Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

Egypt says more than a dozen militants killed in security operation after attack on Christians

November 4, 2018

Egyptian security forces killed 19 Islamist militants from a cell believed to be responsible for an attack on Christians in Minya province in central Egypt in which seven people died, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Security forces killed the suspects in a firefight after a chase in a mountainous area of the desert west of Minya governorate, the ministry said in a statement.

It did not say when the gun battle took place, nor did it mention any casualties among security forces.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack in Minya when gunmen targeted two buses near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, 260 km (160 miles) south of Cairo. The dead included six members of the same family.

© Mohamed El-Shahed, AFP | A picture taken on November 2, 2018, shows the remains of a car, reportedly used by the gunmen who attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians, on the side of a road in Egypt’s southern Minya province.

Islamic State did not provide any evidence to back up its claim of responsibility, one of several in recent years as Egypt’s Christian minority has been repeatedly targeted.

The ministry said the suspects were on the run from security forces when national security intelligence identified their location.

Image result for Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, egypt, Photos

Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor

“The area was raided and when it was surrounded the terrorist elements opened fire at the forces, which obliged them to deal with the source of the firing,” it said in the statement.

Security forces recovered weapons including automatic and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and ammunition, the ministry said.

There had been a lull in major attacks since December, when a gunman attacked a church and a Christian-owned shop near Cairo.

(REUTERS)

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Egypt says 19 militants killed in security operation after attack on Christians

November 4, 2018

Egyptian security forces killed 19 Islamist militants from a cell believed to be responsible for an attack on Christians in Minya province in central Egypt which left seven people dead, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

Image result for Egypt, security forces, photos

The suspects were killed in a firefight in the desert west of Minya province after security forces pursued them, the ministry said in a statement. It did not say when the firefight took place.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Minya attack, which occurred on Friday, though it provided no evidence of its involvement.

Philippines: ‘We’ve a very sick man for President’

November 4, 2018

IT SHOULD be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country.”

So said Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David in a Facebook post after President Duterte, on All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1), called saints “gago” (fools) and “lasenggo” (drunkards) even while his earlier exhortation to Filipinos to emulate them was still ringing.

His remarks disparaging saints were made late Thursday in Cauayan, Isabela, as he was wrapping up a briefing on the damage wrought by typhoon Rosita in Northern Luzon. He said:

“Bakit naman, sa bagay ito, tarantado talaga itong mga Katoliko, p*ta. Bakit may All Souls’ Day tapos may All Saints’ Day. Hindi nga natin alam ‘yung mga santo, na kung sino mga gago na ‘yun, mga lasenggo.” (Catholics are crazy. Why is there All Souls’ Day then All Saints’ Day. We don’t even know those saints, who those fools are, those drunkards.)

Many Catholics were as offended as Bishop “Ambo” was with the President’s unprovoked remarks reminiscent of his blasphemously calling God “stupid” in June for no apparent reason.

President Rodrigo Duterte prays during the mass at the wedding of Waldo and Regine Carpio at San Agustin Church in Intramurous, Manila on September 16, 2017.

King Rodriguez/PPD, file

Many people have questioned the mental state of Duterte. But he looked normal when he flew that same evening to Davao City and, per press release of Malacañang, prayed at the grave of his parents Soledad Roa Duterte and Vicente Duterte.

Hours before he mocked saints, he asked Filipinos in an All Saints Day statement: “Together, let us emulate our saints, pray for the eternal repose of souls and deepen our engagement with our communities as we work for real and lasting change.”

Either Duterte, 73, suffers from memory lapses and forgets what he said a few hours earlier, or his All Saints’ Day statement was ghost-written for him without his guidance.

Either way, we the Filipino people have a big problem. Something serious is troubling the President, and he needs help.

Duterte is reportedly a baptized Catholic, but it appears that his upbringing and his going to reputable Catholic schools (the Ateneo and San Beda) failed to give him a firm foundation for his faith.

To be sure what his religion is, we have asked Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in two emails for official confirmation. As we near our deadline, we have not heard from him.

A number of responsible people believe that, indeed, we have a very sick man for President, for which reason bishop David asks the faithful to pray not only for him, but also for our country.

It is distressing to see the nation, many sectors of which have been sufficiently scared or pressured to submission, being reduced to simply praying to free itself from the grip of a very sick man who has no qualms about insulting God, the saints and the clergy.

But bishop David said on Facebook: “There’s nothing new about our saints being called ‘fools and drunkards.’ St. John the Baptist was even called ‘devil-possessed.’ Jesus himself was called a ‘glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners’ (Luke 7:33-35). The apostles at Pentecost were also called ‘drunkards’ (Acts 2:13).

“To be a Christian is to be ready to be branded as a ‘fool for Christ.’ Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ St. Paul too in 1 Corinthians 4:10, said, ‘We are called fools for Christ’s sake….’

“Please remember, Jesus taught us to be merciful when dealing with sick people. I think it should be obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country.”

Devaluation of the President’s word

THE ERRATIC disposition of Duterte, as manifested in his shifting, sometimes conflicting, statements on substantive matters is beginning to affect the value of the President’s word and respect for the office.

This impacts adversely on national discipline and obedience to authority. Witness how extrajudicial killings and terror tactics have failed to stop crime and corruption as promised, as well as the proliferation of illegal drugs despite the summary execution of suspected pushers and users.

With the erosion of the value of the President’s word, Duterte’s endorsement of candidates for the Senate, congressional seats and other posts up for grabs in the May 2019 election is losing its full worth like the peso.

While blind followers may go for whoever Duterte endorses, the growing number of discerning voters are likely to think hard about following the advice of someone who seems to be losing control of himself.

The public is watching how Duterte would handle the excess baggage in the administration’s Senate bandwagon packed with 14 nominees for 12 seats. Some aspirants will have to be thrown out even after others had been disposed of by giving them government sinecures.

Duterte is a lawyer served by a stable of legal advisers. Still he failed to see Art. XVI, Sec. 5(4) that contravenes his militarization of customs operations:

“xxx No member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”

He insists there is a state of lawlessness and violence at customs to justify the fielding of the armed forces. Being insiders, they should be the first to know that, on the contrary, customs is one big happy, contented place. Ask people there and their satisfied suki.

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ADVISORY: All Postscripts can be accessed at manilamail.com. Follow author on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/11/04/1865623/weve-very-sick-man-president#EwDipt6EwZbH1ShS.99

Related:

Philippines: ‘We pray for him’: Bishop says Duterte a ‘very sick man’

November 3, 2018

A Manila prelate on Friday urged Catholics to pray for President Rodrigo Duterte, whom he described as a “very sick man” after the firebrand leader called saints “stupid” and “drunkards.”

On November 1, Duterte once again sparked anger in Asia’s biggest Catholic nation for poking fun at Christians’ celebration of “All Saints Day,” saying in jest that the Church should just recognize him as a patron saint instead of observing the holiday.

President Rodrigo Duterte prays during the mass at the wedding of Waldo and Regine Carpio at San Agustin Church in Intramurous, Manila on September 16, 2017.

