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Month: July 2018

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When the Ottomans almost conquered Italy

In 1480 Memet the Conqueror launched the most audacious expedition of his leadership.

He sent an army under the Grand Admiral of the Ottman Navy, Gedik Ahmet Pashato Southern Italy to capture Otranto.

The army moved inland towards Brindisi, Taranto and Lecce, but Duke Ferrante of Naples led a counterattack.

The army was pushed back to Otranto and majority of the Ottoman Army sailed away.

However, they left a group of troops stationed at Otranto whilst the Greek Island of Rhodes was being captured.

When the Island of Rhodes was abandoned, the Ottomans returned and continued fighting well into 1481.

The occupation of Italian lands so close to the main altar of Christiandom caused a great level of concern and panic.

Blame was shifted around in Italy. Venice people were acused of doing nothing and even accused of helping the Ottomans.

In spite of the retention of Rhodes, fear of the Ottomans was now at the highest.

Mehmet the Conqueror himself was said to be coming to Italy and the Pope considered fleeing to Avignon.

Instead he asked for assistance. But what saved Italy from the Ottomans was only the eventual death of Mehmet in 1481.

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The Indian Rebellion of 1857

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The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major uprising in India against the British occupation of India.

Unrest had been brewing for decades, but the first sign came in Jan 1857, when a British office was burned down in protest.

Two months later, 29-year-old, Mangal Pandey, urged his fellow sepoys to rebel and wounded two officers by sword.

He was hanged for his efforts and was soon to become a martyr to the rebels’ cause.

But it was something rather unusual that sparked the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The sepoys had been issued with a new Enfield rifle. But to use it the soldier had to bite off the end of a lubricated cartridge.

The problem was that the grease used to seal the cartridge was made from animal fat from cows and pigs.

The cow is a sacred beast to Hindus and pork is forbidden for Muslims.

The sepoys saw it as another example of a deliberate ploy to undermine their respective religions and to convert them.

On the evening of 9 May 1857, 85 Indian dissenters were thrown into jail to serve sentences from five to ten years.

The next day, Indian comrades of the imprisoned sepoys broke out of jail, revolted and hacked British soldiers to death.

The violence was swift and intense. Civilians joined the sepoys in an orgy of killing and arson.

Upon arriving in the capital, the rebels sought to restore the old Mughal Empire and have Bahadur Shah II as their leader.

But in the end the rebellion was unsuccessful and after two years the British declared an end to them.

The Indian Mutiny of 1857 showed that nothing came before the beliefs and values of the Sepoys.

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How Islam Spread to Russia

This video and article was based on excellent research by Elmira Akhmetova. The full article can be read here.

According to early Arab sources, Islam first entered the territory of modern Russia in the seventh century.

In 737 C.E. the Muslim army achieved a victory over the Khazar Kingdom, the strongest military power in the region.

The army was led by general Marwan, who later became Marwan II the last caliph of the Umayyad dynasty.

With the success of Marwan II, the Northern Caucasus, as well as the lower Volga region became a part of the Umayyad Empire.

The first autonomous Muslim region in Russia was the Bulghar Kingdom in the Middle Volga region.

The ruler of the Bulghar, Bin Salki Belekvar, requested the Abbasid caliph, al-Muqtadir, to dispatch Islamic scholars to teach Islam.

This autonomous state existed from the eighth century until its invasion by the Mongols in 1236 C.E.

The next wave of the spread of Islam in Russia took place during the “Golden Horde” province of the Chenghizid Empire.

Under the rule of Uzbek Khan (1312-42), Islam became the official religion of the entire kingdom ran by the Volga Bulghar.

The territories of Christian subjects, such as the Russians, Armenians, Circassians and Crimean Greeks paid the “jizyah”.

These vassal states were never forced into the Golden Horde and were able to preserve their religion under Muslim rule.

But the political status of Islam was due to be reversed drastically in the region by the mid-sixteenth century.

The newly-established mighty Russian state under the Ivan IV (the Terrible), invaded the Kazan and Astra khan states.

