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SACW - 20 Sept 2011 | Religion in the Garrison ; Karachi violence / Sri Lanka sans reforms / India: Team Anna and the Right ; unmarked graves in Kashmir/ Bangladesh: History and war crimes / Libya islamists waiting in the wings

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  • Harsh K
    South Asia Citizens Wire - 20 September 2011 - No. 2725 ... [Dissenting views & news for anti corruption activists http://lokpaldissent.wordpress.com/]
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 19, 2011
      South Asia Citizens Wire - 20 September 2011 - No. 2725
      [Dissenting views & news for anti corruption activists


      1. Sri Lanka: CPA Statement On The Termination of The State of Emergency
      2. Pakistan: The kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer (Editorial, The News)
      3. A pathetic police force (Editorial, The Daily Times)
      4. India's volte-face on libya (M K Bhadrakumar)

      Content updates from sacw.net
      5. Sri Lanka: Silent And Powerless
      The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in 2010 (Law & Society Trust)
      6. Zakia Jaafri and the Jersey widows (Jawed Naqvi)
      7. India’s murky nuclear power quest (Praful Bidwai)
      8. Lessons from Malegaon: (JTSA)
      9. In Defence of The Proposed Prevention of Communal Violence Bill, 2011 (Javed Anand)
      10. Videos : National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) on the Lokpal Bill
      11. The Politics of Independence in Bangladesh (David Ludden)
      12. Converging agendas: Team Anna and the Indian Right (Rohini Hensman)
      13 Tired of Democracy? (Gail Omvedt)
      14. India: Amnesty International seeks urgent action on unmarked graves of disappeared persons in Jammu and Kashmir
      15. Pakistan: Rising Religious Influence in the Garrison
      16. The Currency of Sentiment: An Essay on Informal Accumulation in Colonial India
      (Dilip Simeon)
      17. Rationalising jihadi discourse (Ayesha Siddiqa)
      18. Stand up in solidarity with Pakistanis fighting repressive blasphemy laws
      19. Ammunition for Jamaat’s ’propaganda’ is given by the Bangladesh government (David Bergman)

      20. Libya's new order Can the joy last? (The Economist)
      21. Islamists take aim at Libya rebels' secular leaders (Patrick J. McDonnell)

      22. Announcements:

      1. Sri Lanka: CPA Statement On The Termination Of The State Of Emergency

      The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
      24/2, 28th Lane,
      off Flower Road,
      Colombo 7,
      Sri Lanka


      27 August 2011, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) welcomes the announcement made by the President to Parliament on 25th August 2011 that the government will not be seeking an extension to the state of emergency when it lapses by operation of law in September. Since the end of the war in 2009, the need for an expeditious termination of the state of emergency has been a key concern of civil society. For a generation of Sri Lankans, the state of emergency has been the norm rather than the exception, and this has had a debilitating impact on democracy, governance and the enjoyment of freedom.

      It is pertinent to recall here the deeper political problems that resulted in extra-institutional and armed challenges to the authority of the state since the 1970s, which in turn necessitated the use of these powers for protracted periods. Terrorism and other violent methods, while wholly deplorable, need to be understood in the context of their causes, and in post-war Sri Lanka we are yet to overcome the political challenges of securing peace, unity and diversity through a more equitable sharing of power and through a consolidation of democracy under the rule of law. We are firmly of the view that without addressing these underlying issues relating directly to the democratic legitimacy of the state, conflicts necessitating the reintroduction of states of emergency are likely to arise again. The positive aspects of the termination of the state of emergency therefore need to be viewed against a broader historical, political and constitutional context, and of particular importance in this regard is the urgent need for a new post-war constitutional settlement that can ensure that the causes of past conflict are not reproduced in the future. We call upon the government to approach this fundamental challenge with sincerity, magnanimity and seriousness of purpose, and with a more tolerant appreciation of Sri Lanka’s plural society than has characterised its efforts in this regard so far.