King Rodriguez/PPD, file

The acid-tongued leader’s mockery of the All Saints’ Day contradicts his presidential message for the Christian festival, where he urged Catholics to “emulate our saints.”

In a social media post, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines vice president and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David told the faithful to remember one of Christ’s teachings: “To be merciful when dealing with sick people.”

Image result for Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, photos

“There’s nothing new about our saints being called ‘fools and drunkards.’ St. John the Baptist was even called ‘devil-possessed.’ Jesus himself was called a ‘glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners,’” David wrote in a Facebook post.

“I think it should obvious to people by now that our country is being led by a very sick man. We pray for him. We pray for our country,” he added.

The hugely popular Duterte has repeatedly locked horns with the Church, which enjoys a significant political and social clout in the predominantly Catholic Philippines and has actively campaigned against his deadly war on drugs.

Duterte earlier stirred up a hornet’s nest after he called the Christian God a “stupid son of a bitch” for creating Adam and Eve only to allow their purity to be destroyed by temptation.

Amid simmering backlash, Duterte vowed to immediately resign if Christians can prove that their God exists through a selfie. He later issued a public apology and told religious workers to “never use the name of God as a front to attack government.” — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/11/03/1865565/we-pray-him-bishop-says-duterte-very-sick-man#PjwsXkCi0Pda5oqO.99

Nigeria Reports Successful Strikes Against Boko Haram, But Many Believe U.S. and Nigeria Should Do More

October 27, 2018

The attack occurred on Thursday night at Kasasewa check point, and two insurgents were killed, while rifles and ammunition were recovered from the terrorists.

Troops of the 122 Battalion have intercepted Boko Haram terrorists at a checkpoint in Borno.

The attack occurred on Thursday night at Kasasewa check point, and two insurgents were killed while rifles and ammunition were recovered from the terrorists.

Clothing items found with them were also destroyed.

Image result for Boko Haram, Nigerian Military, photos

FILE photo — Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun/File Photo

According to a statement by the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Bulama Biu of the GOC 7 Division commended the troops and urged them to remain vigilant at all times.

The statement read: “Troops of 122 Battalion eliminate BHTs. Vigilant troops of 122 Batallion Gwoza on Surveillance Patrol intercepted elements of BHT at Kasasewa check point in Borno State on 25 October 2018 at about 2200 hours.

“At the end of the encounter 2 BHTs were neutralised while others escaped with gunshot wounds. Equipment captured include three AK47 rifles with Registration Numbers 07042452, 56-35205749, 692530, 3 Magazines, 6 Improvised 7.62 MM (SPECIAL) rounds as well as clothing items which were destroyed.

“Further exploitation of the general area is ongoing. The GOC 7 Division Brig Gen Bulama Biu has commended the troops and urged them to remain vigilant at all times.”

http://saharareporters.com/2018/10/26/troops-kill-two-boko-haram-insurgents-borno-checkpoint

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Air Force destroys Boko Haram logistics base, vehicles in Borno

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA- The Nigerian Air Force, NAF,Thursday morning, said its Air Task Force, ATF, of Operation Lafiya Dole, last Tuesday, destroyed Boko Haram terrorists’ logistics base, along with some vehicles, at Tumbun Sale in Northern Borno State.

The service,in a statement by its spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said “the operation was conducted on 23 October 2018 after Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions revealed the presence of some Boko Haram terrorists’ vehicles and several fighters camouflaged under thick vegetation within the area, where the Boko Haram terrorists had converged in order to launch attacks against own troops’ positions. ”

“Accordingly, the ATF scrambled two Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, supported by an ISR platform, to attack the target area in multiple waves. “The first wave of attacks recorded direct hits on a suspected Boko Haram terrorists’ ammunition/fuel dump, sending it up in flames.

“Subsequent strikes also resulted in the destruction of some vehicles and neutralization of several Boko Haram terrorists. The few surviving Boko that were seen fleeing the area, were mopped-up in follow-on attacks,” the statement said. It added:”

The NAF, working in concert with surface forces, will sustain the tempo of operations with a view to destroying all remnants of the terrorists on the fringes of Lake Chad and other areas in Northern Borno.”

Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/10/air-force-destroys-boko-haram-logistics-base-vehicles-in-borno/

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Boko Haram Put a Bounty on My Head

Nigeria’s president plays down the jihad against Christians as an ethnic ‘clash.’

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Christian children pray during a protest in Makurdi, Nigeria, April 29.
Christian children pray during a protest in Makurdi, Nigeria, April 29. PHOTO: EMMY IBU/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Jos, Nigeria

I received a phone call several years ago saying that someone had found my wallet, and I could pick it up at an abandoned racetrack. I don’t carry a wallet. Shortly thereafter, while investigating a story about a massacre of Christians in the Middle Belt of Nigeria, I saw a charcoal message emblazoned on a wall: “Hassan, we know about you and will meet you one day.” A Muslim friend confirmed that Boko Haram had put a bounty of $700 on my head. Such is life for a pastor in modern Nigeria.

Nigerian Christianity is under siege from radical Islam. The country’s importance to Africa, and to Christianity as a whole, makes this siege particularly noteworthy. With a population of nearly 200 million—about 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% animist—by 2050 Nigeria will become the third most populous country in the world, the United Nations estimates. No wonder Nigeria has been a strategic target for radical Islamists for several decades.

Boko Haram, a radical Islamic movement whose name roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden,” has ramped up attacks on Christians this year. Since 2009 when Boko Haram began its rampage, about 20,000 Nigerians have been hacked with machetes or shot. Two million have been displaced. Pastors and their families have been specifically targeted for death.

The government’s response has deepened Christian frustrations. President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, describes the violence as “clashes” between Fulani tribesmen and farmers, who are mostly Christian. But many Christians, who often become refugees, believe the government is telling the world what it wants to hear, that this has nothing to do with religion. Yet why are all the attackers Boko Haram? And why do they target Christians? We sense that Muslims generally are killed as collateral damage, not as primary targets.

In 2010 I started reporting about these attacks for a popular radio show in Nigeria and then for CNN. By 2012 people started calling me whenever there was an attack around Jos, a city in the Middle Belt, the region where the majority of attacks were occurring. I am often the first reporter on the scene of an attack. I have come to the scene of over 100 massacres, one time finding 500 mutilated bodies.

Pastors in northern and central Nigeria face daunting pressures. Some conduct funerals almost every week for victims, often in mass burials. They struggle to answer their parishioners’ questions about God’s love and justice. They hear powerful voices dismiss this as an ethnic clash, but they understand it is a strategic scorched-earth war, a jihad against Christianity.

Because of this desperate situation, I have organized apologetics seminars for pastors. We meet secretly. Our meetings are announced by cellphone only an hour before, lest our venue be discovered by secret police. To protect against informers, we invite only those pastors who are recommended by another reliable pastor. Twice we have had to cancel at the last minute because of a suicide bomber. Boko Haram has used dozens of young girls as suicide bombers. How can we make sense of this to our flocks?

