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Negotiating a Safe Path

The Taliban are huddled in their camp with the little left over fire burning out. They have decisions to make before another surgical laser guided air strike by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) wipes away another of  their  company. PAF’s air strikes are taking a toll on them and their most adamant demand that is of releasing their fellow prisoners held in various prisons throughout Pakistan is fading into the nights dust. They have only themselves to blame for this situation. The Taliban 2.0 thought they were prepared but they were not prepared enough. The latest F 16 block 52 equipped with laser guided bombs that could also been used at night totally took the talibs by surprise.

            They have been bruised at their strongest without hurting the Pakistani state even an iota. They have been forced onto the negotiating table knowing that a single bomb attack would be met with a barrage of air strikes. Their positions have been compromised and their only demand left is to negotiate a safe way out. Taliban are totally on the back foot.

Homemade strategy

My country is unexpected like the weather that anything can happen a shining example being the  performance of our cricket team. I mean like how or why should a teenage kid be risking his life to save the lives of his schoolmates(Aitzaz Bangash). But that is that, this is basically going to be a rant rather than an essay. A rant to convince the public and their leaders that it is time for decisive action.
It is time that Pakistanis decide whether they believe in a separate ‘Pakistani’ identity or they will keep on juggling between a liberal, Islamic or Indian identity. Is there a right wing in our country that is completely isolated from believing in the politics of religion. If there is not than I am that right wing. I am the conservative that believes that we have values that are separate from Islam and separate from Indian culture. We have developed a separate lifestyle in our 70 years of existence, And ladies and gents it is for this lifestyle that our soldiers fight in Siachen, Waziristan and wherever needed (Rangers in Karachi).

Every nation has its ways and methods of countering its problems and one size never fits all. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, our own challenges and opportunities and finally our own solutions and remedies. We as a nation have shown resolve and resilience in past, (Battle of Chawinda of 65 war being an example of startling bravery)  and certainly with our homemade strategy we can overcome existing challenges and instability. While any western country may have their own solution(British with the IRA,Spanish with the Basque rebels,etc,etc), similarly many nations may have triumphed with use of force against terrorists and insurgents and many may have failed but for us we need local means and methods to address these issues.Local solutions always have a taste of legitimacy and originality and are definitely more effective. The Jirga system has been effective in resolving the issues of people of North West Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan for centuries.

The Pakistani identity is moderate,forward looking, chauvinistic but also greedy at the same time. It is because of this greed and ShodaPan that Taliban have revolted against the state. However, we are willing to and able to crush this revolt totally. If a small nation like Sri Lanka had the willpower to crush the Tamil tigers than how can our 1 million large army not wipe off the Taliban, Yes ladies and gents , we can annihilate the Taliban, but the problem is most of them are Pakistani citizens and their lives are as valuable as yours’ or as their victims.

Negotiations are the first step to deal with them, Surgical strikes the second and an all out operation the third. One of the good practices of countering insurgency is to have a legitimate government, a functional independent judiciary and thirdly a strong and disciplined military; we have all three elements. Being said that, counter insurgency can not be defeated with force alone, we need to have elements of state craft operating in tandem to counter insurgency. Political method is the most  effective means to counter insurgency and for that the present government is sincere and right in undertaking dialogue to give another chance to the insurgents to reconsider their motives.

The insurgents should start by giving realistic demands rather than unrealistic demands like saying that the constitution of Pakistan is UnIslamic. (Article 227 of our constitution completely refutes that claim of the talibs) We understand that the state has done many injustices to various groups who have taken up arms and we are ready to do dialogue with them. However, when foreign miscreants in disguise of Taliban or even (Balochistan Liberation/Republican army) come into play just to wreak havoc into our country, then we reserve the right to go all guns blazing against them and also the ones giving amnesty to them. However, let me make my point clear once again peaceful negotiations led by the Nawaz Sharif Government and assisted by the Army and ISI are always the premier path.

If media, judiciary, political parties, intelligentsia, military and civil community are sincere to root out terrorism than the first step would be to create justice and equality in our society; where state has the capacity to address expectation of society and where merit is given preference over all other qualities and qualifications.

