Here’s how schools of faith, mobiles are radicalising Kashmir
Aarti Tikoo Singh | TNN | Updated: Jul 9, 2017, 08.49 AM IST
- The Valley has been succumbing to a hardline Wahhabi Islam
- The traditionally moderate school is being replaced by the radical Ahl-e-Hadith
Youth throws stones at Indian security personnel in Srinagar
Kashmir’s mosques have always been used for religio-political ends, and for separatism since 1989 when the militancy broke out. But the character of the mosque has changed dramatically in the last decade.
Hanafi/Barelvi Islam, the traditionally moderate school followed by the majority in Kashmir, is being replaced by the radical Ahl-e-Hadith, the local moniker for Saudi-imported Salafism or Wahhabism. Though many Hanafi clerics like Moulana Abdul Rashid Dawoodi are resisting their Wahhabi competitors, “the attendance in annual fairs of all major Sufi shrines has been decreasing,” said Muzamil, a Sufi practitioner. Of the roughly six million Muslims in the Valley, the once-marginal Ahl-e-Hadith now has over a million followers, claimed its general secretary, Dr Abdul Latif.
The Arab funded Wahhabism finds convergence with other already established conservative strains of Islamic movements, such as Deobandi and Jamat-e-Islami in Kashmir. The mufti who made a plea for Musa is a Deobandi from a Jamati household. Such religious intersections are not limited to fundamentalists. Last year, Sarjan Barkati, a self-proclaimed Sufi, earned epithets like ‘Pied Piper of Kashmir’ and ‘Freedom Chacha’ for mobilising people and glorifying the Hizbul commander Burhan Wani who had wanted to establish an Islamic Caliphate. These mutations from moderate to radical have been happening insidiously and manifested themselves in the mob that lynched deputy SP Ayub Pandith on Shab-e-Qadr.
The coalescing of all the schools of Sunni Islamic thought in Kashmir is result of a “common broad-based platform, Ittehaad-e-Millat, created to resolve differences” not only among the puritanical groups but also with syncretic Barelvi outfits, said Jamat-i-Islami Amir chief Ghulam Mohammad Bhat. Incidentally, IeM was actively involved in organising protest rallies in favour of Wani last year.
Way before Wani was killed, the signs of Wahhabised radicalisation had already begun to emerge. Maulana Mushtaq Ahmad Veeri, for example, was already popular in south Kashmir by 2015 for sermons in which he praised the IS and Caliph Al Baghdadi. “It was only a matter of time before the youth started waving IS flags while pelting stones, or Wani or Musa declared jihad for the Caliphate. Ironically, many moderate Kashmiri Muslims claim that IS has been created by the US and Israel to malign Muslims,”said a student of religion from Bijbehara.
Official sources said that there are over 7,500 mosques and seminaries in Kashmir, of which over 6,000 are Hanafi and around 200 are syncretic Sufi shrines. Ahl-e-Hadith, Deoband and Jamat put together have just over 1,000 mosques and charity based seminaries, of which Ahl-e-Hadith has the largest number. “Ahl-e-Hadith mosques are popular for their modern furnishing and facilities,” said Shahnawaz, a Barelvi follower in Anantnag, adding that the organisation also funds several orphanages, clinics and medical diagnostic centres.
Sources said Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and seminaries have doubled in the last 27 years. FCRA annual reports show that top donors to India among the Salafist Islam practising states are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Although it is not clear who the top donor and recipient in J&K is, the state has received between 10 and 100 crores as foreign funds each year in the last decade.
A lot of Salafist literature was being distributed for free in Kashmir through last 30 years, a Shia Kashmiri said. “There is a sizeable number of Kashmiri diaspora in the Middle East who send remittances, mostly through Hawala to fund not just this radical doctrine but terror too.”
Religious scholars in Kashmir point out that Ahl-e-Hadith has four sub-schools—Jamait-ul-ahl-e-Hadith (puritan), Difai (ultra-puritan), Guraba (religio-political ultra-puritans like Masrat Alam), Sout-ul-Haq, represented by ISIS, where a nonconformist is ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (eligible for murder). A scholar who didn’t want to be named claimed the radical subsects are anywhere between 1 to 5 percent in Kashmir.
Ahl-e-Hadith played a role in the separatist movement as a part of the joint Hurriyat Conference until it was split in 2003. The organisation is known to share a relationship with Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, which is closely associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba. The TuM is a part of the PoK-based United Jihad Council headed by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Syed Salahuddin, who in 2014, had declared support for al-Qaida’s entry into Kashmir.
However, security officials believe that the influence of Wahhabi discourse through the Internet, social media and messaging platforms is far more dangerous than the mosques and literature. “Kashmir has around 2.8 million mobile internet users. Even if there is one Salafist preacher glorifying Burhan Wani or Zakir Musa and the clip is circulated over smartphones, it has a dangerous multiplying effect over a huge population,” a senior police official said.
Mobile data usage, officials claim, is higher in Kashmir than other parts of the country because of lack of other sources of entertainment. Cinemas, bars and discotheques were shut in Kashmir in the early 1990s when militant groups issued diktats against all things “un-Islamic”.
