Saturday, November 13, 2010

President Obama's India Visit

On a business trip

Sheikh Anjum Husain

Dear Editor,
It was an open secret that Obama meant business and he undoubtedly hit the iron when it was hot. The politically correct Obama chose to touch down first off in India's financial capital Mumbai and right away struck the cord with the country business tycoons.

Thereby he made it clear that the primary objective of his visit is to wrap as many business tie-ups as possible. His party back home got drubbed in the recently concluded mid-term polls and he ascribed this dismal performance to the US economy saying, “The economy did us in." While addressing the Indian parliamentarians he draw huge applause from the political geeks who were seen elbowing each other for that 'ultimate' Obama touch that would possibly turn them into golden politicians and secure their political careers till infinity. They cheered him longest and the loudest when he uttered that he welcomes India's preparedness for a seat in the UN Security Council. How long would the 'preparation' take is a different matter altogether. The US earlier in the year had indicated that India must solve the vexed Kashmir issue and then only dream of a seat in the UNSC. In his speech in the parliament it was not a U-turn on US' stand on the issue but another way of saying the same thing. It would be interesting to see how long India ignores the K issue. Although PM Manmohan Singh did recently say that India was not afraid of the K word then what makes the largest democracy of the world keep mum on it time and again. India subjects talks on Kashmir to Pakistan eliminating terrorism from its territory but why hold Kashmir as a political shield. Over a hundred innocent deaths from June this year were not perhaps enough to move India into taking the issue up with all stakeholders. People are fed up with intermittent strike and curfew calls now and this is what India wanted. To see the uprising die its own death India chose to adopt silence and delay tactics. But the people of Kashmir are aware of their rights and won't take things lying down. Peace is to be brought by way of peace only and no economic package or change of political dispensation is ever going to make up for the same.
Sheikh Anjum Husain
Sofipora, Pahalgam

Friday, June 18, 2010

This image speaks a lot about the human right's in this country. India might be fast on course to become an economic power to reckon with but the dignity and value of humans is skidding fast in the opposite direction. The security personnel have turned into 007s making full use of the 'license to kill'. And things don't stop there, they misbehave with the dead bodies as is evident from the image above. They would have done well to let the body of the woman lie where the bullet(s) hit her instead of carrying it in an inhuman way. Animal rights are more recognized than those of humans. One wonders what makes security personnel shed their human side; a weapon in hand and a camouflage uniform or the orders from the higher-ups? The matter is of grave concern this time as the dignity of Indian women is at stake. It would be of interest to see how rights activists in India and abroad take on this issue.

*(For Amnesty International's "DEMAND DIGNITY CAMPAIGN")

Don't get carried away!

Don't get carried away!

Sheikh Anjum Husain
Even though a cross section of writers in Kashmir showed their optimism on a part of Indian Premier's speech at SKUAST's convocation, we have little reason to cheer and celebrate.
The revelation of proceeding with Pakistan on issues like trade, cooperation, porous border etc are ill-timed considering the happenings on ground here. Dr Singh's hints were seconded by India's foreign secretary Nirupama Rao as she gears up to visit and talk to her counterpart in Islamabad. The agenda for talks does include a range of issues but all these seem to be aimed at showing the world community that all is well between the two countries viz-a-viz the vexed issue of Kashmir. Or worse still this is to divert attention from the killings of innocent boys and violation of human rights.
New Delhi and our own government seem to be least concerned with how the Kashmiri people (mostly teenagers) are being treated by ham-handed army and police. What good does improving people to people contact across the border hold when people are treated worse than animals?
Little wonder that they are out to wipe out a generation of our's. India boasts of Kashmir being it's crown and inseparable part (atoot ang), but isn't it a sort of tragicomedy that the so-called crown is being beaten to smithereens every now and then by those who are meant to guard it? Kashmir has been kept in the boiling cauldron for over six decades over LoC and now they want to fuel the fire by giving us a porous border. Is that a solution? We must not get carried away!
Author resides in Sofipora Pahalgam and can be mailed at


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Israel's illegal construction in and around Gaza

Of Talks

The world community needs to pull its act together to put pressure primarily on Israel to back off from its proceedings on the new constructions in the disputed territories

