Punjab Research Group

Adrian Levy On the trail of Pakistan’s Taliban, The Guardian, Saturday 10 January 2009

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on January 15, 2009

The authorities in Pakistan have often seemed in cahoots with home-grown terrorists. Not any more. Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark report from Islamabad and the border badlands as a new intelligence unit gets serious about tackling the bombers.

 

As the first reports of explosions at the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai reached Islamabad just after 9pm on November 26, Pakistan’s counter-terrorism investigators twitched. Later that night, CCTV cameras inside Mumbai’s Victoria railway station relayed footage of a blood-spattered concourse and the faces of some of the gunmen. The guests fleeing from the hotels told TV reporters that their assailants were speaking Urdu and were hunting down British and American passport holders. Almost immediately, over the border, the Pakistani investigators began pulling out files and photographs that accompanied the “Red Book” – their most-wanted list.

 

Pakistan’s foreign minister condemned the attacks and expressed his sympathy to the families of the 173 killed. Even before India began making accusations – and despite subsequent Pakistani denials – detectives in Islamabad privately feared the outrage had Pakistani roots and might even have been rehearsed two months earlier, when the five-star Marriott Hotel in Islamabad had been obliterated. It all sounded grimly familiar: the methodology, the soft targets, the singling out of westerners.

 

To read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/10/pakistan-taliban-intelligence-report

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How Ajmal Kasab took to radical Islam by Jugnu Mohsin

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on January 13, 2009

Faridkot of Ajmal ‘Qasai’ (Kasab) fame is a mere ten miles from my ancestral village in tehsil Depalpur, Punjab. Before the 21-year-old went on his killing spree in Mumbai, Faridkot was known only because it is one of many thus named towns and villages celebrating and honouring the great Chishti sufi, Sheikh-al-Islam, Fariduddin Masud Ganj-e-Shakar (1173-1266) known in Pakistan, northern India and as far as Afghanistan and Central Asia, as Baba Farid.

 

The saint’s followers or murids spread throughout the Punjab and beyond across north India. Everywhere, they named their settlements Faridkot. Now one such Faridkot is on Google Earth as the home of the sole surviving terrorist of India‘s 9/11, as many Indians see it. How this came to pass is a story of countless impoverished Pakistanis who have taken to jihad and radical Islam as a way of claiming an identity and a livelihood in a state that has failed to provide both in sixty years of independence.

This Punjab, where I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, appeared to me peaceful, bucolic, unconcerned with caste or creed and at one with its ancient spirit. But then I was a child of privilege. My father, tracing his lineage to the 16th century Qadiri sufi Daud Bandagi Kirmani, whose Akbar Shahi tomb still dominates the pinnacle of our village, Shergarh, farmed land in the area owned by his family for generations. Immersed in his culture and history, my father took my siblings and me on tours of this ancient part of the Punjab.

 

For full article: http://in.rediff.com/news/2009/jan/05mumterror-how-ajmal-kasab-took-to-radical-islam.htm

 

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Terror: The Aftermath by Anand Patwardhan

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on December 19, 2008

The Hindustan Times, December 09, 2008

The attack on Mumbai is over. Nearly 200 dead. And now, after heart-rending stories of bereavement, come the repercussions, the blame game and the “solutions”. Loud voices, amplified by saturation TV demanding: Why don’t we amend our Constitution and create new anti-terror laws? Why don’t we arm our police with AK 47s? Why don’t we do what Israel did after Munich or the USA did after 9/11 and hit terror camps across the border?

 

Solutions that can only lead us further into the abyss. For terror is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It thrives on reaction, polarization and militarization. The only thing that can undermine it is that which least occurs to those thirsting for revenge.

To read full article: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?id=1a4e229d-e36b-4950-977d-0b513089d0d7

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India’s 9/11? Not Exactly By AMITAV GHOSH

Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on December 18, 2008

 

Published: December 2, 2008

SINCE the terrorist assaults began in Mumbai last week, the metaphor of the World Trade Center attacks has been repeatedly invoked. From New Delhi to New York, pundits and TV commentators have insisted that “this is India’s 9/11” and should be treated as such. Nearly every newspaper in India has put “9/11” into its post-massacre headlines. The secretary general of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the leading Hindu nationalist political faction, has not only likened the Mumbai attack to those on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but has insisted that “our response must be close to what the American response was.”

To read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/opinion/03ghosh.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all

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Saadat Hasan Manto 1912-1955

Posted in Articles, Partition by Pippa on November 17, 2008
Saadat Hasan Manto by Kanwal Dhaliwal
Saadat Hasan Manto by Kanwal Dhaliwal

Saadat Hasan Manto was born in Sambrala, East Punjab, in 1912 and died in Lahore in 1955, not quite 43 years old. Much of his working life was spent in Bombay, the setting of many of his stories, where he earned a living as a journalist and screenwriter. Over a literary career spanning a quarter of a century, he wrote for the radio, translated several works from Russian writers, whom he admired, and by the time he died he had produced 22 collections and written well over 200 short stories. It is Manto’s short stories that have continued to enhance his reputation as one of the world’s great masters of this craft.

 

Manto always remained the outsider and was content with that, something he wore as a badge of honour. He once wrote that he pronounced a thousand curses on that society which put a halo proclaiming “of blessed memory” around a man’s head after his death. He said if such a thing was done to him, his rotting bones would find no peace in the grave. Manto’s prayer has not been answered and with time, his reputation has grown.

 

 Manto’s subjects were often outsiders and outcasts, in particular prostitutes and street traders, procurers and gangsters. He wrote about the absurdity and inhumanity of the religious divide and the hypocrisy of the so-called respectable classes. He always wrote about society’s rejects, viewing the world through their eyes. The despised and downtrodden people that he wrote about emerge through his stories with more dignity than the established order has ever thought them capable of possessing. Manto chronicled the holocaust of the Partition of India not with teary-eyed sentimentality but with compassion, managing to extract in the process, as he put it, gems of a rare hue from the sea of blood in which he had plunged himself to get at the truth. What makes Manto great is his humanism, his feeling for the human condition and his belief that that in the heart of even the vilest man, the light of decency and fellow feeling is never quite extinguished. Manto wrote his own epitaph: “Here lies Saadat Hasan Manto. With him lie buried all the arts and mysteries of short story writing. Under tons of earth he lies, wondering if he is a greater short story writer than God.”

 

Ironically, his headstone bears no such inscription, but it does bear a couplet of Ghalib, Manto’s favourite poet about whom he once said: The truth is that after Ghalib no one has the right to write poetry.

 

_ Khalid Hasan

Washington

For further information on Kanwal Dhaliwal: http://www.art-d-kanwal.com/

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