Schools of faith:
Wahhabism/Salafism/Ahl-e-Hadith: The most puritanical Sunni Islamic movement developed during the 18th century in central Arabia. It aims to return to the original ways of Islam by emulating Prophet Mohammad and his earliest followers. IS, al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad claim to be practitioners
Deobandi: Inspired by scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi and native to Indian subcontinent. Although Deobandi beliefs are almost the same as Salafis, in mainland India it is now a moderate school. Taliban claims to be Deobandi
Jamaat-e-Islami: A Sunni Islamist party that believes in the idea of an Islamic state under Sharia law. In Kashmir, terror group Hizbul Mujahideen is its armed wing
Barelvi/Hanafi: Native to India, this Sunni school is influenced by local culture. Accommodates Sufi practices and followers believe in saints and visit shrines
On July 4 2017 at 4 p.m., Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his whirlwind visit to Israel, that has now concluded in triumph, both for him and for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In order to understand just how “historic” this visit was, a little history may help. Let’s go back in time, all the way back to November 29, 1947. On that date, the U.N. Partition Plan for Palestine was put to a vote; in the Asian-Pacific region, nine countries voted against partition. All of them, with one exception, were Muslim countries. That one exception was India, which was essentially voting against the creation of a Jewish state, even one that would have consisted of three non-contiguous tiny bantustans. And two years later, in 1949, India had not softened its opposition, and voted against admitting Israel to the United Nations. It did not recognize Israel as an independent state until 1950.
The most important meeting concerning Indo-Israeli relations for the next several decades took place not at the U.N., but in Bandung, Indonesia. Israel was not invited. This was the site in 1955 of the famous Bandung Conference, where 29 African and Asian nations met to declare that they would not belong either to the Western or the Soviet bloc, but to a new, non-aligned bloc. And among other measures, the conference’s political committee also unanimously adopted a ferociously anti-Israel resolution, which declared its support for “the Arab people of Palestine” (the “Palestinian people” had not yet been invented) and called for “the implementation of the United Nations decisions on Palestine and the achievement of the peaceful settlement of the Palestine question.” The “U.N. decisions” that were referred to in the resolution provided for the internationalization of Jerusalem, the ceding by Israel of certain border areas and agreement by Israel to the return of Arab refugees to their former homes. Given Israel’s military weakness in 1955, that resolution would have made Israel’s continued existence doubtful, and certainly showed a palpable want of sympathy for the Jewish state. It is true that India’s Nehru did express sympathies for the Jews as victims of the Nazis in Europe, but as the representative of India, he voted for the anti-Israel resolution at Bandung with all the rest.
For decades following, India remained lukewarm, at best, to Israel. It consistently rebuffed Israel’s request for diplomatic ties. Israel, for its part, never stopped trying to reach out to India. Few may realize that Israel supplied military assistance — weapons and intelligence — to India during its conflicts with China in 1962 and Pakistan in 1965. In 1971, India quietly asked for, and again received, Israeli military aid, for use in the Bangladesh War. During none of this time, however, did India evince a more pro-Israel attitude. In fact, India continued to deepen its pro-Arab stance and demonstrated increasing hostility toward Israel. This process accelerated with the election of Indira Gandhi in 1966, partly because of the support she needed from the small parties, including the Communists. As the Soviet Union was then hostile to Israel, and wooing the Arabs, the Indian Communist Party took the same approach. Indira Gandhi’s government, needing the votes of the Communists, found it made sense to keep Israel at arm’s length, while Indian support for the Arabs increased. By the 1970s, such support for the Palestinian cause had solidified, and India’s relationship with Israel worsened. After the Arab League recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the “sole and legitimate” representative of the Palestinians in 1974, India quickly followed suit and permitted the PLO to open an independent office in New Delhi that was elevated to embassy status in 1980. The PLO provided nothing of tangible value to India, unlike Israel, which had aided India in three of its wars. Nonetheless, it was not until 1992, twelve years after the PLO opened its office, that Israel was permitted to open an embassy in India.
A quarter-century later, things are very different. The relations between Israel and India have been called “the most important new alliance in Asia.” Israel is a world leader in many of the areas where India most needs outside help: anti-missile weaponry, water management (for agriculture and for drinking), cyber-warfare (remember Stuxnet?) and cyber-security. As of now, Israel is India’s second largest supplier (after Russia) of weapons. Israel has just signed with India the largest single contract in its own defense industry’s history, for MRSAM, an advanced air and missile defense system. The latest version of MRSAM is now being used by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy, and the Israel Defense Forces. Israel and India collaborate in anti-terrorism measures of every kind. India has agreed to buy 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel, choosing it, despite heavy lobbying by Washington, over the American-made Javelin. India has also chosen Israel’s Barak-8 air defense missiles for the Indian navy. Israeli and Indian experts collaborate ever more closely on missile development, on anti-terrorism measures, and, increasingly, on cyber-warfare, both offensive and defensive. For its part, Israel seeks greater collaboration with the Indian navy, that patrols the sea between India and Arabia, in order to ensure the security of the sea lanes on which so much of Israel’s trade with Asia depends.
Along with its high-tech weaponry, its famed intelligence services, its counter-terrorism experience, all of use to India, Israel is also a world leader in water management (drip irrigation, desalinization, recycling of “grey water”), for both agriculture and drinking. In agriculture, Israel has set up, in various parts of India, Centers of Excellence, demonstration projects of the latest ways to increase crop yields, to lower water demands, and even to encourage Indian farmers to grow new crops. Israel has already set up a demonstration olive farm in the Punjab, to see if olives from Israel, though new to the subcontinent, can become a viable export crop for India.
