Archive for February, 2010

‘Talks For The Sake Of Talks’ Useless: Delhi Loses Another Opportunity For Peace

February 28, 2010 1 comment

By Moin Ansari

The Delhi politicians wanted the talks, but only as a PR exercise–not as a vehicle to make peace with a neighbor. The Zardari Administration was too eager for talks–and should have held out. Mentioning Kashmir during the talks achieves nothing. Unless and until Delhi decides that the cost of war in South Asia is an impediment to tis regional role–Bharat will continue to play Russian Roulette with the lives of more than 1.5 billion people of South Asia.

There is no point to talking to Delhi–Pakistan has tried talking to the bigots in Bharat for 60 years. It serves no purpose at ll.

The speech from Delhi the world is waiting for

Open Letter to Indian PM: Can he bring peace to Asia?

Bharat has been unable to resolve border disputes with any of her neighbors. It has lost friendships with Nepal, Bhutan, Lanka, China, Myanmar, and Pakistan.

LAHORE: Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said on Friday that unstructured ‘talks for the sake of talks’ would not produce any long-lasting results and, therefore, it was crucial that India agreed to resumption of composite dialogue to move forward.

He was talking to reporters at the Wagah border crossing on his return from New Delhi. He described his talks in Delhi as exploratory.

“There were two objectives of our meetings with Indian officials. One, we wanted to determine if there is any significant change in the Indian attitude and position or not. Two, we wanted to determine how can the two countries move forward and improve bilateral relations.”

He said the two countries agreed that regression in ties must be reversed with positive steps. Pakistan on its part, he added, had been consistently underscoring the importance of talks as the only way forward.

“But unstructured talks for the sake of talks, though important, will not produce any long-term results. It is crucial that India agrees to restore Composite Dialogue to move forward,” he emphasised.

About the atmosphere of mistrust prevailing in India Bashir said Indian officials and media held Islamabad responsible for their problems. “They want to move gradually for restoring trust and confidence between the two countries.

On the contrary, we are of the view that restoration of Composite Dialogue will immediately help reinstate the environment of trust and confidence. Indian insistence on restricting talks to terrorism alone will not solve the matters,” he said.

He observed that Indian perception about Pakistan was not based on facts. “It is in their own interest to revisit their facts. Indian politicians and media should help dispel negative perception about Pakistan. The ball is now in their court.”

Bashir said that Pakistan had suggested higher-level meetings while continuing with secretary-level talks.

However, he added, they had not decided any date for future talks. About the Kashmir issue, Bashir said: “Pakistan has made it clear to India that Kashmir is an international issue since the passage of the UN Security Council resolutions on it (in 1948) and international intervention is required for its settlement.

Bashir sought to dispel impression prevailing in India that Islamabad was desperate for resumption of talks. “Until now we have talked of dialogue and engagement. But now I have told them (the Indians) that we are not in a hurry.

If they are ready for dialogue we will also be willing for it because it is the only way forward,” he said. During his stay in New Delhi, Bashir also met Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. The Dawn

Bharat seems to think that peace talks is some sort of reward for good behaviour. It then finds some little thing somewhere to delay and stall talks. Islamabad Delhi Peace talks on basis of equality.

Assured failure: Why talk with India?

  • Assured failure: Why talk with India?
  • Pakistan seeks peace with India as an equal partner, not as a reward for good behaviour
  • India Pakistan meet fails as expected. Why talk?
  • Islamabad Delhi Peace talks on basis of equality.
  • Pakistan should stop showing enthusiaism for resumption of meaningless dialogue with Delhi
  • ISLAMABAD: Pakistan “forced” India at the foreign secretary-level talks in New Delhi to reconsider its position on the merits of the composite dialogue and implicitly accept centrality of the Kashmir dispute to Indo-Pak ties.

    A senior diplomat – who was part of the official delegation that visited New Delhi for the talks on February 25 – said Pakistan had also handed over a “dossier” on the distribution of water and made it clear to India that it would not accept “Indian water hegemony”.