Targeting Hezbollah,Al Qaeda and Israeli state terrorism simultaneously

Hezbollah and Al Qaeda along with the Israeli military might are the biggest threats to peace in the middle east currently. The two non state actors and the illegitimate state have wrecked chaos among the Arabs. Countries such as Turkey and that would like to distance themselves from this conflict have also been dragged into it. Arms are freely flowing from the Turkish borders and ending up in  the hands of militant Al Qaeda affiliated groups. Ankara has had to take a stance in the Syrian conflict because of the sectarian dimension to it and also the Petro-dollar flowing in from the Arabian peninsula. The Arabian Peninsula is engulfed in another problem of itself with the majority Shiite’s of Bahrain rising up against their Sunni leadership. But the biggest headache the residents of that peninsula have to deal with is that of the Al Qaeda hub now firmly established in Yemen after shifting from the Afghanistan. But lets move up north and where the major and more deadly problem lies. Syrians are currently in the middle of the biggest proxy war ever with all the major world powers involved.  It has pitted various different groups with varying ideologies  there with almost all the dominant players in world politics also involved. However , this article of mine will not focus on Syria because I dealt with it in the last article. This article will deal with the notorious players due to whom there is no peace in the Middle East. These players are the violent power hungry Shiite’s of Hezbollah , Global Wahhabi terrorists of Al Qaeda and the war loving Jews of Israel, who combinedly are oppressing innocent people in their own capacity.

Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo and Beirut are cities with which the spring of human civilization is associated. However, human beings in these cities still continue to live under constant fear for their livelihood and lives. A few rockets fired by Hamas  are met with carpet bombing of Gaza strip by the Israeli Air force. At its’ will Israel flexes its muscles; sometimes pondering into south Lebanon on a false pretext of searching for Hezbollah terrorists and sometimes using air power to destroy Syrian assets at desire ; in turn violating all international treaties. Their tank cum bulldozers continue to decrease the area that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza hold. Gaza Strip has become the biggest refugee camp in the world. Humanitarians are blocked from helping the innocent Palestinians on the pretext that Iranian funded arms might be smuggled with the aid. To sum it up Israel should hold onto the territory they have and not fiddle more with its neighbors otherwise the day is not far when all of the Jews living there will be thrown into the Mediterranean sea by a combined Arab/Muslim force. Peace cannot be maintained without respecting neighbors. As it is well said that if you want to walk fast than walk alone, but if you want to walk far than walk together.

Moving onto the menace of Hezbollah; It can be compared to Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which is regarded as quasi-political/paramilitary party. However, Hezbollah is to a much paramount extent. It even gave stiff resistance and according to some political scientists beat the Israeli war machine in the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Hezbollah mainly relies on Shiite’ foot soldiers and arms supplied from Iran through Syria. Their fiasco based agenda include anti-westernism, anti-imperialism, anti-Zionism and anti Wahhabism ; thereby creating many enemies rather than friends. Hezbollah regularly conducts terrorist activities in Lebanon with the aid of other Shiite allies. Its’ paramilitary wing is even regarded stronger than the Lebanese army itself (with the latest arms flowing in through the porous Lebanese-Syrian border both ways). The only way forward for Hezbollah to achieve durable peace is to give up arms and join mainstream Lebanese politics wholeheartedly ; Thereby ensuring a peaceful and prosperous not only Lebanon but also Middle East. Otherwise it will die its own death soon.

Federalism and Pakistan

 

 

The following essay will do a number of things. Firstly, it will explore the concept of federalism theoretically. It will explain how a strong desire for representation and the presence of a diversity in the demographic, in terms of culture, race and ethnicity, form circumstances that are more amenable to a federal system rather than a unitary one. The essay will then evaluate the efficacy of a federal system, concluding with an analysis of how a unitary system would be better for Pakistan because the aforementioned pre-requisites to federalism do not apply in its case and the additional benefits such a system would confer on to the Pakistani state like economic homogeneity in development and a more cohesive political culture.

Federalism is a system of government in which powers and functions of a government are divided by a constitution between a central government and sub-units. (Roger Hillman)Federalism is one of the several ways in which power between a federation and its federal units may be shared. Federalism has strong appeal to countries that do not have a homogenous cultural/racial/religious/ethnical distribution throughout. Federalism is also suited to countries where values like liberty and representation are highly valued or there is a strong external threat that forces the federating units’ to bind together (Kelemen). In such systems, national parties work to enhance common bonds between people of diverse federating units and along with a strong judicial serve to act as a gel holding the federation together. (Kelemen)

There are many different types of federalism itself. Federalism may be asymmetric as in the case of India. In this kind of federalism there are special provisions for some states according to the instruments of accessions and statehood deals signed by these states such as Sikkim, Kashmir, Goa, Nagaland, etc. Furthermore, there is a clause for President’s rule that allows for the center to take charge of states’ administration in special circumstances (Banerjee, Benoy, Khan, and Kumar). This type of federalism leverages many advantages to the worlds’ second most populous country. It is the world’s largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies. Many insurgencies for more autonomy or separatism have died out or have been subdued.  The democratic and linguistic federalism of India has managed to combine claims to unity with claims to cultural recognition (Banerjee, Benoy, Khan, and Kumar).