      The relaxation of the state of emergency is also an opportunity to revisit the serious deficiencies of the constitutional and legal framework in relation emergency and anti-terrorism powers that we have experienced in the last four decades. The present procedural and substantive framework of emergency powers is set out in Chapter XVIII of the Constitution and in the Public Security Ordinance. This framework fails to meet contemporary international standards and fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law in a number of respects. These include: the undefined nature of a state of emergency; the lack of legally established preconditions for a declaration of an emergency; the preclusion of judicial review over several aspects of emergency decision-making and executive action; the absence of statutory substantive controls such as proportionality on the exercise of emergency powers (including Emergency Regulations which override all law except the constitution); the weaknesses of the procedure for extension of a state of emergency and the general failure of parliamentary and judicial oversight; and the weaknesses of the constitutional bill of rights which allow restrictions on fundamental rights without adequate safeguards consistent with democratic standards. All these specific deficiencies in relation to the legal regime of emergency powers need also to be understood in the broader context of the present constitution and culture of governance, in which the executive presidency is given a constitutional pre-eminence at the cost of the separation of powers and checks and balances. Successive parliamentary oppositions have also failed to exercise their role of scrutiny and accountability, and this has contributed to the erosion of the regulatory framework.

      In addition, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has been an instrument of repression ever since it was enacted, continues to be in force. It not only fails to meet even basic standards of procedural protection for the individual in relation to criminal responsibility through its provisions on extended detention and admissibility of evidence, but also empowers restrictions on a wide number of other democratic liberties including the freedom of expression. It has been empirically established that the PTA directly facilitates torture and other abusive practices in Sri Lanka. The PTA has no place in a democratic society, and CPA reiterates the call for its repeal and replacement with legislation that balances anti-terrorism powers with democratic freedoms more consistently with established standards, including our own constitutional values.

      The continuation in force of the state of emergency for extended periods of time during the past four decades, as well as conflict conditions necessitating extensive recourse to the PTA and Emergency Regulations, have had a pervasive influence on the practices and culture of governance in Sri Lanka. It is not only the executive, but also Parliament, the courts, and indeed society as a whole, that have become accustomed to being governed under extraordinary powers, and without legal restraints that are central to constitutional democracy. Notwithstanding the welcome relaxation of the state of emergency, therefore, the reversion of our culture of government to a more democratic mode will require continued commitment. Unfortunately, however, recent actions of the government such as the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution and the post-war expansion of the role of the military and defence establishment into civilian life and civil administration, especially in the North and East, give rise to serious concerns and belie the rhetoric of the President’s statement to Parliament.

      CPA also notes that the President’s parliamentary statement did not include details about the alternative arrangements that are contemplated by the government in relation to the matters hitherto regulated by Emergency Regulations, which will lapse together with the state of emergency. These include the detention of alleged LTTE ‘surrendees’, the framework for their rehabilitation, aspects of high security zones still in existence, and other matters. In view of the implications for post-war reconciliation of many of these matters, it is imperative that the measures the government intends taking are made public. More generally, we would also call upon the government to adopt a transparent and consultative approach to any legislation it may bring in relation to national security and terrorism in the future.

      While welcoming the long overdue termination of the state of emergency, therefore, CPA would strongly reiterate the critical need for continued commitment on the part of the government to legal and constitutional reforms that are imperative if, in addition to the government’s priorities of economic development, democracy, peace, order and good government are to form the basis of Sri Lanka’s post-war future.

      Editorial, The News, August 27, 2011

      The kidnapping of the son of the late Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, from a busy road in Lahore as he was on his way to his office highlights the rapidity with which the security situation is deteriorating across the country. Shahbaz Taseer was abducted, as his driver looked on helplessly, by four armed men who reportedly bundled him into a Land Cruiser and fled the scene. The police say it is too early to comment on the motives behind the kidnapping. It is widely known that the Taseer family had been receiving threats since the murder early this year of the former governor by his own police guard; the latter was apparently incensed by Taseer’s comments regarding the country’s blasphemy laws and their alleged misuse. Hearings in the case continue. There are fears that the same forces that hailed Taseer’s killer as a hero may have a hand in the most recent abduction. There is a lack of clarity as to whether the Taseer family had been given police protection, though it is understood that the guards provided by the state may have been withdrawn some days ago. Police investigators are also examining the possibility that disputes over the Taseer family’s extensive business interests may have motivated the kidnapping which appeared well-planned and expertly executed by elements that seemed familiar with Shahbaz’s movements.