Finally, there is an increase in person-to-person exchanges, in education and tourism. Ten percent of the foreign students in Israel are from India. And India is a favored destination for young Israelis once they have completed their military service.
Who would have predicted, when India cast its vote against the Partition Plan in 1947, that tiny Israel would not only come into being, but survive many Arab attempts to snuff out its young life, and would thrive economically, in all the most cutting-edge economic sectors, and become the third largest trading partner of India, and its second-largest supplier of military equipment? Who could have imagined the deep security ties that would develop, the intelligence sharing about Muslim terrorists and the strategic and military capabilities of Muslim states, between Israel and India, intelligence ties that are certainly the closest India has with any foreign country, and, save possibly for its intelligence ties with the United States, also the closest for Israel?
There were several reasons for India rejecting Israel’s entreaties for so long. Partly, this reflected the desire of Indian politicians to curry favor with the Muslims who made up about 10%-14% of the electorate. Another factor was the desire to keep good relations with the Arab suppliers of oil. A very distant third factor was the attempt to keep the Arab states from supporting the Muslim separatists in Kashmir whom Pakistan backed.
All during this period, it is true, there were those Indian politicians, from the Hindu nationalist parties, who on both moral and strategic grounds argued that India should support Israel, but the Congress Party’s reluctance prevailed until the beginning of the 1990s. Things began to change, slowly, after Israel, as noted above, unstintingly supplied military aid to India in its 1962 flare-up with China, and then again during its brief war with Pakistan in 1965, and again in 1971, during the Bangladesh Liberation War (which lasted all of two weeks after India entered the war on the side of the Bangladeshis against Pakistan). Israel’s willingness to repeatedly come to India’s aid did begin to affect Indian views. But as long as the Congress Party was in power, not much would change in India’s policy toward Israel. Golda Meir had even dared to hope, in 1971, that in recognition of Israeli military assistance that year India might at least establish diplomatic ties, but she was disappointed.
The desire of some Congress Party politicians to curry favor with Muslim voters was not shared by the Hindu nationalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. When they came to power, those followers of Hindutva (the ideology seeking to make Hindus, and the Hindu way of life, dominant in India), who had always urged better ties with Israel, appeared to be vindicated. The Muslim electorate was not going to support the BJP, no matter how the BJP voted on Israel and “Palestine” in the U.N., so why bother to curry favor with it? And Israel more and more was recognized for what it was — a fellow victim of Islamic terrorism — and valued for being willing to share what it had learned from its long experience in countering that terrorism, in everything from effective vetting of airline passengers, to infiltration of terrorist networks, to cyber security. Israel was an increasingly valued trading partner for India, offering both top-of-the-line weaponry and help to India’s own arms industry, that no other arms supplier was willing to grant. Israel willingly shares with its advances as a world leader in water management and conservation. Finally, Israel provides a model of a “start-up” nation, that Indians admired and wished to emulate. In 2009, an international poll revealed that 59% of Indians viewed Israel with admiration, more than they did any other country, and more than did the people of any other country (in the same poll, 58% of Americans viewed Israel with admiration). Israelis have had their own love affair with India, perfectly aware that Jews in India had never experienced antisemitism from Hindus, but had lived safely in India for more than a thousand years, in such places as Maharashtra and Kerala.
Meanwhile, the feared Arab “oil weapon” turned out not to exist. Less than a quarter of India’s energy now comes from oil. Supplies of non-OPEC oil, and renewable sources (wind, solar, biomass), are taking an ever greater share of the world energy market. This means that the Muslim members of OPEC are well aware that they need to hold onto what customers they can, and certainly don’t want to be unreliable suppliers to such a major market as India, which would only push that country both to buy from other sellers of oil, and to switch as rapidly as it can to renewables (which now constitute less than 5% of its energy).
Indian attitudes began to shift after decades of non-aligned and pro-Arab policies which yielded no apparent benefit. The Arabs did not provide military aid or crucial intelligence to India; Israel did, in 1962, 1965, and 1971. The Arabs had no advanced weaponry to sell to India; Israel did. The Arabs had no expertise in irrigation, water conservation, desalinization; Israel did. In 1991, India defied the Muslim bloc and voted at the U.N. to repeal the infamous “Zionism is racism” resolution. In January 1992, India finally established diplomatic relations with Israel, and ties between the two nations have flourished since, primarily due to common strategic interests and security threats. The formation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the blocking of India by Pakistan from joining the OIC contributed to this diplomatic shift. It was now clear that India would never be truly accepted by the Muslim nations, no matter what it did to support “Palestine.” On a diplomatic level, India and Israel managed throughout this period to maintain healthy relations, despite India’s repeated strong condemnations at the U.N. of Israeli military actions against the “Palestinians.”