Nevertheless the disadvantages of a federal system are abundant too. Federalism is a compromise between confederation and unitary system and therefore always hinges on the cliff of falling over into any one of them. The advantages of other systems particularly the unitary system is multi-pronged. In order to ensure economic prosperity, uniformity and national unity the importance of the unitary system cannot be stressed enough. We can see from the example of United States that how an envisioned confederacy eventually fell into a federalist state and then eventually today to an almost unitary state with an ever increasing power of the center. “…..the centralization of power in a unitary state can be a sig­nificant advantage in facing the problems of modern society. Clear lines of au­thority can be useful….the central government can marshal eco­nomic resources and coordinate planning and development; its broad taxation powers make the task of financing social welfare legislation much easier.”(Idris El-Radi)

Pakistan has experienced both transitions towards federalism and Unitarianism during its 66 year history. Dr.Wasim argues that there has been a forward march towards federalism during democratic periods and regression towards unitarianism and centralization during military rule. It was the desire to suppress demands of more provincial autonomy during one of these autocratic periods that led to the creation of Bangladesh and the country losing one of its half. “In 1966, the Awami League’s six points program again sought to radically redefine federalism…” (Dr.Wasim). It was the eventual collapse of a quantum agreement between the ruling elite of the west led by General Yahya and Z.A.Bhutto and Mujib-ur-Rehman in the east that led to a dissolving of the instable Pakistani federation of 1971.

It is further argued that during democratic rules there are advantages to the elected government for progression towards federalism that vanish during the reign of an autocratic regime. The former tends to be populist and consensus-based. The latter looks at federalism as a recipe for dilution of state authority. However, not surprisingly federal governments under both civilian and military set-ups showed a tendency to control the purse and policy at the cost of provinces. Federalism as a symbol of shared sovereignty remains somewhat elusive, even as Pakistan has gradually moved towards relative liberalization of the principles of coordination and cooperation among and between provinces and the Center. (Dr.Waseem)

In its true sense Pakistan was not even a federalist state. However, the 18th amendment has brought forward meaningful steps on the constitutional development towards federalism. At the same time there are several challenges before it. As far as the steps towards federalism are concerned, the first concrete step is seen in the Center- Province Relations. 18th amendment empowers the provinces. Concurrent legislative list is deleted by amending Article 142. These subjects are now solely in the domain of provinces. Appointment of the provincial governors has been retained by the center. Nonetheless, certain conditions are now attached to it.  The Governor must be enlisted in the voters list and also be a resident of the respective province. Also in a strong move with regards to where Pakistan is concerned, it is made incumbent on the federal government to consult provincial government before the construction of new hydro-power stations (a contentious issue and one that has far reaching effects to enhance provincial autonomy). In another latest development towards federalism, article 160 (NFC) has been made bound to allocate shares not less than the previous one to each federating units hence ensuring that even if an autocratic system takes hold it cannot done more equitable distribution done by the previous setups(Ayesha Siddiqi). Most importantly however, emergency cannot be imposed in any province without prior consent of the provincial assembly of that province.

The changes in this amendment have strengthened the federalist system after the extended dictatorial rule of General Musharaff. Abolition of the Article 58(2) b has regenerated the spirit of democracy and weakened the centralization that was gripped by the president due to the prevalence of that clause. Now sword of Damocles is removed from the Assembly and it has sufficient guarantee to work with its full potential with complete tenure to ensure a move towards a truer federalist system. The working days of the Senate (an institution representing federalism at its best) has also been increased from 70 to 100 and same has been done for the Provincial Assemblies. The power of the President is now bound with the consent of the representatives of the people at both provincial and national levels. Judiciary has also once again taken a significant place. Without a strong and effective judiciary a successful federation cannot be created and run smoothly (Sattar, 2012: pp. 74-87).

Most governments in the world are unitary. Great Britain is an illustration of the type. A single central organ – the Parliament- holds all the power of the British government. Local governments do exist but solely to relieve Parliament of burdens. The reason that so many governments conform to this form of government is to give their citizens uniform policies, laws, enforcement &administration throughout the country, less duplication of services and fewer conflicts between national and local government and finally to achieve greater unity and stability. Besides these the history of Pakistan and its hostile neighborhood are some of the other factors that necessitate that Pakistan keeps its tilt towards becoming a federalist state rather than a unitary one. Except for the Punjabis no other group sacrificed a regional identity to adopt a more Pakistani identity after independence (Siddiqi).

