till 1817 (362 years after the invention of printing) that the first book was printed in Iran. In Europe, however, the printing press had come into extensive use in by the end of the 15th century and is recognized as a powerful engine of the Reformation and the making of the modern Europe.

The first printing press

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In 1515 Sultan Selim I imposed the death penalty on anyone using a printing press

The ban on the printing press was not the only ban to reckon with. There were other bans, taboos and restrictions which, compounded by sheer lack of curiosity, placed the Ottoman Empire in a self-imposed intellectual quarantine. It worked in devious ways. An astronomical observatory, the best in Asia, was demolished in 1580, not long after its construction, at the insistence of the then Shaikh-ul-Islam who argued that prying into the secrets of the heavens was blasphemous. Import of European wares was permissible, but export was forbidden. European ideas and innovations (except those connected with warfare) were discouraged, hence the opposition even to the new European methods to contain plague.

The insularity of the Ottoman Empire had its regressive impact on the rest of the Muslim world too because of the fateful contours of the Empire.  Stretching all along the Mediterranean from North Africa to the south-east of Europe, the Empire acted like a vast filter between Western Europe and the rest of the Muslim world. This led to a disconnect between the two civilizations so pervasive that, as observed by Bernard Lewis, “the Renaissance, the Reformation, the technological revolution passed virtually unnoticed in the lands of Islam.” It was only in 1838 that, the Ottoman bureaucracy came to the conclusion that: “Religious knowledge serves salvation in the world to come, science serves perfection of man in this world.” But it was too late in the day to catch up with the West. The Europeans had by then established their colonies in Asia and Africa (and elsewhere) and their empires were relentlessly chugging along like mighty engines of the Industrial Age. This forced the Muslim elite to acknowledge the strengths of the Western civilization and to stir out of their centuries-long intellectual and political indolence.

Shaikh-ul-Islam argued that prying into the secrets of the heavens was blasphemous

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However, the attempts at modernization could not gather enough momentum for the simple reason that, unlike the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment in Europe, the movements for change and reform in the Muslim world lacked the supportive intellectual content and political traction. Intermittent and random, those efforts were no more than Westernization through official decrees. While the reformists in the Muslim world did make small gains at a slow pace, the revivalists sulked in anger and frustration. This led to a three-way division of the Muslim societies: a vast majority of moderate and peaceable Muslims; a minority of puritanical revivalists, obsessed with the past Muslim imperial supremacy; and yet another minority, the reformists, fumbling ahead with the westerly wind in their sails. This is how the Muslim societies remain divided till today.

Though the revivalists condemned the reformists as defeatists and lackeys of the West (as they do now), the power of the Europeans was too overwhelming to resist. At the turn of the last century the world appeared to have reached an enduring status quo: the Western imperialism had no credible rivals; and the black, the brown and the yellow races couldn’t match the industrial and military might of the white. The imperial rule of the white Christians was, in a way, the end of history.

The Islamic State – the ugliest form of modern day jihad

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US chose to encourage orthodox religiosity, as an ideological shield against communism

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All too suddenly challenge came from within the Western civilization.  Emanating from Europe came three global shocks, one after the other: the First World War, the Second World War, and the Cold War. While the first two shocks caused colossal physical destruction, weakening of the empires, and wide ranging emotional upheaval, the third shock posed the greatest ever military and ideological threat to the West, now led by the US.

To deal with this threat the West, especially the US, chose to encourage orthodox religiosity, as an ideological shield against the ‘godless creed of communism’. This strategic reversion to religious orthodoxy and contrived resurgence of militant religiosity came at a time when the Muslim societies had not yet emerged out of the long conflict between the revivalists and the reformists and were only too vulnerable to the tipping of the balance in favour of an activist brand of religious orthodoxy by a four-decade long Western patronage. Worse, the resurgent religious militancy not only found a cause but was also given the means to pursue it. Invoked and empowered, the militant Islam began a Jihad that won the applause of the West.