We use five approaches to talk about God and evil. First, we explain that God made us free to love or hate him. Without that freedom there would be no love. Second, life does not end on this earth. Third, God is just. Someday there will be judgment, and no evildoer will get away with the evil he has done. Fourth, God is love. That can be hard to believe in this evil time unless we look at Jesus’ cross. There God himself suffered at the hands of evil men, and because of it love was released for the whole world. Fifth, we listen to testimonies of pastors and other Christians who saw the manifest presence of God in the midst of suffering and were transformed.

President Trump Welcomes Nigerian President Buhari To The White House,  April 30, 2018

Our seminars have gone well, energizing those who attend and giving many the confidence to die for their faith. But they shouldn’t have to. The Nigerian government should better use its military and police to protect the lives of all citizens. It should see that Nigeria’s courts give speedy justice to the victims of these massacres. And they should be guaranteed safe return to their ruined homes to rebuild their lives. Americans can help by asking Congress and President Trump to pressure President Buhari to do better.

Mr. John is an Anglican priest and journalist.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/boko-haram-put-a-bounty-on-my-head-1540507593

Christian survivors of Indonesian quake give thanks, mourn

October 7, 2018

Dozens of Christians gathered outside ruined churches on the island of Sulawesi on Sunday for open-air services to give thanks for their survival and to mourn members of their congregation killed in a devastating earthquake.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest Muslim population but there are Christian communities throughout the archipelago, including in the small city of Palu hit hard by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on Sept. 28.

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A woman cries while attending an outdoor church service in the earthquake damaged area of Jono Oge village, in Sigi district, south of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

The official death toll stands at 1,649 but will rise as bodies are recovered from the ruins of buildings and from morasses of debris and mud in the city’s southern neighborhoods hit by liquefaction, a phenomenon that turns the ground into a roiling quagmire.

Graphic: Destruction in Palu – tmsnrt.rs/2IDFukK

“We are so relieved to be alive but sad because so many of our congregation died,” said Dewi Febriani, a 26-year-old economics student, after a service in a tent set up outside her damaged church.

The Toraja Church in Jono Oge village, just south of Palu, had cracks through is walls and is considered unsafe. Its cross stood high.

Remains of Jono Oge Protestant Church in Jono Ogoe, Indonesia on Oct. 6, 2018.
Remains of Jono Oge Protestant Church in Indonesia on Oct. 6, 2018.Janis Mackey Frayer / NBC News

Pews were brought out and set up under the tent.

Febriani said her house was destroyed in the disaster.

“One of the only things I have dared to save was my Bible,” she said, holding the well-thumbed copy in her lap.

Jono Oge was particularly hard hit by liquefaction.

Dozens of teenagers at a nearby church and Bible camp were killed. Many of their bodies lie buried in the mud.

‘POWER’

A woman attending a service outside a nearby church that was also badly damaged said the disaster was a “reprimand” from God.

“We are witness to God’s power. We’re still scared but we pray because we believe God will help us,” said the woman, Eliwati, who wore a bright blue dress with an ethnic Toraja pattern, a splash of color in a bleak landscape.

The congregation sang hymns just behind her as she spoke.

Most of the dead have been found in Palu, the region’s main urban center. Figures for more remote areas, some just re-connected to the outside world by road, are trickling in.

Sulawesi is one of Indonesia’s five main islands and, like the others, is exposed to frequent earthquakes and tsunamis.

In 2004, a quake off Sumatra island triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed 226,000 people in 13 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

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Dozens of children attended a bible camp at the Jono Oge Protestant Church during the earthquake

A big aid operation is gearing up to help the hard-hit communities, including some 70,000 displaced people.

Indonesia has traditionally been reluctant to be seen as relying on outside help to cope with disasters, and the government shunned foreign aid this year when earthquakes struck the island of Lombok.

But it has accepted help from abroad for Sulawesi.

Despite that, some foreign groups say they have faced difficulties getting entry permits to bring in staff and equipment.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir told a briefing in Jakarta on Saturday ministries were coordinating to facilitate the arrival of aid.

Indonesia needed aircraft, generators, tents, water treatment and field medical facilities, he said.

The national disaster mitigation agency said foreign aid groups should not work independently but in coordination with the Indonesian Red Cross.

Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by Paul Tait

Reuters

Se also:

In Indonesia, parents wait for children’s bodies to be pulled from church wreckage

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/indonesia-parents-wait-children-s-bodies-be-pulled-church-wreckage-n917101

Remarks by Vice President Pence on U.S. Policy Toward China

October 5, 2018

At the Hudson Institute, October 4, 2018

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ken, for that kind introduction. To the Members of the Board of Trustees, to Dr. Michael Pillsbury, to our distinguished guests, and to all of you who, true to your mission in this place, “think about the future in unconventional ways” –- it is an honor to be back at the Hudson Institute.

For more than a half a century, this Institute has dedicated itself to “advancing global security, prosperity, and freedom.” And while Hudson’s hometowns have changed over the years, one thing has been constant: You have always advanced that vital truth, that American leadership lights the way.

And today, speaking of leadership, allow me to begin by bringing greetings from a great champion of American leadership at home and abroad –- I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

From early in this administration, President Trump has made our relationship with China and President Xi a priority. On April 6th of last year, President Trump welcomed President Xi to Mar-a-Lago. On November 8th of last year, President Trump traveled to Beijing, where China’s leader welcomed him warmly.

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Donald Trump and Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, January 2017

Over the course of the past two years, our President has forged a strong personal relationship with the President of the People’s Republic of China, and they’ve worked closely on issues of common interest, most importantly the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But I come before you today because the American people deserve to know that, as we speak, Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic, and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States.

China is also applying this power in more proactive ways than ever before, to exert influence and interfere in the domestic policy and politics of this country.

Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has taken decisive action to respond to China with American action, applying the principles and the policies long advocated in these halls.

In our National Security Strategy that the President Trump released last December, he described a new era of “great power competition.” Foreign nations have begun to, as we wrote, “reassert their influence regionally and globally,” and they are “contesting [America’s] geopolitical advantages and trying [in essence] to change the international order in their favor.”

In this strategy, President Trump made clear that the United States of America has adopted a new approach to China. We seek a relationship grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty, and we have taken strong and swift action to achieve that goal.

As the President said last year on his visit to China, in his words, “we have an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our two countries and improve the lives of our citizens.” Our vision of the future is built on the best parts of our past, when America and China reached out to one another in a spirit of openness and friendship.

When our young nation went searching in the wake of the Revolutionary War for new markets for our exports, the Chinese people welcomed American traders laden with ginseng and fur.

When China suffered through indignities and exploitations during her so-called “Century of Humiliation,” America refused to join in, and advocated the “Open Door” policy, so that we could have freer trade with China, and preserve their sovereignty.

When American missionaries brought the good news to China’s shores, they were moved by the rich culture of an ancient and vibrant people. And not only did they spread their faith, but those same missionaries founded some of China’s first and finest universities.

