Power Sector and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)

Current Power Status of India

installed_power_capacity-INDIA_2014 -1Energy demand in India is fuelled by rapidly growing economy and the rising population of urban India which consumes much more electricity than the rural folks. Rightly or wrongly current policies are encouraging urbanization, therefore rapid growth in the power sector is a must.

The power sector in India had an installed capacity of 258.7 GW at the end of Jan 2015. In 2013, India became the world’s third largest producer of electricity with 4.8% global share in electricity generation surpassing Japan and Russia. In March 2013, the per capita electricity consumption was 917 kWh as per official figures; so it is speculated to be about 950 kWh in Feb 2015, which is only about a quarter of the world average. Transmission and Distribution losses in India are also quite high – about 26% in distribution and more than 7% in transmission.

According to the Load Generation Balance Report 2014 – 15 from the Ministry of Power the country is expected to experience a peak power shortage of 2.0%(demand 147.82 GW, supply 144.79 GW) and energy shortage of 5.1% (demand 1048.67 G units, supply 995.18 G units. The worst sufferers are the Southern (energy shortage 12.7% and peak deficit 22.2%) and North-Eastern Regions (energy deficit 17.4% and peak shortage 12.9%).

Thanks to fast-paced industrialization of the economy in recent years, India can now easily boast to be the third largest global polluter after the US and China! (The more you “develop”, the more you pollute!!)

Future Plans

India’s plans are not limited to building just renewable plants, it also want to have 63 GW of nuclear power capacity by 2032 – an almost 14-fold increase on current levels. It currently has 22 nuclear reactors and plans to build 40 more in next two decades. India had 115 GW of coal-fired capacity on May 31, 2012 and an additional 87 GW is under construction. Thus, coal will continue to play a crucial role towards the proposed energy sufficiency but the focus will shift to the renewables.

RE producer can either enter preferential tariff agreement or opt for the REC route
RE producer can either enter preferential tariff agreement or opt for the REC route

Thrust on Renewable Energy

In India, “Renewable energy (RE) sources” mean small hydro (below 25 MW), wind, solar including its integration with combined cycle, biomass, bio fuel co-generation, urban or municipal waste and other such sources as recognized (or approved) by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Driven by climatic concerns and energy security, the Indian government has launched an ambitious plan to harness the renewable energy resources of the country. The National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) sets a target for the share of renewable energy based power generation from the current 4% to 15% by 2020. Then, in 2014 the new Indian government of Modi launched a much more ambitious plan and launched a $160 plan which includes creating 100 GW solar and 55 GW wind capacities by 2022 apart from saving 20 GW power through energy efficient means.

It is committed to provide “Power for All” by 2019 at a cost of $250 billion. While official claim that electricity has reached around 96% of all villages in India, it does not mean that all homes there get electricity. Thus, according to the 2011 census only 55% of rural homes use electricity as the primary source of lighting and around 300 million people have no access to grid power. By comparison, electricity has reached 99.7% homes in China – almost universal coverage.

Currently, India has just 33 GW of clean energy capacity – with 22 GW from wind, about 3 GW from solar energy and the remaining from small hydro and biomass projects. In comparison, China’s installed PV capacity increased from 0.8GW in 2010 to 18.6GW in 2013; now it is aiming for 70 GW by 2018.

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BALUCHISTAN – Another “Bangladesh” in the making?- Part 2

Goodpal:

Will the human rights champion speak for creation of sovereign Balochistan? Or they only make noises that suit the Western interests?

Originally posted on Living in Pakistan:

By markulyseas

No Pakistani will forget the humiliation of the 1971 war with India and the Independence of East Pakistan which then became Bangladesh. However, there are few Pakistanis who will admit to the genocide committed by their Army under the direct command of General Yahya Khan. It is surprising that none of these mass murderers were ever brought to trial in an international court of justice. Even now if a Pakistani is confronted with this unseemly past they are quick to shrug it off as propaganda.

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Killed by Militry by Pakistani Dictator General Musharaff Orders

Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, killed under orders from General Musharraf

Baluchistan is heading down the same path for the very same reasons that East Bengal became independent.

Denial of rights and privileges of the common people
The looting of natural resources with no corresponding development in infrastructure.
Little or…

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BALUCHISTAN – Occupied by Pakistan since 1948 – Part 1

Goodpal:

Pakistan invaded Kashmir in 1947 but failed. It invaded Balochistan on April 1, 1948 and is still occupying it. Where is the International community that makes noise on Kashmir?