And then, the biggest change to Indian-Israel relations occurred when Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014. A Hindu nationalist, Modi has throughout his career exhibited an understanding of what the Muslim invaders and conquerors meant for the ancient civilization of Hindu India; he agrees with the writer V. S. Naipaul, who described India after the Muslim invasion and centuries of conquest, as “a wounded civilization.” Modi had always been known for his palpable lack of sympathy for Islam. When he was Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat in 2002, inter-communal riots broke out after Muslims set fire to a train filled with Hindu pilgrims returning from a visit to the temple at Ayodhya. Sixty Hindus died, and many more were injured. In retaliation, Hindus started rioting and attacking Muslims. Muslims attacked back.These riots lasted three days. Hundreds were killed on both sides.. Modi did not immediately suppress them (nor is it likely he could have done so before they petered out of their own accord), which in the Western press, never sympathetic to the Hindu nationalists but always willing to cut Muslims some slack, earned him the reputation of being an anti-Muslim “bigot.” Muslims have repeatedly tried to have Modi convicted of supposedly fomenting the violence. The violence from Hindus did not need any “fomenting” by Modi; the burning alive of sixty innocent Hindu pilgrims was quite enough. In any case, Modi was absolved of the charge, by every court, all the way up to, and including, India’s Supreme Court.
Now Modi’s natural sympathies for Israel, as a Hindu nationalist, have meshed with a new kind of realpolitik calculation: that Israel can do far more than any other potential partner for India’s security against a common Islamic enemy (both terrorist groups and state actors). Israel is now able to supply India with advanced weaponry, including anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, that in some cases is superior to what either the U.S. or Russia offers, and with technology, know-how, and intelligence it is willing to share with India as that country continues to develop its own weapons industry. And Israel has also been willing to share its expertise in every aspect of agriculture and water management, especially in drip irrigation (which Israelis were the first to use), in desalinization plants (where Israel is a world leader), in its expertise in using treated sewage in agriculture (ditto). Israel has also become a pioneer in many aspects of agricultural research and technology, with innovative work in developing crop cultivars suitable for arid climates, and otherwise reducing the water consumption of agriculture. All this know-how in water use and crop management has become an important benefit for India, the palpable fruit of its good relations with Israel. Finally, India has something to learn from Israel about how best to encourage innovation more generally, how to promote a climate of entrepreneurship, how to link those entrepreneurs with those responsible for technological advances, and what legal and financial frameworks most effectively encourage the ”start-up.”
India’s relations with Israel have been so spectacularly beneficial for both sides that it is impossible to imagine any undoing of this new alliance. But will this unofficial military and security alliance lead, as it ought to, to a completely different Indian policy at the U.N., a possible public break with the kangaroo court that sits, in continuous session, with Israel always in the dock? Narendra Modi should be noted not just for what he has done on his visit to Israel, but what he did not do. He did not bother to visit, as so many other visiting dignitaries to Israel routinely do, the “Palestinian Authority” in Ramallah, only 30 minutes from Jerusalem. He did not once mention “Palestine” or the “Palestinian people.” The “Palestinian” leaders in Ramallah were and no doubt still are in a rage, but what can they do? Modi’s studied indifference will only make similar treatment by other world leaders more likely — no one wants to be the first, but now that Modi has done it, others — seeing there were no repercussions — can, if they wish, follow suit.
The India-Israel love affair has been a long time coming. But it is a real one, that goes deeper than arm sales and trade. A shared history of being victims of Islamic aggression, in having their lands seized and their own histories rewritten, an awareness in both Israel and India that Hindu India was one of a very few places in the world where there never was antisemitism, the Israeli awareness that it was an Indian regiment that drove the Muslim Turks out of Haifa in 1918, and the Indian awareness that Gandhi’s indispensable first supporters were South African Jews, even the fascination with India of young Israelis who after their military service so often choose India as the place to travel and decompress, and the admiration of Hindus for what the Jews in their tiny state — with less than 1% both of India’s population and its land area — have managed to accomplish, and finally, the recognition that Israel and India are the only true democracies in western Asia, all contribute to this alliance of interest, of affection, of esteem.
Now India under Modi can do something besides sign those agreements and exchange with Prime Minister Netanyahu those extravagant words of praise and bear hugs. In 2015 India began to abstain from, rather than vote in favor of, anti-Israel resolutions, at the U.N., UNESCO, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission, including those having to do with bringing Israel before the I.C.C. for supposed “war crimes” in Gaza. It has continued to abstain on similar resolutions in 2016 and 2017. This is an important shift, from Yes to Abstain. But it was not across the board. In 2016 India still voted in favor of a new resolution that would set up a database of Israeli and international firms working in the “illegal Israeli settlements.” Such a database, of course, could be useful for enforcing threats of retribution against those found to be listed.
This May, an anti-Israel resolution at UNESCO denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) was again proposed. in April 2016, a similar resolution had garnered 33 Yes votes; in October 2016 there were only 24 Yes votes. In the latest, May 2016 vote, only 22 countries voted yes. The most important shift was that of India, from Yes to Abstain, much commented upon at the time.