Over the next three centuries, Russia expanded into Muslim-inhabited lands of Siberia, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In 1859, Muslims of Dagestan lost their country to Tsarist Russia after 34 years of resistance under Imam Shamil (1797-1871).

The Russian victory had a devastating impact on Caucasian Muslims. Thousands were deported to Siberia.

Hundreds of thousands more were forced to flee to the Ottoman Empire.

Russia’s conquest of Central Asia was completed in 1885. By the 20th century, Russia had over 14 million Muslims.

From then on, Muslims were faced with coercive Christianization and Russification, which was central to Moscow’s policy.

Unknown to many, Islam has a long history in Russia. Today there remains16-20 million Muslims in Russia.

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Who was behind the Turkish Coup?

On the night of 15th July 2016, roads were blocked on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul and jets were flying over the Turkish Parliament in Ankara.

Tanks brought Istanbul to a standstill as soldiers invaded the headquarters of the ruling party, seized control of the State broadcaster and announced that the army was in charge.

But the next day it was clear that a military coup attempt had failed. More than 250 people including the coup plotters, civilians and loyalist officers were killed and many more injured.

The Turkish government blamed the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and former Erdogan ally who has long been living in self-imposed exile in the United States.

A state of emergency was declared and anyone who appeared to have the faintest link to Gulen and his supporters was punished swiftly.

In a matter of weeks, tens of thousands of people in the military, police, judiciary, civil service and education were detained, suspended or sacked for alleged links to the Gulen movement.

But Gulen told VOA’s Turkish Service Erdogan had falsely accused him, and that he wouldn’t have returned to Turkey even if the coup had succeeded.

Other observers have speculated that the coup was stage-managed to give Mr Erdogan an opportunity to purge the military of opponents and increase his grip on Turkey.

Ryan Heath, the senior EU correspondent at Politico, used Twitter to share comments from his “Turkish source”, who called the events of Friday night a “fake coup” which would help a “fake democracy warrior” [Erdogan].

It remains to be known who was behind the coup, but one thing for sure is that the coup has been used by both Erdogan and Gulen to cast themselves as victims of repression.

Erdogan highlighted his status as a democratically elected leader under attack by “parallel” (Gulenist) and secularist elements
Gulen also highlighted his victimhood as a political outsider and former political prisoner when he was interviewed during Friday’s dramatic events.

Research suggests that this ratcheting up of victimization rhetoric could have important attitudinal and electoral consequences.

Kimberly Guiler, in a paper recently discussed at the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) annual conference, finds that voters in Turkey are more likely to feel positively toward candidates who cite experiences of political suffering in their biographies.

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UK and US: The myth of the special relationship

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The wreckage of WW2 left Britain effectively bankrupt and militarily overextended, whilst America emerged as the new superpower.

In order to stay relevant in global politics, Britain considered it essential to continue Churchill’s wartime alliance with the US.

In order to stay relevant in global politics, Britain considered it essential to continue Churchill’s wartime alliance with the US.

Britain allowed America to establish bases for B-29 bombers initiating foreign military bases on British soil.

The Secretary of State, Ernest Bevin, acknowledged the gravity of this decision and said “Permanent peacetime bases involved quite new principles.”

By 1950, the Americans were basing bombers carrying nuclear weapons in Britain as well as established NATO.

Even though WW2 ended, Britain took an unprecedented decision to continue conscription into peacetime.

Britain paid a “blood price” to show their commitment to US foreign policy and to project itself as a global power like the US.

This came at the peak of the Korean War when the Communist North invaded the South in June 1950.

British chiefs were opposed to sending troops to Korea to avoid harming relationswith Mao Zedong’s Communist China.

British chiefs were opposed to sending troops to Korea to avoid harming relationswith Mao Zedong’s Communist China.

“Refusal to provide troops would harm Anglo-American relations.” The cabinet decided that “British land forces should be sent in order to consolidate Anglo-American friendship and to placate American public opinion.”

In 1956, Britain’s futile attempt in invading Egypt in alliance with France and Israel was cut short by American political pressure.

Yet the British remained fully committed to maintaining an alliance with the USAregardless of the post-war humiliation.

Similarly, besides the strong opinion against America’s Vietnam war, Britain supplied military hardware and troops.

There are countless more examples in recent history that show that the “special” relationship only benefits one side.

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The Srebrenica Massacre in 1995

The Srebrenica massacre in 1995 was the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II.

Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered after eastern Bosnia was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces.

It was one of the darkest episodes of Bosnia’s bloody three-year civil war which claimed some 100,000 lives.

And left 2.2 million others homeless during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

Declared a “safe area” by the UN in April 1993, the mainly-Muslim town of Srebrenica was surrounded by Bosnian Serb army forces in a slow stranglehold for the next two years.

On the morning of 11 July, 1995, the Bosnian Serbs’ army finally overran Srebrenica.

This caused tens of thousands of refugees to flee to the UN peacekeeping force’s compound at Potocari.

The refugees inside the base were eventually expelled into the hands of waiting Bosnian Serb troops.

The troops started forcibly busing people out, separating the men and boys from the women.

In the following days almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were systematically butchered.

All this happend under the command of Ratko Mladic. The bodies were dumped in mass graves.

Some 6,600 of the massacre victims have been exhumed, identified and reburied.

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Napolean and the Siege of Acre 1799

Napolean and The Siege of Acre 1799

The Siege of Acre of 1799 was an unsuccessful French siege of the Ottoman-defended, city of Acre.

It was Napoleon’s first strategic defeat as three years previously he had been defeated at the Second Battle of Bassano.

Acre was a site of significant strategic importance due to its position on the route between Egypt and Syria.

After the loss of the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile (1798), Napoleon decided to continue his war with the Ottomans.

His aim was to gain control of the port, which would have well positioned him to challenge Britain’s influence in the East.

On 18 March, his forces encountered the city of Acre, whose 5,000-strong Ottoman Garrison was backed by two British Ships.

The British had captured a flotilla containing half of Napoleon’s guns and strengthened fortifications.

A series of French infantry assaults were repulsed, forcing Napoleon to instigate formal siege operations.

Although the French inflicted a crushing defeat on the Ottomans at the Battle of Mount Tabor, the Ottomans raised the siege.

By the end of April, the French had secured sufficient artillery to make a breach in Acre’s walls.

Five desperate assaults were launched by the French for 10 days, and the attackers had fought their way onto the walls.

They discovered that the defenders had built a series of equally formidableinternal fortifications.

While Acre continued to be resupplied by sea, the demoralized French were suffering shortages and the spread of disease.

Reluctantly, Napoleon accepted defeat and began the long retreat back to Egypt.

The hill, southeast of Acre, where Napoleon established his camp is still known as “Napoleon’s Hill.”

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Meet Ayuba Suleiman Diallo – The Fortunate Slave

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Through the Atlantic slave trade, many Africans were forced into the US and we seldom hear about some of their Muslim backgrounds.

One such person is Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. He was from eastern Senegal, born to a family of religious leaders.

He memorized the entire Quran, was an expert in Maliki fiqh and possessed an immaculate intelligence.

Despite his accomplishments and status in his homeland, he like so many others in Africa, was a victim to the Atlantic slave trade.
Enemies captured him, shaved his beard and sold him to work on a tobacco plantation after his ship landed at Annapolis, Maryland in 1731.

Throughout this difficult time, Diallo upheld his daily prayers and Islamic diet. He ran from the family who owned him because praying became difficult.

When the children of the family would see him pray, they threw dirt on him and mocked him. But soon after fleeing, Diallo was again captured and this time, taken to prison.

This is where Diallo met English lawyer Thomas Bluett. Diallo’s piety, literacy, intelligence, and adherence to faith impressed Bluett, who ended up befriending him.

Diallo wrote a letter in Arabic to send to his father, and it travelled from Annapolis to England.

Eventually, this letter landed in the hands of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony.

He was touched by the struggles presented in the letter, and he subsequently sent the amount needed to purchase Diallo’s freedom and bring him to England in 1733.