Originally posted on Living in Pakistan:

By markulyseas

Not many people know that Baluchistan was not a part of Pakistan in 1947; And that it was invaded in 1948 by Pakistan who is occupying it ever since without any international protests. Pakistan has continued to commit genocide and loot the natural resources of this mineral rich State.

Here is a brief outline of the history of Baluchistan. The picture below is the front page of The New York Times, August 15, 1947. It clearly shows Baluchistan as an independent country!

Baluchistan Status in 1947, According to New York Times

The strategic importance of Balochistan has had, and still has, a positive and negative effect on Baluch nationalism. Because of its strategic location in the Perso-Oman Gulf, with 700 miles long seacoast, the area has been important to the trade of the West since the rise of the imperialism. Its strategic importance provides an opportunity to the…

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Why Pakistan is So Wrong on Kashmir

Pakistan’s love for Kashmir is pure Islamic – in the “exclusionary” sense as people know Islam today. This is the source of all problems Pakistan has been creating in Kashmir. Since 1947, Pakistan has failed to understand that Kashmir’s identity is not Islam, and certainly not any form of the backward looking Islamic fundamentalism that wants to go back to the 7th century world.

So, what makes Kashmiris, Kashmiri? What distinguishes them from societies? Around 60% Kashmiris do call themselves Muslims, but even for them being Kashmiri is at least as important as being Muslim. They don’t consider the rest of the 40% non-Muslims as aliens or enemies. Their contribution to Kashmir’s unique culture is not less than those of the Muslims. Kashmiri identity is made up of many things, apart from elements of “spiritual” Islam. To make the point clear, let’s give a simile.

The majority of French or Dutch people follow Christianity, but it would be wrong to say that Christianity is what makes them French or Dutch. If we followed this logic, all European countries would have exactly one and the same identity – Christianity. But we know, it’s wrong and deceptive to say so because being Christian is just a part of their identity. Exactly in the same way, there is much more to Kashmiri identity than Islam – which has so many interpretations.

Kashmiris identify themselves with the Sufi-Rishi culture that evolved in the Valley in last 600 years. It is absolutely different from the hate-all culture that Pakistan promotes as Islam. It unites Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists in Kashmir. It teaches people to love each other – something unthinkable from the Islamic extremists trained by Pakistan.

What is the Sufi-Rishi Culture of Kashmir

Sufi-Rishi Culture of Kashmir

Sufi-Rishi Culture of Kashmir

It is a beautiful amalgamation of the “spiritual” Sufi Islam and the universal “Dharma” of Hindus. It is a well known fact that Sufis have been historically persecuted by traditional Muslim clergy who considered them non-Muslims. Thus, in 14 century they started arriving from Central Asia looking for safe refuge. Since Sufis believe in practicing the “essence” of Prophet’s teachings, they found an ideal environment in Kashmir which, being in Himalayas, has been an ancient abode of spiritual seekers – Hindu Sanyasis, ascetics, monks and Rishis of different traditions.

Since Sufis practiced “pure” spirituality which is the “essence” of the prophet’s teachings, it couldn’t be different from the India’s “Dharma” – the universal laws of ethics and morality – lived and taught by countless Rishis and sages since ages. Their deep commitment to the Islamic philosophy of Divine Unity (wahdat-ul-wajud) mirrored the Hindu philosophy of non duality (Advaita). Thus, even if they used Arabic phrases their message of love, peace and ‘oneness of humanity’ easily transcended the divides of languages, faiths, beliefs and religions.

A noted scholar has described the Sufi-Rishi culture in this peculiar way: “a Kashmiri expression of Islam” and an “Islamic expression of the Kashmiri rishi tradition.”  It is only in Kashmir where Muslims have Hindu surnames such as ‘pandit’ and ‘bhat’.

What distinguished the Sufis from other Islamic preachers was their absolute focus on the “spiritual essence” of Islam. They did not preach mere words of Islam to establish its supremacy or dominate people, but their compassionate conduct attracted all people. Keeping away from all worldly pleasures, they also devoted a lot of time in prayers or meditation, like ancient saints of the soil. Their extremely simple, humble and compassionate demeanours always reminded people of the ancient rishis.

Thus, Islamic Sufis became Rishis in Kashmir! And what evolved over centuries is what Kashmiris proudly call their Sufi-Rishi culture. They also love to call Kashmir – the garden of Pirs, saints and sages.

