By Mazhar Abbas
November 09, 2015
Print : National
0 0 Google +0 0

ISLAMABAD: If the results of the first phase of the local bodies (LB) elections in Punjab, surprised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), it must be shocking for the religious parties particularly Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) whose vote bank apparently have further reduced, but Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has made some inroads in Sindh. Can they improve their performance in the second and third phases on by 2018 or their voters would switch over to some centrist party on one hand and towards extremism on the other.

The Punjab elections in particular are a wake-up call for JI where even sons of top party leaders contested on other party’s election symbols. So far, none of the Jamaat leader from Punjab has accepted the responsibility for its failure and resigned.

The result was even more shocking for them as they had contested as an alley of PTI. So, why can’t even the two performed well despite an alliance? Did their voters reject the decision of the respective parties?

Pakistanis by and large vote for “liberal politics,” whenever given a chance and their approach in electoral politics has always been liberal. The religious parties have unable to fill in the vacuum whenever created because of the conservative approach.

They missed the opportunity after Fatima Jinnah’s elections against Ayub Khan in the 60s. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto read the pulse of the nation and laid the foundation of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in 1967. Within three years, his party swept polls in West Pakistan and on socialist and nationalistic platform. JI got only three seats.

Again 43 years later, the PTI emerged as a big party and the religious parties left far behind in elections.

As compared to JI, since JUI led by late Maulana Mufti Mahmood had more pragmatic approach and after joining hands with left wing, National Awami Party (NAP) formed government in the then NWFP and Balochistan.

Beside these two religious parties, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) was also among the mainstream religious parties which believe in bringing the change through electoral politics. However, after the death of Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, the JUP never recovered.

The most challenging trend for the religious group is the emergence of those religious groups which reject electoral or parliamentary politics. This also created dent in pro-democracy religious groups. In the three elections from 2002 to 2013, there were at least six such groups including Jammatud Dawa (JuD) which not only refuses to participate in the elections but also prevents its supporters from casting votes.

Secondly, JI and JUI with their conservative approach also fail to attract the voters either in general elections or in LB polls. As a result, these parties normally take shelter in forming alliances with relatively liberal and progressive parties.

JI, which once had strong pockets in major cities of the Punjab is now losing vote bank and its voters have apparently divided into four factions (1) towards Sharifs or PML, which is a party with right to centrist approach (2) towards emerging force, PTI, which has centrist approach (3) indifference towards electoral politics, and (4) towards radicalisation or extremism. The last trend could be found in JI or JUI’s youth which is something needed to be looked into.

Thus the performance in 2013 and Oct 26, LB polls could be an eye opener and wake-up call for them as the LB polls in particular reflect grassroots support for parties.

If JI could secure only two seats despite an alliance with PTI, and sons of their prominent leaders Liaquat Baloch and Farid Paracha contested from other platforms, it required serious thinking within the Jamaat.

JI had one of the most organised student wing i.e. Islami Jamiat Tulba (IJT) in the country.PTI Lahore organiser did show the courage to resign accepting moral responsibility for the failure as one wonders whether anyone from JI would also follow him. After all, they were alleys.

The elections in the second and third phases would further determine where these parties stand. JI hopes to do well in Karachi and Hyderabad but how well, will be a big question. It appeared as a trend not to cast vote as a matter of faith is growing among the religious parties.

This perhaps poses a big challenge to them as JI and JUI are the only two mainstream religious parties left which believe in electoral politics.

It would be an interesting study as how many of JI and JUI voters in particular have opted not to vote and how many voted for PML-N and PTI. There is also one school of thought who rejects this parliamentary system and considers vote as un-Islamic.

For instance JuD has been approached by these religious parties to join mainstream politics but it not only refuses but also asks their supporters to stay at home. Some outlawed groups are also against electoral politics.

But the parties like JI, JUI, JUP and some others still believe in the present system as a means to bring change. In the last two elections, some tendencies within these parties have been noticed for voting for other options.

JI and JUI-F got less than two percent of the total votes cast. JI got two seats in Punjab and JUI had done badly in interior Sindh.

Another right wing party which created a lot of hue and cry during dharna politics also suffered defeat i.e. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of Allama Tahirul Qadri. The other religious parties were not even in the running.

Other smaller parties with sectarian outfits also failed in making any impact.Some moderate voters of the two religious parties have now opted for parties like PML-N or Pakistan, PTI etc.

The party like JI, which once have roots in the local bodies is expected to do much better in the second phase as all eyes are set to Karachi where polls would be held on December 5. If it loses Hyderabad and then Karachi, things will be bad for Jamaat.

Jamaat voters in the past had also reacted against party’s decision. In 1981 referendum of General Ziaul Haq, the JI voter did not cast votes and stayed home despite JI decision to support the referendum.

JI’s ideological voters once again got confused when the party joined hands with PTI due to its liberal and western culture. Those who opposed this decision believe if Jamaat could distance itself from late Qazi Hussain Ahmad’s thinking of Passban or Shabab-e-Milli, why it joined hands with Imran Khan.

JI’s energetic Amir, Sirajul Haq, who came from lower middle class background, though distanced itself from Imran’s “dharna,” but avoided criticism on cultural instinct in PTI’s rally and meetings. But, within the JI circles these questions did come under discussion as what position party should take.

Although JI did gain in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to alliance with PTI, but more recently they lost in its stronghold in Dir and in LB polls in Mansoora.

The dynamics of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had changed after 2002, US-led attack on Afghanistan and due to its fallout in KP and general rise in anti-American sentiments, the people for the first time voted for pure religious alliance of JI and JUI-F to power in KP.

Unfortunately, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) could not deliver and the nationalist ANP was voted to power.

