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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:40 PM
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Laid-back Lahore faces a frightening future
Source: Guardian (UK), The Observer

Laid-back Lahore faces a frightening future
When gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in broad daylight, they struck in the heart of the most cosmopolitan city in Pakistan. Now the residents of Lahore fear that the religious violence that blights other regions has taken root on their own doorstep. Their bleak mood is the latest sign of the times in a troubled country. Jason Burke, Isaam Ahmed and Saeed Shah in Lahore report

Jason Burke, Isaam Ahmed and Saeed Shah in Lahore
The Observer, Sunday 8 March 2009
Article history

-snip-

"After Benazir Bhutto was assassinated we thought it could not get any worse,' said Dr Farzana Shaikh, an analyst at London's Chatham House think tank. "But it has. We won't see a dramatic explosion or implosion. We will just see bits of the country drifting out of government control."

Though Pakistan has repeatedly shown a resilience that has astonished those who repeatedly predict its imminent failure as a state - few other nations could have absorbed an economic crash, the assassination of its best-known political leader, a secessionist insurgency and a wave of religious militant violence in the space of 18 months without disintegrating - the international community is now deeply concerned for the future.

Last week, an American diplomat said openly what government analysts around the world have long said privately: Pakistan, with its crashing economy, nuclear arms and raging Islamic militant insurgency, is of greater concern than Afghanistan. The logic is simple: you can lose Afghanistan and still keep Pakistan, but the reverse is not true.

When the violence stays far away in the North West Frontier Province - seven policemen died in a car bomb yesterday, a local mayor was killed on Friday - the impact is less. On the Afghan border, though some areas are being clawed back from their hands, vast areas are still under the de facto rule of the "Pakistani Taliban". Last month, the NWFP government agreed a truce with Islamic militants that will see a rigorous version of sharia law imposed in the Swat valley, just three hours drive from Islamabad, the capital.

-snip-

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/08/pakistan-la...
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bertman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 08:40 PM
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1. Thanks for the post, Bozita. Pakistan is a mystery to me, so it's good to read something
about the world half way around the world. Rec.
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 12:09 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Saudi-financed Wahhabi madrassas (schools) in Pakistan are seldom mentioned
Their influence on Pakistan today cannot be ignored. Nevertheless, the MSM remains in the "ignore" mode.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

Wahhabi radicals are determined to destroy a gentler, kinder Islam
William Dalrymple
The Observer, Sunday 8 March 2009
Article history


Rahman Baba, "the Nightingale of Peshawar," was an 18th-century poet and mystic, a sort of North West Frontier version of Julian of Norwich.

He withdrew from the world and promised his followers that if they also loosened their ties with the world, they could purge their souls of worries and move towards direct experience of God. Rituals and fasting were for the pious, said the saint. What was important was to understand that divinity can best be reached through the gateway of the human heart - that we all have paradise within us, if we know where to look.

For centuries, Rahman Baba's shrine at the foot of the Khyber Pass has been a place where musicians and poets have gathered, and his Sufi verses in the Pukhtun language made him the national poet of the Pathans. As a young journalist covering the Soviet-mujahideen conflict I used to visit the shrine to watch Afghan refugee musicians sing their songs to their saint by the light of the moon.

Then, about 10 years ago, a Saudi-funded Wahhabi madrasa was built at the end of the track leading to the shrine. Soon its students took it on themselves to halt what they saw as unIslamic practices. On my last visit, I talked about the situation with the shrine keeper, Tila Mohammed. He described how young Islamists now came and complained that his shrine was a centre of idolatry and superstition: "My family have been singing here for generations," said Tila. "But now these Arab madrasa students come here and create trouble.

"They tell us that what we do is wrong. They ask people who are singing to stop. Sometimes arguments break out - even fist fights. This used to be a place where people came to get peace of mind. Now when they come here they just encounter more problems, so gradually have stopped coming."

"Before the Afghan war, there was nothing like this. But then the Saudis came, with their propaganda, to stop us visiting the saints, and to stop us preaching 'ishq . Now this trouble happens more and more frequently."

more...

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sledgehammer Donating Member (774 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 03:49 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Wahabism is almost solely responsible...
...for the creation of militant Islamic fundamentalists throughout the world, thanks to Saudi funding and support. President Zia of Pakistan allowed it to slowly develop in Pakistan over the 1980s (and then after his death into the 90s).

Pakistan never used to be like this, and it prided itself on its culture - primarily a combination of Islamic and Indian traditions, with a dollop of Persian and Arab culture mixed in. And a diversity of this unique culture existed within the borders, and this diversity was respected and celebrated.

The mullahs are fighting to make Wahabi Islam the only culture. And, dare I say, succeeding?
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Agreed.
Good post.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:42 PM
Response to Original message
2. Heartbreaking for just regular people who are only trying to live
feed their kids and take care of their parents. :(
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espiral Donating Member (143 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. re: EFerrari
"Heartbreaking for just regular people who are only trying to live...
feed their kids and take care of their parents."

Indeed.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 04:28 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Welcome to DU.
:)
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
8. Good article
I'm still trying to figure out what Musharraf was thinking when he had George Bush with the Pakistani cricket team. Sadly the association of cricket with the military on the sub-continent and the anglicized elites was made worse by exposing the team to the #1 enemy of the people.

I feel very sorry for the people of Pakistan who have been dragged into this mess.
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