Early Sufi and Rishi

Sayyed Sharfuddin Abdur Rahman from Turkistan, who arrived in the thirteenth century, was the earliest known Sufi in Kashmir. He later became popular as Bulbul Shah. The next popular Sufi immigrant was the 14th century Iranian Sufi saint, Mir Sayyed Ali Hamdani who arrived with many disciples. They spread the principles of the Kubrawi Sufi order in the region.

The non-discriminatory flavour of Sufism grew into a powerful social movement. What evolved after encounter of Sufi wonderers with local traditions was the Muslim Rishi movement, the only indigenous Sufi order in Kashmir. It was an all assimilating philosophy through its core belief in universal values of love, peace and harmony, and the common fraternal bond permeating the whole humanity. It appealed people because they cherished such beliefs deep within.

Sheikh Nur ud-Din Noorani (1377-1440), more popular as Nund Rishi, is often seen as the pioneer of the Sufi Rishi tradition in Kashmir. People saw him as an ‘enlightened’ saint for whom Islam was a universal message of love, tolerance and service, and at the same time a crusaded against social injustice and useless rituals. Serving humanity was a cornerstone of this tradition and helping the poor and suffering people was seen superior to rituals of worshipping God.

It is only in Kashmir that sufi Islam dominated the society, thanks to the ancient dharma based culture of the land. Sufis and Rishis could even reprimand traditional Islamic preachers as well as ritualistic Brahmin class. People of all faiths and beliefs still visit their shrines with highest devotion.

Rishi Culuture under Jehadi Attack

It is a shame that Pak trained Islamic fanatics started targeting all these symbols of unity and divinity since 1989. These Jehadi hate killers did not spare even the Sufi shrines in Pakistan. They even attacked the Data Darbar in Lahore and the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the patron saint of Karachi.

Of course, of late Pakistan has started claiming to be the biggest victim of Islamic extremism. It certainly is a helpless state and perhaps loves permanent victimhood and decay.

You may also like to read:  Destroying Kashmiri Culture – The Pakistan Way

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What Makes Pakistan, Pakistan!

In 1947, Pakistan was born in the name of love for Islam, and then it fell in love with radical Islam. Only God, sorry Allah, can tell why and how it so easily turned into the worst India hater. Since 1980s it started infecting South Asia with fundamentalists and extremists produced in its terror factories. After the 9/11 terror attack in 2001 it started fighting against its own products alongside the US forces. Lately it started complaining to be the biggest victim of terror! Now luminaries in its Supreme Court are wondering if in the Constitution word “Islam” may be replaced with word “Secular” ! A great comedy show of side-effects of addiction to religion !!

Pakistan has earned a unique place in the world in the 6 decades of its existence. Born as a result of love for Islam, it has gone through several transformations – but, all in the wrong direction. Over all it is a misguided and confused nation, still searching for a sensible national goal other than hating India as well as an identity other than Islam. But, for all it did or didn’t do in past half century, the chances are good that it will remain a troublemaker in the sub-continent, at least for another half century. Like paranoid and isolated North Korea, Pakistan is the only other nation that threatens its foe (India) with nuclear attack.

pak islamic separatist groupsDichotomy is built so deeply in Pakistan’s psyche that experts are amazed. It started with something of a democracy, but always fell for military dictatorships; Islam should have kept united the country better than India’s Fevicol, but broke into two pieces in 1971; its population is less than the largest Indian province – Uttar Pradesh, but it always considered itself in competition with India; in the 1980s it discarded its own milder version of Islam in favour of radical Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia that came with petro dollars and trained maulwis; its terror camps kept producing extremists while its military was fighting the “war on terror” alongside Americans; it still sends its terror products across Indian borders and also claims to be the biggest victim of terror; now when all its institutions are badly infected with radicals its Supreme Court wonders if in the Constitution word “Islam” can be replaced with “Secular” !

Pakistan  Becoming  Wahhabistan!

pak and democracyIn the 1980s, Pak military dictator Jia ul Haq decided to fulfil its historic dream (that also partitioned British India) of becoming a “True” Islamic State; nothing wrong with that idea, but his idea of “True” was Islamic fundamentalism, not Islamic spirituality. Instead of choosing some humane and home grown version of Islam like Sufism – that over centuries has produced numerous wonderful saints of Islamic flavor (called Pirs and Fakirs) who always preached peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths and beliefs – Jia chose Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia that is a “literal” philosophy without tolerance. Certainly, it was the best way to get close to the rich “Muslim brothers” of Gulf Islamic State and their petro-dollars.

