Monday, April 17, 2017

Islam is Breaking the Back of the Liberal Democratic Consensus

The following post was sent in by Dr Abdul Majeed Abid in response to my recent blog post regarding Islam and liberal world order.  (I personally think that loyalty to country, even to an empire not our own, can be successfully created, but it takes an unusually dominant host culture or empire to carry it off for now; and in the future, who knows what shape loyalties and identities will eventually take, but that is a story for another day. Dr Abid's comments follow).

From Dr Abdul Majeed Abid:

Islam, it may be, really IS the the rock on which the Western Liberal Democratic Consensus is breaking..

Recent events in Turkey and the political situation in France are indicators of a future where the modern democratic project fails when an interaction with Islam is concerned. A Democratically elected (quibbles aside) government in Turkey used the tool of democracy to give up on democracy itself (it was not as simple as that but this is one of the easier inferences). Khaled Ahmed has written in one of his pieces that Muslims don't really 'get' Democracy. Turkey has seen a hundred-year long ‘struggle’ between Kemalist/Secularist forces (be they Mustafa Kemal’s party CHP or the military) and Islamist/Neo-Ottoman forces (starting from Nacmeddin Erbakan to Tayyip Erdogan) and the Islamists seem to have scored a decisive victory. With its Kurdish-majority south-eastern part up in arms, ISIS knocking on its doors and millions of refugees roaming the cities, Turkey can easily be branded the ‘New Pakistan’. Pakistan, lest we forget, was created to escape from a democracy where Muslims would remain as a permanent minority. It is worth noting that in Mohammad Iqbal's famous address to All India Muslim League in 1930, considered a roadmap to Pakistan, democracy was mentioned six times and every time with a negative connotation.  

In France, a nation proud of its unique national character, faltered when it came to dealing with Muslims. Starting in the 1970s, the principle of Laïcité, the bedrock of French society for the last century, has faced critical examination because of Muslims and their failure to completely integrate in a majority Christian nation.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pakistan: Managing the Coalition Business

Managing the Coalition Business

by Dr Hamid Hussain

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent; but it takes a touch of genius and lots of courage to move something in the opposite direction." Albert Einstein

Government of Pakistan announced that it has given a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to recently retired Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General ® Raheel Sharif to head the Saudi led coalition. It just put to end the rumor mill swirling around for more than a year.  However, to date, neither Pakistan government nor General ® Raheel Sharif has put forward any clarification about the terms of agreement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on this subject, nature of the military organization, its objectives, role of its head and the compensation package associated with the job. There may be some good reasons that government of Pakistan thinks this is in Pakistan’s interest but it needs to present its case.  The lack of transparency in important policy decisions only increases the cynicism of general public.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Age of Anger. Pankaj Mishra

Postscript: Having been told this is a rant, not a review, I have decided to add this disclaimer: it IS a rant. And no, it is not personal. I have never met Pankaj and for all I know he is probably a very nice guy. This is not so much about him as about the postliberal Eurocentric elite in general. That he writes this for them and they love him for it makes me use him as a focus for my criticism. Someday, if i have the discipline and/or the time, I should write a long-form essay and not make it about him but about the worldview in general. Until then, he gets to stand in for the lot of them. But it is NOT personal. 

Pankaj Mishra is a British-Indian writer and public intellectual who currently lives between London and Mashobra and writes regularly for publications like the NY Times and the NYRB. He started his career as a promising literary critic (Naipaul was initially impressed) but soon switched to "native informant" mode, presenting and interpreting what he described as the angst, atomization, envy and ressentiment of newly emerging and fitfully modernizing India; a phenomenon that other elite commentators and foreign visitors were presumably failing to notice. He then expanded this theme to all of Asia and has finally graduated to interpreting the  Metropole to the metropolitans themselves. This could have been a somewhat risky move, since Western reviewers who received his reports about the darker nations relatively uncritically, might well know enough about their home turf to become critical. But by and large, that has not happened; reviews have generally been favorable.

This is not one of those favorable reviews.


I found the book  tendentious, shallow and repetitive, with quotes and facts cherry-picked from across his vast (but chronologically limited and highly Eurocentric) reading list, full of unfounded assumptions and opinions that are casually passed off with an "as everyone knows" air in practically every paragraph.