The Ottoman Empire at its peak

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The ‘evil empire’ did ultimately collapse for reasons that are a bit complex, but in the Muslim world it was seen by many as a triumph of the jihadists and their beliefs. That only whetted the appetite of the Jihadists. Soon enough the veterans of the anti-Soviet jihad, jobless and restless, found credible, even popular, causes to fight for from Chechnya to Somalia, Bosnia to Philippines. Thus began the second jihad that won the applause of the revivalists in the Muslim world. This led to a general consensus in the non-Muslim world that those conflicts were religious in nature, hence there was just one conflict (Muslims vs the rest or, if you like, a clash of civilizations) rather than several separate conflicts, each having its own history and causes, such as the ones between the Pakistanis and the Indians, the Palestinians and the Israelis, or the Chechens and the Russians. It’s an amusing though somewhat sardonic thought that this is a proposition with which the Islamic militants wholeheartedly agree. It’s their raison d’etre.

It so happens that the Islamisation of the conflicts by the militants and also by those in the West who oppose them, serves the interests of both. For the militants it’s a force multiplier and legitimizer; for those who oppose them it’s an excuse to sidetrack the real causes, and dismiss the whole thing as a global nuisance created and sustained by religious fanatics. This deadly opportunism, on both sides, is not likely to be given up anytime soon.

Bin Laden – early days

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In the haze of the smoke and dust raised by the jihadis, those conflicts have lost their visibility to most of the people around the world. What is visible is the jihad being waged by the militants. There is, however, a twist to the story of that jihad. While the nominated enemy of the jihadis is the West, their immediate target is the Muslim world itself where the rule of the ‘true believers’ (others being apostates) is sought to be established.  It is, in fact, the third jihad launched by the militants. This time round it is against the ‘apostates’ within the fold of Islam.

This was inevitable. Under the influence of the violence-prone reductive Wahhabi sect, the creed of choice of the jihadists, the religio-political beliefs of a large section of the Muslim world have been mutating into an even more exclusionist and militant form of Islam for more than three decades. From orthodoxy to sectarianism to extremism to militancy to global terrorism to jihadism, it has now metastasized into brutal sectarian civil wars from Nigeria to Pakistan.

While waiting for a miracle to happen we might as well reflect on what exactly is the crisis of Islam. Here is an attempt to show that the crisis of Islam is, in fact, a combination of two major crises.

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The Ottoman Empire acted like a vast filter between Western Europe and the Muslim world

First, the failure of the Muslim societies to reform and to harmonize their beliefs and practices with the existential realities of the contemporary world. This is reflected in the bitter controversies between various sects on centuries old issues and between the liberal and the orthodox over such issues as democracy, land reforms, family laws, penal codes and the banking system, that have long been settled in other societies. An Islamic Reformation is not even on the agenda of any of the Islamic movements. In fact the opposite seems to be the order of the day as the forward looking popular aspirations are being trumped by the more vigorously pursued atavistic impulse released by the revivalists.

At the heart of this failure is the fact that the most influential Muslim thinkers and scholars of our times (Hassan al Banna, Syed Abul Ala Maududi, Syed Qutb and Ayatollah Khomeini) were all born in the first decade of the last century and grew up during the high noon of the Western imperial rule, often repressive, and were a witness to the decline and defeat of the Ottoman Empire and its dismemberment by the European powers. They could not but have an inborn resistance to things Western and hence to modernization that they equated with Westernization. They, therefore, tended to be revivalists rather than reformists. Their legacy has not yet been superseded. In fact it has only been reinforced by the spread of orthodoxy.

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(Sean Connery doesn’t have anything to do with this article)

Second, the conflicts between various Muslim and non-Muslim countries and communities that feed the fire of militancy. Most of these conflicts, territorial in nature, were unleashed in the wake of decolonization in Asia and Africa. The consequences of decolonization happened to be destabilizing mainly because the European imperial powers had, in the process of colonization, created quite a few ethnic and cultural anomalies either by arbitrary division of the territory of a homogenous population (e.g.  Somalia, Timor) or by herding together heterogeneous populations under a common administration (e.g. Sudan, Niger, Nigeria) to suit the interests of the imperial powers. Conflicts also arose when an occupying power could not execute an orderly retreat, as in Palestine and India.

The non-Muslim communities were not immune to such conflicts among themselves after the lid of colonial rule was lifted, but the Muslim communities were affected in a larger measure for the reason that the entire Muslim world (excluding only Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia) consists of former European colonies, protectorates and mandated territories. This is the elephant in the room that hardly ever figures in the discussions about the causes of the conflicts that the Muslims countries and communities are involved in. This also explains why “Islam has bloody borders” as Samuel Huntington likes to put it.