 

Neverhtheless, trying to install either of the Federal / Unitary system without ensuring specific conditions and ensuring certain factors would result in achieving no dividends. Lack of these “specific conditions” or “factors” means that corrupt politicians will come to power, an incompetent bureaucracy will focus on its vested interest, and poverty and illiteracy will drive people to vote emotionally to false rhetoric’s which will bring the same corrupt and influential people to power again and again. In addition, lack of proper legal oversight will not allow any accountability to take hold and absence of proper law enforcement systems will allow these politicians to coerce and blackmail the masses – all in the name of democracy, which unfortunately is never realized and this in turn ends up further destroying that country with every attempt. (Saad Amanullah)

Federalism in Pakistan has been a catchword since 1947. The principles of true federalism (even leaning towards a confederacy), which served as the corner stone for the creation of Pakistan in has always been given out as an olive branch to the nationalists since the independence of Pakistan. The role of the central government and federal agencies however has dominated the affairs of units during both constitutional governments and military regimes. The constitutional framework in the country since 1947 has placed the balance of power predominantly in favor of centre due to the strain of keeping diverse federating units together. The tight control of the centre over the legislative, economic and administrative powers has bred discontent among the smaller provinces of Pakistan. The rise of nationalism in the federating units generated the alarming atmosphere against the economic injustices and denial of provincial autonomy. This has caused hatred and ethnic polarisation between Punjab and rest of the three provinces. However Unitarianism is the only way forward for a country like Pakistan where different groups have such rich culture and the East Pakistan debacle is not too far back in history.  This argument will not be extended to cover the every single government at the global level, i.e.  Federal arrangements may be necessary and efficient for some countries (Watts). Our argument is specifically for Pakistan’s’ social and geographical arrangement. An arrangement that may be good and successful in USA or Sweden may not be economically, socially and politically beneficial for countries like Sri Lanka, India or Pakistan.

Federalism in Pakistan offers favor and power but at the same place it poses challenges for the provinces to show capability of shouldering the responsibility of the enhanced powers. It bounds leadership with task of keeping the integrity of the state along with the autonomy of the federating units. Instability in Pakistan is the result of discrepancy in the theory and practice of federal arrangements (Adeney, 2007: p. 116). Though the Pakistani federation fulfils minimum criteria of federalism but it operates more likely as a unitary system. It is commonly believed that if a federal system operates in practice it will be unable to accommodate minorities within the federating units’ and will result in demand for further fragmentation and delegation of power. These groups feel will more insecure and reactionary. So, I suggest that the inability and incapacity of the Pakistani federation to manage ethnic diversity due to the vagueness of its operational dimension in Pakistan and Unitarianism is the only way forward for a prosperous and stable Pakistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

1-Banerjee, Benoy, Irfaan Khan, and Rajeev Kumar. “Chapter 10.” Indian Constitution at Work: Textbook in Political Science for Class XI. New Delhi: Publ. Dep. by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, 2006. N. pag. Www.ncert.nic.in. Department of Education in Social Sciences. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

2-Kelemen, Daniel. “Sophie Meunier’s Web Page.” Sophie Meunier’s Web Page. University of Oxford, Sept. 2005. Web. 4 Dec. 2013.

3-Siddiqa, Ayesha. “Pakistan Military – Ethnic Balance in the Armed Forces and Problems of.” Strengthening Federalism in Pakistan (2010): n. pag. Forums of Federations/ Center for Civic Education in Pakistan. Web. 8 Dec. 2013

4-Radi, Idris El-, Prof. “UNITARY SYSTEMS.” Prof DR Idris El Radi. N.p., 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.

5-Wasim, Mohammad, Dr. Federalism in Pakistan. Forums of Federations, n.d. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

6.Sattar, Babar. (2012). 18th Constitutional Amendment & Need for Passage of the 19th Constitutional Amendment. In Nuri, Maqsud Hassan, Hanif, Muhammad and Khan, Muhammad Nawaz. (Eds.). Eighteen Amendment Revisited. Islamabad Policy Research Institute.

7.Adeney, Katharine. (2007). Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and

Pakistan. Palgrave.

8.         Watts, Ronald L. 1999. Comparing Federal Systems. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press

9.         Elazar, Daniel J. (ed). 1991. Federal Systems of the World: A Handbook of Federal, Confederal and Autonomy Arrangements. Detroit: Gale Research.

10.      Saad Amanullah Khan, Why Some Democracies Don’t Survive?

The Syrian Paradox

The Syrian establishment was quite similar to the Pakistani establishment in many ways. Be it a common enemy with a stronger force, the military roots or its secretive and secular nature. However the biggest mistake the Syrian establishment made was that it believed in God. Pakistani establishment realized early on that when you have so many diverging interpretations of One God in the same state, it is best to let go off that God. Therefore it tricked the public into believing that their ‘God’ not our ‘God’ would be looking after the country . Unknown to the masses is the fact that keeping the most annoying, dangerous, violent and hated bad boy together is a cult that has learnt to swarm in the dirty waters of global politics where god died ages ago and that is why Pakistan will never be Syria much less say Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. – Sun Tzu of Pakistan

I will focus on this article primarily with the Saudi involvement Syria. Syrian Civil war is indeed Muslim worlds’ most unfortunate conflict. It is a bloody reminder to us of the internal clashes between the Muslims since the time of Caliph Osman and Imam Ali. The modern days’ folly is that unfortunately it has taken on an even wider audience and practically all the major players in world politics are involved in the conflict now in one way or the other.