    “We did a lot of tough talking during the meeting, and convincingly put forward our position on all issues of importance … [we] made it clear that we will not accept dictates on the terms of bilateral engagements,” said the diplomat.

    He said Pakistan also tabled a “roadmap” for the resumption of the peace process, persuading India to realise and publicly admit that the peace process had a lot of good things to offer.

    The diplomat said India was trying to wriggle out of the five-year composite dialogue by altering the mechanics of the terms of the peace process, but “Pakistan made it clear that it was unacceptable”.

    About the three dossiers handed over by India, the diplomat said the foreign secretary had already branded the documents “literature” which had nothing to do with evidence on the Mumbai attacks or terrorism. He said the foreign secretary also told his Indian counterpart that Islamabad would not be a party to “meaningless” dialogue or any other process “limited to photo sessions”. He said India had been told that all future engagements should be purposeful.

    Replying to a question, he accepted that the Indian delegation was “obsessed with terrorism” and tried to make the February 25 session “a one-point agenda meeting”.

    “We were well prepared, as we knew India would try to make it look like a meeting focused on terrorism, so we made well-timed interventions to make the interaction all encompassing,” he said.

    The diplomat rejected the impression that Pakistan had been trapped by India to highlight New Delhi’s concerns over terrorism, and said, “They will soon find themselves caught in their own trap … their media is already highlighting it.”

    He said India lacked seriousness and failed to reciprocate Pakistan’s honesty in discussing all issues and finding mutually acceptable solutions. Tough-talking Pakistan ‘rattled’ India

    * Pakistan ‘forced’ India at secretary-level talks to reconsider position on composite dialogue, accept centrality of Kashmir to Indo-Pak ties, By Sajjad Malik

    Rupee News

    ‘No extradition’ for Taliban chiefs held in Pakistan

    February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

    By Syed Shoaib Hasan
    BBC News, Islamabad

    The Afghan Taliban’s top military commander, who was recently detained in Pakistan, is not to be extradited, the Lahore High Court has ruled.

    Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was arrested in early February. The court also banned extraditing four other Taliban chiefs reportedly seized recently.

    But Pakistan has not confirmed the identities of any other militants held.

    The order was in response to a petition filed by a rights activist to prevent the detainees from being sent abroad.

    “The high court has ordered that none of the leaders should be handed over to the US or Afghanistan,” Tariq Asad, a lawyer handling the petition told the BBC.

    “The court has also said that none, other than Pakistan intelligence or security officials should be given access to the Taliban leaders,” he said.

    The court also ruled that the government should provide answers about the grounds on which the men were arrested.

    Taliban arrests

    Although Pakistani officials have confirmed the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, there is little clarity about the other Taliban chiefs reportedly held.

    Unnamed Pakistani officials have told US media about the arrests of several leading figures in the Afghan Taliban in recent weeks.

    They are said to be:

    • Mullah Abdul Salam, the “shadow governor” of Afghanistan’s Kunduz province
    • Mullah Mir Mohammad, the “shadow governor” of Baghlan province
    • Mullah Abdul Kabir, believed to be a senior figure in the Taliban leadership and “shadow governor” of Nangarhar province

    The petition named all of the above as well as Ameer Muawiyia, described as a senior Taliban officer based in Pakistan.

    This may be another identity for a Taliban official, Mullah Mohammed Younis, reported on 22 February to have been arrested – but there are few details on when and where he was detained.

    The decision is likely to deny the US and Afghan governments access to the detained commanders for the moment.

    Courtesy: PKKH

    Kabul Bombs deliver clear message to India: Pack bags!

    February 28, 2010 Leave a comment
    • Pulling off the attack in central Kabul — in one of the most secure neighborhoods in Afghanistan’s most secure city — was designed to send a message that the Taliban is not intimidated by the stepped-up military offensive
    • “They’re trying to up the pressure and send a message that you guys aren’t defeating us,”
    • “No matter what the coalition does, it can’t win, “It’s a very smart strategy.

    Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and New Delhi – A coordinated attack early Friday, which killed at least 16 people and targeted a hotel and guesthouse in central Kabul, underscored the shifting tactics of Taliban insurgents and their keen understanding of geopolitical implications.

    Three assailants struck at 6:30 a.m. on the first day of the Afghan weekend, when few people are on the street, in the prosperous Shahr-e-Naw residential area. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombings, the first attack in Kabul since January and the capital’s deadliest in months, police and Interior Ministry officials said.

    The destruction started with a car bombing that leveled the Arya Guesthouse […], city Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahman told reporters.

    After the blast, one of the militants set off his explosives vest in front of the ruins while the two others entered the Park Residence guesthouse across the street, which was soon surrounded by police and military. A second assailant then blew himself up, killing three policemen, while the third attacker hunkered down in the basement and was killed about 10:30 a.m. by police gunfire.

    Among the dead were six Indians, four Afghan civilians, an Italian diplomat, a French filmmaker and three police officers, officials said. Some bodies were so badly burned it will take time to identify them. At least 36 people were wounded.


    Early morning television broadcast images of a plume of black smoke rising from the area, shattered glass lining the streets and broken windows in shops and homes. Afghan police crouched behind traffic barriers as the remaining gunman remained holed up in the guesthouse basement.

    Analysts said the attack appeared to be a well-planned operation aimed at achieving several political objectives.

    Pulling off the attack in central Kabul — in one of the most secure neighborhoods in Afghanistan’s most secure city — was designed to send a message that the Taliban is not intimidated by the stepped-up military offensive in the southern city of Marja and can bring the battle to the doorstep of its adversaries.

    “They’re trying to up the pressure and send a message that you guys aren’t defeating us,” said John Harrison, a research manager at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore. “And they’re showing they can penetrate the city and stand awhile.”

    The early morning timing on a weekend probably made it easier to get the attackers, vehicles, weapons and explosives into position since security forces presumably would be less vigilant; an early start also gives recruits less time for second thoughts. And with streets largely deserted, the attackers are less likely to kill civilians and more likely to find their principal target — foreigners — still sleeping. The insurgent group is wary of a backlash from the Afghan public over civilian deaths.

    As suicide bombings have become nearly routine, the combination of a car bombing and suicide blast followed by an armed standoff carries more shock value, providing more of the attention that militants seek. Having armed insurgents stand their ground also sends a message that the fighters are more ideologically committed than some drugged, brainwashed, poorly educated teenager pulling a detonation cord. The combination, with its drawn-out suspense, also gains better TV coverage.

    “It prolongs developments, adds to the chaos and brings more publicity,” said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “With a suicide attack, you blow yourself up, that’s it. This has much more impact.”

    The choice of the Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood frequented by foreigners and affluent Afghans sent a not-so-subtle message: foreign occupiers and those who follow their profligate ways must be eliminated.

    And that the militants targeted a guesthouse serving Indians is probably no accident, analysts said. At one level, the attack is a direct challenge to President Hamid Karzai, who has closely allied himself with India and whom the Taliban opposes for his pro-Western policies and support.

    The attack is also a bid to further drive a wedge among Western coalition member countries in the hopes that other nations will follow the Dutch in leaving, as they appear likely to do with the recent fall of their government.

    Targeting Indians […] — coming on the heels of two attacks on the Indian Embassy in Kabul in the last two years — […] who hope to reduce India’s influence in Afghanistan as the region prepares for the likely power vacuum after the U.S.-led coalition leaves.


    “Pakistan is deeply resentful of India’s footprint in Afghanistan and would like to see it reduced,” said Sadanand Dhume, an Asia Society fellow and author of “My Friend the Fanatic,” a book on radical Islam.