And after that vote change, the sky did not fall for India. Expressions of dismay from Ramallah. But the Muslim states did nothing. After all, what could they have done? In a buyer’s market, could they have refused to sell India oil, thereby pushing India still more in the direction of renewable sources of energy? Could they have threatened to support the Kashmiri Muslims more than they do? How, exactly? Could Indian Muslims threaten to vote against the BJP? They already do. Modi is not indifferent to Muslim desires; he is openly hostile to them, and has no intention of hiding it.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Arabs are more divided among themselves that at any time in their history. They are preoccupied with their own problems. In the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and several Gulf sheikdoms (U.A.E., Bahrain), as well as Egypt, are relentlessly pressuring Qatar, which they charge with supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. For the Saudis, the Muslim Brotherhood practices an inadmissible form of “terrrorism” because it has repeatedly shown itself a threat to the Saudi regime. In 2003, the Brotherhood attacked the Saudi rulers for allowing American forces into the Kingdom; the Saudis were even more shocked when the Muslim Brotherhood helped overthrow Mubarak in Egypt, for this was interpreted as a potential future threat to the Saudi rulers as well. Also unacceptable to the Saudis are Qatar’s continued close ties with Iran, that go beyond the economic links naturally resulting from the fact that Qatar and Iran share the largest natural gas field in the world. And Al Jazeera, based in and funded by Qatar, reports critically on the Saudi regime, as it does on other Arab rulers (though of course exempting those in Qatar itself); some of this news is highly embarrassing to the Saudis and other ruling families. In late June, the Saudis, the U.A.E, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties and severed all their land, sea, and air links to Qatar, and made thirteen demands. These included ending all support for “terrorism” (i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, ISIS, among others), expelling known terrorists who had been living in Qatar, and stop paying ransom to Al-Qaeda and ISIS for kidnapped Qatari nationals. As for its ties to Iran, Qatar was told to close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar and the Qatari missions in Iran, to expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and to cut off all military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Furthermore, all trade and commerce with Iran by Qatar must strictly comply with US and international sanctions. And Qatar was told to stop funding Shi’ite militias in Iraq.
Another demand was for the Turkish airbase in Qatar to be shut down, presumably because Erdogan, though a Sunni, has been too friendly to Iran for the Saudis to accept.
Qatar shows no signs of accepting even one of these demands, and this mini-war in the Gulf appears to have no foreseeable end. Qatar has been able to use airfields in Iran; Iranian ships continue to bring in food. And being fabulously rich from its sales of natural gas, Qatar cannot be starved into submission.
The war in Syria has gone on for six years, with many different states and groups involved. Russia and Iran support Assad, while the Americans support only the “democratic” rebels. Turkey and Qatar support Muslim Brotherhood fighters; the Saudis oppose the Muslim Brotherhood and Assad, but will support Sunnis of the Salafist line. Hezbollah and Iran both help Assad. Turkey and Qatar oppose Iran in Syria, but outside of the Syrian theatre, both maintain relations sufficiently close to Iran — though Turkey and Iran sometimes have flareups — to anger the Saudis. Jordan and Lebanon, for their part, are also caught in the Syrian swamp, overwhelmed with refugees from Syria — 700,000 in Jordan, 1 million in Lebanon (or 20% of the Lebanese population — that have become full-time problems. There are 2.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, a profound threat to political and economic stability for that country, which has been, thanks to Erdogan, in a state of almost continuous upheaval, as he systematically undoes Kemalism, makes war on the secularists, and shores up his powers so that he has legalized his despotism. Finally, in Syria, the loss of the Assad government’s control has created a vacuum into which the Islamic State has flowed. And jihadis from elsewhere in the Middle East, and North Africa, and Europe have arrived to join the Islamic State, and to fight not just Assad, not just the hated Shi’a (Hezbollah, Iranians), not just the “secular” rebels, but all those, including al-Qaeda, who may be close to IS in ideology but do not themselves submit to the Islamic State. In Syria, or because of Syria, so many different groups are stuck in different parts of the quagmire; Syria has become, politically, the La Brea Tar Pit of the Middle East.
In Iraq, the Shi’a-dominated government shows no signs of wanting to relinquish any of the power that naturally devolved to the Shi’a Arabs once the Americans removed Saddam Hussein. And the Sunni Arabs show no sign of accepting this new arrangement, which makes them permanently subservient to the far more numerous Shi’a. They worry, too, about the Iranians in Iraq who are helping the Shi’a militia. And both Sunni and Shi’a Arabs oppose the Kurds, who have announced their plan to hold a referendum this September on an independent Kurdistan.
The unrest in Bahrain among the majority Shi’a population protesting against their Sunni ruler continues, low-level but unending. The Egyptian regime feels itself threatened by Muslim Brotherhood-backed terrorists, based mainly in the Sinai, where they receive aid and training from Hamas fighters who come from Gaza. It also worries about terrorists coming from ISIS training camps in Libya. After the beheading of 31 Egyptian Copts in Libya in February 2015, Al-Sisi bombed ISIS camps in that country. And after Islamic State fighters attacked a bus full of Coptic pilgrims hear Minya, killing over 30, Al-Sisi sent Egyptian fighters to bomb the Islamic State forces near Derna, in Libya. Islamic State fighters, undeterred, attacked an Egyptian army post on July 8, killing 23 soldiers, and triggering an attack by Egyptian forces. While the Islamic State appears to have dug in in the northern Sinai, the Muslim Brotherhood continues to attack police and the military, both from Sinai hideouts and from cells in Egypt proper. Both terrorist groups keep Egyptian forces, and the Egyptian state, fully occupied.
Saudi Arabia is the busiest of all, engaged on every front. It is leading the campaign of Gulf states against Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is propping up the Sunni ruler of Bahrain, keeping his Shi’a population under control. It is fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria, supporting Sunni rebels who are sufficiently religious to meet Saudi standards, but not votaries of the Islamic State, to meet Saudi standards. And since 2015, the Saudis have been involved in a live war in Yemen, bombing both military and civilian targets among the Shi’a Houthis, with no hint of an end in sight. If Syria is the equivalent of the La Brea Tar Pits for Muslim Arabs, Yemen is for Saudi Arabia its very own Tar Baby.
