Ed Husain

The Arab Street

Husain examines politics, society, and radicalism in the greater Middle East.

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Showing posts for "Pakistan"

What Qatar Can Learn From Pakistan

by Ed Husain
Pakistan's President Zardari waves after offering prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in India (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistan's President Zardari waves after offering prayers at the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in India (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters).

The emir of Qatar and the president of Pakistan were both in India this week. Both leaders hail from Muslim-majority countries in which literalist interpretations of Islam have enjoyed outsize influence on government. In different ways, both Pakistan and Qatar have allowed literalist Islamism of different hues to attempt to obliterate more mainstream expressions of, say, Sufi-influenced, popular Islam. Read more »

Guest Post: Jihad and the Pakistani Military

by Ed Husain
Supporters of religious and political parties stand on a traffic signal pole while taking part in a Defense of Pakistan Council rally in Islamabad on February 20, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters). Supporters of religious and political parties stand on a traffic signal pole while taking part in a Defense of Pakistan Council rally in Islamabad on February 20, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters).

The relationship between the Pakistani military and extremist groups is contentious and rooted in a complicated history. I asked Imran Khan, head of counterextremism training and strategic communications for Khudi Pakistan, a Pakistani civil society organization, to provide a view from the ground to help us understand the state of the military-jihadi relationship today and what it might mean for Pakistan moving forward. Read more »

Pakistan Loses an Ambassador

by Ed Husain
Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, leaves after appearing before a Supreme Court commission in Islamabad on January 9, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters). Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, leaves after appearing before a Supreme Court commission in Islamabad on January 9, 2012 (Faisal Mahmood/Courtesy Reuters).

It is a sad day for Pakistan when one of its brightest minds and best ambassadors, Husain Haqqani, has to escape the country in a private airline after spending several weeks under effective house arrest. His crime? Not towing the line of the all-powerful military establishment in Pakistan. Read more »

Letter From Pakistan

by Ed Husain

Below please find an email to me from a leading Pakistani democracy activist in response to my post last week questioning U.S. government policies in Pakistan, “U.S. Taxpayer Money Goes to Pakistan’s Radicals.”

Dear Ed,

Unfortunately the U.S. embassy and senior diplomats here in Islamabad from other Western countries think that the religious leaders are the key to countering extremism in Pakistan. According to my sources and firsthand observation at diplomatic events, official meetings, and roundtables, Western diplomats believe that liberal activists, and for that matter the whole of Pakistani civil society, do not have following or credibility among the people since the majority of the Pakistani people are conservative and so can only relate to the Mullahs. Western diplomats fail to understand that unlike Pakistani elite liberals, many civil society activists come from among the masses and go out to the most neglected colleges and universities in the small cities and engage young people, who often join us later as volunteers and spread the message to others. Read more »

U.S. Taxpayer Money Goes to Pakistan’s Radicals

by Ed Husain
A supporter of the Sunni Ittehad Council in Pakistan next to a poster which reads "Mumtaz Qadri, we salute your courage" (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters). A supporter of the Sunni Ittehad Council in Pakistan next to a poster which reads "Mumtaz Qadri, we salute your courage" (Athar Hussain/Courtesy Reuters).

Judging from recent actions by the Obama administration, one can be forgiven for thinking that the United States does not know its friends from its enemies in Pakistan. Their blunders may not make headlines in newspapers here, but they are adding fuel to the anti-American fire that consumes Pakistan. Read more »

Guest Post: How Pakistan Sees the United States

by Ed Husain

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi (Courtesy Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi)

The following was written by Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, the founder of Pakistan Youth Alliance and a member of Khudi Pakistan. He tweets at @ali_abbas_zaidi.

It was November 1979. Anti-American outrage filled the streets of Pakistan. Several U.S. facilities were attacked across the country. A mob in Islamabad nearly burned the U.S. embassy to the ground. The chant “Kill the American infidels!” echoed in the air in response to the siege of Mecca’s grand mosque, Islam’s holiest site.

Pakistani crowds angered by the unprecedented events unfolding in Mecca concluded that such a plot could only be orchestrated by Americans. It turned out they were wrong. The homegrown radical group in Saudi Arabia that led the bloody siege had no link with the United States.

While the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has experienced many changes in the decades since, miscalculations of ground realities on both sides and anti-American sentiment have remained.

The majority of people in Pakistan admire the way Americans live—almost every Pakistani family has a member settled in the United States—but a glaring majority hates the impact of U.S. policies in Pakistan. The United States is considered by many to be the “great Satan.” Every U.S. political move in Pakistan is interpreted as an effort to destabilize Pakistan or to fight a war against Islam. Aggressive rhetoric on the Pakistani side—at times reflecting an unrealistic worldview and at times responding justifiably to belligerent U.S. action—molds mass perceptions. Read more »

Our Man in Pakistan?

by Ed Husain

Pakistan's former president Pervez Musharraf gives a news conference at the launch of his party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (Luke MacGregor/Courtesy Reuters).

His close proximity to former U.S. president George W. Bush earned him the popular moniker, “Busharraf.” So it was with some intrigue that I went to hear Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, address a prestigious and influential U.S. audience at a packed meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations’ headquarters in New York this week.

I was struck by what was, essentially, his appeal for U.S. political sponsorship of his bid to contest elections in Pakistan next year. He spoke eloquently about the poor state of U.S.-Pakistan relations, the need for a peace settlement with elements of the Taliban, and his country’s—and his own—unhelpful Machiavellian attitude toward India and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the following facts left me worried:

First, for a man who prosecuted the war on terror with such vigor, it was unforgivable for him to say to an Indian journalist who asked about Pakistan’s export of terrorism, ‘Sir, your terrorist is someone else’s freedom fighter.” This moral equivocation is the same justification used by terrorists to inflict harm on innocent lives around the world. Musharraf should know better.

Second, a major cause for widespread, ongoing anti-American radicalization in Pakistan is the CIA-led drone attacks in the country’s tribal regions.  Musharraf did not make any references to the drones, their many innocent victims, and the perceived violation of Pakistani sovereignty. It would have been wiser to reassure the audience that a Pakistan under his control would be a nation in which the United States would not need to use drones because terrorists would be brought to justice. Ignoring the issue of drones is self-defeating all around. Read more »

Changing Pakistan’s Culture of Assassination

by Ed Husain

Supporters of the Sunni Tehreek religious party hold placards in support of Malik Mumtaz Qadri in Hyderabad, Pakistan on January 9, 2011 (Akram Shahid/Courtesy Reuters).

The airwaves across the United States were in a frenzy yesterday at the news of a foiled political assassination attempt by Iran of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, a court suspended the death sentence of a man who killed the governor of Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous and strategically important region. Since January of this year, Pakistan has been in the throes of an intense national debate about what to do with Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the young bodyguard who is proud of gunning down Governor Taseer. This ongoing debate is flawed, dangerous, and destructive for Pakistan.

To my Pakistani readers, I reassure you that I am not an enemy of your proud country. The evidence is here and here. After Governor Taseer’s killing, I was candid at this CNN interview. But how can any serious observer of Pakistan fail to highlight this new trend of literally killing off dissent, and then failing to bring killers to justice?

On December 27, 2007, the brave liberal politician Benazir Bhutto was killed amid thousands of her supporters while she was campaigning. Who killed her? We do not know because the masterminds are still at large.

On June 12, 2009, the noble Muslim scholar Shaikh Sarfraz Naeemi was the victim of a suicide bombing in his madrasa. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, but no probing of the operation or arrests of those who planned it has been made. Read more »