    If tensions rise again between India and Pakistan just as the two have resumed formal talks after a 15-month hiatus following the 2008 Mumbai attack, it could keep more Pakistani troops on the Indian border and away from the Afghan border, where the U.S. would like to see them. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban could gain more freedom to operate along the porous border.

    “If you get India riled up, you divert Pakistan troops,” Harrison said. “The jihadi community is trying to relieve the pressure.”

    Finally, there’s the spin that militants put on the attack.

    Analysts said that when Afghan police respond to an attack, […] foreigners are putting Afghans in danger while avoiding it themselves. If coalition troops respond to an attack, […] that the coalition doesn’t trust locals and views them as lap dogs.

    “No matter what the coalition does, it can’t win,” Harrison said. “It’s a very smart strategy.By Mark Magnier and Aimal Yaqubi February 27, 2010. “mark.magnier is a special correspondent.


    Pakistan court stops deportation of top Taleban leader

    February 27, 2010 Leave a comment

    ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court blocked on Friday the possible deportation of a top Afghan Taleban leader recently detained in the country, a lawyer said.

    Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second only to the Taleban supreme chief Mullah Omar, was seized by Pakistani and American intelligence agents in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi earlier this month.

    Islamabad confirmed the capture of Baradar, which was followed by reports about the arrest of more Taleban figures, including two “shadow governors” for the Afghan provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan.

    “The Lahore High Court decreed on Friday that none of the detainees should be handed over to any foreign country,” said Tariq Asad, a lawyer for civil rights activist Khalid Khwaja who petitioned the court to stop the deportation of the Taleban members.

    The order came a day after the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement that the Pakistani government had agreed “to extradite Mullah Baradar and other Taleban in their custody.” No names other than Baradar’s were mentioned in the statement.

    Pakistani and Afghan interior ministers as well as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller discussed the possible handing-over of Baradar in a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.

    However, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quoted by the media as saying that the authorities would first see if the Taleban leader was needed to be tried locally for any violation of the country’s laws.

    The petition by Khwaja, a former employee of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, contained the names of four other Taleban leaders — Mullah Abdul Salam, Mullah Mir Mohammad, Mullah Abdul Kabir and Ameer Muawiyia.

    The court said on Friday that none of the men should be deported, and fixed the next hearing for March 15. The government was asked to provide information about the arrests.

    Analysts have said that the detentions signaled a change in Islamabad’s stance. Pakistan had long been blamed for protecting the Taleban leadership believed to be hiding inside its southern territory, with a so-called council based in the city of Quetta.

    The United States has placed Pakistan at the heart of its strategy to tackle the growing Taleban insurgency, and the recent arrests come as foreign troops are in the midst of a major offensive in Afghanistan.

    Iran Nabs Top NATO Terrorist With Pakistan Help

    February 26, 2010 Leave a comment


    By Webster Tarpley

    On Tuesday Feb. 23, Iran announced the capture of Abdulmalek Rigi, the boss of the terror organization Jundullah, which works for NATO. The capture of Rigi represents a serious setback for the US-UK strategy of using false flag state-sponsored terrorism against Iran and Pakistan, and ultimately to sabotage China’s geopolitics of oil. The Iranians claim to have captured Rigi all by themselves, but the Pakistani ambassador to Teheran is quoted in The Dawn as claiming an important role for Pakistan. The Iranians say that Rigi was attempting to fly from Dubai to Kyrgystan, and that his plane was forced to land in Iran by Iranian interceptors. This exploit recalls Oliver North’s 1985 intercept of the accused Achille Lauro perpetrators, including Abu Abbas, forcing their Egyptian plane to land at Sigonella, Sicily. But other and perhaps more realistic versions suggest that Iran was tipped off by the Pakistanis, or even that Rigi was captured by Pakistan and delivered to the Iranians.