These, in brief, are the two major crises of Islam of our times. While the first is the exclusive responsibility of the Muslim umma, the second can be resolved only with the support of the international community. But the umma doesn’t  have the will, and the international community generally is not too worked up to tackle even the likely global disasters looming ahead, such as climate change, proliferation of exotic weapons of mass destruction , or militarization of space . Where do we go from here?

Good question.  But, maybe, we don’t have to exert ourselves to go anywhere. We have the option to relax and enjoy what little the life has to offer, for, as Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, has warned this century could be ‘our final century’.

from: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/origins-of-islams-crises/

By Iqbal Jafar

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Shenyang FC-31/ J-31 (The fighter has also been referred to as the “F-60” or “J-21 Snowy Owl”)

The Shenyang J-31(or “FC-31 fifth Generation Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter”) also known as the “Gyrfalcon” (鹘鹰), or “Falcon Hawk” by some military enthusiasts, is a twin-engine, mid-size fifth-generation jet fighter currently under development by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. The fighter has also been referred to as the “F-60” or “J-21 Snowy Owl” (雪鸮) in some media reports. Its official name is Shenyang FC-31; J-xx nomenclatures in the Chinese military are reserved to programs launched and financed by the army, while this plane was developed by a state-owned company.

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In June 2012, photos and camera video clips started to emerge on internet about a heavily overwrapped possible F-60 prototype being road-transferred on a highway, earning the nickname “the zongzi plane” (粽子机) among Chinese netizens, though some suspect it of merely being an L-15 trainer aircraft.

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Pictures of a possibly fully assembled aircraft parking on an airfield emerged on 15 / 16 September 2012. The F-60 is reported to be the export version, where the J-31 would be the domestic Chinese version of the same fighter.

The appearance of the J-31 raised concern about a potential arms race in Asia, as some of China’s neighbors are pursuing the development of their own fifth generation aircraft (i.e. India with their HAL AMCA and HAL FGFA, Japan with Mitsubishi X-2 and South Korea with KAI KF-X) or are considering purchasing the F-35 and PAK FA.
U.S. military and industry officials believe that once the J-31 enters service, it will automatically be a match for existing fourth-generation fighters like the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. They suggest that the capability of the J-31 against the newest fighters, such as the American F-22 and F-35, would depend on factors such as numbers of platforms, quality of pilots, and capabilities of radars and other sensors.
Vladimir Barkovsky of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (formerly known as the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau) has stated that, despite some design flaws, the J-31 “looks like a good machine.” Although it contains features already in use on the U.S. fifth generation fighter designs, it is “not a copy but a well done indigenous design.”

Data from Aviation Week unless otherwise attributed
General characteristics
Crew: one (pilot)
Length: 17.3 m (56 ft 9 in)
Wingspan: 11.5 m (37 ft 9 in)
Height: 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 40 m2 (430 sq ft)
Max takeoff weight: 28,000 kg (61,729 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × RD-93 afterburning turbofans, 85 kN (19,000 lbf) thrust each
Powerplant: 2 × WS-13 afterburning turbofans (projected upgrade)
Maximum speed: 2,200 km/h (1,367 mph; 1,188 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
Combat range: 1,250 km (777 mi; 675 nmi) on internal fuel, or 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) with external tanks

Armament
Hardpoints: 6 x external, and internal bay with a capacity of up to 8,000 kilograms (18,000 lb), including 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb) internally,
Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles:
12 x medium-range
Air-to-ground missiles:
8 x supersonic
Bombs:
30 x smaller bombs
Avionics
Distributed aperture system (DAS) optical early-warning system
Electro-optical targeting system (EOTS)

Nahdlatul Ulama Targets the Weaponization of Religion for Political Purposes

 

MATARAM, Lombok, Indonesia: From 23 – 25 November 2017, the world’s largest Muslim organization convened 1,200 religious scholars for a National Assembly of Ulama and Major Conference, whose primary agenda was to strengthen the values of nationalism, counter religious extremism and improve the economic welfare of all sectors of Indonesian society. Attendees included Indonesia’s President and Vice President; the chiefs of Indonesia’s military, national police and state intelligence agency; numerous cabinet ministers; and foreign emissaries, including ambassadors from Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In his opening address, NU General Chairman Kyai Haji Said Aqil Siradj said that “Indonesia is different from the Middle East, where people who are religious are generally not nationalists, and those who are nationalists are generally not religious…. We are fortunate that our situation is so different from that in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and so many other nations, whose people are overwhelmingly Muslim and yet trapped in horrendous civil wars with no end in sight… To preserve the unity of the Republic of Indonesia and the tranquility of its people, radical groups and their ideology must be expelled [from the public space]!”