While it infected the Pakistan establishment – particularly its military and secret service – with fundamentalists and radical elements and served his immediate purpose, it also caused long term harm in an important way. It paved the way for further weakening Pakistani democracy; with so many radical clergymen telling people to behave like Arab people of the 7th or 8th century. Children who grow up learning lessons of radicalism and hating non-believers, in the Gulf funded madarasas, can’t be expected to behave like people of modern age democracies. They are only good as human resource for Jehadi factories.

Becoming the Global Jehad Factory!

Pak demographyEvents of past two decades clearly show that Pakistan successfully established itself as a global Jehad factory, when its best friend China became the global production house and best enemy India earned fame as global IT service center.

In the 1980s, Pakistan set up training centers to produce Islamic Jehadi fighters to fight the Russian occupiers in the Afghanistan. For the US, Pakistan became an extremely important country to be protected from any further communist advance. Money flew in not just from the US to protect its ‘vital ally”, but also from the Gulf to protect their “Islamic Brother” Pakistan from falling into “red” hands. Thus, groups like Al Qaeda and Talibans were born – trained in Pakistani training camps and armed with American weapons – with the sole idea of “bleeding the communists to death” and turning Afghanistan into Russians’ Vietnam.

Pakistan was basking in glory in 1989 when the Soviets decided to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan. More importantly it was a victory of its Islamic Jehadis; like Islam defeating communism. One enemy down, now it was time to address the archrival India. Hence, Pakistan started diverting the Jeahdis to Kashmir to create trouble, as part of its “bleed India” doctrine. This philosophy was born after the humiliating break up of Pakistan in 1971 and surrender of 93,000 Pak troops. True to its Islamic credentials, everything in Pakistan happens due to hate.

Thus, the infiltrated Jehadis “bled” India for almost the whole decade of 1990s. They first targeted Hindus; several lakh Kashmiri Hindus took refuge in different parts of the country. Then reflecting their “pure” Islamic identity they started attacking the Sufi shrines. Why? Because Sufi tradition of Islam sees humanity as one and has no problem with people who think differently. They don’t kill people and shout hysterically “God is Great”. They promote love and Goodwill for all. Such things are un-Islamic as they have been taught in the training camps. In fact, they were trained and brainwashed so well that they did not spare the Sufi shrines even in Pakistan !

In the meanwhile, after squabbling with different Jehadi groups, the Taliban grabbed power in Afghanistan and showed their understanding of Islam by destroying ancient Buddhist monuments and placed numerous restrictions against women and girls. They turned themselves into copycats of Wahhabi Bedouin tribal leaders of the past centuries and expected people to behave in the same way. Being “”literalists” their understanding of Islam remains limited to dictionary interpretation of Quran without context. Hence, they love to hate everything not written in the Holy Book!

They have been taught to see modern democracy as a disease spread by a virus that originated in the West. Even Islam has only one interpretation – their own, to which all must submit. In other words, “Only what I like is Islamic; the rest is un-Islamic.”

Reality Check – 9/11 Attack

The 9/11 attack in New York was a game changer. It jolted the Americans out of their smugness and illusion of invincibility. They could never imagine that Islamic extremism would one day reach their shore also and hit right in the heart. So far, they were not bothered about what the trained and armed Jehadis were doing in Pakistan or Afghanistan. They overlooked the power of hate and its use in the Jehadi factories to produce the most motivated and deadly human bombs. The likes of Osama Bin Laden remind humanity of the dangers of using religious fanaticism as political tool.

Pakistanis woke up from the fascinating dream scenario Jehadis have been enacting in the Kashmir Valley. It must have been an immense pleasure to indulge in “hurt India” campaign, and particularly after losing East Pakistan in 1971. It was now the time to be accountable. It soon became clear that Pakistan was the center of conspiracy for the American tragedy. This was a game changer. Soon the Americans invaded Afghanistan and threw out the Talibani rulers. Search for Osama and his clones further pushed them closer to the Pakistan establishment. As more and more terror attacks were traced to Pakistan, it earned fame as the terrorists’ hub of the world.

The frequent Drone attacks to hunt down suspected terrorists on the Pakistani soil not just badly compromised Pakistan’s sovereignty, they also allowed the Jehadi elements to turn public opinion against the Americans. The Pak establishment suddenly found itself in a peculiar situation: On the one side, the Americans were pressing it to attack the terror groups but if it cooperated the fundamentalists turned the public against it.