Published: May 24, 2016 – 11:22PM
HIIT is hot right now, at least that’s where exercise science is at.
It’s not hard to see why scientists – and people interested in fitness – are excited.
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is as fast as it is famous right now and it’s been getting faster.
There’s the 45 minute work-out, popularised by F45, 30-minute classes, then, more recently, HIIT has accelerated into the seven-minute workout, the four-minute Tabata-based workout, the impossibly athletic 30-second workout and the recently researched one-minute workout.
The idea for all of them is the same: all the benefits of exercise are condensed in one extremely fell swoop.
“My whole philosophy on HIIT is you’re giving your body a good blast,” says Professor John Hawley, director, Centre for Exercise and Nutrition, Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University.
Does it matter which version or length of time you do?
Emmanuelle Statamakis, Associate Professor of exercise, health and physical activity sport sciences at the University of Sydney, says that, presently, the research is not there to say one form is better than another.
“I do not think that anyone can make any assertions about comparisons of all these different HIIT regimes that have been published or publicised,” Statamakis says.
“In the absence of a study comparing the HIIT regimes … I would speculate that regimes like the 10-20-30 or the seven-minute ones will produce better results in the long term because they combine aerobic and anaerobic processes and higher total energy expenditure than the one-minute regime.”
Hawley adds that shorter intervals can be easier to cope with psychologically.
“If you do 30 seconds or four minutes, it’s probably not going to make a huge difference,” Hawley says. “I can’t tell you that x is better than y, any stimulation is better than none. It depends what the individual likes to do.”
Whatever will get you moving is what will be the better workout.
“They all seem to work well to some extent and it is all down to factors like people’s time availability and individual preferences,” says Statamakis, adding that his concern is that it may be a struggle for sedentary people to go the distance with HIIT.
“Unfortunately the health benefits of exercise are transient and unless we come up with strategies to make exercise attractive/desirable for the masses of sedentary people and maximise the adherence to it there will be very little (if any) public health benefit,” Statamakis says. “We should be mindful that this kind of training (HIIT) appeals mostly to relatively young individuals who are perhaps already active and fit.
“As it stands, very-high-intensity exertion will be too unpleasant and will not appeal to the large majority of sedentary middle-aged and older individuals who are most in need for lifestyle improvements because they are at imminent risk of developing chronic disease and even dying prematurely.”
How to address this shortfall is a challenge many in the industry are attempting, particularly those researching HIIT, which is attractive given so many people (rightly or wrongly) claim that time constraints prevent them from meeting the guidelines.
Hawley points out that HIIT does not have to involve sprinting or working out like a maniac and still get the “afterburn” effect where the metabolic rate after exercise remains elevated.
“Walking briskly up a hill – that’s HIT for 90 per cent of the population,” he says, reminding that we can start slow(er) and build up – even with HIIT.
“I would even say in case of those who are overweight and obese, just walk up the stairs – that’s enough to get most people out of breath.
“You just need to break inactivity patterns.”
How long have you got?
One study found that short-term interval training using a 10-minute session involving one minute of hard exercise, three times per week, stimulated physiological changes linked to improved health in overweight adults
HOW TO DO IT: 2 min warm-up, 3×20 s all-out cycling efforts against a load corresponding to 0.05 kg/kg body mass, separated by 2 min of low-intensity cycling and 3 minute cool-down.
The seven-minute set of 12 exercises, designed to work the entire body. “The exercise order allows for a total body exercise to significantly increase the heart rate while the lower, upper, and core exercises function to maintain the increased heart rate while developing strength,” the workout’s creators said.
The set, which they suggest repeating two to three times, is possible to be performed anywhere, without special equipment.
HOW TO DO IT: Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, working at about 80 per cent capacity and with 10-second breaks between each exercise, for a total of seven minutes. The exercises? Star jumps; wall sits (back against the wall with the knees bent at a 90-degree angle); push-ups; abdominal crunches; chair step-ups; squats; tricep dips; plank; running high-knees; push-up rotations and side plank.
One study from 2013 found that those who exercise to 90 per cent capacity (you should be able to say single words but be too puffed for sentences), for four-minute bursts, three times a week improved endurance, metabolic and cardiovascular health.
HOW TO DO IT: You can cycle, run or do stairs hard-out for four-minutes. The full program is to repeat this four times with three minutes of slow walking between, then a short cool-down.
New research shows that in just one minute we can lower blood pressure and power-up energy cells.
HOW TO DO IT: The trick for gaining the benefits is to go hell-for-leather for that minute. Again, it doesn’t really matter what form of hell-for-leather you do, but Hawley says the biggest bang for buck will be when people can use largest muscle mass (i.e. upper and lower body) at the same time.
Published: March 28, 2017 – 12:31PM
The secret to keeping your body youthful may be found in the way you move.
A new study has found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can essentially stop cellular ageing in its tracks and, in some cases, rejuvenate the cells that repair damage in the body.
For the study, researchers from the Mayo Clinic took 36 men and 36 women split into younger (aged between 18 and 30) and older (aged between 65 and 80) age groups.
The participants were then assigned a three-month program of HIIT, strength training or a combination of the two.
So, to understand the way exercise effects us at a molecular level, the researchers then took biopsies from the participants’ thigh muscles and compared them with samples from sedentary volunteers.