After his arrival to England, he debated theology with the Christian priests and bishops, and they joined the already lengthy list of people who Diallo impressed with his intelligence, monotheism, and morality.

Diallo, after suffering through such difficulties as becoming separated from his family, sold into the slave trade, forced to work in horrid conditions, humiliated by children, and imprisoned, was finally recognized as an equal.

In 1734, Diallo safely returned back to his home. His father died, one of his wives remarried because she thought he passed, and his home was wrecked due to war.

However, he again overcame hardship, lift himself up, and was able to live a prosperous life.

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Can Imran Khan bring any significant change to Pakistan?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text][socialpoll id=”2510375″][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_headings style=”theme4″ title=”Biography” titleclr=”#38a3d7″ icon=”fa fa-user”][/vc_headings][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_tabs][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-info-circle” add_icon=”true” title=”Quick Facts” tab_id=”1530689362046-41a8d25e-eb36″][vc_column_text]

Birthday: October 51952

Nationality: Pakistani

Famous: Quotes By Imran Khan Cricketers

Also Known As: Imran Khan Niazi

Sun Sign: Libra

Age: 65 Years

Born In: Lahore, West Punjab, Dominion Of Pakistan

Famous As: Ex-Cricketer, Politician

Height: 1.85 M

Political Ideology: Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf

Spouse/Ex-: Bushra Maneka (M. 2018), Jemima Khan (M. 1995–2004), Reham Khan (M. 2015–2015)

Father: Ikramullah Khan Niazi

Mother: Shaukat Khanum

Siblings: Aleema Khanum, Rani Khanum, Rubina Khanum, Uzma Khanum

Children: Qasim Khan, Sulaiman Khan

Religion: Islam

Net Worth: $50 Million As Of Jan 2017

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-child” add_icon=”true” title=”Childhood” tab_id=”1530689541151-eab76e82-7794″][vc_column_text]

  • Imran Khan Niazi was born on October 5, 1952 in Lahore, into a well-off Pashtun family to Ikramullah Khan Niazi and Shaukat Khanam.

  • He completed his schooling from English-medium Aitchison College, Lahore, and went to Royal Grammar School Worcester, England, to pursue higher studies.

  • He graduated in philosophy, politics and economics from Keble College, University of Oxford, in 1975. Hailing from a cricketing family, he played the game as a teenager in Pakistan and continued in England.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-briefcase” add_icon=”true” title=”Career” tab_id=”1530689362075-8f4cdfd3-3a2a”][vc_column_text]

  • He made his test debut in the 1971 English series in Birmingham, but failed to make a mark due to his not-so-good performance.

  • In 1974, he debuted in One Day International (ODI) in the Prudential Trophy and was selected in the national team after returning to Pakistan.

  • His splendid performance against New Zealand and Australia during 1976-77 added to his rapid success, which made him a prominent fast bowler in Pakistan during the 1980s.

  • He was chosen as the captain of Pakistan cricket team in 1982. He performed stupendously as a fast bowler and all-rounder, leading his team to its first Test victory against England, at Lord’s, after 28 years.

  • Under his captaincy, Pakistan won 14 out of 48 test matches played, losing out on 8 and 26 resulting in a draw. In the ODI version, he played 139 matches, with 77 wins, 57 losses, and one tie.

  • A stress fracture in his shin kept him away from cricket for two years. He returned and gave Pakistan its first ever Test series win against India in 1987, followed by Test series win in England.

  • He retired in 1987, but returned in 1988, upon Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq’s request. He won a Test series against West Indies and was declared ‘Man of the Series’ for his 23-wicket haul in 3 tests.
  • In 1991, he established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a charity organization associated with research and development of cancer and other related diseases, named after his mother.

  • He retired from cricket in 1992, with 3807 runs and 362 wickets in tests and 3709 runs and 182 wickets in ODI.

  • He entered politics in 1997 by setting up his own party ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ (PTI), as an initiative to eradicate mismanagement and corruption in Pakistan.

  • He contested in October 2002 elections and was elected as a Member Parliament from Mianwali.

