Middle East Conudrum

It was after a thirty year war that continental Europe came on to the negotiation table to sign a truce. The Peace of Westphalia resulted in two major developments: first, the nation sate system; second, freedom of religion. The turbulent region of Middle East is devastated by the ravages of ethnic, sectarian and political problems. Moreover the regional and international proxy wars have exacerbated the crisis. Enter ISIS, a so called terrorist sate, has taken hold of the key strategic locations of the Syria and Iraq. Furthermore, tight grip of the Arab dictators on their countries is loosening which has resulted in one of the most brutal dictatorial regimes in the region. All these factors demand a political solution to a growing human crisis in Near East Firstly, the sectarian conflict in Iraq has worsened since the US led invasion of Iraq. The shiittes, though majority have mostly been living under the Sunnite minority in Iraq. The Baath part of saddam Hussain was a military junta which ruled the country before 2003. Alienating the Sunnite population, the Iraqi government paved the way for violent revolt of Sunnite and in some cases the former Baath party workers. Al-Qaida used this confusion to its own advantage by making a foot base first in syria and then in Iraq.
The curious mix of ethnic and sectarian violence has added fuel to already burning middle east. Belonging to a minority ,the partisan government of Asad family belongs to alwi branch of Shiite tree ; whereas, the former Baat part was a Sunnite led military junta, former ruling over Sunnite majority whereas latter ruling over a Shiite majority. The situation changed , however, after the American invasion on Iraq. The military elements , of former Baath party , now the self prescribed warriors of Islam , led a successful revolt against Iraqi government.With their allies gone, Iraqi government was unable to check the isis advance. The Syrian government was soon threatened by the bold projections of isis into its own territories. Rather to pacify its population, the Bashar ul asad used force onits own population. To support its arab ally, Iranian government started supporting his regime .

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia have extended its support to Syrian rebels; whereas, the iranian government has given arms to Iraqi Shia militias. Further, the regional and international proxies on both sides have failed to deliver a negotiated settlement. The old cold war politics has come to its play. Putin has not only delivered material support to Syrian regime but also provided military personnel to defend the incumbent president. On the other hand, the iraqu government has been supported by the American and NATO alliance on its fight against isis.To this mix the entry Ethnic Kurds ,though snit, but fighting purely on national terms have evoked a Turkish response. With problem of its own Kurdish elements, the Turkish military has a launched a offense to not only stop isis but also to deny the kurds a defacto state in Iraq and Syria. This jungle of warlordism requires taming.

To borrow a liberal metaphor, the jungle needs to be turned into a zoo. How can we achieve a peace in middle east because what happens to Iraq happens to arab world and what happens to Arab world happens to all of Islamic world. We need to use the auspices of both regional and international organizations, both humanitarian and political , to broker a peace deal. The totalitarian regimes need to give into democratic aspirations of their people but only through a peaceful transitions. International community needs to play a constructive not a destructive role in this affair. The regional players should respect the territorial integrity of sovereign states. What middle east needs is another Westphalia.


Love Story from Punjab

Heer Ranjha


This is the most famous love story of all times from the land of Punjab .The folklore is actually a tragedy which contains the element of love ,family , honor , and tradition  Heer was a beautiful girl form Punjab who fell in love Rahnjaha heir to to a Punjabi clan.Ranjha was an accomplished singer but not as accomplished in family politics. After a family dispute he left his hometown and settled in the village of Heer .There he started working for the father of Heer and eventually fell in love with her. But the evil uncle of Heer comes in between these two love birds and forces her to marry a feudal lord.Ranjha now heartbroken leaves the village and adopts an ascetic lifestyle after this heartbreak.Rahnjha is then helped by a Baluch tribe to free her beloved from the clutches of a forced marriage.But the Paternal forces of Heer’s tribe overwhelms Rahnjha and his allies .Heer now back in home refuses to marry another person.On the other hand Ranjha hears false rumor of Heer committing suicide by taking poison cuts his wrists. Now this time Heer really commits suicide by taking poison.This story unquenched  love story has become a popular folklore in both Pakistan and India


Waris Shah’s Version

Waris Shah was a sufi poet from Punjab who is also called Shakespeare of the Punjabi language  .He wrote a beautiful poetic epic Heer Ranjha .His version of the folklore is by far the most popular one .

An English translation of this epic is written by Charles Frederick Usborne


A modern day english translation of the ballad M.Munawar Butt is available on Amazon


Some of his work sung by the folk singers is compiled folkpunjab.org on their website


Heer Ranjha in popular culture

Several films have been made in Pakistan and India based on this popular tragedy