When the Second World War arose, we stood together as allies in the fight against imperialism. And in that war’s aftermath, America ensured that China became a charter member of the United Nations, and a great shaper of the post-war world.

But soon after it took power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party began to pursue authoritarian expansionism. It is remarkable to think that only five years after our nations had fought together, we fought each other in the mountains and valleys of the Korean Peninsula. My own father saw combat on that frontier of freedom.

But not even the brutal Korean War could diminish our mutual desire to restore the ties that for so long had bound our peoples together. China’s estrangement from the United States ended in 1972, and, soon after, we re-established diplomatic relations and began to open our economies to one another, and American universities began training a new generation of Chinese engineers, business leaders, scholars, and officials.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, we assumed that a free China was inevitable. Heady with optimism at the turn of the 21st Century, America agreed to give Beijing open access to our economy, and we brought China into the World Trade Organization.

Previous administrations made this choice in the hope that freedom in China would expand in all of its forms -– not just economically, but politically, with a newfound respect for classical liberal principles, private property, personal liberty, religious freedom — the entire family of human rights. But that hope has gone unfulfilled.

The dream of freedom remains distant for the Chinese people. And while Beijing still pays lip service to “reform and opening,” Deng Xiaoping’s famous policy now rings hollow.

Over the past 17 years, China’s GDP has grown nine-fold; it’s become the second-largest economy in the world. Much of this success was driven by American investment in China. And the Chinese Communist Party has also used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade, including tariffs, quotas, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and industrial subsidies that are handed out like candy to foreign investment. These policies have built Beijing’s manufacturing base, at the expense of its competitors -– especially the United States of America.

China’s actions have contributed to a trade deficit with the United States that last year ran to $375 billion –- nearly half of our global trade deficit. As President Trump said just this week, in his words, “We rebuilt China” over the last 25 years.

Now, through the “Made in China 2025” plan, the Communist Party has set its sights on controlling 90 percent of the world’s most advanced industries, including robotics, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence. To win the commanding heights of the 21st century economy, Beijing has directed its bureaucrats and businesses to obtain American intellectual property –- the foundation of our economic leadership -– by any means necessary.

Beijing now requires many American businesses to hand over their trade secrets as the cost of doing business in China. It also coordinates and sponsors the acquisition of American firms to gain ownership of their creations. Worst of all, Chinese security agencies have masterminded the wholesale theft of American technology –- including cutting-edge military blueprints. And using that stolen technology, the Chinese Communist Party is turning plowshares into swords on a massive scale.

China now spends as much on its military as the rest of Asia combined, and Beijing has prioritized capabilities to erode America’s military advantages on land, at sea, in the air, and in space. China wants nothing less than to push the United States of America from the Western Pacific and attempt to prevent us from coming to the aid of our allies. But they will fail.

Beijing is also using its power like never before. Chinese ships routinely patrol around the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan. And while China’s leader stood in the Rose Garden at the White House in 2015 and said that his country had, and I quote, “no intention to militarize” the South China Sea, today, Beijing has deployed advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles atop an archipelago of military bases constructed on artificial islands.

China’s aggression was on display this week, when a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision. Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand. We will not be intimidated and we will not stand down. (Applause.)

America had hoped that economic liberalization would bring China into a greater partnership with us and with the world. Instead, China has chosen economic aggression, which has in turn emboldened its growing military.

Nor, as we had hoped, has Beijing moved toward greater freedom for its own people. For a time, Beijing inched toward greater liberty and respect for human rights. But in recent years, China has taken a sharp U-turn toward control and oppression of its own people.

Today, China has built an unparalleled surveillance state, and it’s growing more expansive and intrusive – often with the help of U.S. technology. What they call the “Great Firewall of China” likewise grows higher, drastically restricting the free flow of information to the Chinese people.

And by 2020, China’s rulers aim to implement an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life — the so-called “Social Credit Score.” In the words of that program’s official blueprint, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven, while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.”

And when it comes to religious freedom, a new wave of persecution is crashing down on Chinese Christians, Buddhists, and Muslims.

Last month, Beijing shut down one of China’s largest underground churches. Across the country, authorities are tearing down crosses, burning bibles, and imprisoning believers. And Beijing has now reached a deal with the Vatican that gives the avowedly atheist Communist Party a direct role in appointing Catholic bishops. For China’s Christians, these are desperate times.

Beijing is also cracking down on Buddhism. Over the past decade, more than 150 Tibetan Buddhist monks have lit themselves on fire to protest China’s repression of their beliefs and their culture. And in Xinjiang, the Communist Party has imprisoned as many as one million Muslim Uyghurs in government camps where they endure around-the-clock brainwashing. Survivors of the camps have described their experiences as a deliberate attempt by Beijing to strangle Uyghur culture and stamp out the Muslim faith.

As history attests though, a country that oppresses its own people rarely stops there. And Beijing also aims to extend its reach across the wider world. As Hudson’s own Dr. Michael Pillsbury has written, “China has opposed the actions and goals of the U.S. government. Indeed, China is building its own relationships with America’s allies and enemies that contradict any peaceful or productive intentions of Beijing.”

In fact, China uses so-called “debt diplomacy” to expand its influence. Today, that country is offering hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure loans to governments from Asia to Africa to Europe and even Latin America. Yet the terms of those loans are opaque at best, and the benefits invariably flow overwhelmingly to Beijing.

Just ask Sri Lanka, which took on massive debt to let Chinese state companies build a port of questionable commercial value. Two years ago, that country could no longer afford its payments, so Beijing pressured Sri Lanka to deliver the new port directly into Chinese hands. It may soon become a forward military base for China’s growing blue-water navy.

Within our own hemisphere, Beijing has extended a lifeline to the corrupt and incompetent Maduro regime in Venezuela that’s been oppressing its own people. They pledged $5 billion in questionable loans to be repaid with oil. China is also that country’s single largest creditor, saddling the Venezuelan people with more than $50 billion in debt, even as their democracy vanishes. Beijing is also impacting some nations’ politics by providing direct support to parties and candidates who promise to accommodate China’s strategic objectives.

And since last year alone, the Chinese Communist Party has convinced three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taipei and recognize Beijing. These actions threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait, and the United States of America condemns these actions. And while our administration will continue to respect our One China Policy, as reflected in the three joint communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act, America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people. (Applause.)

Now these are only a few of the ways that China has sought to advance its strategic interests across the world, with growing intensity and sophistication. Yet previous administrations all but ignored China’s actions. And in many cases, they abetted them. But those days are over.

Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States of America has been defending our interests with renewed American strength.

We’ve been making the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still. Earlier this year, President Trump signed into law the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan -– $716 billion to extend the strength of the American military to every domain.

We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal. We’re fielding and developing new cutting-edge fighters and bombers. We’re building a new generation of aircraft carriers and warships. We’re investing as never before in our armed forces. And this includes initiating the process to establish the United States Space Force to ensure our continued dominance in space, and we’ve taken action to authorize increased capability in the cyber world to build deterrence against our adversaries.