The strength-training group predictably saw the greatest improvements in muscle mass, but the findings that have been described as “earth shattering” were at a cellular level in the HIIT group.
Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of our cells, responsible for creating more than 90 per cent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. Their function typically declines with age.
However, in the HIIT group, the mitochondrial functioning improved by 69 per cent among the older participants, and by 49 per cent among the younger group.
As well as improving their insulin levels, heart and lung health, some in the high-intensity biking group also saw a reversal of the age-related decline in mitochondrial function and proteins needed for building muscle.
The research provided an explanation for the many health benefits of exercise said the lead senior author, Sreekumaran Nair.
“Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the ageing process,” says Nair, of the study published in the journal Cell. “These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine.”
He adds: “If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do three to four days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training.”
Emmanuel Stamatakis of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney says it is a “fascinating piece of research”.
“This not only sheds light on how high-intensity interval exercise works at the cellular level, but [also] on the potential of vigorous exertion in general,” says Stamatakis, who was not involved with the research.
It also shows what is happening beneath the sweat that makes HIIT more beneficial to our bodies than other forms of exercise. Which aspect of HIIT is responsible for such dramatic changes, however, is still an unknown.
“Assuming that the key attribute of HIIT is the vigorous intensity that challenges the human physiology to make rapid adaptations, this research supports well what we saw recently in a large epidemiologic study where even one to two sessions per week of predominantly sport/exercise of vigorous intensity were associated with substantial all-cause, CVD and cancer mortality benefits,” Stamatakis explains.
“These benefits were comparable with meeting the physical activity recommendations by doing regular physical activity of mostly moderate intensity.”
Now the question is whether HIIT is right for everyone. Given how few of us manage to meet the recommendations (about 50 per cent of Australian adults do not meet the guidelines of 2.5 hours of brisk walking a week and nine out of 10 do not meet the twice-weekly strength-training guideline), Stamatakis remains unsure.
“There is a big debate as to whether HIIT is the way to go for better population health, but it is certain that it has a time and a place,” he says. “Although not every physically inactive person would be willing or able to join a HITT program, this new piece of research highlights that in addition to public health messages like ‘move as often as possible, a little is better than nothing’, we need to also add ‘aim to huff and puff sometimes’.”
This might be as simple as taking the stairs whenever you can – both a form of incidental and HIIT exercise.
“For many people, stair climbing will involve bouts of high-intensity activity lasting one or more minutes, and if this is repeated regularly enough in everyday life it could potentially improve fitness and other aspects of cardiovascular and metabolic health quite rapidly,” Stamatakis says.
And of course, it will keep us young.
“There are substantial basic science data to support the idea that exercise is critically important to prevent or delay ageing,” says Nair, who plans to look at the effect of exercise on other tissues in the body. “There’s no substitute for that.”
Pawanjeet Heir’s eyes well up as she retells the story of how she unwittingly became a victim of visa fraud, extortion and indentured servitude.
She is now facing her worst nightmare: deportation, along with her husband and young son, who have given up hope after the system failed them.
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She is not alone. Exploiting foreign workers is rampant in Australia, so too is visa fraud. Most are too afraid to speak publicly for fear of deportation.
For Heir the nightmare began in 2013 when she saw a job ad on the Gumtree website for a cook and sponsorship on sub class 457 Visa. The pay seemed fair, $52,500 a year for a three-year contract at an Indian restaurant in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
The family decided to move from Melbourne to Adelaide because sponsorships aren’t easy to get and her family were desperate for permanent residency.
It took six weeks before things started to unravel, when her boss started to lay down the law.
“He told me I can’t pay you because I sponsor you so you have to work for free,” she said. “He then asked for money and said ‘I will cancel your sponsorship and you will be deported’ if you don’t pay.”
In August 2013 he demanded $30,000 for the visa. “We were very scared so we paid him what he wanted,” she said. “I was working for free.”
For the next two and a half years Heir worked long hours, six days a week for no pay. Months later he started using the so-called cash back scam, which involves the company paying her wages then her husband withdraws a similar amount and gives it back in cash.
She then had to find another $20,000 or face deportation. “He would say: ‘You go to immigration, nothing is going to be happen to me as I am citizen of this country, but they will definitely deport you back to India’.”
One of Heir’s darkest hours was in August 2015 when her appendix burst at work. Doubled over in pain, she wasn’t allowed to go to hospital until she finished her shift. It would be a decision that cost her dearly, with multiple health complications, leaving her hospitalised for weeks. “He would tell me I had to go back to work,” she said.
Extortion, blackmail, cash back scams and slavery are happening every day under our noses. They happen in the most unsuspecting places such as suburban restaurants and nail bars. Most suffer in silence.
He told me I can’t pay you because I sponsor you so you have to work for free.
Pawanjeet Kaur Heir
In some cases unscrupulous employers offer sponsorships to desperate foreign workers in return for payment. In other cases they lure unsuspecting workers into a job with the promise of sponsorship, then they turn on the blackmail dial.
The price of visas can vary from $30,000 to $150,000 depending on the visa, the job on offer and the worker’s nationality. For companies engaging in this illegal practice, the scheme offers big bucks. In Heir’s case it was cash and free labour.
Azrael Yin, a former store manager at Domino’s, said many small businesses sell sponsorships. “I know of one person who is sponsored and work 60 hours a week and gets paid for 40 hours.”