      The prime minister has contacted the family, and ordered the police to do everything possible to find the culprits. It is only right that every effort be made to ensure the recovery of the victim. However, PM Gilani would do well to also examine the overall law and order situation in the country. It has been deteriorating rapidly in all our major cities for some time. It is these factors that lead to crimes such as the one committed against Shahbaz Taseer. It is too early to say who kidnapped him and why. We hope the police will succeed in tracking down those involved. But we must also find ways to crack down on crime at large. This effort should include an examination of police performance and technical capacity as well as an effort to improve upon these areas where necessary. At the same time, we need also to examine growing intolerance in the country and prevent a still greater descent into anarchy than the one we are seeing right now.

      Editorial, The Daily Times (12 September 2011)
      The mayhem and murder in Karachi is reaching a head, and the situation is getting dirtier. A five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has reviewed the report presented to it by the ISI regarding the anarchy-like situation in Pakistan’s economic hub. CJ Chaudhry has stated that the report cannot be made public — apparently explosive revelations are hidden within. During the hearing of this suo motu case, the IG Sindh police has admitted that 30 to 40 percent of the police force in the province have political affiliations, making them a debilitating factor in controlling the ongoing violence. Furthermore, these affiliations have made it extremely difficult for the department heads in the police to take any action against them. The CJ was particularly interested in the issue of the police as the court demanded to know why the lead suspect behind the Chakra Goth police attack — where three police officers were killed on August 19 — had been set free.

      Karachi’s armed gangs are largely known as having the same kind of political patronage that these police officers are reported as having, especially with the MQM, making them, essentially, two sides of the same coin. It is these black sheep of the law enforcement agencies that, because of a violent sort of political patronage, cannot do justice to the dictates of the law; they must be shunted out, and harshly so that their ouster makes clear that such connections will not be tolerated. The law needs to be applied without the threat of intimidation especially when Karachi continues to cry tears of blood. The only way to do this is for all political stakeholders that are suffering from the destruction of Karachi to work together and take steps that empower the police and make them independent of political influence. Proper professionals from the top down need to take charge and all police officials need to get on with their job — their real job — of protecting the lives and property of the citizens; playing a part in the overriding violence by those sympathetic to criminal elements must stop. *

      The secret mission
      by M K Bhadrakumar

      The Paris meet was a grim victory celebration by the Nato powers who wanted non-European poodles on the bandwagon.

      The death of Imtiaz Alam, a domestic help in Tripoli, ten days ago in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) air strike, was an opportune moment for our government to pronounce on the Libyan tragedy. Even the death of a sparrow is a tragedy, as Shakespeare put it, but the government continued with its stony silence about Nato’s war crimes. The official position is that the Libyan situation should be normalised by the people of that country and “this process should be guided by respect for the sovereignty, integrity and unity of Libya.”

      But that position was fortnight-old. The government is yet to reveal that it took a U-turn in secrecy and decided to identify with the western intervention in Libya. Even the Indian parliament, which was in session, didn’t know that the minister of state for external affairs E Ahmed attended the so-called ‘Friends of Libya’ conference in Paris on September 1, which was convened by France, the interventionist power that spearheaded the assault on Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in flagrant violation of international law.

      Whether the volte-face was due to Nikolas Sarkozy’s charm or a diktat from Washington (or both), we do not know. Perhaps, two or three years hence WikiLeaks might throw some light. Meanwhile, Ahmed’s flight to Paris signifies a major shift in policy.

      True, Muammad Gaddafi’s regime has been overthrown and there is need to look ahead. It is nobody’s case either that India’s ties with Libya should be put in a deep freezer until the looming civil war finally gets over. Nor is it questionable that India has substantial interests in Libya which need to be safeguarded. The big question is how India should go about meeting the developing situation.

      Our government argued when Resolution 1973 came up in the United Nations Security Council that India’s position would be largely guided by the stance of the African Union (AU) on the Libyan question. Subsequently, prime minister Manmohan Singh demonstratively displayed India’s solidarity with Africa when he made an extended tour of that continent and attended an AU-India summit meeting in Addis Ababa. The spin doctors hailed Singh’s rhetoric as historic. In retrospect, it seems the Indian statements were vacuous.

      The point is, AU stubbornly refuses to accord recognition to the National Transitional Council or TNC (which is how the disparate elements who are Nato’s pawns in Libya are collectively described.) For the AU, Nato’s intervention in Libya evokes collective memory of the colonial era. The AU ignored Sarkozy’s invitation to the Paris meet. The government owes a decent explanation as to what prompted it to dump the prime minister’s flowery rhetoric in Africa about India’s common destiny with that continent.