At President Trump’s direction, we’re also implementing tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, with the highest tariffs specifically targeting the advanced industries that Beijing is trying to capture and control. And as the President has also made clear, we will levy even more tariffs, with the possibility of substantially more than doubling that number, unless a fair and reciprocal deal is made. (Applause.)

These actions — exercises in American strength — have had a major impact. China’s largest stock exchange fell by 25 percent in the first nine months of this year, in large part because our administration has been standing strong against Beijing’s trade practices.

As President Trump has made clear, we don’t want China’s markets to suffer. In fact, we want them to thrive. But the United States wants Beijing to pursue trade policies that are free, fair, and reciprocal. And we will continue to stand and demand that they do. (Applause.)

Sadly, China’s rulers, thus far, have refused to take that path. The American people deserve to know: In response to the strong stand that President Trump has taken, Beijing is pursuing a comprehensive and coordinated campaign to undermine support for the President, our agenda, and our nation’s most cherished ideals.

I want to tell you today what we know about China’s actions here at home — some of which we’ve gleaned from intelligence assessments, some of which are publicly available. But all of which are fact.

As I said before, as we speak, Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach to advance its influence and benefit its interests. It’s employing this power in more proactive and coercive ways to interfere in the domestic policies of this country and to interfere in the politics of the United States.

The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials.

And worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections. To put it bluntly, President Trump’s leadership is working; and China wants a different American President.

There can be no doubt: China is meddling in America’s democracy. As President Trump said just last week, we have, in his words, “found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming [midterm] election[s].”

Our intelligence community says that “China is targeting U.S. state and local governments and officials to exploit any divisions between federal and local levels on policy. It’s using wedge issues, like trade tariffs, to advance Beijing’s political influence.”

In June, Beijing itself circulated a sensitive document, entitled “Propaganda and Censorship Notice.” It laid out its strategy. It stated that China must, in their words, “strike accurately and carefully, splitting apart different domestic groups” in the United States of America.

To that end, Beijing has mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans’ perception of Chinese policy. As a senior career member of our intelligence community told me just this week, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country. And the American people deserve to know it.

Senior Chinese officials have also tried to influence business leaders to encourage them to condemn our trade actions, leveraging their desire to maintain their operations in China. In one recent example, China threatened to deny a business license for a major U.S. corporation if they refused to speak out against our administration’s policies.

And when it comes to influencing the midterms, you need only look at Beijing’s tariffs in response to ours. The tariffs imposed by China to date specifically targeted industries and states that would play an important role in the 2018 election. By one estimate, more than 80 percent of U.S. counties targeted by China voted for President Trump and I in 2016; now China wants to turn these voters against our administration.

And China is also directly appealing to the American voters. Last week, the Chinese government paid to have a multipage supplement inserted into the Des Moines Register –- the paper of record of the home state of our Ambassador to China, and a pivotal state in 2018 and 2020. The supplement, designed to look like the news articles, cast our trade policies as reckless and harmful to Iowans.

Fortunately, Americans aren’t buying it. For example, American farmers are standing with this President and are seeing real results from the strong stands that he’s taken, including this week’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, where we’ve substantially opened North American markets to U.S. products. The USMCA is a great win for American farmers and American manufacturers. (Applause.)

But China’s actions aren’t focused solely on influencing our policies and politics. Beijing is also taking steps to exploit its economic leverage, and the allure of their large marketplace, to advance its influence over American businesses.

Beijing now requires American joint ventures that operate in China to establish what they call “party organizations” within their company, giving the Communist Party a voice –- and perhaps a veto -– in hiring and investment decisions.

Chinese authorities have also threatened U.S. companies that depict Taiwan as a distinct geographic entity, or that stray from Chinese policy on Tibet. Beijing compelled Delta Airlines to publicly apologize for not calling Taiwan a “province of China” on its website. And it pressured Marriott to fire a U.S. employee who merely liked a tweet about Tibet.

And Beijing routinely demands that Hollywood portray China in a strictly positive light. It punishes studios and producers that don’t. Beijing’s censors are quick to edit or outlaw movies that criticize China, even in minor ways. For the movie, “World War Z,” they had to cut the script’s mention of a virus because it originated in China. The movie, “Red Dawn” was digitally edited to make the villains North Korean, not Chinese.

But beyond business and entertainment, the Chinese Communist Party is also spending billions of dollars on propaganda outlets in the United States and, frankly, around the world.

China Radio International now broadcasts Beijing-friendly programs on over 30 U.S. outlets, many in major American cities. The China Global Television Network reaches more than 75 million Americans, and it gets its marching orders directly from its Communist Party masters. As China’s top leader put it during a visit to the network’s headquarters, and I quote, “The media run by the Party and the government are propaganda fronts and must have the Party as their surname.”

It’s for those reasons and that reality that, last month, the Department of Justice ordered that network to register as a foreign agent.

The Communist Party has also threatened and detained the Chinese family members of American journalists who pry too deep. And it’s blocked the websites of U.S. media organizations and made it harder for our journalists to get visas. This happened after the New York Times published investigative reports about the wealth of some of China’s leaders.

But the media isn’t the only place where the Chinese Communist Party seeks to foster a culture of censorship. The same is true across academia.

I mean, look no further than the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, of which there are more than 150 branches across America’s campuses. These groups help organize social events for some of the more than 430,000 Chinese nationals studying in the United States. They also alert Chinese consulates and embassies when Chinese students, and American schools, stray from the Communist Party line.

At the University of Maryland, a Chinese student recently spoke at her graduation of what she called, and I quote, the “fresh air of free speech” in America. The Communist Party’s official newspaper swiftly chastised her. She became the victim of a firestorm of criticism on China’s tightly-controlled social media, and her family back home was harassed. As for the university itself, its exchange program with China — one of the nation’s most extensive — suddenly turned from a flood to a trickle.

China exerts academic pressure in other ways, as well. Beijing provides generous funding to universities, think tanks, and scholars, with the understanding that they will avoid ideas that the Communist Party finds dangerous or offensive. China experts in particular know that their visas will be delayed or denied if their research contradicts Beijing’s talking points.

And even scholars and groups who avoid Chinese funding are targeted by that country, as the Hudson Institute found out firsthand. After you offered to host a speaker Beijing didn’t like, your website suffered a major cyberattack, originating from Shanghai. The Hudson Institute knows better than most that the Chinese Communist Party is trying to undermine academic freedom and the freedom of speech in America today.

These and other actions, taken as a whole, constitute an intensifying effort to shift American public opinion and policy away from the “America First” leadership of President Donald Trump.

But our message to China’s rulers is this: This President will not back down. (Applause.) The American people will not be swayed. And we will continue to stand strong for our security and our economy, even as we hope for improved relations with Beijing.

Our administration is going to continue to act decisively to protect America’s interests, American jobs, and American security.

As we rebuild our military, we will continue to assert American interests across the Indo-Pacific.

As we respond to China’s trade practices, we will continue to demand an economic relationship with China that is free, fair, and reciprocal. We will demand that Beijing break down its trade barriers, fulfill its obligations, fully open its economy — just as we have opened ours.