Let me begin by using Iqbal’s language as he famously questioned everyone who called himself a muslim and I do the same:

“Youn to tum syed bhi ho, mirza bhi ho, Afghan bhi, tum sabhi kuch ho, batao to musulman bhi ho”

“When it comes to showing of you are a Syed, a Mirza and even an Afghan, You are everything, tell me whether you are a Muslim as well”

The Muslims of Syria have engrossed themselves in the deadliest in terms of numerical deaths and most shameful in terms of crack lines shown, conflict ever to rock that region. At first it was a simple government versus the rebels insurgency. However now it has turned into a Shiite pitted against the Sunni all out war. Alawite Syria is Shiite Iran’s only and most reliable ally in the Arab world. Losing them would mount to complete isolation for Iran barring splinter militant groups like Hezbollah and Bahraini Mahanama Shia group. Iraq is still stuck on state building so it can not pick any side when it comes to the battle between the Saudi Kingdom and Iranian Clergy. Nevertheless, while the Iranian state has undoubtedly been more popular within the general Muslim public regardless of their sect, the Saudis have maneuvered their way into the good(rather great) books of such diverse states as Pakistani, Kuwaiti, Bahraini, Qatari, Jordanian, Emirati, Egyptian, American and European alike by using their monopoly over oil and guardianship of the two Holy Mosques (and also falsely the Arab identity). Their staunch opposition to Shiites (on the basis of which they thrive) has produced an extremely hostile environment in the Gulf. Their dream of turning the conflict into an Arab against the Shiite’s  is turning into a reality. A dark twisted reality for the liberal non denominational Muslims. Innocent Shiites are being killed in the streets of Bahrain, mountains of Pakistan, cities of Lebanon and the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Similarly, in a reaction Sunni Muslims are being targeted by Iran in their southwest province of Sistan and by Hezbollah in their strongholds in Lebanon and Syria. And who can forget the deadly Sunni-Shiite clashes in Iraq under American occupation. The bloodshed was so intense that some people even started praying for a second coming of Saddam Hussein in order to restore stability. Nevertheless, Americans themselves ended the war when it seemed like their establishments might come under attack. Ironically, they were the ones who started it by reinforcing the old Shiite-Sunni crack lines in the first instant.
Many on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide thrive solely on the pretext of this ideological warfare. One of these many is the Saudi government. A recent statement by them called for unilateral move against the Al-Assad regime even if not backed by the NATO and west. Can it be seen as a measure of desperation? They are in a paradox here. The only thing that Saudi regime is missing is a sane operator. They would go any measure to fulfill the aspirations of the ruling monarchy. This can be seen from Pakistan building the ‘Islamic’ bomb.  The brand of Islam that the Saudis are trying to propagate and advertise while sitting back in their royal palaces is something that any well versed Muslim should never let sail into this world. It is outdated, primitive, narrow minded and above all ‘unislamic’.  You cannot go on calling someone heretic on the basis that they disagree with the standing awarded to a  few religious figures that were not even prophets. The mantra raised by the dangerous duo of Saudi clergy-royalty is so poisoning that during a recent interview Jihadis from even Iraq and Afghanistan where a Christian occupation is sitting were more fervent on reaching Syria and fighting the ‘decisive’ battle against the ‘greatest evil’ in the world i.e. the Alawites than driving out foreigners from their lands.
Let me set a few things straight for the the audience. The Alawites are not Shiites’. Their ideological differences with the Shiites are on the level that Wahabis differ from mainstream Sunnis. Nevertheless, in the defense of Al-Assad regime , Syria under the Assads’ tried to refute and erase differences between not only the Alawites and twelvers but also between Alawites and Sunnis. The regime tried to concentrate on propagating the basic tenants of Islam that were common to all sects. Nevertheless due to their foundation lying on concentrating on tiny details and differences, this was not acceptable to the oil-drowned Wahhabis of Arabian peninsula. The Wahhabis thought that they had the prey in their claws back in 2011 when the movement against Al-Assad broke out.  According to their think tanks ( if such a thing exists) a quick-fix like that used against Gaddafi would be on the cards as the Syrian regime was another menace for NATO in the region. However when Russia, China and Iran woke to the American Middle Eastern dream, things got messy. Obama’s hand from the ‘war’ button was held by Putin and no matter how much money the Saudis and Qataris funneled to lobby to push that button, it was met with stiff resistance from the Siberian bear. Russia had had enough of being a benchwarmer in the Middle East. Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya had all gone the Yankees way. Syria was too valuable to let go. Therefore, the Saudis were in for a catch-22. The only other organized military they could rely on except the NATO and Americans were the Pakistanis. However, Pakistan for the first time wisely  decided to do the buck passing and enjoy from the sidelines as they consume their ‘Niharis’ and ‘Lassis’. Saudis then lashed out a statement that they would go in Syria even if that meant unilaterally. That is where the paradox lies. Saudis have never defended their territory much less conquer foreign territories successfully in the modern day. Moreover, the world is well aware of their ‘organization’ of armed groups. It can again be summed up in one word: failure. It would be a high risk game if they send in their regulars to help the guerillas in Syria. However, with the insurgency looking increasingly weak due to internal feuds and constant attacks by the Syrian army, it might one of the last options left to Saudia who have never awashed  so much money on a losing cause. Their petro dollar rooted out Soviets from Afghanistan, Serbians from Bosnia and Saddam from this world. Moreover, their royalty is one of the most stubborn establishments in the world when it comes to meeting global objectives. Therefore, Saudis have little choice but to send in forces if they are to live by their word and establish credibility in a world that is turning increasingly hostile to them and their nefarious designs. However, everybody even they themselves know it will be the biggest blunder they could ever commit. They might even come face to face with their sworn rivals: The Iranian revolutionary guard and no one in the Saudi ranks no matter whatever weapons they posses would like that sight or even like to think of that. The gulf has protected them for decades and I know that every Arab would like to keep that ‘Gulf’ distance.