Angered by government’s cooperation with the US, various Jehadi factions started “bleeding” Pakistan through endless terror attacks throughout the country. They targeted everything: Schools, markets, shopping Malls, foreigners, police and military, and did not spare even the Mosques. The killing of Osama in 2011 on Pakistani soil by American commandos without involving Pakistani exposed its double game yet again before the international community.

World Worries more about Pak Nukes, than Pakistan !

Since its defence setup is badly infected with radical elements, world leaders are more worried about Pakistan’s nuclear arms falling in the hands of terror groups, than Pakistan. It is a serious global problem for the future because its main power centers, military and secret service, are already highly contaminated with fundamentalists. As its Gulf funded Madarasas keep brainwashing children and keep motivating them in the art of Jehadi hatred, its society will continue to radicalize still further.

It should be worrying India more than others. The 26 November 2008 Mumbai attack is an example of what the India-hater Islamists could try to do, led by the clones of Hafiz Sayeed and Lakhvi. In the meantime, rise of an Islamic State in the Gulf in 2014 – with the aim of creating a global Islamic Caliphate – is another disturbing development. An Islamic State of Pakistan in South Asia is the least desirable thing to happen in this part of the world. The most recent news is that the Pakistan Taliban has successfully tested a missile launch. The day is not far when they will graduate to more sophisticated technologies, thanks to their sympathisers in the Pak defence establishment.

There have been news reports that Pakistan plans to build 200 smaller nuclear devices. Sane people really wonder: what for?

Can Pak Ever Change Its Course?

Pak hurt othersHighly unlikely.

The December 2014 school terror attack in Peshawar which killed over 140 children of army personnel was widely expected to force Pakistan to re-evaluate its love for terror outfits. But nothing much changed and nothing will change, at least not for the better.

If some judges in its Supreme Court are toying with the most unlikely idea of changing the Constitution to have a “Secular” nation, it will not change anything on the ground. They are actually raising the wider issue of separation of faith and politics, as for example Bangladesh did over 4 decades ago. I am often amazed when I see Muslims trying to interpret everything in terms of their religion – of course, out of context. That keeps them stuck in the past, in the world of 1400 years ago. This is a weird habit, at least to me.

I really wonder why no one talks of changing their own understanding of “Islam” so that it is not used for justifying hate and violence. If prophet’s words can inspire Sufi Muslims to love humanity, why others can’t learn that art? They can’t do so because they have never learned to search for the “essence” of Islam – which is spirituality. The numerous dargahs and majaars of Sufi saints, which attract people of all faiths, point to the solution of Pakistan’s Islamic quest.

But the real question is: What could possibly motivate Pakistan to do that?

Explore Further

The Best Way to Handle Pakistan!
Please Explain Pakistan to Me!

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Destroying Kashmiri Culture – The Pakistan Way

The peaceful Sufi culture of Kashmir has been under assault since 1989 by ultra-radical Wahhabi fundamentalists trained and supported by Pakistan. Pak wants Kashmiri Muslims to follow radical Islam so that it can Islamisize the Kashmir issue.

If Pakistan was created in the name of Islam, the faith could not keep the country intact beyond 1971 when it broke into two pieces. It was also a failure of its democracy because a recently held general election gave majority to East Pakistan based Awami League, but the leadership of the politically dominating West Pakistan did not honor people’s verdict. Democracy – which allows people of differing opinions to coexist in peace – always has hard time when people want a monolithic cult imposed by force. So it is not surprising that Pakistan repeatedly fell for military rule since its communal birth. Anyway, unrest spread throughout East Pakistan and the Pak army was deployed to crush the movement; it led to a full-fledged civil war. Indian intervention to stop refugee influx led to surrender of 93,000 Pak troops and East Pakistan became “Bangladesh.”

Pakistan turning Wahhabistan!

brick4sIn the 1980s, Pak Dictator Zia ul Haq decided to change the “color” of Islam. Lured by the charm of petro-dollars and to get into the fold of Gulf Islamic powers, he fell for the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. Wahhab was a 18th century philosopher and contemporary of the first Saudi monarch, Ibn Saud. His philosophy is also labelled “Literalist Islam” – for its literal and context-less interpretation of Islam. It is utterly authoritarian; any dissent can be called un-Islamic and dissenters doomed as an apostate, disbeliever or idolater. They are like: ONLY what I say or do is Islamic; you must agree with me to survive. Thus, along with non-Muslims it also considers Shias and Sufis worthy of decimation in the name of Jehad.