      Oil to money
      Furthermore, what was the Paris meet about? Quintessentially, the western interventionist powers, having brought about the ‘regime change’, now want to consolidate their grip on Libya’s oil resources and to this end want to install the NTC in power in Tripoli, which of course needs lots of money — and Europe is broke. France and Britain seek that the billions of dollars in frozen assets belonging to Libya to be vested in the TNC’s hands. The British foreign secretary William Hague admitted that money is needed “to fund basic necessities, pay civil service salaries, and bolster confidence in Libyan banks.”

      The Paris meet was a grim victory celebration by the Nato powers. In order to give legitimacy to what lies ahead, the Nato powers want poodles from outside Europe to get into their bandwagon. India needs to ponder about what is happening. India shouldn’t have been party to the processes under the rubric of ‘Friends of Libya’.

      India should rather insist that such processes for cauterising the Libyan wounds should be the UN’s business. The western interventionist powers are bypassing the UN and insisting that Nato will remain in Libya for an indeterminate period.

      Most certainly, India needs to maintain contacts with the disparate elements vying for supremacy in Libya. But then, their representatives could be invited to visit Delhi so that India’s concerns can be appropriately registered with them. By all means, render humanitarian help to the Libyan people. But India does not need Sarkozy or David Cameron as mediators. Nor should India be oblivious of the stance of the AU. India should synchronise its stance with the AU’s. It will be a principled stance and it will be in consonance with the promises and hopes held out by Manmohan Singh in his celebrated Africa tour, which still lingers in memory.

      Finally, India should thoughtfully begin to assess the far-reaching import of what is unfolding in Libya. India has consistently argued that the struggle for change has to be peaceful and non-violent. That was how the Shah of Iran was overthrown (1979); Marcos in the Philippines (1986); the East European regimes in the 1980s; and Suharto in Indonesia (1998). On the contrary, the change in Libya is taking place through unilateralist western military intervention. It raises fundamental questions in global politics.

      Are we hearing the footfalls of history all over again — the ‘white man’s burden’? We too have been, historically speaking, victims of the predatory politics of the western powers in their scramble for scarce resources in the Global South. Before dispatching Ahmed under a veil of secrecy to Paris, the government should have consulted the Indian parliament.

      (The writer is a former diplomat)

      The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in 2010
      by Law & Society Trust
      Law & Society Trust's periodic review of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka as published in the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) 2011 regional report on the effectiveness and performance of national human rights institutions, in advance of the 16th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) between 6-8 September 2011.

      by Jawed Naqvi
      Her circumstances are many times more adverse. Perhaps that is why in her fight for justice Zakia Jaafri outshines the four heroic American women of 9/11 who became known as the Jersey widows.

      by Praful Bidwai
      The latest India-related WikiLeaks di sclosures, based on cables detailing co nversations bet w een United States diplomats and Indian politicians, diplomats, bureaucrats and journalists, show many of the latter in remarkably poor light. Our top officials and policymakers think nothing of disclosing privileged information, such as policy briefs given to them by the prime minister, classified data on India’s military activities, or assessments of their own colleagues.

      Punish those guilty of misleading probes; Compensate the victims NOW!
      by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
      The NIA has finally put the official seal on what many activists, the families of the accused and the people of Malegaon had been saying for long: that the arrest of nine Muslim men for the 2008 Malegaon blast was a result of a communal witch-hunt, which passes for investigations into terror charges.

      by Javed Anand
      The response of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the rest of its right wing parivar to the proposed Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011 is not much of a surprise. Conditioned by a pernicious ideology plus the dictates of Hindu vote bank politics, the protagonists of Hindutva cannot but give such a response to any and every expression of legitimate democratic concern for the sorry plight of India’s minorities

      Two part video of the NCPRI Press Conference of 20 August 2011 held in New Delhi. Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shekhar Singh, Harsh Mander and Retired Justice AP Shah spoke at the press conference on 20 August 2011 in New Delhi

      by David Ludden
      Historians still do not have all the records they need to fully understand the freedom struggle of Bangladesh and offer a proper appreciation of the role of all the participants.

      by Rohini Hensman
      Anna Hazare’s authoritarianism, the lack of any whiff of democracy in the village he rules, the crushing of dissent, his ultra-nationalism and his belief in caste hierarchy, suggest a convergence of his agenda and worldview with that of the right-wing

      by Gail Omvedt
      Why are such masses of people (apparently: in our village some came out for a morcha organized by the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti) following Anna Hazare, when it is now clear that his Lokpal is an authoritarian, centralized and undemocratically pushed proposal?