The Shia-Sunni gulf on the other hand is volatile and occasionally widened by hardliners on both side. These fundamentalists on either side consider the other sect a bigger enemy of Islam than even  Israel or the West. The wounds are deep but heal able and reconcilable. It is a matter of ideological resolution that can be resolved by acknowledging and living by differences like the Protestants and Catholics have come to do so in Europe and States. This divide should not be staked with the Iranian-Saudi divide or we Muslim Ummah will never be able to move ahead and defend our shared ideological borders against the daily barrage of badmouthing from the West. It can be the end call of our civilization and our culture. We have to separate the political animosity of Iran and Arabs from the religious apathy of Shias and Sunnis if we are to ever resolve anything.

Check mate by Spurs levy

Check mate by Spurs levy

Predictions for English footballs’ big 6 and a note on El Classico

 

 

Its’ been quite a while since my last article came out so I would like to take this time out to apologize to all the fans who have been kept out of the picture. But ladies and gents, I am back and this time the research will focus on one of my longstanding childhood interest that is the European Club football. Let me just begin by saying that the biggest news for me this summer was not Bale arriving in Real Madrid, Ozil going to Arsenal , Neymar coming to Barcelona, Syria’s Chemical attacks, one direction’s Louis Tomlinson signing up for a football club (yes that s**t happened), or Pakistans’ mr.10% completing more than 1800 days as President of his country. The biggest news ladies and gentleman was the departure of Jose Mourinho from Real Madrid and his arrival back to Stamford Bridge. As a Real fan I must say I was utterly disappointed but this headline brings me to the ice-breaker of this article and that is that not Man U, not Man City, not Arsene Wenger (well that would have been a relief) but girls, Chelsea is going to win this years English Premier League title.

WHY CHELSEA:

When Jose Mourinho was asked after his side’s goalless draw with Manchester united as to whether he was still in hunt for the prolific Englishman Wayne rooney, the ‘happy/Special one’ blatantly replied ‘no’. He went on to elaborate that his side had enough depth with 2 good players at every position and 3 top notch strikers as well as an extra midfielder. Mourinho was right. The team now also has Eto’o. Come on how many of us have not grown up drawing constant comparisons of the Cameroonian to the legend Didier Drogba. Alongside Eto’o they have a world class striker back in form. Yes, football fanatics Fernando Torres has shagged away his troll tag with crucial goals for both country and club even netting one against  the mighty Bavarians. And getting to that Chelsea really did give Bayern a run for their money despite not having signed Wiliian and Eto’o at that point. A fellow blogger who happens to be an Arsenal fan admitted after that game that Chelsea are undoubted favorites to win the league. Just going by their midfield where they have the likes of Ramires, Lampard , J.O.Mikel and the ever dependable Micheal Essien in the holding role and Oscar , De Bryune , Schurrle providing the attack options flanked by the likes of either Mata or Willian is a terrifying prospect for any opponent. In defense they have the strongmen David Luiz and Gary Cahill with the experienced Englishmen duo of John terry and Ashley Cole assisting them and of course who can forget the unmatchable Serbian, Branislav Ivanovic. I expect Chelsea to amass around 90 (+-5) points this seasons under the guidance of Mourinho and go strong (likely unbeaten) at home. They might also win the Carling Cup as Mourinho would be eager to grab the first trophy that comes his way to impress his unstable Roman. However, I don’t expect them to deliver a top performance in Champions league as that has always been Mourinho’s Chelseas’ nemesis. Moreover the level of game played at Champions league is by far superior to the one played in English football( I know some of you will be crying foul here but whatever). F.A cup will also be hard to come by to the west Londoners as other big 6 clubs seeing their Premier league title chances diminishing will focus on the domestic cup in order to attain a silverware. Nonetheless in league, I expect a top performance from Chelsea’s striking power particularly Torres and Eto’o. Hazard and Lampard are going to be the key in the midfield whereas Luiz , Ivanovic and Ashley Cole would be crucial in Defense. I expect Cech to be once again be phenomenal between the posts. ( Disclaimer: I did see the Blues loss to Everton on Saturday and let me say that has in no way whatsoever altered my prediction.)