    Jundullah, otherwise known as the Rigi organization, is a clan-based Mafia organization that has long infested the Iran-Pakistan border. The Rigis are traditionally smugglers and drug pushers of royalist persuasion, and now they have branched out into terrorism. Jundullah is mounting a Sunni rebellion against the Shiite Iranian regime in Iranian Baluchistan. They have blown up a Shiite mosque, killing 25, and managed to kill 50 in a bombing in Pishin last October, where their victims included some top commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, against which Mrs. Clinton has now declared war. There is no doubt that Jundullah is on the US payroll. This fact has been confirmed by Brian Ross of ABC News, the London Daily Telegraph , and by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. Hersh noted that Jundullah has received some of the $400 million appropriated by the US Congress in the most recent Bush-era regime change legislation targeting Iran.

    Jundullah is a key part of the US-UK strategy of fomenting ethnic and religious civil war in both Iran and Pakistan. Jundullah is a twofer in this context, since it can help destabilize both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border. Baluchistan has special importance because any oil pipeline linking Iran with China must go straight across Baluchistan. Jundullah’s false flag jihad is a means to make sure that strategic pipeline, which would help solve China’s energy problem, is never built.

    There is also no doubt that Jundullah functions as an arm of NATO, a kind of irregular warfare asset similar in some ways to the KLA of Kosovo. Rigi is reported by the Iranians to have met with Jop de Hoop Scheffer when he was NATO Secretary General. Rigi has also met with various NATO generals operating in Afghanistan. Who knows — he may have met with McChrystal himself, a covert ops veteran from Iraq.

    Operation enduring turmoilClick on map to see larger version

    This capture comes at a moment when Baluchistan is the object of intense US-UK exertions. The current US-NATO offensive in southern Afghanistan targets Marjah and the rest of Helmand province, which directly faces Baluchistan. Many observers were puzzled when the US and NATO publicized the Marjah offensive in advance. Militarist talking heads like General Barry McCafferty responded that the main goal of the Marjah offensive was not to destroy the Taliban, but to drive them out of the province. It was thus clear from the beginning that the real goal was to drive the Helmand Taliban fighters into Pakistani Baluchistan. Why?

    A statement from the Afghan Taliban covered on the RIA Novosti web site suggests that the real goal of the US-NATO offensive in Marjah-Helmand is to attack Chinese economic interests in Pakistani Baluchistan, and especially the port of Gwadar, one of China’s largest overseas projects. If the US can push the Taliban into Pakistani Baluchistan and into the area around Gwadar, they will have a pretext for militarization ­ perhaps through Blackwater mercenaries, who are already operating massively in Pakistan, or perhaps through direct US military involvement in the zone. US jackboots on the ground in Baluchistan would interfere mightily with Chinese economic development plans. They would also allow the US to commandeer Gwadar as the home port of a new NATO supply line into southern Afghanistan, allowing the avoidance of the Khyber Pass bottleneck. The US could also use Baluchistan as a springboard for bigger and better terror ops into Iran, electronic surveillance of Iranian activities, and so forth.

    The US and NATO had evidently planned a double envelopment of Baluchistan, with Taliban fighters from Helmand arriving from the north, while the Jundullah escalated their own activity on the ground. Now that Rigi has joined his brother in Iranian jails, Jundullah has been decapitated, and the NATO strategy has consequently been undermined. Iran has bagged a dangerous terrorist foe. Another winner is Pakistan, where The Dawn celebrated the capture of Rigi as “a godsend” and “a lucky break” for Pakistan. By helping Rigi to fall into Iranian hands, Pakistan may have finally found an effective way to counter the US-UK strategy, which notoriously aims at the breakup and partition of Pakistan. The coming Iranian trial of Rigi may go far towards exposing the real mechanism of terrorism in today’s world, with the CIA sitting in the dock next to Rigi.

    The Path Forward In Balochistan

    February 26, 2010 Leave a comment

    QUETTA: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Thursday that all the demands of the people of Balochistan were acceptable to the government.