Saudi Arabia poured millions of dollars into Pakistani madrasas where this “hate all” philosophy was drilled into young tender minds, partly as its global plan to check its arch rival Shia Iran. These madarasas prepared “right human resource” for its Jehadi factories – the al Qaeda and the Taliban are two well known early Wahhabi products.

The first application of this Islamic extremism was demonstrated in Afghanistan against the Soviet army that came in 1979. Actively aided and funded by the Americans, Pakistan set up training camps to produce Jehadi fighters against the communist occupiers. After realizing that Afghanistan might turn into their “Vietnam” the Russians withdrew in early 1989 – and Jehadis won.

It was a novel US-Pak joint experiment of cold war to use religious fanaticism against the opponent in an organized fashion. And it worked! But once the Russians were gone, the Jehadi fighters became jobless. It gave Pakistan an idea: why not divert them into Kashmir and turn the Kashmiri into a Hindu-Muslim conflict – kind of Muslims wanting Azaadi from Hindu dominance. It is precisely the way Pakistan was born. And since 1947, Pak love for Kashmir has been only “Islamic”; it is blind to 40% non-Muslims in J&K and the distinct Kashmiri identity of people of Kashmir. That’s why Kashmiris never trusted Pakistan. Even in 1947, they fought along with Indian troops to drive away Pak invaders.

Islamization of Kashmir Issue

After noting that the local groups like Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have their own independent agenda and don’t subscribe to Pakistani game plan, it decided to marginalize them and propped up the Hizbul Mujahideen, the armed wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami in early 1990s. Pakistan did not want Kashmiris to set their own political agenda. It wanted to Islamisize and globalize the issue and then unleash a proxy war against India using the jobless Afghan Jehadis as puppets.

Pakistan is also the chief patron of many other Kashmir centric militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizbul Muzahideen (HM), Harket-ul-Jehadi Islami (HUJI), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Al-Bader and so on apart from the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Pakistan Distaste for Kashmiri Culture

Sufism promotes peace and harmonyBut infiltrated foreigners alone wouldn’t succeed without local support and it was a problem because Kashmiris. Including Kashmiri Muslims think differently. They subscribe to their own local culture that defines their Kashmir identity – their Kashmiriyat. Their peaceful culture evolved in Kashmir over centuries, shaped largely by the Sufi Islamic saints who started arriving in the 14th century – many of them came to avoid persecution in their own “Muslim” societies.

Sufis are, in fact, the true torch bearers of “spiritual” Islam – they had absorbed the “essence” of Prophet’s teachings in their conduct to lead a life of simplicity, purity and piety. [Of course, you need any label to practice personal growth and spirituality.] But that also made them suspect for those using Prophet’s teachings as mere “Political” tool for power and dominance. They saw the Sufis as threats and frequently labelled them as non-Muslims and harrassed.

But the Himalayan Kashmir – an ancient abode of ascetics, monks, Rishis and Munis – offered them a conducive environment to thrive. Of course, Sufi saints could travel safely in the whole Bharat of that time – people respected them naturally for their simple unassuming lifestyle and profound spiritual knowledge. Like ancient indigenous philosophies, Sufis also preached unity of human race disregarding social and religious divides.

Thus, for centuries Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir lived in peace practicing their distinct religious ideologies for personal growth and sought solace at Sufi shrines. For hundreds of years, both Hindus and Muslims have been seeking solace at numerous shrines, not just in Kashmir but across whole India and Pakistan. In fact, Sufi saints have graced the whole sub continent. The Mughal emperors also saw them as benefactors of humanity, and never a threat for people or society.

Sufi saints undertake years of disciplined efforts to absorb the “essence” of Islam and only then they tell others what to do in simple language. Their only agenda is spiritual growth of all people in an atmosphere of love, peace and harmony. In stark contrast, the stereotype Islamic “preachers” use their eloquence and merely quote Quran to impress people only to “convert” them. Their tools are coercion and threat. And for radicals, like the Wahhabis, anyone in disagreement with their views is a potential threat – which must be forced to comply or eliminated. Clearly, they couldn’t tolerate Sufis or their messages of love and harmony.