Challengers:

The  only real challenge to Chelsea’s title glory this season might come from Manchester City and I say might because this team has many flaws which cannot be overlooked as they don’t have a special one at their helm. Although they have one of the best modern day striker in the form of Aguero. Nonetheless, their defenses are heavily compromised. Barring Yaya Toure and Kompany I don’t think they have the quality to stop the onslaught of goal hungry-top class Premier league attackers. City’s attack however is the one that might keep them in the hunt for the league title all season long. They have wingers such as David Silva , Samir Nasri,James Milner and the the new signing Jesus Navas. Each of these players have the quality to turn the game on its head with one good run. In the box they can reach out to players like Jovetic, Negredo and Dzeko. Although I will insert a personal bias here by saying that Roberto Manchini was a far superior manager to Manuel Pellegerini, I still think Pellegerini has it in him to at least take the 2nd position if not the pole spot. Nonetheless seeing Citys’ transformation over the last 5-6 years has been a phenomena in itself and is worth appreciating the fact that they are strong title challenger every season now. Just like Chelsea I expect them to make a strong run in the Capital one cup as the new manager will be looking to impress his bosses by trying to get his hand on the first trophy available. Therefore it wouldn’t come as a surprise if we see a Chelsea – City final in the Capital one cup. They are sure to knockout any of the teams even the Big 6 if they come in their way to the title match. However, I think City will have run out of steam by the time F.A cup arrives and might be knocked out early there. I predict City to also produce a weak show in the champions league like the last two seasons. If, however, they end up in the Champions cup like Chelsea last year, I think they will produce a similar display to lift that title. A player to watch out for in the team is the new 30 million pound signing, Fernandinho. Also clichy’s and lescott roll in the defense will be crucial to city’s title chances. Joe hart will also be one to watch out for if City are to land their hands on any silverware this season.

The fight for Champions league spots:

We all knew this question would come up. However, it becomes easier as we have already separated City and Chelsea from the rest of the big 6 pack. I would like to begin this part by saying that I am 99.99% sure that Arsenal will finish 3rd( yes just 3rd) this season. Arsenal are good enough after the mind-blowing signing of Mesut Ozil to be regarded as a top 3 club in English football but again just top 3. The only place Arsenal look weak are in the defensive midfield zone. Other than that Arsenal seem to have all bases covered. Giround, Podolski and Bendntner upfront give Wenger diverse attacking options. When it comes to playmaking /run-making Arsenal might just be unmatched with the likes of Cazorola, Ozil, Ox-Chamberlain, Walcott and of Wilshere sitting in the midfield region. Defense is guarded by Kosciency, Mertesacker and Vermaelen. I must say it not an easy line to get past. But Arsenal’s weakness lies in the fact that it isn’t a superstar team like opponents City and Chelsea. Rosicky ,Flamini and Sagna are worn out, Ramsey (unlike this Season) has not proven to be a multi million pound talent in the preceding seasons and Monreal, Gibbs and Jenkinson are still learning. However, with the current bunch I believe that alongside a third position finish(73 +- 3 Points), Arsenal will have a respectable Capital One Cup finish, will reach the quarter finals of the Champions league and a semi-finalist or runner up position in the F.A cup. Now, everybody strap on tight and do not do a balotelli-esque shirt off celebration if you teams’ name comes up as the 4th position finishers of the Premier league. Let me just make matters easier by saying that like Arsenal’s third spot is confirmed, so is Tottenham’s fifth spot. And therefore the fourth spot goes to ‘I don’t Know’. Yes, I really don’t know. One of Liverpool and Man U is going to finish 4th and the other 6th but I don’t know which one is going to finish where. Its like Quantum Mechanics when you find out who is going to finish 4th you’ll find out who is going to finish 6th.  But lets deal with what we have.Man U haven’t had a Liverpool style start to the season nor have they had a transfer window like that of Brendan Rodgers. Moreover, Fergie is gone and Moyes has already become a repulsive figure at Old Trafford. However barring the departure of some fringe players and Paul Scholes, Manchester United have almost kept the same team as they had last season. Fellaini is in though but he has yet to make an impact. Nevertheless, this means that the team that won the premier league last season with a margin of 11 points is still intact and if they fall from that position to not even qualifying for the Champions league than it would just be a complete shame for the Red Devils. Liverpool on the other hand finished last season 28 points behind Man U in 7th position. Thus, even talking about them giving Man U such tough competition this season might come as a disturbing thought to some red devils loyalists. However, Liverpool have proven their worth over the last three months with great signings and a string of victories. Simon Mignolet is one of the main reasons Liverpool can eye the coveted fourth spot with such confidence. Sturridge is another and of course hanging on to Suarez was a master move on part of the Liverpool manager. The Uruguayan vampire combined with Gerrard, Lucas, Coutinho and Henderson provide the backbone of Liverpools’ attacking pursuits this season. The Reds also have a solid defense with the new induction of duo Sakho and Toure. Agger, Skrtel , Enrique , Johnson and Kelly will forment the new signings with their experience at the Anfield back line for the last season. Therefore, Liverpool are firmly entrenched to enter the top 4 of Barclays Premier league this season after a gap of 5 years. However, I am not willing to write off Man U so easily particularly with the two R’s up front looking to once again rip apart opponents defenses and Ferdinand led defense looking as strong as ever. ( on a side note Moyes please give Kagawa a chance, he deserves better LOLJk). For hotspurs all I have to say is that being a budding ground for Real Madrids future talents is a commendable job. However, if you guys can hold onto your illustrious signings of this season I expect you to go a long way. But just not this season. They might finish around 63(+-3 points) and I don’t expect them to be strong contenders for any of the domestic cup. However, they can make a good run in Champions Cup football as their new signings are well acquainted with European football and so is their manager AVB. Coming back quickly to Man U , I would like to say whatever happens in the Premier league or Capital one cup I have at least two good predictions for this squad. Firstly, I expect them to be the English team to advance furthest in the Champions league( of course that means at most a semi-final berth but not any further) and secondly they are favorites to win the last match of English Top flight football i.e. F.A cup finale. This is on the back of the knowledge that Moyes would dearly want to hold onto his position and thus he will go full throttle to bring in at least some silverware this season to Old Trafford. Moreover, he will also try to impress in his inaugural Champions league season. On the contrary I expect Liverpool to not make any significant splash in cup competitions as if they can concentrate on just holding onto a respectable position in the Premier League that will be considered a good enough job done for Rodgers.

El Classico:

Well well well the most awaited confirmed fixture of this year will undoubtedly be Real Madrid vs Barcelona or must I say another show down between Lionel Messi and co and Ronaldo’s gang. The interesting thing about this match(es) is that both the teams have experienced managerial changes over the summer. Other than that we are well aware of each teams exploits in the transfer window. Therefore, due to these exploits we are left to relish one of the most highly anticipated El classico since Ronaldhino single handedly demolished the galacticos back in 2005. The matches in la liga are scheduled to take place on the 26th of October and 22nd March in Nou Camp and Bernaebau respectively. Well I say that I expect the Catalonians attack to demolish Real Madrid at Nou Camp. Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi and Neymar along with Pedro will be quite hard for the Madrid defense to subdue and I am saying this as a Madrid fan. Therefore with complete mastery in the midfield for Barcelona also due to the departure of Ozil and Kaka, I expect the first fixtures score line to be 4-2 in Barca’s favour with Bale, Isco, Ronaldo and Ramos being the only standout performers for Real. I also expect it to be a closely watched diving contest between Neymar, Ronaldo and Busquets. All three excel in this field and with the likes of strongmen Bale, Pique, Marcelo, Alonso and Adriano expected to share the ground it will give these three a run for their talent. Nevertheless switching over quickly to the 2nd leg. I will just summarize my prediction in a score line and that score line is 3-0 in Real’s favor. Yes, I expect my favorite club to pick up tempo and gel as a team late in the season after heavy shuffling in the summer transfer window. I also expect Luis Suarez to have arrived at Bernabaeu by then. Lastly I would say that I am also expecting these two teams to encounter each other in the champions league final and the prediction for that I will leave it up to you as I don’t want to inject any further biases.