Yin says another franchisee sponsored two foreign workers, charging them tens of thousands of dollars, only to withdraw the offer.
“One of the workers went back to China after the rip-off,” he says.
If workers complain, their sponsorship is likely to be cancelled, inevitably leading to deportation unless a new sponsor can be lined up. Finding a legitimate sponsor isn’t easy and there are no protections for workers who are exploited.
Mark Glazbrook, a migration agent who runs Migrant Solutions, said Pawanjeet Heir’s case was the worst case he had come across in his many years as an agent.
He took on her case in October 2015, along with a number of other staff who had been sponsored by the same company.
Documents show that in September 2015 Australian Border Force had warned the company that it had been monitoring it since May and had a series of concerns, including supplying the department with false and misleading information, workers were being paid in cash and there were no proper records. “Some visa holders have signed cash payment receipts for dates that they were not in Australia,” the letter said.
For Heir, what happened next was devastating. On October 20, 2015, still suffering from health issues, she was told the company she worked for had been banned as a sponsor. The upshot was her visa had been cancelled.
Her husband Raj said the news was like a heart attack for his family. “We could not leave our house for two days after this news, as we were so depressed and confused. My wife cried the whole day inside her room and could not say even a single word. We lost everything in one day, all our hopes to stay in this country and have a good life in the future.”
Raj quit his job. His wife’s illness and the stress of spending so much money on a visa that was now useless became all too much.
They contacted the ATO and the Fair Work Ombudsman to try and reclaim unpaid super and wages, but that came to nothing because the company had collapsed.
They then applied for ministerial intervention, but that also failed.
They are now in a situation where they have no working rights. Penniless, they had to move back to Melbourne to live with their cousins.
Their last hope is the Federal Court, which is due to hear their matter in May, but they aren’t hopeful.
For Glazbrook it is the case that continues to haunt him. He said if the government was serious about stamping out worker exploitation it would introduce protections. In other words, if they dob in their boss for visa fraud, they should be given a temporary working visa.
But it seems nobody cares.
Glazbrook contacted the department in February 2016 requesting a meeting to discuss “substantial abuse and exploitation” of multiple former employees. The response was brief: he was told the department had concluded monitoring the company. They couldn’t comment any further due to privacy concerns.
The Heirs have suffered extortion, blackmail and are staring down the barrel of deportation. The company that did this appears to have gotten off lightly with a three year banning order for sponsoring workers. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it was aware of the case but couldn’t comment for privacy reasons.
It is little wonder, so many suffer in silence.
History of Royal Saud family coming to POWER and OWN at 12 minutes in video 1932
Listen to first 2 minutes. History of Kingdom Creation by British.
Why Nawaz Shareef is not seizing the opportunity to invite international media I.e CNN, BBC, Fox, Al Jazeera, New York times, Washington post , voice of America for media talks and interviews to project our stance so that Indian attempts to have us declared as a terrorist state by Congress through paid lobbyists in Washington falls flat on its face? Or he lacks the intellectual capacity to address them and answer their questions? If yes then his deficiencies and incapacities are costing us dearly?
ALSO if ISI continues its ANTI USA games = NO ONE WILL LISTEN to PAKISTAN.
Well, to b FAIR to Premier NS, Pak NEVER had a STABLE, RELIABLE & COHERENT Foreign Policy EVER SINCE the DEATH of Quaid.I.Azam…The Dreadful Decision of Khan Liaqat Al…See more
Rhi Zia k Islam ki Baat, tu my FRIEND, whatever Ur Army, ISI and Ur Nuclear Deterrence r today, after ALLAH’s SPECIAL BLESSINGS, the LARGE PORTION of CREDIT GOES to Zia Ul Haq….To know more abt Wat I m saying, Plz read “The War That NEVER Was” an Indian Book, Written by an Author….
No accounts SHOWN in Pakistan where POOR BUDGET goes satisfying Military use of Pakistani funds and budget. NEVER discussed. No Hospitals and worse schools = Military takes all new money inside Pakistan. LOOK still Taliban and India are threat so WE MUST FEED everything to our best performance MILITARY. Our minds must never Question our Military “investment”.
Through west Pakistan. Our diplomatic policies matched our military tactics & till the time it was not over Pakistan never took its case to Security council though it was a very strong case, in fact a confirmed diplomatic victory for Pakistan but it seems like establishment wanted Pakistan in 2pieces… Shujaat Awan you’re right about it being started from ditching Russia & joining U.S
Everything else and all mistakes put aside. The Pakistani Military has been fighting a battle ad protecting Pakistan for 70 years. If the Army was not as strong you and I would have been drinking cow urine. One can’t be so ungreatful and not accept the contributions of our soldiers.
Living in Pakistan and Taliban fears you do Not even know 12% population of India is Muslim. No Pakistani text books will tell REALITY = not every Muslim migrated to new Pakistan in 1947. Today 12% of Indian citizens are Muslims. That is outside Kashmir.
Just like Bhutto was rebelled against by Zia so was NawaZ Was rebelled against by Musharraf . Musharraf created his own PM but by now time was up. Voters love Patwari and corruption. PPP and MQM and PMLN win on RACIAL and Language lines. Pathan vote PTi and mqm is Muhajir and punjabi goes between ppp and pml.
2 hour long TV speeches and no mention of electricity investment or school needs or condition of hospitals but long speeches on what great things zia is doing and doing and 90 days became 90 months.