Thus, Pakistan needed to destroy the Hindu-Muslim harmony. The success of Pakistan’s “Islamic” agenda in Kashmir crucially depends upon giving the issue a Hindu-against-Islam color. Thus, it started destroying Sufism and Sufi Shrines and promoting Wahhabism in order to win favors from its role models in the Middle East.

Jehadis Attacked Sufi Shrines

Thus, Pak aimed its well trained Jehadis at all symbols of peace, harmony and humanity in Kashmir that had evolved in the past 6 centuries. They targeted the annual Urs celebrations at various Sufi shrines – for example, in Batmol and Aishmuqam – which attract people of all faith, and tried to destroy the Shrines – for example, at Baba Rishi near Tangmarg..

In October 1993, a group of insurgents seized the Hazratbal shrine which houses a hair of the Prophet. But the issue was resolved through negotiations. Two years later, in March 1995 Hizbul Muzahideen commander Mast Gul (of Afghan origin) along with dozens of militants seized the famous Chrar-e-Sharif shrine. The security forces cordoned off the town and the standoff continued for about 2 months. But the shrine got burned down by the militants in an effort to escape. Later, there were failed attempts by the jihadists to burn down the 700 year old shrine of Baba Naqashband Sahib in Srinagar.

In 2012, several shrines were burnt in “mysterious fires”; the most dominant was the Dastageer Sahib in Srinagar. The Wahhabis proudly declared on facebook these acts as the “divine acts of God.”

Data Darbar in Lahore

Data Darbar in Lahore

The hate-filled Wahhabis discovered targets in Pakistan also. The Pak Taliban, which has been busy targeting the Shias and other minorities, turned its attention on Sufi shrines in Pakistan. They did not spare even the Data Darbar in Lahore and the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the patron saint of Karachi. Both attacks invited widespread condemnation.

While such acts against humanity routinely invite widespread criticism, the thousands of madrassas continue to drill Wahhabism in young tender minds. That ominously points both to the future society of Pakistan and the sub continent turning into a dangerous place to live.

Wahhabism: The Ideological Force Behind Islamic Extremism

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Wahhabism – The Ideological Force Behind Islamic Extremism

When people wonder: why Islam gets connected with violence so easily, they need to learn about the entry of Wahhabism into Islam in the 18th Century. Pious Muslims watch helplessly the decline of spiritual Islam (which purifies mind and heart) as it is increasingly used for political dominance through violence. 

Submission through terror is part of Wahhabism

Submission through terror is part of Wahhabism

All manners of Islamic extremism that the world has started witnessing in the past decades can be traced back to an Islamic ideology that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries in Bedouin tribal areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula. It has sidelined all spiritual practices for personal growth and bypasses the “essence” behind Prophet’s words in favor of ‘literal’ interpretation of what he preached. It originated in the thinking of a scholar named Muhammad ibn Abd-al Wahhab (1703 – 1792), hence the name “Wahhabism.” If spiritual Islam unites people through purification of conduct and spreads the message of peace and harmony, Wahhabism seeks dominance through hate and violence.

Wahhab preached that over the centuries Islam has got corrupted by various traditional interpretation of Islam by Islamic scholars and preachers – whether Sunnis or Shias. He also vehemently criticised all traditional practices that had evolved among people of the area – various established acts of worship, reverence of pious saints in Islam, pilgrimages to tombs and so on. He accused Sufis and Shias of committing Shirk (polytheism or associating God with people) – the most abominable sin in Islam, and therefore declared them apostates. For him there was only one interpretation, his own and demanded absolute submission – if you follow me you are a “true Muslim”, else you are doomed as an apostate, disbeliever or idolater.

quran and wahhabi know bestFor all practical purposes, Wahhab’s movement was like throwing out the baby with the bath water. While attacking the superstitious practices of Najdi tribes, he also declared an all out war on Muslims and non-Muslims unless they submit to his doctrines. Thousands of innocent traditional Muslims – both Shias and Sunnis – were massacred, their villages burnt down and terrified Muslims fled from the marauding Wahhabis. All the traditional writings of past twelve centuries were burnt. But in reality, he only ended up legitimizing the tribal culture of that period – killing opponents, confiscation of their wealth and violation of their female folks – in the name of holy Jehad. He did won followers, but his father and son were not among them.