At its conclusion, the Conference adopted and conveyed a set of formal recommendations to President Joko Widodo and his administration. One section—entitled “Prevention and Combatting Radicalism”—specifically addressed the weaponization of religion for political purposes, which dramatically impacted the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election and threatens to undermine national unity in the run up to national elections in 2019. Key points include:

“The government needs to act decisively to overcome the threat of radicalism by fostering a humanitarian approach” (Prevention and Combatting Radicalism, point 1); “Political parties and politicians must stop exploiting religious sentiment as a weapon in their political competition. The manipulation of religious sentiment in a constantly recurring power struggle—to obtain 5-year terms in office—constitutes highly irresponsible behavior that threatens the very life of our nation” (point 5); “Law enforcement officers must guarantee citizens’ constitutional rights, refuse to buckle under to pressure from radical groups and firmly crack down on: a) any illegal acts conducted in the name of religion, especially hate speech and incitement to violence, so that [sectarian hatred and violence] do not spiral out of control; b) the use of religious sentiment as a weapon by political parties and politicians, so as to deter such behavior” (point 6).

On the international front, the NU welcomed recent statements by the government of Saudi Arabia that it wishes to return to moderate Islam; invited the government of Saudi Arabia to work with the government of Indonesia to bring this about; and called upon the government of Indonesia to encourage a successful transition to moderate Islam in Saudi Arabia, in harmony with the mainstream understanding and practice of Islam in Indonesia.

Click here to download the political communiqué: “Nahdlatul Ulama Targets the Weaponization of Religion for Political Purposes”.

…….

Who are Nahdlatul Ulama?

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Founded in 1926 by Hasyim Asy’ari, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) supports education, cultural engagement, and socioeconomic development rooted in Islamic principles of justice, diversity, and tolerance. It is the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia.

The NU is the largest independent Islamic organization in the world[7] with membership of 40 million in 2003.[1][2] NU also is a charitable body funding schools and hospitals as well as organizing communities to help alleviate poverty.

Nahdlatul Ulama is known as an ardent advocate of Islam Nusantara; a distinctive brand of Islam that has undergone interaction, contextualization, indigenization, interpretation and vernacularization according to socio-cultural condition of Indonesia.[8] Islam Nusantara promotes moderation, compassion, anti-radicalism, inclusiveness and tolerance.

Websites from which you can learn more:

http://www.nu.or.id

www.baytarrahmah.org

www.libforall.org 

 

 

 

The British and Pakistani Armies: Sharing Both a Personal and Institutional Future

The long relationship between the British and Pakistani armies is transforming, from one based mostly on pomp, ceremony and personal friendships, to one based on shared strategic interests.

The Pakistan Army can sometimes be more British than the British Army, at least when it comes to pomp and ceremony. Its cavalry officers have the best horses, and they play in the top polo competitions in Argentina and England; many of their sons go to Britain’s top boarding schools; and they even fashion their moustaches in the same manner as Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener.

According to Carey Schofield in her book Inside the Pakistan Army, after independence in 1947 the Pakistan Army inherited the majority of the British Indian Army regiments that were facing the threat on the Afghanistan ‘frontier’. As a result, it initially had British officers mentoring in the military academies and staff colleges.

Now the relationship has come full circle with a Pakistan Army major, Uqbah Malik, becoming the first instructor from a Muslim country to teach British cadets at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He has also trained the Jordanian crown prince, Emirati princes and Afghan cadets. Malik’s role reflects a British bid to learn from the Pakistan Army’s operational and doctrinal training of military forces in the Middle East. Under Malik, British cadets have trained with their Pakistani counterparts in Pakistan, a historical first observed first-hand by the author, and now British NCOs are on their way to becoming part of Pakistan’s military academy at Kakul. There is also talk of a British Major heading to become an instructor in Pakistan, and at present there is a Pakistani colonel at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, where he is a member of the Directing Staff and has his own syndicate group.

Since the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan it has been no secret that the West – and, in particular, the Americans – have seen the Pakistan Army, and especially its intelligence services, as the biggest external obstacle to the destruction of the Taliban.

