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  October 2006

urrent Affairs
Renewed insurgency in Afghanistan

As the United States is bogged down in Iraq, the NATO forces have been facing renewed insurgency in Afghanistan; far from being vanquished, the Taliban have been aggressive comeback. They have been attacking the Afghan and NATO troops in the Pakhtoon dominated southeastern portion of the country. The insurgents have been using rockets, and guns in surprise attacks.

The NATO forces have hit back causing heavy casualties on the Taliban side. But the latter are undeterred. They are outgunned but not outnumbered. Which explains how despite suffering heavy losses in bombing by NATO aircraft and field guns, they have not ceased their attacks.

A bigger setback to the NATO -led allies has been failure of the Afghan army and polio surprisingly, the nascent Afghan units and the police have suffered bigger casualties than the NATO because they still lack sufficient training and equipment to replace the foreign troops.

The Afghan political leadership has equally failed to meet the expectations of their western allies. President Hamid Karzai's only response to the situation is to blame Pakistan f Taliban attacks. He has repeatedly accused Pakistan of not doing enough to eliminate the sanctuaries of the Taliban in the Pakistani border areas, a charge which Pakistan has strongly denied time and again. Pakistan's contention is that the Taliban are Afghan citizens who have been operating from their hideouts in Afghanistan just as their leader Mullah Omar and Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden have been doing for so long.

Moreover, Pakistan has repeatedly proposed to Afghanistan to fence the border between the two countries to check the movement of terrorists through that border. But Afghanistan has been opposing the fencing proposal.

Pakistan has been blaming the Karzai government for the resurgence of the Taliban, which, according to the government spokesmen, is a local phenomenon of Afghanistan. The reason for the Taliban come back is that the Kabul has not been able to establish its writ in the country which is borne out by the fact that that not only the fighting has been taking place with in Afghanistan but the country has not been able to stop the Taliban allegedly escaping to Pakistan side.

Afghanistan had also been very critical of Pakistan for its accord with some of the tribes in Waziristan binding the tribal elders to keep peace and hand over the wanted men to the government. But later developments have justified Pakistan's approach to the problem. The NATO commander in the Kandahar region also entered into a similar understanding with the local tribes.

The real problem is not military but political. The NATO-allies have ignored the reality of Pakhtoon pre-dominance in the Afghan politics in the past and their numerical majority in the entire belt of the country. They also failed to appreciate the strong cultural traits of the tribesmen, especially of those of the southeastern region. They should realize that the change the Afghan culture by force. Many of the practices for which the Taliban were being criticized in the west are actually part of the Afghan social and religious culture.

International Religious Conflicts and Necessity
to found the Centre of World Religions for Peace
Mr. Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat, International President of W.C.R.P., Moderator of A.C.R.P. and Assistant Secretary General of World Muslim Congress attended twenty years celebration of founders of Korean Conference of Religion and Peace (K.C.R.P.) and thirtiest anniversary of A.C.R.P. in Seoul from 22-23 Oct. 2006 and presided over the said functions. He was chief guest in the international seminar held in Deajon, South Korea on 24th Oct 2006. The title of seminar was International Religious Conflicts and Necessity to found the Centre of World Religions for Peace. The speech of Mr Marwat delivered there is reproduced:

It gives me immense pleasure to address this august gathering on this auspicious occasion. As a Moderator of Asian Conference on Religion and Peace (A.C.R.P.), I consider it my proud privilege to congratulate all the organizers of this International Peace Seminar.

Peace had always been the desire of human race but today in view of many existing unresolved conflicts, it has become the cry and call of every human soul. Religion by itself is not a source of conflicts and prejudices but its non observance and non adherence have led to conflicts. The basic theme of all religions is peace, love, non violence and human brotherhood.

As a Muslim, I can not think of showing disrespect to any religion or its founder. So far the conflicts between Muslims and Christians and Muslim and Jews are concerned, let me clarify that despite the fact that some western Christians regularly hurt Muslims religious feelings but Muslims have never done so. They have always desisted from uttering anything which may injure the feelings of Christians. Same is the case with Jews, the Muslims have never resorted to counter their allegations.