Sheikh Anjum Husain

The Obama administration seems to have woken up to its long overdue promise of reaching out to the Muslim world by showing its anger at Israel continuation with its settlement projects in and around East Jerusalem. An expression of this unhappiness over Israel Premier Netanyahu’s remark that he will not block the construction projects was George Mitchell, US envoy to West Asia, cancelling his visit to the Jewish state. The crisis has proved to be a setback to the peace talks between the two neighbours with US playing the role of a mediator. This new US-Israel frustration elicited a bitter response from no other than the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton calling it an “insult” on part of Israel. Nevertheless, all this is just a semblance of what an aggressive state like Israel deserves given its track record of breaching international laws and treaties. Israel has in fact been a pampered child of the US with successive governments extending full support to its reprehensible behaviour and endorsing its suppressive tactics. When a country like Iran, which time and again states that it needs uranium enrichment to meet its civilian energy requirements, has been facing economic sanctions for so long, why play a double-standard policy with Israel? Why doesn’t US raise economic and military barricades viz-a-viz an international criminal state? The world community needs to pull its act together to put pressure primarily on Israel to back off from its proceedings on the new constructions in the disputed territories. Both the warring neighbours must be brought on the talking table to settle the dispute once and for all. The United Nations especially has a role to play and that’s what it is meant for.

Like Kashmiris, the people of Palestine have been suffering for decades bearing the brunt of sins they didn’t commit. In a leading daily of J&K India, Pakistan and Kashmir were aptly described as three idiots drawing the analogy from Amir Khan starrer movie “3 idiots”. India and Pakistan resumed the so called dialogue (dialogue or a mock talk?) last month after the ill-fated 26/11 to the pleasure of optimists.

India again has worn the delaying tactics mask and subjected the resumption of composite dialogue to the condition that Pakistan, the biggest terror victim at present, first takes care of India’s concerns of terror. Thus creating a lose-lose-lose scenario for all the three idiots! This continuing strain in Indo-Pak relations and will prove to be detrimental to peace in the region in the long run as it would egg terrorists on and they will construe it as a success of their evil designs. India has its economic might and a rising superpower status at stake while Pakistan has everything from the lives of its citizens, its economy and the already explosive polity at stake. And as for Kashmir (J&K), young boys who only might have dreamt of a career, a successful life et al continue to fall victims to bullets and unceremoniously enter graveyards when they should be attending schools and colleges.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Of Talks,Hope and Despair

Of Talks, Hope and Despair

Sheikh Anjum Husain

Every time India and Pakistan announce fixtures for bilateral talks, hope and optimism is rekindled in the hearts of Kashmiris.
Unfortunately, past experience has also taught us that these ‘talks’ do not go beyond lip service to one of the most complex issues of the earth. Now before the foreign secretaries of both countries could sit across the table, incidents of terror in both states have plagued the goodwill gesture. To the pleasure of those who indulge in these heinous acts, the politicians and media on both sides let the shadow of terror fall on the so-called confidence building measures thus creating more room and atmosphere for terror.

Talks or no talks, terrorists have their way. Then why should the two warring nations let gory incidents hijack the milieu of resolving their outstanding issues? Talks have remained just talks and have not yielded any fruitful results in the past gradually turning hope into despair. Over 60 years on, there have been no serious attempts to pull this crises ridden state out of the quagmire.

People who take charge of the issue from time to time come and go earning name and fame for themselves from Kashmir issue and nothing else.
The frustration of the people of Kashmir could be gauged by the fact that religious bodies like Jamiat AhiHadtih found itself compelled to write to foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan.We are striving to live in a global world where a pins’ drop in the east finds its echo in the west. So time has come for both nations to honor their commitments and not shy away from it just to fulfill their vested interests and keep the issue on boil. Need of the hour is that both India and Pakistan get not only all parties to the dispute on the talking table but those also who champion democracy in the world- US, UK, representatives from China, Gilgit-Baltistan, all neighboring countries, Pakistan administered Kashmir and not to forget the poor Kashmiri people who have been bearing the brunt of the dispute for so long for no fault of theirs. Only then can the dialogue be termed meaningful and the attempt as result-oriented.

The writer can be reached at

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We are the most tolerant people!