Whenever the relationship with the US has soured, particularly after a US military helicopter strike killed at least 24 Pakistani troops in 2011, British
senior officers have been brought in to keep the Pakistani military on-side. It has even been argued by the Americans and Afghans that the British military has been too soft on the Pakistanis and cared more about Pakistani concerns than those of the Afghans.

The former British envoy to Afghanistan, Sir Sherard CowperColes, wrote in his book, Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign, that two British defence chiefs, Field Marshal Charles Guthrie and General Lord Richards formed close friendships with the Pakistani top brass. Ahmed Rashid, in his book, Descent into Chaos: The World’s Most Unstable Region and the Threat to Global Security, also said that Richards was too close to the Pakistani military’s viewpoint. According to former US Vice President Dick Cheney, Guthrie’s friendship with General Pervez Musharraf, the former military ruler of Pakistan, helped the Americans to forge a close relationship with the Pakistanis in their efforts to hunt down and capture the majority of AlQa’ida’s leadership.

More recently, Chief of the General Staff Sir Nicholas Carter has described Pakistan’s former Chief of Army General Raheel Sharif, as ‘a great adviser and mentor’. This month, Carter became the first British Army chief to be the main guest to attend a Pakistan Army cadets’ passing out parade, an honour reserved normally only for Saudi and other Arab royal families. In the past year alone, Carter has been to Pakistan three times, more times than he has been to any other non-NATO member.

It was these personal British friendships that have kept Pakistan from completely falling out with the US and NATO. Now the British army wants to capitalise on this relationship as it bids to evolve into a smaller, but smarter, force. History and pomp and ceremony aside, the UK–Pakistan relationship is becoming more strategic, to the extent that the two armies could even fight together against a common enemy. Carter, along with Commander Field Army Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders, have put Pakistan at the forefront of their defence engagement policy. They are keen to learn from the Pakistan Army’s reported success in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which Sanders praised, going so far as to say that what the Pakistan Army had achieved in Waziristan and the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas ‘has not been achieved for 150 years’. One of the cornerstones of this success was how the army leadership used the militants’ own narrative against them: enforcing regulations on hate speech; scrutinizing more closely the curriculums in religious schools; prohibiting media coverage of terrorist organisations; and, crucially, declaring that only the Pakistani state – as a Muslim state – could declare jihad – non-state actors such as the Taliban or Daesh did not have the authority to do so. The British army, which has been operating in Muslim countries such as

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Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, is engaging the Pakistanis on ‘lessons learned’. So the question for the British is how they can use the religion card to fight militants who justify their war against the UK based on theology.
The UK is also keen to leverage Pakistan’s historically close ties to the Gulf. In his book, Churchill’s Empire, Richard Toye claims that Winston Churchill wanted the new state of
Pakistan to replace the old British Indian Army as the guardian of the Gulf, and in 1956 Pakistan were close to taking part in the Suez Crisis on behalf of the British. At the time, the Egyptians under President Gamal Abdel Nasser saw Pakistan as a Western and British lackey. This year, Pakistan’s continuing close ties to the Gulf were made clear
when General Raheel Sharif became the head of a newly formed military alliance of mostly Sunni Islamic states led by Saudi Arabia, known as the ‘Muslim NATO’. Indeed, Pakistan continues to be a key provider of security to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, both of which are vital for the UK’s own security: intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia is key to stopping terror plots in the UK, while Bahrain now serves as a permanent base for British forces in the Persian Gulf. Pakistan and the UK have already worked together
in the Gulf, particularly on counterpiracy operations in the Horn of Africa and Persian Gulf.