The Muslims are not inherently in a position to hurt the religious feelings of Christians and Jews for the simple reason that it is an important part of Islamic faith and a part of Muslims belief to believe in all the Prophets of God. If a Muslim does not believe in Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus Christ and in the heavenly revealed books, Tora, Zabur and Bible, he would be guilty of blasphemy and get out of the fold of Islam. Thus the Muslims, inherent inability to hurt Christians and Jewish feelings is an asset for the world.

Take the case of holy city of Jerusalem where the Christians and Jews do not regard the Muslims shrines as holy, while the Jews do not hold the Muslim and Christian shrines in reverence.

These are Muslims alone who venerate the shrines of Muslims, Christians and Jews. If we do not respect each other religion it will lead to clash of civilizations. The ultimate result would be devastation and insecurity. The late Pope John Paul II had rendered invaluable services for the case of interfaith dialogue. His holiness hosted many interfaith dialogue conferences. His holiness speaking three months after 9/11 attacks, said "as Islam and Christianity worship one God, Creator of heaven and earth, there is ample room for a agreement and co-operation between them.

A clash between them can occur only when the faiths are misconstrued and manipulated for political or ideological reasons".

The feelings of the Muslims all over the world were deeply hurt by the speech delivered by Pope Bendict XVI at the University of Regensburg in Germany. Though he had tried to clarify and said "sorry". But still the Muslims believed that his remarks on the harsh and negative evaluation by medieval Christian Byzantine emperor, Manuel II of the prophet and of Islam have caused a great blow and also caused apprehension in the mind of Muslims. We all should try to bridge the gap rather creating a gulf between religions, which can hinder the process of reconciliation.

It is undeniable fact that religion confers decency and order in human society. Thus the religious leaders are expected to be force of peace, tolerance, justice and understanding.

Today there are many unresolved conflicts in the world which need urgent resolution viz confliction between Israel and Palestine, confliction of Northern Ireland, and confliction in Korean Peninsula. Besides these conflicts there are other issues of conflicts like that of Jammu and Kashmir, Chechnya and the Christian Muslim conflict in southern Philippine etc. So far these conflicts are not amicably resolved according to the wishes and aspiration of the parties concerned it will endanger peace.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine can be resolved through the creation of Palestinian State and vacating of all Arab territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

Similarly the conflict in Korean Peninsula can be resolved through peaceful unification of North and South Korea without further loss of time. The foreign powers should not hinder the process of reunification. It should be left to the people of both North and South to unify both sides. The six party talks should be accelerated.

The people of Korea have suffered a lot and have undergone agonies and suffering from 1953.

So far the conflict of Northern Ireland is concerned. It is between the two sections of Christian faiths viz Protestants and Roman Catholics. The issue is more a religious one than a political. Let the religious leaders of both the sections play their role for resolving this conflict.

Let all of us rise above our religions affinities and join hands for creating an environment of peaceful co-existence coupled with equal respect and reverence for all faiths.

We should tread the path of reconciliation and form a common platform viz Centre of World Religions for Peace to deal with all the religious conflicts in the world.

We should try for achieving pluralism in diversity. Pluralism mean a way of peaceful life together. It is the energetic engagement with the diversity. Pluralism is understanding and not mere tolerance.

The root cause of religious fanaticism and misunderstanding between different religious groups is ignorance of teachings of other religions.

We the followers of different religions should nurture unity and harmony among various religions and traditions and promote inter-religious and multi-religious studies.

Islam is great exponent of inter-religious dialogue and its does not permit Muslims to show disrespect to any religion.

Let us adopt pluralism and achieve unity in diversity for establishing lasting peace and harmony in the world without any discrimination of religion, creed, caste and colour. Duty is cast upon all of us to play our effective role in the resolution of out standing conflicts and bring the followers of different faiths closer and create harmonious peaceful environment.

Let us adopt the policy of justice. With justice comes mercy, protection of human dignity, peace and security for all while injustice creates imbalance in the human society.