If the state forces are trying to kill protests, they undoubtedly are dismantling the institution of democracy

Sheikh Anjum Husain

The killing of another teenager in the heart of Srinagar city ironically was preceded by India’s defence ministry’s statement that time was ripe for the state police to be given far greater responsibility, particularly in major towns, in tackling the threat of terrorism. It could be argued that the suspended police official’s intention was not to fatally hit 15 year old Wamiq Farooq Wani with the tear gas shell that eventually ended his family as well as his own dreams and aspirations. But one wonders if the state police are guided by some level-headed mechanism of dealing with a mob or that they just rely on their spurt-of-the-moment reactions and have their own way! A top-notch police official talking to a US based radio said that orders have been issued to police to shot tear smoke shells in air only so that they loose their intensity midway. But recently smoke shells have been used to severely injure or kill the protesting youth.

It’s not that protests are unique to this conflict ridden state only, but they are the voice and expression of democracy. And if the state forces are trying to kill protests, they undoubtedly are dismantling the institution of democracy. When the likes of Inayat and Wamiq succumb to atrocities of gun-trotting men, public anger is bound to rise. If these were rare incidents, the unruly shape that protests often take here could be termed undemocratic and unhealthy for overall progress of the state. J&K in general and Kashmir valley in particular has been a witness to such incidents day in and day out. Under these circumstances how can police or some other agency ask elders to advise their youngsters to stay away from protests? How else would the sandwiched people of the state vent their feeling other than protest against the terror unleashed upon them? I would still describe Kashmiri nation as the most tolerable on earth. The way people in other parts of India react to the drop of a hat is not ‘agitational terrorism’ and if poor Kashmiris protest the unjustified killings of Wamiq and Inayat they are bracketed as unruly.
Hardliners of Mumbai have been cornering people of north India for quite some time now. They thrashed an MP from north in the state assembly. Imagine the aftermath of an incident like that of Wamiq Wani happening in Mumbai! Need of the time calls for well-laid out rules for our police personnel to be formulated to deal with protesters.
General public too must exercise restraint and refrain from indulging in provocative acts as the state police are from amongst us and they too are humans. May sense prevail!

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Karbala is the institution where humanity learns how to stand up to the enemy of truth. Karbala gives us hope and courage that howsoever strong and war-equipped the enemy is, it could be defeated not by numbers but by a strong resolve and unwavering belief in Allah and his revelations. IMAM HUSAIN (A.S.), along with his 71 companions which include his six month old infant Ali Asghar on one extreme and 80 yr old Habib ibn Mazahir on the other, defeated the huge army of Yazid. While setting off from Madina Imam made his intentions clear in a will he handed over to his brother Muhammad Hanafiya. It was not to fight Yazid to get the throne of the empire over which the khalifah ruled. Imam mission was to reawaken the spirit of Islam and rekindle the Islamic conscience which was nearing extinction by the conduct of Yazid. Justice and morality were gradually being destroyed by the greed for land and power of those who had become rulers. Qur'an insists that distinction can be accorded by piety alone. Imam wrote, “My mission is to reform the Muslim community which I propose to do by AMR BIL MA'RUF AND NAHYA ANIL MUNKAR, inviting them to the good and advising them against evil. It is not my intention to set myself as an insolent or arrogant tyrant or a mischief maker". The sole cause for which Imam Hussain set out from Madina was to perform his duty to of enjoining good and stopping against evil to the ummah which had not only apathetically accepted the evil that had been flowing from the court in Damascus but, sadly, begun to emulate it. The inevitable consequence of this would have been a total destruction of all Islamic values. Imam offered his blood before he would endorse a person like Yazid to hold the reigns of the Islamic government. Imam couldn’t bear silent witness to Islamic values being swept away by evil, the same value which was the fruit of Prophet Muhammad’s (SAWW) efforts.

Prophet too has said of Husain, “Husainu minni wa Anaa min-al Husain” that Husain belongs to me and I belong to Husain. It must not be taken as just another saying but giving it a thought this statement houses in it a great concept. The cause that Muhammad (SAWW) championed was saved by Husain at Karbala. Question might be asked as to what makes Husain’s sacrifice great? World has seen way bigger combats than Karbala in which hundreds of thousands of innocents were killed. Then why eulogize and that too at such a heightened level the battle of Karbala? The answer is that the cause was great that makes the sacrifice great. There is no greater cause to fight for that offering one’s life for Islam. And Husain did that like no one did, has done or will ever do henceforth. When Hur and his army stopped Imam from going to Kufa, and Hur told Imam that his order from Ibne Ziyad was to ask Imam for Bai'at to (vote for) Yazid, Imam refused to declare Bai'at to someone who was only serving his own ends and not of Islam. Hur said that such an attitude might cost Imam his life. Imam replied: "Are you threatening me with death? Death is many thousands of times better than the dishonor of Bai'at to an enemy of Islam. Do you not see that truth is not being practiced and falsehood is not being prevented? I see death as a blessing and life with tyrants as the most disgusting state one can be in." Zillat ki zindagi se izzat ki maut behtar hai. No wonder that Yazid thought of Imam’s Bai’at important for him to run the government because he very well knew that with Husain alive his evil tactics could not flourish.