    “There is not even a single demand which is unacceptable to us,” he said while addressing the 5th draw of the Waseela-e-Haq programme here on Thursday. He also met different delegations at the Governor House.
    “I have good knowledge of the problems of Balochistan. I need some time to solve these problems,” he said. “We know that some estranged people have no faith in our promises, so we have decided to do some practical work before going for a dialogue.”
    Zardari arrived in the city on a two-day visit on Thursday. Extraordinary security measures were adopted during the president’s visit. Additional deployment of security personnel was made to avert any untoward incident.
    Zardari urged the Baloch leaders not to resort to violence for their rights. “I am here to give you the rights and develop the province.” He went on to say: “We know there is a feeling of sadness in Balochistan. The people here do not sob, and prefer to pick up guns.”
    Zardari said he wanted to develop a Pakistan where Balochistan would be the hub of progress and development. “The history will recall that a soldier of Bhutto came here and pledged to make Balochistan the centre of world’s attention.”
    He sought the help of all the political parties to resolve the issues of the province. “There might not be any immediate relief, but over a period of time, you will witness significant change in your lives,” he added.
    “We have the same love, respect and regard for the people of Balochistan as we have for the people of other parts of the country.” The president said more National Highway Authority projects would be initiated to improve the communication network in the province.
    Earlier, Zardari performed the fifth draw of the Waseela-e-Haq Programme, under which successful families would get loans of Rs 300,000 to start their own businesses. He also distributed cheques among women hailing from different parts of the province. Compensation cheques were given to those women whose close relatives were injured or died in acts of terror or natural calamities.
    Meanwhile, PPP Balochistan President Senator Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani and other provincial leaders of the party staged a walkout after PPP workers were denied entry into the Governor House to meet the president and attend the PPP provincial council meeting.
    After an hour’s break, Lashkari again approached the Governor House, seeking entry of the PPP council members, but again they were refused on the ground that the function was over and the president had moved to the CM Secretariat for the provincial cabinet meeting.
    Earlier, addressing a high-level meeting at the Governor House, Zardari issued directives to the concerned authorities to ensure timely completion of development projects in the province. Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi, Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf, Federal Minister for Housing and Works Rehmatullah Khan Kakar, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, Federal Minister for Postal Services Mir Israrullah Zehri, Chairman BISP. Farzana Raja were present during the meeting.
    APP adds: Talking to the Balochistan cabinet members, Zardari said the federal government was working to introduce a constitutional package in March which would ensure rights to provinces. “Balochistan has a specific strategic importance which cannot be ignored.”

    This tide of anti-Muslim hatred is a threat to us all

    February 26, 2010 1 comment

    By Seumas Milne | The Guardian

    The attempt to drive Islamists and young Asian activists out of the political mainstream is a dangerous folly.

    If young British Muslims had any doubts that they are singled out for special treatment in the land of their birth, the punishments being meted out to those who took part in last year’s London demonstrations against Israel’s war on Gaza will have dispelled them. The protests near the Israeli embassy at the height of the onslaught were angry: bottles and stones were thrown, a Starbucks was trashed and the police employed unusually violent tactics, even by the standards of other recent confrontations, such as the G20 protests.

    But a year later, it turns out that it’s the sentences that are truly exceptional. Of 119 people arrested, 78 have been charged, all but two of them young Muslims (most between the ages of 16 and 19), according to Manchester University’s Joanna Gilmore, even though such figures in no way reflect the mix of those who took part. In the past few weeks, 15 have been convicted, mostly of violent disorder, and jailed for between eight months and two-and-a-half years – having switched to guilty pleas to avoid heavier terms. Another nine are up to be sentenced tomorrow.

    The severity of the charges and sentencing goes far beyond the official response to any other recent anti-war demonstration, or even the violent stop the City protests a decade ago. So do the arrests, many of them carried out months after the event in dawn raids by dozens of police officers, who smashed down doors and handcuffed family members as if they were suspected terrorists. Naturally, none of the more than 30 complaints about police violence were upheld, even where video ­evidence was available.