Unlike JUI-F which mainly draws its strength from strong madrassa culture and rural background, JI comprises educated middle class and that is why it has roots in urban areas like Karachi and Lahore.

However, since middle class is always vulnerable to opportunities and ambitions they switch over their loyalties towards MQM in Karachi and Hyderabad and towards PML-N in Punjab.

In the post 9/11 scenario, one also noticed rising extremist trends among the JI youth and their soft corner for forces like Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda and more recently towards Daesh. There are also elements which disillusioned with Jamaat approach in the mainstream politics.

As compares to JI, the JUI-F because of it more pragmatic approach has been doing well in the elections for the last several years.

Interestingly, while JUI-F remained in the forefront of anti-Zia movement, the party also got the boost when Zia allowed opening of thousands of madrassas. JUI cleverly grabbed this opportunity while JI missed it without realising that in future it could become its electoral strength as well.

JUI-F has never done well in any local bodies elections and also have disadvantage when it comes to reserve seats for women. In 2002, it did not even have candidates and surrendered its share of MMA to JI.

Recently JI Amir Sirajul Haq met JUI chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a bid to bring religious parties close to each other and considered common challenges.

JUI-F is constantly failing in KP its once stronghold and now PTI eroded its vote bank for the JI real test will be in Karachi and Hyderabad. JI had suffered crushing defeat in NA-246, which in the past remained its constituency.

Defeat in LB polls in Karachi and Hyderabad can put JI in a far more difficult situation. Although, it has got major share in alliance with PTI, its leaders are not sure whether the PTI voters come to vote for Jamaat candidate or not.

With only two years left for general elections, the religious parties need to review its politics and study the changing trend in Turkey. If they want to move forward, they need to go for change.

After Punjab results, the JI’s stakes in urban Sindh are high but defeat here would diminish their chances in 2018 elections.

The writer is the senior columnist and analyst of GEO, The News and Jang.

A hydrogen bomb is more devastating than an atomic device
By Sabir Shah
January 07, 2016
Print : National
A hydrogen bomb is more devastating than an atomic device

The New York Times writes with disbelief: “Device has a yield of six kilotons, making it far smaller than the blast that a hydrogen bomb would produce; only a few countries, including the United States and Russia, have conducted hydrogen bomb tests and the size of the detonations reached 20 to 50 megatons”

LAHORE: Having already tested three atomic devices in October 2006, May 2009 and February 2013, North Korea has now irked the whole world by claiming that it has successfully conducted the test of a Hydrogen bomb at a time when approximately 1,800 of the 15,850 nuclear weapons possessed by United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are in a state of high operational alert and are hence “ready-to-fire.”

In its latest 2015 report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPRI) has viewed: “At the start of 2015, nine states—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea)—possessed approximately 15,850 nuclear weapons, of which 4,300 were deployed with operational forces. Roughly 1,800 of these weapons are kept in a state of high operational alert.”

While the United States has an inventory of 7,260 nuclear warheads (number of deployed warheads rests at 2,080), Russia has 7,500 (number of deployed warheads is 1,780), the United Kingdom possesses 215 (number of deployed warheads stands at 150), France has 300 in its arsenal (number of deployed warheads is 290), China has a total inventory of 260, India has between 90 and 110, Pakistan has between 100 and 120, Israel possesses 80 and North Korea has between six and eight at its disposal.

The April 21, 1953 edition of “Look” magazine had maintained: “A Hydrogen bomb would . . . totally destroy everything within 10 miles.”

Contrary to the atomic bombs that had devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Hydrogen bombs have never been used in any war and what makes them more dangerous than an atom bomb is the widely-acknowledged fact that they are deemed to be small and light enough to fit on a missile. The US Geological Survey had detected unusual seismic activity in the north-east of North Korea, while tremors were also picked up by seismologists in the South Korea and China at 10am local time on January 6.

According to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), North Korea’s move is a breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996.

The CTBTO statement from Vienna reads: “Our monitoring stations picked up an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today (January 6). The location is very similar to the event our system registered on 12 February 2013. Our initial location estimate shows that the event took place in the area of the DPRK’s nuclear test site. The DPRK also claimed today that it has conducted yet another nuclear test, the fourth since 2006.”

A top British daily “The Guardian” has quoted John Carlson, the former head of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, as saying: “If it’s true, it means they’ve made something smaller scale, capable of being put on to a missile. There have been questions over whether those past tests were practical weapons at all, if they could even be dropped from aircraft. Ideally it would be even smaller, maybe 750mm and half a tonne, but that would probably be beyond their capabilities.”

Another esteemed British daily “the Telegraph” has added: “South Korea’s military has played down claims that the North’s underground test was a hydrogen bomb, supporting the theory that it was an enhanced fission device rather than a thermonuclear device. A spokesman for the military in Seoul told Yonhap News that early indications are that the device had a yield of 6 kilotons, making it far smaller than the blast that a hydrogen bomb would produce.”

“The Telegraph” has gone on to write that only a few countries, including the United States and Russia, have conducted hydrogen bomb tests and the size of the detonations reached 20 to 50 megatons.

Research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” also reveals that while the United States had conducted the first-ever teat of a Hydrogen bomb in 1952, the first ready-to-use thermonuclear bomb was tested on August 12, 1953 in the Soviet Union, just four years after the country had fired its first nukes in 1949.

Between 1949 and 1989, Russia had exploded 456 atomic and thermonuclear devices around Kazakhstan. More than 300 test explosions were conducted underground after 1961. Between October 1961 and October 1989, 224 tests were conducted by Russia.

The last test took place on February 12, 1989 and had resulted in a leakage of large amounts of the radioactive noble gases Xenon and Krypton.

– See more at: