Monthly Archives: July 2005

Suicide bombing phenomenon

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

SUICIDE bombers have attacked London twice in the past month. Baghdad is the scene of such attacks on practically a daily basis. Yet not much is known about suicide bombers. It is only now that scholars have begun exploring this subject. This is a positive development because, on the basis of their research, these scholars are exploding many myths. Hopefully, they will succeed in educating and informing not only the people better about them but also the governments in the West.

The latest book on the subject to hit the market is Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism by Robert Pape, assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Pape has collected a storehouse of information on the 462 suicide bombers who made headlines by their successful missions from 1980 to 2004. By analyzing demographic data, the psychology of the terrorists and their ideological and political motives, Pape has drawn interesting and valid conclusions.
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REVIEWS: Why they took separate paths?

Reviewed by Zubeida Mustafa

Partition & Convergence by Prof Jamal Naqvi, an eminent scholar, is a most thought-provoking book. While its focus is said to be South Asia in the 21st century, it is actually a summing up of the author’s philosophical analysis of world affairs and its impact on our region.

Identifying the key features of the emergence of the European political system, which determined the course of the history of the continent, the author traces briefly the milestones that carry a lesson for Asia. Thus feudalism and how it disintegrated, the renaissance, the “massive institutionalization” of society and the creation of powerful traders’ and craftsmen’s guilds in the towns and cities ultimately proved to be the major catalyst in creating Europe as a force to be reckoned with in world affairs.

This historical development was responsible for the emergence of capitalism that drove the Europeans in their quest for new markets and a source of cheap raw material and labour. These were found in plenty in the colonies. It was capitalism that led to the successful colonization by the European powers of Asia and Africa.

The thrust towards institutionalization was aimed at protecting the rights of the people and was confrontationist in character. The new institutions developed on the basis of guidelines of professionalism. Hence they promoted the rule of law and a vibrant civil society which led to the emergence of the concept of democratization.

The British conquered India because of their superior knowledge and technology. That helped the colonizing power to hold on to massive areas with a small military force. It was the British strategy of “divide and rule” which sustained and consolidated its hold on India. This land of millions provided the rapidly growing British industry of that period the market it needed. It also proved to be a source of cheap raw material. The so-called mutiny in 1857 proved to be a watershed in the history of the British raj for it clearly established that Britain’s own policies would work against it. Thus the soldiers who had rebelled were trained as professionals by the British rulers themselves. When Britain was weakened by the Second World War it felt it had to disengage itself from its colonies.

The most significant aspect of the history of the subcontinent was the way relations evolved between the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, and subsequently between India and Pakistan. This cast a long shadow on the post-Independence international politics of South Asia. A lot has been written about the different course the politics took in the two countries of the subcontinent and its impact on their bilateral relations.

While in Pakistan the military gained ascendancy and became the wielder of power directly or by proxy (with a civilian government providing the facade), a democratic, secular system evolved in India. As a result Pakistan failed to develop a feasible system of governance. The civil society proved to be strong enough to overthrow an oppressive military ruler but did not have the strength to sustain a democratic system. Religion had to be used as an instrument to hold the country together. This approach failed and the country broke up in 1971 when Bangladesh was born.

The militarization of the political system in Pakistan displayed some common features irrespective of the military ruler at the helm. The country would be closely allied with the United States, the civil society would be fragmented as the government’s policy would invariably be that of divide and rule, a local government structure would be developed to let out steam, and confrontation on the Kashmir dispute would be intensified to sustain a hate-India posture and justify the expansion of the defence infrastructure.

The emergence of Bangladesh, however, had a profound impact on South Asia. It eased the pressure on India and saw the rise of popular expectations, which the ruling elites had managed to brush aside. The response to this phenomenon was populism which Prof Naqvi defines as “political jugglery that counters the hopes of the common man and the fears of the ruling classes in a way to give the impression of change when in fact the status quo is largely maintained”. This populism in Indira Gandhi’s India and Mujibur Rahman’s Bangladesh ultimately paved the way for the democratization of politics in these countries.

But this did not happen in Pakistan. Bhutto’s populism was interrupted by the army. The changes taking place in South Asia are, according to the author, the result of post-Cold War imperatives. The thrust is towards the regionalization of South Asia. The age of the nationalist state is now dead and a collective South Asian nationalism is emerging, Saarc being its strongest manifestation. Prof Naqvi is optimistic about the new trends which he believes will lead to better India-Pakistan relations. He makes a powerful plea for peace in South Asia.

This is a book full of profound analysis and observations from a scholar, who was once a Marxist but “quit Leftist politics in 1990” as the author’s introduction proclaims. He is, therefore, objective and profound since he can detach himself from the controversies of the day and interpret the history of South Asia in the light of his knowledge of Marxism and his own political experience. These combine to make his analysis deep and interesting.

The only problem — and a serious one — with the book is that it has not been provided the expert touch of an editor. This is not strange for the institution of a professional editor is virtually non-existent in Pakistan. Had an editor worked on the book, it would have had a cohesive theme running from the first to the last chapter and the far too many spelling and grammatical errors would have been eliminated. One hopes that these shortcomings will be rectified in the next edition to make the book reader friendly and a profound work of scholarship.

Partition & Convergence: South Asia in the 21st Century
By Prof Syed Jamal Naqvi
Xlibris. Tel: 001-888-795 4274 . Website:
ISBN 1-4134-5935-8
155pp. Price not listed

Source: Dawn

London bombings: the day after

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

AS THE dust settles on London’s horrific suicide bombings, there are many concerns being expressed. At the international and the political level, this act of some perverted individuals, said to be linked to the Al Qaeda and its affiliates’ network, is seen from the perspective of the war on terrorism.

The question being asked is whether this war, spearheaded by the US and supported by a number of other governments including Pakistan’s, is succeeding in its mission. So many terrorist attacks have occurred in the wake of 9/11 — Bali, Madrid, Morocco, Istanbul and now London — that the focus has shifted more towards an analysis of the failure or success of the anti- terror strategy.

A serious attempt is being made once again to analyze the factors that have spawned the terror phenomenon, especially in view of the fact that many of the explanations given have, over a period of time, proved to be quite off the mark. The new phase of exploration and rationalization as reflected in the press and the electronic media in Britain and the US appears to have prompted analysts and policymakers to revise their understanding of the terrorist’s mind and motives. The main reason for this change is the emergence of, what the British media terms, “home grown” terrorism.

Until now, it was widely believed that if the intelligence agencies could figure out Al Qaeda’s military strategy and stop terrorists from entering the targeted states, they could easily pre-empt fresh attacks. Hence the focus was on stringent immigration laws, airport checks and physical search and surveillance. Now it is being realized that there are other factors that contribute to the rise of terrorism and need to be addressed and rooted out as well.
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Population day thoughts

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

JULY 11 was world population day — a day of introspection on where the human race is heading. In Pakistan, we have plenty of soul-searching to do given our rapidly increasing population and its far-reaching impact on every sector of national life. In 50 years, the population has galloped from 33 million to 152 million to make Pakistan the seventh most populous country in the world.

It is now recognized that one of the causes — not the only one — of the country’s economic backwardness, poor education level and social underdevelopment is the population factor. The government now claims that the population growth rate came down to 1.9 per cent in 2004-2005 — at one time it was three per cent. According to the official sources in Pakistan the total fertility rate (TFR), that is the average number of children a woman has in her reproductive years, has come down from 4.8 in 2000-01 to 4.07 in 2004-05.
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Elitist approach to education

By Zubeida Mustafa
Source: Dawn

THE chapter on education in the Pakistan Economic Survey 2004-05, released in June, is ‘question-provoking’, if one is allowed to use the term. It says the right things about the importance of education for change in society and the progress of the masses.

The goals of the government spelt out are also very inspiring, that is if you believe them. It says that the “Government of Pakistan has adopted this sector (education) as one of the pillars for poverty reduction and benefit of masses. Government is fully committed to provide best Educational Facilities to its people in the minimum possible time.” (Reproduced without editing).
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REVIEWS: Enter the peace actors

Reviewed by Zubeida Mustafa

As the nature and style of warfare has changed over the years with the development of new technologically advanced weapons, the concept of security has also changed. If nations are now fighting total wars, they are also seeking to achieve total security. Hence peace now focuses on multifarious issues in addition to ceasefires, conflict resolution, disarmament and military deterrent. Security experts are also taking a hard look at social and economic factors causing conflicts and a new academic discipline termed peace studies has come up.