Britain, under its own new East of Suez policy, can in the long-term benefit from cooperation with the Pakistani Army. The trust between the two armies built during the Afghan war is set to pay dividends both in the Middle East and at the prestigious academies in the UK.
The author knows that the 32 Engineer Regiment of the British Army is partnering in counter-IED capability with the Pakistan Army Engineers, and the British Army’s 77th
Brigade are conducting intellectual level engagements on perception management of the enemy, the cultural side of the war and media strategy. The two armies hold an annual counterinsurgency conference, focusing not just on combat, but also diplomacy and refugee management. The author is aware that the British Army is also sending officers to the Centre for International Peace and Security – which prepares officers to deploy in conflict zones – at the National University of Sciences and Technology in Islamabad
to learn from Pakistan’s experiences in peacekeeping.
Britain is also using the Pakistan Army to help with the recruitment of more British Muslims – the majority of whom are of Pakistani origin – into the UK armed forces. British Muslims have reportedly been reluctant to join the armed forces partly because they believe that the UK is waging a war against Islam. By saying that the British and Pakistani armies are fighting against terrorists and not Islam, the army is attempting a new approach, and the author has seen first-hand that Pakistani military officers are regular guests at recruitment events to help to explain this. The British Army has invited Pakistan Army officers to address key community leaders in cities such as Manchester
and Birmingham to help not just with recruitment but also to explain what it is doing in regional conflicts.
The British and Pakistani armed forces appear now to be on the same page, from training each other’s officers and soldiers, to countering violent extremism in their communities and showing a united front, whether on the Afghan border or in the Gulf. The message being given is that the two militaries are fighting the same enemy, whether it be on the Pakistani–Afghan border or in the Middle East. With geopolitical alliances shifting rapidly, and with instability and conflict raging from North Africa to Southeast Asia, the UK–Pakistan military alliance that was born in 1947 on polo fields and golf courses is now playing a key role in both Pakistan’s and Britain’s defence engagement with the wider world. Both armies stand to benefit from this in the decades to come.

Kamal Alam
Kamal has been a Visiting Fellow at RUSI since July 2015 and specialises in the Pakistan Army’s relationship with the British Army. Previously he has advised the British Army on Syrian affairs.

With thanks to Kamal Alam and RUSI for allowing me to use this.

Excuses

Many times we make resolutions to change something like a career or education or training and or add something to our daily schedule, or to make healthier choices about what we eat. Or we aim to do more, or we promise that this time around that we will leave our work we do not love anymore. Or move overseas… etc etc.
So the next day as we are opening our eyes routine chains us to our habits and we become comfortable with that same old routine.
It seems easier to stick with our old ways, and we have a host of excuses to do that.

 

Hesitation
Changes we want to make in life seem a great idea. But when we go into a bit more, and learn what it takes to achieve those changes – we leave it to the next minute, hour, day or our best friend listens to what we want to do, then quips: “I tried to do that but didn’t do it because…. (Excuses galore) and what happens to feel comfortable with your friends level we also then start making excuses within to remain ‘comfortable’.
And that dangerous voice within starts to speak to back up your ‘comfort’: What you want to do is crazy. Impossible. You cannot. You have a family. You do not have what it takes – it will never work.
We start to doubt, and soon we thought maybe we thought the change was not a good idea after all. Statements such as “It’s too hard” or “I cannot do it” are our reasons, to help us out of our doubts for inaction and ‘comfort’.

Fear
There are many things we can be afraid of when those changes are needed but we can’t move as our comfort lies in what we know and believe and most of what we know and believe are just that – belief and knowledge can be wrong we are suppose to be thinking reasoning species who are evolving our understanding and honouring ourselves as human beings by courageously moving forward and tackling that what we are afraid of.
We let fear take charge – that fear comforts and excuses our inaction. It gives us comfort in case that we may fail, rejected, make mistakes. Some even we fear that we will succeed – and we have to deal with others jealousy or envy.

Why
Why do we want to do something? Are we ready for it? Preparation is a key step to make changes we say we want to factor in. It is both inside and out: we need to accept that we need to make changes. We need to feel that we have researched and reflected on why we want to change.
Sometimes, we may need a little to push us to the edge to get us to go ahead with our change.

Motivation
Life is full of carrots and sticks. Pleasure and pain.
The prospect of rewards when you have successfully completed your change – greater health and wellbeing, more joy at work, a better life?
Or fear the negative consequences if no change – gain weight and develop illnesses, stress at work and die with regret?

Idea
Many of us have ideas, plans – some good and some well – creative let’s say. But why not just face it and do it. Get that idea/plan out share it with a select group of positive friends (or maybe not) but do something to put into action what you know or feel. Yes you will have obstacles and resistance in your way but don’t we all? And don’t we have that anyway?

Success
You may succeed? You may not? Either is fine as long as you have tried. This is what life is about – moving forward and overcoming that which makes us fearful.

Hope you found this little write up interesting – let me know what you think and I will write more or not – actually I don’t really care – no offence 🙂

After West Midlands – Will Labour fail in the General Election 2017?