    Nothing quite like this has happened, in fact, since 2001, when young Asian Muslims rioted against extreme rightwing racist groups in Bradford and other northern English towns and were subjected to heavily disproportionate prison terms. In the Gaza protest cases, the judge has explicitly relied on the Bradford precedent and repeatedly stated that the sentences he is handing down are intended as a deterrent.

    For many in the Muslim community, the point will be clear: not only that these are political sentences, but that different rules apply to Muslims, who take part in democratic protest at their peril. It’s a dangerous message, especially given the threat from a tiny minority that is drawn towards indiscriminate violence in response to Britain’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and rejects any truck with mainstream politics.

    But it’s one that is constantly reinforced by politicians and parts of the media, who have increasingly blurred the distinction between violent and non- violent groups, demonised Islamism as an alien threat and branded as extremist any Muslim leader who dares to campaign against western foreign policy in the Muslim world. That’s reflected in the government’s targeting of “nonviolent extremism” and lavish funding of anti-Islamist groups, as well as in Tory plans to ban the nonviolent Hizb ut-Tahrir and crack down ever harder on “extremist written material and speech”.

    In the media, it takes the form of relentless attempts to expose Muslims involved in wider politics as secret fanatics and sympathisers with ­terrorism. Next week, Channel 4 Dispatches plans to broadcast the latest in a series of undercover documentaries aimed at revealing the ugly underside of British Muslim political life. In this case, the target is the predominantly British-Bangladeshi Islamic Forum of Europe. From material sent out in advance, the aim appears to be to show the IFE is an “entryist” group in legitimate east London politics – and unashamedly Islamist to boot.

    As recent research co-authored by the former head of the Metropolitan police special branch’s Muslim contact unit, Bob Lambert, has shown, such ubiquitous portrayals of Muslim activists as “terrorists, sympathisers and subversives” (all the while underpinned by a drumbeat campaign against the nonexistent Afghan “burka”) are one factor in the alarming growth of British Islamophobia and the rising tide of anti-Muslim violence and hate crimes that stem from it.

    Last month’s British Social Attitudes survey found that most people now regard Britain as “deeply divided along religious lines”, with hostility to Muslims and Islam far outstripping such attitudes to any other religious group. On the ground that has translated into murders, assaults and attacks on mosques and Muslim institutions – with shamefully little response in politics or the media. Last year, five mosques in Britain were firebombed, from Bishop’s Stortford to Cradley Heath, though barely reported in the national press, let alone visited by a government minister to show solidarity.

    And now there is a street movement, the English Defence League, directly adopting the officially sanctioned targets of “Islamists” and “extremists” – as well as the “Taliban” and the threat of a “takeover of Islam” – to intimidate and threaten Muslim communities across the country, following the success of the British National party in baiting Muslims above all other ethnic and religious communities.

    Of course, anti-Muslim bigotry, the last socially acceptable racism, is often explained away by the London bombings of 2005 and the continuing threat of terror attacks, even though by far the greatest number of what the authorities call “terrorist incidents” in the UK take place in Northern Ireland, while Europol figures show that more than 99% of terrorist attacks in Europe over the past three years were carried out by non-Muslims. And in the last nine months, two of the most serious bomb plot convictions were of far right racists, Neil Lewington and Terence Gavan, who were planning to kill Muslims.

    Meanwhile, in the runup to the general election, expect some ugly dog whistles from Westminster politicians keen to capitalise on Islamophobic sentiment. With few winnable Muslim votes, the Tories seem especially up for it. Earlier this month, Conservative frontbencher Michael Gove came out against the building of a mosque in his Surrey constituency, while Welsh Tory MP David Davies blamed a rape case on the “medieval and barbaric” attitudes of some migrant communities.

    As long as British governments back wars and occupations in the Middle East and Muslim world, there will continue to be a risk of violence in Britain. But attempts to drive British Muslims out of normal political activity, and the refusal to confront anti-Muslim hatred, can only ratchet up the danger and threaten us all.