      Following a report by a police investigation team, confirming the existence of unmarked graves containing bodies of persons subject to enforced disappearances, urgent action needs to be taken including preserving the evidence and widening the investigation across Jammu and Kashmir said Amnesty International

      by Umer Farooq
      On March 16, 2004, the Pakistan Army launched its first operation in South Waziristan tribal agency to weed out al-Qaeda and Taliban elements who had crossed into Pakistan after coming under American attacks in Afghanistan.

      by Dilip Simeon
      The discourse of corruption normalises the inequality of wage labour. By encouraging us to focus on bribes, commissions and kick-backs - informal deductions in formal monetary transactions - it deflects attention from the endemic deductions of surplus value in capitalist production. Indian ’corruption’ has a further ramification, that of normalising the conventional forms of exploitation and mediated labour relationships in the so-called informal sector.

      by Ayesha Siddiqa
      A popular perception in Pakistan is that extremism, radicalism and militancy are primarily driven by poverty and lack of education. Give the boys jobs and you will detract them from going the jihadi route.

      by Tehmina Kazi
      The bravery of Pakistanis fighting repressive blasphemy laws must be matched by support from the international community

      by David Bergman
      IN THE summer of 2010, when the Bangladesh government invited the US ambassador-at-large for war-crimes issues, Stephen Rapp, to advise its ministers on the legal regime it had established to prosecute those alleged to have committed international offences during the 1971 war . . .

      The Economist

      As the first flush of liberation begins to fade, differences between the new rulers may soon begin to widen

      The Economist, September 3, 2011 | TRIPOLI | from the print edition

      AT LAST they came. After a week of hesitation in the wake of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s flight, the people of Tripoli climbed off the fence and poured into the capital’s central square for an all-night celebration capped by morning prayers. Many of the worshippers were government employees. A finance ministry official said he and the rest of his department would report for work after Eid el-Fitr, the festivity on August 30th that marked the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. A local police chief, pumping his fists in unison with the crowd’s cries of “God is Great!”, said all his men had already reported back for duty.

      Tripoli is righting itself with astonishing speed. Clothes shops opened for Eid. Cafés have put up their awnings in Tripoli’s charming squares. Hotels which nervously hung a modest rebel flag in their lobbies four days after Tripoli had fallen are now draped in them.

      But myriad handicaps to normal life persist. A dearth of public services is keeping people indoors. The capital has no running water and electricity is sporadic, blacking the city out at night. The price of potatoes has risen twentyfold. Salaries have yet to be paid.

      But even sceptics call such shortcomings “a tax” that must be paid for the transition from decades of erratic dictatorship. Moreover, they note improvements. After barely a week, vegetables and frozen chickens are back in the markets. The ports are offloading fuel, putting petrol, whose price had risen from $8 a tank to $200, back into the pumps at a quarter of its pre-war cost (see article). Banks have reopened, albeit with a limit of 250 dinars ($208) on withdrawals.

      After decades of people being suspicious of each other, the hardship has created a strange feeling of communal goodwill. Homeowners with wells have attached outdoor taps for those without water. Boys from Zanzur, a village on the edge of Tripoli, which has a large irrigation system, have been trucking water to the thirsty city centre for nothing. Students go shopping for patients in the general hospital, doubling for the foreign nurses who have fled. Religious devotees have collected alms and food for the poor to celebrate Eid. Even in Abu Salim, the last Tripoli suburb to fall to the rebels after heavy fighting, youths have begun sweeping the streets.

      Following Friday prayers just after the colonel’s rout, locals met in mosques and appointed committees of five to ten men, drawn from lijan al-sulh, traditional bodies for mediating disputes. In turn, the lijan allocated responsibilities for putting up and arming checkpoints and clearing rubbish.