Hur has been an eye-opening character in Karbala. He was a commander of Yazid’s army till the morning of Ashura. When Hur set out of his camp for ablution for morning Namaz with some water he heard children from Husain’s camp crying for water. These cries changed the mind of Hur and he started moving to and fro in uncertainty. His nears asked him the cause of disturbance. Hur said, “I find myself dangling between Jannat and Jahannum”. Within moments Hur left for Husain’s camp and offered his life to Imam and Islam. Some historians report him to earn the distinction of being the first martyr of Karbala.

In a letter which he addressed to the people of Kufa Imam wrote: "An Imam is one who judges by the Holy Qur'an, upholds justice, professes the religion of truth and dedicates himself to obeying Allah and His Prophet." At Karbala, facing the army of Yazid, Imam Hussain addressed them as follows:"Remember that when you see a ruler who does what has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, who indulges in sins, who oppresses the people he rules, and you do nothing to stop such a ruler, before Allah you are as guilty as he is." He went on to add:"My parents did not raise me to submit myself to an evil tyrant. I am your Imam and it is my duty to tell you that you have surrendered the freedom of your mind to the evil ways of Yazid. If you do not care for Islam, and do not fear the Day of Judgment, at least do care for that precious gift from Allah, the freedom of your spirit!!” Yazid on becoming Khalifah had declared, “Hashemite played with the throne, but no revelation was revealed, nor was there a true message!". This one statement speaks volumes about his character and unfortunately there are people around in today’s world who side with him and seek respect and forgiveness for him. They overlook the fact that he fought against the grandson of Prophet (pbuh) who he had given the honor of being ‘head of the youth of paradise’.

Karbala mission didn’t end with the martyrdom of Husain on the evening of Ashura but it took on a new beginning from thereon. Husain’s courageous sister Hazrat Zainab and son Imam Ali Ibn Husain along with other ladies of the camp were made captive. But Zainab did the remaining job that was to expose the evil masquerading in Yazid and propagate the true Islamic teachings. When Zainab reached Kufa, she addressed people with fury words: "Praise to Allah and may the blessing of Allah be upon Muhammad and his progeny. O people of Kufa, you are hypocrites and deceitful. You feign to be sorry for the death of my brother and his companions. May you always shed tears. I find nothing in you but flattery, evil acts and thoughts, pride and spite and ill will. By Allah! You deserve lasting sorrow instead of joy. Shames on you, your hands are colored with the blood of the son of the Holy Prophet (SAW), the one who was your sole refuge in case of adversity. By your evil act and disloyalty, you incurred the wrath of Allah against you. No one will intercede with Allah for you." Her furious words provoked people of Kufa to avenge Husain's martyrdom. I fear no one but Allah. Make whatever evil plot you can. Blazes are waiting for you in the hereafter. You'll bee accountable to Allah for your atrocities." Today’s woman can imbibe a wealth of good character from this great lady of Islam. The Muslim women should read more about the hardships which faced the great women of Islam understand and practice the patience that characterized the life of Zainab (s.a.), and teach their children the value of these acts.
Men alone cannot win independence and prosperity, neither can women. Together, and under the banner of Islam, they can achieve success

We mourn the martyrdom of Husain as Muharram begins. But we must ensure that we do it as per the teachings of Islam. We must not indulge in practices which defame Islam and present it in a despicable way. Islam is not a religion of traditions and customs. We must mourn the way Zainab and Imam’s son Zainul Abidin did after Karbala. The mission was and should be to uphold the message of Islam in letter and spirit as propounded by our Holy Prophet (SAWW). The focus should be on unity in diversity. Heartfelt salute to Karbala martyrs.