We’ll continue to take action against Beijing until the theft of American intellectual property ends once and for all. And we will continue to stand strong until Beijing stops the predatory practice of forced technology transfer. We will protect the private property interests of American enterprise. (Applause.)

And to advance our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, we’re building new and stronger bonds with nations that share our values across the region, from India to Samoa. Our relationships will flow from a spirit of respect built on partnership, not domination.

We’re forging new trade deals on a bilateral basis, just as last week President Trump signed an improved trade deal with South Korea. And we will soon begin historic negotiations for a bilateral free-trade deal with Japan. (Applause.)

I’m also pleased to report that we’re streamlining international development and finance programs. We’ll be giving foreign nations a just and transparent alternative to China’s debt-trap diplomacy. In fact, this week, President Trump will sign the BUILD Act into law.

Next month, it will be my privilege to represent the United States in Singapore and Papua New Guinea, at ASEAN and APEC. There, we will unveil new measures and programs to support a free and open Indo-Pacific. And on behalf of the President, I will deliver the message that America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific has never been stronger. (Applause.)

Closer to home, to protect our interests, we’ve recently strengthened CFIUS — the Committee on Foreign Investment — heightening our scrutiny of Chinese investment in America to protect our national security from Beijing’s predatory actions.

And when it comes to Beijing’s malign influence and interference in American politics and policy, we will continue to expose it, no matter the form it takes. We will work with leaders at every level of society to defend our national interests and most cherished ideals. The American people will play the decisive role — and, in fact, they already are.

As we gather here, a new consensus is rising across America. More business leaders are thinking beyond the next quarter, and thinking twice before diving into the Chinese market if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing’s oppression. But more must follow suit. For example, Google should immediately end development of the “Dragonfly” app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers. (Applause.)

It’s also great to see more journalists reporting the truth without fear or favor, digging deep to find where China is interfering in our society, and why. And we hope that American and global news organizations will continue to join this effort on an increasing basis.

More scholars are also speaking out forcefully and defending academic freedom, and more universities and think tanks are mustering the courage to turn away Beijing’s easy money, recognizing that every dollar comes with a corresponding demand. And we’re confident that their ranks will grow.

And across the nation, the American people are growing in vigilance, with a newfound appreciation for our administration’s actions and the President’s leadership to reset America’s economic and strategic relationship with China. Americans stand strong behind a President that’s putting America first.

And under President Trump’s leadership, I can assure you, America will stay the course. China should know that the American people and their elected officials in both parties are resolved.

As our National Security Strategy states: We should remember that “Competition does not always mean hostility,” nor does it have to. The President has made clear, we want a constructive relationship with Beijing where our prosperity and security grow together, not apart. While Beijing has been moving further away from this vision, China’s rulers can still change course and return to the spirit of reform and opening that characterize the beginning of this relationship decades ago. The American people want nothing more; and the Chinese people deserve nothing less.

The great Chinese storyteller Lu Xun often lamented that his country, and he wrote, “has either looked down at foreigners as brutes, or up to them as saints,” but never “as equals.” Today, America is reaching out our hand to China. And we hope that soon, Beijing will reach back with deeds, not words, and with renewed respect for America. But be assured: we will not relent until our relationship with China is grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for our sovereignty. (Applause.)

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that reads, “Men see only the present, but heaven sees the future.” As we go forward, let us pursue a future of peace and prosperity with resolve and faith. Faith in President Trump’s leadership and vision, and the relationship that he has forged with China’s president. Faith in the enduring friendship between the American people and the Chinese people. And Faith that heaven sees the future — and by God’s grace, America and China will meet that future together.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END

11:47 A.M. EDT

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-vice-president-pence-administrations-policy-toward-china/

How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t

September 30, 2018

The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments.

By Timothy Keller

Mr. Keller is the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York.

The New York Times

What should the role of Christians in politics be? More people than ever are asking that question. Christians cannot pretend they can transcend politics and simply “preach the Gospel.” Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call “getting political” were actually supporting slavery by doing so. To not be political is to be political.

Image result for christians praying, photos

The Bible shows believers as holding important posts in pagan governments — think of Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament. Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors, whether they believe as we do or not. To work for better public schools or for a justice system not weighted against the poor or to end racial segregation requires political engagement. Christians have done these things in the past and should continue to do so.

Nevertheless, while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one. There are a number of reasons to insist on this.

One is that it gives those considering the Christian faith the strong impression that to be converted, they need not only to believe in Jesus but also to become members of the (fill in the blank) Party. It confirms what many skeptics want to believe about religion — that it is merely one more voting bloc aiming for power.

Another reason not to align the Christian faith with one party is that most political positions are not matters of biblical command but of practical wisdom. This does not mean that the church can never speak on social, economic and political realities, because the Bible often does. Racism is a sin, violating the second of the two great commandments of Jesus, to “love your neighbor.” The biblical commands to lift up the poor and to defend the rights of the oppressed are moral imperatives for believers. For individual Christians to speak out against egregious violations of these moral requirements is not optional.

However, there are many possible ways to help the poor. Should we shrink government and let private capital markets allocate resources, or should we expand the government and give the state more of the power to redistribute wealth? Or is the right path one of the many possibilities in between? The Bible does not give exact answers to these questions for every time, place and culture.

I know of a man from Mississippi who was a conservative Republican and a traditional Presbyterian. He visited the Scottish Highlands and found the churches there as strict and as orthodox as he had hoped. No one so much as turned on a television on a Sunday. Everyone memorized catechisms and Scripture. But one day he discovered that the Scottish Christian friends he admired were (in his view) socialists. Their understanding of government economic policy and the state’s responsibilities was by his lights very left-wing, yet also grounded in their Christian convictions. He returned to the United States not more politically liberal but, in his words, “humbled and chastened.” He realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.

Another reason Christians these days cannot allow the church to be fully identified with any particular party is the problem of what the British ethicist James Mumford calls “package-deal ethics.” Increasingly, political parties insist that you cannot work on one issue with them if you don’t embrace all of their approved positions.

This emphasis on package deals puts pressure on Christians in politics. For example, following both the Bible and the early church, Christians should be committed to racial justice and the poor, but also to the understanding that sex is only for marriage and for nurturing family. One of those views seems liberal and the other looks oppressively conservative. The historical Christian positions on social issues do not fit into contemporary political alignments.

Image result for Good samaritan, walter rane

Good Samaritan by artist Walter Rane

So Christians are pushed toward two main options. One is to withdraw and try to be apolitical. The second is to assimilate and fully adopt one party’s whole package in order to have your place at the table. Neither of these options is valid. In the Good Samaritan parable told in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus points us to a man risking his life to give material help to someone of a different race and religion. Jesus forbids us to withhold help from our neighbors, and this will inevitably require that we participate in political processes. If we experience exclusion and even persecution for doing so, we are assured that God is with us (Matthew 5:10-11) and that some will still see our “good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:11-12). If we are only offensive or only attractive to the world and not both, we can be sure we are failing to live as we ought.