      The first members of the government to arrive from the rebel headquarters in Benghazi have set up shop in the office of Colonel Qaddafi’s departed prime minister. Volunteer guards warded off looters, so the new incumbents receive visitors in the same white leather armchairs in rooms of polished lacquer panelling and red carpets. The filing cabinets seem untouched; even the paper-knives are in place.

      Yet the new administration is still desperately thin. Most of the national councillors, including its chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, and the emerging government’s prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, are still in Benghazi, citing worries over security, or are abroad. The new health minister, struggling to reopen hospitals, cuts a lonely figure; the deputy defence minister watches television. “Just a minute,” the white-haired interior minister repeatedly begs partying youth in one of Tripoli’s squares, struggling to make himself heard above a chorus of “Maleshi Abu Shafshufa” (“Diddums, Fuzzywuzzy”, a mocking gibe at the colonel). “You don’t get the feeling they’re robust enough to withstand a major challenge,” says a Western politician who arrived in Tripoli before most of Libya’s new government.

      Internal wrangling may ensue. Appointments seem to chop and change. New posts surface by the hour. Divisions between easterners and westerners, tribal people and townsfolk, civilians and militiamen, are all liable to open up. It is unclear how much of the colonel’s system will be kept. Anxious to hold on to their jobs and portraying themselves as apolitical professionals, Tripoli’s bureaucrats argue that only the ministerial upper echelon was rotten. “If you try to get rid of these people, you’ll bring down the functioning state,” says an official operating the “temporary finance mechanism” set up by the British and French to channel donor funds.

      Many nervous civil servants from the old order are rallying around Mr Jibril, who until recently was one of them, heading the National Economic Development Board, which used to oversee privatisation. A stabilisation committee, run by Aref Nayed, a relative and appointee of Mr Jibril, has prepared a report that warns against repeating America’s mistakes in Iraq, when de-Baathification (the sacking of people who belonged to the ruling party) and the abolition of whole ministries gutted the state and helped bring about chaos. “Libya for all, Libya with all,” says Mahmoud Warfala, the new broadcasting boss who also negotiates for his and Mr Jibril’s beefy tribe, the Warfala. The colonel’s media people will keep their jobs, he says, except for Hala Misrati, who menacingly waved a pistol on her talk show.

      Gradualists v revolutionaries

      Others are less forgiving. The Islamists and many of the returning exiles, a powerful caucus on the national council, are less keen on Mr Jibril’s message of inclusivity and reconciliation. They warily accept that the Supreme Court should continue to administer criminal law, but only for the moment. Some of the more radical former exiles want to ditch Mr Jibril after Eid. “The public demands fresh blood,” says Abdulrazaq Mukhtar, who led the first lot of council ministers to Tripoli. “We have the right to object to him. We want capable people but his team has left a big vacuum.”

      Pragmatists and ideologues seem to be pitching rival camps in the capital. Even as the prime minister’s office has become home to the council’s executive committee, a sort of fledgling inner cabinet led by Mr Jibril, the wider national council itself has commandeered the old palace of King Idris to symbolise its break with the Qaddafi regime. The old-timers plan to resurrect a statue of the Roman emperor, Septimus Severus, who was born in what became Libya but whom Colonel Qaddafi knocked off his Tripolitanian plinth.

      Those in the moderate secular camp talk of elevating Ali Essawi, a prominent but sometimes controversial figure in the new order, whereas some Islamists back Liamine Bel Haj, a member of the national council who is a Muslim Brother. “The interim government should not come from [Colonel Qaddafi’s] regime,” he says.

      The Islamists seem to have the upper hand, enjoying the patronage of Qatar, the boiling-rich little Gulf emirate that hosts Yusuf Qaradawi, an influential mentor of the global Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Jazeera, the satellite-television channel that shapes perceptions across the Arab world. Qatar, some surmise, could yet play the part in nurturing Islamists in Libya that Pakistan played in Afghanistan.

      Mosques are already influencing the new order—often for the good. Within days of the rebel victory in Tripoli, imams broadcast calls for gunmen to stop firing in the air. They have used Friday prayers to tell looters to register their weapons with local offices answerable to the national council and have distributed reminders to be pinned to lampposts. In many districts the mosque is the seat of the new local council, receiving alms to subsidise its activities. Many have wells, and the national council has declared that supplying fresh water is a top priority.