In the present context, when India and Pakistan have teetered on the brink of war and then moved on to a peace dialogue, Manjrika Sewak’s book is of special interest to specialists and lay readers alike. She succinctly defines the modern concept of security, which she writes has to be sustainable to be effective, and the role of multi-track diplomacy in promoting peace.

Security is today understood to be more than simply the strategy to protect the territorial integrity of a state. It envisages a sense of security in the population, the participation of the people in the governance of the state and international relations being the interaction between the people of different states and not institutions alone. This approach makes it equally important for a government to invest in its human resources and strike a balance between its defence spending and development of the people. With India 127th and Pakistan 144th in UNDP’s human development ranking, the two countries cannot hope to enjoy any security in spite of the fact that in terms of their military spending’s ratio to GDP they rank fourth and seventh respectively.

The author, who is a peace activist, is categorical in her statement that nuclear weapons do not add to security. If anything the non-transparency in the chain of command and the limited knowledge of political leaders about nuclear weapons enhance the sense of insecurity of people.

The feminist approach to security takes a broader perspective since women are the ones most affected by conflicts. They feel that an over emphasis on military security increases the sense of insecurity of people. Genuine security entails not just the absence of war. It also envisages the elimination of social injustices and economic inequities.

Security can, thus, be made sustainable if it involves plural approaches and diverse actors — academicians, policy analysts, media persons, business leaders, NGOs — that is civil society itself. The significance of this can be understood if one remembers that in the 1990’s protracted civil conflicts which are not even viewed as wars killed five million people worldwide and created 17 million displaced persons. The governments lack the tools to resolve these conflicts that can be addressed more effectively by peace building initiatives of the civil society outside the government. These are termed as track-two diplomacy.

Coined by an American diplomat, Joseph Montville, the term refers to non-government conflict resolution efforts embracing a variety of actors ranging from diplomats, academics, businessmen, educationists and media persons. In the Cold War years the United States and the Soviet Union launched many such exercises, such as the Dartmouth conference, the Pugwash conference, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and other disarmament groups.

A number of similar initiatives have been launched by India and Pakistan too in the nineties, such as the Neemrana Dialogue, the Balusa Group, India-Pakistan Soldiers’ Initiative for Peace, and the Pakistan-India Forum for Peace and Democracy.

The main criterion for track-two diplomacy to yield results is its ability to interact with and influence track-one (diplomacy at the government level) policies. Track-two contacts cannot possibly take place without the tacit support of the governments which provide visas and facilitate the meetings of the participants. Conversely, track-two offers a deeper insight into the causes of conflict and can suggest a variety of solutions because of its unofficial status and therefore its flexibility.

Although cynics have criticized track-two for not being institutionalized, being too elitist and being outside the mainstream, one must recognize the support given to peace by the track-two actors in the case of India and Pakistan. The fact is that track-two diplomacy in the last few years has paved the way for the cordial and congenial climate that has been created in South Asia. It is track-two that has made it possible for the Indian and Pakistani governments to break the ice and open composite dialogue. It has facilitated the adoption of many confidence building measures and the exploring of various options for resolving the Indo-Pakistan disputes.

The main role played by the track-two actors in India and Pakistan has been to facilitate social change and establish a new pattern of behaviour in the people and then sustain it. For that it is important that a mechanism be created to sustain the change. Multi-track diplomacy plays a useful role by instituting a web of actors whose job it is to ensure that the change does not lapse.

Manjrika Sewak, a programme officer with Wiscomp (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace), has made a great contribution to peace studies by producing this excellent book — probably the first of its kind. The point she drives home is that security and change of behaviour have to be sustained if they are to produce a long-lasting impact.

Multi-Track Diplomacy between India and Pakistan: A Conceptual Framework for Sustainable Security
By Manjrika Sewak
Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, 2 Elibank Road, Colombo-5, Sri Lanka
Email: Website:
ISBN 81-7304-621-2
138pp. Sri Lankan Rs255

Source: Dawn