The Gospel gives us the resources to love people who reject both our beliefs and us personally. Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross. How did Jesus save? Not with a sword but with nails in his hands.

Timothy Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian churches in New York City, is the author of “Prodigal Prophet: Jonah and the Mystery of God’s Mercy,” from which this essay is adapted.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/opinion/sunday/christians-politics-belief.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR9 of the New York edition with the headline: Christians Don’t Fit in Political Boxes.
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Pakistan’s ISI never lets relations with India improve: Muhajir activist Nadeem Nusrat

September 29, 2018

Image may contain: one or more people and sunglasses

Chairman of Voice of Karachi (VOK) Nadeem Nusrat while talking to ANI said that the intelligence in Pakistan never lets relations between the two countries improve. (ANI)

VIDEO:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/pakistans-isi-never-lets-relations-with-india-improve-muhajir-activist-nadeem-nusrat/videoshow/66003222.cms

By Nadeem Nusrat

(From May 2018)

The question of Pakistan’s constitutional makeup and power-sharing is once again coming under intense debate. Given the demographic imbalance and sharp ethnic differences that exist among the country’s four provinces, Pakistan badly needs a constitutional solution that can satisfy all ethnic and religious segments of society.

However, Pakistan’s Punjabi elites, who control Pakistan’s powerful military and the federal bureaucracy, have failed to even initiate a serious, academic and meaningful debate on this issue. With rapidly growing unrest, and even the feelings of separatism, in Karachi, Balochistan, KPK, Gilgit-Baltistan, Quetta and the northern parts of the country, and renewed calls from some quarters to declare Pakistan a “state sponsoring terrorism,” it is essential to find a constitutional solution that could provide a sense of belonging to all of Pakistan’s ethnic and religious.

I firmly believe in the notion that democracy and the principle of representation go hand in hand. Neither can function without the other. True representation is only possible under a genuine system of democracy — and the stability of democracy is dependent on how content a country’s ethnic and religious minorities are with their representation in power.

In the latter part of the 18th century, the British failed to assess the level of resentment among their subjects in North America over the issues of unjust taxation and their inability to challenge arbitrary British decisions. The British paid the price by losing their imperial control over North America.

The Founding Fathers of a newly liberated United States of America, on the other hand, were quick to learn from the mistakes of their former colonial masters and realized the importance of the principle of just representation. Those who undertook the task to draft the first U.S. Constitution went to great lengths to resolve issues relating to its framework and every state’s representation in the federal and state legislature.

Given the vast disparity between various states’ population size in the 1780s, it was not easy to find a solution that could equally satisfy all the states over the issue of their representation in the proposed federal legislature. The states with bigger populations wanted larger representation, causing fear among the smaller states of being perpetually subjugated — similar to the situation that Pakistan has been in since its inception. The American situation was dire and could have easily resulted in the disintegration of the newly established federation.

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution, however, resolved the brewing crisis through a series of compromises that afforded constitutional safeguards to all states, large and small, and ensured their due rights.

The American constitutional experience is a classic example of how democracy is not necessarily, as often presumed, the rule of majority. Majoritarianism may be a good rule to follow in homogeneous societies where an overwhelming majority shares a common ethnic, linguistic and religious background, but it is impractical and fraught with dangers in countries like Pakistan that have many ethnic groups competing for rights and power.

Pakistan’s problems may be acute, but the country is certainly not alone in this. In recent decades, a number of countries with diverse populations — Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Lebanon, South Africa and Cyprus, to name a few — have faced the challenge of reconciling the wishes of majority groups with the ambitions of minorities. But unlike Pakistan, these countries have not allowed this problem to obstruct the nation-building process and instead have developed various forms of power-sharing. The most common system of governance employed by such countries is what Arend Lijphart, a Dutch-born American scholar, calls “consociational” democracy — or to use the less polysyllabic synonym described by Modern British History Professor Ian Talbot, power-sharing.

The fundamental argument for consociationalism is grounded in the assumption that democracy and majority rule may be incompatible under certain circumstances. The theory does not challenge prevailing democratic principles and instead focuses on societies where the population is divided along various lines. It argues that the seemingly innocuous application of majority rule in such conditions could lead to disastrous results — mainly due to the presence of influential minority groups who refuse to yield to majority rule. This is the case with Pakistan, in which a highly educated, industrialized and secular ethnic group known as Mohajirs, is being subjected to subjugation by the majority Punjabis.

The theory itself is fairly simple, and Arend Lijphart defines it in terms of four basic characteristics:

• Joint decision-making by a grand coalition government that represents all significant segments of an ethnically or religiously divided society;

• A high degree of decentralization and autonomy for the constituent communities;

• A rough proportionality in political representation and civil service appointments; and

• A mutual veto concerning the most vital and fundamental issues. The veto can be a formal rule and even be enshrined in the nation’s constitution, but it is usually the outgrowth of the unwritten rule that most decisions, and certainly the most important ones, require not only the participation of the representatives of all groups but also their consent.

A critical analysis of the above clearly suggests that the whole theory of consociationalism is characterized by a series of checks and balances — as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — that remove the possibility of one group of population or one branch of government dominating the rest. By devolving power to the regional level, for instance, the system gives all groups sufficient autonomy to run their own affairs.

Similarly, by granting the power of veto in decision-making to all segments, the system effectively prevents any single group from imposing arbitrary decisions over others. This, in turn, effectively allays the minorities’ fear of living under perpetual majority domination. By incorporating proportional representation, consociational democracy ensures full demographic representation of all segments of society in the decision-making of the country.

Interestingly, this power-sharing system is not entirely new to Punjab, the region from where Pakistan’s military establishment comes from. In fact, it may come as a surprise to many that it was the Muslim political elite in pre-partition Punjab that was instrumental in introducing the power-sharing system that Arend Lijphart has recently interpreted as a classical form of consociational democracy.

In British Punjab, the just over 50 percent Muslim population, according to the majoritarian principle of democracy, had every right to form a provincial government on its own. However, the roughly 18 percent Sikhs and 30 percent Hindus were no less influential in Punjab. Thus, any government without these minorities’ representation would have led to disaster in the province.

Sir Fazl-i-Husain, arguably the most influential Muslim politician in the colonial setup until his death in 1936, was the first one to realize the peculiar religious makeup of Punjab and the perils of majority rule in the province. His brainchild, the Unionist Party of Punjab, may be criticized for its pro-British leanings; yet it would be an academic dishonesty not to credit the party for its amazing understanding of Punjab’s peculiar communal makeup and its attempts to establish an all-representative government rather than insisting on the Muslim majority’s right to rule.

In the mid-1940s, however, the Muslim League’s politics of “Muslim nationalism” brought an end to the Unionists’ consociationalism. When the League swept the 1946 elections and emerged as the single largest party in pre-partition Punjab, it was in a position, according to majoritarian rule, to demand the right to form its government in the province. But the problem was that the Muslim League, despite being the majority party, drew its support solely from Muslim electorates and was seen by non-Muslims as the representative of Muslim interests only.