      Tripoli’s new military commander, Abdel Hakim Bel Haj, once belonged to the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group, regarded as an affiliate of al-Qaeda, which he subsequently renounced. His deputy, Mehdi Herati, sailed with a fiercely Islamist Turkish group in last year’s flotilla to break the siege on Gaza. Ali al-Salabi, a Muslim Brotherhood scholar, has returned from Qatar. Assorted Islamists are suspected of killing Abdel Younis Fattah, the rebel commander who died outside Benghazi in late July in mysterious circumstances.

      The exuberant rebel militias that have arrived in Tripoli are making a lot of people nervous. Their celebratory gunfire and wild bravado carry an implicit warning: if you don’t give us a place at the top table, we will use our power to disrupt. The Tripolitanians want them out.

      Mr Nayed, architect of the stabilisation plan, says the militias will be integrated into a revamped army and police. Himself an IT entrepreneur, he has proposed a bold buy-back scheme whereby people who hand in their guns will be rewarded with a laptop, mobile telephone gadgetry and free language tuition.

      If the recent experience of Benghazi is anything to go by, dealing with the militias will not be easy. The city has some 40 private militias, many of which have put more energy into protection rackets than into fighting Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. “We have militias, not a national army,” bemoans the new deputy defence minister, Muhammad Taynaz. They need to be tamed or integrated—fast.

      By Patrick J. McDonnell
      An Islamic scholar accuses Mahmoud Jibril and others in the
      transitional council of guiding Libya into 'a new era of tyranny and
      dictatorship.' The broadside points up a simmering conflict.

      By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times

      5:54 PM PDT, September 13, 2011
      Reporting from Tripoli, Libya — A struggle between secular politicians and Islamists seeking to define the character of the new Libya burst into the open Tuesday, highlighting the challenge authorities face with reconciling demands repressed for decades by Moammar Kadafi that are now suddenly coming to the surface.

      Even as the Transitional National Council tries to establish itself in the capital, restore Libya's oil industry and public order, and crush remaining pockets of support for Kadafi, Islamists have focused their ire on Mahmoud Jibril, a U.S.-educated political scientist who is serving as de facto prime minister.

      On Tuesday, a prominent Islamist scholar denounced Jibril and his allies as "extreme secularists" who seek to enrich themselves via "the deal of a lifetime."

      Jibril and his associates were guiding the nation into "a new era of tyranny and dictatorship," Ali Salabi told the satellite news channel Al Jazeera in comments posted Tuesday on its website. The cleric charged that the new administration could be "worse than Kadafi."

      The broadside seemed sure to escalate a conflict that has been simmering for some time. A plan approved Sunday by the transitional leadership to bring rebel fighters under civilian authority angered the rebel commander whose forces patrol Tripoli. That commander, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, is an ally of Salabi.

      The rebels' civilian administration based itself in the eastern city of Benghazi during the six-month struggle to oust Kadafi. Jibril arrived in Tripoli only on Friday, almost three weeks after the capital fell to rebel forces.

      He has obliquely assailed those who put politics ahead of other pressing issues, but has refrained from direct criticism of Islamists or others pushing for influence in the new state.

      Among them are militiamen, the long-repressed Islamists, returned exiles and former Kadafi supporters. Reconciling them will be a major challenge in a country with no history of democratic rule — and its longtime strongman still on the loose.

      Although they have captured the capital, the rebels have not been able to negotiate a surrender of several cities that remain loyal to Kadafi. An offensive against one of them, Bani Walid, failed over the weekend. They have not yet attempted to capture Kadafi's hometown, Surt.

      Kadafi, his most powerful son and other loyal officials remain free, with Kadafi exhorting loyal tribes and militias to keep up the fight. Pro-Kadafi forces attacked an important oil refinery Monday, underscoring the danger that loyalists pose if fighting drags on.

      Salabi fashioned himself as a spiritual mentor to the rebel movement as it fought to oust Kadafi, reportedly traveling frequently from his base in Qatar to visit insurgent fighters.

      Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the Transitional National Council, said Salabi's attack on Jibril and the council reflected a personal opinion.

      "I would say Mr. Jibril does have the support of the Libyan people," said Shammam, who was also singled out by Salabi for criticism. "But in the new Libya, we respect the right of people to express their views peacefully."