  • In 2008, he founded Namal College, an associate college of the University of Bradford and established Imran Khan Foundation.

  • During the 2013 election campaign, he started ‘Naya Pakistan Resolution’, after which his party posed a threat to the main opposing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

  • He rejected the offer to collaborate with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
  • He injured his head and back upon tumbling from a stage during a campaign rally, four days prior to elections and continued to vote appeal from the hospital but party lost to PML-N.

  • His views on cricket have been published in different British and Asian newspapers and Indian publications, including Outlook, Guardian, Independent, and Telegraph.

  • He is actively involved with commentary on cricket matches for various sports networks, like Star TV, BBC Urdu, and TEN Sports.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tabs][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_headings style=”theme4″ title=”Political Viewpoint” titleclr=”#38a3d7″ icon=”fa fa-globe”][/vc_headings][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_tta_tabs][vc_tta_section i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-fighter-jet” add_icon=”true” title=”Foreign Policy View” tab_id=”1530689993902-ebf80283-4815″][vc_column_text]Imran Khan recently unveiled the PTI’s road map for the first 100 days in office if it forms the next government. PTI’s critics as well as political opponents have already done a detailed postmortem of its road map. The action plan announced with much fanfare has many aspects albeit with little focus and debate on the PTI’s proposed foreign policy.

In most democratic countries, elections are usually fought on internal policies and hence there is little or no debate on foreign policy in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. But as Pakistan is beset by a host of challenges on the foreign policy front, one cannot take one’s eye off the subject. Tensions with India continue to soar. Relations with Afghanistan are fragile. The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan. And on top of it, Pakistan is facing international isolation partly because of flawed policies and partly because of geopolitics. The only two bright spots are our ever-growing relationship with China, which has its own reasons to have strategic ties with Pakistan, and the expansion of ties with Russia.

But barring these positive developments, there are no notable achievements on the foreign policy front. Against this backdrop, any party, which forms the next government, will have its hands full on the foreign policy front.

Does the PTI really have a robust foreign policy or any new ideas to steer the country out of current challenges? In his 100-day plan, Imran Khan looks to initiate new policies rooted in Pakistan’s priorities, including a conflict-resolution approach towards improving relations with eastern and western neighbours. The PTI also intends to initiate work on a blueprint towards resolving the Kashmir issue within the parameters of the UNSC resolutions. Other policy measures envisaged include “Improve Pakistan’s relevance, regionally and globally, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels including moves to expand the existing strategic partnership with China, as well as with our allies in the region.”

On paper that sounds good but ironically, the PTI’s action plan is not different from the policies of the outgoing government of the PML-N. It also wanted to pursue the policy of a peaceful neighbourhood with emphasis on economic diplomacy.

But here lies the challenge: how the PTI will succeed where others have failed? When a senior PTI leader, who is thought to be the author of the party’s foreign and national security policy, was asked by a TV anchor to share details of the blueprint or any idea on Kashmir resolution, she had no clear answer. What was interesting was that Shireen Mazari advocated a hardline approach both towards India and the US. Mazari even indicated that the PTI, if voted to power, would be ready to go to any extent to respond to Indian aggression, albeit without nuclear conflagration.

On the US, Mazari was of the view that Pakistan under the PTI would speak with Trump in his own language. That is certainly a popular line and it may help the PTI win applause from ‘nationalists.’ But this approach only adds to Pakistan’s current woes. In the present circumstances, Pakistan needs to avoid a confrontational approach. We can follow the Chinese model. China has nuclear weapons, missiles and military might, yet its rise at the global stage can only be attributed to its focus on the economy. China’s combined bilateral trade with Japan and India alone currently stands at over $400 billion, despite Beijing having serious political and even territorial disputes with Tokyo and New Delhi. China has shown us that foreign policy is an art to make new friends and create inter-dependencies with your rivals. The PTI can replicate that template. Perennial tensions with India have only distracted Pakistan from the path of economic prosperity. Therefore, Imran can’t enforce a ‘new vision’ without ensuring a peaceful neighbourhood. But that requires statecraft, not bravado.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2018.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tabs][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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