The British, deeming majority rule inimical to such a religiously polarized region, denied the League the right to rule. Anyone interested in an analogy can recall the political stalemate of 1971 when the Awami League, the single largest party in Pakistan after the 1971 election, was denied the right to form the central government on the grounds that it lacked the mandate of the non-Bengalis. The ensuing crises were similar: Punjab was partitioned in 1947, and East Pakistan broke away in 1971.

The point to stress here is that majoritarianism is not the only form of democracy available, nor is its application viable in all circumstances. It may be best suited to homogeneous countries but certainly lacks the ability to serve pluralistic societies.

Pakistani lawmakers and politicians — and its Punjabi-dominated powerful military, in particular — must admit that Pakistan is not a homogeneous country. They have to be mindful of the fact that Pakistan is inhabited by people who have been ethnically and culturally distinguished from each other for many, many centuries. The creation of Bangladesh was not the first example to reveal how deep such divisions run, nor are the ongoing Mohajir, Baloch, and Pashtoon uprisings likely to be the last.

Pakistan’s religious minorities — Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Shiites, Agha Khanis- Bohris, etc. — fare no better in Pakistan. Hundreds of members belonging to these religious minorities have been killed in deadly attacks in recent years that were carried out by religious extremist groups, which, according to credible reports, enjoy the support from Pakistan’s “deep state.” They should also be considered stakeholders in the country’s decision-making at the national level and be considered equal citizens of Pakistan.

Religion and Pakistani nationalism may serve as a unifying force during external aggression and internal calamities, but in normal circumstances, the apprehensions and fears of the minorities will continue to hamper the country’s efforts to achieve national unity and political stability. All previous attempts by Pakistan’s Punjabi-dominated military establishment and media to inculcate political or national unity through artificial means have only complicated the issue. Continuing with such measures is only likely to aggravate the current predicament. What Pakistan now needs is a complete redesigning of its current internal geographical units, along with a new constitutional framework that could afford permanent legal safeguards to all ethnic and religious groups. Every citizen of Pakistan should be allowed to hold any important office, irrespective of ethnicity, religion sect or gender.

As is the case with almost all other theories, consociationalism has been subjected to some degree of criticism. But nothing has dampened its strength, as it still remains the only system that offers an effective, and democratic, way out of majoritarianism — the main source of restlessness among the Pakistan’s ethnic minorities. Pakistan’s political elite and scholars could explore the theory further and refine it as per Pakistan’s peculiar needs, but it is now established without a doubt that the current system will not be able to get Pakistan out of its current predicament. Consociationalism under the circumstances seems to be best way to make Pakistan a viable state.

• Author Nadeem Nusrat is chairman of The Voice of Karachi and South Asia Minority Alliance Foundation, Washington, D.C.-based advocacy groups that represent Pakistan and other South Asian countries’ ethnic and religious minorities.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/may/21/how-make-pakistan-viable-state/

Western Christianity isn’t dying out from natural causes. It’s committing suicide

September 18, 2018

There’s nowhere more relevant to the modern world than Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. This Episcopal church advertises yoga and is totally non-judgmental (there’s a photo on its website of a man dressed as a nun), and I bet a fun time was had by all at last week’s Global Climate Action Summit Multi-Faith Service.

You can watch a video online: down the aisle come clerics, musicians and men on stilts dressed as trees. Notice though, as the camera pans out, that the congregation is a bit thin at the back. And old. It’s in desperate need of some new sap.

The wider US Episcopal church is facing extinction: just 500,000 attend its services on a Sunday, which an internal report calls a “profound and shocking decline”. Its sister church in England isn’t doing much better.

The latest figures suggest that Church of England affiliation has halved since 2002 and that only 2 per cent of young people call themselves Anglican. This is despite the Church of England spending decades chasing cultural relevance. At the weekend, there was a discussion in this newspaper about whether or not God has a gender. “I don’t want young girls or young boys to hear us constantly refer to God as he,” said Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, because that might alienate people.

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The Rev doesn’t need to worry because no one is listening. Those of us who are Christian (I’m a Catholic and we have just the same problems as the Protestants) blame our falling numbers on everything but ourselves, from immigration to the internet. The truth is that Western Christianity isn’t dying out from natural causes or murder; it’s committing suicide.

Like many agonies, you can blame it on the 1960s. The experiences of world war and nuclear threat seemed to necessitate a rethink in the way Christians acted: to preach less, listen more. Protestants and Catholics tried to meet people halfway, to talk to them in their own language. This could have been a marvellous project; humility and meekness are inherently Christian virtues. The crucifixion turned weakness into a strength, say the gospels, offering Jesus as a sacrifice for the whole of mankind. And, yes, it’s good to talk to the other faiths and, of course, social justice is a divine calling. At some point, however, dialogue turned into deference and socialism became the only face many bishops were comfortable showing the world.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby’s recent speech to the Trades Union Congress was a case in point. The gig economy, he said, is an “ancient evil” – and he may well be right. An archbishop has a duty to say it as he sees it, to articulate a preference for the poor. But if he imagined for one moment that his speech would win a single convert to Anglicanism, he was mistaken. All that happens when priests confirm the beliefs of Left-wing atheists is that the audience says: “thank you very much” and goes on being atheist, because they’re not being challenged; they’re being validated.

Indeed, so much of what mainstream Christians now offer is a validation of Western society, a kind of a “thumbs up, well done”, which is stupid because unless you bring up God in a conversation, non-believers certainly won’t. If trying to be relevant to a shallow popular culture worked, church attendance would have risen since the Sixties or even stayed the same. It’s plummeted. And the few who do still loyally show up to communion aren’t there to talk about zero-hour contracts. That’s God’s time.

You hear this said by the laity a lot; among younger clergy, too. The ones who stubbornly cling to the nostrums of the Sixties are the greying church leadership, who are reminiscent of the establishment “blob” that conservatives complain dominates education: good people, absolutely, but men and women who see themselves as curators of a faith rather than its evangelists, and who have become rather comfortable with underperformance.

Just like a teacher who discourages pupils from applying to Oxford (“success will spoil you”), there are clerics who subconsciously see decline as a kind of grace. They prefer a Christianity that is weak, not in the sense of bloodied and bruised by combat, but weak as in submissive.

They love the Church but, my God, they are smothering it. They have transformed a faith that only extended as far as it did through preaching and martyrdom into something anxious and introspective, excessively concerned with gender pronouns and saving the redwood tree.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a debate about Left vs Right in Church politics; there’s room for both. No, it’s about whether the Church talks chiefly about man or about God. Whether Christians have a distinct message at all.

Why should non-believers care? The answer to that question explains why Christians persist against the odds. Churches need to be strong for when people decide they do need them – in moments of celebration, more often in commiseration.

Faith helps us deal with life and death, and the Anglican Communion, for all its wounds, remains a repository of culture and ethics. Remember: it is beauty and kindness that keep us from sliding into barbarism.

Telegraph, London

By Tim Stanley

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/17/western-christianity-isnt-dying-natural-causes-committing-suicide/