      The spokesman denied that there was any conflict between secular and Islamist groups in Libya or in the council. "We are all Muslims, we are all moderate Muslims," Shammam said.

      Kadafi made sure that militant Islamic views, which he saw as a threat, did not have a chance to flourish in Libya.

      Salabi spent time in Libyan jails in the 1980s for criticizing Kadafi's regime. Two decades later, he was recruited by one of Kadafi's sons, Seif Islam, to help negotiate freedom for imprisoned Islamists who renounced violence, including Belhaj.

      Salabi and other Libyan Islamists clearly see the moment as an opportunity to assert their viewpoints after decades of fierce repression.

      In public comments, Salabi has said that he supports a pluralistic democratic model for Libya. He has denied reports that he is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group active in neighboring Egypt and elsewhere.

      Salabi's objections are "not against the secularists, but against those who served the old regime," said George Joffe, a North Africa expert at Cambridge University. Specifically, Joffe said, Jibril, who served as an economic advisor to Kadafi's government before leaving in 2010, is not trusted in Islamic circles.

      However, among the other transitional council members singled out by Salabi is Ali Tarhouni, a longtime U.S. economics professor who left Libya in the 1970s and worked in opposition to the regime for decades. By contrast, Islamists have not raised public objections to the transitional council's chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who served as justice minister in Kadafi's Cabinet and has come to be a kind of symbolic leader of the revolution.

      Salabi is close to Tripoli's military commander, Belhaj, a former mujahedin fighter in Afghanistan who says he was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA and then sent back to Libya under the U.S. rendition program. Documents found in Tripoli seem to confirm that. The CIA has not denied the authenticity of the documents, though it has not commented on their contents.

      Belhaj is an ex-commander of the now-defunct Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which had been on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations. But Belhaj has denied any link to Al Qaeda militants, vowed to support a democratic transition in Libya and pledged his allegiance to the transitional administration.

      "Our aim as Islamic fighters was just to get rid of Kadafi," Belhaj said in a recent interview.

      In a recent interview with the Irish Times, Salabi said he and Belhaj had been friends for 25 years. "The same thoughts I carry, he carries," Salabi said.

      Belhaj has not been available for comment in recent days, but Jibril's plans to place military units under the authority of the transitional council angered him. One associate said privately that Jibril sought to be "a new dictator."

      However, Shammam, the council spokesman, said Jibril and Belhaj had recently sat down together, got along well and had no major disagreements. "We are all working together for a better Libya," Shammam said.


      Special correspondent Raheem Salman in Baghdad contributed to this report.

      - Peace Activists from Pakistan speaking in Bombay (20 Sept 2011)
      - Bees in Anna Hazare's Pyjamas - talk in Delhi University (20 Sept 2011)

      (i) Public meeting on Indo-Pak Relations at Press Club, Mumbai on 20 September 2011
      [ Peace ] by sapw @ 19.09.2011 19:02 CEST

      Dear All,
      This is to invite you to attend a meeting on the issue of India-Pakistan Relations at Press Club, Mumbai on Tuesday (20th September) at 4.00 pm. The speakers will include Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid (Retd.Supreme Court of Pakistan Judge & Member of India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners), Iqbal Haider (former Law Minister, Pakistan), Karamat Ali (Trade Union leader & Peace activist), Dr. Bhalchandra Mungekar (Member Rajya Sabha).
      Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid, Iqbal Haider & Karamat Ali will be speaking after their visit to the state of Gujarat & Diu where they visited Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Veraval, Mangrol & Porbandar. They met fishermen and their families. They spoke to the women whose husbands, sons are languishing in the Pakistani jails. Every where large number of fishermen turned to speak to them & how the plight of Indian and Pakistani fishermen & their families can be stopped. For the first time in the history of India and Pakistan such kind of a delegation visited Indian fishing communities and heard their sufferings.
      The Pakistani friends and Dr. Bhalchandra Mungekar will speak on how relations between India and Pakistan can be improved.
      Do attend and spread the word.
      Jatin Desai [Bombay]

      (ii) Talk on Ecological Authoritarianisms: Anna Hazare, Ralegan Sidhi and Watershed Program with Mukul Sharma (Journalist, Researcher and Social Activist) @ Ramjas College [Delhi University], Seminar Room, 12.30 pm, 20th September 2011


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