West Midlands Labour Gurus have quickly hung their failures around Jeremy Corbyns neck as they’re annoyed that Corbyn did not enhance the cause of their candidate Sion Simon, who stood as Labour candidate in the West Midlands mayoral elections, even though Sion Simon disowned his own party leader

The fault lies NOT with Corbyn but rather with the Labour Party candidate, and the selection system that’s so out of touch with the voter, it has failed to produce true representation especially here in the West Midlands.

Two years of Jeremy Corbyn does not explain Ed Miliband’s Labour Party, when he led the Labour Party to failure at the last General Election, and the one before in 2010 with Gordon Brown at the helm!

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Here in the West Midlands Labour has been run as a chiefdom; Roy Hattersley MP (who even admitted he took the local voters for granted through the biraderi mafia) followed by John Speller and then Tom Watson, have a complete grip on the section process and that’s one of the reasons Labour haven’t produced a suitable mayoral candidate, nor quality candidates for Parliament. Ordinary Labour Party voters and members have little if any voice, and even less reason to campaign for the party.

Quality activists are the foundation of any successful political party, but in Labour they are disconnected and devalued. The machine that was the once great Labour Party has its gears failing; not because of the driver but because of those who should be helping maintain this machine.

Sion Simons political slogan ‘Taking Back Control‘ is borrowed from UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party).  UKIP used this slogan and it resonated with the public as it was perceived that the EU was a dominating power that needed to be dealt with. Why did Labour take this slogan on?

Projecting London as dominating over Birmingham and the Midlands when British voters needed to see unity after #Brexit, was a negative move on the part of the prospective Labour candidate for Mayor and those who advised him.

The voter basically wants to see how much those who wish to lead ‘care’. By not offering to care and show the voter how in touch they are with the issues that concern them, and through showing how they will improve their life, certainly did not excite the voter. If anything, when the Labour candidate put forward the proposal of discounted bus tickets as one of his policies, this was seen as a cheap bribe. Voters see through gimmicks.

Then there was the ‘divide and rule’ type move, trying to pit Muslim and Sikh Labour Party members against each other, when Simon is said to have commented, ‘we have less representation from Sikhs in the area’ even though he had a lot of Muslim and Sikh people in his campaign working for him.

This is worthy of the old British Indian Raj divide and rule politics. Those of us whose parents are from South Asia, regardless our religion, don’t like being manipulated like this and see through these games. Tom Watson as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party let this and other issues with their candidate go unquestioned.

If Labour was serious about ethnic minorities, they would have reached out far more effectively, inclusively, and widely. The candidate was not seen meeting the people, only pre-planned photoshoots were arranged and uploaded on Facebook and Twitter, to make the voters think as though the mayoral candidate is connecting.

Ethnic minorities which Labour has been fond of giving the impression they are the champion of, increasingly are seeing through being used as voting fodder.

Any effective and democratic political party should have candidates who are in touch with the people, rather than professional politicians who are seen as just wanting a job; receiving a fat paycheck and looked on as leaders in name only.

Didn’t Sion Simon mention only two years ago, that voters don’t want a mayor who is not intellectual first, but a politician? Recall his YouTube rant ‘Call Me Dave’ video, and you would get an idea of the image voters had of the prospective Labour mayor.

As I mentioned before the problem is not with Jeremy Corbyn, the problem lies with Labour bureaucracy which thrusts unqualified and out of touch candidates, in what the hierarchy consider ‘safe seats’. Voters don’t want imposed puppet candidates, but effective and in touch individuals who show the face of a caring and connecting party and leadership.

The bureaucracy of the Labour Party is not that fond of its party leader Jeremy Corbyn either… Maybe there is jealousy of Corbyn increasing Labour party membership from near 200,000 to near 600,000? Or perhaps Corbyn doesn’t like forcing candidates on the voters?.

When you undermine your own leader and place your own interests before that of your nation or party, you show your disloyalty not just to the party, but also to the voter.

It’s time for the stale out of touch hierarchy and their sycophantic bullyboys, such as the baradari mafias, to move aside and let more activists move forward through to leadership at local and national levels.

Let those advance who are not concerned about wanting power for power’s sake, but rather for empowering others to move forward.

The Question Should Be Asked: Will Labour Win General Election 2017? … Unlikely!

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