His best known follower was the first Saudi Arabia monarch Ibn Saud – who was then just one tribal leader amongst many in Bedouin tribes who perennially squabble with each other in the hot and hostile desert of the Nejd region. In 1744, Ibn Saud declared that he would create a state based on Wahhab’s Islamic philosophy. Coming from the Sunni branch of Islam, the hatred for the Shia Muslims was natural for the Wahhabis. Their earliest acts of killings and destructions were carried out in Karbala in 1801, after Wahhab’s death in 1792. It was followed by the looting and wrecking of the tomb of Prophet’s grandson, Hussain, who was killed in 680 in Karbala (located in today’s Iraq).

Non-Muslims may know that the Shia-Sunni rivalry is rooted in the succession struggle for Prophet’s teachings. Shias come from the faction that believed that blood descendents of the Prophet form the natural order and they should inherit his legacy; they are opposed by the Sunnis who follow the sunna (Arabic for “way” or tradition) of Muhammad. Today, 87 – 90% Muslims are Sunnis and the rest are Shias. While Iran is the global power center of Shias, the Saudi Arabia dictates the Sunni world through its Wahhabi ideology. This rivalry shapes the politics of the Gulf region.

The rise of the Wahhabis and their expansion alarmed the staunchly orthodox Ottoman Empire in Turkey and it started taking measures to contain them. For Wahhabis, the Ottoman Caliphs were non-Muslims because they practiced Sufism. In the ensuing confrontation, the Ottoman regime drove them back to the Arab deserts where they remained confined for almost a century until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the WWI. However, detailed accounts of their atrocities were recorded by Ottoman officials and generals.

In the 1920s, the politically astute Abd-al Aziz ibn Saud very successfully re-established his supremacy in the Arabian Desert and planted the Wahhabi Islam as the state religion. The discovery of oil in the 1930s and enormous reservoir of the ‘black gold’ underneath the ground gave Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region extraordinary strategic importance in the WW2 and thereafter. It transformed the virtually destitute tribals into money lords of the world but their ideological fissures and mutual mistrust remained intact. Keeping the promise of the first Suadi monarch to propagate the Wahhabi faith, the Saudis have been exporting their intolerant brand of Islam across the world, particularly to the poor countries, through the network of Madarasas and charitable organizations. Experts estimate that since 1970s, Saudis have spent billions of dollars on this venture. As a result, all other milder Islamic versions developed in various countries are now at the risk of extinction.

Influence of Wahhabism Today

Attacks on Shiites kill at least 18 in IraqBeing extremely flexible in justifying any form of hatred or greed led violence, as holy Jehad, post-WW2 various Islamic groups have routinely labelled their political struggle as Jehad. It also inspired growth of various Islamic extremist groups and their Jehadi terror tactics. Perhaps the latest example in the recent chain of events comes from Afghanistan. In the 1980s, Afghan Islamic fundamentalist outfits used it successfully to drive out the Russians from their land. Of course, they were funded liberally, armed and trained by Pakistanis along with the US.

Since the departure of Russians from Afghanistan in 1989, Pakistan started diverting these trained Jehadis towards Kashmir. But since the Kashmiri Muslims practice Sufi Islam which promotes peaceful co-existence, Pak efforts have been largely sustained through infiltration of Islamic extremists brainwashed with Wahhabi principles of hate killing in Pak established terror factories. Osama Bin Laden learned the basic tenets as a Saudi and showed how it works through Al Queda. Boko Haram, Al Shabab and their clones are doing the same thing elsewhere.

Afghan Taliban’s large scale destruction of Buddhist shrines in the 1990s and currently, if the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) in the Middle East is destroying shrines, it is only following the foot-steps of Saudi Wahhabis who in 1920s demolished 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat ul Baqi cemetery in Medina. In fact, ISIS appears to be a better copy of the original produced by the Saudis!

While learned scholars can’t imagine, even in their wildest dream, the Prophet behaving the Wahhabi way and can cite instances of him urging compassion for the weak and non-believers, but they are marginalized because many Muslims see the current Islamic fundamentalist groups as standing against the hegemony and unjust myopic policies of the wealthy West.

When leaders claim that violence perpetrated by Islamic groups has nothing to do with Islam, they only show their ignorance of the Gulf history of past two centuries – clearly stamped by Muhammad Ibn Abd-al Wahhab in collaboration with Ibn Saud.

Today, if rise of the ISIS is worrying Saudi regime, it must be only reminding its dumping of the ‘Ikhwan’ in 1920s to win over international legitimacy.

What Makes Pakistan, Pakistan!

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